2018 NFL Mock Draft: Predictions for Overlooked 1st-Round Prospects

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 28, 2018

MADISON, WI - NOVEMBER 18: Maurice Hurst #73 of the Michigan Wolverines in action during a game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium on November 18, 2017 in Madison, Wisconsin. Wisconsin won 24-10. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The 2018 NFL draft order is set, with the exception of a coin-flip and the teams competing in Super Bowl LII, meaning the vast majority of the league is focused on how to improve for 2018 and beyond through the draft.

Teams picking near the top of the draft will have a shot at the top quarterback prospects, as well as elite options at other positions, such as defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, running back Saquon Barkley and defensive end Bradley Chubb.

There are potential impact players to be had later in the first round, though, even if they are flying under the radar.

Here is a first-round mock draft based on the current order, along with analysis regarding some of the most overlooked potential first-round picks in the class.


2018 1st-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: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

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: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

19. Dallas Cowboys: Vita Vea, DT, Washington

20. Detroit Lions: Arden Key, DE, LSU

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

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

23. Los Angeles Rams: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

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

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

26. Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida

27. New Orleans Saints: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma

30. Minnesota Vikings: Isaiah Wynn, OL, Georgia

31. Philadelphia Eagles: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

32. New England Patriots: Harold Landry, DE, Boston College

Oakland and San Francisco will flip a coin to determine pick Nos. 9 and 10. Pick Nos. 31 and 32 will be determined by the outcome of Super Bowl LII.


Overlooked 1st-Round Prospects

Maurice Hurst

Getting pressure up the middle is a surefire way to throw off opposing passing games in the NFL, and Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst has the ability to do precisely that.

Hurst enjoyed four productive seasons with the Wolverines, but not one was better than his senior campaign in 2017.

He set career highs across the board with 59 tackles, 13.0 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks as part of a stout Michigan defense.

According to Justin Rogers of the Detroit News, ESPN NFL draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. said the following about Hurst and his NFL prospects: "In today's NFL, you have to be able to get after the quarterback and disrupt the pocket, and that's what Hurst is."

Despite some positive publicity, Hurst has been somewhat lost in the shuffle during the early part of the draft process.

In terms of defensive tackles, Alabama's Da'Ron Payne and Washington's Vita Vea appear to be on more radars as clear first-round picks.

Payne and Vea are different types of players, though, as they eat up space and stop the run without getting to the quarterback much, whereas Hurst can do a little bit of everything.

If Hurst is available to the Buffalo Bills with one of their two first-round draft picks, he would be a solid choice because of the needs he would fill.

The Bills were 29th in the NFL against the run in 2017 and 29th in sacks, and Hurst would go a long way toward improving their standing in both areas.


Taven Bryan

After seeing somewhat limited action during his first two seasons at Florida, defensive tackle Taven Bryan broke out in a big way as a junior in 2017.

Bryan finished with 37 tackles, 6.0 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks as a standout performer for a struggling Gators team.

Despite the turmoil Florida went through amid a coaching change, Bryan thrived and showed the ability to be a quality penetrating tackle at the next level.

John Owning of FanRag Sports recently tweeted several impressive videos of Bryan's game film from last season, including this pocket-destroying rush:

Bryan consistently gets solid push up the middle, and his high-motor style allows him to keep pressure on opposing quarterbacks, even when plays are extended.

While Bryan may not excel quite as much against the run or as a pass-rusher as Hurst, he can do a little bit of everything and fits well as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 system.

If the Atlanta Falcons are unable to re-sign Dontari Poe in free agency, they will be in the market for his replacement.

Bryan is a different type of player than Poe in that he doesn't excel against the run to the same degree, but he would likely be a good fit in Atlanta's fast and energetic defense.


Harold Landry

The 2018 NFL draft contains several talented edge-rushers, and Boston College's Harold Landry may have the potential to be the best of them all.

Landry was dominant as a junior in 2016, as he finished with 50 tackles, 22.0 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks for the Eagles.

He decided to return for his senior season in a move that may have hurt his draft stock. Landry was limited to eight games, and he registered 38 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks.

Despite the drop-off, Landry's overall collegiate numbers jump off the page, which means he is still in the first-round conversation.

Even so, he may be lagging behind the likes of Chubb, Arden Key, Marcus Davenport and Sam Hubbard.

Although Chubb seems to be universally heralded as the top pass-rusher in the draft, Peter Bukowski of FanRag Sports believes Landry is better at getting to the quarterback:

Even if Landry doesn't bring much else to the table besides racking up sacks, there is plenty of need for situational pass-rushers in the pass-happy NFL.

The New England Patriots are one team that could benefit greatly from landing a stud in that department.

New England tied for seventh in sacks during the regular season, but it lacked a dominant pass-rusher and got to that point using a committee approach.

Landry would be an ideal addition to a defense that improved as the 2017 season progressed, and Pats scouts have likely seen plenty of him since he played his college ball locally.


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