It’s time for my very first 2018 NFL mock draft, and boy am I ... not making too many waves with this one. I don’t think I even did a mock draft last year, and I might have skipped it in 2016 as well. I’d like to write another one with more analysis of the picks as the draft gets closer, but I felt like putting this together now, with general explanations of the standout picks.
For the San Francisco 49ers, I’m going with Roquan Smith, the linebacker out of Georgia. This isn’t an unpopular pick in other mock drafts, so I’m not exactly breaking any new ground here, of course. But in my mock, all of Bradley Chubb, Saquon Barkley, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Quenton Nelson, Trumaine Edmunds and Denzel Ward are off the board.
So Smith it is, and I would be very pleased with that pick, personally. He’s just a very solid player who makes few mistakes, and the 49ers need that out of their linebackers right now.
Oh, and I have only two quarterbacks going in the top 10. A trade could certainly happen, but I’m not convinced it’s all-that likely and I’m not convinced the New York Giants will be interested in trading out of the second pick, which allows things to fall in such a way that the third and fourth quarterbacks are able to go without their potential trade-up teams — the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills — actually trading up.
Onto the first round mock!
1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
2. New York Giants: Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
3. New York Jets (via Indianapolis Colts): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans): Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
5. Denver Broncos: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
With the trade of Jason Pierre-Paul, I expect the New York Giants to either trade out of No. 2 or take a player. I tend to think they will take a player, and Bradley Chubb makes the most sense at this point. He’s going to be a star. The pick I had the most trouble with was the Browns at No. 4 overall. Many have them going with Saquon Barkley, but I’m going with Ward as my “surprise” pick at that point in the draft. The Broncos are delighted for Barkley to fall in their laps.
6. Indianapolis Colts (via New York Jets): Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
8. Chicago Bears: Trumaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia
9. San Francisco 49ers: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
10. Oakland Raiders: Derwin James, S, Florida State
Most have the Buccaneers taking Quenton Nelson and many have the 49ers taking Trumaine Edmunds, but both go one pick before both teams get that chance. Nelson goes to the Colts, and the Buccaneers “settle” for a versatile playmaker in Fitzpatrick. The Bears want to give Vic Fangio his Patrick Willis, and that’s Trumaine Edmunds. The 49ers taking Smith, a range-y linebacker with an NFL-ready skillset has been talked about a lot, and I see no reason to deviate from that.
11. Miami Dolphins: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
12. Buffalo Bills (via Cincinnati Bengals): Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
13. Washington: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
14. Green Bay Packers: Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA
15. Arizona Cardinals: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
16. Baltimore Ravens: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
18. Seattle Seahawks: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
19. Dallas Cowboys: Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia
20. Detroit Lions: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
If the Dolphins and Bills don’t trade up, I expect them to be interested in those quarterbacks. Lamar Jackson could even be the pick for the Dolphins, but I tend to think they’ll take Mayfield here, who slips out of the top 10. Vita Vea is the steal of the draft at 13th overall and is going to be start. The Cardinals get their future quarterback in Allen, while the first tackle off the board prompts a run of offensive linemen.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (via Buffalo Bills): Will Hernandez, G, UTEP
22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs): Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
23. Los Angeles Rams: Cortland Sutton, WR, SMU
24. Carolina Panthers: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
25. Tennessee Titans: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
26. Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan, DL, Florida
27. New Orleans Saints: Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
30. Minnesota Vikings: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
31. New England Patriots: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Brian O’Neil, OT, Pittsburgh
I know the bidet crowd will be sad to see Will Hernandez go, but the Bengals are desparate for help on the offensive line. The Bills, after getting Jackson, take a receiver, Calvin Ridley, to pair with Kelvin Benjamin, which prompts the Rams to move in on the next receiver, Cortland Sutton. The Panthers get the next big “steal” of the drat with Josh Jackson falling all the way down to 24th overall. I feel pretty good about the picks at the back-end of the round, with Mason Rudolph to the Jaguars as one of my favorite picks.