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, and the full second round results here, which includes an explanation for picks.
We’re starting the third round today, and this will take us three or four days to get through. The 49ers have their own pick (No. 10, 74 overall), and also hold the Chicago Bears pick (No. 6, 70 overall) from their draft day trade last year when they moved down from No. 2 to No. 3. We will get to the first 49ers pick on Monday, and likely their second one Tuesday morning.
65. Buffalo Bills - Braden Smith, OG, Auburn (Rhardin49)
“Built like a Bank Safe”- all SEC and 2nd team All American. Also considered WR’s like Washington or Gallup or CB (Meeks, Stewart), but working on building roster strength — and protecting our NEW ASSET Sam Darnold.
66. New York Giants - Brian O’Neill, OT, Pittsburgh (Davidss)
The Giants continue to fill their offensive line needs with an athletic tackle getting some first round love by certain mockers. With the second best pSPARQ of all lineman in this draft, O’Neill’s upside is unlimited. He needs to get a little stronger, but now the Giants have 3 core offensive lineman for the future locked in with Soldier, Daniels, and now O’Neil. A huge weakness is now potentially a strength.
67. Indianapolis Colts - Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond (Rowingdave)
There aren’t many quarterbacks in the NFL with the potential to be elite, but Andrew Luck is one of them ... however, it’s time to give up the ghost. Luck is throwing mini-footballs now! Cool! Not interested in attaching my cart to that horse any longer. I think Kyle Lauletta is the best quarterback prospect in this draft. That doesn’t mean that I think he will be elite, but I will take Lauletta in the third all day before I invest in any of the alleged top 5 QBs in the first.
To be sure, Lauletta has been compared to Jimmy Garoppolo a lot in the mock draft season. Garoppolo was better and is better than Lauletta, but it’s actually a good comp. Both were dinged for poor arm strength but lauded for accuracy. Both were lauded as exceptional leaders and students of the game, but both were characterized as “major projects.” Lauletta and Garoppolo were “risers” after the Senior Bowl based on their play that had pundits going, “Holy sh^*, these guys can actually play. Maybe we’ll evaluate their tape and not our own confirmation bias.”
So...the Colts select a guy who will cost them a fraction of a Josh Allen and who is actually an accurate quarterback. With four picks in the first 49, this is a “luxury gamble” pick that I think pans out quicker than people think, because Luck is done.
68. Houston Texans - Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina (Sacto Solon)
With the team addressing its issues in the secondary (Tyrann Matthieu, Aaron Colvin) and the offensive line (Senio Kelemete, Zach Fulton, Seantrel Henderson) somewhat, the Texans, with its initial pick in the 2018, are able to add a versatile surehanded security blanket, yet seam-busting offensive weapon, for Deshaun Watson in the form of South Carolina TE Hayden Hurst. Hurst is a prospect who has first-round measurables (6’5”, 250 lbs., 4.67 40), elite hands (one drop in three years as a Gamecock), and the requisite collegiate production (averaged 46 catches and a shade under 600 per season his last two years in Columbia) but slipped to the third round due to age concerns.
A former first baseman in the Pittsburgh Pirates chain, Hurst will be 25 when Houston kicks off its season. Where many see an ancient prospect, I see someone whom Bill O’Brien can plug and play from Day 1 and be an integral part of the Texans offense as a threat who can potentially keep opposing defenses’ away from DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller.
My fellow drafters made it very easy for me to select Hurst as they nabbed potential targets Mark Andrews, Tyrell Crosby, and Brian O’Neill, all within five picks of Houston’s selection. I went back and forth between Hurst and Andrews, but I’m glad Hurst fell to me. He’s a better blocker and better fit in O’Brien’s system than Andrews.
69. New York Giants - James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State (Davidss)
The Giants need to be prepared for life without Odell Beckham. If the Giants do in fact trade Beckham; Washington would be a nice deep threat complement to Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram.
Washington’s forte is the post route on the “Mills” concept. You can see him win deep on this time after time on his tape. His ability to track the ball in the air is top notch.
70. San Francisco 49ers - Holton Hill, CB, Texas
Holton Hill fits the prototypical size and length that every DC would pay a premium for. He has the rare blend of length, athleticism, and physicality to carve out an island one day. The talent he possesses is undeniable, but his suspension for violating team rules will certainly curtail his first-round hopes. It helps a little to see his teammate Deshon Elliot stuck up for him during the combine. Nevertheless, his maturity concerns will require patience and commitment from his team.
Assuming his explanations are adequate, a talent like him deserves serious consideration if he falls in the 3rd round. The edgy physicality he adds to his game is reminiscent of our own #25. Scheme-versatile, Hill thrives best in press man coverage, uses his exceptional size and hands well to disrupt receivers. Plays in front of him are also what he excels in. Instinctive and tough as hell, he would come crashing down on screens and on underneath throws, smoking defenders head-on. Watching the eyes of the quarterback, Hill occasionally baits passing windows and will preempt the pass from a completion. His show against James Washington and Marcell Ateman, limiting the former to just 18 yards on 3 targets and denying Ateman in the RZ did not go unnoticed.
However, much like Witherspoon, Hill will likely struggle early in the season. His back pedal needs some work. Sometimes, you’ll see him bite early and expose himself at breaking routes. By keeping close proximity to his matchup, Hill can get handsy at times drawing penalties. To top it off, Holton Hill is better off learning behind Richard Sherman in his rookie year and if everything bodes well, he’ll prove to be quite a steal for us.
71. Denver Broncos - Jamarco Jones, OT, Ohio State (Tomac21)
The Broncos offensive line needs help. The guard position more then the tackle but right tackle was a glaring hole last year. They have attempted to fill it with Veldheer but he has battle injury and hasn’t been very good the past 2 seasons when he did play. Jones is simply to good to pass up and the best on the board to while filling a need.
72. New York Jets - Hercules Mata’afa, DE, Washington State (Blackout52)
The Jets need help both rushing the opposing QB and protecting their own, which made the choice between an edge rusher or offensive lineman a difficult one. Ultimately, edge won out, primarily because I picked Lamar Jackson earlier and his mobility can cover some holes in the O-line. Mata’afa played on the interior at Wazzu, so it’s a bit of a risk since he’ll be transitioning to an entirely new position. Still, he possess elite quickness and a motor that never quits. If he can pick up the technique, he could be a steal this late.
73. Miami Dolphins - Nick Nelson, CB, Wisconsin (MD49erFaithful)
We get a cornerback with good physical skill set, good tackling ability and a great knack to break up the pass. As a pro will need to work on converting PBU’s to INT’s, but always good to have a cornerbacker that knows how to stop offensive plays no matter how it’s done. Solid showing through college even back to his freshman year at Hawaii as a freshman. Transferred to Wisconsin and excelled in the Big Ten. Really needed corner help this draft, was hoping for some in the second round but Jaire Alexander went several picks before.
74. San Francisco 49ers - Duke Ejiofor, DE, Wake Forest (GSheen)
Duke Ejiofor was a model of consistency at Wake Forest. His progression has been steadily trending upwards despite playing hurt in his senior season. Yet, with no elite traits other than his 34 7/8” arm length and exquisite technique, his draft stock will always sell at a discount. To make up for a lack of elite athleticism, Ejiofor is very methodical in his pass rush approach with a remarkable intelligence and hand work. Unlike most pass rushers coming out of college, he is not your typical one-trick pony. His pass rush repertoire is highly advanced and the way he deploys it is exemplary. As a true technician, Ejiofor meticulously sets up his plan of actions on how the tackle plays him. Arm overs, power clubs, counter step and rip moves, slap/swim combos, deadly outside spin counters and nifty inside counters were all on full display throughout his collegiate career. His cerebral style of play either lets him take control and forces the blocker to be reactive, or puts blitzers in advantageous position to create more opportunities. In the run defense, Ejiofor is quite a force to be reckoned with. He hits his blockers with a strong swipe and makes full use of his giant wingspan to corral ball carriers. Tackles for loss will come in bunches with the way he penetrates gaps with ease, relying on his hand usage and quickness at the POA. At the very least, Ejiofor will bring solid presence on base packages and will provide quality depth in any other alignment.
Like most edge prospects, working on his pad level will do him favors against elite competition. Adding a long arm power rush would definitely add a powerful dimension to his game, forcing teams to likely game-plan against him. Concerns about his torn labrum surgery in January are often overblown and, in turn, skew his draft projection. It’s similar to what Takk McKinley had after his combine and he was back to full fitness in the 2nd preseason game. Ejiofor checked out fine at the combine and he should be a full-go in mini-camp.
With Armstead’s future in limbo, adding Ejiofor, a 4-3 scheme-fit, makes a lot of sense. He may not be your typical LEO, but he can be effective as a versatile chess piece across the defensive line. After all, a team can never have enough disruptors and a talent like Ejiofor should not fall any lower. He seems suited to follow in the footsteps of Michael Bennett or maybe Chandler Jones. Regardless, he’s the type of player who will have a long career in the pros if healthy.
75. Oakland Raiders - Kemoko Turay, Edge, Rutgers (twolfe2)
The Raiders need help at every level on Defense. A 2-3 round pick projection by NFL.com, Turay will free up space for Mack to work. Here is his scouting report: Explosive edge defender with the coveted traits of an NFL pass rusher. Turay is still behind on feel and skill in that area and will need to develop a go-to move and a workable counter to beat NFL tackles. However, his ability to chase and tackle could translate right away. Turay splashed at Senior Bowl practices and certainly helped his cause.
On a side note, definitely someone the 49ers should look at.
76. Green Bay Packers - Quenton Meeks, CB, Stanford (Fred Mercury)
Meeks’ size and technique should give him an opportunity right away to be a good press corner in Pettine’s defense, opposite Kevin King. He may have eased concerns with his perceived lack of speed/acceleration after he ran a solid 4.49 forty at his pro day (he declined to run at the Combine). In addition, he posted good numbers in the vertical and broad jumps, 3-cone drill, and 20-yard shuttle Combine workouts. He may have jumped up a round based on that forty time so he may very well not be available in Round 3. If you’re noticing a pattern with my picks, it’s that I’m trying to shore up Green Bay’s bad pass defense. Adding Meeks to a secondary that already includes second year player Kevin King and fellow draftee Derwin James should be a significant boost and gives the secondary additional size (6’1”, 6’3”, and 6’3”, respectively). Green Bay has a bad recent history of miscasting their secondary draftees, but Capers’ exit may mitigate that. It was a little difficult to not go with an offensive player here, as I’ve gone defense with every pick so far. Rodgers could certainly use a guy to help replace Nelson. He could also use some help on the offensive line which has seen its fair share of injuries. But really, what do I care if Rodgers gets blasted?
Also considered: Deon Cain, WR, Clemson; Geron Christian, OT, Louisville; Shaquem Griffin, LB, Central Florida; Austin Corbett, G, Nevada
77. Cincinnati Bengals - Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech (budabear78)
Looking for a nose tackle to pair with perennial Pro bowler Geno Atkins. Although the Bengals signed Chris Baker, it is a one year deal. And Baker is not the most dependable. Settle could command double teams at his size and free up Atkins to cause disruption behind the line of scrimmage. Not too concerned with Settle’s mediocre combine numbers. Considered guards and defensive backs. We still have a 3rd round compensatory that we will spend on one or the other.
78. Kansas City Chiefs - Rasheem Green, DE, USC (LoreofGore)
Pretty much need help getting to the QB from anywhere and while there are a few other guys I want here, Green provides the best value and shouldn’t last until our next pick. I think we can get the others with our next picks coming up.
79. Arizona Cardinals - Austin Corbett, OG, Nevada (AzSharksFan)
There were a few positions I was looking to shore up at this point and I decided to go here as I felt a significant drop off in talent after Corbett. The Cardinals made a lot of changes on their O Line so it’s hard to project what that will look like in September, but it is certain that they need some young talent in multiple positions. Iupati can still be good but it’s unclear if he can be healthy for a significant period. Corbett I think can challenge the starters at G or C right away but still offers some development potential as well as value as a swing lineman since he played Tackle at Nevada. He’s smart, athletic, and plays mean.
80. Houston Texans - Jessie Bates III, S, Wake Forest (Sacto Solon)
After finishing dead last in points allowed in 2017 (27.2/game), Houston revamped its secondary with the additions of Tyrann Matthieu and Aaron Colvin and here adds another piece with the athletic former Wake Forest standout Jessie Bates III. Bates, a high school baseball and basketball star, has relatively little game experience after having played just two seasons with Deacs, but brings a wealth of athletic ability, good size surprisingly good instincts to the position. One of the big knocks on Bates is his ability to tackle in space, but one would think that Romeo Crennel and his defensive assistants can coach him up on that aspect. I foresee Bates playing a significant role on special teams from the jump, while eventually taking over the starting free safety role from Andre Hal by Week 3-4.
I was also seriously considering going tackle (Joseph Noteboom, in particular) at this juncture of the Draft, but it can wait. I’m not too sure that Bates would’ve still been there at 3.98, so I pulled the trigger now.
81. Dallas Cowboys - Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado State (BiggySmalls)
With the 81st pick, there were a few players available that I thought would be a good pick and fit. However, I was amazed that Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado St was still on the board late in the 3rd rd. So I ran up to the board and selected him. He was an option for the Cowboys in the 2nd rd, as I have him as the 3rd best WR in this years class(which can all be debatable), but instead went with Phillips, DL in the 2nd. I considered a few different Linebackers, but only for a second, because M. Gallup is too good to pass up(1st rd talent in my opinion) and will make an immediate impact for the Cowboys. And gives Prescott a young talented wr to grow with over the years
I think this guy is going to be something special... He’s an under-rated WR; whom has upper echelon talent. He Is good size n has good speed (6’-1”, 205#, 4.51 40yd, 36” vert). He’s a smooth and polished route runner (can run any route on the tree, which is impressive), creates separation with his hands, has speed and skills after the catch. He needs to work on coming off the ball with his release, but that’s an easy fix.. He’s also a good character guy and has a solid work ethic. His accomplishments speak for themselves, 2 time All-Conference, All-American, and a Biletnikoff Award finalist...
82. Detroit Lions - Dorian O’Daniel, OLB, Clemson (Camp Frogger)
83. Baltimore Ravens - Bradley Bozeman, C, Alabama (LizardState)
84. Los Angeles Chargers - Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa (Brother Girth)
We went with NT, and RT with the first two picks. Probably the last spot we HAVE to fill is Mike LB as we just lost Koney Toomer to some other west coast team. We got a number of guys available, but we are going with Josey Jewell from IOWA. He’s a bit of an enigma, being #60 on PFF’s draft board but #124 on NFL.com. What he lacks in measurables he makes up for with instincts and film study. He has a chance to be a day 1 starter, which shows you how weak we are at this position, but is also potentially great value for a 3rd round pick.
85. Carolina Panthers - Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis (86derps)
Carolina takes one of last top tier receivers in Anthony Miller. Carolina does have Devin Funchess, Torrey Smith and last years 2nd round pick Curtis Samuel, but WR is still a need. Smith is basically on a 1 year deal as Carolina can release him this year and save $5 million or next year and save $5 million. I don’t Carolina is likely to do that as they traded for Smith. Samuel is basically still a rookie and I think Funchess will be a free agent next year.
Also considered going CB, OLB or TE.
86. Kansas City Chiefs - Ian Thomas, TE, Indiana (LoreOfGore)
Chiefs need to go defense here but can’t help themselves and instead go for an up and coming TE to pair with Kielce for Reid’s favourite two TE sets.
87. Los Angeles Rams - Darius Leonard, LB, South Carolina State (ak4niner)
88. Carolina Panthers - Anthony Averett, CB, Alabama (86derps)
At 5’11’ Averett ran a speedy 40 yard dash at 4.36 and started opposite Fitzpatrick at Alabama. We think he can become a starting CB in a year or two.
Also considered TE Ian Thomas (selected before this pick) and OLB Jerome Baker.
89. Tennessee Titans - Will Clapp, C, LSU (HarbaughalypseNow)
Good enough to take a look at guard, Clapp is a nice value here.
90. Atlanta Falcons - Deontay Burnett, WR, USC (RinaldoPurrisimo)
Deontay Burnett is the perfect slot receiver for their scheme. The Falcons don’t have a replacement for Taylor Gabriel on their roster so Burnett could step in day one and start taking a lot of snaps when they are in 11 personnel. He’s got experience in a pro style system and he’s got the advanced route running technique to immediately make a difference on slants in their offense. All and all he’s a perfect scheme fit to fill the need. I was considering several other players like Parry Nickerson and Oren Burks as well just based on BPA and athletic ability.
91. New Orleans Saints - Deon Cain, WR, Clemson (DeltaLima)
As I noted in round 1, the Saints need some options for Brees to throw to in the twilight of his career. With all the decent tight ends worthy of a round 3 pick taken, I turn my attention to the wide receiver position. The Saints have their WR1 in Michael Thomas and I’m happy to select Cain, who should step in as a day one WR2.
Cain is a proven winner and has the speed, vertical, and size to run vertical routes, as well as the feel for coverages that will let him attack shorter distances as well. Character concerns seem to be a thing of the past for him and I think he will make a solid addition to the Saints’ offence in the years to come. A convert from QB, the position he played in high school, Cain will only improve with more coaching and experience as a receiver.
The one issue I have with Cain is his drop rate. It was high in college and his hand size, at 8.75 inches, makes me wonder if drops and ball control will be an issue that will dog him in the future. Still, that’s not insurmountable (TY Hilton’s hand measurement was 8.5 inches and he’s a good receiver) and, again, more experience and having a future first-ballot hall of famer throwing the ball to you could only help matters. Cain isn’t expected to serve as a WR1 and can gain some polish to his game while serving as a very capable secondary threat for the Saints.
92. Pittsburgh Steelers - Dorance Armstrong, DE, Kansas (nyasa)
The Steelers once again look to stregnthen their defense by adding some much needed depth to the D-Line.
Armstrong will come in right away and provide competition behind Heyward and Tuitt, and could even push underperforming Dupree for time at OLB.
While Nnandi and Hand were also considered, Armstrong provides greater upside value at this spot. Some thought he could go higher prior to a down 2017 year, but many attribute the decrease in numbers to a scheme change rather than his performance. Armstrong will fit in and could excel into a strong starter in the Steelers system and how they use edge rushers and OLBs.
With this pick, the Steelers have positioned themselves well through their first three rounds of the draft, addressing Safety, Linebacker and now the D-Line.
93. Jacksonville Jaguars - Duke Dawson, CB, Florida (Lancashire49er)
This pick was difficult. There is a need to review the SAM linebacker spot given the retirement of Paul Posluzny and a number of decent LB prospects are on the board. Jerome Baker is still available but he fits the WILL profile and we have Telvin Smith locked up there after a new 4 year contract. Tegray Scales was a real consideration for SAM, but I’m struggling with the speed translation to transfer to the NFL and their crop of TEs and the value at Rd3.I also don’t see a major difference in profile and skillet to last year’s Rd5 pick in Blair Brown.
The pick though goes to a playmaker at the ever increasing demand from a nickle corner in Duke Dawson.
The loss of Aaron Colvin was a big deal IMO and understated loss (partly due to the strength of this secondary) and I’m not sold on the FA signing of DJ Hayden. 1. Because of injury history and 2 because of poor play. His PFF rankings and awful. 50.7 last year. Let’s not let this be a liability for what is now a force of a defence.
Dawson will quickly take this spot and Hayden’s contract deal should allow it next year at a small push. 2 years maximum. Worst case from Hayden - depth. Beat case - he finally shows some play to warrant a former rd1 from 5 years ago! I’m not hopeful.
Dawson - Excellent short and decent mid range speed, instincts and ball skills are superb (always around the ball and smothers receivers here) and the ability to simply shut down those crossing lanes, allowing Myles Jack and Telvin Smith to wreak havoc is going to be great. Dawson is also a very good and willing contributor in tackles. Played slot in 2016 alongside some top CBs in Tabor and Wilson. Played outside last year
Bonus play is that in a need, he could provide some outside corner depth, although not an ideal skillset for outside in your single high, the guy is going to be a very solid football player who can only improve.
Perhaps a slight reach, but I’m very happy with the pick
Other options considered/monitoring:
MJ Stewart, Parry Nickerson or Darius Philips - I just prefer Dawson
TE - decent drop off currently. The jags missed a trick not drafting for the post Lewis future at last year’s draft which had great depth at TE
WR - consideration always in play although the front office have paid out for their WR1s (although could potentially be a set of WR2s)
94. Minnesota Vikings - Nathan Shepherd, DT, Fort Hays State (Blackpool Niner)
As with my second round pick, there wasn’t much doing here. It’s my last pick until late in the fifth, and nobody has fallen – I’d be looking to trade were it possible. I considered Equanimeous St Brown but Vikes signed Kendall Wright and Tavarres King in the last week. In the end it came down to a couple of small-school guys: OT Alex Cappa and DT Nathan Shepherd. OL is the more immediate need, but Cappa isn’t gonna be ready. Therefore, I plumped for Shepherd.
Sheldon Richardson is only signed for the year, during which Shepherd can add functional strength and provide rotation on a powerhouse D-line. He was impressive, at times dominant at the Senior Bowl and he’ll handle the step up in competition, helped along by the best front seven in football. Shepherd has worked harder than most up to now (Google his journey) and has a good chance to become a starter on that celebrated defense.
95. New England Patriots - Uchenna Nwosu, OLB, USC (JMichael39)
Nwosu gives the Pats versatility, athleticism and speed. He can cover TEs and RBs as necessary, rush the passer or hold his edge against the run.
96. Buffalo Bills - Shaquem Griffin, LB, UCF (Rhardin49)
Everyone knows the one-arm story. The fact is he is a flat out baller that fits a real positional upgrade need at weakside linebacker. With Coach McDermott, the combination of two fast, tough, aggressive lbs (pick 22 we got Leightion V) will make a huge impact on Buffalo’s D. Considered Nick Chubb as a younger back up to McCoy, also MJ Stewart at cornerback. Love the athletic play and positive culture add Griffith will bring. He will be a fan favorite in Buffalo.
97. Arizona Cardinals - Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame (AzSharksFan)
I would have liked to go WR sooner but I felt that the value was in day 2 or later and the cardinals have plenty of holes to fill. After Fitz there’s not a lot to be excited about for the cards and in addition to having the best name in the draft Equanimeous offers a tantalizing mix of length and speed. He runs well with good routes and okay hands. A good value here at the end of the 3rd I think
98. Houston Texans - Joseph Noteboom, OT, TCU (Sacto Solon)
A three-year starter at TCU, Noteboom offers good size (6’5”, 319, 34 3/8 arms), athleticism (4.96 40, 4.44 20-ya shuttle, and experience at both tackle positions, but has flashes of inconsistency on his tape. Despite this issue, Noteboom would join an unsettled group at tackle in Houston and should be given every opportunity to become a starter early in his NFL career.
99. Denver Broncos - Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia (Tomac21)
With this pick I was really wanting Nathan Sheppard, but the Broncos also need a workhorse back. CJ Anderson has a $4.5 million salary which has no dead money attaches to it. Denver can cut him and run with three running backs all on rookie salaries. My goal is to surround Keenum with the best possible team and adding Nick Chubb continues to do just that.
100. Cincinnati Bengals - DeShon Elliott, S, Texas (budabear78)
Cincy is looking for some ballhawks in the secondary. Incumbents Gerge Iloka and Shawn Williams have solid safeties but neither is adept at creating turnovers. Elliott is a ballhawk, with 6 INTs last year and 7 pass break ups. He’s coming out of the defensive back factory in Texas and the Bengals are eager to add him to the mix and see if he can win a job or contribute on nickel and dime downs.