2018 NFL Mock Draft: 4 Rounds
Round 1 Picks 17-32
Chris Ransom follow @DraftUtopia Last Updated: March 19, 2018 with updates every Monday leading up to Draft Day.
Los Angeles Chargers: Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
- The Chargers get the only blue chip defensive tackle in this draft to boost their anemic run defense. Corey Liuget and Brandon Mebane are both getting older too. Payne can be used as a rotational player as a rookie and once he improves his strength, he can start full time starting in 2019.
- Other Los Angeles Chargers Selections
Seattle Seahawks: Donte Jackson, CB, LSU
- Seattle can take the best pass rusher with Michael Bennett being traded, best cornerback with Richard Sherman being released, or the best right tackle on the board at 18. LSU cornerback Donte Jackson had a tremendous 2018 NFL Combine and as a result has now moved into my top 20 after I previously had a late first round grade on him.
- Other Seattle Seahawks Selections
Dallas Cowboys: Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford
- Dallas will get a defensive tackle at 19. The 6-3 307 lb Harrison Phillips dominated the 2018 NFL Combine to the point where he moved up my board a lot. Harrison Phillips dominated Mobile and came in with 10 1/2 inch hands. Phillips also had 37 solo tackles, 65 assisted tackles, 102 total tackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss, and 7.5 sacks as one of Stanford's captains in 2017.
- Other Dallas Cowboys Selections
Detroit Lions: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
- Detroit will need a replacement to Haloti Ngata now that he signed with Philadelphia on a one-year deal. Vita Vea is the top defensive tackle on the board. His tape speaks for itself and he's a top 20 prospect. He may get picked higher than this to be completely honest because he did 41 reps on the bench press drill at the 2018 NFL Combine. Phillips did 42 reps and didn't fatigue as much as Vea on tape which is why I gave Phillips to Dallas at 19 and Vea to Detroit at 20.
- Detroit is switching to a hybrid defense meaning they will need guys who can play both 4-3 and in the 3-4. Vea could be a defensive tackle in the 4-3 and a nose tackle on 3-4 plays for Detroit's new hybrid defense. Vita Vea did not work out in any drills after getting injured during the 40-yard dash at the 2018 NFL Combine. He also didn't work out at Washington's Pro Day. If Vea falls past Detroit its because teams are worried about how Vea will test medically for 2018 because Vea has top 20 tape even if he hasn't showcased how he can perform during on the field drills in front of NFL teams.
- Other Detroit Lions Selections
Cincinnati Bengals: Braden Smith, RG, Auburn
- Cincinnati got Cordy Glenn as a left tackle. They replaced Andrew Whitworth who signed with the Los Angeles Rams in the 2017 Free Agency Period. Now they can replace Kevin Zeitler who signed with the Cleveland Browns in the 2017 Free Agency Period.
- Braden Smith has the versatility to play left guard or right guard. Quenton Nelson and Will Hernandez are pure left guards. The fact that Braden Smith has such remarkable versatility as well as his refined technique is what makes him a first round pick.
- Braden Smith dominated the 2018 NFL Combine. He built on that at Auburn's Pro Day and looked even better in positional drills at Auburn's Pro Day then he did at the 2018 NFL Combine.
- Other Cincinnati Bengals Selections
Buffalo Bills: Connor Williams, LT, Texas
- Baker Mayfield gets Connor Williams as his blindside. Dion Dawkins held his own at left tackle as a rookie. He's better at right tackle. Giving Baker Mayfield Connor Williams as his blindside and moving Dion Dawkins back to right tackle does wonders for his pass protection in the NFL.
- Other Buffalo Bills Selections
Los Angeles Rams: Marcus Davenport, 3-4 ROLB, UTSA
- The Rams won't have Robert Quinn or Connor Barwin back as a pass rusher. Marcus Davenport is my top 3-4 outside linebacker. He's easily the best available player on the board for the Rams too. This pick just makes too much sense for the Rams at 23.
- Other Los Angeles Rams Selections
Carolina Panthers: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
- The Panthers ignore need and take the best player on the board. Denzel Ward would be a great cornerback next to James Bradberry now that Daryl Worley got traded to the Eagles for Torrey Smith. Breeland did not pass his physical so Carolina released him which means Denzel Ward is still in play at 24. Ohio State has produced a factory of first round corners, but he's not this top 10 corner the media is hyping him out to be. Ward dominated the 2018 NFL Combine and while he's now my fourth best cornerback. I now have a first round grade on Ward, but I still like Minkah Fitzpatrick, Josh Jackson, and Donte Jackson better just based on the tape I've seen.
- Other Carolina Panthers Selections
Tennessee Titans: Rashaan Evans, 3-4 MLB, Alabama
- Tennessee gets a 3-4 middle linebacker with Avery Williamson being a Free Agent. There also isn't a pass rusher the Titans can take here without reaching to a degree. Rashaan Evans is the top linebacker on the board and can start right away as a middle linebacker for the Tennessee titans in their 3-4 defense.
- Other Tennessee Titans Selections
Atlanta Falcons: DeShon Elliott, FS, Texas
- Heading into Free Agency, right guard, defensive tackle, and free safety were Atlanta's three big needs. Atlanta got Brandon Fusco who is an awesome right guard horrible left guard. Fusco dominated as a right guard early in his career with the Vikings, but struggled with Minnesota when they put him at left guard and he also struggled with the 49ers at left guard this past season. Now Atlanta's offensive line consists of Jake Matthews at left tackle, Andy Levitre at left guard on a paycut, Alex Mack at center, Brandon Fusco at right guard, and Ryan Schraeder at right tackle. They will either take a defensive tackle or a free safety at 26.
- Atlanta realizes the value of drafting DeShon Elliott at 26. This pick is pretty much a no brainer for Atlanta at this point. Elliott has first round tape even if he has the speed and athleticism of a second round prospect. Elliott would also be a huge upgrade over Ricardo Allen too and I have a higher potential grade on Elliott than the top defensive tackle Taven Bryan so Elliott is the pick for Atlanta here.
- Other Atlanta Falcons Selections
New Orleans Saints: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
- New Orleans needs to bolster the defensive line. With no quarterbacks on the board, New Orleans takes the top 4-3 defensive tackle on the board in Taven Bryan.
- Other New Orleans Saints Selections
Pittsburgh Steelers: Ronnie Harrison, FS, Alabama
- Ben Roethlisberger is coming back so a successor won't be used in the first round at this point even with Lamar Jackson on the board. Landry Jones is 2-0 versus Cleveland as a starter in week 17 the last two seasons, and Pittsburgh may be happy with him as Ben's successor plus 68 percent of Steelers fans said they'd be unhappy with the Steelers taking Lamar Jackson in the first round. Also Pittsburgh has two long-term goals, getting Le'Veon Bell back at running back and using a fifth year tender on Bud Dupree their 2015 first round pick.
- In order for those two things to happen Pittsburgh will need to clear at least $40-million in cap space. They only have $2-million, but with Ryan Shazier not being cleared to play in 2018, the money Shazier receives in the final year of his rookie deal will not count against Pittsburgh's salary cap. Also Marcus Gilbert will be back at right tackle so I really believe that Pittsburgh takes either a safety or 3-4 middle linebacker here. The only player with a first round grade for me at either position is Alabama safety Ronnie Harrison who would be a perfect fit at free safety to replace Mike Mitchell.
- Other Pittsburgh Steelers Selections
Jacksonville Jaguars: Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
- Jacksonville no longer needs a left guard since they secured the top left guard in Free Agency with Andrew Norwell while re-signing Marqise Lee. Now Jacksonville has Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee, and Dede Westbrook locked up as Blake Bortles wide receivers until 2021.
- Jacksonville also got Austin Seferian-Jenkins as their new starting tight end. They also still have Marcedes Lewis and Ben Koyack for depth behind ASJ. I still don't trust any of those three tight ends, but Jacksonville addressed all of their needs and can take the best player on their board at 29 regardless of who it is.
- Luckily for Jacksonville, Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki emerged into a first round prospect at the 2018 NFL Combine and built off his brilliant week in Mobile during the 2018 Senior Bowl. Jacksonville gets their starting tight end and another weapon for Blake Bortles at 29 here. Fournette is already an elite runner. Can you imagine how much more lethal he will be with a blocker at tight end like Gesicki? Gesicki also pass catches like a wide receiver catching short, medium, and deep routes so this is an awesome pick for Jacksonville. Jacksonville has great depth at the tight end position if Gesicki doesn't win the starting job, but I believe Gesicki has a chance to be special.
- Other Jacksonville Jaguars Selections
Minnesota Vikings: B.J. Hill, DT, North Carolina State
- Minnesota needs a 4-3 defensive tackle. The 6-3 311 lb B.J. Hill ran a 4.99 40-time at the 2018 NFL Combine and did 35 reps on the bench press. Hill dominated in the Senior Bowl practices and showed teams he had three down ability despite having a nose tackle body. Hill can play 4-3 defensive tackle or 3-4 nose tackle in the NFL. Hill was 321 lbs with 10 and 3/4 inch hands in Mobile and lost 10 lbs before the 2018 NFL Combine. He knows how to condition himself well and is a great value pick here. Minnesota got Sheldon Richardson in Free Agency, but only on a one-year deal so they can develop Hill for a year and then insert him into a starting spot next to Linval Joseph.
- Other Minnesota Vikings Selections
New England Patriots: Kolton Miller, LT, UCLA
- The Patriots go with the best overall left tackle on the board. That means they will draft their left tackle here with Nate Solder now signing with the New York Giants because Antonio Garcia had blood clots in his lungs and while he's expected to make a full recovery who knows if he will be ready for 2018 yet. Garcia could be a future starting offensive tackle, but this blood clot injury kept him from developing with New England and adding strength as a rookie so molding him to be Marcus Cannon's successor at right tackle may be a better idea.
- New England got Matt Tobin on a one-year deal, but it's pretty obvious he's not a long-term answer at left tackle. He's only a stop gap until someone who is really raw on tape like Antonio Garcia now known as Tony Garcia develops.
- The guy I mocked to New England is pretty raw on tape to be honest as well. At the same time, New England's need for a left tackle is beyond evident. New England has Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty who had a career high 14 deflections from pass breakups with the Cleveland Browns in 2017 before being dealt to New England for a sixth round pick, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones who I really liked coming out of Auburn in the 2016 NFL Draft who blossomed into a serviceable cornerback, and Cyrus Jones as their quarter cornerback.
- Even with the departure of Malcolm Butler, New England is still very deep at cornerback and this is a very deep cornerback class so New England taking a cornerback at 31 when they can get a project corner to develop for a year before inserting him into a starting role in 2019 when McCourty and Eric Rowe become Free Agents makes way more sense. Jonathan Jones is also an RFA in 2019. They would like a long-term number two cornerback next to Stephon Gilmore, but the Patriots have five good corners on their roster and are in a position where they can wait until 43 or 64 to get their cornerback.
- I also don't see the Patriots going with a defensive end off the edge at 31. New England has Trey Flowers, Derek Rivers, and Adrian Clayborn for depth if Rivers doesn't make a full recovery in 2018. On the other hand, they do not have such a luxury with 31 and need to draft the top left tackle on the board here.
- I have a 96 potential grade on Mike McGlinchey and a 92 potential grade on Connor Williams. I do not believe either one will be there for New England at 31. I have a 91 potential grade on UCLA offensive tackle Kolton Miller, a 91 potential grade on Western Michigan offensive tackle Chukwuma Okorafor, and a 91 potential grade on Oklahoma offensive tackle Orlando Brown who bombed the 2018 NFL Combine and only improved slightly at his Pro Day. Kolton Miller had the best combine and did even better in positional drills at UCLA's Pro Day. He's even got private workouts planned with San Francisco, Dallas, Seattle, and Carolina planned now. Kolton Miller has built a lot of traction getting comparisons to former New England Patriots left tackle Nate Solder.
- Kolton Miller played right tackle at UCLA in 2016 next to Connor McDermott who New England drafted before moving to left tackle in 2017. That's why he's someone New England will consider.
- Kolton Miller's tape was up and down throughout the season. The 6-8 310 lb left tackle showed flashes of first round ability with phenomenal athleticism and pass blocking footwork. He also looked like a day 3 pick at times on tape due to really poor hand placement at times as well. He has ability to maintain blocks for 5-7 seconds which is something I didn't see with Connor Williams, but he's also really inconsistent in terms of maintaining blocks. Williams maintains blocks for only 3-5 seconds, but does so on a consistent basis where as Miller will have one play where he maintains a block for 5-7 seconds and another where he only maintains a block for 1-3 seconds due to really poor hand placement because he placed his hands too low on an assignment.
- Miller dominated the 2018 NFL Combine and I have a first round grade on him. New England may see flashes of Nate Solder in Miller's tape which is why they will take him if he makes it to 31 assuming Mike McGlinchey and Connor Williams are off the board.
- New England isn't just losing Nate Solder. They also lose their backups LaAdrian Waddle and Cameron Flemming. Right now you got Antonio Garcia at left tackle with Marcus Cannon at right tackle and Matt Tobin as a swing tackle for depth to replace Waddle and Flemming.
- One more offensive tackle is still needed. Garcia never got to develop as a rookie because of his injury so drafting Miller to be your blindside here only to have Marcus Cannon at right tackle, Matt Tobin as your top swing tackle on a short-term deal while Tony Garcia gains more strength is the smartest thing New England can do at 31 because Garcia will be ready by 2019 if he recovers from his injury this season and gets that chance to add more strength as he develops.
- Garcia was able to point out how Solder missed some assignments in Super Bowl 52 and his football IQ and ability to maintain blocks is remarkable along with his athleticism, but he needs to add more strength and show New England he can be durable.
- Best case scenario, Kolton Miller has to start at left tackle right away filling a big void that Nate Solder left. Worst case scenario Antonio Garcia still has issues with his blood clots and Kolton Miller isn't ready to go on week 1 of the 2018 NFL Season leaving Matt Tobin in as a temporary blindside allowing Miller and Garcia to develop in 2018 before both Miller and Garcia finally have enough experience to start in 2019. If New England doesn't get good left tackle play from Miller or Garcia in 2018, then the 41-year-old Tom Brady may begin his eventual decline this upcoming season despite becoming the oldest MVP in 2017 at the age of 40.
- Other New England Patriots Selections
Philadelphia Eagles: Chukwuma Okorafor, LT, Western Michigan
- Chukwuma Okorafor reminds me a lot of Jason Peters. Philadelphia can develop him under Peters while he improves his strength and gets even better.
- Other Philadelphia Eagles Selections
Other 2018 NFL Mock Drafts