We are now officially less than one week out from the 2018 NFL Draft that will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas and will be aired live across several different channels starting at 8 PM ET including for the first time ever, FOX along with your traditional ESPN and NFL Network coverage. All seven rounds will be aired in one of the biggest NFL-related spectacles of the year, the NFL Draft.
Without further delay, it’s time for me to jump right in with my final mock of the draft. My last mock was done immediately following the Scouting Combine in Indy and we have since seen team’s shuffle around the draft board jockeying for position to go up and get their next franchise Quarterback. The New York Giants hold all the cards with the No. 2 pick as if they go Quarterback, we could very well see four straight QB’s come off the board next Thursday night. Here’s the final installment of my first round mock draft.
No. 1: Cleveland Browns: QB Josh Allen, Wyoming
The strong-armed Quarterback seems to have won over the hearts of Browns brass and more importantly, Owner Jimmy Haslam. Credit to Allen, he killed it at the Combine and at his Pro Day opening eyes with the throws he can make and the ability to do things no one else in college can. A lot of talent evaluators see the next coming of Carson Wentz in Josh Allen out of a smaller program out of Wyoming, but I wouldn’t take Allen first over the other QB’s in this draft class.
No. 2: New York Giants: QB Sam Darnold, USC
The Giants hold all the cards here. They can trade the pick, take a top-level talent at a non-QB position or simply make the correct call and take their next franchise Quarterback in Darnold. In a division with the likes of Wentz, Dak and Smith, the Giants can’t pass on Darnold and settle for mediocrity with Eli Manning and no succession plan. They love Darnold and he would thrive under Pat Shurmur, he’s the best prospect at the position in the draft and has the chance to be the next elite Quarterback. You don’t pass on that for a running back or guard.
No. 3: New York Jets: QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
The Jets traded up with the Colts to go get the third overall pick and take their next franchise Quarterback. Reports are the Jets have had their eyes set on the former Heisman winner the entire time and that’s who they plan to take with the third overall pick unless Darnold were to fall. Build the offense around Mayfield with first-time offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates, who was their QB coach last season. Mayfield is tough and competitive, plays with fiery demeanor and massive chip on his shoulder that teammates can get behind. Accurate passer than can beat you with his legs, overall special athlete.
No. 4: (TRADE) Buffalo Bills: QB Josh Rosen, UCLA
The run on Quarterback reaches peak insanity. With three straight coming off the board, Buffalo can’t take any chances in going up to get their guy. This is a playoff team with a drive and will to compete, and Rosen is the most intelligent QB in the class and his high-football IQ will play well for him here. Buffalo coughs up both of their first rounders and some to go up and jump Denver in this mock. Cleveland has their QB, so they can afford to slide down to No. 12. Rosen has terrific mechanics and is an accurate passer, massive upgrade at the position and the most polished QB right away that can win football games.
No. 5: Denver Broncos: DE Bradley Chubb, NC State
Chubb is probably the most talented player in this draft, an elite pass rusher that can go first overall most years falls right into John Elway‘s lap with the fifth pick. He doesn’t have to trade up and can now pair Chubb with All-Pro Von Miller and really make each game living hell for the opposing QB. They signed veteran Case Keenum and with that defense, will compete this season. Chubb has the size and athleticism to to be a major disruptor against both the pass and running game. No-brainer pick here.
No. 6: Indianapolis Colts: LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
Chris Ballard will be looking to continue the rebuilding of his roster and football team and that starts on the defensive side of the ball. Imagine the potential of the 19-year-old Edmunds who is a quick, explosive linebacker who can play off the edge or up the middle. Smart pick with home run potential for the Colts.
No. 7: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Tampa Bay would be landing a versatile and elite defender who could lead their defense for the next decade-plus in Fitzpatrick. He’s a tough and smart football player from the Nick Saban academy, which means he knows what it takes to win. Fitzpatrick’s character, leadership and production has earned him the reputation as one of the best players in the draft and he would fit well in Mike Smith’s defensive scheme.
No. 8: Chicago Bears: G Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame
Hall of Fame talent and can’t miss guard prospect that will protect the Bears young franchise QB. It’s not a sexy pick, but Matt Nagy and the Bears aren’t looking to steal the headlines, they want to build a football team that can win. Nelson is the best guard to come out in years and is a nasty, rugged tough lineman that can change the dynamic of the football team. Doesn’t have to travel too far either staying in the Midwest from South Bend to the Windy City.
No. 9: San Francisco 49ers: RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State
There’s absolutely no way Barkley falls past John Lynch and Kyle Shannahan here. A home run hitting running back and a serious threat on offense for Jimmy Garoppolo. Barkley was being mocked No. 1 early on by many experts, but with the run on QB’s at the top, and the remainder of the teams needing to address other weaknesses on their football teams, Barkley falls right into the Niners lap here. Hall of Fame potential, that will catapult San Francisco to the top of the NFC West right there with the Rams.
No. 10: Oakland Raiders: LB Roquan Smith, Georgia
The Raiders need to sure-up their defense if they want to compete. Smith is a physical, nasty hard-hitting machine from the SEC that will set the tone for Jon Gruden’s defense each week. He is incredibly fast posting a 4.51 40-time and will shut down the opposing run game. Drafting Smith and pairing him with Khalil Mack will certainly go a long way towards bolstering the Raiders defense.
No. 11: Miami Dolphins: DT Vita Vea, Washington
Adam Gase and the Dolphins will stick with Ryan Tannehill as their Quarterback, at least for the foreseeable future. The team that traded for Robert Quinn to pair with the always explosive Cameron Wake is looking to change the culture of the locker room and they did so by cutting Ndamukong Suh. That left a glaring hole on the interior of the defensive line to fill. Vea is a massive Hawaiian defensive tackle with a frame that is designed to eat up double teams and be a force on the defensive line.
No. 12: Cleveland Browns (Trade w/ Bills): DB Denzel Ward, Ohio State
How’s that for a trade? Get a haul from the Bills to move down from No. 4 and still pick up an elite corner that falls right into your lap. Ward flashed his supreme athletic ability under Urban Meyer at Ohio State and should make a quick transition to the next level. Has impressive footwork for a young defender and can shut down the opposition, he will look forward to the challenge of facing the likes of Antonio Brown twice a year.
No. 13: Washington Redskins: DE Marcus Davenport, UT-San Antonio
Davenport flashed his talent and athletic ability with a dynamite combine performance that will solidify him as a top 20 pick in this draft and one of the elite pass rushers in this class. Davenport is a dynamic edge rusher that has loads of potential and working across from the likes of Ryan Kerrigan will not only help for a fast-transition to the NFL, but also give the Redskins one of the better pass rushing combos in all of the NFC.
No. 14: Green Bay Packers: OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
The Packers need to do all they can to keep Aaron Rodgers healthy, that’s priority number one. With a new defensive coordinator in Mike Pettine many pundits will have you believe they go on that side of the ball first, but I am in the camp that they need to address that offensive line first and foremost before looking on defense. McGlinchey was a productive starter for the Fighting Irish and I rank him as the best in an overall down draft class for tackles. He’s a day one starter and one the Packers desperately need to upgrade their tackle spots.
No. 15: Arizona Cardinals: QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville
The Cardinals didn’t have a succession plan in place after Carson Palmer or even Bruce Arians. It’s a new regime in Arizona with Steve Wilks and while they have brought in a pair of veterans in Sam Bradford & Mike Glennon for this season, the plan is to select their next guy in this draft. With the four top guys off the board early, that leaves the talented and athletic Louisville QB Lamar Jackson ripe for the picking at 15. Strong arm guy that can beat the defense with his arm or legs, has open field instincts and elusiveness of elite running back that would play well in a dome alongside of David Johnson.
No. 16: Baltimore Ravens: WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama
Baltimore loves taking guys from the Nick Saban school of football and he’s the best receiver in the draft. Ridley would be a welcomed weapon for a Ravens team that has lacked a play-maker on offense since Joe Flacco had the likes of Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith in 2012. Ridley may be undersized at the position, but can prove to be an elite possession guy for years to come with his route-running ability and athleticism.
No. 17: Los Angeles Chargers: DL Da’Ron Payne, Alabama
Payne jumps off the charts to scouts for his potential and the performance he put up during Alabama’s championship run as well as recently in the combine. Pair Payne with the likes of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram and the Chargers will have a dominant and productive defensive line that will wreak havoc on the AFC West for years to come. He’s a quick and explosive interior defensive lineman that will be a nightmare for opposing offenses to try to slow down.
No. 18: Seattle Seahawks: CB Josh Jackson, Iowa
Seattle is reshaping their roster and that starts with drafting another shut-down corner on the outside to replace the departed Richard Sherman. Jackson was a ball-hawk last season for the Hawkeyes with 27 passes defensed and a staggering 8 picks. Great corner that anticipates routes well and would be a steal for John Schneider and Pete Carroll in the new legion of boom.
No. 19: Dallas Cowboys: DB Derwin James, FSU
James is a leader in the locker room and has the range of a center fielder back there playing safety. Has the speed and athleticism to come up on the run game or cover big tight ends across from him. All-Pro caliber defensive back falls right into the Cowboys lap as they continue to bolster their defensive unit. Stephen Jones would jump at James with the 19th overall selection.
No. 20: Detroit Lions: OG Isaiah Wynn, Georgia
The first pick of the Matt Patricia era isn’t going to be sexy, but neither was their coach hiring. It’s a smart business decision for what’s best for the football team going forward. Wynn checks all the boxes for the Lions, the most important being improving an area that must be addressed and keeping franchise QB Matthew Stafford upright. Wynn played tackle for the Dogs but has the build to be a great guard at the next level and has what it takes to be a top-level one in the league.
No. 21: Cincinnati Bengals: DE/OLB Harold Landry, Boston College
Coming off an injury-riddled year at BC, Landry still has the talent and potential to warrant a top-15 selection, but will slide to Cincy with this selection. He flashed his ability and speed at the scouting combine and proved he can be a dynamic edge rusher for a franchise. Excellent on the edge at using his athletic ability to ramp up a secondary rush and scoop up scrambling quarterbacks.
No. 22: (Trade w/ Bills) Cleveland Browns: OL Billy Price, Ohio State
The Browns get their Quarterback with the first overall selection and then turn the 4th overall pick into a pair of Ohio State in standouts in shutdown corner Denzel Ward and nasty-interior offensive lineman Billy Price. He has experience at both center and guard and would play well with the Browns with his strength and explosiveness.
No. 23: New England Patriots: LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama
The Patriots could do a number of things on draft day including move up, trade down or stand pat and take an offensive tackle. Personally, there’s not one tackle that stands out above the rest here and I am really high on Evans out of Alabama. Evans fills a position of need and can anchor the Patriots defense for the next five-plus seasons along with another Bama alum Dont’a Hightower. The tackling machine Evans is a three-down player that can flow sideline-to-sideline and Nick Saban will vouch for just how important he has been for the Crimson Tide defense and we all know the relationship Saban & Belichick have.
No. 24: Carolina Panthers: OL Will Hernandez, UTEP
Nasty physical guard that is a strong finisher and will control the line of scrimmage. The best lineman in the history of the UTEP program that loves football and loves to compete. Boxes and power-lifts on the side, a guy every team would welcome into their locker room. Protect Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey and add to a playoff team to take them to the next level. Simple as that.
No. 25: Tennessee Titans: LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State
Mike Vrabel is taking over a Titans team that is coming off a playoff win before being handed a beating in Foxboro. The defense has potential, but could use an upgrade at the linebacker position with a dynamic player. Who better to take than a guy similar to Vrabel himself? He has the ability to play with his hand on the ground and set the edge, rush the passer, play inside or cover the pass. Vander Esch is the second coming of Vrabel which is lofty praise, but if the Titans don’t take him I can ensure you the Patriots will.
No. 26: Atlanta Falcons: OG/C James Daniels, Iowa
Daniels is the most revised center prospect in the draft, problem here is the Falcons already have one of the best in football in Alex Mack. Atlanta could use some help on the interior offensive line protecting Matt Ryan and Daniels would be the perfect fit with his technique and ability to become a Pro-Bowl caliber offensive lineman. Safe but smart draft selection for the Falcons.
No. 27: New Orleans Saints: CB Mike Hughes, Central Florida
Sean Payton and the Saints hit on their draft last season and Hughes would be another step in the right direction for a Saints roster loaded with talent. Hughes is a little under-sized but reminds me a lot of Malcom Butler, whom the Saints had interest in the last two years before he elected to sign with Tennessee. Great ball-playing ability and blazing speed, a factor returning kicks adding to his value.
No. 28: Pittsburgh Steelers: DB Justin Reid, Stanford
Reid is an intelligent and versatile player-maker in the back-end of the Cardinal defense that would be a welcomed addition to the often-torched Steelers secondary. Reid has the speed and ability to come over the top and make a play on the ball and the toughness to come up and challenge in the run game. Good fit and find late in the first round for Mike Tomlin’s Steelers.
No. 29: Jacksonville Jaguars: TE Mike Gesicki, Penn State
The Jaguars committed to Blake Bortles as their QB, at least for now, and already have a stout defense. That means they must use their first round selection to give their QB some weapons. In steps the Penn State tight end who dominated at the Combine with a 4.54 40-time and a 41.5″ vertical. Gesicki showed his hands and athleticism and displayed to all the scouts his ability to be a serious offensive threat warranting a late first round selection here by the Jaguars.
No. 30: Minnesota Vikings: CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville
The Vikings don’t have many holes on their roster outside of the line and a corner across from Xaiver Rhodes. Alexander is a tough and athletic corner that would complement Rhodes and Harrison Smith in the secondary and take Mike Zimmer’s defense to the next level. This team is loaded with potential after signing Kirk Cousins and Alexander would be a wise selection here for Minnesota.
No. 31: New England Patriots: OT Connor Williams, Texas
Honestly wouldn’t be stunned if New England moves this pick to accumulate more draft picks and move out of the first round, that’s if they don’t package it to move up first. That said, Nate Solder is gone and the Patriots don’t have a real solution at tackle other than Waddle or Garcia who are question marks at best. Williams is a leader and showed his strength and footwork skills with the Longhorns during his collegiate career. Sticks to his blocks and has powerful hand movement making him a better pass blocker than anything else.
No. 32: Denver Broncos (Trade w/ Eagles): QB Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
The Eagles aren’t keeping this pick. There will be too many suitors here and they are best equippedto take the top offer and slide down in the draft. That offer will come from John Elway’s Broncos as they package the 40th overall pick to move back into the first round and draft their QB-in-waiting. Case Keenum is the starter for this year and likely next, but Rudolph is a tall (6’5″) passer that will play well in the mile-high city. Rudolph completed 65% of his passes for 4,904 yards and 37 touchdowns during his senior year at Oklahoma State.
Hope y’all enjoyed the final installment on my Mock Draft. Follow me on Twitter for live reaction on draft night: @FrankBostonTank