Outside of being a Michigan football supporter, I’m also a big fan of the NFL Draft. With my own website, I like to ruin my SEO for a day and have a little fun with my own mock draft. And this year’s draft should be a fun one. There are at least five quarterbacks that should go in the first round which means trades are likely. But just how many? I could see a lot going down on Thursday night.
First, here are the trades I have going down on day one (with help from NFL Draft trade value chart)
- NYG trades #2 (1st) to Buffalo for #12 (1st), #22 (1st), #53 (2nd) & #65 (3rd)
- Trade Value: 2600 – 2615
- Denver trades #5 (1st) to Arizona for #15 (1st), #47 (2nd), #79 (3rd) & #152 (5th)
- Trade Value: 1700 – 1705.2
- Detroit trades #20 (1st) to New Orleans for #27 (1st), #91 (3rd), #147 (5th) & #164 (5th)
- Trade Value: 850 – 873.6
- Philadelphia trades #32 (1st) to Tampa Bay for #38 (2nd) & #102 (4th)
- Trade Value: 590 – 612
With the trades out of the way, let the craziness begin with my 2018 NFL Mock Draft:
Cleveland Browns: Saquan Barkley, RB, Penn State
- The Browns make the smart decision and take the best player in the draft. Barkley steps in and gives the Cleveland a pretty scary offense thanks to being an all-around monster and (possibly) the next Adrian Peterson. As long as Josh Gordon can pass his drug tests and Tyrod Taylor (and whatever draft pick competes with him at that spot) plays up to his talent level, the Browns won’t have the first pick in the draft next year.
Buffalo Bills (from NYG): Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
- Mayfield and Buffalo just seem like a perfect fit. The Bills need a face of the franchise and Mayfield could use a franchise like Buffalo. The wild Bills Mafia, cold weather, and need for a winner makes Mayfield the right guy for the job. An RPO option with Mayfield and LeSean McCoy would be something to see and something that could just work in a division that may be up for grabs in the next couple of years.
New York Jets (from IND): Sam Darnold, QB, USC
- Darnold is the guy that most believe will be the top quarterback taken. I’m not 100% sold on him but he’s said to be going high in this draft. So, I have the team, outside of Cleveland, that is most likely to draft the wrong quarterback. Darnold is a talented player that should have a good career. I just don’t see him being a superstar. Luckily, the Jets just need a decent quarterback to be good (ie: Mark Sanchez).
Cleveland Browns (from HOU): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
- After shocking some and taking Barkley with the first pick, the Browns come back and take Mr. All-Potential in this draft, Josh Allen. All the physical tools are there and then some, but Allen’s not a very accurate passer and lacks a bit of touch. But the Browns haven’t taken a quarterback in the top 10 since Tim Couch in 1999 and though I think Tyrod Taylor is going to play well, they have to get a quarterback in this draft.
Arizona Cardinals (from DEN): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
- Another top 5 trade takes place as John Elway bails on the available quarterbacks and trades back to allow Arizona to find Carson Palmer’s replacement. And it happens to be (IMO) the best pro-style quarterback in this draft and the guy who should’ve gone to Michigan to learn under Harbaugh instead of Jim Mora Jr., Josh Rosen. Some hate on him for his attitude and him caring about things other than football but that’s what some didn’t like about Aaron Rodgers and we all saw how that turned out. Not calling him the next Rodgers but I do believe he’ll be a top 15 quarterback during his career.
Indianapolis Colts (from NYJ): Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
- Teams will be blowing up the phone lines in Indianapolis if one of the quarterbacks falls outside of the top five but with a talent like Quenton Nelson on the board, I don’t think the Colts can pass him up either way. If/when Andrew Luck ever plays again, he’ll need some protection and there isn’t a better offensive lineman in this draft. Nelson may be the best guard to come out in the last 5-10 years.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
- Tampa sits back and watches four quarterbacks in the first five picks, allowing the Buccaneers to take the best defensive player in the draft. Bradley Chubb would be a dream pick here as Tampa Bay could really use some more impact players on the defense. And there isn’t a more important spot on a defense than a pass rusher.
Chicago Bears: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
- The Bears are on to another head coach and need help all over. But it’s the defense I see Chicago focusing on and there aren’t many players I believe have higher ceilings than Roquan Smith. He’s a sideline to sideline linebacker that can blitz the quarterback and make plays in the passing game. After losing Christian Jones in free agency and looking for a face of the defense, this pick just makes sense.
San Francisco 49ers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
- Another easy pick would be the 49ers running to the stage to draft Minkah Fitzpatrick. The Crimson Tide standout is a do-everything defensive back that would replace Eric Reid and give the defense a new face of the defense with last year’s first-round pick looking at potential jail time.
Oakland Raiders: Derwin James, S, Florida State
- Looking to make a splash in his first draft since returning to the Bay, Jon Gruden lands himself a guy that would give his defense another athletic freak in Derwin James. Adding him to the secondary with Khalil Mack in the front seven would give the Raiders an even scarier defense. Something that Gruden’s gonna love, man.
Miami Dolphins: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
- With the top four quarterbacks off the board, the Dolphins are unable to trade back and decide to pass on taking Lamar Jackson or Mason Rudolph, so they stay here and give Ryan Tannehill (or whoever they draft in the 2nd or 3rd round) some help. Miami traded Jay Ajayi to Philadelphia, only to watch him win a Super Bowl. Guice is a beast that could give their offense a whole new look moving forward. He’d also be the perfect guy for Frank Gore to teach.
New York Giants (from BUF via CIN): Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
- After trading back and missing on one of the top quarterbacks to eventually replace Eli Manning, the Giants can fix something even more dire, the pass rush. Long ago are the days of Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul. JPP was traded this off=season to Tampa Bay which opens a spot for another raw, uber-athletic pass rusher like Davenport, who can come in and make an impact quickly.
Washington: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
- Washington is in a weird spot. Their contract Russian Roulette game with Kirk Cousins blew up in their face and now they have Alex Smith who isn’t going to do much better than a playoff birth, and that may be stretching it a bit as he gets older. This is where Lamar Jackson could surprisingly go but I have other Gruden going with the versatile local linebacker to add to the defense.
Green Bay Packers: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
- The Packers could go several different ways in this draft. Could draft a wide receiver to replace Jordy Nelson and pair up with Jimmy Graham to please Aaron Rodgers, or take the best player available. That’s what I have them doing and it also comes at a position of need. Denzel Ward is an uber-talented cornerback that should be a very good pro. And he’d get the chance to start from day one in Green Bay, where defensive back help is badly needed.
Denver Broncos (from ARI): Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
- Denver could take a quarterback to compete with Case Keenum but with a bigger need at offensive tackle, Mike McGlinchey is the smarter pick. The Notre Dame tackle could play either side of the line but may be best suited as a right tackle. Either way, he’d bring much needed protection to the
Baltimore Ravens: Vita Vea, NT, Washington
- After the retirement of Ray Lewis and the trade of Haloti Ngata, the Ravens defense just hasn’t been the same. They need some more beef up front to go along with the former Michigan duo of Chris Wormley and Willie Henry, and there isn’t more beef or a better option than Vita Vea. The top nose tackle in the draft would be a great fit on the inside of the Ravens defensive line, giving CJ Mosley a little love in the running game.
Los Angeles Chargers: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
- The Chargers could finally take a replacement for Phillip Rivers but with a instant starting linebacker sitting there in Rashaan Evans, they can’t pass him up. Evans is an athletic tackling machine that could finally give San Diego a play maker in the middle of the defense.
Seattle Seahawks: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
- Another first-round surprise comes from Pete Carroll and the Seahawks (who’ve done it in the past; Bruce Irvin). This time it comes in the form of Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson’s replacement in a small school standout that I believe is the best tight end in this draft and could be a Pro Bowl-caliber tight end for several years. Dallas Goedert may not have played against the best competition but you can’t deny his physical traits and ridiculous catching ability. He’d be a much-needed weapon and safety blanket for Russell Wilson.
Dallas Cowboys: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
- After cutting Dez Bryant, the Cowboys have to find themselves some help on the outside in this draft. And there isn’t a better receiver in this draft than Calvin Ridley who would give Dak Prescott a big play target and the offense a whole new dynamic.
New Orleans Saints (from DET): Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
- The Saints nearly lost Drew Brees this offseason. It’s likely that he does leave town in the next couple years so New Orleans needs to be ready. Why not trade up a couple spots to ensure the most electrifying player in the class? Lamar Jackson could sit behind Brees and learn the game from a Super Bowl champion. This could be a move that keeps the Saints in contention for several years to come.
Cincinnati Bengals: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
- It’s no secret that the Bengals are looking to improve the interior of their offensive line in this draft. Luckily, there are several top level options still on the board. This could be a center, like James Daniels or Billy Price, but I like Will Hernandez the most. The UTEP standout is a monster on the inside and could come in and improve the run game immediately.
New York Giants (from BUF via KC): Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
- Every year it seems like a team reaches for a quarterback that doesn’t have a universal first round grade on. And this year that could be the Giants who traded back out of the top five, passed on taking a quarterback at 12 and is now ready to take their future signal caller. He’s not ready to play immediately which makes this an ideal situation as he can learn behind Eli for a year or two.
New England Patriots (from LAR): Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
- The Malcolm Butler saga is still being talked about and now that he’s gone, the Patriots definitely need a replacement for him, as Nick Foles showed. And there aren’t many players that I believe have brighter futures in this draft class than Jaire Alexander. He’s a hard-nosed, physical cover corner that should have the athleticism to play early.
Carolina Panthers: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
- Greg Olsen is a year away from heading to the broadcast booth and Cam Newton is badly in need of another weapon outside of Devin Funchess. Though Hurst is already 25 years old, he’s a guy that could step in right away and make an impact. Though I’m not extremely high on him, I could see him being one of the first two tight ends off the board.
Tennessee Titans: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
- After leaving the Combine with a detected heart condition, Maurice Hurst is said to be free falling down draft boards. Todd McShay and Mel Kiper have him going on day two but I’ll believe it when I see it. Hurst has known about the heart condition for years and was cleared by doctors. As long as the Titans doctors cleared him as well, I see this being a great fit. Hurst is the best defensive tackle in this draft and would give Mike Vrabel’s defense a pass rushing force on the inside.
Atlanta Falcons: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
- After losing the Super Bowl in heartbreaking fashion, the Falcons finished 3rd in the NFC South in 2017. While Matt Ryan not playing like the MVP was an issue, the defense took a big step back. Help is needed up front and Da’Ron Payne is one of the best interior lineman in this draft. This would be a great pick for Atlanta.
Detroit Lions (from NO): Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College
- Matt Patricia is bringing a hybrid defense that looks to be leaning towards a 3-4 to Detroit. However, he doesn’t have himself that hybrid pass rusher just yet to pair with Ziggy Ansah. And there may not be a better fit than Harold Landy. Not only does he have the size to play with his hand in the ground and the athleticism to stand up but the Lions new defensive coordinator, Paul Pasqualoni, is his former college coach. Trading back and still getting Landry would be an ideal situation for Detroit.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
- Pittsburgh is in need of linebacker help after the injury to Ryan Shazier. There aren’t a ton of top options left on the board but, luckily for the Steelers, Leighton Vander Esch is one of the best in the draft. He’s big and athletic, a perfect fit for a Pittsburgh defense.
Jacksonville Jaguars: DJ Moore, WR, Maryland
- Jacksonville nearly made the Super Bowl with Blake Bortles at quarterback. I think the Jags should be thinking about trading up for Lamar Jackson but by staying here at 29, I have them adding a home run threat to Bortles’ arsenal. He’s a guy that could take any touch to the house. Something that will change up the Jags power run heavy offense.
Minnesota Vikings: James Daniels, C, Iowa
- Joe Berger retired this offseason and the Vikings just spent a billion dollars on Kirk Cousins. Rick Spielman is looking for a way to help protect that investment in this draft and Daniels may be the best center available. He’s an athletic lineman that should help solidify the offensive line.
New England Patriots: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
- New England needs offensive tackle help with the departure of Nate Solder. But this is far from a top of the line offensive tackle class. The Patriots could take an all-around lineman like Isaiah Wynn but I have Belichick going with the pure tackle route and taking a high ceiling prospect in Kolton Miller.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (from PHI): Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
- It’s no secret that Philadelphia is looking to trade out of the first round and with the Browns sitting at the top of the second round, Tampa Bay is the team that will trade up to land its much needed running back. Sony Michel is a touchdown waiting to happen every time he touches the ball. Though he has some ball concerns, he’s a guy who I think could sneak into the first round thanks to the way he ended the 2017 season.
For the Detroit Lions fans out there, stay tuned for my 7-round 2018 Detroit Lions Mock Draft which includes trades and each pick for the Lions.
Photo Credit: NFL.com