Draft Analysis

Kevin Means’ 2018 Mock Draft Analysis

1. QB Sam Darnold USC   

The Browns were supposed to take Saquon Barkley here but the signing of Carlos Hyde and the talk of extending Duke Johnson says otherwise.  My instincts are telling me Josh Allen should go here but all signs are pointing at Sam Darnold.  Owners typically do not go to Pro-Days but Brown’s owner Jimmy Haslem was there in the stands sitting and talking with Darnold’s Parents.  That is all I have to see to make this pick and the Browns are getting a quarterback that has the ability to do turn this franchise around.

2. QB Josh Allen Wyoming

Good news, the Giants have a major need for each of the top prospects available here.  Between Saquon Barkley, Bradley Chubb, Quenton Nelson, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen, they can’t really go wrong.  The bad news is that they can only take one of these guys.  While the Giants have an abysmal running game, it is not very often that you get the opportunity to draft this high.  That is why you will see New York go with Josh Allen.  With Eli Manning still having some playable years left and guys like Odell Beckham Jr coming back, the Giants can comfortably take the raw but talented Allen and groom him until it is time to take over Aaron Rodgers style.

3. QB Josh Rosen UCLA

This is probably the easiest pick yet.  The Jets traded up three spots and it is because they are desperate for their future quarterback.  While Rosen may or may not have been there number one choice, the Jets have done their research and have made the decision that they are happy with whichever of the top 3 QB’s are left here.

4. CB Denzel Ward Ohio State

I could see the Browns taking Bradley Chubb here but they still have to give Emmanuel Ogbah a chance on the other side of Myles Garrett.  The biggest need by far that the Browns have is at cornerback.  Denzel Ward is a little bit smaller than the prototypical cornerback but he put on a show at the combine and is ready right now to start locking down NFL wide receivers.

5. Quenton Nelson Notre Dame

Not the most exciting pick for Broncos fans but it’s the pick that makes the most sense.  Denver can really help their offensive line here and set Case Keenum up for success with the selection of Nelson.  Not only is he a great pass blocker but Nelson is a top-notch run blocker too.  Expect to see him in the Pro-Bowl very early in his career.

6. Edge Bradley Chubb NC State

After moving down from three, it looks like the Colts are going to get there guy anyways.  As tempting as Barkley looks right here to pair up with a healthy Andrew Luck, the Colts have already cut Frank Gore and it looks like they have faith in Marlon Mack.  Chubb will be able to add some pressure for a struggling defense in Indianapolis.

7.  RB Saquon Barkley Penn State

The Buccaneers seriously luck out here landing the best player in the draft at their most glaring need.  Barkley is arguably the best player in the draft and should be able to relieve a ton of pressure off of Jameis Winston with his ability to do everything from blocking to running and even catching the ball.  Things couldn’t have worked out better for Tampa Bay.

8. QB Baker Mayfield Oklahoma (Projected trade with Bears)

Everyone knows the Bills are trying to move up for a quarterback but getting into the top two picks will cost too much.  The Bills make the move to number 8 to grab Baker Mayfield.  Mayfield is a gamer and there is no doubt of his love for competition.  Expect him to compete for the starting spot with AJ McCarron right away.

9. S Minkah Fitzpatrick Alabama

John Lynch won’t be able to resist bringing in the cerebral Minkah Fitzpatrick at the ninth pick.  Fitzpatrick is in a top three talent in this year’s draft that could fall due to team needs.  Bringing in Richard Sherman this offseason was a huge plus but the 49ers still have a hole on the opposite side of the field at cornerback.  By bringing in Fitzpatrick they can pair him with Jaquiski Tartt and move the oft-injured Jimmie Ward back to cornerback.

10. DT Vita Vea Washington

The Raiders add a defensive tackle that can move all over the line here.  Vita Vea is an athletic freak for being well over 300 pounds and instantly makes the Oakland’s defensive line a force to be reconned with.  If they can pair him up next to Khalil Mack, a record-setting season wouldn’t be out of the question for Mack.

11. LB Tremaine Edmunds  Virginia Tech

Ryan Tannehill has one more chance to prove himself as the Dolphins aren’t able to grab their quarterback of the future in the first round.  There is a giant need for a strong side linebacker though and Tremaine Edmunds should fit right in next to Raekwon McMillan.  This will give the Dolphins a young, athletic core of linebackers to base their defense around.

12. LB Roquan Smith Georgia (Projected trade with Bills)

After a strong free agency period, the Chicago Bears will be looking to add to their defense.  Roquan Smith can do it all at linebacker and will make an immediate impact on a defense that can take a huge step forward this season.

13. S Derwin James  Florida State

An interior offensive lineman could be the pick here but I don’t think that the Redskins can pass on the talent of Derwin James.  Pairing him with DJ Swearinger would give Washington one of the deadliest safety duos in the game.  James is a leader on and off of the field and can help this defense find an identity.

14. CB Josh Jackson  Iowa

The Packers need a ton of help on the defensive side of the ball and especially in the backfield.  Josh Jackson is a ball-hawking corner which is something that Green Bay needs.  Starting only 14 games in his college career, this is a very risky pick but at this point, the Packers don’t have much of a choice.

15. QB Lamar Jackson Louisville

Yet another team that desperately needs a quarterback.  The Cardinals could easily trade up to try and grab Baker Mayfield if that is their poison but it would be nearly impossible to grab one of the top 3 guys.  New head coach, Steve Wilks was a defensive coordinator in Carolina but has seen a whole lot of Cam Newton running around in games and practice.  If he decides he want’s a QB that can extend the play like Cam, then Lamar Jackson is his guy.

16. Guard/Center Billy Price  Ohio State

The Ravens have lost two of their offensive lineman this offseason and they need to get help ASAP.  Billy Price is a mauler with insane strength and explosiveness.  Baltimore is getting a great interior lineman that can help give Flacco some extra time to throw the deep ball.

17. OT Mike McGlinchey  Notre Dame

The Chargers need another tackle to protect the edge and the massive Notre Dame prospect should be able to step in and compete.  Mike McGlinchey isn’t a finished product but with some work, he has the skill set to become one of the best in the game.

18. Guard Isaiah Wynn Georgia

Losing Richard Sherman certainly hurt the “Legion of Boom” and they could use a replacement but Seattle has consistently been able to take corners from the mid-rounds and turn them into solid starters.  I don’t see them straying away from that method yet.  The Seahawks have struggled on the offensive line for a while now but maybe with the addition of Duane Brown, things could start to turn around.  Isaiah Wynn is an athletic tackle built in a guards body.  He will be able to keep up with Russel Wilson when he chooses to extend the play and is a perfect fit for this offensive line.

19. WR Courtland Sutton SMU

The Cowboys have finally released Dez Bryant and adding a wide receiver to replace him will be a priority for Jerry Jones and company. Courtland Sutton will struggle to create separation in the NFL but has the best jump ball skills in this year’s draft. Without Dez Bryant, the Cowboys will be missing a giant part of their red zone offense so look for Sutton to make an instant impact this year pulling in touchdowns.

20. Edge Marcus Davenport  Texas-San Antonio

The Lions are in desperate need of someone who can put pressure on opposing quarterbacks other than Ziggy Ansah.  Marcus Davenport is a guy that can come in and complete this defensive line giving Detroit bookend rushers.  If he can get his technique under control and add a couple of pass-rushing moves, Davenport could be a nightmare for opposing offensive lines.

21. DT Da’ron Payne Alabama

Every time someone would come back from injury, it felt like another guy would go down on offense for the Bengals.  Combine that with the fact that Joe Mixon and John Ross have another year under there belt and Cordy Glenn joining the offensive line, I see the Cincinnati offense to take a huge step forward this season.  That is why I have them going with the Alabama defensive tackle Da’ron Payne.  Payne is a man amongst children benching over 400 pounds in high school and being groomed in the school of Saban.  The Bengals defensive line gets a huge upgrade here.

22. CB Jaire Alexander Louisville (Projected trade with Bills)

With their second pick of the first round, the Bears go defense again with cornerback, Jaire Alexander.  Alexander is smaller than your typical cornerback and might be more suited to play primarily in the slot but that isn’t an issue in today’s pass-happy NFL.  With his instincts and athleticism, Alexander will be able to start right away.

23. QB Mason Rudolph  Oklahoma State

We have seen it time and time again where the Patriots trade away their backup quarterback for a haul and then draft another the following year.  This could finally be the one that is the heir apparent to Tom Brady.  Mason Rudolph will absolutely benefit from the run of quarterbacks taken in the first half of the round and him being head and shoulder above those behind him.  I would expect Belichick to find his replacement for Brady very early in this year’s draft even if Rudolph isn’t there.

24. Edge Harold Landry Boston College

Harold Landry is the best player available and could fall into a great situation here.  He has the physical ability to be an elite pass rusher but just needs to put in the work and learn from the best.  That is where Julius Peppers comes in.  Peppers is one of the great pass rushers of this generation and can show Landry the technique and work ethic needed to become an elite player in this league.

25. LB Leighton Vander Esche  Boise State

The Titans could get the steal of the first round with Leighton Vander Esche.  Starting just one year at Boise State, Vander Esche was a force to be reckoned with and capped it off with a very impressive combine.  While still raw and needing work on his technique, he should be able to fill in all over the linebacking core until proving himself as an every-down starter.

26. Tackle/Guard Connor Williams Texas

With some holes and the majority of its starters on the wrong side of 30, the Falcons should be looking for an offensive lineman here.  With this pick, they get one of the best players available and a guy that could possibly move all over the offensive line and be effective.  Williams was projected to be in the top half of the first round before this season started but had a slight decline in play over the course of this year.  If he can get back to where he was in 2016, Connor Williams will be a great value and fit.

27. TE Mike Gesicki Penn State

For years now, everyone has been waiting for the Saints to properly replace Jimmy Graham and Gesicki could be their guy.  At 6’5″, Gesicki is a monster with incredible athleticism.  He immediately becomes a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses and could open the field up for guys like Michael Thomas.

28. LB Rashaan Evans Alabama

The devastating loss of Ryan Shazier was felt on the field and in the locker room and it doesn’t look like he will be playing again.  Unfortunately, the Steelers will have to find a replacement in this years draft and Rashaan Evans will be a great fit.  He waited patiently behind Reuben Foster for a couple of years until he was finally the starter and never looked back.  Evans has the ability to stop the run and rush the passer.

29. WR Calvin Ridley Alabama

The receiving core for the Jaguars is full of injury-prone players and that includes the newly added Donte Moncrief.  Adding Calvin Ridley to this wide receiver group will make it even more crowded on the depth chart but it is arguably Jacksonville’s biggest need.  Ridley has speed and runs smooth routes but struggled with drops over the past couple of years which is why he will fall to the back of the first round.

30. CB Isaiah Oliver Colorado

The Vikings have the luxury of being able to draft a guy that does not need to make an instant impact this year.  While they have a trio of highly touted, top draft picks at cornerback, there isn’t much behind them.  Isaiah Oliver is far from a complete prospect but has all of the natural athleticism and size you could ask for.  By drafting him, they have the opportunity to teach him technique without throwing him to the wolves for the time being.

31. S Ronnie Harrison Alabama

The Patriots get one of the best players available and the fifth Alabama player in the first round.  Harrison is a multi-year starter in Nick Saban’s defense and will be able to compete for a starting spot in New England right away.  Harrison was never the “quarterback” of his defense playing alongside Minkah Fitzpatrick but was able to do his job with effectiveness with his pure athleticism.

32. RB Derrius Guice LSU

The reigning Superbowl champs could go a number of directions here.  While there are no glaring needs, they have a number of positions they can go after to prepare for the future.  Jay Ajayi was a huge addition last year and should have an even bigger impact this year.  The problem is that his contract is up after this season and he does have an injury history to go with it.  The Eagles have shown that they prefer a two to three-headed attack as well and Derrius Guice would be a great fit for the post-Ajayi era.  Guice is a violent runner with a passion for contact.  With a low center of gravity and the underrated breakaway speed that he possesses, Guice is a top-15 talent that will fall just because he is not Saquon Barkley.

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