NFL Draft 2018: Updated Mock Draft for Nation's Top Prospects

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJanuary 17, 2018

BOULDER, CO - NOVEMBER 11:  Ronald Jones II #25 of the USC Trojans carries the ball for a touchdown against the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field on November 11, 2017 in Boulder, Colorado.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Entries for the 2018 NFL draft went official Monday, with Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins perhaps the most surprising player going back to school instead of pursuing what seems like assured first-round status. 

Overall, though, there weren't an overwhelming number of surprises as the NFL itself heads into conference championship weekend. The 2018 class remains strong when it comes to defenders who can get after quarterbacks, signal-callers themselves and even looks better than the last few offerings of talent along the offensive line. 

Let's look at a mock below before the conference championship games this coming weekend. 


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: Vita Vea, DT, Washington

20. Detroit Lions: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

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: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

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

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

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

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

30. Minnesota Vikings: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

31. Philadelphia Eagles: Ronald Jones II, RB, USC 

32. New England Patriots: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, EDGE, Oklahoma

*Depicts tiebreakers to be decided by a coin flip. Pick Nos. 29-32 will be determined by playoff results.


11. Miami Dolphins: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

Butch Dill/Associated Press

Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick is one of the more interesting players in the class. 

Fitzpatrick is the latest in a long line of successful Crimson Tide defenders to hit the pros, with even safety Eddie Jackson shining in spot duty for the Chicago Bears this past season. But he's having a hard time getting his name above the likes of Roquan Smith and Derwin James. 

This conundrum for Fitzpatrick, though, may only last so long. 

Take a look at a note from Bleacher Report's Matt Miller: 

Matt Miller @nfldraftscout

29 for Alabama, Minkah Fitzpatrick, is the best defender in the draft class. Elite athlete, elite IQ, elite person

A versatile defensive back standing at 6'1" and 195 pounds and coached by Nick Saban won't have a hard time looking impressive during the draft process. Not only is he stout in coverage, Fitzpatrick is noticeably aggressive and effective against the run, giving creative NFL coaches options with how to deploy him on a per-snap basis. 

In the above mock, this classifies as a steal for the Miami Dolphins, a team in the AFC East that isn't getting rid of quarterback Tom Brady just yet. The defense already has interesting young players like Cordrea Tankersley and Xavien Howard, among others, but there's no such thing as too many quality defensive backs on a roster. 


25. Tennessee Titans: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

The Maurice Hurst hype is coming, folks. 

Hurst hasn't had the easiest time standing out in the draft process yet. 

Standing at 6'2" and 282 pounds, Hurst gets low with power and most offensive linemen can't stop him. CBSSports.com's Chris Trapasso wrote about him during the collegiate season: "And it's like every interior offensive lineman knows he's going to fire off the ball like a rocket, but it doesn't matter. His first step is just too quick. He's in the Geno Atkins mold."

The draft process has a way of blowing up guys like Hurst, who come in big with some eye-popping measurables. What really counts, though, is the play on film, something the numbers from drills will only contextualize. 

Knowing players like this are rare, the Tennessee Titans won't blink if Hurst is there at No. 25. Slipping him into a rotation with Sylvester Williams and Jurrell Casey would give the defense one of the nastier fronts in football coming off a season in which it piled on 43 sacks and a top-five run defense. 

With the way the Jaguars continue to force a defensive arms race in the AFC South, and the Titans now having to deal with Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans for a long time, stockpiling a talent like Hurst who can help a defense create unorthodox pressure without sending extra guys on a blitz is an easy call.


31. Philadelphia Eagles: Ronald Jones II, RB, USC

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

With Stanford's Bryce Love returning to college, a prospect like Ronald Jones II out of USC can step into the spotlight. 

Jones, 6'0" and 200 pounds, is the sort of running back who might have found his way into the first round either way considering he ripped off three runs of at least 50 yards as a junior. In his final year Jones had 1,550 yards and 19 touchdowns on a 5.9 yards-per-carry average. 

NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah compared Jones to Jamaal Charles back in September: "Jones is one of my favorite players to watch in college football. He's always been an explosive runner, capable of scoring from anywhere on the field. He's added a new element to his game this fall—power. Jones added 10 pounds to his frame in the offseason, and he has been breaking a ton of tackles in the first two games."

A LeGarrette Blount-Jay Ajayi combo isn't guaranteed to keep plugging away at a successful clip next season and beyond, so gambling on Jones improving a strong committee or being bell-cow back is a nice investment. 

Given the environment with Wentz and the Eagles, the mutually beneficial partnering could have a prospect like Jones perhaps ready to steal some hype from Saquon Barkley.


Stats courtesy of NFL.com.