The Broncos could grab a bookend tackle to pair with Garett Bolles.
Little showed a ton of potential as a freshman starter. He was up and down as a sophomore, but has plenty of upside. The 6-foot-6, 325-pounder has improved as he gains experience and should only get better as a junior. Little could end up being a good left tackle prospect.
Previous Mock Selections: 12/23-Tyrie Cleveland, WR
11/18-Chauncey Gardiner, S
18.Detroit Lions:Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
2018 NFL Mock Draft Pick (as of 1/29): Marcus Davenport, DE
The Lions grab a penetrating defensive tackle to go with A'Shawn Robinson.
In 2017, Wilkins made 60 tackles with 8.5 for a loss and four sacks. He was disruptive at the point of attack, showing speed to create havoc behind the line of scrimmage. Wilkins is a great athlete for his size and has the versatility to play a variety of techniques. The 6-foot-4, 310-pounder has a nice skill set with upside and could also fit as a 3-4 defensive end.
Wilkins played well for Clemson in 2016 as part of a tough defensive line that controlled the point of attack. The sophomore had 48 tackles with 13 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks and 10 passes batted on the year. Because of injuries, Wilkins played a lot of defensive end. He showed nice athleticism and versatility, but is at his best on the inside, using his mismatch speed against guards. Wilkins made 33 tackles and two sacks as a freshman in 2015.
Previous Mock Selections: 12/23-Zach Allen, DE
19.Seattle Seahawks:Chauncey Gardiner, S, Florida
2018 NFL Mock Draft Pick (as of 1/29): Arden Key, DE
Seattle is going to have to replace Kam Chancellor and/or Earl Thomas over the next draft or two. Here's a safety who would fit the Seahawks.
Gardiner was a solid safety in 2017, helping in the run game and in pass defense. He had 58 tackles with seven passes broken up and two interceptions on the year. The 6-foot, 207-pound Gardiner flashed as a freshman in 2016 as a backup behind a secondary filled with NFL talent. Gardiner showed potential to also contribute in man coverage as he had with three interceptions over the final three games of 2016.
Considering Kirk Cousins had no interest in signing a long-term contract with the Redskins, they made a smart move in trading for Alex Smith because they are picking too low in the 2018 NFL Draft to land one of the top quarterbacks. Washington can get out of Smith's contract when the team wants, and it sounds more like a 2-year deal. Come the 2019 NFL Draft, the Redskins could be looking for a quarterback of the future. Here's a prospect with a "top of the draft" skill set.
Eason was injured in the 2017 season opener for Georgia, and Jake Fromm remained the starter for the rest of the season. The Bulldogs didn't want to change their winning formula with Fromm, so they kept Eason as the backup. I know some scouts who love Eason. The 6-foot-5, 235-pounder was a top recruit who flashed as a freshman starter for Georgia. He has excellent size with a quality arm with pocket-passing potential. He also got good experience working in an offense under a respected coordinator with Jim Chaney that correlates more to the NFL than the vast majority of college offenses being used. Kirby Smart said one of the sad parts about Eason leaving Georgia was his growth under Chaney wasn't seen nationally.
In 2016, Eason completed 55 percent of his passes for 2,430 yards with 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He has the potential to break out as a junior to be a future first-round pick.
The Rams could use an upgraded end opposite Robert Quinn.
Some scouting sources told me they felt that Bryant spent 2017 playing his way into being a first-round-caliber prospect, and he could be one of those players on the bubble of the first or second round, similar to former Clemson defensive end Kevin Dodd. Bryant was a clean-up specialist who chased down ball-carriers after Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins or Dexter Lawrence created disruption. In 2017, Bryant totaled 8.5 sacks with 50 tackles, 15.5 for a loss, one interception and two forced fumbles. The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder was probably smart to go back to school.
The Cowboys grab a big-play speed receiver for Dak Prescott.
Brown is a fast wideout who is a threat to score anytime he catches a pass. As a sophomore, he averaged 19.2 yards per reception for 1,095 yards on 57 catches with seven touchdowns. Brown (5-11, 162) has a thin frame and needs to get stronger for the NFL. If he can maintain his speed while adding weight, he could be a dynamic wide receiver.
23.Los Angeles Chargers:Clayton Thorson, QB, Northwestern
2018 NFL Mock Draft Pick (as of 1/29): Vita Vea, DT
The Chargers are going to have to start thinking of their replacement for Philip Rivers. If Cardale Jones doesn't prove to be up to the job, they could look for their future quarterback in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Even though some other draft analysts reported Thorson was likely to enter the 2018 NFL Draft, WalterFootball.com was first to report that Thorson was planning on returning to Northwestern for 2018. Thorson then made that official prior to his bowl game against Kentucky. Scouts who were through Northwestern last year told me that they were impressed with what they saw from Thorson (6-4, 225) on tape and in practice. He has shown that he has pro potential in terms of his skill set. Thorson can throw the deep out with a fastball that can be fit into tight windows. He also has quality mechanics with a quick delivery. Scouts say that Thorson has a very strong arm, is smart, athletic, and improved as a junior. He makes some mistakes from trying to do too much, but that is understandable because Thorson's supporting cast has been abysmal with an offensive line that is weak and wide receivers who can't separate either via speed or explosiveness.
Some team sources say that they gave Thorson a second-round grade, and one general manager told me they gave Thorson a late second-round/early third-round grade. But they all think he could rise in the leadup to the 2019 NFL Draft. The reason for that is he a good leader who gets along well with all of his teammates. While he is a devout Christian, he knows how to be one of the guys and get along with the different groups in the locker room. Thorson is super smart and will impress teams with his intelligence along with his character. They think that evaluators could fall in love with him during the interview process, driving him into being a first-round pick.
In 2017, Thorson completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,844 yards with 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He had eight rushing touchdowns, too. As a sophomore, Thorson completed 59 percent of his passes for 3,182 yards with 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
24.Tennessee Titans:Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky
2018 NFL Mock Draft Pick (as of 1/29): Mike Hughes, CB
The Titans could use an upgrade at outside linebacker. Here's a good fit for Mike Vrabel.
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Allen was one of the top edge defenders in college football during the 2017 season. The junior totaled seven sacks along with 65 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and three passes batted on the year. Allen produced well as a sophomore in 2016 with 62 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, seven sacks and four forced fumbles. One national scout compared Allen to Leonard Floyd coming out of Georgia with Allen's ability to rush off the edge. That scout said Allen isn't as freaky of an athlete as Floyd was, and Allen is not a top-10 pick, but he did grade Allen as a first-rounder.
Another director of college scouting said he had given Allen a high second-round grade, but thought Allen could definitely end up going in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. That director said Allen was an interesting player because he also can play inside linebacker, whereas Floyd was just an outside edge defender. That college director said that as an inside linebacker, Allen has similarities to current Texans linebacker Zach Cunningham in terms of his height, speed, length, and athleticism in the middle.
Previous Mock Selections: 12/23-Taylor Rapp, S
11/18-Brian Burns, DE/OLB
25.Houston Texans:Zach Allen, DE, Boston College
2018 NFL Mock Draft Pick (as of 1/29): DeShon Elliott, S (Round 3)
Given the injuries and potential age-related decline for J.J. Watt, the Texans may have to consider getting his replacement before too long. Even if Watt rebounds to find his pre-injury form, they could look for an upgrade to go on the other side of the line.
Allen (6-5, 285) didn't receive the hype of teammate Harold Landry, but Allen is the better pro prospect and could easily be picked in the 2019 NFL Draft before Landry is taken this year. Allen is a tough run defender who is strong to hold his ground at the point of attack. He anchors well and is tough to move. As a pass-rusher, Allen has an impressive first-step and burst out of his stance for a heavy defensive end. He has strength to get pressure on the bull rush and speed to close. Allen could still use more pass-rushing moves for the NFL. With his size and strength, it would be nice to see him add a club or rip move. Allen totaled 100 tackles with 15.5 tackles for a loss, six sacks, three passes broken up and an interception in 2017. In the NFL, he will be an asset as a run defender playing end in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense.
Previous Mock Selections: 12/23-Drew Richmond, OT
11/18-Greg Little, OT
10/28-Taven Bryan, DE
9/30-Taylor Rapp, S
26.Philadelphia Eagles:Sam Beal, CB, Western Michigan
2018 NFL Mock Draft Pick (as of 1/29): Orlando Brown, OT
The Eagles may not be able to re-sign Ronald Darby. Here's a potential replacement.
In speaking with sources, Beal (6-1, 185) is a cornerback who has created some buzz in the scouting community. He has good height and length for the NFL, but will need to gain some weight and strength to take on big pro receivers. In 2017, Beal recorded 26 tackles with two interceptions, one forced fumble and 10 passes broken up. He totaled 55 tackles with eight passes broken up in 2016.
Previous Mock Selections: 12/23-Greg Little, OT
11/18-Isaiah Prince, OT
27.Atlanta Falcons:Dre'Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State
2018 NFL Mock Draft Pick (as of 1/29): Tim Settle, DT
Atlanta grab an interior disruptor who also can get after the quarterback.
In 2017, Jones recorded 20 tackles with five for a loss, one sack and two passes broken up. The 6-foot-3, 295-pounder was very disruptive for Ohio State. Jones has ton of physical talent with speed at the point of attack. He earned a starting job as a redshirt freshman in 2016 and totaled 52 tackles. Sources say that Jones possesses a first-round skill set.
28.Pittsburgh Steelers:Levonta Taylor, CB, Florida State
Pittsburgh grab more cornerback talent to go with Artie Burns. Joe Haden may not get much more time with the Steelers.
Taylor totaled 18 tackles with three passes broken up and two interceptions in 2017. Sources have told me that Taylor has been an impressive player in their practice and tape study of Florida State as a cover corner. They think he could fit as a talented NFL nickelback with ball skills. Taylor (5-9, 170) needs to get bigger, but he has a some time to do that.
The Packers have Jordy Nelson aging and Davante Adams entering free agency. Randall Cobb also doesn't seem as explosive as he used to be. Thus, Green Bay could be targeting some young play-makers for Aaron Rodgers soon.
Samuel was incredible to start the 2017 season. He had 15 receptions for 250 yards with three receiving touchdowns, one rushing touchdown and two kick-return touchdowns before a leg fracture sidelined him in the third game of the year. He totaled 59 receptions for 783 yards and a touchdown in 2016. The 6-foot, 205-pounder is a speedy receiver who also has solid size to him. Samuel has shown soft hands and great athleticism to make difficult catches as well as turn routine receptions into big plays.
The Raiders could use a feature back for Jon Gruden's offense. Here's a great fit.
Team sources say that Love is better than other smaller backs who have gone in the first round, like David Wilson or Jahvid Best. They think that Love is more on a par with Chris Johnson coming out of East Carolina, except Love isn't as straight-line fast as Johnson, but possesses more elusiveness and moves in the open field. While Love is extremely fast, he is a tougher running back than one would think given his size. He has excellent balance and is able to pick up yards after contact. Scouts have told me that they rate Love higher than Christian McCaffrey for the ability to run between the tackles in the NFL. Love has great vision that, combined with his speed, makes him deadly. One college director told me, "If the other nine guys do their job for a few seconds, this guy is gone."
In 2017, Love averaged a staggering 8.1 yards per carry for 2,118 yards with 19 touchdowns. He also caught six passes for 33 yards. Sources say Love has more receiving potential for the NFL than the numbers illustrate.
Previous Mock Selections: 12/23-Sam Beal, CB
31.New England Patriots:Deondre Francois, QB, Florida State
2018 NFL Mock Draft Pick (as of 1/29): Sam Hubbard, DE
The Patriots grab their heir apparent to Tom Brady, who will turn 42 after the 2019 NFL Draft. Even if Brady is still playing at a high level still, they could groom his replacement as a backup for a year or two.
Francois battled hard against Alabama in the 2017 season opener, completing 19-of-33 passes for 210 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Unfortunately, Francois suffered a season-ending patellar-tendon injury, which required surgery.
Francois (6-2, 205) isn't a tall quarterback, but he has a powerful arm and is a tough signal-caller with athleticism. In his debut season as a starter, he completed 59 percent of his passes for 3,350 yards with 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions. It wouldn't be surprising if Francois builds on that over 2018. In speaking with scouts at multiple teams, they are pretty positive about Francois and his potential for the NFL.
The Saints get their eventual replacement for Drew Brees.
Stidham completed 67 percent of his passes in 2017 for 3,158 yards with 18 touchdowns and six interceptions. Team sources have said that Stidham (6-3, 210) has a lot of ability and that they are eager to see him develop. They think Stidham has the upside to be a special player. He displayed improvement in his accuracy and decision-making over the course of the 2017 season.
Stidham flashed as a freshman at Baylor, completing 69 percent of his passes for 1,265 yards with 12 touchdowns and two interceptions. His freshman season was ended early because of injury, but he flashed serious ability with arm strength, athleticism and accuracy. After the scandal that claimed the job of Art Briles, Stidham eventually landed at Auburn following a stint attending community college for a year.