2018 NFL Mock Draft
Last Updated: September 7, 2017
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com
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Note: this draft order is based on the inverted list of Super Bowl odds, slightly modified toward the back-end to more accurately reflect draft slotting for playoff teams.
2018 NFL Mock Draft
1. New York Jets - Sam Darnold, QB, USC (6'3" 225) *
The Jets are in the midst of a very aggressive rebuilding process. Landing a top-level QB will be a vital part of that, with Darnold looking like the best of the bunch at this point.
2. Cleveland Browns - Derwin James, SS, Florida State (6'2" 210) *
This may seem high for a strong safety to be selected, but James is a special player and entered the season as the near-consensus top defensive prospect.
3. San Francisco 49ers - Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA (6'3" 220) *
The 49ers used a 2017 third-round pick to draft C.J. Beathard out of Iowa, but a top-flight quarterback prospect would seem to be the best option for the 49ers that doesn't involve acquiring Redskins QB Kirk Cousins.
4. Chicago Bears - Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College (6'2" 250)
Landry is an early favorite to be the first front seven defensive player selected, not to mention also being the top overall senior prospect on many early boards.
5. Los Angeles Rams - Connor Williams, OT, Texas (6'5" 320) *
If Jared Goff is going to be able to thrive long-term as the Rams starting QB, he will need to have sufficient pass-blocking to buy him time in the pocket.
6. Kansas City Chiefs (via Buffalo Bills) - Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama (6'1" 190) *
Chiefs fans will have reason to root against the Bills in 2017. Ridley would be a great addition at a need spot for Kansas City.
7. Washington Redskins - Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU (6'5" 240) *
Obviously the decision made here is contingent on the Redskins retaining QB Kirk Cousins for 2018. Key is a highly-touted edge pass rusher who would be a tremendous addition to Washington's defense.
8. Miami Dolphins - Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn St. (5'11" 225) *
Barkley has been impressive since he broke out early in his true freshman season in 2015 and is the clear top RB prospect on most boards at this point. Barkley is a special player.
9. Los Angeles Chargers - Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame (6'7" 310)
Presuming the Chargers can convince Philip Rivers to return for the 2018 season, adding a top-tier lineman like McGlinchey would make for a good combo. McGlinchey likely would have been a first-round selection had he opted to leave for the NFL after the 2016 season.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars - Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming (6'4" 235) *
The clock is ticking on Blake Bortles. Should he fail to impress this fall, targeting a quarterback here is a realistic possibility. Allen has the physical skills to make it at the next level, though there will inevitably be questions about him relative to his competition at Wyoming.
11. Detroit Lions - Vita Vea, DT, Washington (6'4" 345) *
After targeting linebacker (Jarrad Davis) and cornerback (Teez Tabor) with a Florida Gators combo in 2017, filling another defensive need is a possibility here: defensive tackle. Vea has NFL-quality size and has a realistic chance of being the first DT off the board in the 2018 NFL Draft.
12. Indianapolis Colts - Derrius Guice, RB, LSU (5'11" 210) *
If anyone is going to push Penn State RB Saquon Barkley for the top RB spot in 2018, Guice would seem to be the most likely to do so. He would fill a need spot, particularly with 34-year-old Frank Gore's contract running out after this season.
13. Cincinnati Bengals - Minkah Fitzpatrick, FS, Alabama (6'0" 190) *
Fitzpatrick is the top free safety prospect on just about every board at this point, and he would represent good value for Cincinnati at #13 overall while also filling a need position for the team.
14. Baltimore Ravens - Malik Jefferson, ILB, Texas (6'2" 240) *
Baltimore went heavy on defense in the 2017 Draft, nabbing a corner, a defensive end, and two OLBs in the first three rounds. But inside LB is a need and Jefferson is perhaps the best ILB prospect at this stage of the evaluation process.
15. Philadelphia Eagles - Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma (6'7" 360) *
Jason Peters and Lane Johnson are currently handling the offensive tackle duties for the Eagles, but Peters will turn 36 in January and Philadelphia has to think long-term for protecting QB Carson Wentz.
16. New Orleans Saints - Sam Hubbard, DE/OLB, Ohio St. (6'5" 265) *
Adding an elite EDGE rusher would seem to be a logical move here for the Saints, with Hubbard being one of several possibilities for the team to go with at this spot.
17. Tennessee Titans - Clelin Ferrell, DE/OLB, Clemson (6'4" 265) *
Titans GM Jon Robinson has done a brilliant job of rebuilding a roster that fell into disrepair under previous management. One spot the Titans could use an upgrade at is 3-4 OLB, and Ferrell is one of EDGE prospects who could be considered here.
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida St. (6'1" 200) *
It might seem excessive for the Bucs to use a first-round pick on a corner for the second time in three drafts. But it must be remembered: stopping the pass is imperative, even if that means using multiple high picks on defensive backs.
19. Minnesota Vikings - Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio St. (5'10" 190) *
Xavier Woods is one of my favorite NFL cornerbacks, but he can't cover the entire field. Ward is one of several corners the Vikings could consider here.
20. Carolina Panthers - Bradley Chubb, DE/OLB, NC State (6'3" 275)
In the 2017 draft, the Panthers waited until round three to address its 4-3 DE need with Texas A&M's Daeshon Hall. I could see Carolina building on that by targeting an EDGE prospect like Chubb, whom many consider to be the top senior DE/OLB as of this point.
21. Arizona Cardinals - Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville (6'2" 200) *
The clock is ticking on veteran QB Carson Palmer, and this could be his last season, particularly when you consider he will turn 38 before the end of 2017. Jackson is a remarkable talent, an electrifying player who is great fun to watch play.
22. Denver Broncos - Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson (6'5" 295) *
2017 first-round pick Garett Bolles struggled in the preseason for Denver, but he nonetheless secured a starting job to begin the season. That's in part due to the Broncos' deficiency at offensive tackle, and if Hyatt is on the board here you could very well see Denver go back-to-back on first-round offensive tackles.
Hyatt started in his first game as a true freshman in 2015, and odds are that whichever NFL team targets him will hope for a similar fast transition to the pro game.
23. Kansas City Chiefs - Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M (5'11" 200) *
Perhaps it's unrealistic to think the Chiefs would use both of their 2018 first-round picks on wide receivers. But, even if they add Ridley, there will remain need at the WR spot. Tyreek Hill is a talented speedster, but beyond him the drop-off is considerable.
24. New York Giants - Martez Ivey, OT/OG, Florida (6'5" 305) *
Ivey is a tweener OL prospect, which would allow him to potentially fill multiple offensive line need spots for the Giants.
25. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans) - Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU (6'3" 220) *
There are some who are very bullish on Sutton going into the 2017 season. And particularly if the Browns go defense with their own 2018 first-rounder, using this selection to target a wide receiver would seem logical for a team looking to ramp up its passing attack.
26. Oakland Raiders - Deon Cain, WR, Clemson (6'1" 210) *
While the Raiders have solid receivers in Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper, adding a third top-level wideout here is a possibility. This would represent the tail-end of a mini-run on wide receivers, but Cain is a quality wideout who has thrived at Clemson.
27. Dallas Cowboys - Billy Price, C/OG, Ohio St. (6'3" 310)
This might seem surprising given the Cowboys' solid offensive line, but Price is a versatile talent who could further boost protection for Dak Prescott and company in Dallas.
28. Atlanta Falcons - Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson (6'3" 310) *
Atlanta signed former Chiefs DT Dontari Poe this past off-season, but it was only to a one-year contract. If the Falcons sign Poe to a long-term deal, perhaps they won't go DL here. But if they don't? Wilkins could be a solid fit for the team.
29. Pittsburgh Steelers - Tyquan Lewis, DE/OLB, Ohio St. (6'3" 265) *
Pittsburgh used its late first-round selection in 2017 on Wisconsin OLB T.J. Watt. But the Steelers' front-seven needs go beyond that, and a player like Lewis, who has a solid mix of size and speed, could be in play for Pittsburgh at this point in the draft.
30. Green Bay Packers - Beau Benzschawel, OG, Wisconsin (6'5" 315) *
The Packers doubled up on defensive backs in the 2017 Draft, using its first two selections (both second-round picks) on CB Kevin King and NC State S Josh Jones. That frees up Green Bay to target an offensive linemen in this spot, with Benzschawel being a possibility to keep in-state and add into the mix for the Packers offensive line.
31. Seattle Seahawks - Da'Shawn Hand, DE/OLB, Alabama (6'4" 290)
While Hand was arrested this past July on a DUI charge, it's one of those make-believe DUIs;Hand was sleeping in a car when police in Tuscaloosa found (and ultimately arrested) him. You can thank the neo-prohibitionists for pushing through laws that allow such nonsense, which actually serves to encourage drunken driving.
But, whatever the case, it's a red flag for Hand. But he wasn't suspended by Alabama, and provided he can stay out of further trouble and maintain his high level of play, he could remain on the board for Seattle by the time their turn comes to make a selection.
32. New England Patriots - Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville (5'11" 190) *
As I've noted for some time now, it's exceptionally difficult to figure out what Bill Belichick and the Patriots will do in the draft. Alexander is an All-American, and despite suffering a right leg injury against Purdue, all indications are that Alexander should be able to return to the field without delay.
* indicates player with NCAA eligibility for 2018