2018 NFL Mock Draft: 2 Rounds
Round 1 Picks 1-16
The 2018 NFL Draft has a chance to be a special group.
Chris Ransom follow @DraftUtopia Last Updated: July 25, 2017 with updates every Tuesday leading up to Draft Day.
New York Jets: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
- Our New York Jets 2017 Season Preview is now up and the Jets are projected to pick first overall. This Jets team has so many holes on offense that they need to take the best offensive players outside of the guard position just to turn their weaknesses on offense into strengths. Obtaining pass rushers at 3-4 outside linebacker and multiple cornerbacks is also a priority, but cleaning up the offense so they don't rely on their guards and running backs would be my first priority. We also added an 2018 NFL Draft Game in this link below if you want to pick your favorite players for the 2018 NFL Draft.
- If the Jets pick first overall in 2018 then the Jets will give up on Josh McCown, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg to take a quarterback. Petty got cussed at by Jon Gruden, and that's not an indication that he's the quarterback of the future. It's more of an indication that the Jets need to be ready to draft a new quarterback in 2018.
- Tony Mario and Mark Sciubba both have USC quarterback Sam Darnold going first overall in both of their mocks. I wasn't the biggest fan of Darnold initially, but he's worked with Jordan Palmer to fix his throwing motion. This is one thing I brought up in our 2018 NFL Draft Quarterback SWOT reports which you can read by clicking any links involving quarterbacks.
- Just by working with Palmer, he has the potential to fix four of his five biggest weaknesses. Darnold has ten different strengths compared to those five weaknesses and some of those weaknesses may become strengths now that Darnold has fixed his throwing motion. Darnold ended up as our top ranked prospect at the quarterback position.
- Let's put it this way. Darnold is no blue chip prospect. At the same time, he's probably the closest thing to one at the quarterback position after going back and watching his tape again.
Chicago Bears: Mike McGlinchey, LT, Notre Dame
- Our Chicago Bears 2017 Season Preview is now up and the Bears are projected to pick second overall. Mike Glennon went from quality backup to mediocre starter after leaving Tampa Bay to sign with Chicago. I also get this feeling that Trubisky will bust since he enters a team that needs an upgrade at left tackle plus I had a second round grade on Trubisky. I'd love to give Chicago a quarterback, but the earliest they would take a quarterback is 2019.
- The big question is what will the Bears do at 2. I still have Nore Dame left tackle Mike McGlinchey, but have also considered Boston College pass rusher Harold Landry as well as LSU's Arden Key as candidates to be Chicago's first round pick in my mock draft. Notre Dame travels to Boston College in week 3 so that game could reveal whether McGlinchey or Landry is too high on our rankings.
- Charles Leno Jr. sucks as a left tackle, but Chicago has been impressed with him at OTA's and he enters 2017 in a contract year so the Bears may re-sign him if he plays well. The other thing to consider is that both Lamaar Houston and Pernell McPhee save Chicago $15-million against the cap in 2018 so if both got released Leonard Floyd who they took ninth overall in the 2016 NFL Draft could finally start in 2018 and you could get another guy to play outside as a 3-4 outside linebacker off the edge in either Landry or Key here.
- For now, I'm giving Chicago their blindside of the future since I believe McGlinchey is the best overall player in the 2018 NFL Draft. Geting an elite blindside is paramount if Trubisky has any chance to succeed.
- Notre Dame left tackle Mike McGlinchey is a 6-8 312 lb left tackle that would have been the first offensive tackle drafted if he declared for the 2017 NFL Draft because the pass blocking, run blocking, zone blocking, pancake blocking, and chop blocking is all there on tape with Notre Dame's left tackle.
- McGlinchey had 0 sacks allowed and only 1 quarterback hurry in all of 2016. In fact over the last two years at Notre Dame he's only surrendered 1 sack and 5 quarterback hurries. He would have gone top 15 if he declared in 2017, but will go top 5 now for returning to school just like Ronnie Stanley did a few years ago.
- McGlinchey is currently the #2 player on my top 400 draft board even though I do believe he's a safer and potentially better prospect than Darnold. The other thing is Mike McGlinchey, Christian Kirk, Harold Landry, and Chukwuma Okorafor are my only blue chip prospects at this point in such a preliminary stage in the draft process because everything is pure speculation at this point until the 2017 College Football Season begins in September. I'm debating whether to add Texas left tackle Connor Williams to this group, but will wait until my offensive tackle SWOT reports are updated to post that.
San Francisco 49ers: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
- Our San Francisco 49ers 2017 Season Preview is now up and the 49ers are projected to pick third overall. Quarterback, running back, and wide receiver could all be needs at this point in 2018. I feel like quarterback and wide receiver would be the two biggest needs though.
- This is really a tough situation for the 49ers to be stuck in. Lamar Jackson is the reigning Heisman Trophy Winner and would be an awesome pick for San Francisco. At the same time, I can easily see why 49ers fans would point out that Lamar Jackson is not a fit for Kyle Shanahan's offense and I agree with that too an extent.
- Texas A&M wide receiver Christian Kirk is my top ranked wide receiver. San Francisco lacks a #1 target on the outside and their best wide receiver Pierre Garcon is playing in the slot. Kirk is someone that can play on the outside or inside in the slot.
- The 5-11 200 lb Christian Kirk had 80 receptions, 1,009 receiving yards, and 7 receiving touchdowns in his freshman season at Texas A&M. As a sophomore Kirk had 83 receptions, 928 receiving yards, and 9 receiving touchdowns. There were plays where Kirk torched Tre'Davious White and Marlon Humphrey on tape last season. This guy has the hands, route running, speed, agility, and skills to catch the ball in traffic. One reason he picks apart cornerbacks so easily is because he was a former cornerback in High School himself.
- Think Amari Cooper with more agility. You can even argue tape wise that Kirk would have been the first receiver taken in 2017 if he was eligible because he has the speed along with exceptional route running, plus he's big enough to be used on the outside or in the slot at 200 lbs despite being 5-11.
Cincinnati Bengals: Chukwuma Okorafor, LT, Western Michigan
- Our Cincinnati Bengals 2017 Season Preview is now up and the Bengals are projected to pick fourth overall. Cincinnati has two different needs they can address at four.
- Cincinnati a left tackle to replace Andrew Whitworth here. Chukwuma Okorafor beat out Taylor Moton for Western Michigan's left tackle job after Willie Beavers left the team. Okorafor also started at right tackle with Moton at right guard before Beavers left too so like Mike McGlinchey the 6-6 333 lb offensive tackle can play on either side plus his footwork is superior to Cam Robinson's when I watch the tape. This guy won the left tackle job outright the same way Matt Kalil beat out Tyron Smith for the left tackle gig at USC.
- Cincinnati had needs at left tackle, 4-3 right end, and free safety heading into the 2017 NFL Draft. Jordan Willis may pan out, but he was a 4-3 left end at Kansas State who always lined up against right tackles on tape. He will have to face left tackles in the NFL if he starts which is why I have some objections with him in Cincinnati even though I loved his tape at Kansas State.
- Cedric Ogbuhei was awful at right tackle so unless he wows Bengals' fans and puts it together at left tackle, it's going to be a long season for Cincinnati who failed to replace both Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler in the 2017 NFL Free Agency Period or the 2017 NFL Draft.
- I believe there are two blue chip prospects in Chukwuma Okorafor and Harold Landry that fill needs for Cincinnati. Okorafor fills the bigger need here though. Okorafor only gave up 1 sack all of las tseason along with 3 quarterback hurries. He also did a tremendous job opening up holes for running back Jarvion Franklin while zone blocking on tape.
- This is probably much higher than usual for Okorafor. I saw no flaws in Okorafor's tape which is why I'm comfortable with placing him at 4 for now. Okorafor plays USC in week 1 so if he struggles against USC's defensive ends on the road I'll move him down in September.
Minnesota Vikings: Harold Landry, RE, Boston College
- Our Minnesota Vikings 2017 Season Preview is up. We had three different teams finishing with the same record at this point. Minnesota won the tiebreaker though which puts them in the #5 spot for this week anyways.
- Minnesota will either upgrade at quarterback, left tackle, or 4-3 right end if they pick this high. I feel like Riley Reiff would be better off at right tackle with Mike Remmers getting released, but Minnesota cannot release either offensive tackle without losing salary cap money until 2019.
- That's why the Vikings will either get a quarterback or a 4-3 right end at 5. My two best quarterbacks on the board are Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield. I doubt Minnesota would take a former Sooner or former Cardinal if both Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater struggled in 2017. Minnesota seems like the kind of team that's going to fall head over heels for Josh Rosen or Josh Allen.
- Taking Rosen or Allen in the top 5 would be a huge mistake in my mind, but most mocks would put one of those quarterbacks on the Vikings in this situation if they managed to get a top 5 selection. I'll go against the grain by giving the Vikings the only blue chip player left on my board in Harold Landry at 5 by giving Minnesota the best player on the board rather than a need due to how deep this class is at quarterback.
- Minnesota can save $8.5-million in cap space if they release the 29-year-old Everson Griffen who turns 30 prior to having a buyout option in 2018. Minnesota could cut ties with Griffen, save some cap space, and get a huge upgrade in the process by obtaining Harold Landry only to get a quarterback in the second round.
- The 6-3 265 lb Harold Landry had 22 tackles for a loss and 16.5 sacks in 2016. Landry is someone the Vikings can build their defense around.
Previous Pick: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Arizona Cardinals: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
- Our Arizona Cardinals 2017 Season Preview is up. Arizona was the second of three teams that we had finishing with the same record in the first round. The Cardinals' were in the middle. They didn't win or lose the tiebreaker so they ended up at 6 as a result.
- Arizona can save over $21-million in cap space by releasing Carson Palmer who takes up $14-million and offensive tackle Jared Veldheer who takes up $7-million in cap space. Arizona moved D.J. Humphries to left tackle and Veldheer to right tackle, plus Will Holden is Arizona's future right tackle.
- You can release Carson Palmer here only to draft Lamar Jackson at 6 because Darnold and Jackson are probably the only quarterbacks in this class with a remote shot of replacing Palmer right away unless you want to develop someone by taking a quarterback later in the first round. Then you can use the remaining $21-million to get Lamar a weapon as well as a cheap corner like Morris Claiborne who would actually look good next to his former LSU teammates Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu.
Previous Pick: Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State
Tennessee Titans: Derwin James, FS, Florida State
- Our Tennessee Titans 2017 Season Preview is up. Last week I gave them Arden Key, but the only reason I did that was because there were no upgrades on the secondary. Tennessee gets an immediate impact free safety in Derwin James here.
- The 6-3 213 lb Derwin James has the versatility to play cornerback, strong safety, or free safety just like Jordan Whitehead. James played across from Jalen Ramsey at free safety down the stretch, but is expected to move to strong safety where Ramsey played in 2016 and Florida State plans to use James in the exact same fashion they used Ramsey.
- Derwin James had 52 solo tackles, 39 assisted tackles, 91 total tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, 4 deflections from pass breakups, 2 quarterback hurries, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovery in 2015. He suffered a season ending injury though in 2016. James will be a first round pick that goes fairly early in 2018 if he matches what he did in 2015 or improves with deflections and interceptions during his junior season at Florida State.
Previous Pick: Arden Key, 3-4 ROLB, LSU
Los Angeles Rams: Arden Key, 3-4 ROLB, LSU
- Our Los Angeles Rams 2017 Season Preview is now up and the Los Angeles Rams may do better than expected, but don't expect this team to return to the playoffs. The only team left in our top 16 that runs a 3-4 defense is the Rams.
- In this mock, we're gonna have the Rams offense take the league by storm only to watch Robert Quinn struggle in 2017. Then the Rams can save over $11-million in cap space and use that money on another offensive tackle to compliment Andrew Whitworth at offensive tackle in Free Agency by finding a right tackle to pair up with Whitworth before they draft Quinn's replacement in Arden Key, who is without a doubt the best player on the board at this point.
- Arden Key also known as "The Tiger" really impressed winning the 4-3 right end job from 2017 prospect Lewis Neal. You have to think Key will be the key to LSU's pass rush for the next two seasons especially in 2017 during his draft year.
- The 6-6 231 lb right end had 21 solo tackles, 20 assisted tackles, 9 quarterback hurries, 6.5 tackles for a loss, and 5 sacks in 2015. Key had 14.5 tackles for a loss and 12 sacks in 2016. Key needs to put on some muscle and get up to 240 or 250 this year and try to work his way into the 250-270 range by his junior season. Right now Key has 4.43 speed in terms of his 40 time and he literally runs like a tiger when getting after your quarterback but unless he gets up to 270 he's probably better off as an outside linebacker.
Previous Pick: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Philadelphia Eagles: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
- Our Philadelphia Eagles 2017 Season Preview is now up. We have the Eagles and four other NFL teams tied for the same record. The Eagles had the weakest strength of schedule winning the tiebreaker and the ninth overall pick.
- Most have Barkley ahead of Guice. If you want to know why I have Guice ahead of Barkley go ahead and click on that Guice link which will take you to our 2018 NFL Running Back SWOT reports.
- Philadelphia did an awesome job reloading on defense in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Eagles have depth at defensive end along with Jalen Mills, Sidney Jones, and Rasul Douglas at corner. Now it's time to go back to offense and get someone to build around Carson Wentz. The question is do you get a running back to replace LeGarrette Blount or Ryan Matthews, a wide receiver to replace Alshon Jeffery and Jordan Matthews who are both Free Agents in 2018, or a left tackle to replace Jason Peters. The Eagles could get a right tackle and move Lane Johnson over to left tackle as well. The bottom line is this pick will be an offensive player if the Eagles do not make the 2018 NFL Playoffs.
- Philadelphia gets a running back here with Blount and Matthews being Free Agents in 2018. I like Guice better than Barkley, but its a 1A VS 1B situation. Do you want a complete back with less experience and carries like Guice or do you want a natural pass catcher that could be special like Tomlinson that struggles in pass protection. That's the question you have to ask yourself when evaluating both Guice and Barkley on tape.
Previous Pick: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Buffalo Bills: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
- Our Buffalo Bills 2017 Season Preview is now up and the Buffalo Bills may do better than expected, but don't expect this team to make to the playoffs. Buffalo has drafted well two years in a row and will be an intriguing team to watch. I believe they could easily move up in next weeks mock draft. For now we have them at 10, and if the Bills pick this high with both Sam Darnold and Lamar Jackson gone, they'd probably get a replacement for Sammy Watkins here if he leaves in Free Agency.
- The 6-4 215 lb Courtland Sutton had 76 receptions, 1,246 receiving yards, and 10 receiving touchdowns in 2016. Sutton has remarkable tape, size, athleticism, and hands.
- His problem is that his route running isn't on the level of Christian Kirk and second his technique is awful. He dropped at least one pass in all 6 games I've watched of him. The other thing with Sutton is he spreads his hands out too far when trying to catch the ball. This causes him to try to clap when catching the football. This really annoys NFL teams, and unless Sutton corrects this area of his game, he's gonna start slipping on draft boards.
- The stats say future #1 receiver. The tape says he has the potential to be that guy with the right coaching, but you are also looking at a boom or bust prospect.
Previous Pick: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
New Orleans Saints: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
- Our New Orleans Saints 2017 Season Preview is up. New Orleans has the eleventh pick once again this week despite improving their win total.
- New Orleans is a team that does need a 4-3 left end to compliment Cameron Jordan. At the same time, the Saints were going to take Patrick Mahomes over Marshon Lattimore if he slipped to 11. I don't see a 4-3 left end worth taking here so the Saints get Mayfield.
- Baker Mayfield reminds me a lot of Drew Brees because he's there mentally, but you want to see him improve physically with his arm. Learning under Brees would be the best situation for Mayfield, plus Baker will deliver the goods in New Orleans because he will have far more weapons to work with than either Sam Darnold on the New York Jets or Lamar Jackson if he went to the Arizona Cardinals because Baker is a guy with pinpoint accuracy on tape plus New Orleans would be patient with him so this would be the best fit.
- Mayfield could hurt his stock with another bad game versus Ohio State or with a poor week in the 2018 Senior Bowl. Right now I see a first round quarterback and the third best quarterback after Sam Darnold and Lamar Jackson.
Previous Pick: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
Los Angeles Chargers: Connor Williams, RT, Texas
- Our Los Angeles Chargers 2017 Season Preview is now up and the Los Angeles Chargers may do better than expected, but don't expect this team to make to the playoffs. I really like the coaching staff they put together as well as their draft so this team has an outside shot to start 4-0 to begin the year if everyone stays healthy, but for now we will put them at 12.
- Los Angeles needs a safety. The won't take a safety in the top half of the draft though unless Derwin James fell to them.
- The earliest the Chargers can move on from Russell Okung is 2019. I think in this situation releasing Barksdale to save $4.8-million in cap space and taking Williams, the best player on the board is probably the most logical thing for the Chargers to do here.
- Connor Williams is my top ranked offensive tackle since the 6-6 320 lb blindside has experience at left tackle, right tackle, left guard, and right guard from his High School days. Williams had only 4 quarterback hurries and 1 sack allowed in 2016 plus he opened up holes for D'Onta Foreman while zone blocking well.
- That versatility makes Williams the third best offensive tackle even though I'd like to see him maintain blocks better. It's too early to say if he's a blue chip prospect since there are some concerns that Williams has short arms. That won't be a deal breaker for Williams though since he has experience everywhere at offensive tackle and guard along with first round tape.
- Williams is a guy who could easily become a third blue chip prospect at offensive tackle when I get to my SWOT reports for the offensive tackle rankings. There are people in the NFL Draft Community that actually think Williams is the top offensive tackle in this class despite that he needs to maintain blocks longer this year.
Previous Pick: Derwin James, FS, Florida State
Cleveland Browns: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
- Our Cleveland Browns 2017 Season Preview is now up and the Cleveland Browns may surprise some people this season. At the same time this is the Cleveland Browns were talking about so Cleveland picks at 13 this week, but where they end up picking may be adjusted in the weeks to come.
- The 5-11 188 lb Alexander is undersized, but he played well in man, zone, and press coverage. Tre'Davious White had the same size as Alexander and struggled in press. Alexander does not have that problem and I feel he can anchor the Browns secondary if they cut Joe Haden or Jason McCourty to save cap space.
Carolina Panthers: Auden Tate, WR, Florida State
- Our Carolina Panthers 2017 Season Preview is now up and the Carolina Panthers should improve on last season. This Panthers' team has way more depth than last years squad.
- The Panthers will either take a wide receiver or a cornerback here. They are getting a Florida State player here in either Auden Tate or Tarvarus McFadden.
- Auden Tate went to the same school as Kelvin Benjamin and reminds me of Benjamin. I do believe this team needs an upgrade over Munnerlyn, but at the same time Carolina cannot buy him out until 2019 so I expect the Panthers to get wide receivers this year if they miss the playoffs in 2018 and load up at corner in two years from now.
- Auden Tate didn't dominate statistically in his first two seasons, yet had 25 receptions, 409 receiving yards, and 6 receiving touchdowns in only 4 starts 2016 after dealing with injuries as a freshman. The speed, size, route running, and hands are there on tape though. The 6-5 225 lb junior receiver from Florida State could surge into the top 10 if he has a breakout season with Deiondre Francois in 2017.
Previous Pick: Harold Landry, RE, Boston College
Jacksonville Jaguars: Archie Lewis, LT, Boise State
- Our Jacksonville Jaguars 2017 Season Preview is now up and the Jacksonville Jaguars should improve on last season. This Jaguars' team has way more depth than last years squad.
- Despite being only 6-3 300 lbs, Archie Lewis is way better at maintaining blocks on tape than Connor Williams. He doesn't have the frame Williams has though which is why he would be the fourth offensive tackle, but there is a chance he could get pushed up earlier than expected if McGlinchey, Okorafor, and Williams are all gone at 15.
- Lewis made Jeremy McNichols and Brett Rypien look better than advertised on tape. That's why I moved Lewis up into the first round of my mock draft. I've had him in the late twenties for weeks now, but this is now a top 15 debut for Archie Lewis.
- Boise State has produced NFL offensive tackles like Ryan Clady, Nate Potter, and Rees Odhiambo even though I disliked Odhiambo's tape in the 2016 NFL Draft. Lewis is without a doubt my favorite Boise State left tackle since Ryan Clady and drafting him as a left tackle to give Russell Wilson more time in the pocket does wonders for Seattle.
Previous Pick: Connor Williams, RT, Texas
Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
- Cleveland ends up with the sixteenth pick from the Texans in this mock draft. After taking a cornerback at 13 they go with a running back at 16 with both Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson in contract years.
- Most consider Barkley the top running back in the draft. I'm not sure if Cleveland will knock him for struggling in pass protection. I'm guessing they look past it at this point and that's why their the Browns.
Previous Pick: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
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