Mike Tagliere’s NFL Mock Draft 2018 – Two Rounds (1.0)
Rumor has it that you’re wondering who your favorite team will select in the NFL Draft come April. You see, we have the same questions, so we’ve been researching, trying to give you an idea as to whose name they’ll call when they’re on the clock. There’s so many things that’ll impact our mock drafts over the next few months (Combine, Pro days, Free agency), but that’s not going to stop us from giving you the best information that we have at any particular moment.
What we do know at this time are the weaknesses that each team has, as well as which top prospects are expected to go near the top of the draft. Hence the reason for doing my first mock draft of the season. This will undoubtedly change as the weeks go by, but it should give you a solid idea of where I view players going in the NFL Draft that’ll take place April 26th through April 28th. It’s also important to note that players who are slated to be free agents aren’t considered in this mock, because it’s very possible they return to their current team. Once free agency unfolds, we’ll have a clearer picture of current team needs. If you’d like to see a list of my top 50 prospects overall, click here.
1. Cleveland Browns – Josh Rosen (QB – UCLA)
There’s going to be a lot of debate leading up to the draft about which quarterback the Browns will select – and yes, it’ll be a quarterback. Rosen is the safest quarterback prospect in the draft, which is precisely what the Browns need, and not some upside “project” pick. They’ll play it safe here.
2. New York Giants – Mike McGlinchey (OT – Notre Dame)
Surprised? Most are moving McGlinchey down draft boards, but truth be told, I have no idea why. He plays the second-most important position on the offensive side of the ball, and you don’t find franchise left tackles later in the draft. Unless, of course, the Giants are okay with turnstile Ereck Flowers at left tackle with a new franchise quarterback. It’s a possibility that the Giants trade out of this pick if Rosen goes No. 1, and they feel they can snag McGlinchey a little later.
3. Indianapolis Colts – Bradley Chubb (DE/OLB – NC State)
There’s no chance the Colts go with Saquon Barkley here – the roster is too talent-depleted to take a replaceable position. There’s a lot of things up in the air with the Colts and we don’t have any idea as to the type of defense they’ll run, but they need an impact player, and Chubb would raise the level of play of that entire defense.
4. Cleveland Browns (from Texans) – Saquon Barkley (RB – Penn State)
This one was tough, but the Browns choose to pass on Minkah Fitzpatrick, taking another player to solidify their offense, and someone who’s considered a generational talent by many. Barkley is the type of running back who’ll stay on the field for all three downs, and is even able to line up at slot receiver. Think David Johnson when you think about Barkley. With Rosen/Barkley in the backfield, Josh Gordon/Corey Coleman at wide receiver, and David Njoku at tight end, the Browns could have a potent offense (if only they had a coach).
5. Denver Broncos – Sam Darnold (QB – USC)
This is where things start to get a little dicey, as Kirk Cousins is going to have a massive impact on what happens at the top of the draft. The Broncos, Jets, and Vikings are all rumored to be interested in him, so stay tuned. If GM John Elway doesn’t land Cousins, expect him to go with the traditional quarterback in Darnold. He’s a bit raw with just two years of experience under his belt, but he should bring stability to the Broncos quarterback carousel.
6. New York Jets – Baker Mayfield (QB – Oklahoma)
While Mayfield is my top prospect at the quarterback position, I don’t expect him to be drafted as such. He comes with perceived risk, despite playing head and shoulders above anyone else in the draft class. He’s well equipped to handle the New York media and has mobility to overcome what is a lackluster offensive line. Don’t buy the Johnny Manziel comparisons – they’re not even close to the same player.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Marcus Davenport (DE – UTSA)
Did injuries hamper the defense in Tampa Bay last year? Sure, but let’s not pretend they have many elite pieces. Davenport was someone who put together highlight after highlight, but there were plenty of analysts scared to move him up draft boards because of his level of competition. That all changed when they saw him at the Senior Bowl. He’s a monster on the edge and one who can make your entire secondary look a bit better. With free agency lurking, Minkah Fitzpatrick could be the pick here, so stay tuned.
8. Chicago Bears – Calvin Ridley (WR – Alabama)
There’s really only one of two ways I can see the Bears going here, and that’s wide receiver or reaching for OG Quenton Nelson. Given their offensive line is solid when healthy, they go with the obvious need. Sure, Bears fans are going to shiver with this pick after seeing what happened with Kevin White, but Ridley comes with very little risk. The only question I have about him is regarding how high his ceiling is, given his smaller stature. They need to find Mitchell Trubisky a true No. 1 option to throw to, which can be found in free agency this year, so stay tuned.
9. San Francisco 49ers – Vita Vea (DT – Washington)
Some may be disappointed they pass on Minkah Fitzpatrick here, but their interior line is more of a need. Vea is the type of player people will be talking about for years, as he’s worthy of a top-five pick. Putting him alongside DeForest Buckner, the 49ers defensive line is one opponents are afraid of. When you think of Vea, think of Haloti Ngata. Yeah, he’s that good.
10. Oakland Raiders – Minkah Fitzpatrick (S – Alabama)
It’s very likely that Fitzpatrick moves up in future mocks, but as the landscape sits before free agency, he falls into the Raiders’ lap at No. 10. As Reggie Nelson‘s age starts to catch up with him, the Raiders are going to need a free safety of the future. Fitzpatrick can also help cover as a cornerback, another position of need for the Raiders. He’s considered one of the safest picks in the draft.
11. Miami Dolphins – Quenton Nelson (OG – Notre Dame)
The Dolphins war room is jumping up and down right about now, as Nelson is clearly the best guard in this class. Outside of Laremy Tunsil (who struggled at left tackle in 2017) and maybe Mike Pouncey (also struggled in 2017), the Dolphins need to completely rebuild their offensive line. Nelson will bring the attitude needed to help turn it around. While some have mentioned quarterback here, the Dolphins have way too many holes to take on a project. Expect them to see how Ryan Tannehill returns from his knee surgery in 2018.
12. Cincinnati Bengals – Connor Williams (OT – Texas)
The Bengals would’ve loved to see McGlinchey fall to them, but they’ll still be happy if Williams makes it to them. He’s undersized for a tackle, but he plays with great technique and attitude. The Bengals also have massive needs at guard, so they could potentially ask him to move inside in the future, though they’ll definitely try to stick him at left tackle from the get-go.
13. Washington Redskins – Maurice Hurst (DT – Michigan)
While I have Da’Ron Payne as the better tackle, the Redskins need a three-technique interior lineman, as Ziggy Hood just isn’t cutting it. Hurst excels versus the run and should provide immediate impact to a run defense that allowed 4.50 yards per carry last year (fourth-most in the NFL).
14. Green Bay Packers – Denzel Ward (CB – Ohio State)
Ward may not be as big as you’d like (5-10, 190), but when you watch him play, he’ll win you over. He’s quick, twitchy, and has phenomenal footwork, which should allow him to play both perimeter and slot for the Packers. If you’ve watched the Packers over the last few years, you know that their secondary has been a mess. Adding Ward alongside last year’s draft pick Kevin King should give them a solid cornerback duo going forward.
15. Arizona Cardinals – Lamar Jackson (QB – Louisville)
The idea of David Johnson and Jackson in the backfield together could create problems for opposing defenses, as new head coach Steve Wilks knows from his time with Cam Newton in Carolina. The pick of Jackson helps make the offensive line look a little better, as well as the lack of depth on the wide receiver depth chart, especially if Larry Fitzgerald retires.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Roquan Smith (ILB – Georgia)
When most mock a wide receiver to the Ravens, you cannot forget their history of drafting wide receivers early in drafts. Because of that, they take one of the best defensive players in this draft. Smith is a bit undersized, but is an extremely sound player. He’s a strong tackler, has the speed to cover tight ends (where the Ravens struggled last year), and has very good instincts. There’s no reason to be mad about this pick.
17. Los Angeles Chargers – Da’Ron Payne (DT – Alabama)
This pick gives me goosebumps, thinking about Payne on the interior of the line, surrounded by Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. With their secondary playing better than ever, the Chargers need to ensure they can stop the run. Payne is a force to be reckoned with and one that I’d have no problem if a team took him in the top-10. He and Vita Vea are different players, but they’re two interior lineman who are going to wreak havoc in this league. This would be one of the steals in the first round.
18. Seattle Seahawks – Orlando Brown (OT – Oklahoma)
The Seahawks can no longer ignore their offensive line, which will get Russell Wilson hurt at some point. They’re forced to take the next highest player on their board, though Brown has some bust potential. He’s really big (6-7, 340) and has a very long reach, but his awareness isn’t all that great. They would put him at right tackle with Duane Brown protecting Wilson’s blindside. Another possibility here would be UTEP’s guard Will Hernandez. They need serious help on the offensive line and can’t even afford to take best player available.
19. Dallas Cowboys – James Washington (WR – Oklahoma State)
We’ve already heard the rumors about the Cowboys cutting Dez Bryant this offseason, and though I don’t think that happens, I think they plan for life after him. Adding fellow Oklahoma State wide receiver Washington does a few things. It gives Dak Prescott another legitimate weapon in the passing attack, takes attention away from Bryant, and gives them a much-needed deep threat. Washington should start from day one.
20. Detroit Lions – Harold Landry (OLB/DE – Boston College)
It’s getting easier to connect these dots, as Boston College’s defensive line coach has joined the Lions new coaching staff under Matt Patricia. Landry is a versatile player who can play edge, as well as some outside linebacker. He should immediately help the Lions pass rush which generated sacks on just 5.8 percent of opponent dropbacks, which ranked 22nd in the league.
21. Buffalo Bills – Frank Ragnow (C – Arkansas)
After losing center Eric Wood this offseason, the Bills have a massive void to fill on their offensive line. Ragnow is my top-rated center in the draft, and one who will contribute from day one. He’s got excellent size (6-5, 319) and can handle the brunt of the defensive line. He’s also got the right mindset in the run-game, something the Bills rely heavily on.
22. Buffalo Bills (from Chiefs) – Josh Allen (QB – Wyoming)
This is not me saying that Allen deserves to be taken here, but from all reports, it seems as if the Bills are not interested in retaining soon-to-be free agent Tyrod Taylor. Unless they’re prepared to move forward with Nathan Peterman, they’ll need to take a shot on a potential franchise quarterback, and Allen has the most upside of the remaining quarterback prospects.
23. Los Angeles Rams – Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (OLB/DE – Oklahoma)
The Rams don’t have many obvious needs as a team, but getting someone who can outside linebacker as well as the edge fills a few weaknesses. Okoronkwo isn’t the biggest player, which is why he’s best suited to be an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. He’s a player whose stock can move quite a bit throughout the draft process, but knowing his versatility, he’ll likely be valued more than most think.
24. Carolina Panthers – Courtland Sutton (WR – Southern Methodist)
The Panthers continue to shoot big wide receivers at Cam Newton to help overcome some of his accuracy issues. They need to replace what Kelvin Benjamin did for them, and Devin Funchess seemed to trend downward at the end of the year, likely because he’s best suited as a No. 2 in an offense. Sutton is a huge wide receiver at 6-4 and 220 pounds, and his best ability is high-pointing a ball. The Panthers would’ve liked to go offensive line here, but it’d be considered a reach to take the next best tackle or guard.
25. Tennessee Titans – Rashaad Evans (ILB – Alabama)
Oddly enough, the Titans don’t have too many glaring needs on their team, despite some saying otherwise. Their secondary started playing better as the year went on, specifically Adoree Jackson, making it easier for them to go with Evans here, who is just a good all-around player who’ll provide some stability to their defense. He also has the ability and experience to play edge if they need him to, an added bonus for their depth.
26. Atlanta Falcons – Will Hernandez (OG – UTEP)
The Falcons started seeing a difference in their offense as soon as they started upgrading their offensive line with Alex Mack. Hernandez would give them the final piece needed to be one of, if not the best in the league. He’s a player who isn’t afraid to get under the opponent’s skin, and one whose size (6-3, 340) should translate immediately. He looked mighty good at the Senior Bowl.
27. New Orleans Saints – Mark Andrews (TE – Oklahoma)
It seems like it’s been a while since the Saints had a dominant tight end, right? Well, after dealing with a multitude of different options at slot wide receiver, the Saints decide to snag a difference-maker at tight end. The Saints would have to eat $4.8 million in dead money by releasing Coby Fleener, but it’ll be worth it to take Andrews. He can block if you need him to, but he’ll line up in the slot more often than not, running crisp routes and giving Drew Brees another target in the pass-attack.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Derwin James (S – Florida State)
The Steelers defense hasn’t been quite the same without Troy Polamalu at strong safety, so they try to fill that void with the big-bodied James here. Standing at 6-2 and 213 pounds, James isn’t going to be afraid to come up into the box and stuff the run. He takes solid angles and is a phenomenal tackler. He could improve in coverage, but that’s not what you primarily bring him in for. He’s got an excellent motor and should be a contributor right away.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Kolton Miller (OT – UCLA)
This is a “oops we screwed up” pick for the Jaguars, who need to get someone to replace Cam Robinson at left tackle. He was atrocious in his first season, but this is a Jaguars organization that’s made a lot of great decisions. Miller was a sturdy presence at left tackle protecting Josh Rosen‘s blindside, though he’ll be asked to gain some weight in order to help stop the bull-rush of some pass rushers. The Jaguars can also go quarterback here, as Mason Rudolph is tempting to them. They can go in a lot of different directions here, though my hunch is offensive line or quarterback. Wide receiver also becomes a big need if they lose Allen Robinson and/or Marqise Lee in free agency.
30. Minnesota Vikings – Braden Smith (OG – Auburn)
The Vikings started rebuilding their offensive line last offseason, but they’ve still got a little bit of work to do. While it’s unlikely they replace Pat Elfein at center, they should upgrade the guard position. Smith was a rock-solid player at Auburn and actually has experience at the tackle position, though with his size, he’s best suited as a guard. He’ll likely be asked to gain weight, as he’s just 300 pounds, whereas most guards come in around 320-330 at his height (6-5). He should start for them right away.
31. New England Patriots – Tremaine Edmunds (OLB – Virginia Tech)
Here’s a player who’s moving up boards rather quickly, as he’s got one of the highest ceilings at the linebacker position. He’s got rare burst for a player who is 6-5 and 250 pounds, but is also considered somewhat raw. He’s extremely long and is a solid tackler with a high motor. His issues lie in coverage, as he appears unsure of his movements at times, though some have said he simply doesn’t try to do too much. He’s a prospect oozing with upside, and one that you might see come off the board before the Patriots pick.
32. Philadelphia Eagles – Josh Jackson (CB – Iowa)
Not that this should come as a shock, but the Eagles don’t have any glaring weaknesses, though upgrading a perimeter cornerback wouldn’t be the worst idea. As we saw in the Super Bowl, their secondary was the weak link. Jackson comes in and should add value with his incredible ball-tracking skills, that led him to have the most interceptions (8) in the nation in 2017.
1. Cleveland Browns – Jaire Alexander (CB – Louisville)
With two of the next three picks in their hands, the Browns could go a multitude of different ways, but know that the cornerback talent is starting to deteriorate, so they take Alexander, who resembles Brent Grimes‘ size as a perimeter cornerback. He plays with a lot of confidence, but that’ll also get him beat at times.
2. New York Giants – Malik Jefferson (ILB – Texas)
Some may wonder why they wouldn’t take Mason Rudolph here, but new head coach Pat Shurmer has been pretty clear about his intentions. Build the offensive line, shore up the defense, and they’ll see what they have in Eli Manning and Davis Webb. Taking Jefferson is an upside pick on a defense that has some really solid pieces in place, despite what some may think after the 2017 season.
3. Cleveland Browns (from Texans) – Justin Reid (S – Stanford)
The Browns not selecting Fitzpatrick at No. 4 was a shock, but they get one in the second round with Reid. He’s a ballhawk who is built extremely well. He can play both safety positions, so the Browns will likely move last year’s first round draft pick Jabril Peppers back to strong safety.
4. Indianapolis Colts – Cody O’Connell (OG – Washington State)
O’Connell is built like an offensive tackle at 6-7 and 351 pounds, and will do more than what is asked of him at the guard position. The Colts need to place an emphasis on protecting Andrew Luck, who might be coming off another shoulder surgery. O’Connell could get more aggressive in run-blocking, but being alongside third-year center Ryan Kelly should help.
5. New York Jets – Billy Price (C – Ohio State)
Now that the Jets have locked up their quarterback, they need to protect him. Price will anchor the spot that Nick Mangold used to hold for them, after experimenting with former fifth-round pick Wesley Johnson for a year. Price is quick for a big man and plays with aggression. He could use some more strength, though. He also has the ability to play guard if needed.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Tyrell Crosby (OT – Oregon)
This is a spot where the Bucs would consider LSU’s running back Derrius Guice, but they need to protect Jameis Winston if that offense is going to succeed. Former 2015 second-round pick Donovan Smith was among the worst tackles in the league last year, and it’s time for the Bucs to move on. Crosby isn’t going to be on the level of McGlinchey or Williams, but he is very strong and if he develops some better technique, he could be a very serviceable tackle.
7. Chicago Bears – CB Isaiah Oliver (CB – Colorado)
Personally, I’d love to put Holton Hill here, but it’s unlikely a team selects him this high given his off-the-field question marks. Oliver is the closest thing to a No. 1 cornerback the Bears can find at this part of the draft, though I’ve got serious questions surrounding his play. He’s got great size, but isn’t a good tackler and lacks the edge you want your starting cornerbacks to play with.
8. Denver Broncos – Dallas Goedert (TE – South Dakota State)
The Broncos would love to go offensive line here, but there’s nobody worth reaching for at this point. Instead, they prepare for the future and get Darnold a matchup nightmare. Goedert can help replace the wide receivers they’re about to lose, too. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are on the wrong side of age-30, so the Broncos take a shot on the athletic tight end, hoping to solve two problems with one pick.
9. Oakland Raiders – Christian Sam (ILB – Arizona State)
This may be considered a reach by some, but the Raiders are going to need a linebacker, and Sam presents upside. He’s a linebacker who isn’t afraid to deliver big blows in the run-game, something the Raiders have desperately lacked. NaVorro Bowman is an unrestricted free agent and there isn’t much talent outside of him at the inside linebacker position on the team.
10. Miami Dolphins – Mason Rudolph (QB – Oklahoma State)
After passing on a quarterback in the first round, the Dolphins are pleasantly surprised to see Rudolph still on the board. With Jay Cutler likely headed back to retirement, and Ryan Tannehill coming off another surgery, the Dolphins need a backup plan. Rudolph is somewhat raw, but showed promise in a pass-friendly offense. It’s important to keep in mind that he had two of the top 10 wide receivers in this draft while at Oklahoma State.
11. New England Patriots (from 49ers) – Josh Sweat (DE – Florida State)
A win-now pick for the Patriots. Sweat would likely be a first-rounder if it wasn’t for serious question marks surrounding his knee that was dislocated during high school. Some have said he’s a one-contract player, similar to what some said about Jay Ajayi during the draft process. While he’s got some inconsistencies, he’s extremely explosive and plays with a certain level of aggression. The Patriots know their window is closing, and Sweat gives them something right now.
12. Washington Redskins – Michael Gallup (WR – Colorado State)
After swinging and missing on Terrelle Pryor last year, the Redskins want to get someone to play opposite Josh Doctson on the perimeter. Gallup may not have posted massive numbers compared to some, but watching his quarterback play at Colorado State, you can see why. He gets separation at every level and would be a great weapon for new quarterback Alex Smith.
13. Green Bay Packers – Lorenzo Carter (OLB/DE – Georgia)
Another player who isn’t expected to go this high, I’m expecting Carter to rocket up draft boards very soon. He’s likely going to play on the edge more often than not, as he’s a massive guy at 6-6 and 243 pounds. He’s a great athlete who comes with great fluidity for his size, and always seems to find himself in the opponent’s backfield. He should give the Packers a solid boost in their pass rush immediately.
14. Cincinnati Bengals – James Daniels (C – Iowa)
The Bengals were holding their breath while the Packers were on the clock, as they could also use a center. Daniels is slimmer than you’d like a center to be at 295 pounds, but he still gets solid push in the ground-game despite that. He does an extremely good job multi-tasking, which will be required on the Bengals makeshift offensive line. If he were to add 15 pounds, his stock would move up.
15. Arizona Cardinals – Brian O’Neill (OT – Pittsburgh)
The Cardinals need major help on the offensive line, so they must take the best available one here. O’Neill is someone who may not have reached his peak at the position. He’s a former tight end who has just one year of experience at left tackle, so to see him improve the way he did through the 2017 season, there’s upside with his athleticism.
16. Los Angeles Chargers – Leighton Vander Esch (ILB – Boise State)
The Chargers continue to add to their suddenly elite defense. Vander Esch isn’t going to be the next Luke Kuechly or anything, but he does everything well. He’s built solidly to play in the NFL and is a very good tackler. With all the elite pieces surrounding him, they don’t need him to do too much.
17. New York Jets – Derrius Guice (RB – LSU)
The transformation of the Jets offense is well underway, as they’ve now added Mayfield, Price, and Guice. With Matt Forte expecting to be released and Bilal Powell turning 30 when the season starts, the Jets suddenly have a huge need at running back. Guice is not quite the all-around back that Barkley is, but he might just be a better runner. He’s going to be a workhorse in the league.
18. Dallas Cowboys – Tim Settle (DT – Virginia Tech)
Outside of David Irving, the Cowboys interior of the defensive line was brutal. Adding Settle will help solve problems, as he’s a 330-pound tackle who has excellent burst and strength. He’s somewhat inexperienced, leaving after his sophomore season, but from what we’ve seen thus far, he looks like a rock-solid prospect.
19. Detroit Lions – Derrick Nnadi (DT – Florida State)
The Lions continue to add to their front seven on defense, adding Nnadi to help plug-up the middle of the field. This pick is necessary after watching what happened to the interior of their defensive line once Haloti Ngata was lost for the year. With massive thighs, he’ll provide some relief to a defense that allowed over 110 rushing yards per game in 2017.
20. Baltimore Ravens – Hayden Hurst (TE – South Carolina)
Some will be scratching their heads at this pick, thinking they should be taking a wide receiver, but Hurst can help in multiple ways. Not only do the Ravens need a wide receiver, but they also need a tight end. Hurst is as close as you’ll get to a hybrid, as he’s a straight-up athlete, as South Carolina even used him on some handoffs. He is extremely fast for a tight end and can line up as a wide receiver, but is also competent as an in-line blocker.
21. Buffalo Bills – Christian Kirk (WR – Texas A&M)
The Bills need to re-consider their receiving options, as Zay Jones was one of the most inefficient receivers in the game last year, and now Kelvin Benjamin is having another knee surgery. They need a sure-handed target, and Kirk gives them that out of the slot. He’s built similar to Golden Tate, though he lacks Tate’s tackle-breaking abilities. Still, Kirk should be considered a “safe” pick at wide receiver.
22. Kansas City Chiefs – Sam Hubbard (OLB/DE – Ohio State)
At this point, the elite linebackers are gone, but Hubbard is a versatile weapon for the Chiefs, as he can play the edge or at outside linebacker. He’s got a high-motor and won’t stop moving until the play is over. His instincts aren’t on the level of some other prospects and will sometimes take the easiest route, rather than fighting through a block. Still, the Chiefs need to address the position.
23. Carolina Panthers – Chukwuma Okorafor (OT – Western Michigan)
The Panthers tried to address their left tackle issues last year in free agency with Matt Kalil, but that was a failed experiment, as he was once again one of the worst tackles in all of football. Okorafor is far from a surefire starter, but the Panthers can’t afford to spend on another free agent.
24. Buffalo Bills (from Rams) – Kemoko Turay (OLB – Rutgers)
Likely the best outside linebacker still on the board, Turay has a solid frame with decent speed for a guy who is 6-5 and 252 pounds. He could get more aggressive in his approach, but does display solid patience in his zone work. He doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses, though he doesn’t have any elite traits, either.
25. Tennessee Titans – Sony Michel (RB – Georgia)
The pick that shocks the fantasy world, Michel makes for a perfect compliment to Derrick Henry. The Titans are expected to move on from Demarco Murray, creating a massive void on their running back depth chart. He’s extremely solid in pass-protection and has displayed the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. The Titans run-game would get back on track with Michel.
26. Atlanta Falcons – M.J. Stewart (CB – North Carolina)
The Falcons need some help covering the slot, something Stewart did at times with North Carolina. He’s got the size to play the slot or the perimeter, and is an extremely solid tackler who has great closing speed. He can also help them on special teams, as he was known as an electrifying punt returner in college.
27. San Francisco 49ers (from Saints) – Ronald Jones (RB – USC)
It’s fitting that this pick came from the Saints, because Kyle Shanahan gets his version of Alvin Kamara. That’s the best way to describe Jones, who is an extremely slippery quick-twitch running back who almost never gets squared-up when tackled. Knowing how important the running back position is in Shanahan’s offense, Jones is going to become a household name.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Arden Key (DE – LSU)
Key is the player who falls further than anyone thought, as he’s got some questions to answer during the draft process. He left his team in 2017 for personal reasons, leaving some questioning about his love for the game. Key is a freak athletically, almost to the point where it looks awkward for a guy who is 6-6 and 265 pounds. As a speed-rusher, he’s a nightmare for slower offensive tackles. Once considered a top-15 pick, Key’s draft stock will likely come down to his team interviews.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Mike Gesicki (TE – Penn State)
As you’ve likely noticed, more and more teams are trying to get the tight end who can act as a wide receiver. Gesicki is just that at 6-5 and 252 pounds. He’s got a massive catch radius, one that can help the oft-inaccurate Blake Bortles. He isn’t the greatest blocker, but appears to be willing. His route running is what will have teams talking about him come April, and it wouldn’t shock me if he goes earlier than this.
30. Minnesota Vikings – Holton Hill (CB – Texas)
What’s better than having Xavier Rhodes at cornerback? Having another potential shutdown cornerback on the other side of the field, similar to the way the Jaguars did with Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. If Hill didn’t have off-the-field questions, he’d likely be considered as a potential first-round pick. He was suspended by Texas mid-season for violating team rules, though the reason was never released. Depending on what that reason was, Hill could fall further than this, though it won’t be because of his talent.
31. New England Patriots – Darius Leonard (ILB – SC State)
The Patriots continue to load-up on defense after allowing 41 points to the Nick Foles-led Eagles offense in the Super Bowl, and they get a good one in Leonard. He’s not as big as you’d like at 6-2 and 213 pounds, but he’s very long and has excellent reaction time. He stays square to the line of scrimmage and is a patient tackler. While some may say that’s a knock, he doesn’t get overanxious and move past the play.
32. Cleveland Browns (from Eagles) – Jerome Baker (OLB – Ohio State)
The Browns are on the clock with their fifth pick in the first two rounds, and continue to add to their defense in this round after snagging Rosen and Barkley in the first round. Baker is someone who likely benefitted from all the other talent on Ohio State’s defense, and is somewhat undersized at 6-1 and 225 pounds. He’s extremely athletic, but is likely just a depth player in the NFL.