Now that the 2017 NFL Draft is behind us, we can now get excited for the 2018 NFL Draft! Jokes aside, I thought I would put together a Way-Too-Early Mock Draft to offer a first look at probable draft eligible prospects in next year’s draft.
Let’s keep a few things in mind. The draft order I am deciding on is the current Super Bowl odds for all teams next season. I can promise this order will change when the dust settles on 2017. While every prospect in this mock is draft eligible, some may opt to return to school for another season. Lastly, this is ridiculously early and is meant to be fun!
With that said, here is our first look at the 2018 NFL Draft:
1. Cleveland Browns: Mike McGlinchey, OT - Notre Dame
The offensive tackle out of Notre Dame decided to return to school for this upcoming season. He will most likely be the top tackle and a top 5 prospect in next year’s draft. Should the Browns find themselves in the top 5 (Most Likely) then continuing to build the offensive line to protect DeShone Kizer or whoever else is under center is priority number 1.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Sam Darnold, QB - USC
The 49ers took a pass on the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft. They did draft C.J. Beathard in the third round. However, I am not buying that he is their quarterback of the future. Neither is Brian Hoyer or Matt Barkley who were signed this offseason. Now, if Kirk Cousins is signed next offseason then this idea quickly goes out the window. However, if Cousins can't find his way to the bay then expect John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan to identify their quarterback of the future in next year’s draft which is far deeper in talent. The quarterbacks to keep an eye on this upcoming season are Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen out of UCLA, and Josh Allen out of Wyoming. Those three will most likely be the top 3 quarterbacks in next year’s class. However, I believe in the early going it is Darnold that Shanahan and Lynch will have their sights set on. The real question will be where the 49ers are actually picking next year.
3. New York Jets: Josh Rosen, QB - UCLA
My thinking here with this pick is that the Jets will either clean house after what is expected to be a long season, or current GM Mike Maccagnan’s seat will be so hot he’ll be sprinting to the podium for Josh Rosen to save his job. Rosen has been looked at as a first round pick even before he stepped foot on the UCLA campus. We’ll need to keep a close eye on Rosen as he missed most of last season dealing with a nerve in his shoulder. However, the hype is real and if Rosen is able to produce at a high level, expect a lot of top 5 chatter early and often.
4. Los Angeles Rams, Christian Kirk, WR - Texas A&M
I read some early mocks and many have a quarterback going to the Rams, but it would be a little shocking after all the real estate they gave up for Jared Goff. Now that he has a new coach and another year to develop, I believe the Rams will give him time to settle into the role they envisioned him to be. They can help this case by selecting the current number one receiver in next year’s draft, Christian Kirk. The Rams need weapons at the receiving position. Kirk would fill a major need for an offense with a young and developing quarterback who needs all the help he can get.
5. Chicago Bears: Christian Wilkins, DT - Clemson
The Bears missed out on a golden opportunity to draft a defensive stud in the first round. They will get another chance with Christian Wilkins, the defensive tackle out of Clemson. Wilkins is one of the best defensive tackles in the country who will open up holes and gaps, and create a considerable amount of pressure on the offensive line.
6. Buffalo Bills: Calvin Ridley, WR - Alabama
A quarterback could be in play here, however I am curious to see how they develop Nathan Peterman. Don't forget, they have Ohio State product Cardell Jones as well. What the Bills are lacking is receiving help. Sammy Watkins has been battling injuries since he entered the league and they recently lost Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin to free agency. In a pass-first league no one needs a receiver more than the Bills. Ridley is a playmaker who can instantly become their number one target on day 1.
7. New Orleans Saints: Arden Key, DE - LSU
At some point the Saints will need to think about life after Drew Brees. However, in round 1 next year they stay the course of continuing to build their defense by selecting the best pass rusher. Even after the 2017 draft, there will be plenty of building to do on that Saints defense.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars: Mitch Hyatt, OT - Clemson
This pick can certainly be a quarterback. However, the Jags line could use an upgrade, and Hyatt out of Clemson fits the bill. Whether it’s Bortles or someone else, they will need better protection that the personnel that is currently in place.
9. Los Angels Chargers: Josh Allen, QB - Wyoming
Will we have 3 quarterbacks in the top 10 next year? Well, if this year’s class produced three in top 12 then I would put a heavy bet on it. Next year I believe the Chargers will begin to think about life after Philip Rivers. Based off the 2017 draft where we saw the Chargers selecting a potential number one wide receiver and selecting two talented guards to their offensive line, this pick seems to make sense at the moment.
10. Washington: Saquon Barkley, RB - Penn State
This pick depends on what the future holds for Kirk Cousins. Let's assume in this way-too-early mock he remains in the nation’s capital. Barkley is probably the best running back option and a top 10 prospect in next year’s draft. He will instantly improve the ground game in D.C.
11. Cincinnati Bengals: Malik Jefferson, LB - Texas
Many assumed the Bengals would jump on Reuben Foster, but decided to pass. They have a need at linebacker and Malik Jefferson will fit the bill with ease. He will be fun to watch with the Longhorns and should be a lock in the top 20 next year.
12. Tennesse Titans: Derwin James, S - Florida State
In this mock James falls to the Titans. On draft night next year he will more than likely go in the top 10. James is the real deal, and the titans would welcome an elite safety prospect. James had injuries that kept him off the field for a large portion of last season. If he can remain healthy, look out. He can challenge for the best defensive player in this draft.
13. Detroit Lions: Courtland Sutton, WR - SMU
Detroit gives Matthew Stafford his future number one target. Sutton has gone a bit under the radar playing at SMU. However, in Chad Morris’ uptempo offense he will be a force to reckon with. Christian Kirk has the early lead as the draft’s top receiver, but look out for Sutton.
14. Philadelphia Eagles: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB - Alabama
The Eagles will need to continue to give Wentz weapons, however they are building that defense up, and in this early mock, they continue that trend by selecting the top overall cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick out of Alabama.
15. Cleveland Browns via (Houston): Sam Hubbard, DE - Ohio State
The Browns select here after trading back with Houston and obtaining their first round pick. Now, having Myles Garrett is great. Having Myles Garrett and Sam Hubbard should put the rest of the AFC North’s quarterbacks on notice.
16. Miami Dolphins: Tarvarus McFadden, CB - Florida State
The Dolphins will continue to address their defense by selecting the hard hitting physical corner out of Tallahassee. If anyone in that division has a snowball’s chance of taking down the Pats, it’s the dolphins. Addressing the secondary helps this cause.
17. Carolina Panthers: Jaire Alexander, CB - Louisville
I was surprised the panthers did not address their secondary with either of their top two picks. A secondary that sunk their season. In this mock, they address it dipping into the Louisville talent pool.
18. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, DE - N.C. State
The Colts did a great job addressing their secondary. To kick off next year’s draft, they will address their pass rush as they continue to build the defense with new GM Chris Ballard.
19. Baltimore Ravens: James Washington, WR - Oklahoma State
The Ravens have been trying to address their number one receiver. They thought they had one in Breshad Perriman. However, that has not gone exactly as planned. So, if at first you don't succeed…try again…and they will…in this early mock.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jordan Whitehead, S - Pittsburgh
The Buccaneers bolstered the talented on the offensive side of the ball this offseason and draft. Next year they will add a weapon in Whitehead to be a major focal point in their secondary in the pass-first NFL.
21. Arizona Cardinals: Martinas Rankin, OT - Mississippi State
The Cardinals will need to think about life after Carson Palmer. Right now there is no quarterback which fits the value at this point in the draft. Instead, they will address the offensive line to protect Palmer in his twilight years and also the quarterback of the future.
22. Minnesota Vikings: Orlando Brown, OT - Oklahoma
The offensive line went down the drain and the Vikings season quickly followed. Minnesota adds their potential left or right tackle of the future with Orlando Brown out of Oklahoma.
23. Buffalo Bills via (Kansas City): Harold Landry, DE - Boston College
The Bills acquire this pick via the trade down with Kansas City. After addressing the wide receiver position with their first pick, Sean McDermott grabs the talented pass rusher Landry out of Boston College.
24. New York Giants: Quenton Nelson, Guard - Notre Dame
As Eli Manning enters the twilight of his career giving him protection with first round talent should not even be a debate. Whether it be a guard or a tackle, the Giants need to protect their two time super bowl winning quarterback.
25. Denver Broncos: Tyquan Lewis, DE - Ohio State
The rich get richer as the Broncos add another talented pass rusher to their already impressive depth chart. The Broncos won their super bowl last year on the back of their defense and they will return to those roots with the selection of Lewis. This pick can also be a tackle or a guard.
26. Atlanta Falcons: Cameron Smith, LB - USC
The Falcons have been seeking a run stopping linebacker who can have an impact in pass coverage. The talented linebacker out of South California will address a need in the Falcons defense.
27. Seattle Seahawks: Armani Watts, S - Texas A&M
Who wants to bet the Seahawks trade out of the first round…again? Just in case they don’t, they will look to add the next great safety to develop and contribute to their defense. Enter Amari Watts who is in or around late first round value.
28. Oakland Raiders: Derrius Guice, RB - LSU
Sure they have Beast Mode, but Marshawn Lynch isn't the long term option for the Vegas bound Raiders. While Guice is not going to get the same love as his predecessor Leonard Fournette, he is mighty fun to watch in Baton Rouge. Look for him to slip into the end of the first round.
29. Pittsburgh Steelers: Byron Cowart, DE - Auburn
Pittsburgh continues to add 1st round defensive talent and this trend continues next year as well, and they will be rewarded with a high caliber pass rusher out of Auburn. Coward and Bud Dupree could be dynamic together.
30. Green Bay Packers: Bo Scarbrough, RB- Alabama
Does Green Bay take a shot on another Alabama running back after Eddie Lacy came and went? In this mock they do. Ty Montgomery was a swiss army knife for the Packers last season, but adding a downhill bruising running back in Scarbrough will give the Packers a better identity in their ground attack…especially in the red zone.
31. Dallas Cowboys: Parris Campbell, WR - Ohio State
Even with Dez Bryant, the Cowboys should look to give Dak Prescott more weapons to work with. Campbell should be one of the top receivers in the Big 10 next season.
32. New England Patriots: Adonis Alexander, CB - Virginia Tech
What is the future of cornerback Malcom Butler? If it isn't in Foxborough then perhaps the Pats will address the cornerback position and take a long look at Adonis Alexander.
Once again, this is a way-too-early mock that is meant to be fun and offer a first look at some of next year’s potential top prospects. What are your early thoughts on these prospects? Do the 49ers add their quarterback of the future? Is Sam Darnold your early favorite? Share in the comments below!