2018 NFL Mock Draft: Ideal Picks for Each Team
Over the last two months we’ve been releasing mock drafts according to how we believe they’ll go on the actual draft day. While that is an ever-evolving process that won’t be finalized until days before the draft, we thought of a way we could have some fun with this.
We’ll have our final mock draft up next Monday, but for whatever reason, my boss thought it would be a good idea for me to do a mock draft based on how I’d draft if I ran each of the 32 NFL franchises. When he brought it up, I thought to myself, “Man, I know I’d do things different.” But truth be told, once I sat down to outline the draft, a lot of picks were similar.
Over the last few months, I’ve gone through each and every team deciding where their biggest holes were on the roster. Whether it be depth or need for starters, I tried to think how I’d approach those needs in the draft. Because I assume everyone in an NFL front office thinks similar to the way I do, it comes as no shock that my picks would be similar. Now, some teams value certain positions more than I do, but again, I assume all GM’s are rational people, though I’ve been proven time and time again that’s not true.
Whatever the case, I’ve sat down and done the first-round of the NFL Draft the way I’d do it if I were running each of the teams. I can promise that their big board looks different than mine, but if I can nail the positions they’ll select, I’ve done my job.
*DISCLAIMER* If you’d like to see my real mock draft, you can view that right here.
1. Cleveland Browns – Baker Mayfield (QB – Oklahoma)
This one should come as no shock. He’s the best quarterback in the draft and it’s a position of need for the Browns. He’d be my No. 1 pick in the draft if I needed a quarterback, no matter which team it was.
2. Buffalo Bills (TRADED FROM GIANTS) – Josh Rosen (QB – UCLA)
Do I think the Giants should take a quarterback? Maybe. But I also understand why they don’t want to, as they have other needs on their team. Because of that, I’d trade out of this pick. They trade it to the Bills, who desperately want a quarterback. Rosen gives them stability at the quarterback position for a long time. In return, the Giants get two first-rounders in 2018, a second-rounder in 2018, and another first-rounder in 2019.
3. New York Jets – Sam Darnold (QB – USC)
Another franchise in need of a quarterback and they traded up to No. 3 to ensure one of these three quarterbacks. There’s no other position the Jets should even consider with this pick.
4. Cleveland Browns – Vita Vea (DT – Washington)
I’ve been on record as saying Vea will be someone who teams look back on and wonder why they passed on him. With me controlling the Browns, they don’t make that mistake. I really debated going Minkah Fitzpatrick here, but after trading away Danny Shelton, they need someone in the middle of the line.
5. Denver Broncos – Quenton Nelson (OG – Notre Dame)
If there was a top-three quarterback here, I’d jump all over him, but seeing that they’re gone, the Broncos take another need on the offensive line. Sticking Nelson on the opposite side of Ron Leary would be nasty and give their run-game a much-needed boost.
6. Indianapolis Colts – Bradley Chubb (OLB/DE – NC State)
After trading back, the Colts get to pick the player they would’ve taken at No. 3. Chubb is arguably the best non-QB in this draft and falls to the Colts because of other positional needs for other teams. They need to go best available at this spot, and no, not a running back.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Denzel Ward (CB – Ohio State)
When facing Julio Jones and Michael Thomas four times per year, you need a better secondary than the one the Bucs trotted out there in 2017. Ward is far-and-away the best cornerback in this class, so the choice here was easy. The Bucs have invested enough into their offense as it is.
8. Chicago Bears – Roquan Smith (LB – Georgia)
Really debated Calvin Ridley here, but Matt Nagy shouldn’t necessarily need any more top-tier wide receivers to make his offense work. Instead, they take another position of need and he just happens to be the best player available.
9. San Francisco 49ers – Minkah Fitzpatrick (S – Alabama)
He’s too safe of a pick to let him drop any further. There are some young names in the secondary for the 49ers, but very little proven talent. Their defense has been a weakness for the last few years and after watching Jimmy Garoppolo get it done down the stretch with what he had, the defense comes first in this draft to help take the pressure off.
10. Oakland Raiders – Saquon Barkley (RB – Penn State)
If you couldn’t tell, I don’t value running backs very highly. In fact, this is higher than I’d usually take one, but what Barkley brings to the passing game cannot be overlooked. With Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin on one-year deals, they need a running back for the future.
11. Miami Dolphins – Mike McGlinchey (OT – Notre Dame)
The Dolphins will need to do some reshuffling on their offensive line, as Laremy Tunsil worked much better as a guard than a left tackle. The Dolphins added Josh Sitton in free agency, so they should continue to add to an offensive line that’ll protect their quarterback they draft with a high pick in 2019. There’s no linebacker worth a pick in this spot.
12. New York Giants (TRADED FROM BILLS) – Marcus Davenport (DE – UTSA)
After trading away Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants need help with their pass-rush, so they bring in Davenport to help with that. Had the Dolphins not selected McGlinchey in front of them, he would’ve been considered to play on the right side opposite Nate Solder.
13. Washington Redskins – Maurice Hurst (DT – Michigan)
After getting clearance from his health issue, the Redskins would be more than happy to snag Hurst here. He’s a game-changer at one of the most important positions on the field. Alongside last year’s draft pick of Jonathan Allen, the Redskins defensive line should generate plenty of pressure.
14. Green Bay Packers – Derwin James (S – Florida State)
Some would view this as a steal, but outside of the Bucs, strong safety is not a huge need for the teams immediately in front of them. Whatever the case, the Packers are happy because James and Haha Clinton-Dix make one of the best safety duos in all of football.
15. Arizona Cardinals – Connor Williams (OT – Texas)
Let’s not pretend that the Cardinals are contenders in 2018, okay? If I’m running the team, I’m building it for the future and the offensive line is where it all begins. Adding Justin Pugh was a good start, and Williams is extremely good when healthy. They’ll be drafting their new quarterback in 2019.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Calvin Ridley (WR – Alabama)
If I’m the GM, I’m jumping up and down in the draft room psyched over landing Ridley here. While the Ravens have had extremely poor success with drafting early round receivers, Ridley comes with a super-high floor and what I believe is also a high-ceiling.
17. Los Angeles Chargers – Da’Ron Payne (DT – Alabama)
This has been the pick in each of my mocks and it’s a pick I’ve been rooting for to happen. The Chargers are building something special on the defensive side of the ball. Payne would fit in very well alongside Corey Liuget, Joey Bosa, and Melvin Ingram.
18. Seattle Seahawks – Josh Jackson (CB – Iowa)
I’m not completely sold on Jackson as a No. 1 cornerback, but the Seahawks don’t need a shadow cornerback. They need to replace Richard Sherman at LCB, so Jackson would fit there perfectly. I’d heavily debate a guard here and almost selected Will Hernandez.
19. Dallas Cowboys – Courtland Sutton (WR – Southern Methodist)
After releasing Dez Bryant on Friday, the Cowboys need a wide receiver badly. I actually thought they needed one even after the addition of Allen Hurns, which should tell you something. Sutton is the closest you’re going to get to a prototypical No. 1 wide receiver in this class. They need to take the chance on his upside.
20. Detroit Lions – Will Hernandez (OG – UTEP)
If I ran the Lions, I’m sick of seeing the offensive line play poorly. Most have blamed the running backs, and while they’ve had something to do with it, the line play has been atrocious. Hernandez is a mauler in the run-game and will start immediately.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Frank Ragnow (C – Arkansas)
He’s been the No. 1 center on my board for a long time and the Bengals have a massive need in the middle of their offensive line. If one of McGlinchey or Williams was here, they would’ve gone that route.
22. New York Giants (TRADED FROM BILLS) – Isaiah Wynn (OG – Georgia)
Trading back from No. 2 has netted the Giants with Marcus Davenport and Wynn thus far, with another first- and second-round pick in the future. Wynn has experience at tackle, giving the Giants some flexibility if they choose to experiment with him. They have holes at both positions on the right side of the offensive line.
23. New England Patriots – Lorenzo Carter (OLB/DE – Georgia)
Carter is one of my favorites in the draft, so it’s not surprising to see him shooting up into the first-round conversation. He’s got the experience in big games and can contribute right away to a team that has a clear window.
24. Carolina Panthers – Derrius Guice (RB – LSU)
I don’t have Guice as my No. 2 running back in the rankings, but he fits what the Panthers need to do – run the football. Pairing him with Christian McCaffrey and Cam Newton would be a nightmare for opposing defenses, though their offensive line does need some work, particularly at left tackle. Kolton Miller was the alternate option with this pick.
25. Tennessee Titans – Rashaan Evans (LB – Alabama)
After losing Avery Williamson in free agency, there’s a massive void in the middle of the field and the Titans are lucky to see him fall here. He’s not on the level of Roquan Smith, but he’s at least a serviceable inside linebacker.
26. Atlanta Falcons – James Washington (WR – Oklahoma State)
The Falcons have skated by on Julio Jones for too long, so they decide to add another weapon in Washington. He’s played nearly all of his snaps at RWR, which happens to be the side that just became vacant when Taylor Gabriel left. Washington would give teams someone else to think about instead of just keying in on stopping Jones.
27. New Orleans Saints – Mike Gesicki (TE – Penn State)
It’s rare for a team to go tight end in the first-round, but the Saints are built for it. With Drew Brees likely hanging up the cleats in two years, they need to go all in. Gesicki would give Brees the big target over the middle of the field he hasn’t had since Jimmy Graham was traded away.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Mason Rudolph (QB – Oklahoma State)
If I’m the GM of the Steelers, I’m doing what the Packers did to Brett Favre. Draft Ben Roethlisberger‘s backup and not have to worry about the retirement threats anymore. Rudolph is also the ideal quarterback to walk into Roethlisberger’s shoes after getting a year or two of mental reps on the bench.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Lamar Jackson (QB – Louisville)
It’s not common to get a quarterback with this much upside at the bottom of the first-round, which is where we expect the Jaguars to be for the foreseeable future with their elite defense. There aren’t many holes on the team, but competition for Blake Bortles definitely wouldn’t be a bad thing.
30. Minnesota Vikings – Holton Hill (CB – Texas)
Before you get into a little fit with yourself, understand that this assumes we’ve met with Hill and he’s cleared up any questions about the off-the-field stuff. He’s a gamer and one who would be the perfect compliment to Xavier Rhodes in the secondary. If we’ve met with him and there are still question marks, Mike Hughes out of UCF would be the pick.
31. New England Patriots – Kolton Miller (OT – UCLA)
You can’t just ignore the position that’s supposed to protect Tom Brady‘s blindside, right? They figured he’d fall to them with this pick and his body type is nearly identical to Nate Solder‘s, though his play isn’t quite there.
32. Philadelphia Eagles – Leighton Vander Esch (ILB – Boise State)
I’ve come around to this being the right pick for the Eagles who don’t need anything special out of Vander Esch, but simply need him to be consistent. While I don’t think he has the ceiling that some have given him, I do think he’s a competent player and it’s a need for the Super Bowl champs.