Duane Lively’s 2018 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

Quarterbacks Take Day 1 in 2018

In my first official mock draft of the 2018 draft season, 6 quarterbacks are selected in the first round, including 4 quarterbacks taken in the top 6 selections.

I fully expect trades to happen at the top of this draft. However, for this mock I focused on discussing possible trades and ultimately staying with the pick. I think both the Giants and Colts have built-in opportunities to trade out, and if either Dave Gettleman (Giants GM) or Chris Ballard (Colts GM) decide not to trade out then John Dorsey (Browns GM) would be in prime position to move the 4th overall pick.

We need to be realistic. It’s currently late January, and the Senior Bowl is barely finished, so the dynamics of several teams are likely to change over the next 3 months. Right now, Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen are the obvious choices at No. 1 and No. 2 overall. Things change, so by April 26th, they might not be such shoo-in’s.

Mel Kiper has Josh Allen going No.1 in his first mock draft. Let’s pump the breaks for a second and remember that Kiper also once had Johnny Manziel going No. 1 overall in a mock draft. For now, I am sticking with Darnold and Rosen going back-to-back to open the draft.

The Giants could trade out of No. 2, and move back with the Broncos, Jets, or another quarterback needy team. Giants new head coach Pat Shurmur, recently called Eli Manning “an outstanding player, that he’s really looking forward to working with “. I think either Josh Rosen or Josh Allen will come off the board with the second overall pick in the draft. It’s highly possible the first 3 picks are quarterbacks.

The conversation becomes even more interesting when we add Saquon Barkley to this game of duck, duck, goose. He is worthy of the 3rd overall pick, and I believe the Colts will either select Barkley here or move back. The Broncos and the Jets front office personnel are going to make this a tough decision for the Giants and Colts.

John Elway and Mike Maccagnan (Jets) might get antsy about “their guy” not being available when they pick and start a bidding war for the Giants or Colts to capitalize on. Normally it wouldn’t cost too much to move up a couple of spots here. However, the stakes will be likely be higher than normal. The Giants could stick with Eli and sell the pick to the highest bidder. The Colts could gain 2nd and 3rd round picks for moving back 2 or 3 spots. In the end, both trade-backs are likely to happen.

The primary issue with Indianapolis moving back is Cleveland sitting right behind them at No. 4 overall. Chances are favorable that Cleveland would select Barkley with the 4th overall pick, and consequently Indianapolis would lose “their guy”. Still, it might be a gamble worth taking for the Colts, who need help in several areas.

Cleveland would own this draft if they walked away with Sam Darnold and Saquon Barkley. If Barkley is off the board then the Browns are likely to trade the 4th overall pick to the Broncos, Jets, or another suitor. However, if the Browns stay then it could be very enticing to team up Myles Garret and Bradley Chubb.

 

1 Cleveland Browns Sam Darnold, QB, Southern California
Sam Darnold is the best quarterback prospect in the 2018 draft. This pick would change the direction of the Cleveland Browns franchise. He is a tough competitor, exceptional leader, with a gunslinger mentality. Browns fans have waited a long time, and they finally get their franchise quarterback. Darnold will quickly become the leader of this franchise and is starting on Day 1.
2 New York Giants Josh Rosen, QB, California Los Angeles
Eli Manning is on the downside of his career, and maybe it’s time to move towards the future. Should the Giants completely move away from Eli, then Josh Rosen is polished enough, and capable of becoming a Day 1 starter. It will be interesting if the Giants move away from humble Eli to outspoken Rosen. A trade back with the Broncos, Jets, or another quarterback needy team is in play. Saquon Barkley is also in play here.
3 Indianapolis Colts Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Imagine the tandem of a healthy Andrew Luck and Saquon Barkley. Think Peyton Manning and Edgerrin James. This is a tough decision for the Colts, because they will have offers to trade back. By leaving this position, they risk Cleveland taking Saquon at No. 4 overall. However, they could also trade back and still have an opportunity to select Bradley Chubb. In the end, this decision will come down to  answering a simple and basic question. Would the Colts rather have Saquon Barkley or Bradley Chubb plus additional high second and third round picks?
4 Cleveland Browns Bradley Chubb, EDGE, NC State
The Browns selected Myles Garrett with the No. 1 overall pick last year (2017 Draft) and could pair him with Bradley Chubb to have one of the best pass rushing duos in the NFL. If Saquon Barkley is on the board then it’s hard to imagine the Browns passing on him. They could pair Darnold and Barkley together and create one of the most entertaining offenses in the NFL. If the Colts take Barkley, then Cleveland might trade back and still get Chubb.
5 Denver Broncos Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Denver is in desperate need of a quarterback, and Josh Allen is just what the doctor ordered. John Elway has not been shy about his interest in Allen. It’s plausible that Josh Allen is John Elway’s guy. Elway attended Allen’s final bowl game and his attention was tightly glued to Allen at the Senior Bowl. It’s safe to say that with all the attention given, Elway is either looking for a reason to take Allen or looking for a reason not to. It’s possible the Broncos won’t feel comfortable waiting and could move up to secure a quarterback.
6 New York Jets Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
If the board fell this way, there is no player left who would make a more meaningful impact for the Jets than Baker Mayfield. Yes, he is polarizing. However, he is also a natural leader and an excellent football player. I think if you put him in the Jets quarterback room right now, he would immediately become the alpha male.
7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Quenton Nelson, INT-OL, Notre Dame
Tampa Bay rushed for 3.7 yards per carry last year, which tied with the Colts (5th worst). Quenton Nelson is a Day 1 starter, and the best interior offensive lineman to enter the NFL draft in a very long time. Not only is he a great run blocker, but he only surrendered 1 sack in his last two seasons.
8 Chicago Bears Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
The Bears offense is anemic, and in desperate need of someone who can move the chains. Mitchell Trubisky is still a very inexperienced quarterback who needs some legitimate weapons around him. Calvin Ridley could provide a spark that is missing. The Bears front office will likely add some receivers in free agency. They still need to look at the long-term picture and draft a mainstay in the offense. Ridley makes a lot of since in Chicago.
9 San Francisco 49ers Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
Minkah Fitzpatrick is a John Lynch type of player. He is the swiss army knife of the secondary, because he brings a lot of position flexibility. The 49ers could play him single high, move him to nickel corner, outside corner, or even nickel linebacker.
10 Oakland Raiders Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
There is not a more Raider type of pick than Tremaine Edmunds in this draft. The Raiders are notorious for making high draft selections based on size and speed. The 6’5″ Virginia Tech linebacker has speed that’s not typically given out to players of his stature.
11 Miami Dolphins Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
The Dolphins spent a 2014 first-round pick on Ja’Wuan James. Prior to the 2017 season the team opted into the fifth-year option of his contract, paying him $9.34 million dollars for 2018. Fast forward to November of 2017, and James was placed on injured reserve due to a hamstring injury requiring surgery. The Dolphins need help at guard, and possibly at right tackle. Mike McGlinchey can kick inside for the short-term or if needed he can start outside at right tackle.
12 Cincinnati Bengals Connor Williams, OT, Texas
The Bengals desperately need help on the offensive line. The Bengals triple threat backfield (Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard, and Jeremy Hill) was supposed to be explosive during the 2017 season. Instead the rushing attack managed only 3.6 yards per carry (tied for 3rd worst). To make matters worse, the offensive line could not pass protect, giving up 40 sacks. Connor Williams could help improve the offensive line.
13 Washington Redskins  Derwin James, S, Florida State
The Redskins have been dating Cousins since 2012 and still haven’t put a ring on his finger. I am going to assume the Redskins will make a logical decision and finally marry Cousins. Derwin James is a dynamic player, and he probably would not be available here, if not for an injury that took away his 2016 season and slowed him down in 2017. Football players do not come in better packages than James. It is possible to play him at safety or linebacker. He is so physically gifted that he will likely excel anywhere he lines up.
14 Green Bay Packers  Marcus Davenport, EDGE, Texas San Antonio
In 2017, the Packers gave up 7.9 yards per attempt (3rd worst), allowed 67.8% pass attempts to be completed (3rd worst), and 236.8 passing yards per game (10th worst). The Packers need to get more pressure on the quarterback (37 sacks in 2017). Marcus Davenport reminds me a lot of a young Jason Pierre Paul. Both come from smaller schools and have freakish Jason Taylor type builds. It might take Davenport some time to adjust to better skillsets and more crafty technicians, but he has the physical traits to make an enormous impact in the NFL.
15 Arizona Cardinals  Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
The Cardinals could move up and grab a quarterback. Mason Rudolph has the most potential to rise during the draft process. An injury to his foot caused him to miss the Senior Bowl. If he performs well at the combine and at his Pro Day, we might be talking about Rudolph in the top 10. His biggest challenge will be coming from a spread offense to a pro style system, but he has all the tools to be an excellent NFL quarterback.
16 Baltimore Ravens Ronald Jones II, RB, Southern California
The Ravens signed Danny Woodhead in 2017, because the decision makers recognized the need to add an offensive playmaker. Woodhead flashed potential early in the year. Unfortunately, his season was very limited due to injuries. I am certain Ozzie Newsome and company took mental notes of the dynamic Ravens offense with a healthy Woodhead, and how stale it was without him. Ronald Jones II is a running back in the same mold as Woodhead, and it would make sense for him to be on the Ravens radar.
17 Los Angeles Chargers Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
The Chargers have quietly put together a very nice defense and they’re not missing much to become a top defense in the NFL. They do need more production from the WILL position. Roquan Smith has excellent sideline to sideline speed and would be a perfect WILL in Gus Bradley’s defense.
18 Seattle Seahawks Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
The Seahawk offensive line gave up 43 sacks in 2017, 42 sacks in 2016, and 46 sacks in 2015. Whatever the Seahawks are doing to fix this problem is not working. Russell Wilsons’ elusiveness has made these numbers better than they should be, but he can’t run for his life forever. If the Seahawks do not find an answer for this problem, they will continue to be a slightly above average football team. Orlando Brown could help improve the offensive line.
19 Dallas Cowboys Vita Vea, INT-DL, Washington
The Cowboys don’t have a disruptive force in the middle of the line, and they need one. Fortunately, the 2 best defensive tackles are still on the board. Either Vita Vea or Maurice Hurst, would be fine choices here. They’re both excellent pass rushers. I think Vea comes off the board first, because he is the better run defender.
20 Detroit Lions Maurice Hurst, INT-DL, Michigan
Haloti Ngata has been a great free agent acquisition for the Lions. Ngata is 34 years old and scheduled to hit the open market. Even if the lions bring Ngata back, they still need some young blood and Maurice Hurst can get after the quarterback.
21 Buffalo Bills Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Lamar Jackson is a dynamic playmaker who accounted for 119 (passing and rushing) touchdowns over his 3-year college career.
22 Buffalo Bills  Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa
Joshua Jackson is 6’1″ and when you add his height and long arms, it equals a great deal of length. The only question mark is his speed, which will be tested at the combine. He has potential shutdown ability. Pairing him with Tre’Davious White could make the Bills secondary one of the best in the NFL.
23 Los Angeles Rams Denzel Ward, NICKEL, Ohio State
The Rams need to upgrade the cornerback position. Trumaine Johnson was franchise tagged last offseason and is a free agent. Nickell Robey-Coleman and Troy Hill (restricted) are also free agents. Even if the Rams bring Johnson back, there is a huge void in the secondary. Denzel Ward could solidify the cornerback position.
24 Carolina Panthers Arden Key, EDGE, Louisiana State
Arden Key has the athletic ability to be a top 5 pick in just about any draft. Yet he has fallen to No. 24 in this mock and realistically could fall out of the first round. About a year ago, I compared Arden to Barkevious Mingo, and that was based on his football play. Arden is a special talent, but he needs to dedicate his life to football. His natural ability has gotten him this far, and if he masters proper techniques then he could be a special player. His career will be determined by how much he wants to play football. If he wants it then a team is going to get the steal of the draft.
25 Tennessee Titans Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
Harold Landry is a 3-year starter for the Eagles. Over the past 3 seasons Landry has piled up 25 sacks, 148 tackles, and 46 and a half tackles for loss. His 2016 campaign was outstanding. Battled an ankle injury in 2017, and his numbers were down.
26 Atlanta Falcons Da’Ron Payne, INT-DL, Alabama
Atlanta needs a defensive tackle. Da’Ron Payne was a dominant force in the College Football Playoff National Championship, living in the Georgia backfield. Payne put together a very nice resume during his time at Alabama. He will only be 20-years old when he is drafted.
27 New Orleans Saints  Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
Running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram had the second and third most receptions and receiving yards for the Saints in 2017. If a defense predicted a pass to the running back, they were often right. The Saints passing attack was off without Brandin Cooks, and Christian Kirk fits the same mold.
28 Pittsburgh Steelers Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Ryan Shazier suffered a horrendous injury to his back, and the status of his future is unknown. What is known, is the Steelers do not have anyone else to play the position. Rashaan Evans would be an immediate upgrade in the middle.
29 Jacksonville Jaguars Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado State
Allen Robinson is set to become a free agent and he is also coming off a season ending knee injury. Michael Gallup could be a sleeper in this draft.
30 Minnesota Vikings Harrison Phillips, INT-DL, Stanford
Harrison Phillips is a dominant run defender with outstanding power. Phillips is a 3-year state wrestling champion and 4-year national wrestling champion.
31 Philadelphia Eagles Darius Leonard, LB, South Carolina State
The Eagles need more production from the linebacker position. Darius Leonard has the speed and athleticism to shine behind the Eagles robust defensive line
32 New England Patriots Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida
Malcolm Butler might part with the Patriots via free agency. Mike Hughes would be an appropriate solution to fill the void.