The 2018 NFL Combine is almost here, and that means the Draft is just about eight weeks away. Now, while we still have free agency, pro days, and private works out to get through, the Draft is coming fast! In this mock draft, J.T. Olsen (@IcewaterOlsen) and myself went back and forth making selections.
1) Browns – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
The Browns offense needs a leader to make things happen and Baker Mayfield is that guy. His accuracy and ability to make things happen with his feet makes everyone around him better. While he might not have elite physical tools, he seems like has the brains and the heart to resurrect this lost franchise. – J.T.
2) Giants – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Despite the reports that the Giants are going elsewhere with this pick, I don’t buy it. Eli Manning is 37 years old and has an easy out in his contract next offseason. The Giants need to be smart and do the Brett Favre/Aaron Rodgers move and make Josh Rosen their heir apparent to Manning. – Mike
3) Colts – Bradley Chubb, EDGE, N.C. State
The Colts need a lot of help and could consider trading this pick, but I have them keeping it for now and using it on the best defensive end in this class. Bradley Chubb is a high motor player who can rush the passer in a variety of ways. He’s also a good run defender who can anchor down at the point of attack. He’d be a great addition to help fix a pass rush that was absolutely pathetic last season. – J.T.
4) Browns f/Texans – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
This would mark the third straight draft where a running back was selected with the fourth pick, and Saquon Barkley is just as talented as Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette. Isaiah Crowell is a free agent and Duke Johnson isn’t a three down back. Barkley would take pressure off of Mayfield from day one. – Mike
5) Broncos – Sam Darnold, QB, USC
For now I’m going to assume that the Broncos don’t get their franchise quarterback in free agency. If that’s the case, Sam Darnold is the best available QB on the board. He makes things happen, sometimes to a fault, and has no fear letting it rip down field. While he has some mechanical issues, if he develops the way you’d hope he could have a Jameis Winston-type ceiling. – J.T.
6) Jets – Quenton Nelson, iOL, Notre Dame
Assuming the Jets land Kirk Cousins, they should use this pick to improve his supporting cast. Quenton Nelson might be the best player in the draft, and is clearly the best offensive lineman in the draft. Nelson would step in day one and limit the pressure Cousins faces up the middle. – Mike
7) Buccaneers – Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama
The Bucs desperately need to improve their pass defense. With no great defensive ends left on the board, cornerback would be the next logical option. Minkah Fitzpatrick is fast, physical, and brilliant as a football player. He can move all over the defense to not only neutralize mismatches, but in fact create them. He needs a little bit of polishing as an outside corner, but I have no doubt in his tools and his talent. – J.T.
8) Bears – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
The Bears should sign at least one wide receive in free agency. However, the class of free agent wide receivers isn’t very good. Instead of over-paying for a mid-tier wide receiver in free agency, the Bears would be better off adding Calvin Ridley to pair with Cameron Meredith. – Mike
9) 49ers – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
I’m a big believer in building elite strengths to win championships. Well, the combination of Reuben Foster (assuming he can stay clean off the field) and Roquan Smith would be an elite pair of young linebackers. Smith has excellent range and tackling ability to help an already impressive front seven. This is the kind of addition that can take a team from top ten in the draft to playoff contender. – J.T.
10) Raiders – Connor William, OT, Texas
While the Raiders have four good starters on their offensive line, the right tackle spot could easily be upgraded. Connor Williams is the best offensive tackle in the draft and can start day one. The Raiders can play him at right tackle as a rookie, then move him over to the left side next year when they move on from Donald Penn, who will turn 35 during the draft. – Mike
11) Dolphins – Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Two years ago the Dolphins made a playoff appearance on the foundation of a great running game. Last year the they traded away star running back Jay Ajayi and were awful. There’s a link there. I think Derrius Guice can be an even better player than his predecessor and help Miami get their identity back on offense. – J.T.
One does not simply tackle Derrius Guice: pic.twitter.com/0yMvYqRByd
— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) February 26, 2018
12) Bengals – Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma The offensive line play was horrible last season, especially at the tackle spots. Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher have been busts so far and need to be replaced. While Orlando Brown has experience at both tackle spots, most project him to play strictly right tackle in the NFL. Either way, Brown would be an upgrade over the current starter. – Mike
13) Redskins – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State Denzel Ward is a top-end athlete who can do pretty much everything you could want from a corner. He’s great in all types of coverage and can create big plays for a defense. With Washington trading away Kendall Fuller, they have a need there and Ward is a natural replacement. – J.T.
14) Packers – Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa There are many directions the Packers can go with this pick; however, cornerback is their biggest need. Joshua Jackson would provide the Packers with a bigger cornerback with ball hawking skills. The trio of Quinten Rollins, Damarious Randall, and Kevin King just didn’t get it done last year as the Packers ranked tied for 20th in the league with only 11 interceptions. Jackson had eight last season at Iowa. – Mike
15) Cardinals – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming The Cardinals need someone — anyone — to play quarterback. Josh Allen certainly needs some work with his fundamentals, and really isn’t even NFL ready at this point. However, if he can develop for a year or two behind a bridge QB, then he has the upside of not only a franchise quarterback, but even a top five guy. This is a pick for the future, not necessarily for this year. – J.T.
16) Ravens – Ronald Jones, RB, USC This might seem like a bit of a reach but Ronald Jones is in the first round conversation. Ideally the Ravens should hope either Guice or Brown slide to them here, but Jones is a nice consolation prize. Alex Collins is a restricted free agent and while he is expected to return, the Ravens still need to add to their running back situation. Pairing Collins with Jones would give the Ravens a great 1-2 punch at running back. – Mike
17) Chargers – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech The Chargers are starting to build something out there in LA. They have the pass rushers to make opposing quarterbacks uncomfortable, now they add the heart of their defense. Tremaine Edmunds has a great combination of size and speed, and is still only 19 years old. He’s going to grow and get better with an already dangerous front seven. – J.T.
18) Seahawks – Derwin James, SAF, Florida State With no second or third round pick, look for the Seahawks to try moving back in the draft to add some day two picks. However, if they stay at 18 there are several ways they can go with this pick. Kam Chancellor’s career is likely over thanks to a neck injury, and even if he makes an attempt to play again it’s not likely to be with the Seahawks. Replacing Chancellor with Derwin James would be an ideal situation for the Seahawks. – Mike
19) Cowboys – Maurice Hurst, DL, Florida Maurice Hurst is EXTREMELY disruptive as a defensive tackle. His burst off the line is as good as it gets, even by NFL standards. He is a little undersized, but still strong and effective against the run. This is a home run pick for the Cowboys and will go a long way in improving their pass rush. – J.T.
20) Lions – Vita Vea, DL, Washington Ideally the Lions would love to see Guice fall to them here, and if not him then take Jones. With both gone they turn their attention to the defensive side of the ball. Haloti Ngata just turned 34 years old and is a pending free agent that isn’t expected to return to Detroit. Some scouts compare Vita Vea to Ngata, and what a better way to replace a guy than with a younger version of himself. – Mike
21) Bills – Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama Da’Ron Payne has all the traits you’d want in a NFL defensive tackle. He’s fast off the snap, has quality pass rush moves, and is strong against the run. He’s a plug-and-play guy who will make an immediate impact in Buffalo’s trenches. – J.T.
22) Bills f/Chiefs – Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State Most people will hate this pick; myself included. I fully expect the Bills to trade up into the top five to grab one of the top quarterbacks and move on from Tyrod Taylor. However, in this mock draft there are no trades and Rudolph fits the “ideal” quarterback mold. Rudolph is more likely to go day two than the first round, but sometimes you just have to reach for a need. – Mike
Mason Rudolph threw for more yards on deep passes than any other draft-eligible QB this past season pic.twitter.com/yi8mcctcjC
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) February 17, 2018
23) Rams – Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
The Rams need to start rebuilding their secondary with younger talent. The addition of Marcus Peters officially means the end of Trumaine Johnson in L.A. Even with Peters, the Rams need to find a starter opposite of him and Isaiah Oliver gives them that. Now the Rams have a defense as scary good as their offense. – J.T.
24) Panthers – Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA
The Panthers released starting defensive end Charles Johnson earlier this week, and while Julius Peppers is reportedly leaning towards returning in 2018, he is 38 years old. Marcus Davenport is very raw, but a year to learn from Peppers would do him wonders in the long term and would protect the Panthers in 2019 when Peppers retires. – Mike
25) Titans – Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
The Titans need a pass rusher and a middle linebacker. Rashaan Evans fills both needs. His athletic ability and physicality make him a perfect long-term answer in the middle of the Tennessee defense and will go a long way towards improving their front seven. – J.T.
26) Falcons – Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
Both Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu will be 29 years old when the 2018 season starts. While by no means are they past their prime years, both are injury prone and have easy outs in their contracts next off-season. Last year’s slot receiver, Taylor Gabriel, is an unrestricted free agent and not likely to return. Christian Kirk will be able to step into his spot from day one while also providing a boost on special teams. – Mike
27) Saints – Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
Last year the Saints drafted Marshon Lattimore in the first round and he has already become one of the best cornerbacks in the league. This year they could really set the foundation of an elite defense with the addition of a guy like Jaire Alexander. This would give the Saints a fantastic young secondary for the coming years. – J.T.
28) Steelers – Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
For the third time in four years, the Steelers select an outside linebacker with their first round pick. The team has to make a decision on 2015 first round pick Bud Dupree’s fifth year option, and the early belief is the team will not exercise it. Harold Landry had a great junior year, followed by a down senior year that was affected by ankle injuries. – Mike
29) Jaguars – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
I know the Jaguars just extended Blake Bortles, but I still don’t see him as a guy who can lead this franchise to a championship. Maybe Lamar Jackson isn’t either, but I believe that his versatility as a runner certainly gives them a better chance to win it all. Yes he has flaws as a passer, but overall he’s an explosive play-maker. – J.T.
30) Vikings – Billy Price, iOL, Ohio State
The Vikings struck gold last year with Pat Elflein in the third round, and he looks like a long term starter. They also are high on Danny Isidora, who they drafted in the fifth round last season, at right guard. Adding Billy Price to pair with his former college teammate Elflein would give the Vikings one of the better interior offensive lines in the league. Both Elflein and Price can play left guard or center, giving the team options when injuries hit. – Mike
31) Patriots – Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
The Patriots are fresh off of being picked apart in the Super Bowl and are going to lose Malcolm Butler in free agency. Mike Hughes looks like a great NFL athlete who can come in and add a major talent upgrade to the AFC champions. He also has some return ability, which will make the Patriots even more interested in him with his versatility. – J.T.
32) Eagles – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
This pick is another one that is likely to get traded on draft night. Teams will want to move back into the first round to get the fifth-year option on the rookie contract. The Eagles have no day two picks and should welcome a trade down. However, in this mock they take a look at an upcoming long-term problem. Jason Peters is expected to return as the starting left tackle for the Eagles next season but is 36 years old. Mike McGlinchey could come in year one as the “swing” tackle, then take over as the starter in 2019. – Mike