Without further adieu...the 2018 Mock Draft.
1: Cleveland Browns
Darnold makes legitimate sense as a number 1 pick. He's tall and tough. He's possibly the smartest quarterback in the draft, which is a quality I look for. He's a fine leader. And while I don't really care if you can throw a football 70 yards...he can throw a football 70 yards. But his interception level is a big concern. He'll be a pick machine for sure. But he can move the chains like the best, so I think he'll work out okay.
2: New York Giants
A lot of people have the Giants drafting a successor to Manning. After the investments they've made in Davis Webb, I really don't see them drafting a quarterback this early. (I think they may grab a passer in a later round.) Barkley is a hard talent to pass up and would make a Giant difference in New York. Although, if I were the GM, I'd trade down and grab a guard, a defender, and a QB, in that order!
3: New York Jets
This is a Phil Collins pick-I can feel it coming in the air tonight. Gang Green has had their eye on this dude for weeks and has made no effort to hide it. Rosen's strength and speed aren't much, but he can stay cool and move the chains. That's the kind of quarterback I like, personally.
4: Cleveland Browns (Again?)
I was sort of joking when I said that Goodell gives the Browns extra first-round picks, but I'm serious this year. I think it's entirely possible that the league pays teams to trade high picks to the Browns, because no matter who the GM is or what his strategy is, Cleveland always gets to go twice in the first round. And after all, it really does the league no good to have consistently terrible teams. That said, Fitzpatrick has potential to change the narrative. He loves the game more than any Cleveland pick in years. He'd work well with Jabrill Peppers.
5: Denver Broncos
I had Mayfield pegged here for a long time, but after we signed Keenum it became clear we weren't drafting a quarterback this early. Nelson is possibly my favorite lineman in the draft. He's not flashy, but he's solid and doesn't have any real concerns. And that's the kind of guy the Broncos need. However, if it were up to me, I'd trade down.
6: Indianapolis Colts
Quite honestly, it would be a surprise if he fell this far. Physically, there's not a better defender in the draft. He has the size and strength that scouts look for. I'm not sold on him just yet, however. I'm not sure if he's as good a tackler as I'd want in an edge rusher! He's a solid player, and Indianapolis needs more of those at all positions.
7: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This would be a bit of a reach, but it's a good pick for Tampa. James has something of an X-factor; the team that drafts him will get something you can't put on a stat sheet. He will make a noticeable difference on any team. The Buccaneers could use that kind of player. They don't have a lot of glaring needs and would do well to add leaders and playmakers like James.
8: Chicago Bears
Once again, I think this is something of a reach. But I really can't see the Bears picking anyone else. Ward is a solid corner who can start from day 1, and that's a major need in Chicago. I could definitely see them trading down for multiple picks, as they have more than a couple big needs.
9: San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers lack a major force at outside linebacker, so it's easy to imagine they'd draft Smith. However, I think Dumervil and Thomas, their defensive ends, can handle the edge rushing duties just fine. What they really need is a receiver or a tackle, but it's hard to imagine Ridley or McGlinchey going here. I'm pencilling Smith in because he's the player that makes the most sense, but this pick will be traded more likely than not. Expect major moves from Shanahan on draft day.
10: Oakland raiders
This guy is as good as linebackers come. He's big, athletic, and a good tackler. He also has great speed and quickness. That counts for a lot, especially when Oakland is on the clock. Frankly, I think he's the best defender in the draft-a classic middle linebacker in the Singletary mold.
11: Miami Dolphins
After losing Ndamukong Suh, the Dolphins need depth at nose tackle. Vea is a very physical, tough player who resembles Suh in a lot of ways. His technique, however, is a concern. I do think the Dolphins should trade down and get more picks; they have needs all along the defensive front and should also consider drafting a backup quarterback.
12: Buffalo Bills
A lot of people have Allen (the other Josh) going here. I think the signing of AJ McCarron gives the Bills just enough security at quarterback to draft the biggest boom-or-bust in the draft: Baker Mayfield. He has the best decision-making and playmaking ability of any passer in the draft. However, his off-field antics and short stature will make a lot of teams think twice, and may result in a short career. It's not a pick I would make myself, but it may well pay off.
13: Washington redskins
I've seen Vander Esch all over the board on mock drafts. I've read drafts that put him at number 5 overall and drafts that don't think he'll go until the third round. I think he's a great fit for Washington. He's a solid, versatile middle linebacker with the ability to lead a defense.
14: Green bay packers
Hughes is a slight reach, but I can't see the Pack not choosing a defensive back here. Their secondary has been their greatest weakness for years. Once again, I think they ought to trade down and get more picks, and they should use at least two selections on defensive backs. Hughes is fast and plays like a receiver. He can be counted on to create game-winning turnovers.
15: Arizona Cardinals
Like the Bills, adding a veteran quarterback (Bradford) allows the Cardinals to take a risky prospect at the position. Allen isn't ready, but Bradford is reliable for the time being. Unfortunately for Arizona, I really don't think Allen is that good. Sure, he can throw a football 70 yards, but as I've established, that doesn't really matter. His inaccuracy and poor playmaking are also concerns.
16: Baltimore ravens
It's entirely possible that Ridley gets picked sooner than this. He's the best player available at this point and certainly fills a need for the Ravens. I do think they'll take a quarterback this year, especially if this is Ozzie's last year, but I don't think they'll reach for one this early. Flacco can't go on forever and I think it may be time to add depth at the QB position.
17: "Los Angeles" Chargers
The Chargers are in desperate need on the offensive line. McGlinchey is possibly my favorite line prospect in the draft. He's smart and hardworking. However, I highly doubt they keep this pick. I foresee them trading either up for a successor to Rivers or down for additional picks, as hey have a variety of holes.
18: Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks' famed defense is cracking at the seams. Michael Bennett and Richard Sherman, two of their key players, are on new teams, and Cliff Avril and Kam Chancellor may never play football again. It is vital that they bring in defensive talent. Davenport is a solid option at defensive end. As a side note, they may try to upgrade the offensive line with this pick.
19: Dallas Cowboys
This is a make-or-break year for Dallas. We don't quite know which Cowboys we'll see going forward: those of 2016 or those of 2017. This is a pick that will get them closer to the 2016 edition. Payne is possibly the most underrated prospect in the draft. He plays as hard as anyone and has ideal size. The scouts love his skill set, but the pundits don't love it so much. I think Jerry Jones got himself a steal.
20: Detroit Lions
Some might consider this pick a reach. Frankly, any other pick would surprise me. The Lions could be a Super Bowl contender with a legitimate workhorse back. Guice isn't my favorite RB in the draft (I'd like to see them take Sony Michel) but he's a good fit for the Detroit system.
21: Cincinnati bengals
Brown might well go sooner than this. He is a very raw prospect and a definite boom-or-bust, and that's why I think he'll skid a little. He is, however, one of the bigger tackles and promises to have a long career. Cincinnati should consider trading down; they are an aging team in need of more than a few young talents. I will admit; Lamar Jackson is a possibility here.
22: Buffalo Bills
The Bills grab a potential franchise quarterback and a player to protect him. Miller is a consistent, tall tackle with immediate starting ability, although scouts aren't very excited about him. Buffalo may see a Super Bowl in the next decade, depending largely on how Miller and Mayfield work out.
23: New England Patriots
How could this be a bad pick? His last name is Wynn! (Sorry. Dumb, dumb joke.) The Patriots have a very simple, very effective strategy: draft the best player available. Wynn certainly is that.
24: Carolina panthers
This isn't as surprising as some may think. Sutton is my favorite receiver in the draft and would transform Carolina's offense. Yes, this would be a bit early. I think the Panthers should trade down with the Browns and take Sutton with the first pick in the second round. But that's just me, of course.
25: Tennessee Titans
The Titans seem primed for a breakout to me. Mariota, as my best readers will remember, was my favorite QB from his class and still is. They certainly have the pieces to do so. Landry is possibly the best pass rusher in the draft and is good at creating turnovers at key points.
26: Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons would do well to take Green. He's another polarizing boom-or-bust but you can count me in the "boom" column. He's raw for sure, but he's got some really special stuff going on and should be a force once he is fully developed.
27: New orleans saints
It would be a bold move to pick a tight end in the first round; however, for New Orleans, the opportunity is too good to pass up. They've been able to get nothing done at the position since the departure of Jimmy Graham, and Gesicki is a perfect fit for the Brees system. Lamar Jackson is tempting here, but I imagine they'd rather draft a quarterback sometime later, as they don't need one immediately.
28: Pittsburgh Steelers
I can't imagine this guy falling past Pittsburgh. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't lose my crackers if they moved up to select him. He's exactly the kind of tough, hard-nosed defender the Steelers have always loved, but with the speed and smarts to succeed in a modern NFL. All my favorite scouts say he goes here, and I wouldn't argue with their judgment. At least, I wouldn't for this pick...
29: Jacksonville Jaguars
I don't expect Hernandez to go lower than this. His short arms are the ONLY reason he's not a top-ten prospect. Really. He's one of the safest prospects in the draft; really a great competitor whose head is always in the game. The Jaguars have the tools to go to the Super Bowl and a great draft this year is exactly the push they need to go all the way.
30: Minnesota Vikings
While we're discussing a prospect from Iowa, I'd like to say that Iowa huge debt to y'all for reading my blog. Wouldn't be possible without you. (And if you are considering leaving, now's the time. These jokes will only get worse.)
That said, Jackson will change the game for Minnesota. He is a turnover machine and always knows where the ball is. If Kirk Cousins works out, a Lombardi Trophy is in their near future.
31: New England Patriots
Hear that, New England? You're picking 31st. Not 32nd, 31st! (That is satisfying.) Anyhow, after losing Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo to promising futures away from the Evil Empire, they must find a successor to Tom Brady. Jackson is another of those boom-or-bust prospects; he may not fit the NFL system well, but if he adapts he'll really pay off. I'm really excited to watch him in an NFL system, and if the Patriots take him I'll just be that much more enthusiastic when Brady hangs up his cleats.
32: Philadelphia Eagles
It's rare for running backs to go in the first round, and even rarer for a Super Bowl team to be in need of one. Nevertheless, I can't think of a player who would be more valuable to Philly. Having a playmaker at the RB position would put less weight on Carson Wentz's arm, and make him even better when he does have to throw. His versatility and speed will allow the Eagles' brilliant offensive minds to have a little more fun with their play calls. He's a player the defense can't ignore.
Peace out. In Elway we trust...but I trust him better in free agency.