NFL Mock Draft 2018: 1st-Round Projections for Most Exalted Prospects

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2018

Saquon Barkley should be the first running back selected in the NFL draft.
Saquon Barkley should be the first running back selected in the NFL draft.Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

The Philadelphia Eagles won Super Bowl LII in dramatic fashion over the New England Patriots, giving the franchise its first Vince Lombardi Trophy.

The Eagles also won their first NFL championship since 1960, where they beat Lombardi's Packers by a 17-13 score at Philadelphia's ancient Franklin Field.

Now the 2017 season is in the books, it's time to move on to preparations for 2018. Teams will have a chance to address weaknesses and enhance strengths through free agency and the draft.

This should be a quarterback-heavy first round that features Sam Darnold of USC, Josh Rosen of UCLA, Mason Rudolph of Oklahoma State and Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma.

There are also a number of non-quarterbacks, including running back Saquon Barkley of Penn State, defensive end Bradley Chubb of North Carolina State and linebacker Roquan Smith of Georgia.

Here's our look at how the first round could play out and analysis of four of the top prospects that will likely go early in the first round.


NFL Draft First Round Mock

1. Cleveland Browns: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
2. New York Giants: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
3. Indianapolis Colts: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans): Connor Williams, OT, Texas
5. Denver Broncos: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
6. New York Jets: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
8. Chicago Bears: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
*9. San Francisco 49ers: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
*10. Oakland Raiders: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama
11. Miami Dolphins: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
12. Cincinnati Bengals: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
13. Washington: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
14. Green Bay Packers: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
15. Arizona Cardinals: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
16. Baltimore Ravens: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Derwin James, DB, Florida State
18. Seattle Seahawks: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
19. Dallas Cowboys: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
20. Detroit Lions: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
21. Buffalo Bills: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs): Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
23. Los Angeles Rams: Harold Landry, LB, Boston College
24. Carolina Panthers: WR DJ Moore, Maryland
25. Tennessee Titans: Sam Hubbard, DE/OLB, Ohio State
26. Atlanta Falcons: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
27. New Orleans Saints: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
30. Minnesota Vikings: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
31. New England Patriots: Justin Reid, S, Stanford
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Arden Key, LDE, SU
*The order of the ninth and 10th picks between the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders will be determined by a coin flip.

UCLA's Josh Rosen has the look of a certain high draft pick.
UCLA's Josh Rosen has the look of a certain high draft pick.Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

QB Josh Rosen, UCLA

Rosen and Sam Darnold are at the top of many of the predraft ratings, and the UCLA star has fine size at 6'3" and 218 pounds, according to DraftScout.

The signal-caller has a smooth throwing motion, and he looks the part of a top professional. He is not going to lock onto his receiver unlike a lot of prospects. He will go through his progressions quickly and decisively, and he usually makes the right decision when he picks out a target.

He has a strong arm and can get the ball downfield with a flick of his wrist. If he can make the adjustment to playing at the next level by taking in the complexity of the offense, he has a chance to be successful quickly.


RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State

Barkley probably owes Ezekiel Elliott a debt of gratitude. Before Elliott was selected with the fourth pick in the first round by the Dallas Cowboys in 2016, running backs were seemingly devalued in the NFL. However, Elliott proved to be a dynamic runner and receiver, and Barkley appears to be cut from the same mold.

The 5'11", 230-pound Barkley runs with power, intelligence, speed and quickness. Barkley rarely goes down from the first hit, and he excels at making quick moves that prevent tacklers from getting a solid shot on him.

The Penn State star looks like a sophisticated receiver who can get open on short passes and also beat the coverage when he goes deep. He is also an excellent teammate who should fit in well in the locker room. 

Bradley Chubb is difficult to block.
Bradley Chubb is difficult to block.Keith Srakocic/Associated Press


DE Bradley Chubb, North Carolina State

Chubb is a special defensive player who can turn any game around with his ability to rush the passer. He had 72 tackles and 10.0 sacks last year for the Wolfpack, and he appeared to gain confidence as the season moved along.

Chubb looks the part of a professional at 6'4" and 272 pounds, and he has the athleticism to handle top-heavy offensive tackles with ease. When he doesn't get into the backfield with his first step, he can take on the offensive tackle and win the battle.

The defensive end does not have elite speed, but his initial quickness sets him apart. Unlike many top pass-rushers, Chubb does an outstanding job against the run.


LB Roquan Smith, Georgia

Smith had as much to do with Georgia getting to the national championship game as any player in a Bulldogs uniform, and he was productive at the college level. Smith had 113 tackles and 5.5 sacks last season.

Smith is not a huge man at 6'0" and 225 pounds, but he does an excellent job of fighting through blocks, getting to the ball-carrier and making the tackle. He also excels at disrupting passing plays because he can break through the line and either get to the quarterback or harass him as he gets rid of the ball.

The linebacker won the SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors, and he became the first Georgia player to win that honor since David Pollack accomplished that feat in 2004.


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