2018 NFL Mock Draft: Matt Miller's Post-Super Bowl Predictions
Good morning, football fans. It's officially draft season.
In keeping with tradition, the morning after the Super Bowl I post a seven-round mock draft. As always, I'll caution you guys to not get too upset about team needs—because they're all going to change in free agency—and to remember that I'm still in the process of learning about these players. But that's never stopped me from having some fun and digging into a mock draft.
For me, mock drafts are a great exercise in learning team needs and sorting out my thoughts on players. The NFL Scouting Combine in late February will help with that, but this early look touches on where the players are valued and what I'm hearing from NFL teams in regards to what they're looking for.
You'll notice this mock draft isn't 256 picks long. That's because compensatory picks haven't been announced yet. Once those extra 32 picks are announced, they will be added into future mock drafts. But that's important to note because a player drafted in Round 5 of this mock draft might be a Round 4 player with compensatory picks added in.
1. Cleveland Browns
The Pick: QB Sam Darnold, USC
New general manager John Dorsey has one job this offseason—find the Cleveland Browns a franchise quarterback.
After the previous regime traded out of chances to draft Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson, it's on Dorsey to find the first franchise quarterback in the rebooted Browns' history. Going with Sam Darnold not only makes sense, but it's also what I'm hearing the team is leaning toward.
The USC junior doesn't have Josh Allen's arm strength, Baker Mayfield's playmaking or Josh Rosen's smooth stroke, but he is the best of all the traits put together. You don't have to worry about Darnold grabbing his crotch on the sidelines or wearing a "F--k Trump" hat to one of the president's golf courses, and there aren't the questions about his accuracy like there are with Allen.
Darnold also has the body type to handle the AFC North with his thicker frame and toughness. He was recruited to play linebacker, after all. If the Browns want a franchise quarterback, Darnold is the safest way to go.
2. New York Giants
The Pick: QB Josh Rosen, UCLA
Will the New York Giants draft a quarterback, or will sentiment rule the room, allowing Eli Manning to return as the starter?
None of us can know the answer right now, especially with former Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman taking over the job in New York. It's easy to say that Gettleman, who was with the Giants when Eli Manning was drafted, would bend to the will of ownership and the fanbase in keeping Manning around while developing last year's third-rounder Davis Webb.
What the Giants should do is draft a quarterback. Manning's play has fallen off as of late, and that won't be fixed by trading this pick or drafting a pass-rusher. If you're Gettleman and the Giants, you have to plan to not be drafting this high again anytime soon. That means you get the quarterback.
Rosen won't be a fit everywhere, but I believe he is a fit in New York and would step in and challenge Manning for the starting job immediately.
3. Indianapolis Colts
The Pick: EDGE Bradley Chubb, North Carolina State
If the Indianapolis Colts keep this pick instead of trading out to a quarterback-needy team, I expect NC State's Bradley Chubb to be the selection. Of course, it's early February and that could change, but the big pass-rusher is exactly what this team lacks.
Chubb has power in his 275-pound frame and uses it well to shed blockers, but he's much more agile than one would expect from someone his size. He can stand up and rush the quarterback or put his hand in the dirt to crash the backfield. Chubb's scheme versatility is a sell in today's NFL when defenses rarely stay in a base 4-3 or 3-4.
If not a trade out or Chubb, the Colts front office could go "best player available" here and draft Saquon Barkley from Penn State. It wouldn't be a huge surprise to load up the offense, but the needs on defense make it more likely right now that Chubb is the pick.
4. Cleveland Browns (from Houston)
The Pick: RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State
The best player in the draft lasts until pick No. 4, and John Dorsey's Cleveland Browns should be dancing in the draft room.
Pairing Barkley with No. 1 pick Sam Darnold gives the Browns a dynamic duo of young players to build the offense around. Add in that Cleveland already has a good offensive line and a budding star in tight end David Njoku, and there is a foundation of greatness.
Barkley, as I've said before, is the top running back prospect I've ever graded. He's a brick house at 230 pounds, and I expect that he will run the 40-yard dash in the 4.3s at the combine. He is also a great person off the field. If Dorsey and Co. are rolling the dice on the quarterback position at No. 1 overall, they can rest easy knowing the pick at No. 4 is the safest and best in this class.
5. Denver Broncos
The Pick: QB Josh Allen, Wyoming
The Denver Broncos will be major players for Kirk Cousins in free agency, but in this early mock draft, I'm projecting them to go a different direction—signing Case Keenum and drafting a quarterback of the future. Wiping his hands free of Paxton Lynch in one offseason, John Elway can get a restart at quarterback and have a situation similar to what the Kansas City Chiefs had with Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes.
Josh Allen isn't a Day 1 starter despite rare physical tools. Like Mahomes last year, he needs to work on correcting some mechanical issues with his feet to improve his accuracy. But also like Mahomes or Cam Newton, Allen can make some amazing things happen with his arm and his feet.
Broncos fans seem dead set on Baker Mayfield, which is a possibility here, but Allen is the quarterback I continue to hear the team linked to.
6. New York Jets
The Pick: CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State
If Kirk Cousins doesn't land in Denver, where does he go? I'm projecting the New York Jets open up the checkbook and land the prized free agent.
With Cousins on the roster, quarterback is no longer a need for the Jets. That allows general manager Mike Maccagnan to go after the best player on the board...but for me that's safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, and there's no way the Jets need a safety. So, on to the second-best player, which is Ohio State's Denzel Ward.
A feisty, tough cornerback with excellent speed and instincts, Ward would fill a huge need for the Jets as the front office tries to continue building a powerhouse secondary. And while pass-rusher is a bigger need, there isn't one on the board worthy of a top-six selection.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Pick: S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
The run on quarterbacks benefits the Buccaneers, as my No. 2-ranked player falls into their laps at pick No. 7. Alabama's Minkah Fitzpatrick is the versatile, attacking safety this defense so badly needs.
Fitzpatrick is one of the highest-graded players I've come across off the field. Coaches, teammates and even opponents rave about him. He's as clean as they come, and he backs it up with excellent instincts and a high football IQ. He and Jamal Adams aren't similar athletes, but off the field they're like brothers.
On the field, I've heard Fitzpatrick compared to Jalen Ramsey and Micah Hyde. He's probably somewhere in the middle for me, but that still projects out to be a damn good player with the tools to rush the quarterback, stop the run, man up in coverage and be the leader of a squad.
8. Chicago Bears
The Pick: OG Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame
Oh, man. The Bears land a difference-maker in Quenton Nelson, as he follows his former college offensive line coach to Chicago from Notre Dame. And while guard might seem like a boring pick and not a huge need, teams will gladly make a spot on the starting lineup for this monster.
Nelson is a violent, brutal blocker, but he's also a fluid athlete with the movement skills to pull, trap and keep pace with speedy pass-rushers on the interior. Nelson isn't like anyone else in the NFL currently. He's meaner than Zack Martin and more athletic than Brandon Scherff. Plug him in at left guard, though, and the entire Bears offensive line is suddenly better.
Adding Nelson means less work for Cody Whitehair at center and for Kyle Long at right guard. The balance and power in the middle of the line also means a better life for Mitchell Trubisky and Jordan Howard. So while this isn't the most exciting pick on paper, it's one Bears fans would embrace in due time.
9. San Francisco 49ers
The Pick: LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
Here's what you need to know about Tremaine Edmunds—he's 19 years old, 6'5" and 260 pounds. He was also one of the best defenders in all of college football last season and has the skills to be molded into either a stud pass-rusher or a rangy stack linebacker.
The 49ers have invested several first-round picks in recent years on defenders—you have to go back to A.J. Jenkins in 2012 for the last time the Niners used their first first-rounder on offense—but the talent and potential of Edmunds is too good to pass up. Especially when he's such a natural fit for the defense.
With Jimmy Garoppolo likely to receive either the franchise tag or a long-term contract, the 49ers can be aggressive with the over $100 million in projected cap space. That allows for a pick that's a little more adventurous but has huge payoff potential.
*The 49ers and Raiders will flip a coin at the 2018 Scouting Combine to determine who has pick No. 9 and who has pick No. 10*
10. Oakland Raiders
The Pick: LB Roquan Smith, Georgia
The hire of Jon Gruden might have fans thinking Oakland will go offense early in the draft, but the Raiders have massive holes on defense that must be addressed. One glaring hole is at linebacker—which is why Georgia's Roquan Smith makes a ton of sense at No. 10 overall.
Smith is a rangy, fast, smart linebacker with the tools to drop into coverage in the middle of the field or go after the run on plays outside the hashes. Yes, there are times he gets bogged down by blockers in the run game, but with an NFL defensive line in front of him keeping his jersey clean and improved strength training, Smith can and will improve there.
What should excite Raiders fans is that Smith and the development of the young secondary will hopefully mean a team that's struggled with pass defense in the past will take a big step forward in 2018.
*The 49ers and Raiders will flip a coin at the 2018 Scouting Combine to determine who has pick No. 9 and who has pick No. 10*
11. Miami Dolphins
The Pick: QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
It won't be a surprise if Baker Mayfield is drafted in the top 10 picks as a team (Buffalo or Baltimore) jumps the Miami Dolphins to take the electric Oklahoma quarterback. In a mock draft with no trades predicted, Mayfield lands right in the laps of the needy Dolphins.
How the NFL ultimately views the Heisman Trophy winner will be interesting. He's well under the league's threshold for height at the position—traditionally 6'2" to Mayfield's 6'0 ⅜"—and won't test as an explosive athlete on the Russell Wilson level. But you can't ignore his play or his fiery leadership. Mayfield has a chip on his shoulder that might rival those of Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. His will to be great led him from walk-on at Texas Tech to a Heisman at Oklahoma.
The Dolphins have Ryan Tannehill, but his contract situation is one to watch coming off injury. The team can void his contract this offseason and walk free of the bloated deal he was given by the last regime (with just $4.6 million of dead money). If head coach Adam Gase isn't all-in on Tannehill, this is his best bet to move on.
12. Cincinnati Bengals
The Pick: OT Connor Williams, Texas
The Cincinnati Bengals offensive line is a nightmare because of some poor draft picks and poor team-planning that allowed solid free agents to leave. Now, as the team transitions and rebuilds again, the focus should be on improving the offensive line play.
Texas left tackle Connor Williams was the best offensive line prospect from this class throughout the 2015 and 2016 seasons but took a step back in 2017; partially because of injury and partially because of the worst game of his career in the season opener against Maryland. Evaluating Williams asks the scout to weigh his two seasons prior to this one. If you judge Williams based on traits, he's still the top tackle in the class.
The Bengals could roll out an athletic line with Williams at left tackle, Cedric Ogbuehi on the right side and Jake Fisher at center next season in an instant upgrade from the 2017 look.
The Pick: DL Da'Ron Payne, Alabama
After trading for Alex Smith (a move that can't be official until March 14), the need at quarterback is temporarily filled in Washington. That allows the front office to focus on filling needs in the first round while hoping to draft a developmental quarterback later on. And as far as needs go, the defensive line is still a large one even after the selection of Jonathan Allen last year.
Allen is and will be a good player as long as he can stay healthy. But he can't do it alone on the defensive line. That's why another Alabama lineman makes sense at pick No. 13. Da'Ron Payne lining up next to Allen would give Washington a true push in the middle and would make the job for opposing offensive linemen that much harder.
Given the state of the defensive roster, Bruce Allen and Co. could go any number of directions in Round 1, including a pass-rusher or a cornerback to replace the traded Kendall Fuller. Trying to predict what this front office will do isn't easy, but addressing the D-line with a best-player-available pick is the smartest move.
14. Green Bay Packers
The Pick: EDGE Marcus Davenport, UTSA
The Green Bay Packers underwent a dramatic housecleaning on the coaching staff and in the front office this offseason, but one thing remains the same—the need for a pass-rusher is priority No. 1.
With Brian Gutekunst now general manager, it's not helpful to look at past drafts and offseasons to predict how the Packers will attack this year, but given his football IQ and understanding of team building, we should be confident he'll add a pass-rusher early in the draft. On my board, Marcus Davenport is the top one available.
A raw prospect from UT-San Antonio, Davenport has a basketball player's frame (6'6", 259 lbs) but has already added weight and strength this offseason. Drafting Davenport is a bet on his upside and ability to be developed, but one evaluator has already compared him to Jason Taylor in a text to me this week. If teams believe they can coach him up, Davenport will be in high demand.
15. Arizona Cardinals
The Pick: OT Orlando Brown, Oklahoma
Let me be clear on this—I wouldn't select Orlando Brown in the first round, but that doesn't mean teams won't. The feedback I've received from scouts is that Brown will go early in Round 1 and the Arizona Cardinals—with no quarterbacks worth taking here—could be his landing spot.
Brown is a good player, but his technical flaws scare me. He's huge (6'8", 340 lbs) with a narrow stance and base, which slows him down and makes him uncoordinated against speed rushers. Teaching leverage and balance are the keys to developing pass-blockers, and Brown hasn't shown either at Oklahoma. That won't stop teams from believing his size and strength will be good enough to overcome his lack of athleticism.
For the Cardinals, a quarterback is the chief need with none currently on the roster, but that hole will likely be filled in free agency with a rookie coming later in the draft. Pairing Case Keenum with Lamar Jackson is something both likely and exciting from a team-building perspective.
16. Baltimore Ravens
The Pick: WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama
The first wide receiver comes off the board 11 picks later in the 2018 draft than where Corey Davis was selected in 2017. That either speaks to the lack of elite talent in this class or I'm seriously misjudging how teams view this class.
Alabama's Calvin Ridley is the type of receiver needed in Baltimore. Not only does he have that Crimson Tide tie that general manager Ozzie Newsome loves, but he's also a smooth route-runner and sure-handed receiver. This isn't like selecting Breshad Perriman because he's fast and his dad played in the league. Ridley is a finished product at receiver and can be an instant contributor.
Newsome and future general manager Eric DeCosta know they have to give Joe Flacco weapons in this offseason. Adding Ridley is a great start.
17. Los Angeles Chargers
The Pick: S Derwin James, FSU
When late April gets here, it won't be a surprise if FSU's Derwin James is a top-10 pick. In this mock draft, he slides down the board because of the run on quarterbacks in the top 10 and needs of teams but finds himself in an ideal situation with the Los Angeles Chargers. What safety wouldn't want to play with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram frustrating quarterbacks in front of him?
James is a phenomenal athlete and exactly the kind of versatile safety teams are starting to fall in love with. He's similar in many ways to Keanu Neal but faster and more explosive attacking the ball. And while his 2017 got off to a slow start while he was coming back from injury, James finished the year with a dominant streak of games and showed that he's still a top-tier safety prospect.
The Chargers have an All-Pro cornerback in Casey Hayward and studs rushing the quarterback. Now the front office needs to deliver defensive coordinator Gus Bradley his Kam Chancellor. James can be that.
18. Seattle Seahawks
The Pick: CB Josh Jackson, Iowa
How lucky are the Seattle Seahawks that a potential top-10 pick at cornerback falls to pick No. 18 thanks to the run on quarterbacks? Josh Jackson from Iowa fits the team's biggest need given the uncertain future of Richard Sherman in Seattle and will pair perfectly with Shaquill Griffin to form the nucleus of a new secondary.
Jackson (6'1") has the height and length the Seahawks crave at cornerback and also has shown the ball skills and playmaking to warrant an early selection with his eight interceptions in 2017. Jackson isn't just numbers, though, as his film shows pro technique at the line of scrimmage and the speed to turn and run with speed at receiver.
Predicting Seahawks' draft picks is always difficult given the sway Pete Carroll has over the selection process, but in a pre-free-agency mock, the cornerback position should be the No. 1 focus.
19. Dallas Cowboys
The Pick: DL Maurice Hurst, Michigan
My top need for the Dallas Cowboys this offseason is wide receiver, but with Calvin Ridley off the board, I have Jerry Jones and friends going after the team's second-biggest need: defensive tackle. As long as free agent DeMarcus Lawrence is re-signed, the Cowboys can focus more on DT than pass-rusher. And Michigan's Maurice Hurst has Gerald McCoy-like potential.
Hurst won't fit the size profile for a lot of teams given his 6'2", 282-pound frame, but his first-step quickness should be something every defensive line coach wants. Hurst is fantastic at generating pressure from the middle of the defensive line with his quickness and leverage. He's also a high-motor player who consistently hustles to run down outside plays.
The Cowboys have decent depth at defensive tackle but lack a playmaker. Hurst can step into the lineup and be that penetrator at tackle that's been missing.
20. Detroit Lions
The Pick: DL Vita Vea, Washington
The influence of the New England Patriots will be all over the Detroit Lions now that head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn—both formerly of New England—are reunited. When the two sit down to watch film, it'll be hard to watch Vita Vea and not see a young Vince Wilfork with maybe more juice in his game.
Vea is a massive man at 6'4" and 334 pounds, but he's an athlete with shocking agility to match the power you'd expect from his frame. Vea will split double-teams and then get after the quarterback with a quickness that reminds you of Wilfork or Haloti Ngata.
In Detroit, where Ngata was brought in to bolster the defensive line recently, Vea can be the anchor of the defense. He's the cornerstone that's currently missing for Patricia's defense to dominate.
21. Buffalo Bills
The Pick: C Billy Price, Ohio State
The sad and sudden retirement of Eric Wood leaves a massive hole in the middle of an already questionable offensive line in Buffalo. With pick No. 21 overall, the Bills can make one move to quickly solve that problem—draft Billy Price.
A versatile lineman at Ohio State, Price played both center and guard but became a nationally known stud in the last two years manning the middle of the line. He's a mauler in the run game and has the quickness to get outside the tackle box whether he's pulling to the edge or rushing up the field to take on linebackers. Price has all the tools NFL teams want in a starting center and requires little polish to become a Pro Bowl-caliber player.
22. Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City)
The Pick: LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama
OK, where's the quarterback?
The Bills are in a bad spot given the need for a quarterback and the team's draft picks coming late in Round 1. They could reach for Mason Rudolph or Lamar Jackson here, but it's more likely we either see a huge trade up to select a premier passer or the front office goes for broke in free agency should Case Keenum or Teddy Bridgewater become available.
Assuming for now that the quarterback spot is filled in free agency, the Bills can use pick No. 22 to get the athletic middle linebacker Sean McDermott needs to run his scheme. Don't confuse Evans with Reggie Ragland, a player the Bills traded away this season because he wasn't a fit. Evans has the agility and quickness to run alleys and get outside the hashes to make plays. And while he's not exactly Luke Kuechly, he is good enough to fill the hole at MIKE linebacker and be a three-down player for Buffalo.
23. Los Angeles Rams
The Pick: CB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado
This pick has become so common in my mock drafts that I initially typed "Isaiah Oliver, Los Angeles Rams" instead of "Colorado" here. It's a fit both in terms of value and need as the Rams look to plug holes to stay on top of the NFC West after the team's sudden rise in 2017.
Oliver doesn't get the hype of Denzel Ward or Josh Jackson, but he'll be a solid starting cornerback in the pros. He has the length and speed teams want and played the ball physically in the air. He uses his length well in challenging the ball and can reroute receivers with both leverage and size. That's perfect for the Rams if Trumaine Johnson leaves in free agency or even if he stays given the team's lack of size on the depth chart.
Drafting an offensive tackle would also be a smart move if the Rams like the value here. Andrew Whitworth was a star this season, but he's 36 years old, and there is no successor on the roster.
24. Carolina Panthers
The Pick: DE Sam Hubbard, Ohio State
The Carolina Panthers are currently without a general manager, making it impossible to look at trends to decipher where the team will go in Round 1 or talk to scouts about their preferences. That makes this a best-player-on-my-board pick until more information is available.
Ohio State defensive end Sam Hubbard is a value at pick No. 24, but he also fits what the Panthers do in the base 4-3 defense. Hubbard also fills a need given the age of the Panthers' defensive ends. Julius Peppers might be able to play forever, but the front office should prepare just in case he can't. Hubbard can be the plan at right defensive end for the future.
Previously, I've mocked wide receivers here to fill the deep-threat role, but there has to be a hope Curtis Samuel will turn the corner in his second year. That said, a new regime could select Christian Kirk (Texas A&M) or D.J. Moore (Maryland) here to give Cam Newton another weapon.
25. Tennessee Titans
The Pick: EDGE Harold Landry, Boston College
Mike Vrabel is the new head coach of the Tennessee Titans, and the first order of business for he and general manager Jon Robinson should be to fix the pass rush. A quick way to do that is using pick No. 25 on Harold Landry.
Landry entered the season as my top-ranked senior prospect but fell down the board after a midseason injury and a quiet close to the year. When healthy, he's the perfect build (6'3", 250 lbs) to play the stand-up outside linebacker role in a base 3-4 or bump down to defensive end in a four-man front in nickel and dime situations.
The Titans are seemingly stocked on offense, but it never hurts for a team to improve its wide receiver depth. I wouldn't rule out a pick of Ronald Jones II (USC) or Sony Michel (Georgia) either if the front office wants to emulate the New Orleans Saints and pair a fast, pass-catching back with the power of Derrick Henry.
26. Atlanta Falcons
The Pick: OG Isaiah Wynn, Georgia
Some prospects are a perfect fit for where they're placed in a mock draft, and Georgia's Isaiah Wynn just feels like an Atlanta Falcon—and not because of geography.
A left tackle for the Bulldogs, Wynn will kick inside to guard in the NFL because of his height (6'2 ½"), but his play is still worthy of a first-round pick. Wynn is a top-tier athlete and showed as much with his speed to kick out and protect the edge of the Georgia passing game but also in his powerful, agile movements in the run game. If the Falcons want to be tougher and stronger offensively, Wynn is the type of tone-setter they need.
27. New Orleans Saints
The Pick: LB Malik Jefferson, Texas
The upcoming offseason will be an interesting one for the New Orleans Saints. Quarterback Drew Brees has said he wants to return, but we've all learned that what people say and do can sometimes be two different things. Other free agents—like safety Kenny Vaccaro—likely won't be back as the team churns the roster and players look for money and opportunities elsewhere. Who stays and goes will ultimately shape the draft for the Saints.
It'll be hard to top the 2017 draft class that brought Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk, Alvin Kamara and Marcus Williams to the roster; but the Saints have a reputation now for a well-honed front office. Those evaluators should see a defense that badly needs speed and playmakers in the front seven.
Malik Jefferson is a special athlete who will post rare times at the scouting combine, but some teams are struggling to reconcile that with his film that was at times uninspiring. Jefferson, playing middle linebacker, was a step late occasionally but was able to make up for it with speed. You can't do that in the NFL, of course, but with coaching and reps at just one position instead of jumping all over the defense, Jefferson could be a high-level starter.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pick: CB Carlton Davis, Auburn
In previous mock drafts, I've had the Pittsburgh Steelers going after a middle linebacker with this selection, but the board falls differently this time and a top cornerback is available instead. Plugging Carlton Davis in opposite Artie Burns would give Pittsburgh a fast young duo with a bright future.
Davis is more physical than Burns, especially in-phase with receivers, but both bring a swagger to the position that jumps off the screen. And because Burns is more finesse and speed and Davis is more strength and technique, they would pair well at cornerback while giving the Steelers a potential strength moving forward. If Joe Haden sticks around and can mentor the two, that would be all the better.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Pick: OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
Like the Buffalo Bills at picks No. 21 and 22, the Jacksonville Jaguars played themselves out of filling the team's biggest need. Outside of reaching for a quarterback, Tom Coughlin and Dave Caldwell must look to other values and focus on improving other areas of the roster instead of selecting a passer to challenge and/or replace Blake Bortles.
Looking at the board, Mike McGlinchey stands out as a Coughlin/Caldwell-type pick given his production at a major college and his high character off the field. You'll notice the Jaguars rarely use early picks on small-school players and value well-coached college players. McGlinchey fits the bill as the team's type and fills a need as a plug-and-play right tackle.
Fans will no doubt want a quarterback here, but with Bortles under contract for 2018, the Jaguars can wait to draft a passer but shouldn't wait long to add a potential quarterback of the future.
30. Minnesota Vikings
The Pick: OT Kolton Miller, UCLA
The Minnesota Vikings enter the offseason with just Kyle Sloter under contract at quarterback until Teddy Bridgewater's status as a potential free agent is known. Given the timing of this mock draft, we'll assume Bridgewater is back either on a new contract or playing out the final year of his rookie deal. That takes quarterback off the list of needs and allows the front office to move to offensive tackle.
UCLA's Kolton Miller isn't getting a ton of national love yet but will as the scouting combine gets closer and more in the media start focusing on the draft. I'm predicting a rise here for Miller based somewhat on team needs and positional value but also on the quality of his play.
The Vikings have done well in remaking a bad offensive line in a hurry, but many of the moves were merely Band-Aids when surgery was needed. Miller represents a potential long-term answer at left tackle.
31. New England Patriots
The Pick: DL Harrison Phillips, Stanford
I wrote earlier that some players just seem like great fits with particular teams. Harrison Phillips to the New England Patriots is another such fit.
At Stanford, Phillips was asked to play every position on the line and often played nose tackle despite being just 303 pounds. But Phillips played his assignment and played it well. At the Senior Bowl, we were able to evaluate him up and down the line, and he showed a toughness that is right out of the Bill Belichick scouting manual. Phillips' versatility, strength and football IQ all combine to make him valuable in an NFL that has defensive linemen moving all over the place and not stuck in one position anymore.
Could the Patriots draft a quarterback here? Absolutely. With Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco and Jacoby Brissett now in Indianapolis, it wouldn't be a surprise if Belichick falls in love with a prospect and pulls the trigger here.
32. Philadelphia Eagles
The Pick: LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State
General manager Howie Roseman and vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas have done an amazing job of stocking the roster of the Philadelphia Eagles. So much so that it was hard to find a need that matched with the value of players available in this mock draft.
Because of that, and because of my no trades rule, I'm predicting a slight reach to draft Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. A junior entry into the class, Vander Esch is one of my favorite players in the draft. He's a physical, athletic linebacker with the tools to be a three-down player. Given Jordan Hicks' struggles to stay healthy, this pick does represent a need in Philly.
There are other potential needs, like offensive guard or more depth at wide receiver, but getting a rock-solid linebacker would take an already great defense to a pretty awesome place.
33. Cleveland Browns TE Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State
34. New York Giants OC James Daniels, Iowa
35. Cleveland Browns (from Houston) WR Courtland Sutton, SMU
36. Indianapolis Colts RB Sony Michel, Georgia
37. New York Jets OT Jamarco Jones, Ohio State
38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Derrius Guice, LSU
39. Chicago Bears WR Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
40. Denver Broncos DE Arden Key, LSU
41. Oakland Raiders RB Ronald Jones II, USC
42. Miami Dolphins OG Will Hernandez, UTEP
43. New England Patriots (from SF) S Ronnie Harrison, Alabama
44. Washington Redskins S Justin Reid, Stanford
45. Green Bay Packers WR DJ Moore, Maryland
46. Cincinnati Bengals DL Derrick Nnadi, FSU
47. Arizona Cardinals WR James Washington, Oklahoma State
48. Los Angeles Chargers OT Brian O'Neill, Pitt
49. New York Jets (from Seattle) OLB Dorance Armstrong Jr., Kansas
50. Dallas Cowboys WR DJ Chark, LSU
51. Detroit Lions TE Mark Andrews, Oklahoma
52. Baltimore Ravens EDGE Uchenna Nwosu, USC
53. Buffalo Bills QB Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
54. Kansas City Chiefs S Kyzir White, West Virginia
55. Carolina Panthers OT Chukwuma Okorafor, Western Kentucky
56. Buffalo Bills (from LA Rams) TE Mike Gesicki, Penn State
57. Tennessee Titans CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville
58. Atlanta Falcons DL Da'Shawn Hand, Alabama
59. San Francisco 49ers (from NO) CB M.J. Stewart, North Carolina
60. Pittsburgh Steelers LB Jerome Baker, Ohio State
61. Jacksonville Jaguars QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville
62. Minnesota Vikings DL Taven Bryan, Florida
63. New England Patriots OG Braden Smith, Auburn
64. Cleveland Browns (from Philly) OT Desmond Harrison, West Georgia
65. Cleveland Browns CB Tarvarus McFadden, FSU
66. New York Giants LB Josey Jewell, Iowa
67. Indianapolis Colts DL Rasheem Green, USC
68. Houston Texans CB Mike Hughes, UCF
69. Tampa Bay Buccaneers C Frank Ragnow, Arkansas
70. San Francisco 49ers (from Chicago) OG Will Clapp, LSU
71. Denver Broncos OT Tyrell Crosby, Oregon
72. New York Jets DL Trenton Thompson, Georgia
73. Miami Dolphins WR Deon Cain, Clemson
74. San Francisco 49ers RB Mark Walton, Miami
75. Oakland Raiders OT Martinas Rankin, Mississippi State
76. Green Bay Packers TE Hayden Hurst, South Carolina
77. Cincinnati Bengals LB Marquis Haynes, Ole Miss
78. Kansas City Chiefs (from Washington) EDGE Jeff Holland, Auburn
79. Arizona Cardinals QB Luke Falk, Washington State
80. Houston Texans (from Seattle) OT Toby Weathersby, LSU
81. Dallas Cowboys DE Chad Thomas, Miami
82. Detroit Lions RB Kerryon Johnson, Auburn
83. Baltimore Ravens CB Donte Jackson, LSU
84. Los Angeles Chargers QB Kyle Lauletta, Richmond
85. Carolina Panthers (from Buffalo) WR Jordan Lasley, UCLA
86. Kansas City Chiefs WR Simmie Cobbs, Indiana
87. Los Angeles Rams OG Alex Cappa, Humboldt
88. Carolina Panthers S Marcus Allen, Penn State
89. Tennessee Titans WR Michael Gallup, Colorado State
90. Atlanta Falcons DE Tyquan Lewis, Ohio State
91. New Orleans Saints S Jordan Whitehead, Pitt
92. Pittsburgh Steelers RB Rashaad Penny, San Diego State
93. Jacksonville Jaguars WR Korey Robertson, Southern Miss
94. Minnesota Vikings CB Nick Nelson, Wisconsin
95. New England Patriots CB Anthony Averett, Alabama
96. Buffalo Bills (from Philly) OLB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma
97. Cleveland Browns DL RJ McIntosh, Miami
98. New York Giants DE Jalyn Holmes, Ohio State
99. Houston Texans DL Breeland Speaks, Ole Miss
100. Indianapolis Colts WR DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State
101. Chicago Bears EDGE Hercules Mata'afa, Washington State
102. Denver Broncos CB Duke Dawson, Florida
103. New York Jets RB Akrum Wadley, Iowa
104. Tampa Bay Buccaneers DL Tim Settle, Virginia Tech
105. Denver Broncos (from SF) LB Lorenzo Carter, Georgia
106. Oakland Raiders S Quin Blanding, Virginia
107. Miami Dolphins EDGE Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, Toledo
108. Cincinnati Bengals S Terrell Edmunds, Virginia Tech
109. Washington Redskins RB Nick Chubb, Georgia
110. Green Bay Packers CB JC Jackson, Maryland
111. Chicago Bears (from ARI) WR Marcel Ateman, Oklahoma State
112. Dallas Cowboys OG Sam Jones, Arizona State
113. Detroit Lions WR Auden Tate, FSU
114. Baltimore Ravens LB Davin Bellamy, Georgia
115. Los Angeles Chargers OC Mason Cole, Michigan
116. Seattle Seahawks RB Josh Adams, Notre Dame
117. Buffalo Bills CB Quenton Meeks, Stanford
118. Kansas City Chiefs DL Kendrick Norton, Miami
119. Cleveland Browns (from Carolina) CB Christian Campbell, Penn State
120. Los Angeles Rams S DeShon Elliott, Texas
121. Tennessee Titans S Armani Watts, Texas A&M
122. Atlanta Falcons WR Anthony Miller, Memphis
123. New Orleans Saints EDGE Kemoko Turay, Rutgers
124. San Francisco 49ers (from Pitt) WR Keke Coutee, Texas Tech
125. Jacksonville Jaguars TE Adam Breneman, UMass
126. Miami Dolphins (from Minnesota) TE Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin
127. Philadelphia Eagles (from NE) DE Josh Sweat, FSU
128. Philadelphia Eagles S Godwin Igwebuike, Northwestern
129. Cleveland Browns WR J'Mon Moore, Missouri
130. New York Giants RB John Kelly, Tennessee
131. Indianapolis Colts HB Jaylen Samuels, South Carolina
132. Seattle Seahawks (from Houston) OT Nick Gates, Nebraska
133. Denver Broncos S Kameron Kelly, San Diego State
134. San Francisco 49ers (from NYJ) OC Austin Corbett, Nevada
135. Tampa Bay Buccaneers CB Levi Wallace, Alabama
136. Chicago Bears DL B.J. Hill, North Carolina State
137. Seattle Seahawks (from Oakland) TE Ian Thomas, Indiana
138. New Orleans Saints (from Miami) WR Dante Pettis, Washington
139. Pittsburgh Steelers (from SF) WR Tre'Quan Smith, UCF
140. Washington Redskins QB Mike White, Western Kentucky
141. Green Bay Packers LB Shaun Dion Hamilton, Alabama
142. Cincinnati Bengals WR Trey Quinn, SMU
143. Arizona Cardinals EDGE JoJo Wicker, Arizona State
144. Detroit Lions LB Andre Smith, North Carolina
145. Baltimore Ravens QB Kurt Benkert, Virginia
146. Los Angeles Chargers CB Kevin Toliver, LSU
147. Philadelphia Eagles (from Seattle) OT Brandon Parker, North Carolina A&T
148. New York Jets (from Dallas) TE Dalton Schultz, Stanford
149. Buffalo Bills RB Kalen Ballage, Arizona State
150. Cleveland Browns (from KC) OG Sean Welsh, Iowa
151. Los Angeles Rams EDGE Duke Ejiofor, Wake Forest
152. Carolina Panthers LB Skai Moore, South Carolina
153. Tennessee Titans RB Royce Freeman, Oregon
154. Denver Broncos (from Atlanta) OG Taylor Hearn, Clemson
155. New Orleans Saints QB Riley Ferguson, Memphis
156. Pittsburgh Steelers TE Chris Herndon, Miami
157. Buffalo Bills (from Jacksonville) WR Deontay Burnett, USC
158. Minnesota Vikings S Dominick Sanders, Georgia
159. Seattle Seahawks (from NE) OG Skyler Phillips, Idaho State
160. Philadelphia Eagles WR Cedrick Wilson, Boise State
161. Cleveland Browns LB Darius Leonard, South Carolina State
162. New York Giants OG Wyatt Teller, Virginia Tech
163. Houston Texans TE Tyler Conklin, Central Michigan
164. Indianapolis Colts OG Timon Parris, Stony Brook
165. New York Jets CB D.J. Reed, Kansas State
166. Tampa Bay Buccaneers S Jessie Bates, Wake Forest
167. Chicago Bears OT Joseph Noteboom, TCU
168. Denver Broncos EDGE Shaquem Griffin, UCF
169. Miami Dolphins DL Kahlil McKenzie, Tennessee
170. San Francisco 49ers CB Jeremy Reaves, South Alabama
171. Oakland Raiders CB Chandon Sullivan, Georgia Southern
172. Green Bay Packers OC Bradley Bozeman, Alabama
173. Cincinnati Bengals QB Kyle Allen, Houston
174. Washington Redskins CB Isaac Yiadom, Boston College
175. New Orleans Saints (from Arizona) CB Michael Joseph, Dubuque
176. Baltimore Ravens OT Brett Toth, Army
177. Los Angeles Chargers WR Allen Lazard, Iowa State
178. Oakland Raiders (from Seattle) WR Jaleel Scott, New Mexico State
179. Dallas Cowboys LB Jack Cichy, Wisconsin
180. Los Angeles Rams (from Detroit) CB Taron Johnson, Weber State
181. Los Angeles Rams (from Buffalo) RB Bo Scarbrough, Alabama
182. Kansas City Chiefs CB Siran Neal, Jacksonville State
183. Carolina Panthers CB Danny Johnson, Southern
184. Los Angeles Rams LB Micah Kiser, Virginia
185. Tennessee Titans EDGE Kylie Fitts, Utah
186. Atlanta Falcons CB D'Montre Wade, Murray State
187. New Orleans Saints LB Dorian O'Daniel, Clemson
188. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (from Pitt) WR Byron Pringle, Kansas State
189. Jacksonville Jaguars LB Chris Worley, Ohio State
190. Minnesota Vikings QB Chase Litton, Marshall
191. New England Patriots CB Tony Brown, Alabama
192. Philadelphia Eagles CB Holton Hill, Texas
193. Cleveland Browns EDGE Andrew Brown, Virginia
194. New York Giants TE Durham Smythe, Notre Dame
195. Indianapolis Colts LB Jason Cabinda, Penn State
196. Houston Texans CB Kamrin Moore, Boston College
197. Miami Dolphins (from Tampa) RB Martez Carter, Grambling
198. Chicago Bears CB Deatrick Nichols, South Florida
199. Denver Broncos WR Braxton Berrios, Miami
200. Seattle Seahawks (from NYJ) S Tray Matthews, Auburn
201. San Francisco 49ers EDGE Joe Ostman, Central Michigan
202. Oakland Raiders FB Dimitri Flowers, Oklahoma
203. Miami Dolphins OG KC McDermott, Miami
204. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Cincy) S Trayvon Henderson, Hawaii
205. Washington Redskins OL Cole Madison, Washington State
206. Green Bay Packers DL Justin Jones, North Carolina State
207. Arizona Cardinals DL Lowell Lotulelei, Utah
208. Carolina Panthers (from LAC) LB Christian Sam, Arizona State
209. Seattle Seahawks RB Ito Smith, Southern Miss
210. Dallas Cowboys RB Justin Crawford, West Virginia
211. Detroit Lions LB Nick DeLuca, North Dakota State
212. Baltimore Ravens TE Cam Serigne, Wake Forest
213. Carolina Panthers (from Buffalo) QB Brandon Silvers, Troy
214. San Francisco 49ers (from KC) LB Garret Dooley, Wisconsin
215. Washington Redskins (from LAR) LB Fred Warner, BYU
216. Carolina Panthers WR Steve Ishmael, Syracuse
217. Tennessee Titans DL Kentavius Street, North Carolina State
218. Atlanta Falcons OT Zachary Crabtree, Oklahoma State
219. New Orleans Saints OT Greg Senat, Wagner
220. Pittsburgh Steelers DL Poona Ford, Texas
221. Jacksonville Jaguars DL Deadrin Senat, South Florida
222. Seattle Seahawks (from Min) WR Daurice Fountain, Northern Iowa
223. Cincinnati Bengals (from NE) WR Equanimeous St. Brown, Notre Dame
224. Seattle Seahawks (from Philly) QB Tanner Lee, Nebraska