2018 NFL Mock Draft by haydenpryor - 4.2
Published at 4/2/2018 10:57:20 PM
First draft, no trades projected
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Cleveland gets their franchise QB with the first overall pick, something that I believe they should have done at least once in the last 15 years. Their habit of picking up QB after QB who fell past the top 15 picks for one reason or another and thinking he was the answer was getting pretty annoying (ex: Brady Quinn, Manziel, Kizer, etc.). Shipping out Kizer was writing on the wall, with Tyrod Taylor a serviceable game-manager if Darnold isn't ready to roll week 1.
Let's be clear, Eli Manning is not only really old, but if he had any other last name he would be retired by now. Ben McAdoo wasn't a great coach, but Eli Manning certainly wasn't untouchable anymore by the time he made the decision to bench him. With a new GM and coach, the Giants' front office has to prepare for their era. If they hope to keep their jobs, they can't find themselves picking in the top 10 anytime soon. So why not use the opportunity of having the 2nd overall pick to draft the QB that will allow you all to keep your jobs for the next 10 years? I understand the people who think Barkley would be a great fit here, but the Giants don't have the same level of offensive line talent that other teams who have taken top running backs in the top 5 had. Rosen is arguably the best QB in the draft and can step in as soon as Eli starts playing like Eli.
I think this is the reason the Jets moved up in the draft. I don't think Denver would take a QB at 5, and obviously the Browns wouldn't take two QB's in the top 4 (although I wouldn't put it past them). The Colts also would not have taken a QB with Luck still there and making all that money. Besides for it being insurance that nobody could leapfrog them for a QB, I think the Jets take the only player who can step in and have an immediate impact for them. Josh McCown actually played really well last year when healthy, and Teddy Bridgewater on a one year deal can be groomed as his replacement while he rehabs from his knee surgery. So the choice is, do you draft the third-best QB and have him sit the bench with Teddy, Petty or Hackenberg, OR do you draft the best player in the country to be your bell-cow runningback and give your offense the dynamic playmaker it hasn't had in years? Worst case scenario: you still finish in the bottom 10 in the league but have Barkley and then draft a top QB next season.
The Browns signing Carlos Hyde now looks like a great move with Barkley off the board. With the loss of Joe Thomas, it's a shame there's no Quenton Nelson-level tackle prospects in the draft this year. However, the opportunity to select who many believe is the best defensive player in the draft and pair him with last year's first overall pick Myles Garrett is too good to pass up. While they have needs at almost every position, spending your first two picks on a franchise QB and a premier pass rusher is a safe route to take.
The Broncos aren't going to have Case Keenum and former first rounder Paxton Lynch on the team and spend the 5th overall pick on another QB. Here the Broncos get the physicality many said has been missing since the departure of TJ Ward, which is the reason some Broncos players believe caused them to take a step back in 2017. James is a hard hitter who could even cover Travis Kelce man to man if needed. One thing is for certain, the Broncos will need to slow down some dynamic offenses is 2018 and James is the type of chess piece that can help to accomplish that goal.
After giving Andrew Luck a record-breaking contract a few seasons ago, their franchise QB has been hampered with injury after injury while playing behind some awful offensive lines. Gone are the days where the Colts continuously pick wide receivers in the first round and allow their QB only a few clean pockets a game. Nelson is the perfect answer to Calais Cambell, Jurell Casey and JJ Watt trying to send Andrew Luck and his massive contract to the IR year after year.
I've been mocking a safety to the Bucs for years and it never seems to manifest itself for one reason or another. While they attempted to reclaim the physicality in their secondary by signing TJ Ward last year, it never seemed to mesh. Fitzpatrick is yet another versatile defensive back who can play wherever he is needed in the Buc's depleted secondary.
A lot of mocks like a corner here, and while it was tempting to give Chicago their pick of the top 3 corners in the draft at this spot, I think a top-level pass rusher to pair with Leonard Floyd would serve them much better at this spot. Key gives Chicago the ability to get pressure on Stafford, Rodgers, and Cousins. Plus, Chicago just invested big bucks in Kyle Fuller, which proves they believe he can become a guy who can stop Adam Theilen, Marvin Jones, and Randall Cobb.
While I really think SanFran could use an every-down off the ball linebacker, passing up on a big-bodied playmaker like Sutton would be crazy, even if he is a bit of a reach here. While the 9ers have a speed guy in Goodwin and a 3rd-down security blanket in Trent Taylor, having a redzone threat like Sutton on the perimeter for Jimmy G to throw to would be deadly. This is the next best thing they could do if they don't trade for a guy like Dez Bryant before the draft.
Gruden is going to be running a scheme that involves two inside linebackers usually lining up over the A-gaps in disguise, and then playing a number of different calls out of that shell. This requires athleticism, which is something that Roquan Smith has plenty of. While there has been rumors recently about his health being a concern, Smith could pair with Tahir Whitehead and become the next Derrick Brooks for Jon Gruden.
While the departure of Suh will hurt, the Dolphins must have had a backup plan if they were the ones who decided to cut him. Xavien Howard actually played better in the second half of the season, which is why I believe pairing him with Joshua Jackson could really benefit the Dolphins. While they have needs at all three levels of their defense, snagging a guy who is arguably the draft's top cornerback is a smart move at pick 11.
While the Bills might still trade up with the draft more than three weeks away, they luck out in this mock as Allen falls right into their lap at pick 12. Allen is the perfect QB for Buffalo, as he is a big guy with elite arm strength who can survive the conditions in the AFC East. He can sit and learn while AJ McCarron gets beat up behind a questionable line and throwing to below average receivers.
This may look like a reach here, but I believe Jones has serious upside and can be a difference maker from day one for the Redskins.When I watch him, I'm reminded of Adrian Peterson and his running style. Look what Kareem Hunt did for KC last season, if you can pair Alex Smith with another dynamic back, you don't need an all-pro wide receiver. With disappointing players like Perine and Kelley penciled in as current starters, and third down back Chris Thompson recovering from a broken leg, Jones could take over as the main playmaker in Washington.
After trading away the disappointing Damarious Randall and swapping him for 34 year old Tramon Williams, the Packers desperately need talent at cornerback, especially with Allen Robinson, Adam Theilen and Marvin Jones in their division. Ward was part of a secondary that included Marshon Lattimore, Gareon Conley and Malik Hooker, all first round picks last season. He would be a day one starter in Green Bay.
After signing Sam Bradford to a one-year deal, Arizona allows themselves to draft and develop a QB. While Lamar Jackson has elite athleticism, nobody has had better production and proved themselves more times than Baker Mayfield. While many believe he is Manziel 2.0, he has much higher upside than Manziel and can make plays with his arm without relying so much on escapability. Pair him with David Johnson and put him inside Phoenix Stadium 8 games a season and Mayfield could be the next Drew Brees.
While Calvin Ridley is a popular pick here, Joe Flacco certainly isn't going to be getting MVP votes anytime soon so there's no need to continue to give him receivers or offensive linemen in the first round. Instead, the Ravens select a raw but freakishly athletic 19 year old who could learn from Terrell Suggs and then wreak havoc on opposing QBs. Edmunds is athletic enough to play almost any front seven spot and has a ton of upside.