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Charlie's 2018 NFL Mock Draft version 31
Published at 10/27/2017 3:58:00 AM

Charlie's 2018 NFL Mock Draft version 31

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Millen  Bill


Round 1

1. Browns: Saquon Barkley, Running Back, Penn State

If the Browns end up with the No. 1-overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, I think they would trade down again for a package of picks. That has been Cleveland's M.O. in the last two drafts, passing on Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson in the process, so there is no reason to believe the team will follow a different plan in the 2018 NFL Draft. Considering Cleveland also passed on Derek Carr for Johnny Manziel and passed on Dak Prescott, the franchise has had a rough streak of passing on good quarterbacks. In a move down, the Browns could still target a difference-maker like Barkley to help the regime start winning some games. The Browns have Isaiah Crowell entering free agency, and their running game hasn't thrived this year despite a lot of money being spent on the offensive line. Here's a stud back to make DeShone Kizer's job a lot easier. <br> <br>

On the year, Barkley is averaging 6.5 yards per carry, which makes for 757 yards with eight touchdowns. He has 32 receptions for 448 yards and three touchdowns as a receiver. The sophomore averaged 5.5 yards per carry last year for 1,496 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also made 28 catches for 402 yards and four touchdowns as a receiver. Barkley was very impressive as a freshman in 2015 when he averaged 5.9 yards per carry for 1,076 yards with seven touchdowns. He also caught 20 passes for 161 yards and a score. Barkley was very impressive, running for 194 yards on 26 carries against an Ohio State defense loaded with NFL talent. <br> <br>

The 5-foot-11, 223-pounder is a tough runner with a burst. Barkley has devastating quickness to hit the hole and accelerate downfield. Along with great speed, Barkley has tremendous balance, vision, cutting ability, elusiveness, and power. He also is a receiving threat who presents mismatch problems for a defense in the passing attack. Barkley is an elite running back prospect in the same mold of Leonard Fournette and Todd Gurley, and better than Ezekiel Elliott. Unless Barkley has an injury or off-the-field issue, he's a lock to be a top-10 pick next April.


2. 49ers: Lamar Jackson, Quarterback, Louisville

John Lynch grabs San Francisco a franchise quarterback. Even though the 49ers are playing competitive football, they should be in position to land one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft. Jackson's skill set would be a good fit for Kyle Shanahan's system. <br> <br>

In 2017, Jackson has completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,478 yards with 17 touchdowns and five interceptions. He has also taken 136 carries for 868 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns. Some team sources think that Jackson is worthy of being a top-10 pick and will rise in the leadup to the draft similar to Pat Mahomes. One general manager told me they think Jackson could end up going No. 1 overall because he's a taller and better version of Michael Vick. <br> <br>

Jackson has a great athletic skill set, including a powerful arm that can make all throws the NFL requires and some rare passes. While his tremendous running ability gets a lot of attention, Jackson is better passing from the pocket than he is given credit for. Jackson will take some shots and deliver good passes in the face of the rush. He also handles Bobby Petrino's scheme well. Jackson can be inconsistent with his accuracy, and he needs to add weight to his frame for the NFL. He also needs to develop maturity in his leadership skills as he can be too much of one of the guys. <br> <br>

Jackson (6-3, 205) set college football on fire in 2016 while winning the Heisman Trophy. He was a massive point-producer for the Cardinals. Jackson completed 56 percent of his passes for 3,543 yards with 30 touchdowns and nine interceptions on the year. He also ran for 21 touchdowns and 1,571 yards while averaging six yards per carry.


3. Giants: Josh Rosen, Quarterback, UCLA

Unless Davis Webb has really impressed them behind the scenes, the Giants would probably look to grab their heir apparent to Eli Manning if they end up picking this high in the 2018 NFL Draft. <br> <br>

On the year, Rosen has completed 64 percent of his passes for 2,620 yards with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He had a mixed game against Memphis with a painful pick-six in the second half that was huge for the Tigers pulling off the upset. Rosen had a legendary performance in UCLA's 2017 season opener versus Texas A&M, leading one of the greatest comeback wins in college football history, turning a 44-10 third-quarter deficit to a 45-44 win. <br> <br>

Of the top quarterback prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft, Rosen has the best mechanics and is the most natural pocket passer. He throws a tremendous ball and can really spin it with his powerful arm. Rosen's tight spiral helps him to get his passes through tight windows and beat good coverage. The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder has serious arm talent with field vision and pocket presence. Scouts who have done advance work on the 2018 prospects have told me that Rosen has questionable intangibles with how he gets along with his teammates and his leadership skills for the NFL. <br> <br>

Rosen had an impressive debut as a freshman in 2015, completing 60 percent of his passes for 3,670 yards with 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. As a sophomore, he completed 59 percent of his passes for 1,915 yards with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions in six games before suffering a season-ending injury.


4. Colts: Arden Key, Defensive End, LSU

The Colts grab a difference-maker for their pass rush and a player to build their defense around. <br> <br>

The 6-foot-6, 255-pounder is a lightning-fast edge rusher with a ton of upside to develop. Sources have told me that Key loves football and is a hard-worker who strives to improve in the offseason. They said he has worked with pass-rushing moves guru Chuck Smith, and that is impressive dedication for a collegiate player. Key missed the first two games of 2017 and was eased back into action in Week 3 against Mississippi State. He had three tackles and a half-sack against the Bulldogs. Key also had a game-clinching sack against Auburn. Thus far this season, the junior has 22 tackles with 3.5 sacks. <br> <br>

In 2016, Key was one of the best players in college football. He recorded 56 tackles with 14.5 for a loss, 12 sacks, three forced fumbles and three passes broken up on the year. Key is a dangerous pass-rusher with excellent speed and the ability to bend around the corner. He flashed a ton of potential as a freshman for LSU, totaling 41 tackles with 6.5 for a loss, five sacks and one pass broken up.




5. Bengals: Derwin James, Safety, Florida State

Safety isn't the biggest need for the Bengals, but James is much better of a prospect than any offensive lineman aside from maybe Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson. However, Cincinnati has been one of the better drafting teams over the last decade, and it isn't good value to take a guard in the top 10. The 2013 NFL Draft gave everyone that lesson with Jonathan Cooper and Chance Warmack. You could even include epic bust Luke Joeckel and Justin Pugh considering they both now play guard. Passing on the likes of DeAndre Hopkins, Le'Veon Bell and Travis Kelce for a guard was a painful mistake. The Bengals can go best player available and land one of the top two or three players in the 2018 NFL Draft. <br> <br>

James has 37 tackles with four passes batted in 2017. While he didn't have flawless performances against Alabama and N.C. State this season, they were impressive overall. James was healthy and able to display his great instincts and rare combination of great size, speed, physicality and versatility. He played dime linebacker, nickel corner, free safety and strong safety, basically doing everything a coach could ask of him. <br> <br>

James totaled 11 tackles and an interception through two games in 2016 before sustaining a season-ending knee injury. He had been playing well for Florida State. Entering last season, there was a lot of hype that James was an elite player and perhaps the best defensive player in college football. As a freshman in 2015, he had a strong debut with 91 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, four passes broken up and two forced fumbles, but zero interceptions. <br> <br>

The 6-foot-3, 211-pounder has a great athletic skill set with tremendous speed, instincts, and strength to hit. He shows the ability to do everything an NFL safety is needed to do. James is fast and long with coverage skills in the deep middle of the field. He also is strong enough to be the eighth man in the box and tackle.


6. Buccaneers: Bradley Chubb, Defensive End, N.C. State

The Bucs could use an edge rusher to go across from Noah Spence. This would be a great addition for Tampa Bay. <br> <br>

Chubb has 37 tackles with 14 for a loss, 6.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one pass broken up on the year. He was awesome against Florida State, making some huge plays to lead N.C. State to a road upset with two sacks, a forced fumble and seven tackles. Chubb is dominating the competition this year and is playing like a top-10 pick. <br> <br>

The 6-foot-4, 275-pound Chubb has scheme flexibility and is a tough defender for the Wolfpack. He has good quickness for a big defensive end and has shown the ability to get off blocks with his strength and hand usage. Chubb has developed some variety in pass-rushing moves and looks like an asset as a future three-down starter in the NFL. In 2016, he totaled 58 tackles with 22 tackles for a loss, 10.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and one pass batted. As a sophomore in 2015, Chubb collected 5.5 sacks.


7. Cardinals: Sam Darnold, Quarterback, USC

The Cardinals grab their replacement for Carson Palmer. <br> <br>

In 2017, the redshirt sophomore has completed 64 percent of his passes for 2,292 yards with 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. A general manager, who has scouted Darnold in person this year, told me that he likes the "it factor" that Darnold displays. That general manager thinks there's nothing wrong with Darnold's throwing motion or arm strength, and that Darnold has some similarities to Philip Rivers. Other scouts feel that Darnold is a good prospect with the ability to be a plus starter, but they don't think he's elite, and on tape, they say he is not better than Mitch Trubisky or Deshan Watson were before the 2017 NFL Draft. <br> <br>

This fall, Darnold has had issues with interceptions and decision-making. He also has admitted to having issues with confidence. Darnold is an accurate passer without an elite skill set, but hw has developed good anticipation, feel, and timing. Darnold is a rhythm thrower wwho would fit best in a West Coast system to maximize his ability to throw accurately in the short to intermediate part of the field. Sources are telling me that they're hearing Darnold wants to return to USC next year rather than enter the 2018 NFL Draft, but he is getting a lot of pressure to enter the draft. <br> <br>

Darnold was very impressive as a redshirt freshman in 2016 and impressed evaluators even though he wasn't being graded yet. Along with a quality skill set, teams like his intangibles and moxie. Darnold completed 67 percent of his passes in 2016 for 3,086 yards with 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions. The 6-4, 225-pounder led USC on a nine-game winning streak to end the season.


8. Ravens: Mike McGlinchey, Offensive Tackle, Notre Dame

The Ravens could use more help on the offensive line. Here's a tackle to replace Ricky Wagner. <br> <br>

As a senior, McGlinchey has blocked well for Notre Dame. The 6-foot-7, 310-pounder is a tough run blocker and has been part of a good Notre Dame line for years. He has good enough feet and athletic ability to get depth in his kick slide and cut off speed rushers. As a run blocker, McGlinchey can get movement at the point of attack. He flashes heavy hands to push defenders out of their gaps and open holes for his back. McGlinchey also has a nice ability to bend at the knee, and that in combination with his feet, keeps him from having to reach after edge rushers. He uses his strength to sustain blocks and has developed good hand placement. His performance in 2017 and 2016 protecting Notre Dame's quarterbacks is evidence that McGlinchey is a future starting left tackle in the NFL and a first-round pick. <br> <br>

McGlinchey was very impressive at left tackle for the Fighting Irish in 2016. He looked natural in pass protection, and one wouldn't have thought that he wasn't playing the position before last season. In 2015, McGlinchey showed well as a right tackle and had a more physical style of play than former Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley. The one area that McGlinchey really needs to improve is his repeated problem with false starts.


9. Jets: Josh Allen, Quarterback, Wyoming

Prior to the 2017 NFL Draft, sources with the Jets told me they didn't like the available quarterback prospects. They also said that Christian Hackenberg was developing well and worked really hard behind the scenes during his rookie year. However, if Hackenberg doesn't show some promise on the field in 2017, the Jets could be targeting a quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft. If Hackenberg does show signs that he's the long-term starter, New York could consider an edge rusher, more offensive weapons, or cornerback help. Considering the season is almost half over, it looks like Hackenberg probably won't end up playing enough to steer the Jets away from a quarterback. <br> <br>

At this point, Allen is a skill set, but not a quarterback. He really struggled this season in games against Iowa, Oregon and Hawaii. Allen has displayed his big skill set with size, toughness, athleticism, and a strong arm. There are plays where he looks like a young Ben Roethlisberger, but then there are other plays where he shows bad decision-making and inaccuracy. Allen is a definite work in progress who will need some developmental time. Thus far this season, Allen has completed 56 percent of his passes for 1,216 yards with eight touchdowns and six interceptions. <br> <br>

Allen's completion percentage and interception total from 2016 provide evidence for the developmental assessment, too. He completed 56 percent of his passes for 3,203 yards with 28 touchdowns and 15 interceptions last year.<br> <br>

Allen (6-5, 222) became a discussed prospect late in the 2016 season, but he wisely decided to return to Wyoming. He has a special skill set, and some draft analysts were projecting him high in the first round, but one general manager told WalterFootball.com that he had Allen as a third-day prospect and thought Allen should improve before going pro. Other team sources that did advance work for National Scouting for the 2018 prospects really liked Allen and compared him to Ben Roethlisberger, so don't be surprised if he is a polarizing prospect. Still, Allen has a great skill set with tons of upside.


10. Raiders: Da'Ron Payne, Defensive Tackle, Alabama

The front seven was a weakness last year, but Reggie McKenzie addressed the secondary in the first and second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. I think taking Obi Melifonwu over Zach Cunningham was a big mistake. Along with linebacker help, the Raiders' defensive line could use an interior run stuffer and disruptor. This is a great fit and value for Oakland/Las Vegas. <br> <br>

Payne has dominated at the point of attack this season, stuffing runs while showcasing his freakish speed and athleticism. In 2017, he has 30 tackles, .5 sacks and a pass batted. I've heard general managers and scouts raving about Payne this year. <br> <br>

Scouts were already raving about Payne's potential in the preseason. He has been the Crimson Tide's best defensive lineman in 2017, following Jonathan Allen's moving on to the NFL. Payne (6-2, 319) is a run plugger with a lot of potential to grow. When given the opportunity to rush the passer in 2016, Payne was impressive, and sources have said that he helped set up sacks for Jonathan Allen, Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson last season.


11. Chargers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Safety, Alabama

The Chargers have had a weakness at safety since Eric Weddle left in free agency. Here's a solution for Los Angeles. <br> <br>

Fitzpatrick has 35 tackles, one interception, four passes broken up and a forced fumble in 2017. He has played really well, doing everything that could be asked of a safety. Fitzpatrick is a superb center fielder, covering receivers deep downfield. He is also fast in pursuit, tackles well in space at the second level, can come down into the box, and is able to play man coverage against tight ends and slot receivers, plus help out his cornerbacks. The 6-foot-1, 203-pounder has excellent size and some natural cover skills. Sources have said that Fitzpatrick is a prototypical free safety for the NFL. They say he has good size, speed, athletic ability and high football I.Q. in a play-maker. <br> <br>

In 2016, Fitzpatrick recorded 66 tackles with seven passes broken up and six interceptions. He was dominant at times for Alabama, splitting time between corner and safety. Fitzpatrick had a superb 2015 season for the Crimson Tide. The freshman totaled 45 tackles with two sacks, 11 passes broken up and two interceptions - both returned for a touchdowns.


12. Bears: Calvin Ridley, Wide Receiver, Alabama

The Bears could use a play-maker and a scoring weapon for Mitch Trubisky. We have a long ways to go before the 2018 NFL Draft, and right now, there isn't a clear-cut top wide receiver. I've heard scouts gush over Christian Kirk, while others who have soured on him. Also, some scouts haven't been as enthusiastic about Calvin Ridley as the media is. I know some scouts who love the skill set and potential of Equanimeous St. Brown, but Notre Dame's quarterback play is hurting him, and some think of him as a second-day pick. I think of the receivers, Ridley might be the safest projection to go first from the group. <br> <br>

Ridley has 41 catches for 523 yards and two touchdowns in 2017. He totaled 82 yards on seven receptions with a touchdown against Florida State and its NFL-level secondary. The 6-foot-1, 188-pounder Ridley is capable of producing a lot more, but Alabama's ground-based offense and running quarterback limit his opportunities. If Ridley were playing at a school like West Virginia, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, or pretty much any Big XII school, his production would be off the charts. Ridley has quality height, speed and upside for the NFL. He does have a thinner frame and will need to add weight. <br> <br>

In 2016, Ridley made 72 catches for 769 yards with seven touchdowns. He had a tremendous freshman season for the Crimson Tide as the replacement for Amari Cooper. Ridley was very effective in that role with 89 receptions for 1,045 yards with seven touchdowns. He finished the 2015 season with impressive performances against Florida and Michigan State to help push Alabama to the National Championship.


13. Cowboys: Ken Webster, Cornerback, Ole Miss

The Cowboys wanted Joe Haden and could use a No. 1 cornerback. Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie would be better off as the team's second and third corners. <br> <br>

Webster is a sound cover corner who is very good at running the route and preventing separation. Sources from multiple teams have told me that Webster has been really impressive to them. They think he has first-round potential for the 2018 NFL Draft as a cover corner. The 5-foot-11, 194-pounder has quick feet, ball skills and a competitive attitude, plus he plays fast. <br><br>

Webster has been locking down receivers this year using his quick feet, twitchy athleticism, and fast foot speed to prevent separation. He has 14 tackles and two passes breakup, but goes under the radar because Ole Miss is down this year. In 2015, Webster totaled 41 tackles with 11 breakups and an interception. Webster has been impressive in 2017 despite not being 100 percent from an ACL tear and other damage that he sustained in the 2016 season opener, which caused him to miss that entire year.


14. Broncos: Martinas Rankin, Offensive Tackle, Mississippi State

The Broncos continue to build up their offensive line. If they draft a bookend to go with Garett Bolles, they could move Menelik Watson inside to guard. <br> <br>

The 6-foot-5, 307-pound Rankin had a strong 2016 season as a run blocker and pass protector for Mississippi State. He received a second-round estimation from the NFL Draft Advisory Board for the 2017 NFL Draft, and he could definitely push that higher over 2017. Rankin is playing well at left tackle this season. In Week 3, he had some wins and losses against LSU's Arden Key, but Rankin has been impressive on the blind side this year. He is quick, athletic, and has the strength to run block. Rankin could continue to rise.


15. Browns: Denzel Ward, Cornerback, Ohio State

Cleveland's cornerbacks are awful. Here's an upgrade. <br> <br>

Ward has 20 tackles with nine passes broken up and an interception in 2017. In the season opener against Indiana, he notched an interception, four tackles and five passes broken up. Ward also was beaten for a touchdown and some other receptions by big Indiana receiver Simmie Cobbs Jr. While primarily a backup in 2016, Ward (5-10, 191) totaled 23 tackles with nice passes broken up. <br> <br>

While Ward has some hype suggesting he's as good as his former teammates Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley, he's significantly smaller than them and had issues with a big wideout in Cobbs. In the NFL, Ward might get placed as a nickelback.


16. Lions: Austin Bryant, Defensive End, Clemson

The Lions could use an edge rusher across from Ziggy Ansah. <br> <br>

Scouting sources have told me they felt that Bryant has been playing his way into being a first-round-caliber prospect this season. He has been a dynamic speed rusher and a pass-rushing force for one of the best defenses in college football. In 2017, Bryant has five sacks with 29 tackles, 11 for a loss, one interception and one forced fumble. He added to his sack total against Boston College and was a key contributor to Clemson limiting the Eagles to only seven points. The 6-foot-5, 265-pound Bryant is on his way to a massive junior year that could have his name being called on the opening night of the 2018 NFL Draft.


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