Welcome to the Niners Nation 2018 NFL mock draft. We’re back for the second round after making solid progress through round one. The San Francisco 49ers selected Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith in the first round. You can view the full first round results here, which includes an explanation for picks.
We’re starting the second round today, and this will take us three or four days to get through. The 49ers traded their own pick (No. 11, 43 overall) in the Jimmy Garoppolo trade, but have the Saints pick (No. 27, 59 overall) from a draft day trade last year. We will likely get to the 49ers pick on Saturday morning. I’ll likely post about 13 picks on Thursday and 13 picks on Friday so that we then have the 49ers leading things off on Saturday.
33. Cleveland Browns - Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado (Mertons_merkin)
Whew... If the Browns don’t trade the fourth pick of the draft to move back and target Jackson, they are going to sweat out the run through the first round. I promise you that they have Oliver targeted as an almost MUST HAVE. They picked up T.J Carrie to be the starter on one side, and have a great player in Body-Calhoun at the nickel position, but they have nothing on the other side. The Browns cannot exit the draft without finding a starting corner. That’s not an ideal position to be in. Carrie is getting paid like a starter. He’s a bit of a risk, but Oakland hoped to hold onto him. There is some hope for him there. But that other side is just a mess.
And in Oliver, the Browns find maybe the most underrated player in the draft. He may be the best corner in this class. He stands as good a chance of anyone of being the “steal” player that ends up winning rookie of the year status despite being (barely) taken outside of the first round. 49ers fans should be familiar with the skill set. He’s very similar to Akhello Witherspoon. How teams managed to get passes off against Colorado with both of those guys back there is a bit of a mystery. Of the two, Akhello has that insane length, but Oliver has all of the same incredible athletic traits (the arm length, the quick feet, the smooth hips), and he’s more pro ready. Oliver is a day one starter, and there isn’t much question about it. He’s tenacious, he plays with an edge, and he’s a former decathlete. There’s just so much to like about what he brings, and he is a tremendous fit for a team that wants to play some bump, and a lot of zone. He has the ability to shut down one side of the field with length, change of direction ability and recovery speed. A tremendous value where he’s drafted. This guy is going to be something big for the next decade.
Hue Jackson can finally take a deep breath.
34. New York Giants - James Daniels, C, Iowa (Davidss)
The Giants largest need after QB is without question the offensive line. Having signed Nate Soldier to a huge deal is a start, but more bodies are needed.
Lucky for the G-Men they now have their long-term center to replace Weston Richburg in Daniels. A day one starter, Daniels is the most pro-ready center in this draft. Coming from the lineman factory at Iowa, Daniels is refined and experienced. Also an elite athletic with incredible feet he can fit on blocking scheme. Having seen Daniels mocked as high as the low 20’s, the Giants would be doing back-flips to land him in the second round.
35. Cleveland Browns - Taven Bryan, DT, Florida (Mertons_merkin)
Continuing on the theme of scooping up value players at positions of need, the Browns select one of the most intriguing players in the draft. There are two more positions of absolute need for the Browns as we enter this pick, the gaping hole at left tackle, and three tech. Only one of these holes is likely to find a high-caliber fill in this year’s draft class, and with Kolton Miller off the board, the Tackle position looks a little thin. There are good options, options that won’t likely be there in the next round. But you’ve got to make a choice here.
Bryan has as much upside as any defensive linemen in this year’s draft. Full stop. The comparisons to Cam Jordan and JJ Watt are extreme, but not completely unwarranted. He’s got tremendous strength for his size, and a ton of burst. He likely has the ability to play inside or outside in some situations, and has shown the ability to bend the edge. This gives the Browns what they really need up front, versatility. They have some young athletic players already along the line, but it’s yet to completely come together. Bryan helps them get there, by adding a piece that can play competently along the line from inside to outside. There are downsides, and that’s why it’s not insane to think that Bryan may slip out of the first, and to the Browns at this pick. He’s a boom or bust player. He’s unrefined. He doesn’t yet have great feel for the game, and leans on his tremendous athletic ability to overcome. That’s unlikely to be as successful in the pros. He may take some time to develop, but the tools are all there to be successful. He’ll see time in the lineup this year, he will not be a liability in the run game. He needs to develop a counter move, but when it’s all said and done, the athletic ability he has been leaning on is just so high, that I wouldn’t be shocked if he has much more success in his rookie season than people think at the moment.
In real life, if everything breaks this way, the Browns should consider trading back up to nab one of the last three competent tackles before they all evaporate. But with all the holes the Browns have, even with five picks in the top 100, they are going to end up with at least one somewhat glaring hole. This was a winless team last season. That didn’t happen because they are stocked with talent. This is a long build, and they are going to have to make do with some less than ideal players at a few positions in 2018. In the end, you just can’t deny top end talent at an area of weakness. Bryan is going to be a winner down the road.
36. Indianapolis Colts - Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville (Rowingdave)
With the first of back to back picks, the Colts lock down one of the best corners in the draft (possibly THE best); Alexander cleared up any concerns with injuries at the Combine showing elite speed, fluid hips and great agility. He can cover with the best of them, and while I had my eyes on Isaiah Oliver, Jaire has the traits and the confidence to be a CB1 in the NFL. Any time you can get a top 20 player in the second round is a victory, and the Colts aren’t done yet.
37. Indianapolis Colts - D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland (Rowingdave)
All year long, I watched a lot of Big Ten football, and “that dude from Maryland” kept popping off the screen. D.J. Moore? Never heard of him? Call him a “riser,” but the tape don’t lie! This guy can ball. Period. He’s a taller Steve Smith who had a carousel of JV QBs throwing him the ball in College Park...plain and simple? He’s a playmaker with great high point skills, 4.4 speed, and explosive athleticism that shows whether he’s regularly beating people deep on the outside or running quick hits over the middle. At 6’0”, 215, he doesn’t shy away from contact and is another guy that fits the mold of the Colts first two picks: supremely confident, productive and fearless. Chris Ballard will go BPA, and while Edge and LB are big needs, Moore and Alexander were too good to pass up, supplanting Rashaan Melvin and Donte Moncrief.
38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Sony Michel, RB, Georgia (BayAreaBOI)
With Jacquizz Rodgers, Peyton Barber, and Dalton Crossan at running back, the Bucs need to address the position. Michel has the potential to become a great running back. He would come in and compete for RB1. With Evans, Jackson, Brate, and Howard at WR and TE it makes for a dynamic passing game. But with no running game they just play the pass. This would keep defenses honest and have worry about the running game.
39. Chicago Bears - Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M (#hawtomegoose)
The Bears have added to their WR corps by signing Allen Robinson and Tyler Gabriel, but a dynamic option like Kirk helps complete this group - if they can get anything out of Kevin White then that’s great, but at this point I wouldn’t bank on it.
Kirk is a more athletic and explosive Jarvis Landry who can play along the outside. He’s a natural playmaker and a strong route runner who knows how to get open - something that Trubisky needs as he isn’t a QB who has pinpoint accuracy. Kirk fits well with this WR group and the Bears suddenly have a good, functional offense to help their franchise QB to continue his development.
40. Denver Broncos - Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn (Tomac21)
The Broncos believe in rushing 4 lining up the the secondary and letting the pass rush get a sack due to coverage. Davis is an upgrade from Brock day 1 and worst case is a competition. Denver continues to upgrade the defense as Roby is heading into a 5th year option and don’t exactly know what they have in him as Talib has allowed him in the slot role. He has been very good but has been to aggressive, if he is on his game this year the Broncos will pick up the options as a steal, but for a team that plays 3 corners most of the game Davis is a need. Harris Jr. Roby Davis with Miller and Chubb looking to hit the quarterback is a no brainer
41. Oakland Raiders - Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State (twolfe2)
After cutting Walford, the Raiders are excited to see this Penn State player on the board. While TEs aren’t usually impactful this Rookie year, he will have a chance to shine in this offense.
42. Miami Dolphins - R.J. McIntosh, DT, Miami (MD49erFaithful)
DT is a huge need with Suh release. RJ fits pure three technique need and his ability to generate push from inside and play quality run stopping is key to his early second round pick. Another player with upside, reminiscent of Gerald McCoy’s play style but without his name brand.
43. New England Patriots - Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon (JMichael39)
With a loss of a key running back this offseason the Pats need someone. Freeman can run between the table tackles or turn the corner and he has good hands for receiving.
44. Washington - Ronald Jones, RB, USC (Shanafandom)
Jones will be a great compliment to pass catching back Chris Thompson, who was having a very productive year before suffering from a fractured fibula. Jones is a fantastic rusher, and can help to bring some balance to this offense. It’s been a while since this team has had a strong run game, and it will be needed to help out our old pal Alex Smith.
45. Green Bay Packers - Arden Key, Edge, LSU (Fred Mercury)
Explanation: I was tempted to go offense here since Rodgers could use a receiving threat to go with Jimmy Graham since Jordy Nelson was released and Randall Cobb is in the last year of his contract. Had tight end Mike Gesicki been available, I probably would have taken him here. However, like Derwin James, Arden Key was too good to pass up at this spot. Key has questions about why he mysteriously left the team for 4 months last spring (and returned at almost 280 lbs.), but if he can play closer to his 2016 weight and performance (which was the basis for his projection as a top-10/top-20 pick at one point) he’ll represent tremendous value at pick #45. He’ll likely be relegated to pass rush-only duty in his rookie year, but pairing him with Derwin James should greatly improve a pass defense that was ranked 26th in DVOA last season.
46. Cincinnati Bengals - Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas (budabear78)
Bengals desperately need help on the interior of the offensive line (center and right guard). The team let Russell Bodine walk so there’s a clear hole at center, which this pick would address. Ragnow looks like a Day 1 starter at center (3 year veteran at Arkansas). Considered a locker room presence and a team leader, which is an important trait for center and the Bengals like and need (no more Burficts). We wanted Billy Price or James Daniels but both went between our 1st and 2nd picks. We considered Tackle and Guard (Orlando Brown, Braden Smith) and will likely pick another linemen at some point in Round 3 or 4. But with Cordy Glenn, Clint Boling and Frank Ragnow, at least half of the line looks solid to open up holes for Joe Mixon. Cincy needs to addresses the recent losses of Whitworth and Zeitler (the running game and pass protection has never the same without those 2).
47. Arizona Cardinals - Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida (AzSharksFan)
After Patrick Peterson, the Cardinals depth at corner is pretty much nonexistent. Mike Hughes doesn’t have ideal height but has the strength and ball skills to contribute immediately as well as the potential to develop into a great pro.
48. Los Angeles Chargers - Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma (Brother Girth)
The Chargers drafted two Guards in 2017 and signed LT Russell Okung. This off-season they signed center Mike Pouncey. To finish the offensive line rebuild, we need a RT. Orlando Brown had a miserable combine. We know that. We also know that a few weeks later, at his pro day, he improved all his numbers. Still not great, but enough for us to feel confident that Orlando has the dedication to succeed in the NFL. He is also 6’8” and has 35” arms. They say you can’t teach speed, but you also can’t teach circumference. We’ll take our chances with the Outland Trophy finalist and unanimous first-team All-American.
49. Indianapolis Colts - Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State (Rowingdave)
This is great value with the 49th pick. While dinged for being “unathletic,” he could’ve fooled me when he posted the best 3-cone drill time of all DL and Edge players at the Combine (6.84), which put him in the top 10 of all CORNERBACKS, #4 of all linebackers...No other DL player posted sub 7, and Harold Landry was his closest competition at 6.88. Let’s get out of the workout warrior weeds, though. He’s not Joey Bosa, but who is? The man can play, and has no real weakness to his game. He has prototypical size, a relentless style of play, and the best agility of anyone in his class, which bodes well if he’s ever asked to drop into flat coverage. Phil Savage gave him his #1 grade for all DL in Combine drills, ABOVE Bradley Chubb.
50. Dallas Cowboys - Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford (BiggySmalls)
The Cowboys biggest need is the interior defensive line, and since they didn’t address it in the 1st rd, cuz Ward was sitting there, they address it in the 2nd rd. They have the Edge guys with Lawrence and Gregory, but lack a run stopper in the middle.. Well that is exactly what Phillips is. He’s a 1-tech run stuffing monster, that can beat double teams.. plus he’s from Stanford, so he’s no dummy.
I was considering Derrick Nnadi, DT, Florida St, but went with Phillips..
51. Detroit Lions - Ogbannia Okoronkwo, OLB, Oklahoma (Camp Frogger)
52. Baltimore Ravens - Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State (LizardState)
53. Buffalo Bills - Chukwuma Okafor, OT, Western Michigan (Rhardin49)
Raw but good upside to help on right side
54. Kansas City Chiefs - Lorenzo Carter, DE/OLB, Georgia (LoreofGore)
Chiefs take Lorenzo Carter with our first selection. Pretty happy he’s available here as the Chiefs need serious help at OLB and on the edge. Carter’s got all the tools to rush the passer and stop the run, and great length and speed for the position. Also had the most experience standing up out of the remaining Edge prospects, just needs to show better consistency at the next level.
Also considered Josh Sweat and Dorance Armstrong Jr here but see Sweat as a better 4-3 DE fit and think Carter has a higher ceiling than Armstrong and more potential standing up as a 3-4 OLB than both of them.
55. Carolina Panthers - Martinas Rankin, OL, Mississippi State (86derps)
Carolina lost All Pro guard Andrew Norwell in free agency and need a replacement. It’s possible that Carolina could slide second year lineman Taylor Moton into the position from right tackle, but selecting another guard in the draft would be wise.
Carolina selects Martinas Rankin, who like Moton, was a All Conference 1st Team Tackle in college who can play both tackle and guard. Rankin does project as an interior lineman, but by having both Rankin and Moton on the team gives the them competition for the starting left guard position with the other guy backing up both positions. Even with the drafting of Rankin, selecting another offensive lineman in the draft is not out of the question.
Carolina also considered drafting OG Branden Smith and TE Mark Andrews.
56. Buffalo Bills - D.J. Chark, WR, LSU (Rhardin49)
He had a super Senior Bowl, blowing by the DBs with ease for several deep balls. Bills need help getting our new QB(s) McCarron and Darnold needing some new weapons on the outside to replace the departing S Watkins, W Mathews et al.
Also considered other WRs like James Washington, Anthony Miller -- just like Chark’s upside and ability to take the top off better. Also thought about Mark Andrews TE OK which could help the Bills out as well.
57. Tennessee Titans - Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State (HarbaughalypseNow)
A bit of a gamble, but one I’m willing to take on a pretty good Tennessee roster. Sweat has all the athleticism you could want, but has serious injury history and needs some coaching. But I’m betting that in an NFL program he can put it all together as a pass rushing force in the AFC South.
58. Atlanta Falcons - B.J. Hill, DT, N.C. State (RinaldoPurrisimo)
Hill has been rumored to be beloved by the Patriots, perhaps that’s why they traded up to be able to get Lorenzo Carter and BJ Hill. Dimitroff comes from the Patriots system and loves to have a big space eater. I have him much higher than Da’Ron Payne. So for Hill to be available is huge. Now you have 2 interior lineman in Hurst and Hill that will be around for a long time specifically drafted to hurt the Eagles and Rams chances of running right at them next season but could be top level contributors for the next 4-10 years.
59. San Francisco 49ers - Wyatt Teller, OG, Virginia Tech (GSheen)
To many, this is a classic example of a reach for a positional need. With three picks close to each other, going for a positional need takes precedence. That said, I can already feel a storm of criticism brewing over me.
Trading back for picks or trading up for Arden Key would have been dandy. Isaiah Oliver was long gone. Obo Okoronkwo or Josh Sweat at #59 could have made it sweeter, but it did not break that way. At that point, it was down to a guard, a corner or a dline. One could argue for Braden Smith here, but he seems natural only in Auburn’s power running scheme.
Wyatt Teller, who had a bulldozing junior year, kind of flat-lined his senior season. A draft projection similar to Will Hernandez would not be out of question, had he stepped up as a senior. Yet, he has clearly enough upside to warrant a Day 2 pick. Fully converted from DE in his sophomore year, Teller has barely scratched the surface of his massive potential. Whether he can turn that potential into reality is up to him and the team. With a chiseled 314 pounds on his 6’4” frame, Teller always seeks to bury defenders and moves with an impressive fluidity. Coupled with 34” arm length, his powerful punch lands with a thump and stymies his opponents effectively. His awareness and quick steps were on display throughout his collegiate career. Seeing him picked up an edge blitzer with aplomb in the WV game was a prime example of that.
Then again, Teller also comes with some flaws. Even if his hand placement and footwork have shown vast improvement over his 25 starts, his ability to get off tandem blocks needs some more work. Improving his knee bend will a go long way in him having success at the next level. There will be some concerns on why his level of play tapered off this season. Still, he is a much better player than what he showed this season.
60. Pittsburgh Steelers - Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas (nyasa)
With a chance to further solidify the middle of the defense and wash away those playoff nightmares against the Jaguars last year, the Steelers go with a straight up aggressive and tough LB to help man the middle of the defense. Good 1-read attacking player, Malik offers a Steeler style toughness that the top remaining LBs at this point - Baker/Warner/Leonard - do not exhibit, and is more pro-ready than the very raw Nwosu.
A year ago many thought Jefferson could be a mid 1st rounder in 2018, but a down year at Texas has seen him drop. Its no secret the Steelers have coveted Jefferson, and they get their chance to secure his services.
61. Jacksonville Jaguars - Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State (Lancashire49er)
With at least half a dozen of mid and late round teams in need of a developmental QB for 2019/2020 say, the Jags don’t hesitate in snagging Rudolph who could go anywhere between mid-late Rd1 and anytime in Day 2. Back end of Rd2 is a steal in my opinion. I was certain the Steelers were going to take him here.
The need is clear! Bortles has been too inconsistent and the Jaguars have a solid team capable of making a deep playoff or better push every season for the next 5 years. Bortles contract extension is effectively a 1 / 2 year deal with 2018 as a prove it year. If he succeeds, the Jags have a 2nd year and 3rd year option with a mid range contract or the ability to trade (if he’s just average again) bortles on a team friendly deal.
All of this points to and allows for the jaguars to draft a prospect QB (either 2018 or 2019 at a push) who could sit, develop and learn before taking the wheel in 2019/20. At this point he inherits a top tier Offensive Line (including the RD1 in McGlinchey) and one of the more dominating Running backs in the league.
That guy (in this scenario) is Mason Rudolph.
Prototypical size, athletic ability is average, but this doesn’t bother me as I want a pocket passer first before a runner. Plus the jags are not built for runs outside. Nice ability to read the field, go through his progressions and is relatively accurate although further work on the mechanics (lower body/feet) through another year of coaching will help with the accuracy and velocity of the throws. Excellent awareness and movement within the pocket while continuing to read the field. Needs work under centre, but no issues here with a year or so coaching under a pro offense as a backup QB. Also helps, (after reading more on the guy) he seems to have a high football IQ and is a leader among his teammates.
Thrilled with the pick!
Other options considered: QB - I’m a big fan of Luke Falk, but Rd3 would have been better value; TE - this pick could have been Gesicki but he’s gone
62. Minnesota Vikings - Donte Jackson, CB, LSU (Blackpool Niner)
With Sheldon Richardson, Anthony Barr and Michael Kendricks all in contract years, I strongly considered boosting that front seven. But in the end I went with the more immediate need for a versatile CB.
Donte Jackson is fast. Ridiculously fast. 4.32 fast. While undersized, he operates well in either off-man or press-man coverage, ideal for Mike Zimmer’s defense. He also played a lot of slot in college, and this versatility will help the Vikes, who have a decision to make on whether to take up Trae Waynes’ fifth year option or move improving slot corner Mackensie Alexander outside to replace him. Hopefully he can add a little weight and learn to catch the ball to fully take advantage of that elite closing burst and turn the PBUs into INTs.
Other players considered: OT Tyrell Crosby, DT Nathan Shepherd, LB Malik Jefferson
63. New England Patriots - Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma (JMichael39)
In anticipation of Gronk’s retirement/trade/continued injuries.
64. Cleveland Browns - Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon (Mertons_merkin)
Good fortune drops Crosby into the Browns’ lap here at the end of the second round. This marriage makes a lot of sense for both sides, and is a pick that, should the Jags pass on him two picks above, we could well actually see.
For the Browns Crosby represents the last batch of tackles with starting potential this year, and probably the last tackle with legitimate future pro bowl hopes down the line. With Joe Thomas retiring, there is a hole on the left side that simply isn’t getting filled at the same level, and may not get filled at all. But if the draft breaks this way, and allows the tackles to be taken where their actual talent would dictate they fall, Crosby to Cleveland fills a big vacancy in a big way.
As for talent and fit, Crosby is a mauler, with a big, solid frame, and good enough feet. He’s shown well in a zone heavy scheme, but will benefit greatly moving to a power scheme, that could show off his devastating run blocking prowess, and ability to climb to the second level. Crosby only allowed four pressures this year in pass pro. He does have some work to do there, like Trent Brown, he’s going to have to learn to speed up his drop step. But even when he looks beat, he manages to climb back into positioning and to reset. Crosby’s competition at this spot is probably Jamarco Jones from OSU. Jones has some athletic plusses, but is awkward at the position, and scrambles manically at times to recover. I really think Crosby is the better fit, has the higher ceiling, and the better floor. It’s frankly surprising that so many scouts have Crosby below Jones.
The Browns would be thrilled with this fit at this spot. This is the last of their picks inside the top 100, and the last chance to land a guy they feel confident can fill a hole at a premium position. Their next pick is at 114, but at this point, they’ve got good positioning to have filled all their most pressing must haves (QB, OT, CB), while landing a dynamic 3 tech and a game changing running back. There are still numerous holes, but finding a tackle here is critical to ensure that the Browns can compete next season, and not end up back at the top of the draft in 2019.