Both the NFL and college football are well underway. We’ve gotten a good idea of where teams in the NFL stand, and more looks at the top college prospects. Before the season started, I put out my first 2018 first round mock draft, which can be viewed here. For this mock draft, I ordered the non-playoff teams based on their record after Week 6. I then simulated the playoffs based on the playoff picture following Week 6 to generate the rest of the order. With that said, let’s jump into the mock!
The Pick: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Sure, he’s had his struggles this year with interceptions, but Sam Darnold is still my top quarterback. Darnold has incredible arm talent in addition to some mobility. Darnold is 11th in the nation in passing yards, having already surpassed 2,000 yards through the air. He’s the most talented quarterback in this class, and thus he finds himself going to the quarterback needy Cleveland Browns first overall.
The Pick: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Rosen is no consolation prize for the 49ers. Rosen’s stats this year are actually better than Darnold’s. Rosen is third overall in passing yards, he’s completing 64.2% of his passes and he has thrown for 17 touchdowns. This is especially impressive considering Rosen in not surrounded by a whole lot of talent. The 49ers get their franchise quarterback with this UCLA product.
The Pick: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
The Giants are the frontrunners for most underachieving team in the NFL this year. This was a team with Super Bowl aspirations, and now sit in the top three of the draft. It’s a position that isn’t likely to change given all the critical injuries this team has suffered. The Giants benefit from being behind two teams that need a quarterback as they get the chance to pick the best player in the draft: Saquon Barkley. Barkley is the best running back prospect to enter the draft in recent memory. Barkley runs with speed and power. He is an excellent receiver out of the backfield. He showed against Indiana that he can return kicks too. Barkley is an unbelievable athlete. There really isn’t much on the field he can’t do. The Giants finally will have a dynamic running back.
The Pick: Arden Key, DE, LSU
The Colts have a big need on the offensive line in order to keep Andrew Luck healthy, but it’s hard to pass upon a player of Key’s caliber. Key is arguably the top defensive player in this draft, and has the potential to be an elite pass rusher, something that the Colts defense doesn’t have. The Colts have ignored defense in the draft for many years, however, the selection of Malik Hooker in 2017 should be the beginning of a renewed commitment to improving on that side of the ball.
The Pick: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
Kyle Fuller was excellent against the Ravens in Week 6, however, the Bears need more talent in their secondary. Fitzpatrick brings not just talent, but also versatility. The Alabama defensive back has experience playing both safety and cornerback, starting and excelling at both spots over the course of his career at Alabama. The Bears will not pass on the opportunity to get this caliber of a player on to their defense.
The Pick: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
The Chargers need help on their offensive line in the worst way. Mike McGlinchey, a huge left tackle from Notre Dame is the top offensive lineman on the board, and thus finds his way to the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Pick: Derwin James, S, Florida State
Oakland’s secondary needs help in a big way. James is an extremely gifted safety, and will be a huge help to the Raiders’ defense. The secondary is the one thing holding the Raiders back at the moment, and the team has had its struggled this year as a result. Losing Derek Carr for a game surely didn’t help. Getting a high pick in the draft would allow this team to get a blue-chip player that they surely were not expecting to get. With James, this secondary will be improved, and in a much better position to contend for a Super Bowl.
The Pick: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
The Bengals lost two key starters on the offensive line coming into this season: Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler. Nelson is an extremely talented guard, quite possibly the best overall offensive lineman in the class, and he would make a good fit in Cincinnati.
The Pick: Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State
DeMarcus Lawrence has emerged as a star for the Cowboys this year, but that defense could use another pass rusher. Chubb has had a great season so far, most notably dominating Florida State in Tallahassee. He brings size, and he knows how to use it. Chubb has great power, and is able to close in on the quarterback extremely well. Chubb is one of my favorite players in this year’s draft. He has the look of a star for many years to come.
The Pick: Tavarus McFadden, CB, Florida State
The third defensive back in the top 10 comes off the board here as the Buccaneers select Tavarus McFadden. McFadden tied for the national lead in interceptions with eight. He is one of the best shut down corners in college football. The Buccaneers need to improve its secondary, and McFadden is a great step towards doing so.
The Pick: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
With Allen Robinson injured, the Jaguars don’t have much at wide receiver. The running game in Jacksonville looks set for years to come with Leonard Fournette, and the defense is one of the best in the NFL. It’s time to give Blake Bortles more weapons to work with. Kirk is the first receiver off the board in this mock draft, and he goes to the Jaguars. Kirk is electric with the ball in his hands, he can turn any screen pass into a touchdown. In addition, he is a strong kick returner. He’s exactly the type of do-it-all weapon that the Jaguars could use.
12) Baltimore Ravens
The Pick: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
The Ravens offensive line has been, at best, mediocre this season. This was true even with Marshal Yanda in the lineup. Sure, the Ravens have had to deal with a lot of injuries, but there were still obvious holes even with everyone healthy. The Ravens brought Austin Howard in to play right tackle, and he has been very inconsistent. The Ravens have a team option on his contract after this season, and they could choose to let him go should they be able to land a top offensive lineman in the draft. Connor Williams is that top prospect. Williams is my top offensive lineman overall, but he falls to the Ravens due to injuries he has dealt with this season. I believe he can make the switch over to right tackle, and form a reliable duo with Ronnie Stanley on the edges of the line for the foreseeable future. Offensive line surely isn’t the sexy pick, but in this case, it’s the right one.
The Pick: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
With Carson Palmer in the final stages of his career, the Cardinals need to find the quarterback of the future. The Cardinals go withe the best remaining quarterback, which is Josh Allen. Allen’s best trait is his incredibly strong arm. Allen hasn’t gotten much TV attention as he plays for Wyoming, but his talent is undeniable.
14) Cleveland Browns via Houston Texans
The Pick: Harold Landry, DE, Boston College
The Browns get this pick from the Texans as a result of Houston’s move up for Deshaun Watson last year. Harold Landry led college football in sacks a year ago, and he is back to terrorize offensive lines once again. The Browns cannot pass on a chance to get another potential foundational player on the defensive front, and in this mock draft, they won’t.
15) Detroit Lions
The Pick: Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson
The Lions would love to bolster their defensive front, and Wilkins does exactly that. Wilkins has top 10 ability, but falls due to the offensive talent in this year’s draft. Detroit is running to the podium to scoop up the Clemson defender.
16) New York Jets
The Pick: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
The Jets have largely outperformed expectations this year. This was widely expected to be the worst team in the NFL. Colin Cowherd predicted on-air that the Jets would go 0-16 this season. Yet somehow the Jets sit at 3-3 through Week 6. That record cost the Jets a chance to get one of the top tier quarterback. Instead, they get Mason Rudolph. Rudolph leads one of the nation’s most prolific offenses, but has shown this year that he is not just a system quarterback.
17) Seattle Seahawks
The Pick: Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State
The Broncos are followed by another team that just can’t seem to solve their offensive line issues. The Seahawks seem to take offensive lineman year and year and they never pan out. This year, the Seahawks take the skilled Rankin out of Mississippi State, and hope that they can finally groom him into a star. Russell Wilson surely hopes so.
The Pick: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
The Redskins have a number of running backs on their roster that have gotten touches this year, but none are a bell-cow back. Rob Kelley isn’t great, Samaje Perine has some talent, but I don’t see him leading a backfield, and Chris Thompson’s value is on passing downs. Add in Derrius Guice from LSU and that changes. Guice gives the Redskins a three down back that they have lacked since the best year’s of Alfred Morris. In fact, many scouts thought Guice was a more talented runner than Fournette when they were both at LSU last year. It’s unfair to expect Fournette’s immediate production from Guice in the NFL, but it’s not an unattainable goal.
19) Denver Broncos
The Pick: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
The Broncos selected Garett Bolles in the first round a year ago, but this offensive line isn’t completely solved yet. Add the 6’8”, 340 pound talented Oklahoma tackle into the Denver lineup, and that could soon change. Either Bolles or Brown will have to play right tackle. No clear answer to who would take that job.
20) Atlanta Falcons
The Pick: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Coming out from behind Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley and into a starting role, Denzel Ward has been a star for the Buckeyes in 2017. Outside of Desmond Trufant, the Falcons don’t have much at the cornerback position. Ward could be the solution Dan Quinn needs.
21) Miami Dolphins
The Pick: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
After Week 6, the Dolphins somehow find themselves in the playoff picture. The Dolphins have a few weapons on offense, but not much at wide receiver outside of Jarvis Landry. The Dolphins will improve at quarterback next season with Ryan Tannehill back. Getting a weapon like Washington would be a big boost for this offense on top of Tannehill’s return. Washington is one of the premier wide receivers in college football, best known for his deep threat ability.
22) Buffalo Bills
The Pick: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
In a series of trades this offseason, the Bills gave up developing star Ronald Darby and got back E.J. Gaines. They drafted Tre’Davious White who has been good, but he needs help. Alexander is the next best corner on the board, and the Bills will make sure to add as un upgrade to Gaines.
The Pick: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Smith is a lesser known prospect in this draft, but he’s an excellent player. He reminds me a lot of Deion Jones as a result of his versatility. Smith has been a star for the top five ranked Georgia Bulldogs, and he will enter an improved Saints defense. The Saints still need to add talent to its defense, and Smith will solidify up the linebacking corps.
The Pick: Marcus Allen, S, Penn State
The Green Bay Packers secondary is bad, really bad. They need any kind of help they can get on the back end, and Marcus Allen is the best defensive back on the board. Allen is a talented safety that serves as both an enforcer and a ball hawk. The Packers would be smart to pair Allen with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
25) Tennessee Titans
The Pick: Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama
The Titans are another contender with a weakness on the back end. Their situation has a better outlook than the Packers though. Adding Harrison to the back end has the potential to eliminate the secondary as the weakness for the Titans.
26) Los Angeles Rams
The Pick: Clelin Ferrell, OLB, Clemson
The Rams offense has looked great with Sean McVay taking over.
The Pick: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
With the departure of Rob Ninkovich, the Patriots linebacker corps has taken a huge blow. Malik Jefferson will look to return that unit to a strength for a Patriots defense that has really struggled so far this year. Jefferson is a versatile middle linebacker, being able to sit in the middle of the field, or rush the passer. Matt Patricia should enjoy working with a player of Jefferson’s ability.
The Pick: Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson
Cam Newton gets battered constantly. Sure, that’s partly as a result of how much he runs, but his offensive line doesn’t help him, nor his running backs out much if at all. The Panthers have so many weapons for Newton, but without any time to throw, those weapons don’t make a difference. Clemson’s star tackle Mitch Hyatt won’t stray too far far from Dabo Swinney and the Tigers as he heads to Charlotte in order to keep Newton afoot.
The Pick: Iman Marshall, CB, USC
The Vikings are set with their CB1 in Xavier Rhodes. Across from him however, a question mark arises. Trae Waynes has never developed into the player the Vikings wanted him to be, and I think it’s time for the team to move on. Marshall is a talented player that has moved into the spotlight with Adoree’ Jackson gone. Marshall struggled with Collin Johnson of Texas, but beyond that has had a good season for the Trojans.
The Pick: Luke Falk, QB, Washington State
Ben Roethlisberger considered retiring last offseason, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him consider it again after this season concludes. The Steelers need to prepare for the future without Roethlisberger. Falk struggled in his recent loss to Cal, throwing five interceptions. However, that came served as an anomaly for one of the most prolific quarterbacks in college football. Falk has the look of an NFL quarterback in both his ability and his poise. Playing at Washington State, he has been exposed to tough playing conditions, something an AFC North quarterback must be able to withstand.
The Pick: Dorance Armstrong Jr., DE/OLB, Kansas
I didn’t really know much about Armstrong other than scouts liked him until about two weeks ago when I first got to watch Armstrong play. He jumped off the screen in a way that I haven’t often seen when watching film. Armstrong was a first team All-Big 12 selection last year after posting a 10 sack season, and he has continuing to get after the quarterbacks this year. His sack numbers haven’t been as great this year, but he is racking up tackles, and seems to be involved in nearly every play. The Eagles already have a good defensive front, but there is a need for a pass rusher opposite Brandon Graham.
32) Buffalo Bills via Kansas City Chiefs
The Pick: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
The Bills get the Chiefs pick after the Chiefs moved up for Patrick Mahomes last year. In their series of trades, the Bills lost Sammy Watkins and got back Jordan Matthews. The Bills drafted Zay Jones last year, but neither have produced much this year, and neither are true number one receivers. Courtland Sutton gives the Bills a potential number one receiver. Sutton brings size, speed, strength and awareness, all of which are valuable traits for a top receiver.