2018 NFL Draft: Andrew Kim’s Mock Draft 1, Pre-Scouting Combine Edition
The 2018 NFL Scouting Combine is a few days away. Drills start this Friday as I release my first NFL Mock Draft for Round 1 for this year.
This is a mock draft of what I think NFL teams will do. I highlight each pick with the corresponding description and my thoughts in detail. This does not include any trades in the 1st round. This also assumes that free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins goes to the Minnesota Vikings as the biggest free agent signing. In one scenario that could impact mock drafts before free agency this year. My next mock draft will be after the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine but prior to free agency. While it will not go into as much detail as this one, it will be the 2 round edition. Feel free to comment your opinions on this mock draft below.
(1) Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold QB USC
The Cleveland Browns cannot mess around with the number one overall pick. They have to get the quarterback position right. Sam Darnold does have some mechanical issues due to his throwing motion. This has led to some of his turnovers. Nevertheless, he fits head coach Hue Jackson’s west coast system that deals with the short passing game. He has the poise, arm strength, and mobility that lead many to see his upside. Even though turnovers were an issue for him. Darnold shows he is a very accurate passer at times. Even with inconsistent footwork. He is a fearless leader in the locker room and has a lot of upside as a franchise quarterback. Thus, possessing the mental toughness to thrive in Cleveland.
(2) New York Giants – Saquon Barkley RB Penn State
New head coach Pat Shurmur has talked to the media about how he is excited to work with Eli Manning after a down year in 2017. Even though the New York Giants may not pick this high again, they have to give Eli help. Even moving forward with a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. on a contract year. Saquon Barkley is an explosive runner that has great balance when eluding defenders. He has an uncanny vision laterally that is unlike any running back we have seen in recent history. Barkley could arguably be the best player/running back in the draft. The opportunity to have him under Shurmur’s offense, where the run game was a big proponent of their offensive success, cannot be passed up.
(3) Indianapolis Colts – Bradley Chubb DE N.C State
With a newly converted 4-3 defense for the Indianapolis Colts, it just makes sense for the top defensive end to be slotted here. Thus becoming the next great Colts pass rusher they have been lacking for a while. Chubb may not be the most disruptive pass rusher we have seen in recent drafts. However, he is solid overall getting to the quarterback. He is also stout enough in the run game. He has NFL ready size, a relentless motor, and has vicious hands that create havoc against offensive lineman. Chubb with pair nicely with Jabaal Sheard. Hence, helping out the defense in a big way. Chubb will indeed give new head coach Frank Reich a pass rusher to jump-start their young defense.
(4) Cleveland Browns (from Houston Texans) – Minkah Fitzpatrick DB Alabama
Gregg Williams incorrectly used Jabrill Peppers last year. This contributed to his struggles. When Derrick Kindred was injured, Peppers was a lot better. Especially near the line of scrimmage as a box strong safety. The Cleveland Browns could add versatile defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick to the mix. He can play free safety, nickel or an outside cornerback hybrid role that would be beneficial to the Browns secondary. He has great range for his size. Fitzpatrick can cover bigger receivers or tight ends. He can also blitz very well for a safety that can hit. As a potential cornerback that could start next to Jason McCourty, Fitzpatrick is a multifaceted piece to any defense. Thus, he is one of the safer picks in the NFL Draft.
(5) Denver Broncos – Josh Rosen QB UCLA
The Denver Broncos had trouble with Trevor Siemian in 2017. The future of Paxton Lynch is in question. Therefore, a new signal caller has to be addressed in free agency or the NFL Draft. Even with the injury and character concerns that Josh Rosen has, he is mechanically sound as a passer and has clean footwork. He has the accuracy and arm strength to make NFL throws at times. Although his play is streaky, he was inconsistent under pressure, and his decision-making was questionable at times. Rosen has the polished traits to be a Day 1 starter. He is a prototypical pocket passer to compete with Siemian in 2018. In fact, Rosen is a guy who loves a challenge with his level of moxie.
(6) New York Jets – Baker Mayfield QB Oklahoma
The former Heisman winner from 2017 would fit in well with the New York Jets. Mayfield just knows how to win and is a natural leader any team can rally around. Baker Mayfield has great anticipation on all levels of the field. He can extend plays with his running ability and had impressive accuracy under pressure with limited turnovers. Due to an off-field incident, teams may be questioning his mentality. Another concern teams may have is the spread system he ran at Oklahoma. Mayfield has to work on his mechanics in a pro-style offense (as he showed teams his footwork at the Senior Bowl). Nevertheless, if the offense caters to what he excels at, his game could translate to the NFL as a shorter quarterback.
(7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Quenton Nelson OG Notre Dame
Getting one of the best overall players in the draft, after the top 5 picks, is astounding. However, with the guard position devalued, this could be an ideal spot to add protection for Jameis Winston. The Tampa Buccaneers need an upgrade from J.R Sweezy and Evan Smith at offensive guard. Making Quenton Nelson the ideal candidate for this pick. He could be a building block next to Ali Marpet and will help the run game for the Buccaneers for years to come. Nelson will help the offense overall. Especially the run game. Winston will benefit from an upgraded running game. It can help any young quarterback. Especially with the weapons, he has on the outside.
(8) Chicago Bears – Tremaine Edmunds LB Virginia Tech
Even though the Chicago Bears do have Danny Trevathan and Nick Kwiatoski at inside linebacker, a rare talent like Tremaine Edmunds could not be passed up. Kwiatoski has durability issues and with Edmunds only at age 19 come draft time, the upside is endless with his NFL size and versatility to do it all at linebacker. He has great athleticism for his size, is a tackling machine, and can rush the passer; which is something the Bears need to compliment Leonard Floyd on the outside. Even though he does not have the best instincts or coverage ability, Edmunds is a special player that the Bears can mold in the next great linebacker.
(T9) San Francisco 49ers – Roquan Smith LB Georgia
With all the offseason concerns with Reuben Foster, the San Francisco 49ers have to be concerned about him and who will play next to him at linebacker. Roquan Smith can fill either role but fits best as a Will linebacker in coverage and chase down the ball carriers with his exceptional athleticism. He has discipline in gap assignments as a sure tackler with instincts to match but does tend to be blocked easy sometimes and is undersized for that position. Nevertheless, Smith can complement Foster well as a run and chase type of linebacker in their scheme that will improve their defense immensely.
*T9/10- Both San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders will determine the 9th and 10th pick based on a coin flip at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine on Friday and in this scenario, the 49ers have the 9th pick while the Raiders end up with the 10th pick.
(T10) Oakland Raiders – Denzel Ward CB Ohio State
The Oakland Raiders need help at the cornerback position with the release of David Amerson and T.J. Carrie set to be a free agent, they do not have much starting potential opposite Gareon Conley with guys like veteran Sean Smith and Dexter McDonald. If the Raiders want an athletic cornerback that has very sound coverage, Denzel Ward is your guy. While his frame could push him inside at the nickel cornerback position, he has shut down potential on the outside with great footwork and has the ability to mirror receivers most of the time. Ward may not have the production you want in a cornerback, but he has the traits of a star cornerback in the NFL if he can be physical enough against bigger receivers.
(11) Miami Dolphins – Derwin James S Florida State
Reshad Jones is getting older and both Nate Allen/ T.J. McDonald can be easily upgraded and if Derwin James is taken by the Miami Dolphins, they will find their safety of the future. He displays his athleticism when he closes in on ballcarriers in run support and can cover bigger receivers and tight ends. While James does have to work on his zone coverage and is not cleanest prospect medically, he is a rangy defender that can hit and makes plays all over the field. James has the build for any safety role but has more experience near the line of scrimmage and could play hybrid linebacker as a versatile centerpiece for a defense getting younger like Miami.
(12) Cincinnati Bengals – Connor Williams OT Texas
The Cincinnati Bengals need to fix their offensive line one way or another at multiple positions in free agency and the NFL Draft. Connor Williams was the best offensive tackle prospect before his injury in 2017 and while he may struggle due to his lack of ideal length, he has the technique to succeed at the next level as a consistent pass and run blocker. He could be the next left tackle for the Bengals and this addition would move Clint Boling moved back to left guard and has the ideal traits to be NFL caliber offensive tackle, whether it is the left or right side. While he may fall due to durability and length concerns, Williams is still an instant upgrade with upside for the Bengals and is a mechanically sound offensive lineman that Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher were just not coming out of college.
(13) Washington Redskins – Vita Vea NT Washington
The Washington Redskins were better against the run last year but a true nose tackle is missing from their defensive line. Stacy McGee, Ziggy Hood, and Phil Taylor can be improved upon and Vita Vea would help bolster that run defense even more in 2018. An athletic nose tackle sounds weird to say but in this case, Vea can rush the passer at times with very quick burst for his size and is a proactive disruptor at the line of scrimmage. His main job will be taking on double teams but this will help Matthew Ioannidis and Jonathan Allen, who are both 3-4 defensive ends, on the defensive line that could make the Washington defensive line a strength in 2018.
(14) Green Bay Packers – Josh Jackson CB Iowa
The Mike Pettine defensive scheme is based heavily on cornerback play for the Green Bay Packers. Kevin King and Davon House are complementary outside cornerbacks while Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins are best suited as nickel cornerbacks but they are lacking a true number one cornerback. Josh Jackson has the size, ball skills, and production in 2017 to have the upside of one. He displayed tremendous instincts last year as it was useful in the zone defensive scheme he was playing in. While he does struggle some in press/ man coverage as a gambled a lot on double moves and was a one-year starter, Jackson’s upside is through the roof as he is still learning the position but has the tools to be one of the better boundary cornerbacks in the league.
(15) Arizona Cardinals – Lamar Jackson QB Louisville
New head coach Steve Wilks will be a part of the aggressive search to find a quarterback in the offseason with limited cap space to make an impact in free agency. The 2016 Heisman trophy winner Lamar Jackson would fit well here as a quarterback who possesses electric speed that would mesh well with David Johnson and would keep defenses on their heels consistently. He does not need to convert to wide receiver to showcase his talents as a runner but does need to work on his inconsistencies with his mechanics with the pressure near him. But when Jackson does get his footwork right at times, he looks like the quarterback with huge upside who can make all the throws/ reads and is a threat to score whether he has the ball in his hands or not.
(16) Baltimore Ravens – Calvin Ridley WR Alabama
If Calvin Ridley falls to the Baltimore Ravens, as a Ravens fan, I would be ecstatic in getting my favorite wide receiver in a less than stellar receiver class. Ozzie Newsome would be getting a top receiver from Alabama that is a nuanced route runner and has solid enough hands to produce on the outside or in the slot. He is also an underrated deep threat was in a run-heavy scheme in college and poor quarterback play did Ridley no favors as he was open much more in college then what the stats show. Even though some teams will be bothered by his age at 23 and his lean frame, Ridley could be the answer at receiver for the Ravens if they want to get a playmaker for Joe Flacco early in the draft.
*Here is the link to my scouting report I did earlier this month on (Alabama WR Calvin Ridley).
(17) Los Angeles Chargers – Mike McGlinchey OT Notre Dame
Russell Okung and Joe Barksdale are both veterans and the Los Angeles Chargers have no backup plan either positions. Barksdale was hurt last year and his play has regressed the past couple years so Mike McGlinchey could replace one of them in the near future to solidify the offensive line after the Chargers drafted Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney last year. He does have to get stronger to withstand NFL defensive lineman and does need to get a better start against faster NFL pass rushers due to some lack of athleticism he has. Even though he is a technically sound in pass protection at times, McGlinchey is a better run blocker than anything else and shows traits of a blue-chip offensive tackle on either side to help protect Phillip Rivers.
(18) Seattle Seahawks – Isaiah Wynn OG Georgia
The Seattle Seahawks traded for Duane Brown as the bookend left tackle but other than Justin Britt, who has some versatility on the offensive line but plays center, the rest of the offensive line is a question mark with Germain Ifedi on the right side. One of the big senior bowl risers, Isaiah Wynn offers a lot of versatility as an offensive lineman who could potentially play all positions on the line but will translate as a guard or center better in the NFL due to his height. He does not have the ideal length as an NFL tackle and has to prove he has the functional strength to play guard or center at the next level. Protection for Russell Wilson has to be a priority and Wynn will help protect him as an athletic offensive lineman that has good fluidity and balance with his footwork/ hand usage.
(19) Dallas Cowboys – Da’Ron Payne DT Alabama
The Dallas Cowboys are missing the 1 technique run stopper in the middle of that defense that was not the best against the run last year. Both David Irving, a restricted free agent, and Maliek Collins are defensive tackles that are better at rushing the passer and Da’Ron Payne could be the defensive tackle they need that also has some upside as a pass rusher as a scheme versatile defensive lineman. He has great athleticism for his size and with the strength he has, Payne has a lot of upside despite his lack of production to be a better NFL player than college pro. If Payne puts it together at the next level, he could be a dominant force, especially if he showcases some pass rushing potential and plays on passing downs despite being a refined run defender.
(20) Detroit Lions – Derrius Guice RB Louisiana State
Giving Matthew Stafford a run game has been something that has not been addressed since he has been in the league as Theo Riddick is the pass-catching back and Ameer Abdullah has not gotten it done with his injury and fumbling issues. Derrius Guice could give the offense a different dimension as a physical runner for his size and has an angry running style that would help lighten the load of the passing game. He does have concerns with long-term durability, production ( had a better 2016 campaign compared to 2017 when he dealt with injuries), and while he does not have a lot of experience running routes out of the backfield; he can still be their workhorse back that can make defenses pay. Guice has the vision and burst to give the Detroit Lions a 3 down running back to complete their offense.
(21) Buffalo Bills – Josh Allen QB Wyoming
Even though the Buffalo Bills say they will keep Tyrod Taylor on the roster, I do not think they see him as the future at quarterback. Josh Allen showed better anticipation at the Senior Bowl with an up and down performance overall but was not statically good in college against lower rated competition in a pro-style offense. While he can make throws some quarterbacks just cannot with his special arm strength and velocity, accuracy is a big issue for him as touch is something he has to work on as well as mechanics. Allen does have other traits to like in his NFL size/ mobility and if he can fix some of the inconsistencies he has while staying healthy, he has a lot of potential with his talent playing under Sean McDermott.
(22) Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City)- Maurice Hurst DT Michigan
The Buffalo Bills could use as an interior pass rusher to start over Kyle Williams and Adolphus Washington as both those options are very underwhelming. Maurice Hurst is the typical 3 technique in a 4-3 that shows some burst to get to the quarterback. As a primary gap disruptor, he does need to show he can hold against NFL guards and centers with the functional strength to have more impact in games. While he is a smaller defensive tackle, Hurst could find a nice role in Buffalo as an interior pass rusher that shows disruptive capabilities in a Sean McDermott defense.
(23) Los Angeles Rams – Harold Landry EDGE Boston College
The Los Angeles Rams recently traded for Marcus Peters with the departure of Trumaine Johnson in free agency but they need another pass rusher next to Robert Quinn as he is getting older and veteran Connor Barwin is likely gone as a free agent. Harold Landry blew up the sack number in 2016 but followed up with a down year and dealt with injuries in 2017. While he is a shorter pass rusher off the edge, he has the ability to bend and has a quick initial burst to get to the quarterback often but may struggle against the run and functional strength against NFL offensive tackles. Landry will most likely be a delegated pass rusher in a 3-4 defense under Wade Phillips but could make some noise his rookie year if he can improve his technique as he should get some isolated opportunities on the outside.
(24) Carolina Panthers – Deshon Elliott S Texas
The Carolina Panthers cut veteran Kurt Coleman and with veteran players like Mike Adams, Colin Jones, and Jairus Byrd at the back-end of their secondary; the need for a safety is pretty major. They need some youth it the safety position. Deshon Elliott was at the right place at the right time during 2017 as he surprised many with the number of interceptions he had but also showed big hitter potential, pretty secure tackling ability, and great play recognition in coverage as a one-year starter in college. Elliott will project better at free safety where he can use his range and ball skills as a playmaker who made plays at a number of different spots he was assigned to in college.
(25) Tennessee Titans – Marcus Davenport EDGE UTSA
New head coach Mike Vrabel might be looking for his pass rusher of the future to pair up with Kevin Dodd, who has suffered many injuries and has little impact so far, and with lackluster play from both Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan; they could be out past 2018 due to age and adequate to below average production in games. Marcus Davenport dominated smaller schools physically as a pass rushing linebacker and was disruptive at the Senior Bowl. He that has the framework of a violent defensive pass rusher if he can win with more than just aggressiveness and has to be more consistent with his hand usage. Davenport could be molded into the next big name pass rusher to come out in the draft if the right defensive coach and environment could help him be more technically sound for a 3-4 defense like the Tennessee Titans.
(26) Atlanta Falcons – Taven Bryan DT Florida
Dontari Poe is likely headed to free agency with the Atlanta Falcons and more production from the interior is needed next to Grady Jarrett. Taven Bryan uses his initial get off to get to the quarterback pretty efficiently as a 3 tech in a 4-3 defense under Dan Quinn. He played both defensive end and tackle in college and had a knack for dragging down ballcarriers with his determination but has to refine his technique against NFL offensive lineman. Bryan was not that productive in college and even though he has to anchor better against the run as an undersized defensive tackle, he has traits to be a better NFL player than in college as a consistent disruptor with the Atlanta Falcons.
(27) New Orleans Saints – Rashaan Evans LB Alabama
A position that the New Orleans Saints have yet to hit on in the NFL draft is at linebacker. Getting a linebacker like Rashaan Evans who is athletic enough to play either SAM, Will, or Mike in a 4-3 defense would be the versatile piece the Saints need to improve their run defense especially. He can blitz off the line and is pretty fluid in coverage as a lengthy linebacker. If Evans can healthy and improves on his instincts as a whole, the Saints could finally have an impact linebacker that comes from a long line of Alabama linebackers.
(28) Pittsburgh Steelers – Leighton Vander Esch LB Boise State
The Ryan Shazier injury had a huge impact on the Pittsburgh Steelers defense and they had no backup plan for it as Vince Williams was not enough to fix their defense. Leighton Vander Esch was a tackling machine in 2017 as a one-year starter and has instincts/ build to be a good run defender inside and outside. He does struggle in coverage at times as he will have to develop hand techniques to shed tackles and improved footwork. Vander Esch is a relatively raw prospect and is an average athlete in general but still makes splash plays near the line of scrimmage that gets scouts intrigued with his potential.
(29) Jacksonville Jaguars – Will Hernandez OG UTEP
Due to his performance at the Senior Bowl, Will Hernandez made a name for himself. He could be tailor-made for the Jacksonville Jaguars offensive scheme. They are a run-heavy team with Leonard Fournette. They could use an upgrade over pending free agent Patrick Omameh at left guard and Hernandez is the perfect finisher they need in the run game despite his size/ length and occasional struggles in pass protection. He can anchor efficiently for an old school style of guard and has a good combination of balance and nasty demeanor that may be scheme dependent for the NFL. Hernandez is nimble for the way he is built. Also, as an offensive lineman that delivers a lot of power. Thus, he should not have a problem with physicality from NFL defensive lineman at the next level.
(30) Minnesota Vikings – Billy Price OG Ohio State
Even though Billy Price played center and took over Pat Elhein’s former job at Ohio State in 2017, I think Price is better systematically with the Minnesota Vikings as an offensive guard as he showed his position versatility in 2016. With Joe Berger potentially retiring, they need a guard that could play a zone scheme under new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo and options like Jeremiah Sirles and Danny Isidora are upgradeable in an offensive line that improved in 2017. While he is sometimes an impatient blocker, he stands out with his strength in the run game and has good initial snap quickness with above average flexibility as an interior offensive lineman. If he can lunge less and use more technique, Price has the fluidity to be a good enough blocker for Kirk Cousins if he signs with the Vikings in this scenario.
(31) New England Patriots – Isaiah Oliver CB Colorado
Due to the mysterious benching of Malcolm Butler, Super Bowl LII was likely his last stint with the New England Patriots. He is a free agent this year and now the Patriots need a cornerback that can play the boundary with Stephon Gilmore. Both Eric Rowe and Johnson Bademosi struggled on the outside. Isaiah Oliver does give them length and deep speed to help out their secondary limit big plays down the field. While he may not be the best in zone coverage and run support in this draft class, he has the size and acceleration to excel as a lengthy cornerback. Especially if he shows more toughness in his game. Oliver may not have much ball production based on the stat sheet. Nonetheless, he has the traits to be a good complementary cornerback in press man coverage starting off.
(32) Philadelphia Eagles – Malik Jefferson LB Texas
With injury concerns to Jordan Hicks this past year and Nigel Bradham’s future in question as a free agent, linebacker becomes a major need to a Super Bowl winning team like the Philadelphia Eagles that has very minimal holes in their roster. Malik Jefferson had questions with his motor in 2016 came back strong in 2017 and had a very productive college season this past year. He is an ideal candidate to play on the outside or inside in a 4-3 defense like Jim Schwartz’s. Even though he has to get stronger at the next level, Jefferson can hold his own in coverage.