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2018 NFL Mock Draft by JohnnyFire - 10.5
Published at 10/5/2017 12:27:12 PM
I look forward to all of this being completely undone by the halfway point. This is based off these remaining season predictions: https://playoffpredictors.com/Football/NFL?L=EzCMLdOlT8GLJe9nIejaKxaufFGCQsg1aStRS7G-azJA4h2xt9Wwq2J9qAAMjGhXJM2QA
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I'm not entirely sure what is going to happen to the Browns in this offseason if they, once again, end up with the top pick in the NFL draft; it likely means more organizational turnover for a team that simply cannot afford anymore. It also means that their hands will be forced towards selecting a QB in the first frame, with the first pick. Josh Rosen, although he does have some slight detractors in regards to his attitude, and he will need to bulk up for the NFL, just about everything else he continues to do well. The only pure pro-style QB in this draft, I believe he will come out of the draft process looking like an obvious number one pick; and Cleveland, whether with Hue Jackson and Sashi Brown or not, will have no choice but to make this selection, Kizer's development be damned.
Because I don't entirely know that Kirk Cousins is officially coming to the Bay yet, I can't just automatically slot in any player to San Francisco. They need a young QB to build upon, regardless of if they select Cousins or not, and whether or not that is CJ Beathard is still up for debate. So, working on the assumption that Cousins is either resigned or (god forbid) gives Washington the excuse to take an astonishingly stupid franchise tag move, the 49ers would likely take one of the top QB's on the board. Although Darnold has slipped a few spots, his playmaking at USC and his California connections make him a clear fit for the NFC West and a Kyle Shanahan offense, in time.
It's essentially a no-brainer for the Colts; they need to take the best player on the board. From there, it's less of one; there's a lot of excellent talent that would make sense for Indianapolis. Saquon Barkley could replace "Literally 45 year old" Frank Gore quite easily, although Marlon Mack is waiting in the wings. They could always use more O-Lineman to give Andrew Luck a chance. My bet, however, is due to deficiencies in the pass rush, Arden Key, who appears to be the top DE in this class as of yet, will end up as the pick for the Colts. Whatever happens, Indy needs to find a way to ensure that 2018 is not another lost season, or else heads may roll sooner rather than later.
At this point in the draft process, we don't necessarily know who the 3rd rated QB is, so hold your pitchforks down, please. There's a number of options here; Lamar Jackson, Mason Rudolph, Josh Allen, even Baker Mayfield if you're nasty. My money, however, is on Luke Falk; Falk's main two problems are that he's not running a traditional NFL offense and that, as a result, no one has any clue what to compare him to. Yet, Falk's stats have been excellent, and he's likely going to come in around 6'3", 220 come the combine. The Jets are going to have to grab a QB in the first frame, even if they aren't necessarily in the driver's seat for the best one; I'm getting the feeling Falk may be their best option.
First, this mock should speak to how bad the bottom of the pile in the AFC is this year; two teams which should be competing for playoff spots in Indianapolis and Miami are currently struggling due to QB issues and poor roster composition. As far as where Miami can go from here, I believe addressing the secondary is their easiest fix, as they're not going to replace Tannehill just yet. Although I've seen most list Minkah Fitzpatrick at safety, some evaluators believe he could play corner; I actually think it wouldn't matter which position the Dolphins want him in, as they could use both. Having a dynamic defensive back at either slot could be a coup for a Miami team in need of some help in passing defense for 2018.
The Cardinals are going to be extremely tempted to select a QB in this class; they do still need to work, extensively, to identify a long-term replacement for Carson Palmer. Options ought to abound; they could play the free agency class with Cousins, look for young unproven talent like Garoppolo, or draft high here with several QB's left on the board. However, in my view, there is not another obvious QB worthy of pick number 6, and Arizona fits their value on players fairly appropriately. What they also need is a Larry Fitzgerald replacement; and while Christian Kirk is by no means on Larry's level, he's shown offensive explosiveness at Texas A&M that the Cardinals very desperately need and, with David Johnson, could give their new QB plenty of toys in the box.
It's been connected for months; Derwin James and the Bears. It's fairly obvious as to why; the Bears have nearly no talent in their defensive backfield and, as tempting as it might be for the Bears to nab a wideout as their offensive skill players sputter, they'll have opportunities for that later. James is locked in as a top 10 pick and the best pure safety in this class, and he could make the Bears a dangerous secondary in the NFC North on his presence alone.
Unfortunately, as much as Los Angeles has struggled with exciting the fanbase in their new city, there's no real "sexy pick" on the board for a Chargers team that could use it. Sure, you could slot in Lamar Jackson here, but is that really sensible? To win sooner rather than later, and god knows they're going to need to with the Rams improving, they're going to need to start rebuilding the trenches, and that starts with adding the best offensive lineman in this draft class, which, in my view, is McGlinchey.
It may be confusing as to why Barkley, who in my view could be the best player in this class in any other scenario, would slip all the way to pick 9, but it ultimately comes down to need. The Browns, Niners, and Jets all will value QB over skill positions; and the remaining teams either have their franchise RB (Ajayi, Howard/Cohen, Johnson, Gordon) or have a massive need on the other side of the ball (Colts). The one team in the top ten who doesn't have that luxury, or really any hang up about grabbing a RB? The Giants, who have arguably the worst run game in the NFL right now. The Eli transition, which is likely coming sooner rather than later at this point, is going to be a whole hell of a lot smoother with what looks like one of the best RB prospects to come out in recent memory, and considering who some of those other prospects were in the last several classes, that's certainly saying something.
Please note that I'm not trying to slam on the Vikings, I'm just looking at the schedule as realistically as I can with Case Keenum at the helm. The Vikings have a LOT of routes they can go heading into 2018; they might consider replacing the Bradford/Bridgewater uncertainty, the offensive line desperately needs help, and their interior defense is pretty sub par. Let's go with the last of those; Christian Wikins is one of my favorite DT prospect in this draft at the moment, and I wouldn't be shocked if he ends up testing out through the combine to become a top 15 pick.
I don't think this is shocking when I say; the Bengals need O-Linemen. Badly. Like, there's nothing to pontificate on. They need tackles and guards yesterday. Trey Adams is likely going to fall as either the first or second ranked OT by most, and I feel he is the second as of right now, but it's a strong class at the position; he'll do well in Cincinnati as he should slot in immediately at the LT position from day one, giving the Bengals some hope as they begin to rebuild.
With a new QB in tow, the Browns are likely going to have to find a complimentary WR in the vein of DeAndre Hopkins with the pick they would now own from the Texans; and, on the surface, this isn't an easy choice. The remaining WR top-line prospects are likely to be ranked similarly to Corey Coleman, which the Browns do not need two of. So, they turn to the secondary and get the player who (at least appears) is the best pure CB prospect in the draft. Marshall offers an immediate upgrade in a CB corps that lacks playmakers; and with changes to the defensive schemes likely imminent, putting him in a system he could grow with would be a coup for a Browns team in need of some successes.
While the debate on "Is Lamar Jackson an NFL QB?" will rage for likely all the way until the draft, I don't think the Jaguars have a choice to think about it at this point; Blake Bortles is a disposable resource, and the team has ruined him in all essence. This was a player that needed to sit and develop for at least a year and a half, and was thrust into the spotlight; Jackson, conversely, is a player who almost certainly needs to see the field from day 1, because his development on the NFL level may require learning to read NFL defenses first-hand. He would be an exciting addition to a team that so desperately needs a young QB to tout, and gives the Jags flexibility with the Bortles situation moving forward; could he end up in Arizona, for example?
Working off the assumption that Kirk Cousins remains in Washington, there's been a clear deficiency on the field when looking at the offense; running back. This team, even when they had Alfred Morris, who was, for all intents and purposes, as reasonable 3-down option when necessary if lacking in elite level vision, still opted to throw 14 RB's at the wall in nearly every game. Guice may change that, as he could evolve into a pure 3-down option for Gruden's offense, allowing them better roster composition and to create a pure safety valve for Cousins...or otherwise.
Pick a spot on the D-Line, and that's where the Saints will be picking. The question then becomes, who's your favorite player available, and where can the Saints make the most significant upgrades? DE still does have a log-jam of potential players they may be wanting to wait on, but Rankins is being used in just about every slot from the inside out at times; adding a lane-clogger like Da'Ron Payne could help bring pure interior DL pressure and allow Rankins to be even more disruptive. Methinks that's the route they'll go.
The Bills are in football limbo right now; they clearly want no part in Tyrod Taylor, but are winning football games with him; they built up a ton of draft picks for the next two years, but don't seem to be willing to straight up tank. Of course, that could change, emphatically, in the next 12 games, but if they keep pace, even missing the playoffs, I believe the Bills' strategy will move to building upon their current foundation. That means getting someone like James Washington, a dynamic and powerful WR prospect, to bolster a passing attack that needs more playmakers.