Welcome to my 2018 NFL Draft Preview, this is our seventh year doing one of these and I always have a fun time putting this all together. In this preview, we will have complete first round coverage and a summary about each player and why that team is selecting him. For the first time,I will have mock draft trades,something I haven’t had before because of how unpredictable the draft truly is. However, the guessing game doesn’t seem as hard as it used to be. So on we go with the preview,the Cleveland Browns are on the clock!
1. Cleveland-Josh Allen, QB Wyoming
The Browns will be selecting with the top pick for the second straight year and they need to do what they’ve always needed to do since their rebirth: Get a quarterback! Josh Allen has risen up draft boards since the end of the season and for good reason. Allen has the biggest arm of this draft class and is very mobile for a signal caller of his size. When he scrambles,he keeps his eyes downfield and is great at throwing on the run. My biggest concern is that at Wyoming he did struggle against better competition and he’s gotta be on his A-game if he wants to succeed in this league. He does look like he’s the kind of signal caller Todd Haley needs in his offense. Overall,he is talented and has great skill and size and fits the prototype of a franchise quarterback,all he needs to do is prove he belongs.
2. N.Y. Giants- Saquon Barkley, RB Penn St.
While the Giants should be looking at a quarterback with this pick,sources have told me that they are not likely to do so. So with that in mind,why not pick the best player in the entire draft altogether? Barkley is a natural,elusive runner who is fast and explosive with excellent field vision and an ability to run over defenders. He’s also got great size and durability for his position that is ideal for this league. There’s so much upside to Barkley that we can’t fit it all into his summary. He would do extremely well in the New York backfield. After the year they had last year it is apparent that the Giants should get all the talent they can get in the draft and Barkley would be a great start to that.
3. N.Y. Jets- Baker Mayfield,QB Oklahoma
The Jets have needed a quarterback for as long as we all care to remember and getting one who won a Heisman may not be a bad choice. Mayfield,while undersized, is a very good gunslinger who is very accurate with great ball placement. He also is great at throwing on the run and has the touch to find a receiver wide open. What concerns me about Mayfield is his maturity, he didn’t show a lot of it in college and if he’s to survive in New York,he better find some fast. The talent is there,without question,but what’s also there is the cockiness,which isn’t always the best quality you want in your franchise quarterback of the future.
4. Cleveland- Bradley Chubb, DE NC State
Now that they have their signal caller, the Browns should get the next best player available at the fourth spot. Considered to be the best defensive lineman in the draft,Chubb is a dangerous and instinctive who can close in on the quarterback when rushing the pass. He’s also strong enough to brush off blockers and has enough speed to beat tackles around the corner. Beyond that, he’s a guy with a lot of great character. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s drafted before this pick,but if he’s available to Cleveland,he would thrive here alongside Myles Garrett without question.
5. Buffalo (trade with Denver)-Sam Darnold, QB USC
The Bills need a young quarterback who can play behind A.J. McCarron and one day take they reigns and I have them trading up here to do it. Darnold is not just an accurate passer who makes throws that are easy to catch,but he’s able to hurt defenses on the ground by running the ball. While,yes,he threw a lot of picks this last year at USC as well as fumbled it a lot, he has the desired size and mobility needed in a quarterback. He definitely fills a need for Buffalo and is more than worth the trade up to select.
6. Indianapolis- Quenton Nelson, G Notre Dame
With Bradley Chubb off the board, I think the Colts should add some protection at this slot. Nelson is a great pass protector and superb at run blocking and is adept to adjusting to the blitz pick up. Beyond that he is very durable and agile with great technique. He was also very dominant against great talent in college. I think Nelson would look great in Indianapolis and would be a great asset to that front line to protect Andrew Luck when he returns after being gone all of last season.
7. Tampa Bay- Derwin James, S Florida St.
I had Minkah Fitzpatrick in this spot for a long time, but James’ stock has risen so much that I have him going to Tampa,who definitely needs to make a splash in the secondary. James is very versatile and strong and can make very devastating,impactful hits. He’s also a very speedy guy who can hold his own with receivers,tailbacks,and tight ends. He also played very well against experienced college talent. There are concerns about him potentially struggling as a top-flight safety,but the upside is too good to pass up and I think he would be great with the Buccaneers.
8. Chicago- Denzel Ward, CB Ohio St.
The Bears have many directions they can go with this choice and I see them needing some help in the secondary and Ward gets the nod here. While does lack height at only 5-10, he is very fast and athletic and transitions well. He is excellent on man coverage and is not afraid to tangle with receivers. He does need to bulk up to make up for his lack of height,but he does possess a lot of athletic skill to warrant being drafted this high and he would be great in Chicago.
9. San Francisco- Tremaine Edmunds, LB Virginia Tech
With the possibility of Reuben Foster being let go, the 49ers will need to take a second look at their depth at linebacker and I think they should add one, a very good one like Edmunds. He’s scary on the blitz,has great awareness, and is a skilled pursuit defender. He’s also a great tackler and a great fit for a 4-3 or a 3-4 defense. Above all else, he’s a guy who I can see any team that drafts him getting a lot of production out of and in San Francisco,he would flourish.
10. Oakland- Roquan Smith, LB Georgia
As much as I strongly feel the Raiders need help on the offensive line, they also have a defense that needs a lot of work and I think the next best linebacker in this draft can help in a big way. Smith is instinctive player,a hard hitter,an excellent tackler,and a strong run defender. I like that he’s also able to drop back into zone coverage if the situation warrants it and he always seems to find himself around the ball. While yes,we know he’s undersized, he’s a very durable player for it. He would be great alongside Khalil Mack on Oakland’s linebacker core.
11. Miami- Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB Alabama
I think the Dolphins could use some help in the secondary and the guy that falls to them has a lot of upside. Fitzpatrick is a very instinctive player who is a skilled playmaker and lethal on the blitz. A very fluid player who covers a lot of ground and is an asset when it comes covering receivers downfield. Versatile,too. He can play in both nickel and man coverage. Beyond that he is great leadership capabilities and is experienced against great college talent. I think he is exactly the kind of medicine Miami needs to cure their ailing defense.
12. Denver (Trade with Buffalo)- Josh Rosen, QB UCLA
The Broncos may still be in search mode for a quarterback of the future even after signing Case Keenum and I have their guy right here. Rosen has a great zip on his passes,possesses great field vision,and is a great pocket passer. Aside from that,however,he has a lot of character issues with dealing with the media,wasn’t the greatest teammate in college,and could be a coach’s worst nightmare. He does,however,have great talent and potential and if he can get his act together and learn behind Sam Bradford he will do very well in Arizona. I don’t see him slipping this far per se, but it wouldn’t surprise me all that much.
13. Washington- Vita Vea, DT Washington
The Redskins are in definite need of help on their defensive front line and I think this is the guy they should be going after. Vea is surprising athletic for a player of his stature and very explosive. He’s excellent at stopping the run,something that Washington (the NFL team,not his college team) wasn’t very good at last year and he can collapse the pocket and is great at swallowing up double teams. I think he is a great,high-level tackle that is going to be drafted at the right spot,which to me is near the middle of the first round.
14. Green Bay- Joshua Jackson, CB Iowa
The biggest need in Green Bay is secondary help and to me,the next best cornerback in it is Iowa’s Jackson. He has great ball skills,seems to always know where the ball is and knows what to do when he gets a pick. He’s always a threat to land an interception as well. He also has excellent arm length at 32.75 inches. He’s also very physical when it counts the most,he’s very willing to tackle and jam receivers. I think the Packers would be a great fit for Jackson and I think he can make a great impact on a defense that has been lacking for a very long time now.
15. Arizona- Calvin Ridley,WR Alabama
The Cardinals do need another receiver to play alongside Larry Fitzgerald and Ridley is definitely that. He’s quite the playmaker and is a threat to score whenever he has the ball. He’s got top-flight speed and is exposive out of the cuts. He’s also got an ability to stretch the defense and in college against great competition,he excelled. I think he and Arizona would be a great match and Sam Bradford would have a great target to throw to next season.
16. Baltimore- Mike McGlinchey, OT Notre Dame
It might be a great idea to pad the Ravens’ offensive line with some better protection for Joe Flacco and McGlinchey would be perfect. An excellent and reliable pass protector, McGlinchey can also get a lot of movement in the ground game. He can sustain blocks and is good at pulling. He is also very experienced as a three-year starter,has great intelligence,and is a player with great character. Baltimore would definitely benefit from having a great tackle like him on their young roster.
17. L.A. Chargers- Da’Ron Payne-DT Alabama
While the Chargers have an already stellar defense, they could use some help on the interior of their defensive line. Payne is excellent at collapsing the pocket, impossible to move when it comes to the point of attack, and excellent at defending the run. He’s a great fit for either a 4-3 or 3-4 defense and is able to free up linebackers and edge rushers and can eat up double teams. He’s also very speedy for a guy who plays his position and has a great amount of upside. I think he would be awesome on Los Angeles’ front line.
18. New Orleans (trade with Seattle)-Lamar Jackson, QB Louisville
The Saints trade up with the Seahawks here to select their next quarterback once Drew Brees retires and the next best one available in my opinion is Jackson. He’s a very rare and incredible athlete with great arm talent and good field vision. He throws with great timing and does so even when he knows he’s getting hit. He beats coverage with his arm as well. He’s a great mobile quarterback with excellent speed and is very difficult to sack. He did have an alarming Wonderlic score and needs to bulk up on his 216 lb. frame. He is,however,a project quarterback who will have time to learn under Brees and develop into the pro game and be the next great New Orleans signal caller.
19. Dallas- Courtland Sutton, WR SMU
With Dez Bryant gone the Cowboys will need a new top target for Dak Prescott to throw to and I think they stay local with this pick. Sutton has great size and height with awesome leaping ability who is very durable. Not only is he explosive,he has a great ability to make great one-handed catches and back shoulder catches. He can be a dynamic weapon in the end zone and is capable of challenging defenses down the field as a great sideline weapon. He also has experience as a starter for three years against strong competition. He does need to get more yards after the catch and could probably be more physical,but Dallas could be a great landing spot for Sutton who I think is the next best receiver available.
20. Detroit- Taven Bryan, DT Florida
The Lions have many directions they can go with this pick,but I think their defensive line ails the most and I think Bryan is the player that can help shore it up. He is very fast at the point of attack and is capable of closing in on quarterbacks that are hurried. A capable run defender who is disruptive and has a great bull rush through the offensive line. He also carries his weight very well and has a lot of upside. He is a bit of a project,but his draft stock has risen. Detroit would definitely benefit by drafting this guy.
21. Cincinnati- Billy Price, C Ohio St.
The Bengals stay home with this pick who can definitely help their offensive line,which is desperate for new pieces. Price is a great blocker with the run and with the pass and is great at handling big nose tackles. He adjusts well to the blitz and he can angle to get good leverage. A very agile player who is highly intelligent and physical,Price’s stock has risen as of late and I think Cincinnati would be a great place for him.
22. Buffalo- James Daniels, C Iowa
This is the Bills’ second pick of the first round and I think they should use it on help for their offensive line,which is sorely needed. Daniels has a great impact on blocking the run and can bully defenders and blocks up until the whistle blows. He’s also a reliable pass protector. He also is very physical and has quick feet. Having an intelligent lineman like Daniels will be an asset for Buffalo and with his experience and skillset he would do well here.
23. New England- Jaire Alexander, CB Louisville
With Malcolm Butler in Tennessee now,the Patriots could use some help in the secondary. Alexander is a very speedy player with great athleticism and a knack for keeping up with receivers. He has great hands and his ball skills are excellent and he is a big time threat to take the ball away. He’s also capable at playing zone coverage. I think he’s a player who can take a game over and can also be of great use as a punt returner. I think this is a player New England could use big time in their secondary,he would make it much,much better just by being selected here.
24. Carolina- Hayden Hurst, TE South Carolina
With Greg Olson closing in on retirement, it might be time to usher in a new tight end and the Panthers won’t have to look far for one. Hurst is very fast for his position and a dynamic red zone weapon. He’s also too big for a safety alone to cover. He’s so big that he’s able to break tackles to get more yards downfield. He’s also an effective and reliable blocker. Carolina could definitely use a player like this on their offense and it seems like they think highly of him,enough to take him at this spot.
25. Tennessee- Leighton Vander Esch, LB Boise St.
The Titans can use some help at linebacker with the departure of Avery Williamson and I think I found their guy. Vander Esch has excellent size for his position and a great tackler who is tough to run on and can play sideline to sideline. He’s a natural in zone coverage and is always up for making a splash play. He’s very intelligent has a lot of upside and can play in either a 3-4 or 4-3 defensive scheme. He would definitely be an upgrade on Tennessee’s defense.
26. Atlanta- Marcus Davenport, DE Texas-San Antonio
I have no explanation as to why Davenport is sliding so far down the first round to Atlanta,but in any case this is a steal for them. His natural strength is terrific and very versatile on many defensive schemes. He’s also very physical when it comes to the ground game, very quick at the point of attack,and has a great bull rush. He also comes equipped with great speed as a pass rusher and has a lot of athletic upside. He is quite raw talent-wise and is a project,but I think on a defense like the Falcons’ he would learn well and be an effective player.
27. Seattle (trade with New Orleans)- Maurice Hurst, DT Michigan
With Michael Bennett gone it is time to fill the void he’s left behind. Hurst has excellent speed,particularly on the point of attack and closing in on the offense. He also has a wide variety of pass rushing moves and can rush by offensive linemen with ease. He does,however,need to bulk up to play on the front line and may be a liability on short yardage situations and he was sent home from the combine due to heart issues,but he could be a nice fit for Seattle’s thin defensive front.
28. Pittsburgh- Rashaan Evans, LB Alabama
I think the Steelers’ biggest need is at middle linebacker and Evans looks like the kind of guy they need there. He has very explosive speed and is a solid run defender. He has a knack for being the quarterback of the defense and can be a disruptive force on mobile quarterbacks. Beyond that he is also a fair pass rusher as well and can contribute on special teams. If Pittsburgh is in the market for a guy who can fly around the field like he can, they should definitely take him. There’s no way I don’t see it happening.
29. Jacksonville- D.J. Moore, WR Maryland
With Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns gone, the Jaguars could absolutely use another receiver to play with Marquise Lee and I think Moore is their guy and the next best receiver left on the board. He’s a very elusive runner who is a dangerous man on the run after the catch. He has reliable hands and is a tough,competitive player who makes the big play downfield and isn’t afraid to go down the middle to make a play. While he isn’t tall for his position,he is durable,something Robinson wasn’t for Jacksonville last season. Moore and Lee would be a great tandem for this team if he happens to be chosen here.
30. Minnesota- Will Hernandez, G Texas-El Paso
With Kirk Cousins locked up in Minnesota long-term, it’s time they got him some proper protection. Hernandez is a very strong and steady pass protector, but an even better run blocker, which is good news for Dalvin Cook who is returning from an injury-plagued rookie year. He has strong hands and a strong pull and he has a strong bull rush. Though he does lack height and quickness,he is built well and I think he would fill the void at guard for the Vikings very well.
31. New England- Kolton Miller, OT UCLA
The Patriots’ second first round pick is here and they could use some help on their offensive line to protect Tom Brady or whoever is playing quarterback next season for them. Miller,at 6-9 has great height and size and for his size, he’s very quick and athletic. He excels at blocking the pass and drive blocks in the ground game very well. He is also great at zone blocking. I think Miller in New England makes a lot of sense after Nate Solder’s departure and personally,I’d love to see him there.
32. Philadelphia- Harold Landry-DE/LB Boston College
The Super Bowl Champion Eagles have a great defense and you’re probably wondering why I would have them choosing a defensive end here. Well,with newly acquired Michael Bennett having legal issues it might be wise to get some insurance. Landry is the best available at that position and he’s highly regarded as a great pass rusher who can close in on the quarterback in a flash. He’s also a big threat to be a game changer on any given play and could be a double digit sack threat. Philadelphia’s defense would be a lot stronger with Landry aboard.