2018 NFL Mock Draft: Prospect Predictions for Every Selection of Round 1

Ryan McCrystal@@ryan_mccrystalFeatured ColumnistJanuary 17, 2018

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 17: Quenton Nelson #56 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates after a 10-yard touchdown reception by Corey Robinson against the USC Trojans in the fourth quarter of the game at Notre Dame Stadium on October 17, 2015 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The NFL season is winding down and all but four teams have now fully turned their attention to the 2018 NFL draft. 

The offseason scouting process kicked off this week with the East-West Shrine Game practices in Florida. While the majority of the players in the Shrine Game are likely to be late-round picks, evaluating their performances will help teams get a feel for the depth in this year's class and could influence some offseason strategies. 

As for the elite prospects, most of them will either skip the offseason All-Star game circuit or will participate in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, later this month. 

Here's a look at an updated mock draft featuring some of those elite prospects, followed by a closer look at a few of the selections:

         

1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

2. New York Giants: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

3. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State

4. Cleveland Browns (from HOU): Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

5. Denver Broncos: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

6. New York Jets: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Arden Key, DE, LSU

8. Chicago Bears: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

9. *San Francisco 49ers: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

10. *Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

11. Miami Dolphins: Derwin James, S, Florida State

12. Cincinnati Bengals: Billy Price, G/C, Ohio State

13. Washington Redskins: Vita Vea, DT, Washington 

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

15. Arizona Cardinals: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma 

16. Baltimore Ravens: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

18. Seattle Seahawks: Connor Williams, OT, Texas

19. Dallas Cowboys: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

20. Detroit Lions: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

21. Buffalo Bills: Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State

22. Buffalo Bills (from KC): Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford

23. Los Angeles Rams: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

24. Carolina Panthers: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA 

25. Tennessee Titans: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

26. Atlanta Falcons: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

27. New Orleans Saints: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida

30. Philadelphia Eagles: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

31. Minnesota Vikings: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

32. New England Patriots: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech 

*49ers and Raiders selection order will be determined by coin flip at NFL combine. 

       

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Arden Key

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 19: Arden Key #49 of the LSU Tigers celebrates a sack during the first half of a game against the Florida Gators at Tiger Stadium on November 19, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Most Buccaneers fans probably focused their frustrations on Jameis Winston's lack of development during their disappointing 2017 season. However, the most glaring weakness entering the offseason is actually on the defensive side of the ball. 

Tampa Bay generated a league-worst 22 sacks a season ago. 

Defensive tackles Gerald McCoy (six sacks) and Clinton McDonald (five sacks) were assets on the interior of the Bucs' line, but they didn't have a single edge-rusher with more than 2.5 sacks. 

Unless this area is addressed in free agency, it would be difficult for Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht to justify not addressing their need for an edge-rusher with this selection. 

The pass-rusher most likely to attract their attention is LSU's Arden Key, who is coming off a somewhat disappointing injury-plagued season. However, Key more than proved his value during his first two years at LSU during which he generated a combined 87 QB pressures, according to CFB Film Room

Obviously, Key will have to earn the approval from Tampa's doctors before the team could consider him with this selection, but if his health checks out, he could have an immediate impact on the Bucs defense in 2018.

        

8. Chicago Bears: Quenton Nelson

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 21: Quenton Nelson #56 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish blocks during a game against the USC Trojans at Notre Dame Stadium on October 21, 2017 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame won 49-14. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Bears' top priority this offseason should be upgrading the talent around Mitchell Trubisky. 

Ideally, Chicago will find a No. 1 receiver for Trubisky this offseason, but that guy probably won't come from this draft class. While there's some nice depth in this class, none of the receivers stand out as elite top-10 talents. 

Without a viable option at receiver, the Bears may turn their attention with this selection to the offensive line. 

Trubisky had a sack rate of 8.6 percent in 2017—worse than all but three quarterbacks around the league. Until Chicago can protect him in the pocket, it's going to be difficult for him to make the necessary strides to succeed in the league. 

Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson is the most polished offensive line prospect in this class. He would help protect Trubisky and also could open things up in the running game for Jordan Howard. 

Between Josh Sitton, Cody Whitehair and Kyle Long, the Bears have a talented interior offensive line. However, Sitton has just one year remaining on his contract, and Long is attempting to return from neck surgery and a variety of other injuries suffered during the season. 

Long's health is probably the biggest concern, and could be what ultimately pushes the Bears in Nelson's direction. 

      

23. Los Angeles Rams: Isaiah Oliver

BOULDER, CO - NOVEMBER 3:  Defensive back Isaiah Oliver #26 of the Colorado Buffaloes encourages the crowd to make noise during the first quarter of a game against the UCLA Bruins at Folsom Field on November 3, 2016 in Boulder, Colorado.  (Photo by Dustin
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Led by new head coach Sean McVay, the Rams offense exploded on to the scene this season, but serious questions remain on the defensive side of the ball. 

One of the major issues that needs to be addressed is the secondary, which is complicated by the impending free agency of cornerback Trumaine Johnson and safety Lamarcus Joyner. 

The Rams have used the franchise tag on Johnson each of the past two years—probably overpaying him in the process—and now need to either let him go or finally make a long-term commitment. 

Of the two, Joyner is probably more critical to the Rams' rebuilding plans on defense, and signing both might require too much money tied up in one area of the roster. As a result, letting Johnson walk and replacing him in the draft could be the smart move. 

Fortunately for the Rams, this is a deep class of cornerbacks. Colorado's Isaiah Oliver, Louisville's Jaire Alexander and Florida State's Tarvarus McFadden could all be viable targets in the first round, but Oliver is the top pick here. 

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