Mock Draft season is in full swing with the 2017 season officially behind us. Now, the countdown to the 2018 NFL Draft is on. All 32 teams will spend the coming months using events like the combine and player pro days to continue their evaluations of this incoming class of NFL prospects, leading up to the round one on April 26.
For the first mock draft of our series, our friend Nick Wojton (@Nick_Wojton) of BuffaloFootballBeat.com and I have joined forces for our mock draft series this year. To start off, we kept it simple, mocking only the first round of the draft. I always keep it even simpler for my first mock draft by leaving trades out of the equation. Nick on the other hand had a little more fun and projected some teams wheeling and dealing, perhaps even the Bills. Take a look at version 1.0 of our Mock Draft Series.
S– Baker Mayfield, QB Oklahoma: Another year, another draft featuring the Browns picking first, only this time around they’re getting their quarterback of the future. GM John Dorsey praised Mayfield at the Senior Bowl, and it feels like those Lake Eries winds are shifting towards the Heisman winner being Cleveland’s selection at No. 1.
N– Sam Darnold, QB USC: Like many years in the past, Cleveland needs a quarterback. Darnold will be a project by many accounts, but could be worth it in the end.
S– Josh Rosen, QB UCLA: Word is new head coach Pat Shurmur sees Eli Manning as part of his team’s plans for at least 2018. But the Giants can’t ignore Manning’s age (37) and must find his predecessor. The gunslinger, Rosen is considered the best quarterback in this class by most.
N– Josh Rosen, QB UCLA: Eli Manning will remain, but the Giants will want to take advantage of having the second-overall pick.
S– Bradley Chubb, DE N.C. State: The Colts have a lot of needs but none of them are quarterback. Ultimately, I can see this pick getting traded, which will likely be reflected in future mock drafts, but Indianapolis needs pass rushers so should they stay put, Chubb is a no-brainer.
N– *TRADE* Cardinals (from Colts) – Baker Mayfield, QB Oklahoma: Arizona packages a future first rounder & a little more in a deal to jump up from 15 to take Mayfield, who has flown up draft boards in recent weeks.
S– Saquon Barkley, RB Penn State: Number of options here for Cleveland, but they need playmakers on offense in the worst way, and Barkley is the best overall player in this draft class. Plus, Cleveland needs to find out if Hue 1-31 is just a fluke for Hue Jackson. Give him everything he needs to succeed.
N– Bradley Chubb, DE North Carolina: Chubb and Myles Garrett sounds like fun for a Browns fan.
S– Quenton Nelson, G Notre Dame: Quarterback could be in play here, but I see Denver coming away with a veteran in free agency. (Kirk Cousins perhaps?) Now it’s time for John Elway to make sure he’s protected.
N– Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB Alabama: Assuming Denver lands Kirk Cousins, Fitzpatrick is added to the “No Fly Zone” in the Broncos’ secondary.
S– Josh Allen, QB Wyoming: Allen becomes the third quarterback taken in the top 10 as the Jets draft a signal caller for the fifth time in six years. Maybe they’ll finally get it right.
N– Josh Allen, QB Wyoming: After taking a project in Christian Hackenberg which hasn’t worked out, the Jets do the same with Allen.
S– Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB Alabama: Fitzpatrick could go as high as the top four, but hard to see him dropping much further than this. Tampa Bay’s secondary needs major help. DE Marcus Davenport is in play here though as well.
N–Shaqon Barkley, RB Penn State: Bit of a slip for Barkley, but the Bucs couldn’t pass him up.
S– Josh Jackson, CB Iowa: Yes the Bears need to get some weapons for Mitch Trubisky, but this cornerback class isn’t as deep as last year’s so they’ll take care of that first and circle back to grab a wide receiver later.
N–Calvin Ridley, WR Alabama: In the “get a playmaker for EJ Manuel” sense, Ridley will be that for Mitchell Trubisky.
S– Denzel Ward, CB Ohio State: San Francisco has Jimmy Garoppolo locked up, now it’s time they got themselves cornerback who can lock down some very good receivers that reside in the NFC West. This is such a good decision, Nick copied me.
N–Denzel Ward, CB Ohio State: Instead of getting Jimmy G a weapon, the 49ers opt to slow down opposing quarterbacks.
S– Roquan Smith, LB Georgia: Roquan Smith would be a perfect pick for Sean McDermott’s 4-3 defense, but he’s off the board well before the Bills are on the clock.
N–Roquan Smith, LB Georgia: A lot of needs on defense for Oakland, linebacker among them.
S– Marcus Davenport, DE UTSA – Sam Darnold is still on the board, but the Dolphins are opt to ride with Ryan Tannehill and address a defensive need instead.
N– Quenton Nelson, G Notre Dame: The Dolphins will be thrilled if Ryan Tannehill can stay on the field this season. A high-pick to protect him will help.
S– Sam Darnold, QB USC: At this point, Darnold is a steal, and should the Bengals lose A.J. McCarron this offseason, they could instantly find their next QB in waiting with Darnold. If the USC QB somehow does fall out of the top 10, there will be a lot of teams looking to trade up to around this area of the draft to get him.
N– Orlando Brown, T Oklahoma: Cincy doesn’t pick an Andy Dalton replacement with a run of quarterbacks early.
S– Vita Vea, DT Washington: The Redskns were dead last in the NFL in rushing defense. Time to seal up the middle of their defensive line with the 344-pound Vea.
N–Tremaine Edmunds, LB Virginia Tech: Washington addresses a front-seven need, with their QB of the (near) future, Alex Smith, in town.
S– Will Hernandez, G UTEP: The Packers found out what they are when Aaron Rodgers isn’t under center. Time to make sure they never find out again.
N– Vita Vea, DT Washington: Some solid linebackers in Green Bay still need some help in front of them in the trenches.
S– Lamar Jackson, QB Louisville: There maybe no team more desperate for a quarterback than Arizona and while I could easily see Nick’s projected trade or something similar happen, in this case they had to settle for the next best quarterback available in Jackson.
N– *TRADE* Colts (from Cardinals) – Marcus Davenport, DE UTSA: Indy always seems to have glaring needs on defense, getting to opposing quarterback is among them.
S– Calvin Ridley, WR Alabama: Joe Flacco needs some serious help on offense, that Ridley can provide.
N– Courtland Sutton, WR SMU: Baltimore is in desperate need of a playmaker outside.
S– Orlando Brown, T Oklahoma: Brown is one of the best lineman in this draft and still available for a Chargers tem that needs help at tackle.
N–Connor Williams, T Texas: Keep old man Rivers up-right.
S– Derwin James, S Florida State: Best player available at this point. The Seahawks always use their safeties well.
N– Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame: Nothing shocking here, Russell Wilson runs for his life too much.
S– Da’Ron Payne, DT Alabama: Dallas needs a defensive tackle who can get up field and disrupt opposing offenses.
N– Maurice Hurst, DT Michigan: Dallas needs a force a in the middle.
S– Sony Michel, RB Georgia: The combo of Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick out of the backfield has gone stale. Matt Stafford and company could use a better play making back.
N– Billy Price, C Ohio State: Maybe a possibility in a replacement for Eric Wood goes right before the Bills pick.
S– Tremaine Edmunds, LB Virginia Tech: Assuming Preston Brown walks this offseason, the Bills are going to need a new inside linebacker to pull all the strings at middle linebacker. Edmunds would be an easy choice to fill the void in McDermott’s defense so long as he’s there at 21. The Virginia Tech product is rangy enough to drop into coverage or fly up and make plays on a ball carrier out of the backfield. Bills fans would love seeing Edmunds stationed in the middle of Buffalo’s defense for years to come.
N– Rashaan Evans, LB Alabama: The Bills made a strong selection in linebacker Matt Milano in 2017, but the team won’t want to bank on striking gold with a late-picked linebacker twice. Evans can play from sideline-to-sideline with his speed, despite a 6-foot-3 and 234-pound frame. That speed is what many assume Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott likes in his linebackers, when viewing the position through the scope of his time with the Carolina Panthers. Evans is also a senior, something McDermott clearly puts and emphasis on after selection only seniors in 2017.
S– Mason Rudolph, QB Oklahoma State: One of the most pressing questions surrounding the Bills as the daft approaches is whether or not they should trade up for a quarterback in the first round. In this scenario, they stay put and get a guy in Rudolph, who has some real potential in the NFL. At the college level he showed he can read opposing defenses effectively, something Tyrod Taylor often struggles with. We haven’t heard much about the Bills interest in Rudolph to this point, largely because he missed the Senior Bowl with a foot injury. But given where they are drafting in round one and what it will cost to potentially move up, they’d be wise to consider him at 21 or 22. How would you feel about the Bills ending up with Rudolph?
N– *TRADE* Vikings (from Bills) – Josh Jackson, CB Iowa: Minnesota trades up to keep their defense, which led them to a near-Super Bowl season, a dominate unit.
S– Jaire Alexander, CB Louisville: Offensively, Sean McVay’s squad is pretty set. Time to bolster the secondary with a young
N– Isaiah Oliver, CB Colorado: The Rams need a complement to their strong front-seven.
S– Mike McGlinchey, T Notre Dame: Carolina desperately needs some upgrading along the offensive line, particularly at left tackle.
N– Harold Landry, DE Boston College: Youthful addition to the Panthers’ pass rush.
S– Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, DE Oklahoma: Okoronkwo could provide some steady pressure off the edge that Tennessee was missing this past season.
N– Will Hernandez, G Texas-El Paso: Hernandez did himself some good at the Senior Bowl.
S– Maurice Hurst, DT Michigan: With Atlanta set to lose a few defensive lineman to free agency, Hurst would be a fine replacement.
N– Isaiah Wynn, G Georgia: Matt Ryan likes protection, but an investment in the run game here, too.
S– Courtland Sutton, WR SMU: The Saints have to start thinking about life after Drew Brees, but while they still have him (assuming the two sides work out a deal) they might as well give him some help.
N– Dallas Goedert, TE SDSU: The second coming of Jimmy Graham? That’s the idea, at least.
S– Rashaan Evans, LB Alabama: Pittsburgh could use some help at corner as well, but the middle of the defense is more pressing. Evans shows like Lawrence Timmons 2.0.
N– S Derwin James, S Florida State: Big Ben very quickly said he’s going to come back this year, so I don’t think the Steelers go for his replacement.
S– Dallas Goedert, TE SDSU: A receiver could be in play here too, especially if Allen Robinsons leaves in free agency. But Blake Bortles has never had a good tight end at his disposal and Goedert could become just that.
N– Lamar Jackson, QB Louisville: The early run on quarterback fades, but Jackson slides in as a late first-round pick. The Jags need a long-term answer.
S– Billy Price, C Ohio State: While Price was most recently a center he played guard for 15 games during the Buckeyes championship run in 2014. So he’s versatile and the Vikings need some o-line help.
N– *TRADE* Bills (from Vikings) – DT Da’Ron Payne, DT Alabama: Without Marcell Dareus and an aging, and maybe retired, Kyle Williams, defensive tackle is a massive need for Buffalo. In this scenario, quarterback Mason Rudolph is still on the board, but Buffalo could roll the dice that he’d still be there in the second round with five quarterbacks going in the first round. Deandre Coleman (6-5, 341 lbs) is a massive tackle and McDermott & Co. kept bringing him around last year. Payne, at 6-foot-2 and 308-pounds, combined with Evans, would at minimal address big needs on the Bills defense. Buffalo could also nab an extra third-round pick in this hypothetical trade with Minnesota.
S– Taven Bryan, DE Florida: Bryan shows J.J. Watt like tendencies except at defensive tackle instead of defensive end. His versatility would surely have a place in Bill Belichick’s defense.
N– Mike Hughes, CB Central Florida: I don’t think Malcolm Butler is very happy after the Super Bowl.
S– Chuckwuma Okorafor, T Western Michigan: Jason Peters is 36 and recovering from a torn ACL and MCL that ended his 2017 campaign early. It’s time to start thinking long-term about protecting Carson Wentz’s blindside.
N– Malik Jefferson, LB Texas: Lucky draftee going to the defending champs.