Pre-Free Agency 2018 NFL Mock Draft

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The combine came to a close last week, and with many putting on a great display in front of coaches and scouts, rankings and mocks will change. Many players, including Saquon Barkley, Nick Chubb, and Derwin James, checked off the boxes, while others, including Shaquem Griffin, showed us that they are ready for the big stage.

Now, we look forward to the craziness that is free agency. Many big names will be on the move, and it should be crazier than what we’ve seen this past week. Before the madness begins, let’s do a quick mock draft.

Free Agency Note: This mock assumes Kirk Cousins lands with the Vikings.

1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

The Browns made a ton of moves with and ended up acquiring Tyrod Taylor with those moves. However, Taylor might not be the long term solution. He is a perfect bridge quarterback for Sam Darnold as Darnold develops behind him.

2. New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

The Giants really should take a quarterback here, but I don’t think new GM Dave Gettleman wants to go in that direction. He has stated Eli Manning is the guy going forward. With that in mind, the Giants take the best running back in the draft to instantly boost their poor running game.

3. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, EDGE, North Carolina State

The Colts have a ton of needs right now, with the biggest coming on defense. Indy is missing that game changer who can consistently get after the quarterback. Luckily, Bradley Chubb is right there for the taking. Chubb is a relentless pass rusher with good hands and a motor that doesn’t quit. He can become a leader on defense quickly.

4. Cleveland Browns (from Texans): Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

I can definitely see the Browns trading out of this spot with Barkley gone, but let’s keep them here for now. The biggest need on defense lies in the secondary. Minkah Fitzpatrick can do a lot of things for a defense. He can cover in the slot, play a deep safety, and play a hybrid linebacker role near the box, giving the Browns a versatile chess piece.

5. Denver Broncos: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

The Broncos cannot go on with Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch at quarterback. I expect they’ve made a strong pitch to Kirk Cousins, but like we assume, that ultimately fails. A backup plan is in place, but that plan also includes drafting a quarterback for the future. For some reason, I think John Elway will fall for the arm strength and potential that Josh Allen provides. He can’t start right away, but he can develop into a starting quarterback.

6. New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

The Jets lose out on the Cousins sweepstakes, but that isn’t the worst thing. They instead land a quarterback with the swagger to handle the Big Apple spotlight. Baker Mayfield is rough around the edges at times, but he’s a great competitor and has the arm and accuracy to succeed in the NFL.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vita Vea, DL, Washington

The Bucs can go a lot of different ways here due to their needs on defense. The biggest need is to get a better pass rush. With no pass rushers left worthy of taking at seven overall, they opt for another beast in the middle. Vita Vea has the power and quickness to thrive in the middle of a defense. Combine him with Gerald McCoy, and interior offensive lines will have issues with them.

8. Chicago Bears: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

The Bears obviously want to help out their young quarterback, but receiver isn’t worth a top 10 selection. Instead, the Bears look to beef up the front seven by adding Tremaine Edmunds. Edmunds can play on the edge or play off the ball, two things Chicago could use. He’s also only 19 years old with his best football ahead of him.

9. San Francisco 49ers: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

The Niners added Richard Sherman just yesterday to boost the secondary, and they are now looking to be a contender now. With Reuben Foster in some trouble after his first season, linebacker needs more reinforcements. Roquan Smith plays with sideline-to-sideline speed and is a fierce tackler. He would fit right in on that defense.

10. Oakland Raiders: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

The Raiders miss out on the linebacker position, but they still need help in the secondary. Last year’s first round pick Gareon Conley figures to be in line for serious reps this season, but other than that, they’re washed up. Bring in Denzel Ward and the Raiders immediately become more physical on the perimeter.

11. Miami Dolphins: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

The fall ends for Josh Rosen. The Dolphins have a decision to make regarding Ryan Tannehill. At this point, it’s better to look to the future, and the future lands right in their lap. Rosen is the best quarterback prospect in the draft. He has the accuracy, pocket presence, and the ability to work through progressions well. Rosen can start right away.

12. Cincinnati Bengals: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

Many analysts have Quenton Nelson as the top prospect in the draft. When the tape goes on, it’s easy to see why. Nelson plays with a mean streak, but his technique is also unmatched. The Bengals need help along the line, and Nelson automatically shores up a spot.

13. Washington Redskins: Derwin James, S, Florida State

The Redskins can go a lot of directions here, especially on defense. They need some help in the secondary and at linebacker. Derwin James helps this defense on both accounts. James is from the same mold as Jalen Ramsey. He can cover bigger receivers and tight ends while also possessing the speed to blitz and play in open space.

14. Green Bay Packers: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College

The Packers, once again, need defense in the first round. Pass rush is a good place to start, as Green Bay needs more speed coming off the edge. Harold Landry is exactly the player to provide that. His best move is a quick first step and the bend to get around the corner. That speed could ignite the pass rush from day one.

15. Arizona Cardinals: Connor Williams, OL, Texas

The Cardinals could go Lamar Jackson as he sits on the board. However, it seems that Arizona will look elsewhere here. Fixing the offensive line would be a good start. Connor Williams had a disappointing 2017, but he’s still a top tier tackle prospect who can also move in to guard if need be.

16. Baltimore Ravens: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland

Receiver seems likely for the Ravens in round one to help out Joe Flacco. D.J. Moore checked off the boxes at the combine and could end up being the first receiver off the board. His explosiveness in the open space and ability to make plays down the field give the Ravens a more dynamic passing game.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Isaiah Wynn, OL, Georgia

The Chargers are in win-now mode, so finding another big body up front to protect Philip Rivers is key. Forrest Lamp will return from injury this year and Dan Feeney is coming off a good rookie season. Now, they shore it up by adding Isaiah Wynn. Wynn projects as an NFL guard, but he did play tackle in the toughest conference to do so. He is a powerful player with good balance in pass protection. Tackle isn’t out of the question for him.

18. Seattle Seahawks: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

The Legion of Boom is likely going to be split up this offseason, which puts corner back on the list of needs for the Seahawks. Seattle would love to have a game changing corner with great ball skills to come in and fill the void. Josh Jackson can do exactly that. He is a perfect zone corner with top tier ball skills.

19. Dallas Cowboys: Maurice Hurst, DL, Michigan

The Cowboys tagged pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence, giving them a year to work out a long term deal. Now, they add Maurice Hurst to make their front even more dangerous. Hurst has an explosive first step with the power to match. He has the potential to wreck defenses from the interior.

20. Detroit Lions: Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama

With new head coach Matt Patricia in town, the Lions will look to revamp the front four of the defense. Haloti Ngata is aging, and they need another presence along the interior to create pressure. While his stats didn’t pile up at Alabama, Da’Ron Payne is a force on the inside who gets upfield to make plays.

21. Buffalo Bills: James Daniels, OL, Iowa

The retirement of Eric Wood makes center an important position to fill. James Daniels isn’t being talked about enough in this class, but he is an excellent lineman with the ability to start right away.

22. Buffalo Bills (from Chiefs): Taven Bryan, DL, Florida

The Bills use their second pick to help out the defensive line. While he isn’t a perfect prospect and requires some development, the potential in Taven Bryan is very high. He can come in and add some juice to the rotation right away with the chance to be a top player down the road.

23. Los Angeles Rams: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA

After acquiring top talent at corner, pass rusher is the biggest need now for the LA Rams. Marcus Davenport, like Bryan described above, has all the physical tools to succeed as a rusher, but he needs to refine his game. Wade Phillips is the perfect coach to develop and maximize his talent.

24. Carolina Panthers: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

The Panthers, outside of the ageless wonder Julius Peppers, need help along the edge to get to the quarterbacks in the NFC South. Sam Hubbard, a converted safety, brings a lot to the table as a pass rusher. He has a plethora of moves and tested well at the combine to check off the athleticism box.

25. Tennessee Titans: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

The Titans will almost certainly be looking for help on defense early with Mike Vrabel running the show as head coach. The front seven could use a boost, but there aren’t any pass rushers left worth a gamble at 25. Even though Logan Ryan and Adoree Jackson are there, another corner wouldn’t hurt the Titans. Jaire Alexander was hurt most of 2017, but he is the best corner in this class and would provide immediate impact.

26. Atlanta Falcons: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP

The Falcons have one of the best rosters in the NFL, which means there aren’t many holes for them. The one area that could use a little boost is the offensive line. Andy Levitre hasn’t worked out excellent at guard, so bring in Will Hernandez, a guard who can play right away and will play with a mean streak.

27. New Orleans Saints: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

The fall ends here for Calvin Ridley. After a poor showing at the combine, many analysts are cautious about Ridley’s stock. If there’s anyone who can get the most out of him, it’s the Saints and Sean Payton. Pairing the quicker Ridley with Michael Thomas gives Brees another target to work with on offense.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

The Steelers have a huge need at inside linebacker with Ryan Shazier sidelined for 2018. Rashaan Evans is a perfect fit for the Steelers in this spot. He plays like a heat seeking missile like Reuben Foster before him.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State

With the extension for quarterback Blake Bortles, it’s likely the Jags won’t use this pick on a quarterback. Other than that, a couple spots need some help. The tight end position is one of those spots. While he won’t do a ton for you as a blocker, Mike Gesicki is a big-bodied target who moves extremely well in the open space. Adding Gesicki creates a whole new dynamic for the Jags passing offense.

30. Minnesota Vikings: Billy Price, OL, Ohio State

Yes, yes, I know Billy Price partially tore his pec at the combine, but that shouldn’t deter teams from picking him. He is still a top interior line player in the draft, and the Vikings could use some help there. Teaming him back up with Pat Elflein would make Dalvin Cook and the backfield very happy.

31. New England Patriots: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado 

It’s always hard to predict what the Patriots will do with their pick. Most likely, we will see a trade down. Since there are no trades in this draft, the Patriots will opt for some help at the cornerback spot. Malcolm Butler is on the way out, so someone opposite Stephon Gilmore is necessary. Isaiah Oliver is a long corner with very good coverage skills. The Pats could use him for a number of situations.

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

The rich get richer. Should the Eagles lose LeGarrette Blount to free agency, the backfield could use depth. Pairing up Derrius Guice with Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement creates a very dynamic backfield for the reigning champs.

What do you think of the selections? Comments? Not happy with your team’s pick? Find Jake on Twitter @JSchyvinck13.

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