2018 Mock Draft 1.1
Published at 1/20/2018 12:14:47 PM
I really thought Darnold was going back...guess not
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I think it's safe to say that this first pick is going to be a quarterback and it's going to be either Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold. But honestly, the safest pick here would be Barkley, as the Browns were 28th in rushing attempts last year, showing they don't have faith in their run game. Barkley is the best talent in this draft and has the highest ceiling of any player at their respective position. Barkley serves as a dual threat and could be just as lethal in the receiving game as he is in the running game.
What makes this such a great pick is how he works on the QB as well. I don't mean he can also play QB (although that might actually help), but drafting a good running back, especially one like Barkley, will take the pressure off whoever the QB is and give them more opportunities to make quality plays instead of constantly forcing the ball down the field. It worked great for the Cowboys when they drafted Prescott and Elliott, so why not the Browns? (That's rhetorical, I know why it won't work for the Browns).
Rosen is easily one of the safest picks in the draft, as whoever drafts him gets a day 1 starter and someone with still a bunch of upside ahead of him. He has one of the best arms in the draft and is already an NFL ready QB. He understands how to run offenses. Being drafted by the Giants would give them a project as well as their future, as he could sit and learn from Eli Manning before he retires and gain experience from a Super Bowl winner. Darnold could also be a potential pick here but I think Rosen fits what the Giants want to do better, especially with the possibility of Odell Beckham leaving soon.
The Colts need a lot of help. Their offensive numbers are somewhat false because of Jacoby Brissett being the starter instead of Andrew Luck, but the sacks allowed is always going to be high. There are two quality linemen who could be picked here, but the Colts ranked near last in almost every defensive category imaginable. Bradley Chubb would most certainly help fix the sack totals and rushing yards allowed. More importantly, it would give the Colts another piece of defense that they can develop and build around. If they don't choose Chubb, then Mike McGlinchey or Quenton Nelson are highly recommended here.
Barkley is the safest pick in the draft, but Fitzpatrick isn't far behind him. Barkley is farther along in his development at his position, but Fitzpatrick is the most versatile player in this draft, being equally as skilled at cornerback as he is at safety. The Browns had a hard time scoring, but an even harder time preventing scores on defense. They also ranked 31st in interceptions, so they clearly need a playmaker. Fitzpatrick is the best playmaker in the draft and has great instincts. Browns could also pick Darnold here and get the QB they've been looking for, but Fitzpatrick makes more sense for a team that can't risk drafting another QB who isn't NFL ready.
The Broncos are honestly the perfect fit for the project QB. Darnold isn't ready to be a starter and could have a great career ahead of him if the team owned by an all time top QB drafts him. Elway can develop Darnold into one of the best QB's in the league right now, but he needs to go to a team that isn't expecting him to start on day 1. He'd be given two top targets to work with as well as a young offensive line to build a strong chemistry with.
The Jets need a playmaker on the offense at either WR or RB, but they also need someone who can take charge of the offense for the future. I don't think Mayfield has a huge ceiling, but he still has shown scouts that he can be a good QB in this league, as he's gone against top college defenses in the nation and not weak ones. Mayfield can learn the offense now and let the Jets pick a top playmaker next year to pair up with him. He's undersized and has a few maturity issues, but his leadership is off the charts; he's a natural born leader and knows how to get the best out of his team. But whether or not he can lead the team like a grown man and not a little boy is to be determined.
I don't get why James ever fell in mock drafts to begin with. He was a potential number 1 overall pick going into draft season but midway through the college season, mock drafters had him going in the early 20's, even the 30's. James is an elite playmaker who is plenty capable of leading a defense. The Buccs need someone like that, as 2016 first rounder Vernon Hargreaves hasn't really panned out quite well. He is good in run support and could be a good strong safety for the Buccs, especially in a division that is starting to lean towards the running game as a whole.
This pick is bound to happen unless the Bears screw this one up. They made a panic pick last year by selecting Mitch Trubisky, who probably wasn't the top QB in the draft to begin with. Regardless, he came out and had an alright rookie year, but not one that can be left alone. Yes, the Bears had injured wide receivers, so he wasn't working with the full Bears roster. That shouldn't prevent them from picking the top wide receiver in this draft in Calvin Ridley, who will join Julio Jones and Amari Cooper as elite Alabama receivers to be selected in the first round in the past decade. Ridley has great ball skills and body control and can be the top receiver for many teams in the league. What makes him a can't-miss pick is that he is young as well as Trubisky. That's no duh, but I'm basically saying the two can develop and go through the league together as opposed to five years down the road, the Bears decide that's when they need to give Trubisky a primary target and suffer from the 5 year difference. I swear this makes sense in my head.
The 49ers were slated to pick players from Saquon Barkley to Derwin James to even Josh Rosen at one point (pre-Garoppolo, obviously). But the Niners will end up picking someone on the defense and someone from Iowa. No, not Josey Jewell. I'm talking about the best cornerback in the entire draft*. Joshua Jackson wasn't a full time starter last year, but in 2017 he was moved to the top corner slot and took full advantage of it. He led the nation with 8 interceptions, 2 of which were touchdowns and 3 of which came against Ohio State. He also had a ridiculous 18 total pass defenses, proving elite ball-playing skills. He's a ballhawk and a playmaker, two tools that have worked well for someone like Richard Sherman in the league. The Niners will get themselves a new leader for the secondary and someone who can develop alongside potential teammates Solomon Thomas, DeForest Buckner, and Reuben Foster, all of whom were picked in the first round over the past two drafts.
*It's more likely than not that if the Browns picked Minkah, he'd be put at safety and not corner. If he was a corner, however, he'd be the top corner in the draft, not Jackson.
Other than the dominant (but overrated in the eyes of a Chargers fan) Khalil Mack, the Raiders defense didn't play up to their expectations even a little bit. The offense looked lost and the defense was spotty. Even though they were actually better against the run than against the pass, they can't let someone with Smith's skill set fall farther, especially if a division rival could potentially pick him up. Smith is the best linebacker in this draft and was the anchor of the dominant Georgia defense last year. He is a prototype linebacker who has insane athletic skills. He'd be a great addition to a team that has a lot of big, bulldozers on defense but no playmaker. Most of the linebackers the Raiders have don't play smart, but rather physical. Smith does both and does them at a high level.
But Mack still sucks and Bosa will always be better. Go Chargers! (said by one of four Charger fans in all of the US)
The Dolphins took a chance last year with Charles Harris, but he was given very little playing time to show what he can do. The Dolphins are most likely just letting him ride bench this first year and learn from a proven vet in Cameron Wake, who is near the end of his career. Now, they need to keep building that defense and get someone who can boost a secondary that is experiencing some troubles overall. Ward is one of the top corners in this draft, but more importantly, he's probably the most consistent corner and that's just what the Fins need. Reshad Jones is the leader of the secondary for Miami, but he's getting up there in age and had an injury scare in 2016. Ward is someone who can be immediately plugged into the top corner slot and have immense success. That said, they can draft Ward and go for a playoff push right out the gate.
The Bengals weren't very nice to their rookie running back Joe Mixon and gave him 1. The number three spot on the depth chart before moving up halfway through the year, 2. An offense that didn't utilize what he could do, and, most important, 3. A crippled offensive line. They've lost many key linemen over the past few free agency classes and need to draft someone who can anchor the line. Even though it's almost unheard of for a guard to go as high as 12th or even be the first offensive linemen off the board, Nelson is the most skilled player at their respective position, and that's even surpassing Saquon Barkley, Minkah Fitzpatrick, or Bradley Chubb. Nelson is already in contention for an All Pro mention and he hasn't even been drafted yet. He is the best guard to come out of college in a long time and can start for any team on day 1. He's been put to the test against elite interior linemen in 2017 and handled each challenge the same; like a seasoned vet. He's got a ceiling mingles with the likes of Zack Martin and Lane Johnson, two All Pros.
Derrius Guice is also a viable option for the Skins here at 13th, but I think that similar talent can be picked in the second round. Meanwhile, they can fix their main issue by picking the recent riser of Tremaine Edmunds, who had a really good bowl season this year. The Skins were last in rushing touchdowns allowed, something that should be an urgent concern considering the division they play in. Edmunds would be a great addition and could be the best player on the defense after he experiences the NFL. He racked up over 30 tackles for loss in his sophomore and junior years combined and is also a good pass rusher, getting 10 sacks combined as well. Skins get it all with this pick and give Jonathan Allen another star defensive player to develop alongside.
This pick is pretty hard to make. On the one hand, the Packers thought they solved their secondary issues with Kevin King, who got injured midway after showing a bit of potential. But on the other hand, they lack in cornerback depth to begin with, so why let this potential superstar slip? Carlton Davis isn't a huge playmaker or ballhawk, but he's a consistent defender, which the Packers could use. They've allowed wide receivers to have a field day against them week in and week out, something that needs to change. Their offense lives and dies on Aaron Rodgers, but that's an issue for a later date. For now, they need to fix the defense that has lacked a premier cornerback since Charles Woodson and Casey Hayward.
Why why why do scouts love Josh Allen? He's got a great arm, but he misses so many throws and doesn't have eye popping stats in any of the years he started. Focusing on this past year, he never attempted over 30 pas attempts and completed above 60% of his passes on three occasions; once against Air Force when he attempted 11 passes, another against the defenseless Utah State, and another against Gardner-Webb, and they don't even have a sports-reference page. I don't like bashing on someone who could have such a bright future, but he was a potential fifth-rounder before one scout said "Damn, he's got a nice arm". Now he's even being projected as the top overall pick in some mocks, and even if it's a QB, there's still Darnold and Rosen and Mayfield and Jackson and...you get the point. There are others.
But now I'll explain why I'm going with this trend. The teams that are projected to pick him would all start him on day 1, but the Cardinals WERE different. They had Carson Palmer and could've easily had confidence in Allen sitting a year behind someone who's been to the playoffs and led great offenses. Now, with Palmer retiring, the Cardinals don't have a choice but to select a QB. They could get someone in free agency, but all the ones on the market that are better than drafting Allen would cost too much. Drafting Allen gives him a chance to learn a new offense, as they'll be getting a new head coach soon, and let him develop chemistry with dual threat David Johnson. Allen is by no means a bust, but he's also in no means a first rounder. Nevertheless, the Cardinals are going to pick him before picking Lamar Jackson.
The Ravens do usually build their receivers in free agency, but Jeremy Maclin isn't panning out well and Mike Wallace had one good year with Baltimore followed by a injury filled one in 2017. They did pick a receiver in 2015 with Breshad Perriman in the first round, but that receiver class was pretty mediocre, sporting only one potential Pro Bowler in Amari Cooper. This year's class is pretty deep and has two potential Pro Bowlers and Sutton is one of them. More importantly, he is the type of receiver the Ravens haven't had in so long. Wallace is somewhat of a red zone threat, but Sutton is the prototypical red zone threat, standing at 6'4 and having a wide frame. He isn't the next Calvin Johnson, let me say that, but he's probably on track to be cast in a similar mold as him. What makes him like Calvin is he knows how to use his huge body effectively, but that might bring Sutton the same injury concerns that it brought Calvin. Nevertheless, Sutton can be the top receiver for Flacco in 2018 and give the Ravens more time to make a decision on Flacco. They'd also add a receiver who can be a franchise wideout for them.