With the college football season in the books and the NFL playoffs under way, it’s time to look ahead to 2018 NFL Draft. A number of top players have declared, including Alabama’s Calvin Ridley and Da’Ron Payne. Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick declared for the draft on Thursday.
This draft figures to be quarterback heavy, with potentially four signal callers, Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen going among the top-10 picks. Of the non-quarterbacks, Penn State’s Saquon Barkley and Texas’ Connor Williams could be selected in the top 5. The order for the first 20 picks is set.
NFL mock draft 2018, Round 1
- Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, USC QB: The Browns have to use the pick on a quarterback, and we think they’ll choose Darnold.
- New York Giants: Josh Rosen, UCLA QB: Rosen vs. Darnold will be an interesting debate. The UCLA quarterback might be wired to better succeed in New York than Darnold.
- Indianapolis Colts: Connor Williams, Texas T: For the Colts, it’s simple: They must do a better job of protecting Andrew Luck, provided he can return in 2018. As long as Williams can stay healthy, he’ll be a top draft pick.
- Cleveland Browns (via Houston): Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama DB: The Browns went quarterback with their first pick. Next up, they grab the best defensive prospect in the class. Fitzpatrick is a queen-on-the-chessboard-type of defensive back.
- Denver Broncos: Josh Allen, Wyoming QB: Offensive tackle could be the pick here. Drafting Allen here is a risk, but the Denver quarterback situation might be the worst in the league.
- New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma QB: The Jets will continue toiling in mediocrity as long as they lack quality quarterback play. If anyone can handle the spotlight and attention that comes with playing for the Jets, it’s the Heisman Trophy winner.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bradley Chubb, N.C. State DE: The Buccaneers have stumbled this season thanks to both Jameis Winston’s struggles and a poor pass rush. Chubb should help shore up the latter of their issues.
- Chicago Bears: Christian Kirk, Texas A&M WR: The Bears almost have to pick a wide receiver. While many will peg Alabama’s Calvin Ridley here, I think Kirk is just a little bit better. But the Bears couldn’t go wrong with either.
- San Francisco 49ers: Saquon Barkley, Penn State RB: With Jimmy Garoppolo looking like the quarterback of the future, San Francisco can draft the best player available, which is the superstar running back from Penn State.
- Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, Georgia LB: A defense with Khalil Mack on it shouldn’t be as bad as Oakland’s was this season. Smith is maybe the best off-ball linebacker prospect since Luke Kuechly.
- Miami Dolphins: Arden Key, LSU DE/OLB: Quenton Nelson could be an option here, but instead they’ll take Key. While he might have some off-field concerns, the LSU product has the potential to be an elite pass rusher.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame T: The Bengals have skill players and a number of young and talented defenders. Where they most need help is on the offensive line. McGlinchey, or his teammate Quenton Nelson, could be an option.
- Washington Redskins: Derwin James, FSU DB: What Washington does will largely depend on whether it keeps QB Kirk Cousins. If they do, look for them to take a player such as James, who is 95 percent the player that Fitzpatrick is.
- Green Bay Packers: Josh Jackson, Iowa CB: The Packers were a bit of a mess without Aaron Rodgers, so look for them to go best player available. The secondary was one of their biggest concerns and they’ll address it here.
- Arizona Cardinals: Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame G: If Mayfield were still on the board, he could be an option. Instead, the Cardinals will gladly take the best interior lineman in the class.
- Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, Alabama WR: The Ravens might have the worst group of pass catchers in the NFL. This makes too much sense.
- Los Angeles Chargers: Da’Ron Payne, Alabama DT: The Chargers had the second worst rush defense in the league. Payne will help them drastically improve that unit.
- Seattle Seahawks: Derrius Guice, LSU RB: The Seahawks have had a revolving door of running backs since Marshawn Lynch departed. Guice should make it two years in a row that an LSU running back goes in the first round.
- Dallas Cowboys: Maurice Hurst, Michigan DT: Hurst might not be drafted this high simply because of his position. But the Cowboys need defensive tackles who can play, and Hurst is one of the best football players in this draft class.
- Detroit Lions: Clelin Ferrell, Clemson DE/OLB : The Lions could go in a number of ways here, but a pass rusher would be wise. Ferrell already has a strong résumé, but if he plays like he did in the College Football Playoff a year ago, his stock could skyrocket.
- Buffalo Bills: James Washington, Oklahoma State WR: While they need to figure out their quarterback situation, the Bills really need to improve at the wide receiver position.
- Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City), Christian Wilkins, Clemson DT: The Bills traded Marcell Dareus earlier this season. And they’ll look to Wilkins, who can do a split, to fill his void.
- Carolina Panthers: Courtland Sutton, SMU WR: Offensive line could be the choice here, but Cam Newton needs some guys on the outside who can help him out. Sutton might be the most physically gifted wide receiver in the draft this year.
- Los Angeles Rams: Orlando Brown, Oklahoma T: Andrew Whitworth was huge for the Rams this season. But he’s also 36 years old. Brown is a little raw, but he could become the Rams’ left tackle of the future.
- Tennessee Titans: Denzel Ward, Ohio State CB: The Titans selected a cornerback in the first round last year and will look to continue to improve their secondary. The Titans also could target a pass rusher.
- Atlanta Falcons: Harold Landry, Boston College DE/OLB: The Falcons love athletic playmakers. Landry definitely fits that role, and it would not be a surprise to see him go much higher in the draft than this. Landry led the NCAA in sacks in 2016.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State QB: Blake Bortles isn’t the answer for Jacksonville. The Jaguars could look at Rudolph or Louisville product Lamar Jackson.
- New Orleans Saints: Vita Vea, Washington DT: While the Saints defense has made huge improvements, it still could stand to get a little better. Vea is an absolute monster and will make life much easier for the rest of the Saints’ front 7.
- Minnesota Vikings: Billy Price, Ohio State G/C: Quarterback could be in play here, but Price, like Pat Elflein did this season for Minnesota, could be a Day 1 starter on the interior.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Rashaan Evans, Alabama LB: With the Ryan Shazier injury casting serious doubt onto his NFL future, linebacker becomes a position of need. Evans isn’t the prospect that Shazier was, but he, like many other Alabama linebackers, can be very, very good.
- New England Patriots: Sam Hubbard, Ohio State DE/OLB: Bill Belichick loves players who have ties to Greg Schiano. Pass rusher is a huge need for New England. And Hubbard’s defensive coordinator is in fact Schiano.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Ronnie Harrison, Alabama S: The Eagles appear set at corner with Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills, but the secondary is still a weakness. Harrison could help turn that into a strength.
*Order is through Week 17 of NFL season. The top 20 picks are official. Picks 21-32 will finalize after each round of the playoffs.
2018 NFL Draft: First round order
Pick Nos. 1 through 20 are set now that the regular season is finished.
1. Cleveland Browns
2. New York Giants
3. Indianapolis Colts
4. Cleveland Browns
5. Denver Broncos
6. New York Jets
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
8. Chicago Bears
9. San Francisco 49ers OR Oakland Raiders (coin flip)
11. Miami Dolphins
12. Cincinnati Bengals
13. Washington Redskins
14. Green Bay Packers
15. Arizona Cardinals
16. Baltimore Ravens
17. Los Angeles Chargers
18. Seattle Seahawks
19. Dallas Cowboys
20. Detroit Lions
21. Buffalo Bills
22. Buffalo Bills(Via Kansas City)
23. Carolina Panthers
24. Los Angeles Rams
SEC underclassmen entering the 2018 NFL Draft