NFL Draft 2018: Mock Draft Projections and Analysis for Top Prospects

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2018

ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 01: Derrius Guice #5 of the LSU Tigers celebrates after a touchdown run against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the Citrus Bowl on January 1, 2018 in Orlando, Florida. Notre Dame won 21-17. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The NFL draft continues to take on a life of its own by the year, growing in staying power for good reason. 

Said upward trend for the draft process better educates fans for an entire 12 months instead of strictly after the playoffs, giving extra meaning to college games and keeping fans focused on the future. 

Some might detest the year-round nature of the draft process now, but one can't argue against the draft's importance—which might be growing in nature alongside the self-blooming industry.

Look at last year, when the New Orleans Saints drafting Alvin Kamara might have slapped another three or four years on Drew Brees' career. Or for contrast, look at the downfall of the Cincinnati Bengals after rolling the dice on John Ross. 

The same risk/reward applies in 2018, a class with one of the best running back prospects in a decade and four or five viable top-15 quarterbacks. 


2018 NFL Mock Draft 

1. Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

2. New York Giants: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

3. Indianapolis Colts: Derwin James, S, Florida State

4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans): Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

5. Denver Broncos: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

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

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

8. Chicago Bears: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

*9. San Francisco 49ers: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

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

11. Miami Dolphins: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

12. Cincinnati Bengals: Connor Williams, OT, Texas

13. Washington Redskins: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

14. Green Bay Packers: Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU

15. Arizona Cardinals: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

16. Baltimore Ravens: Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

18. Seattle Seahawks: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

19. Dallas Cowboys: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

20. Detroit Lions: Bryce Love, RB, Stanford 

21. Buffalo Bills: Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

23. Los Angeles Rams: Billy Price, C/G, Ohio State

24. Carolina Panthers: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

25. Tennessee Titans: Vita Vea, DT, Washington

26. Jacksonville Jaguars: Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

27. Atlanta Falcons: Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

28. New Orleans Saints: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

29. Pittsburgh Steelers: Marcus Davenport, DE/OLB, UTSA

30. Minnesota Vikings: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

31. Philadelphia Eagles: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

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

* Depicts tiebreakers to be decided by a coin flip. Picks Nos. 25-32 will be determined by playoff results.


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

Here's how good the 2018 draft class is at quarterback—it's almost easy to sweep Louisville's Lamar Jackson under the rug and think he could experience a major drop on draft day. 

No chance. 

The NFL draft is all about upside, unless a team decides to take the top guard prospect in the first round.

Jackson has it, to say the least. In 2017 alone, he threw for 3,660 yards and 27 touchdowns against 10 interceptions with another 1,601 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground. 

ESPN Stats & Info contextualized the production: 

Stats don't mean everything, but Jackson has a live arm and can clearly extend plays with his feet—two traits becoming increasingly important at the pro level. Look at how Russell Wilson has had to survive poor talent acquisition and coaching along his offensive line for years. 

The fact is, we live in a world where Blake Bortles is winning playoff games while hardly completing any passes, meaning Jackson's threat of versatility can carry along an offense. 

A team like the New York Jets won't be able to pass this up. They have plenty of building to do on both sides of the football, but getting a versatile signal-caller they can bring along over the years is a huge step in the right direction.

It's a good fit for Jackson, too, because he'll get to play with guys like Robby Anderson, and the front office keeps spending high draft picks and likely using the major market to lure top free agents. 


12. Cincinnati Bengals: Connor Williams, OT, Texas

AUSTIN, TX - NOVEMBER 24: Connor Williams #55 of the Texas Longhorns blocks Tony Jones #9 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the fourth quarter at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on November 24, 2017 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Imag
Tim Warner/Getty Images

Speaking of poor talent acquisition in the offensive trenches, the Bengals look like the Seattle Seahawks of the AFC in that regard. 

The Bengals let a pair of talented names in Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler walk before last season and didn't have proper replacements ready, especially on the left edge of the line, where Cedric Ogbuehi represented a turnstile more than a blocker. 

After a miserable season during which the team fired its offensive coordinator after two games, the Bengals have a shot at redemption in the draft and could select Texas' Connor Williams. 

Williams, 6'6" and 315 pounds, is one of the top tackle prospects to come out in years. He's more physical with his hands than a guy like Ogbuehi and has elite footwork, meaning he could help on the left side immediately.

His stock initially took a hit this year after an injury held him out of a chunk of the season, yet as Tony Pauline of Draft Analyst wrote, Williams' return was nothing short of impressive. 

"He looked dominant run blocking and played with a nasty streak, two traits he rarely showed in the past. His blocking helped paved the way for much of the 233 yards the Longhorns gained on the ground, and Williams kept his quarterback upright as WVU did not register a sack," Pauline wrote. 

Drafting offensive linemen in the first round isn't the most attractive thing for a fanbase, especially in a class loaded with so much offensive talent. But Bengals fans understand better than most how important it is—and how disastrous things can become if it goes poorly. 

Stock will rise and fall for most, though Williams' should remain steady throughout the process. 


31. Philadelphia Eagles: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

John Raoux/Associated Press

Running back keeps making an epic return to relevance and value in the NFL thanks to the likes of Kamara, Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette, not to mention outbursts from guys like Kareem Hunt and Jordan Howard, among others. 

The exclamation point on this turn of events will likely be Saquon Barkley's coming off the board first. But the hype around him doesn't mean another first-round back won't have a huge impact on a team right away. 

Think Derrius Guice out of LSU, a guy who would be headlining most draft classes at the position were it not for a talent like Barkley.

He's been in the headlines recently for declaring: 

This should help hype any fans of running back-needy teams, considering Guice put up 1,251 yards and 11 touchdowns on a 5.3 per-carry average in 2017. He followed strongly in the footsteps of Fournette via 26 total rushing scores over his past two seasons. 

Also something of a bruiser at 5'11" and 218 pounds, Guice could stand out for a contender like the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles got a strong performance from LeGarrette Blount this season, meaning a talented rookie like Guice could come in and have a huge impact while playing off the respect defenses have to pay Wentz.

This would be a case of the rich getting richer, though the Eagles have to hope Guice doesn't gain any more traction in the stock department as the draft process continues.


Stats courtesy of


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