Free agency and trades have turned the NFL on its head. With a lot of team needs being addressed, fans can look forward to the draft in just over a month. Here is the 2018 NFL mock draft March 20.
1. Cleveland Browns- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Yes, the Browns did just sign Carlos Hyde, but Barkley is still the best player in the class. With the trades for Jarvis Landry and Tyrod Taylor, Cleveland is making a concerted effort to improve the offense and with Barkley they would have a lot of options in 2018.
2. New York Giants- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
No major questions about Rosen arose from the NFL Draft Combine interviews, which is good news for him. Rosen had to carry UCLA and ended up having a successful season. He needed to have a good year to clear up any doubts about his shoulder injury he suffered during his sophomore season. The Giants may be without Eli Manning next year and even if he does stay, will need a quarterback of the future.
3. New York Jets- Sam Darnold, QB, USC
The Jets traded up for the this pick, which means they are drafting a quarterback, despite now having Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater. Darnold struggled this season with his decision-making which led to a lot of turnovers. He also has a flawed throwing motion. Although he went to the NFL Combine, he didn’t compete on the field and just interviewed with teams. Some have Darnold as their top quarterback, but his decision-making needs to improve. The Jets did well this season for the talent they had on the roster, but need a franchise quarterback.
4. Cleveland Browns- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Although they signed Tyrod Taylor, Cleveland still needs a quarterback of the future. Baker has defied all the critics who have mentioned his size as a reason not to draft him. He can make all the throws and is athletic enough to avoid pass rushers. His main calling card is his accuracy, which is the best in this draft class. He said as much in his interviews with the media in Indianapolis.
5. Denver Broncos- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Denver got Case Keenum in free agency, but he’s already 30 years old. While Allen certainly has flaws in his decision-making and accuracy, he does have a strong arm and is athletic. John Elway went to Boise, Idaho to watch him in his bowl game personally. He competed in all the drills at the combine and got some audible cheers when he displayed his arm strength. The Broncos have a solid roster and can afford to use a pick on a developmental quarterback.
6. Indianapolis Colts- Bradley Chubb, DE/OLB, N.C. State
The Colts pulled off a fantastic trade and will likely still get their first target in the NFL Draft. Frank Reich will be looking forward to work with Andrew Luck. When he is back, the offense will figure itself out. They can improve the defense to make the team more complete when Luck comes back. Chubb is a great pass rusher who has 10 sacks in each of the past two seasons. He displayed a good combination of size and speed at the combine.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
Tampa Bay needs to protect Jameis Winston to insure that he has a good year. Nelson is one of the best players in the class and will be drafted early despite playing a position that doesn’t usually get talked about this soon.
8. Chicago Bears- Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Chicago has signed Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel to bolster its wide receiver core. This means they may choose to address the secondary. The Ohio State product is a good cover corner, who isn’t afraid to get physical. He is a little slight and will need to put on some weight.
9. San Francisco 49ers- Vita Vea, NT, Washington
The 49ers got Richard Sherman, which likely takes corner out of the equation at this pick, unless they are still concerned about his health. They can address the nose tackle position and improve their run defense. ea can play both defensive tackle and nose tackle, depending on the scheme a team runs, which is valuable. He has great size at 6’5″ and 340 pounds, which makes him disruptive. Vea did suffer a hamstring injury at the Combine.
10. Oakland Raiders- Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB, Alabama
Tahir Whitehead was signed at linebacker in free agency, so the Raiders may elect to go in a different direction. With some of the trades and signings that occurred, Fitzpatrick could slip to this pick. He likely fits in best as a safety in the NFL, but can also play corner. Whichever he needs to play, he will excel at. His 4.47 40 yard dash time at the combine was right in line where he should have run.
11. Miami Dolphins- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Smith was the best linebacker in college football this year and does a little bit of everything well. He is especially fast, which is crucial for his coverage and tracking down of ball carriers. The Dolphins have Raekwon McMillan and Kiko Alonso, but McMillan got injured before his impact could be seen. They will still need a third linebacker.
12. Buffalo Bills- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
The Bills moved up this far with their trade with the Bengals, but don’t be surprised if they move up again to get a better quarterback. They signed A.J. McCarron, but there really wasn’t a reason to move up unless they were taking a quarterback. Some people are questioning whether Jackson can play quarterback, but he showed improved accuracy this season and is a dynamic playmaker. He should be given a shot to play the position in the NFL.
13. Washington Redskins- Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama
Payne’s stats aren’t eye-popping, but he often gets double teamed. Washington’s interior of the defensive line can be improved, as they allowed the most rushing yards per game in the NFL. His combine workout helped display the physical freak he is.
14. Green Bay Packers- Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
Edmunds does just about everything on the football field well, as a good cover linebacker, rusher and run stopper. The Packers need to make the defense better for when Aaron Rodgers gets the offense going again and he has alluded to it as much this offseason.
15. Arizona Cardinals- Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
The Cardinals find themselves behind the eight ball if they want a quarterback and will need to trade up or reach for one. Rudolph is the best quarterback available so he will be slotted here for now. Not everyone likes Rudolph, but he has a lot of experience and quite possibly the best deep ball in the class.
16. Baltimore Ravens- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Baltimore was able to sign Michael Crabtree and John Brown, but might want to get a young player to help out their offense. Ridley is the best route-runner in the class and only lacked production in college because of the system he played in and inconsistent quarterback play.
17. Los Angeles Chargers- Derwin James, S, Florida State
Some of the trades that have happened in the last few weeks have helped teams that weren’t even in them. Now James might fall to the Chargers, who need a safety. He is athletic, but doesn’t necessarily have a set position, which is turning some teams off. He ran a 4.48 at the combine and has great size for a defensive back, making him valuable. At the end of the day he plays well and some team will give him a shot.
18. Seattle Seahawks- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
Orlando Brown had a rough combine, while Connor Williams has some questions about his length. McGlinchey might be the safest pick, because even if he can’t be a great left tackle, he can move over to the right and be successful. The Seahawks need a few good offensive linemen and might elect to go for the safest pick.
19. Dallas Cowboys- Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Evans is a quick, run stopping linebacker that can help out right away. The Cowboys current linebackers all have played different positions throughout their career, so Evans should be able to slide in and produce alongside them.
20. Detroit Lions- Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
The Lions could go with an offensive lineman or running back, but they do have some holes on the defensive line. Taven Bryan could take some pressure off of Ziggy Ansah.
21. Cincinnati Bengals- Billy Price, OG/C, Ohio State
Cincinnati got Cordy Glenn with their trade down to this pick, but their offensive line is still very weak. Price has tons of experience at guard and center for Ohio State and will start right away.
22. Buffalo Bills- James Daniels, C, Iowa
When Eric Wood had to retire, the Bills lost a great player. They also traded Cordy Glenn to Cincinnati and need to upgrade their offensive line. Daniels has risen up draft boards lately and can immediately fill in for Wood.
23. Los Angeles Rams- Marcus Davenport, DE/OLB, UTSA
Los Angeles has good inside pressure in Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers, but need better outside pass rushers, especially after trading Robert Quinn to Miami. Davenport has the build of a great pass rusher, but reports are the media like him more than NFL teams do.
24. Carolina Panthers- Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College
The Panthers signed Julius Peppers, but he won’t last much longer and they aren’t very deep at defensive end. Landry had a great 2016 season that put him on the map and followed it up with a solid season this year.
25. Tennessee Titans- Isaiah Wynn, OG/C, Georgia
Wynn played well in the Senior Bowl and the College Football Playoff for Georgia. The Titans need to improve the interior of their offensive line to help their young players at skill positions.
26. Atlanta Falcons- Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa
Jackson turned into an All-American corner at Iowa this season and has shown the ability to make acrobatic interceptions. If Jackson falls this far, the Falcons will run to the podium to draft him. Atlanta needs another corner to pair with Desmond Trufant and should try to take one early.
27. New Orleans Saints- Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
Vander Esch is another player that has been moving up draft boards. The Saints don’t have much at linebacker and can get a starter from day one here.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers- Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama
Harrison is a good strong safety prospect, who plays physically. Despite being known for all of their great safeties throughout their history, the Steelers are very bad at the position right now.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars- Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
Kirk is dynamic when he has the ball in his hands and can play in the slot or on the outside. Jacksonville really doesn’t have too many needs and have said they are sticking with Blake Bortles at quarterback. The Jaguars have a decent crop of young receivers, but they rarely stay healthy.
30. Minnesota Vikings- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
Brown had a bad combine, which may hurt his stock a little, but his game tape is great and shows a mauler. He may not have the athleticism to play left tackle in the NFL, but could be a great right tackle. The Vikings’ offensive line is much better than last year, but can still be improved. With a good offense and defense, they can afford to make a good unit better.
31. New England Patriots- Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn
With Malcolm Butler leaving, the Patriots need more help at corner. Davis is a lengthy corner for Auburn, who has withstood a lot of good SEC competition.
32. Philadelphia Eagles- Connor Williams, OT, Texas
They just won the Super Bowl with a backup quarterback and have a very solid roster. This pick could depend a lot on the health status of left tackle Jason Peters. If he isn’t healthy they’ll need a tackle. Williams’ draft stock has been all over the place, going from early first round to third round back into the first round.