NFL Draft 2018: 1st-Round Mock Draft as Super Bowl 52 Approaches

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJanuary 31, 2018

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 30: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Louisville Cardinals directs the offense against the Mississippi State Bulldogs during the TaxSlayer Bowl at EverBank Field on December 30, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Bulldogs won 31-27. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The road to the Super Bowl always entertains, though most wouldn't have dared to predict a major, if not odd trade going down on the path to Super Bowl 52. 

Somehow, a trade found a way to overshadow the underdog story of the Philadelphia Eagles and funny Bill Belichick answers. Thank the Kansas City Chiefs, who agreed to trade quarterback Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins Tuesday, according to the Kansas City Star's Terez A. Paylor.

Other than stealing the spotlight, it is yet another confirmation of the position's importance. Washington likes what it sees with Smith and was willing to pay a premium, a decision made easier for the Chiefs thanks to the presence of Patrick Mahomes II. 

It just so happens the rest of the league continues to approach a deep quarterback class, so let's take a look at an updated mock based on team need and the 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: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC 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: Derwin James, S, Florida 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: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

13. Washington Redskins: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

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

15. Arizona Cardinals: Connor Williams, OT, Texas

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

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Tremaine Edmunds - LB, Virginia Tech

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: Denzel Ward - CB, Ohio State

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.

       

3. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

Andres Leighton/Associated Press

The Indianapolis Colts, perhaps more than any other team, need to lean on a best-player-available approach without deterring from the path. 

These Colts can't do anything but hope Andrew Luck's injury gets right and he gets back on the the field. Otherwise, the team has to compensate for years of miserable drafting and decisions overall by loading the roster with blue-chip prospects. 

The team can't afford to pass on NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb here. 

Chubb, 6'4" and 275 pounds, isn't the flashiest player in the draft, but he's a force off the edge who shouldn't have a hard time transitioning to the pros. The Myles Garrett comparisons will chase the Bronko Nagurski Award winner into the draft as it is. 

And as Bleacher Report's Brent Sobleski pointed out, there isn't anything wrong with Chubb starting his career in a rotation:

The point applies to any team with Chubb—the best teams stack top prospects at premium spots and find success. 

In Indianapolis, the Colts coaching staff can find a role for Chubb right out of the gates and hope he keys a continued positive outlook for the unit alongside names like Quincy Wilson and Malik Hooker. 

         

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

The New York Jets can't be too happy about the Smith news, and it will drive Kirk Cousins' asking price on the open market through the roof. 

Even if the Jets intend on chasing Cousins, though, the smart play is to also grab a high-end prospect to at least develop for a year or two before re-evaluating the situation again.  

Louisville's Lamar Jackson is quite the prospect to slip into this role, whether behind a new add like Cousins or a re-up with Josh McCown. 

Jackson is, in a word, raw. But he's coming off a season in which he threw for 3,660 yards and 27 touchdowns with 10 interceptions, not to mention another 1,601 yards and 18 touchdowns as a rusher. 

NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah summed up Jackson's situation well: "He's the most electric runner at the position to enter the NFL in the last decade. On designed QB runs, he's very elusive and slithery. Overall, Jackson needs time to work out some mechanical issues, but his playmaking ability is special."

The draft process will shred through Jackson, as it does most quarterbacks. But he's a special player because of his deep-ball accuracy and ability to extend plays with his feet—two traits most players entering the pros don't come equipped with if ever develop. 

In New York, Jackson sitting for a year or two while the front office builds up the offense around him could lead to a boon for a team still trying to fight for survival in the same division as Tom Brady. 

              

13. Washington Redskins: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

David Goldman/Associated Press

The Redskins apparently have their guy at quarterback, so it's time to better build around the position. 

Washington slipped up a year ago, letting weapons such as DeSean Jackson walk and failing to get anything notable from a new face like Terrelle Pryor Sr.—the result being Cousins having a down year and the rushing attack only totaling 3.6 yards per carry. 

The running game needs an infusion of talent as well, but adding a prospect like Alabama wideout Calvin Ridley at least opens things up for the ground game via spacing. Ridley, after all, is a guy who managed to carve out enough room for 63 catches, 967 yards and five touchdowns as a junior, with 19 receiving touchdowns over three years total despite a run-based attack. 

Ridley is the sort of weapon the Redskins could use in an almost predictable sense, letting him go to work with the ball in his hands.

Bleacher Report's Ryan McCrystal explained: 

This is just what the Redskins need, especially if it takes some heat off Josh Doctson and tight end Jordan Reed, giving a quarterback like Smith options on every down and making the threat of the running game bigger. 

One doesn't have to search far to find an analyst suggesting Ridley is the best wideout in the class. His reliability—thanks to great hands and ability to fight for yardage—help the argument, though landing in an offense like the one in Washington will only reinforce the idea after the fact. 

             

Stats courtesy of NFL.com.

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