2018 NFL Mock Draft
Published at 11/10/2017 10:38:15 PM
We’re halfway through the season, so let’s play some mock draft games. As always, the player evaluation process is ongoing, but it’s a good way to get an idea of where players might fit in come next April. One important note: the draft order is simply based on Vegas Super Bowl odds and not a prediction of what will happen the rest of the season. Also, this mock draft is about what I would do as GM with each pick, not a prediction of what each team will do.
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Cleveland drafts the nation’s top quarterback in Mayfield, who continues to impress no matter which way his game is dissected. He has the top PFF grade for the second year in a row at 95.8, as he uses his natural playmaking ability to attack all levels of the field with accuracy. There are still some questions coming out of a favorable Oklahoma system, but Mayfield has shown that he can succeed in every situation and he may just be the guy to turn the Browns around in the future.
After trading for QB Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers may be able to grab the best non-quarterback at the top of the draft, and from a pure value standpoint, James is the guy. His versatility is tailor-made for the NFL, as he can make an impact at all levels of the defense, from deep safety to playing at the line of scrimmage, and he gives the 49ers a playmaker in the secondary after leading the nation with a 91.2 grade as a true freshman in 2015 and currently ranking sixth at 87.4 overall.
While the Colts have a number of holes to fill, Barkley is a three-down option, as he can make an offensive line look good in the run game and his big-play ability must be accounted for in the passing game. He leads the nation’s running backs with 471 receiving yards, and he adds a weapon for QB Andrew Luck as the Colts look to rebuild both sides of the ball with impact players.
The time is right to look to the future at quarterback for the Giants and despite Darnold’s struggles this season, he has shown plenty of NFL ability during his year-and-a-half as starter. He’s forcing too many passes into coverage this season and his fumbles are concerning, but Darnold’s ability to work the middle of the field with anticipation bodes well for the next level.
Quarterbacks continue to come off the board as the Jets look to shore up their future with Jackson, who has improved as a passer every year in college. He also has dynamic athleticism, leading to the top rushing grade in college football over the last two years, and while he’s not the most accurate quarterback on a throw-for-throw basis, Jackson has shown the ability to make big-time throws into NFL windows, and that’s enough to build an offense around at the next level.
With QB Carson Palmer nearing the end of his career, the Cardinals look to tap into Rosen’s potential as their quarterback of the future. There’s a Palmer-like boom-or-bust nature to Rosen’s game as he can sprinkle the field with NFL throws while backing that up with head-scratching decisions, but he’s an excellent intermediate thrower and his high-end flashes are as good as it gets in the class.
The quarterback run slows down for a bit as the Ravens look to add some juice to their offense with Washington who leads the nation with 464 yards on deep (20-plus yard) passes this season. He has the speed to get behind the defense and improved ball skills have allowed him to make plays in contested situations, a good fit for getting QB Joe Flacco’s career back on track.
The nation’s top-graded defensive player at 95.5 overall, Hurst is disruptive against the run and as a pass-rusher. He’s built in the mold of current Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, but it can’t hurt to have two disruptors up front, especially in the age of multiple defensive fronts and high subpackage usage. Hurst has been dominant in his 1,233 career snaps and an interior havoc-creator is coveted in today’s NFL.
Williams has missed most of the season due to injury, but he was one of the nation’s top offensive tackles in 2015 and 2016. Last season, his 91.1 overall grade ranked third in the nation, as he allowed only four total pressures while dominating in the running game. The Bears have a few different ways they can go with this pick, but they upgrade the tackle spot with Williams.
Cincinnati has lingering questions at offensive tackle and Brown has shown the ability to pass protect and impact the run game at a high level. He’s given up only 11 pressures on 617 attempts over the last two years and he uses his massive frame to open holes both at the point of attack and at the second level. Brown currently ranks No. 7 overall and No. 2 as a run blocker among the nation’s offensive tackles.
The guard position has been a trouble spot for the Dolphins for a while and Nelson is one of the best guard prospects to come out in recent years. He is a dominant run blocker, currently leading the nation with a 94.3 grade, and he’s showed continued improvement in pass protection where he’s only allowed two pressures this season.
The outside pass-rush has been inconsistent in Green Bay in recent years but Key adds an explosive threat to the mix. His production is down a tick this season as LSU has moved him around the defense, but when unleashed off the edge, Key brings an explosive threat with his 177 career pressures (21 sacks, 31 hits, 78 hurries).
While QB Philip Rivers is still capable of leading a team, the Chargers have to keep an eye toward the future. Rudolph has had a productive career at Oklahoma State, he’s shown good accuracy at the intermediate level and his passer rating of 104.3 when facing pressure is third-best in the nation.
Ridley may never put up huge numbers is Alabama’s run-heavy system, but his speed is evident on tape and he can be a downfield weapon at the next level. Buffalo has a receiving corps to overhaul and adding Ridley is a good place to start.
Detroit needs a running game that can take pressure off QB Matthew Stafford and Guice brings that and more as a dynamic, three-down option. He has big-play ability both as a runner and as a receiver and his 111.7 elusive rating (52 missed tackles forced on 192 touches) in 2016 showed his capabilities.
Chubb has emerged from run-stopping edge defender into more of an all-around threat as his career has progressed. His 88.6 overall grade ranks sixth in the nation while his 88.9 grade against the run ranks third, and he brings much-needed youth to the Carolina defensive line.