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

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistFebruary 7, 2018

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 30: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Louisville Cardinals takes the field prior to the TaxSlayer Bowl against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at EverBank Field on December 30, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

As the Philadelphia Eagles prepare to celebrate their Super Bowl 52 victory on Broad Street, 31 NFL teams already have their sights set on February 3 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

The road to Super Bowl 53 starts with decisions made during the offseason. The league won't officially flip the calendar until March 14, and the draft will commence April 26.

In the meantime, let the draft process begin with breakdowns and selection predictions for first-round prospects.

What does an early offseason cut say about the Oakland Raiders' roster needs going forward? Will the Arizona Cardinals find now-retired quarterback Carson Palmer's replacement? How should the Baltimore Ravens address an offense lacking dynamic assets on the perimeter?


2018 NFL Mock Draft 1st-Round Projections

1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

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2. New York Giants: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA 

3. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State 

4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans): Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

5. Denver Broncos: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

6. New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

8. Chicago Bears: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

*9. San Francisco 49ers: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State 

*10. Oakland Raiders: Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

11. Miami Dolphins: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

12. Cincinnati Bengals: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

13. Washington Redskins: Derwin James, S, Florida State

14. Green Bay Packers: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia 

15. Arizona Cardinals: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

16. Baltimore Ravens: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas 

18. Seattle Seahawks: Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia

19. Dallas Cowboys: Vita Vea, DT, Washington

20. Detroit Lions: Arden Key, OLB, LSU 

21. Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming 

22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs): Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

23. Los Angeles Rams: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech 

24. Carolina Panthers: Connor Williams, OT, Texas 

25. Tennessee Titans: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

26. Atlanta Falcons: Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

27. New Orleans Saints: Christian Sam, LB, Arizona State 

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Armani Watts, S, Texas A&M 

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP

30. Minnesota Vikings: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

31. New England Patriots: Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Brian O'Neill, OT, Pittsburgh

*A coin flip will confirm the draft order for Nos. 9 and 10.


Oakland Raiders Select CB Joshua Jackson at No. 10 

MADISON, WI - NOVEMBER 11:  Joshua Jackson #15 of the Iowa Hawkeyes intercepts a pass intended for A.J. Taylor #4 of the Wisconsin Badgers and returns it for a touchdown during the first quarter of a game at Camp Randall Stadium on November 11, 2017 in Ma
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The new regime in Oakland made its first roster move, cutting cornerback David Amerson on Monday, per ESPN's Field Yates: 

Field Yates @FieldYates

The Raiders have cut veteran CB David Amerson, per league source.

Amerson signed with the team in 2015 as a free agent and immediately flashed as a difference-maker in the secondary with four interceptions and 26 pass breakups. He started 15 games during the 2016 campaign but suffered multiple injuries in the previous term, which likely led to his release.

Over the past few years, the Raiders have struggled to find quality defenders on the perimeter. Head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Reggie McKenzie must solve the puzzle in the secondary and it starts with adding a playmaker.

Cornerback Joshua Jackson displayed his ball-hawking skills during his junior season. He recorded 18 pass breakups, eight interceptions and returned two for touchdowns. Assuming the Iowa product carries that knack for forcing turnovers into the pros, there's a perfect fit for his skill set in Oakland.

The Raiders could pair Jackson and Gareon Conley as their starting cornerback tandem for years to come.


Arizona Cardinals Select QB Lamar Jackson at No. 15

LEXINGTON, KY - NOVEMBER 25:  Lamar Jackson #8 of the Louisville Cardinals runs with the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats during the game at Commonwealth Stadium on November 25, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

NFL analysts and pundits have tossed the Arizona Cardinals into the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes due to their need at quarterback. Nonetheless, there's an alternative route to address the most important position on the roster. 

Cousins, Case Keenum and even Super Bowl champion Nick Foles may start with new franchises in the upcoming season, which allows prospects to slide in the draft selection order.

At No. 15, the Cardinals should have an opportunity to select a signal-caller with high potential. Keep in mind the Houston Texans picked Deshaun Watson at No. 12 in the previous draft. 

LEXINGTON, KY - NOVEMBER 25:  Lamar Jackson #8 of the Louisville Cardinals runs with the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats during the game at Commonwealth Stadium on November 25, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Due to questions about Lamar Jackson's transition as a dual-threat quarterback in the NFL, he'll likely take a fall in the pecking order. Arizona should take the Louisville product in the first round as Palmer's replacement and potential franchise player under center. 

As a junior, Jackson threw 27 touchdown passes and reached the end zone 18 times on the ground. In the pros, he'll force defenses to prepare for his arms and legs, which complicates defensive game plans. The rookie-signal-caller would also have David Johnson as a top ball-carrier and viable receiver in the backfield.


Baltimore Ravens Select WR James Washington at No. 16 

STILLWATER, OK - NOVEMBER 04: Wide receiver James Washington #28 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys warms up before the game against the Oklahoma Sooners at Boone Pickens Stadium on November 4, 2017 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Oklahoma defeated Oklahoma State 62-
Brett Deering/Getty Images

Wideout Mike Wallace will hit the free-agent market and fellow pass-catcher Jeremy Maclin goes into a contract year, per Spotrac. Through three seasons, wide receiver Breshad Perriman hasn't played up to expectations coming out of Central Florida in 2015 as a first-round pick. 

Many criticize Joe Flacco and label him an overrated Super Bowl-winning quarterback, but he doesn't have much help at the wide receiver position. James Washington would give the Baltimore Ravens a top target in the passing attack.  

Washington finished with 1,000-plus yards and at least 10 touchdowns in three out of four seasons at Oklahoma State. If the Chicago Bears select Courtland Sutton, the 6'4", 215-pound wideout out of Southern Methodist, the Ravens would still have a shot at a top receiver with three years of high volume production. 

The senior receiver offers speed and reliable hands as someone who can win one-on-one matchups against quality defensive backs.


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