With the first two weeks of the NFL season finished, I figured it was time to put out my first mock draft of the 2018 season. There have already been wrinkles thrown into the preseason projected draft order. Who could have predicted Fitzmagic returning in Tampa Bay, and that has the initial order look funkier than you would expect. Enough blabbering, let’s get to some picks so you can all yell at me on Twitter.
Note: Pick order determined by record as of 9/18 and ordered by Tankathon
1. Arizona Cardinals – OT Jonah Williams
The Arizona Cardinals have looked really bad. The team is in for a long rebuild if the first two games are any indicator, which they are, and they should look to give Josh Rosen an offensive line to protect him. A three-year starter at Alabama, Jonah Williams tops the list as the draft’s best offensive lineman. With good athleticism and amazing technique, Williams would be a plug and play left tackle for the Cards.
2. New York Giants – EDGE Nick Bosa
Another team with offensive line problems, the Giants are on track for another bottom five finish. Despite these O-line problems, the Giants will have a hard time passing up Nick Bosa. The consensus top prospect (my #2), Bosa is an elite pass rusher with athleticism, technique, and mentality to be a 10+ sack guy for the foreseeable future. There was also consideration given to a quarterback, but it’s too early for any QB in this class.
3. Seattle Seahawks – DT Ed Oliver
How the mighty have fallen. The Seahawks decline has been steep and quick, placing them among the worst rosters in football. With holes all over the roster, it’s hard to pick out which spot Seattle should address first. That decision becomes clearer when the best prospect in the draft is available. Ed Oliver is a monster at the defensive tackle position and would be a day one impact player for the Hawks. An elite athlete with high football IQ, it seems impossible for Seattle to pass on Oliver at #3.
4. Detroit Lions – EDGE Brian Burns
The Lions have not had the start this season many expected them to have. Thought of as a potential playoff team, the Lions have struggled mightily their first two games. The area that needs the most attention is their pass rush. Ziggy Ansah is playing under a franchise tag and they have no other high-caliber EDGE on the roster. Brian Burns is a player I slept on earlier in the year, but his traits pop off the tape. Along with good burst off the line, Burns flashes a variety of pass rush moves. He can either replace Ansah if the Lions don’t sign him long term or be the pass rush partner the Lions have lacked for a while.
5. Houston Texans – CB Greedy Williams
Another trendy playoff pick, the Texans have started slowly. A lot of this can be attributed to Deshaun Watson still shaking off the rust, but this team has legitimate holes. The Texans’ secondary needs a big upgrade with Johnathan Joseph turning 34 and Kevin Johnson spending too much time on the sideline. Greedy Williams slots in perfectly as an outside corner. The lengthy, aggressive LSU product is another addition to a long line of good defensive backs to come out of DBU (Defensive Back University). Putting him in a secondary with Tyrann Mathieu, Aaron Colvin, and 2018 draft selection Justin Reid is a good future for Houston.
6. Buffalo Bills – OT David Edwards
The Bills have looked absolutely dreadful this season, which isn’t surprising. With holes in every position group, the Bills are in for a rough couple of years. Securing rookie quarterback Josh Allen should be their first priority. The Bills’ offensive line stinks, and drafting David Edwards would go a long way to fixing it. Edwards is the right tackle for the best offensive line in college football and would fill the same role in Buffalo. With good size and great athleticism, Edwards will be heavily coveted by the time April rolls around.
7. Oakland Raiders – FS Deionte Thompson
The Raiders defense needs a lot of fixing if Jon Gruden wants to have a successful second-stint with the silver and black. The Raiders secondary needs an almost complete overhaul (Gareon Conley can stay). Reggie Nelson is past his prime and no longer the impact player he once was. Deionte Thompson is a natural free safety with insane range and ball skills and isn’t afraid to come up in run support. Putting him in the backend of the secondary would be a massive upgrade for the Raiders.
8. Cleveland Browns – WR D.K. Metcalf
The Browns ended their losing streak in week one! But they lost in week two and they traded Josh Gordon soon after. Now needing a running mate for Jarvis Landry, the Browns should get Baker Mayfield a nice big-bodied receiver to grow with. Metcalf was highly underrated by me to start the year, and he has blown the roof off of college football. Looking more like a “flex” tight end than a receiver, Metcalf has a massive frame and good catch radius. Metcalf is an insane athlete for his size and is a beast down the field. Replacing Josh Gordon’s talent is not an easy task, but Metcalf is the best option for the Browns to do so.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers – EDGE Clelin Ferrell
Dysfunction and defense have been the Steelers’ two biggest problems to start 2018. The dysfunction will be more challenging to fix, so let’s focus on the defense. The Steelers would love to take a defensive back here to add talent to an uninspiring secondary, but that’s not happening without an impact DB on the boards. Instead, the Steelers opt for a running mate for T.J. Watt. The Bud Dupree experience should be coming to a close and Ferrell will fulfill the potential Dupree couldn’t. A sure fire first round pick in last year’s draft, Ferrell’s stock will soar this season.
10. Dallas Cowboys – DL Raekwon Davis
The Dallas Cowboys have a solid football team. They have holes at wide receiver and tight end, and could possibly use another pass rusher if DeMarcus Lawrence leaves, but they opt for a player they can’t pass up. Raekwon Davis is the next Alabama defensive lineman to become a high draft pick. The 6’7″, 306-pound behemoth is a force on Bama’s defensive line and offers a combination of good run defense and high upside that would entice a team like Dallas to make a top-10 pick.
11. Indianapolis Colts – DL Jeffery Simmons
Another solid football team, the Indianapolis Colts, with a healthy Andrew Luck, look on the precipice of competing again, but their defense needs work. Transitioning to a 4-3 defense, the Colts need a disruptor in the middle of the defensive line. Jeffery Simmons is an exceptional athlete with good size, Simmons has the tools to be one of the a top interior defenders in the game. More consistency is needed, but Simmons has been off to a hot start.
12. Oakland Raiders (via Chi) – WR N’Keal Harry
Defensive problems aside, the Raiders need an impact receiver. Amari Cooper’s inconsistency the last two seasons has been disappointing and points to him being a #2 receiver. N’Keal Harry has all the makings of an alpha receiver that Oakland needs. With great size and athleticism, Harry has been a terror for college defenses to cover. Strong hands and high-pointing ability round out Harry’s impressive skill set as a pass catcher. Still becoming more nuanced as a route runner, Harry has even more room to grow–and that’s scary.
13. Tennessee Titans – DL Dexter Lawrence
The Titans have a big question to ask about Marcus Mariota. Was his 2017 a fluke bad season with a bad offensive system and is he going to rebound from a shoulder injury? Assuming the Titans aren’t ready to move on, it is too early in my opinion, they should add to an already burgeoning defense. Adding a talent like Dexter Lawrence would be a big addition if he hits his potential. Hampered by injuries last season, Lawrence has returned to a level of play resembling his promising freshman year. An insane athlete for his size, Lawrence’s potential is limitless and that would be hard for Tennessee to pass on.
14. San Francisco 49ers – WR Hakeem Butler
Overreaction time? I’d be lying if I said I knew who Hakeem Butler was before last weekend. I didn’t even list him on my WR watchlist. However, what the 6’6″, 219-pound receiver did against Oklahoma was insane. Looking back in 2017, Butler is one of the better receivers I saw in terms of getting yards after the catch. The 49ers still need a #1 receiver and Pierre Garçon is a potential cap casualty. Butler’s athleticism, strength, and size are all incredibly enticing and I am excited to see his development. Cornerback was also considered here, but the lack of a top corner prospect prevents that, and maybe Ahkello Witherspoon turns it around (I believe in him).
15. Carolina Panthers – OT Trey Adams
The Carolina Panthers left tackle situation is baaaaaaaaad. Matt Kalil was never the answer and they should move on as soon as possible. While Trey Adams had season ending back surgery earlier this month, it wouldn’t be surprising to see still him get selected in the first round. A big, athletic mover, Adams impresses with strong technique and mirroring skills as a pass blocker and flashes as a run blocker. He needed to show more tenacity to solidify himself as a potential top-10 pick, but the injury leaves him as a potential pick in the back half of the first round.
16. Los Angeles Chargers – QB Dwayne Haskins
The Chargers are on the board with all the top quarterbacks still available. Seizing the opportunity to take Philip Rivers’ successor, they take the best signal caller in the draft. Yes, you’re reading this right, Dwayne Haskins is QB1. A good athlete with a massive arm, Haskins has all the traits NFL teams want from their quarterbacks. Haskins is also showing quick development with the mental side of the game that I don’t expect to go away. It’s still early, but the way Haskins is playing, he looks like the best quarterback in the class, and a great replacement for Rivers in LA.
17. New York Jets – OT Dalton Risner
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The Jets probably won’t be picking this late in April, but strength of schedule places them at pick #17. No matter whey they pick, their main priority should be to protect face of the franchise Sam Darnold. Dalton Risner is one of the most versatile offensive lineman in this draft, capable of manning both tackle spots or center. The Jets offensive line has had some struggles this season, but Risner would step in and help alleviate some of those problems next year.
18. Atlanta Falcons – OG Chris Lindstrom
The Falcons have been ravaged by injuries to begin the season, putting a damper on their Super Bowl hopes. Among those injuries is soon-to-be free agent Andy Levitre. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see the Falcons let Levitre walk and draft his replacement. Chris Lindstrom is the consensus top interior lineman, and for good reason. Athletic enough to fit multiple systems, Lindstrom also has the power and technique to be a day one starter for Atlanta.
19. New England Patriots – QB Justin Herbert
Whether or not you believe the mountains of reports saying Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are heading towards a bitter divorce, we should all agree that Brady can’t play forever. With Justin Herbert still on the board this late, it’s unlikely another QB with his talent will be available for the Patriots until Brady actually does retire. Herbert has looked unbelievable through the first three cupcake games, but all the tools are there. Size, athleticism, and arm strength are all major pluses for Herbert and would make him Brady’s most talented backup ever.
20. Green Bay Packers (via New Orleans) – EDGE Montez Sweat
The Packers needing pass rushers is a tale as old as time. Speaking of old, Clay Matthews is nearing the end of his career and is in the final year of his contract. If the Packers decide to let him walk and spend money elsewhere, Montez Sweat is the perfect replacement. With length and explosive athleticism, Sweat can ride his potential to a higher draft position than here if he continues to develop his arsenal of pass rush moves.
21. Washington Redskins – WR Collin Johnson
The Redskins put a drubbing on the Cardinals in week one, but followed up with a stinker against Indianapolis. Their matchup against Green Bay will go a long way into showing whether they’re contenders or pretenders, but one thing’s for sure, they need receiving help. Josh Doctson hasn’t panned out the way Washington has hoped, and they were in on Josh Gordon before settling on Breshad Perriman. Collin Johnson is a big, lanky receiver that goes up and brings down contested catches like it’s nothing. He is also a better route runner than he’s given credit for. A lack of elite athleticism will scare teams a little bit, but I feel like he’d fit perfectly as an outside receiver in Washington for Alex Smith and beyond.
22. Philadelphia Eagles – LB Mack Wilson
Good news Eagles fans, Carson Wentz is back! And with him back, the Eagles are going to do damage like they did last season. Also like last season, however, the Eagles cap situation isn’t pretty and some guys are going have to be let go. I wouldn’t expect Jordan Hicks to be back, but of course the Eagles get to replace him with Mack Wilson. Wilson has great range and instincts to go with a fearless attitude that will get him drafted earlier than this. But how lucky would the Eagles be to get a talent like Mack Wilson?
23. Baltimore Ravens – WR Marquise “Hollywood” Brown
WINDS UP DOWN THE FIELD…HOLLYWOOOOOOOOD! TOUCHDOWN SOONERS!
Sorry, I had to get that out of my system. One of the most electric playmakers in all of college football lands on a team that is devoid of offensive playmakers. The Ravens went out and signed John Brown and Michael Crabtree, and also tried to lure Dez Bryant. Clearly lacking receiving talent for Joe Flacco, and eventually Lamar Jackson, the Ravens can get them the premier deep ball target in this year’s draft.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars – WR Kelvin Harmon
Another wide receiver? This class is stacked. I am convinced the Jaguars don’t plan on moving on from Blake Bortles no matter how many people, myself included, wish they would have sooner. The plan then becomes surround him with as many weapons to try and mask his problems. Kelvin Harmon is the perfect compliment to a receiving corps consisting of Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole, and Marqise Lee. A bigger, more physical type of receiver, Harmon specializes at playing the ball in the air and snatching it with his strong hands. An interior lineman was considered here, but I wouldn’t be surprised if A.J. Cann came back next season.
25. Minnesota Vikings – OG Garrett Brumfield
A team that desperately needs interior line help, the Vikings snag LSU’s Garrett Brumfield. Pat Elfein is injured, but even when he returns the Vikings still need better play from the interior. Brumfield is an exceptional athlete that is capable of getting into space and when he blocks players, he packs a punch. A true road-grader, don’t be surprised to see Brumfield be mentioned in the same breath as Chris Lindstrom.
26. Green Bay Packers – OG Michael Deiter
Another NFC North team with an offensive line problem, the Packers are finally feeling the sting of letting so many player walk in free agency. After starting a season at left tackle, Deiter has returned home this season as a guard in Wisconsin’s insane offensive line group. Versatile and tough as nails, Deiter embodies the Green Bay Packers and would be a plug and play starter at either guard position.
27. Denver Broncos – QB Drew Lock
The Broncos are 2-0 mostly in spite of Case Keenum. Keenum should never have been considered a long-term answer, and unless the Broncos believe in Chad Kelly as the future, they should address the position sooner rather than later. Drew Lock has blown past three below average teams and has shown off all of his traits. I still have handful of concerns with the mental aspect of Lock’s game, which he can still cleanup, but he has the type of game the NFL will love. Letting him sit behind Case Keenum would be very beneficial to a player like Lock, and he would step into the starting role when Keenum’s contract is up.
28. Miami Dolphins – LB Devin White
The Miami Dolphins are 2-0, who would have thought? I still wouldn’t be surprised to see them move on from Tannehill at the end of the season, but picking this low, that wouldn’t happen. Instead, they plug the hole in the middle of the defense at linebacker. Raekwon McMillan hasn’t played up to par with his draft status and Devin White is an exceptional talent. With size and athleticism, White has to clean up the mental aspects of his game, which he is showing early this year. A player like White will go much higher if he was more of a finished product, but he’d be a big get for Miami.
29. Los Angeles Rams – EDGE/DL Rashan Gary
The Los Angeles Rams offseason plan has worked seamlessly so far, granted against the Raiders and Cardinals. By far the biggest hole on the roster is the lack of an elite edge rusher. Samson Ebukam has played well and Matt Longacre is a good rotational pass rusher, but neither have the potential of Rashan Gary. The consensus #1 high school player in 2016, Gary’s time at Michigan has been interesting to say the least. Without a defined NFL position, some want him to bulk up and play inside while others want him to cut weight and play outside, his traits are insane. Gary is strong and an elite athlete with the potential to be a higher draft pick. Mental processing and technique are things Gary needs to improve on to be a higher pick, but giving Wade Phillips a talent like Gary should be fun.
30. Kansas City Chiefs– CB Amani Oruwariye
Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid should be illegal. OK, I took that line from the Draft Network’s Benjamin Solak (read his article,it is very good), but the Chiefs offense is lethal. The Chiefs’ defense, however, is not. The Chiefs still need to replace Marcus Peters and give Kendall Fuller a running mate. Enter Amani Oruwariye. Despite never starting a game before this season, there was a lot to like about Oruwariye’s game. With exceptional length and athleticism, the body control and mirroring skills Oruwariye shows is phenomenal. Finally getting his chance to shine, I’d be shocked if Oruwariye wasn’t a top-20 pick in April.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – QB Will Grier
The shock of the early NFL season is definitely the resurgence of elite Ryan Fitzpatrick, which seems to come around every contract year. How long Fitzmagic lasts in Tampa Bay remains to be seen, but what is for certain, quarterback is a need. Fitzpatrick is going to turn 36 in November and the Bucs need to just move on from Jameis Winston. Will Grier would be fir perfectly as Fitzpatrick’s replacement. Slightly undersized, Grier is one of my favorite quarterbacks in the class. His arm isn’t elite (it’s still good though), but he is very accurate and shows an advanced mental approach to playing the position. Grier can be the Bucs face of the franchise that we all hoped Winston would be.
32. Cincinnati Bengals – TE Noah Fant
Is the Red Rifle back? Andy Dalton has played well to start the year and might be ready to reclaim his Pro Bowl status. One of the biggest reasons for this is the Bengals receiving corps seems to finally be coming together again. With the 32nd pick, that sounds weird, the Bengals add to their offense by taking Noah Fant. Fant should be gone earlier than this, but the draft’s best tight end lands in Cincy. Tyler Eifert is a very good player, but his injury history is too risky to bank on him playing 16 games a year. Fant is an elite athlete with strong hands and is one of the best tight ends at getting yards after the catch. Adding him to A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, and John Ross would be fun and help Dalton out tremendously.
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