Welcome to my 2018 NFL Mock Draft. This is not my prediction about how the 2018 Draft will go, but an expression of what I feel should happen based on my opinions from scouting this year’s prospects. Dozens of hours have gone into my research, and this is how I feel about each prospect who I believe should be selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
David Wrixon’s 2018 NFL Mock Draft:
1. Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
With the 1st overall pick, the Browns take the best player in the 2018 NFL Draft. Saquon Barkley is a problem for defenses. He’s got true breakaway speed and can accelerate to his top speed instantly. When you pair that with his vision, cutting ability, and instincts you get a true game-changer.
2. New York Giants: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
The Giants will draft their next franchise quarterback with this pick. Sam Darnold can throw both touch and velocity passes while using the right one at the right time. He’s got amazing poise inside the pocket with the toughness and athletic ability to extend plays from outside the pocket. He’s everything you’d want in a quarterback prospect.
3. New York Jets: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
The Jets finally get their franchise quarterback. Josh Rosen is a very accurate passer who possesses the best pocket mechanics, by a wide margin, out of any quarterback in this years Draft. He’s got a clean delivery to go along with his footwork and that aspect of his game will translate beautifully to the NFL.
4. Cleveland Browns: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Imagine being able to pair Lamar Jackson with Saquon Barkley and having them torment defenses from the same backfield. Cleveland has that option with the 1st and 4th overall picks and I think they should do it. Jackson is a super-weapon. When he has the ball there’s just this feeling that he is going to do something spectacular with it. Whether that be him scrambling for a first down, or even delivering a beautiful back shoulder fade 30-yards downfield for a touchdown. He is such a threat whenever he has the ball in his hands because of the explosiveness he possesses outside of the pocket and the intelligence he has inside of the pocket. Lamar is a much better passer than a lot of people give him credit for. I would love to see him develop behind Tyrod Taylor because how similar their playing styles are.
5. Denver Broncos: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
The Broncos get an absolute mauler at Offensive Guard by drafting Quenton Nelson. He will immediately improve their below average rushing attack. On top of being a bulldozer in the running game, Nelson has great awareness while picking up rushers to protect his Quarterback and has the strength to stack up against NFL Defensive Tackles.
6. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, Edge, NC State
The Colts are fortunate enough to have a franchise edge rusher fall to them at sixth overall. Chubb is a violent pass rusher with a quick first step that beats offensive tackles with an abundance of moves. He will be an impact player from Day 1 and that’s exactly what the Colts need to add to their defense.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Derwin James, S, FSU
The Buccaneers need to create an identity on defense and Derwin James will help create exactly that. He’s pretty much as versatile as a football player can be. He has the strength and toughness to play inside and contribute against the run. Also, he has the athletic ability and instincts to play centerfield as the deep safety, lineup outside as a cornerback, and can rush off the edge.
8. Chicago Bears: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
Sure, the Bears will lean on their running game to ease Mitch Trubisky through his second year as their franchise quarterback, but they’re going have to protect him when they need to create a play in the passing game. Connor Williams is the best offensive tackle in this Draft and he would be a great choice for the Bears because they need a left tackle to protect their young quarterback. Williams is an all around solid left tackle and constantly does a great job of keeping squared up with the defender he is blocking.
9. San Francisco 49ers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB/S, Alabama
The 49ers just added a notable defensive back by the name of Richard Sherman to their backfield and they have Ahkello Witherspoon coming off of a solid rookie season, but they don’t have much versatility in their defensive backfield. Adding Minkah Fitzpatrick would create an instant impact for them because of his ability to play at a high level in multiple positions. Fitzpatrick would project as their starting free safety; however he has the ability to drop down and play in the slot and he could even fill in as an outside cornerback.
10. Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia
The Raiders need a playmaker who can clean up behind Khalil Mack. Roquan Smith will do exactly that. Although he might be a little undersized for his position, he plays with enough force and has the instincts to overcome everything. Smith is a sideline to sideline player who flies to the ball every single snap. He’s a playmaker and seemed to make a play whenever Georgia needed one to be made.
11. Miami Dolphins: Malik Jefferson, OLB, Texas
The Dolphins could take a page out of Belichick’s book by adding Malik Jefferson and utilizing him like the Patriots use Dont’a Hightower, as an outside linebacker that can blitz off of the edge and also play inside to cover running backs. Jefferson is a very athletic linebacker who has an extremely high ceiling and he would fit in quite well with Kiko Alonso and Raekwon McMillan.
12. Buffalo Bills: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
There might not be a quarterback more suited for the Bills than Baker Mayfield. Every game he’s going to go out on the field, make plays, and play his heart out. He’s an intelligent passer who has a great ability to feel the pocket around him while keeping his eyes downfield. He can make pretty much every throw with pinpoint accuracy and he excels with short passes and his ability to move defenders in coverage is amazing. He’s proven through his game that it doesn’t matter that he’s an undersized quarterback and that it shouldn’t be an issue for him in the NFL.
13. Washington Redskins: Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa
The Redskins already have an elite cornerback by the name of Josh (Norman), so they should add another elite corner named Josh to the mix. I know that Norman views himself as Batman, so while Jackson is still young they could have a Batman and Robin combination in their defensive backfield. Jackson will outgrow that nickname quickly as he will become an elite corner for himself. He’s just a ballhawk, he possesses incredible instincts and acrobatic abilities which lead him to constantly making plays when passes head in his direction.
14. Green Bay Packers: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
The Packers are finally able to get their #1 running back. Derrius Guice is a violent runner who goes out of his way to run people over. He’s not scared to take on contact and he’s out to prove a point every single play. Guice is a very strong runner who has great vision and is extremely explosive out of the backfield. As soon as he gets the ball, he accelerates almost to his top speed immediately. Much like how Adrian Peterson ran rampant from 2007-2015, Guice will torment the three other NFC North teams.
15. Arizona Cardinals: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
The Cardinals need a safe pick here who will address one of their needs. Vita Vea is one of the safest picks in this draft and he’s also the top player at his position. The 6’4″, 345 lbs defensive tackle could potentially play on all three downs in the NFL. He has the ability to collapse the pocket, and he’ll earn his money on running downs.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Isaiah Wynn, OG/OT, Georgia
The Ravens had a handful of injuries to their offensive line in 2017. By adding Isaiah Wynn, the Ravens will have the option to start him at either offensive guard or offensive tackle because of his versatility. Wynn is a very sturdy player and a great run blocker who moves well for his size. On top of his strong run blocking, and despite being a natural guard, he seems comfortable at pass blocking as a left tackle. Wynn would be a great fit as a left guard for the Ravens.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama
Although the Chargers already have Denzel Perryman, they need a linebacker to roam their front-seven and make plays from sideline to sideline. Rashaan Evans is exactly the player the Chargers are looking for. Evans is an athletic inside linebacker who looks to make plays all over the field. His ability to blitz will create absolute havoc for opposing defenses because trying to stop Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa is difficult enough to begin with.
18. Seattle Seahawks: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
The legion of boom might be ending, but Denzel Ward is the type of fiery playmaker the Seahawks need to add to keep them as one of the most intimidating defenses across the NFL. Ward is an extremely athletic cornerback who reads opposing quarterbacks while running step for step with receivers throughout their route. He typically lines up in press without looking to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage because he can stick with them from the beginning of their route.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado State
The Cowboys are now missing a #1 Receiver and they desperately need to address that need to help continue with Dak Prescott’s development. The best way to solve this issue is to draft the best wide receiver in this years Draft, Michael Gallup. Gallup is a great route runner with good hands, a deadly stride and top speed to beat corners deep.
20. Detroit Lions: Sam Hubbard, Edge, Ohio State
The Lions need another pass rusher to play opposite of Ezekiel Ansah. Sam Hubbard would be perfect for the Lions. He’s good against both the pass and the run, he’ll lineup anywhere they need him to, and he just plays his heart out every single play.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Billy Price, C, Ohio State
The interior of the Bengals’ offensive line is the weakness of their team. Drafting Billy Price would make an immediate impact for them as soon as he’s able to get back from the surgery that he had because of the pectoral injury he sustained at the NFL Combine. Price just plays aggressive and angry. When he’s not taking defensive linemen on by himself, he consistently makes the right read on which block to chip in on.
22. Buffalo Bills: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
The Bills just drafted Baker Mayfield with the 12th overall pick so they should go out and get him a new weapon instantly. Calvin Ridley is an elite route runner with very good hands and top end speed. He can run any route in the book and throughout his routes, he minupliates opposing defensive backs. Calvin Ridley and Kelvin Benjamin would be a great wide receiver combination for Mayfield to start his NFL career with.
23. New England Patriots: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
With Malcolm Butler gone, the Patriots will need to get a new starting cornerback because Super Bowl LII showed us all exactly what the Patriots look like without Butler on the field. Jaire Alexander is a twitchy and instinctive cornerback who always keeps his eyes locked on the ball. He can jump routes and bait quarterbacks into throwing his way because he can seem beat on a route, but he has incredible make up speed to recover. On top of being a good cornerback, Alexander is also a great punt and kick returner, and the Patriots need a punt returner.
24. Carolina Panthers: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
The Panthers need help in both their offensive, and defensive passing games so they’re going to draft the best player available who fits their needs, Isaiah Oliver. Oliver matches up well with big receivers because of his size and his ability to press at the line of scrimmage. The Panthers need exactly that because they face Julio Jones, Mike Evans, and Michael Thomas twice a year.
25. Tennessee Titans: Tremaine Edmunds, OLB, Virginia Tech
The Titans are an up and coming team, but they lack explosive athletes on defense. There aren’t many more explosive athletes in this Draft than Tremaine Edmunds. Edmunds has insane flashes while rushing the edge and he’s also very good in coverage; however he’s not as good against the run. I view him as a huge boom or bust prospect.
26. Atlanta Falcons: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
The Falcons rely heavily on their two-headed monster out of the backfield, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, and they could use a powerful offensive guard to play on either side of Alex Mack to provide blocks for those two running backs. Will Hernandez is a mean and nasty interior run-blocker who can also hold is own in pass protection situations. Hernandez would do a great job paired beside Mack to create lanes for Freeman and Coleman to run through on a consistent basics.
27. New Orleans Saints: Marcus Davenport, Edge, UTSA
The Saints currently have a nice three-man rotation going on at defensive end with Cam Jordan, Trey Hendrickson, and Alex Okafor. However; they need a pure pass rusher and that’s why Marcus Davenport would be a great pick for them. Davenport wouldn’t be forced to start right away, and he could learn from Cam Jordan. I view him as a big boom or bust prospect because of the flashes he shows as an edge rusher, but he also has a lot of mechanical aspects that he has to clean up.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Leighton Vander Esch, ILB, Boise State
With the injury to a player of Ryan Shazier’s caliber, the Steelers need to add another athletic linebacker to help fill in. Leighton Vander Esch is a big, very athletic and instinctive inside linebacker, who plays extremely well in coverage and is a secure tackler, but sometimes he isn’t able to shed blocks.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
The Jaguars have lost their top two wide receivers this offseason, so they need to obtain more playmakers at that position. Courtland Sutton would be a great fit on the Jaguars because of his huge catch radius and Blake Bortles can be inaccurate at times. Sutton is much quicker than you’d expect, and he has great run after catch ability. On top of that, he’s a pretty good route runner who knows how to sit in between zones.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Justin Reid, S, Stanford
It almost seems weird giving the Vikings another piece on defense because of how loaded they are, but if they need anything on defense, it’s a center-fielder. Harrison Smith one of the most versatile players in the NFL. There have been many plays where he was the deep safety in coverage, but I feel like if they could get a full time free safety, then that would allow Smith to roam free wherever he’s needed on the Vikings’ defense. That’s where Justin Reid comes into place. Reid is a very smart, reliable free safety who is a ball-hawk in the defensive backfield.
31. New England Patriots: Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State
The Patriots are known to use a “running back by committee” approach to their offense, but they currently don’t have any #1 running backs on their roster. Rashaad Penny would be a great fit for the Patriots because he’s a smooth runner, he has great vision, and he moves easily. Additionally, he possesses the ability to make his cuts at high speeds while reading his blocks.
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn
The Eagles have a good crop of young cornerbacks, but they don’t have one that seems to have the potential to be a #1 corner. In all fairness, Sidney Jones hasn’t had a chance to play yet because of a torn achilles he suffered at his college pro day. Carlton Davis is a big press cornerback who looks to get physical at every snap. Davis doesn’t have the best coverage skills, however with his ability to jam receivers at the line it will disrupt them from getting to their routes.
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