With over a third of the NFL season in the books, it is getting easier to see where teams will be drafting in the 2018 NFL Draft. Here is a first round NFL mock draft.
1. Cleveland Browns- Sam Darnold, QB, USC
The Browns look like the worst team in football right now. DeShone Kizer has been pulled in favor of Kevin Hogan, which means they may be in the market for a quarterback, if Kizer doesn’t figure things out. Darnold has the stature of an NFL quarterback, but has nine interceptions on the season already and has to make better decisions if he wants to be the number one pick.
2. San Francisco 49ers- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Rosen is among the FBS leaders in passing yards and has had a good junior season thus far. He too has to work on decision making, but most importantly has shown that he doesn’t have any arm problems after incurring nerve damage in his throwing arm last season. The 49ers may get Kirk Cousins, but if they can’t, they need a quarterback.
3. New York Giants- Connor Williams, OT, Texas
The Giants got their first win of the season and they got the running game going against a tough Broncos team. Orleans Darkwa looks like he is better than any running back they have had for years. Because the running back situation is a little bit better, the Giants will likely draft a tackle. Williams isn’t the biggest guy, so he may need to add some weight, but he is very athletic. He is currently injured with damaged ligaments in his knee and will have to prove he is healthy to be selected highly.
4. Chicago Bears- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Chicago has decided to make Mitch Trubisky the starting quarterback. They have to get him some weapons in the passing game other than Tarik Cohen. Ridley is a dynamic playmaker that can make people miss once he gets the ball in his hands. He may be better as a pro than as a college player, as Jalen Hurts isn’t the greatest throwing quarterback.
5. Los Angeles Chargers- Derwin James, S, Florida State
The Chargers now have two wins on the season and are playing better football. They have a lot of solid players, but could upgrade their safety position. James is one of the best players in this class and looks like he is capable of doing anything on a football field. If he doesn’t get selected early, it is due to concerns about his injuries. He missed most of the 2016 season with a shoulder injury.
6. Oakland Raiders- Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU
Oakland only has 11 sacks on the year and could use an elite pass rushed to go with Khalil Mack. Key is starting to create havoc and get into a groove for the Tigers. He is a great speed rusher that would benefit from adding some more pass rushing moves to his arsenal.
7. Indianapolis Colts- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Barkley is a premier talent who runs with great moves that are reminiscent of Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith. Frank Gore may look like he can play forever, but he is nearing the end of his career. Getting a dynamic playmaker like Barkley would balance the offense and take some pressure off of Andrew Luck when he comes back.
8. Cincinnati Bengals- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
Cincinnati has one of the worst offensive lines in football and need to address it badly. McGlinchey would have been selected pretty highly had he come out last season, but elected to go back to school. He has struggled so far this season, but the Notre Dame running game has started to get going. He has shown better athletic ability this season, which should help his value.
9. Tampa Bay Bucs- Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB/S, Alabama
Fitzpatrick has played both safety and corner in his time at Alabama. He has all the physical tools to be successful, but needs to work on his technique and positioning. Tampa Bay just got torched by Carson Palmer and needs to get some more athletes in the secondary.
10. Tennessee Titans- Austin Bryant, DE, Clemson
The Titans have just eight sacks on the season. If they want to start winning more, Marcus Mariota will need to stay healthy and they need to have a better pass rush. Bryant has 5.5 sacks on the season, but could be more consistent. Four of his sacks came against Auburn. He will need to prove himself in the back half of the college season.
11. Dallas Cowboys- Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
Payne makes freakish plays for a defensive tackle. He hasn’t done much in the stats department this season, but takes on multiple blocks at a time. Starting defensive tackle Stephen Paea decided to retire, leaving the Cowboys even thinner on the interior of the defensive line. Payne will help them stop the run better.
12. New York Jets- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Allen has struggled this season, but what most hurts his cause is how often he struggles against good competition. He is very raw as a prospect and needs a year to sit and learn, as well as work on his craft. The Jets have somehow managed to get to .500 and can have Allen sit behind Josh McCown.
13. Arizona Cardinals- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Carson Palmer looks better, but the Cardinals still need to think about the future. If Palmer continues to play well, Jackson can sit and learn behind him. Jackson still has issues throwing the ball, but is a dynamic runner. He has improved his efficiency this year, which has helped his draft stock.
14. Cleveland Browns (via Hou)- Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
Cleveland doesn’t have too much at receiver. Kenny Britt isn’t a number one and Corey Coleman can’t stay healthy. In order to help their young quarterbacks they need to get a good receiver. Kirk has some big play ability and demonstrated that against Arkansas with 110 receiving yards and 136 kick off return yards. He will be tested in the coming weeks against good secondaries in the SEC.
15. Baltimore Ravens- James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
Joe Flacco needs someone legitimate to throw to on a consistent basis. Washington has been making big plays for years at Oklahoma State and couldn’t hurt Flacco’s production. As with a lot of quarterbacks, there will be a question about what system he plays in, but Washington produces and makes big plays, which will appeal to NFL scouts.
16. Detroit Lions- Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State
Martinas Rankin is a very efficient pass blocker and can be a great left tackle in the NFL. The Lions have a terrible left side of the offensive line and need to upgrade it. The Lions like to pass a lot so they will likely love the pass blocking of Rankin. They need to keep Stafford upright since he is so highly paid now.
17. Jacksonville Jaguars- Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
The Jaguars can either draft to improve the offensive line or they can take one of the many talented quarterbacks in this class. Rudolph isn’t getting a lot of love right now, but when people watch his tape they will like his deep ball. He has had a lot of production in college and can be a successful NFL quarterback.
18. Miami Dolphins- Iman Marshall, CB, USC
The Dolphins don’t have a good secondary and it was evident when they let the Jets throw for 249 yards on 18 of 23 passing. Marshall would be an immediate upgrade at corner. He was overshadowed by Adoree Jackson last year, but is now shining. He is a shutdown corner that has started since his freshman season as a Trojan. Teams are actively looking to not throw his way when they play USC.
19. New Orleans Saints- Harold Landry, DE/LB, Boston College
Landry led the FBS in sacks last year and decided to go back to school for his final season. He has started to heat up this season with five sacks in seven games, but has played some stiff competition. New Orleans has been doing well at rushing the passer, but that likely won’t keep up, so they need to address the issue.
20. Buffalo Bills- Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame
St. Brown has had a hard time getting involved in the Notre Dame offense early, but that is only partially on him. He is a big athletic receiver that looks like he could be more productive in the NFL than he has been in college. Tyrod Taylor needs a better option as his top receiver and St. Brown can be that guy.
21. Washington Redskins- Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
Jefferson is a talented linebacker, who hasn’t totally lived up to his potential, but is starting to show flashes that he can. Mason Foster is old and hasn’t played particularly well this year, so Jefferson could play next to Zach Brown.
22. Seattle Seahawks- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
Brown has NFL bloodlines and a big body. He needs to prove that he has the athleticism and speed to deal with the fast pass rushers in the NFL. If he can do that, he can see himself move up draft boards. The Seahawks have to start protecting Russell Wilson better or he won’t last much longer. They also haven’t been able to run the football at all.
23. Atlanta Falcons- Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State
Desmond Trufant is a good corner, but the Falcons need more if they are going to stop some of the best offenses in the NFC. McFadden provides good value here and has been a shut down corner this season.
24. Denver Broncos- Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
The Broncos are another team that don’t have too many needs. Nelson provides good value and would’ve been a first round pick had he come out in last year’s draft class. Ronald Leary can kick out to right tackle so Nelson can play right guard, or he can play left guard for Denver.
25. Los Angeles Rams- Kevin Toliver, CB, LSU
The Rams allowed Brian Hoyer to throw for 332 yards on them a few weeks ago, so they really need to improve their secondary. In four games so far this season, Toliver hasn’t done much, but he will face stiffer competition as the season goes on. The potential is there, but he still needs to prove it on the field.
26. Carolina Panthers- Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson
While Cam Newton is playing better, the offensive line still needs to be improved upon. They need to get the ground game going to set up Cam Newton in the passing game. Hyatt looks like a player who could be versatile at the NFL level and could play multiple positions on the offensive line.
27. Green Bay Packers- Jordan Thomas, CB, Oklahoma
The Packers need to get some better players in the secondary. Thomas has a lot of experience at Oklahoma and would address a big need. With a good rest of this season, he could compete for a starting spot in the NFL.
28. Minnesota Vikings- Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
Wilkins is a part of the very productive and talented defensive line at Clemson. He already has 3.5 sacks and four tackles for loss on the season and does a good job at both defending the run and rushing the passer from the interior. The Vikings can’t rely on Shariff Floyd to stay healthy and need to get a replacement.
29. Pittsburgh Steelers- Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama
Pittsburgh doesn’t have a good safety on their roster. Mike Mitchell specifically needs to be replaced as soon as possible. Harrison has the chance to be a good strong safety in the NFL with his great size. He is 6’3″, 214 pounds and impacts games in a variety of ways.
30. New England Patriots- Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State
Chubb has been a catalyst in N.C. State’s wins over Louisville and Florida State. He has already accrued 13 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. The Patriots need help all over on defense, but have lost some of their best pass rushers in recent years and need to replace them.
31. Philadelphia Eagles- Simmie Cobbs Jr., Indiana
The Eagles have Alshon Jeffrey on a one year deal and Torrey Smith isn’t doing much. Carson Wentz needs some more weapons as he continues to develop. Cobbs has produced a lot at Indiana and is a big receiver who can create matchup problems in the NFL.
32. Buffalo Bills (via KC)- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Smith has done a little bit of everything for Georgia this season with 53 total tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, a sack and two passes defended. Buffalo’s linebackers have not performed this year and getting better there would pay dividends.
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