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2018 NFL Mock Draft: Predicting Order Prospects Will Be Selected in 1st Round

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 3, 2018

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 30:  Running back Saquon Barkley #26 of the Penn State Nittany Lions runs the football 92 yards to score a touchdown against the Washington Huskies during the first half of the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on December 30, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

The top 20 slots for the 2018 NFL draft are officially set with the exception of a coin toss between the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers, meaning much of the league can start turning up the heat with regard to scouting and creating draft boards.

While the overall depth in the 2018 class is somewhat questionable, there is no shortage of star power to keep things interesting during the early part of the first round. That is especially true at quarterback since as many as five or six signal-callers could come off the board in the first 32 picks.

With the 2018 regular season in the books, here is a full first-round mock draft, along with a closer look at some of the biggest names likely to be selected in the opening round.

           

2018 First-Round NFL Mock Draft

1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

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

3. Indianapolis Colts: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

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

5. Denver Broncos: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

6. New York Jets: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

8. Chicago Bears: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

9. Oakland Raiders: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

10. San Francisco 49ers: Derwin James, S, Florida State

11. Miami Dolphins: Arden Key, DE, LSU

12. Cincinnati Bengals: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

13. Washington Redskins: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

14. Green Bay Packers: Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

15. Arizona Cardinals: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

16. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Connor Williams, OT, Texas

18. Seattle Seahawks: Bryce Love, RB, Stanford

19. Dallas Cowboys: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

20. Detroit Lions: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

21. Tennessee Titans: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

22. Buffalo Bills: Marcus Davenport, DE, Texas-San Antonio

23. Jacksonville Jaguars: Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma

24. Buffalo Bills (from KC): Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

25. Atlanta Falcons: Vita Vea, DT, Washington

26. Los Angeles Rams: Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

27. New Orleans Saints: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

28. Carolina Panthers: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

29. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

30. Philadelphia Eagles: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

31. New England Patriots: Austin Bryant, DE, Clemson

32. Minnesota Vikings: Isaiah Wynn, OL, Georgia

          

Breaking Down Biggest Names

Saquon Barkley

After a remarkable collegiate career at Penn State, running back Saquon Barkley officially declared for the 2018 NFL draft, and he has all the makings of a top-five selection.

Selecting running backs in the first round is en vogue once again after a few lean years, and there is little doubt that Barkley is a first-round talent.

Much like Ezekiel Elliott immediately helped reverse the fortunes of the Dallas Cowboys when they selected him No. 4 overall in 2016, Barkley could potentially do that for the team that takes him.

Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports is among those who believes Barkley possesses all the tools needed to be a stud at the next level:

Bruce Feldman @BruceFeldmanCFB

Saquon Barkley announces he's skipping his senior year at #PennState to enter the NFL draft. Most complete RB I've seen to come out of college in many years. Great runner, receiver AND blocker. Also will light up the Combine.

Barkley enjoyed an incredible junior season for the Nittany Lions, as he rushed for 1,271 yards and 18 touchdowns, caught 54 passes for 632 yards and three scores, and he even returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.

While it's unlikely that a team will allow him to return kicks in the NFL, he is a multi-dimensional back capable of playing every down at the next level in the same vein as Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams.

Most teams could use a player like Barkley, but perhaps none more so than the 0-16 Cleveland Browns.

Cleveland figures to take a franchise quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick, but it also owns No. 4 acquired from the Houston Texans, which seems like a good spot for Barkley.

Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr. are a solid running back tandem, but the Browns need a true workhorse who can take over games.

Barkley is that, and even if their likely quarterback selection doesn't pan out immediately, the Browns figure to be a far better team in 2018 if they land Barkley.

           

Baker Mayfield

Few prospects in the 2018 NFL draft are more polarizing than Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield.

While there are some knocks against him, he is coming off a Heisman Trophy-winning season that saw him complete 70.5 percent of his passes for 4,627 yards, 43 touchdowns and six interceptions to go along with 311 yards and five scores on the ground.

He also overcame a lot of obstacles to get there, as pointed out by ESPN's Darren Rovell:

Darren Rovell @darrenrovell

Called too short. Only FAU, New Mexico & Rice offer. Walks on to Texas Tech. Wins QB job. Gets Hurt. Transfers. Walks on to Oklahoma. Becomes three-year starter. Leads Sooners to 34 wins in 40 games. Wins 2017 Heisman. Hell of a run, Baker Mayfield. https://t.co/cQ8bRyeUx0

As impressive as his numbers were, there are also some concerns. Mayfield is on the small side, although New Orleans Saints signal-caller Drew Brees has proved that can be overcome.

Perhaps more disconcerting are potential character issues based on a public intoxication arrest in February and an incident that saw him make a lewd gesture toward the Kansas bench in November.

Mayfield's teammates and coaches have had nothing but good things to say about him publicly, however, and every indication is that he is a fantastic on-field leader.

There are enough good qualities to convince a quarterback-needy team to take him in the first round, and the Denver Broncos could be that team at No. 5.

Denver cycled through Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch under center in 2017, and none of them appear to be the long-term answer.

General manager John Elway is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in his own right, and it is easy to see him falling in love with Mayfield's competitive fire and gunslinger mentality.

Denver represents a good situation for Mayfield since it still boasts a talented defense and can provide him with some dynamic weapons in wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.

The Broncos are a quarterback away from being a contender once again, and Mayfield should get a chance to be that guy.

            

Lamar Jackson

Few players in the history of college football were more dynamic than Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, and if he decides to forgo his final season of college eligibility, he will likely be the 2018 NFL draft's most intriguing prospect.

Evaluations regarding Jackson's NFL future seem to be all over the map. Some believe he can be a star quarterback at the next level, while others think he's destined to be a bust.

Jackson won the Heisman Trophy in 2016, and his 2017 performance was nearly as good, as he completed a career-high 59.1 percent of his passes for 3,660 yards, 27 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, while rushing for 1,601 yards and 18 scores.

Along with Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick, Jackson is just the third player in FBS history to have at least 50 career passing touchdowns and 50 career rushing touchdowns.

There seem to be plenty of doubts regarding his passing ability translating to the next level, but Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports believes he is good enough in that area:

Jordan Schultz @Schultz_Report

Lamar Jackson is just a runner? Please. Jackson has 1k MORE passing yards than Aaron Rodgers' most efficient season at Cal, MORE passing TDs than Carson Wentz at NDSU, higher passer rating than Deshaun Watson's best yr at Clemson+MORE ypa/half the INTs than Drew Brees at Purdue. https://t.co/klwJtb8tQN

Perhaps the best case against Jackson is the punishment he has taken as a runner through three college seasons.

It is fair to wonder if his body will hold up over the long haul while playing the same style in the NFL. Robert Griffin III is an apt comparison, and it took just one season before he suffered a major injury that forced him to change his game, rendering him a shell of his former self.

Jackson can do some magical things on the football field, though, and his ability to impact an offense in many ways is appealing.

The New York Jets may have played their way out of landing a franchise quarterback by performing beyond expectations in 2017, but if Jackson is there at No. 6, he presents an option that could be tough to pass up.

General manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles will be back in 2018 but nothing is guaranteed beyond that if significant progress isn't made.

Maintaining the status quo at quarterback may not get them there, but if Jackson shows flashes of the same brilliance he displayed at Louisville, it could be a sign to ownership that the Jets are back on the right track.

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