NFL Mock Draft 2018: Predictions for Top Prospects' Landing Spots

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJanuary 23, 2018

IOWA CITY, IOWA- SEPTEMBER 2:  Quarterback Josh Allen #17 of the Wyoming Cowboys in the first quarter against the Iowa Hawkeyes, on September 2, 2017 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.  (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)
Matthew Holst/Getty Images

One of the biggest steps of the draft process is underway in Mobile, Alabama, as top talents headed to the 2018 NFL draft converge for the Senior Bowl. 

There, top names ranging from Baker Mayfield to Josh Allen and beyond will run through a gauntlet of drills in front of the media and teams, looking to improve positioning on the prospect stock market ahead of the scouting combine itself.  

For now, the outlook is basic—four or five quarterbacks have first-round potential, though the king of the class so far is a running back. It's another deep defensive class as well, if not a better offensive line outlook than we've seen in a long time. 

Here's a look at the official order sans a Super Bowl dictating the final two spots, plus a mock based on team need and the current prospect stock market.  


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. 31 and 32 will be determined by playoff results.


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

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield is one of the hottest names in the draft class for a bevy of reasons. 

Mayfield turned some heads for a few on-field antics and overall character quirks over the course of his collegiate career, but he's mostly in the spotlight for his elite on-field upside—something NFL teams draft for heavily in the first round. 

In the above scenario, the Cleveland Browns shouldn't have any qualms about taking a prospect who just completed 70.5 percent of his passes with 4,627 yards and 43 touchdowns against six interceptions, not to mention he had another 311 yards and five scores as a rusher. 

But the production is just an affirmation of the upside, as Mayfield's ability as a passer is only more attractive because of his ability to extend plays with his feet. As Alex Marvez of Sporting News points out, teams with a need and high draft pick such as the Denver Broncos can't wait to get their hands on him: 

Alex Marvez @alexmarvez

ICYMI: Baker Mayfield should start working with the @Broncos coaching staff today at the @seniorbowl. Whether he plays in the game is another story altogether. My @sportingnews story: https://t.co/FqlKTOA2aG

Much of Mayfield's pro outlook will lean on where he lands and how a coaching staff builds around him. Believe it or not, Cleveland is a great landing spot in this regard if it follows this mock and lands Saquon Barkley to go alongside Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman. 

With a pair of top-five picks, it only makes sense for the Browns to roll the dice on a quarterback with extreme upside to give themselves an option besides DeShone Kizer. Like everyone else, the front office there has seen what a quality backup can do for a team, even in the playoffs. 


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

With four quarterbacks off the board in the top six, teams still wanting to address the position don't have many options outside of Wyoming's Josh Allen. 

Even then, Allen is one of the more polarizing prospects in the class so far—so it only makes sense a team with a pair of first-round picks such as the Buffalo Bills would be the one comfortable enough to make the gamble official. 

In hindsight, should Allen reach his upside, he could look like one of the steals of the draft in this scenario. He's 6'5" and 233 pounds with many having a hard time forgetting the potential he flashed in 2016 while throwing for 28 touchdowns against 15 interceptions. The polarization comes from a 2017 campaign in which his numbers dipped to 16 touchdowns and six interceptions.  

For his part, Allen is saying the right things and doing something most prospects won't say, as captured by NFL Media's Andrew Siciliano: 

Andrew Siciliano @AndrewSiciliano

Josh Allen interview worth a listen @923TheFan. He didn’t lobby to be #1 pick, but said: “I want to be the guy that turns around the Cleveland Browns. The guy that does that is going to be immortalized in Cleveland forever.” https://t.co/DpDqqvy9Pw

While admirable, a variety of options at the position see Allen slip to No. 22. There, Buffalo is likely tired of the Tyrod Taylor-Nathan Peterman carousel. Taylor couldn't get it done in the playoffs and is now going on 29 years old, and Peterman is a former fifth-round pick who has yet to impress. 

Allen, at the least, gives the Bills a long-term developmental option while they rebuild the rest of the offense around the position. If done correctly, the patient approach could have Allen ending up as one of the better prospects from the class. 


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

Unlike the last two names detailed, Marcus Davenport out of UTSA is far from a household name. 

For now. 

Davenport is a giant of a linebacker at 6'7" and 255 pounds who enters the draft coming off a season in which he registered 8.5 sacks. The speed and burst around the edge is there on film, so his stock will heavily fluctuate on how he does in drills alongside other top-flight prospects in Mobile. 

In fact, this is becoming a widely held sentiment now that more observers have had time to sit back and watch the film: 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Remember the name: Marcus Davenport. @nfldraftscout believes the UTSA product could climb into the first round with a big Senior Bowl week https://t.co/zjUqVoaekQ

A defensive-minded team like the Steelers would love to get their hands on Davenport near the end of the first round. The team not only needs some help after the Ryan Shazier injury, it needs some simple attitude and enforcement after getting run over by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the playoffs. 

The nice thing about a prospect like Davenport is the Steelers can move him all over the place, getting some interesting results while he's on the field with guys like Vince Williams and Bud Dupree. 

Provided the drills match the tape, there's an avalanche of hype set to steamroll downhill in favor of Davenport—the Steelers just have to hope he sticks within their striking distance.  


Stats courtesy of NFL.com.


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