2018 NFL Mock Draft: Pre-Scouting Combine Predictions for 1st-Round Prospects

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistFebruary 25, 2018

PHOENIX, AZ - DECEMBER 26:  Quarterback Josh Rosen #3 of the UCLA Bruins throws the football prior to the Cactus Bowl against Kansas State Wildcats at Chase Field on December 26, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Kansas State Wildcats won 35-17.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Though the excruciating wait might make it seem like weeks remain, it's a matter of hours before the NFL scouting combine gets underway in Indianapolis.

There, prospects in the 2018 NFL draft class will be assessed and see their draft stock cemented, as the workouts and drills help to solidify opinions based on what scouts saw on film. Interviews and medical checks will help sort boards as names get added or dropped entirely.

Interestingly enough, keep in mind major power players will talk shop. Agents will converse with teams (think Drew Brees' impending trip to free agency) and so forth while most are distracted with the draft itself.

Before this process gets underway, here's a look at a mock draft showcasing where things stand.


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: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

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: Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

30. Minnesota Vikings: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

31. New England Patriots: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, EDGE, Oklahoma

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Ronald Jones II, RB, USC

*Nos. 9 and 10 will be decided by a coin-flip.


5. Denver Broncos: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

Would landing a player like a Kirk Cousins or AJ McCarron prevent the Denver Broncos from taking a quarterback off the board at No. 5?

Maybe. The sheer cash it would take to bring in Cousins would likely mean no quarterback selected. But a guy like McCarron or a Case Keenum would change things—while costly, the upside of a rookie is still something the team would want to have, especially with the trade value on the position. 

Either way, it's hard to do anything but give the Broncos a quarterback here, especially with guys like Josh Rosen out of UCLA still available.

Rosen has a hard time standing out in this draft process because he isn't flashy like Baker Mayfield. Instead, he's smooth in all facets with numbers from a year ago (3,756 yards and 26 touchdowns) most might shrug at.

But they shouldn't, as Damon Kecman of Climb The Pocket pointed out:

Damon Kecman @DownWithDamon

In 2017, Josh Rosen had: - 8th Worst Defense (480+ YPG) - 15th Worst Rushing attack - WRs with a 13.2% Drop Rate - Got hit/sacked 92 times - Pressured on 30% of his drop-backs And went out every game and dropped 340+ Passing YPG at 62%+ completion rate but y’all still hate..

Standing at 6'4" and 218 pounds, Rosen isn't going to escape the pocket and make major plays with his feet. It's just not his game, and he's quite a bit more reliant on the people around him than some of the other prospects this year.

But there's the catch—Denver is a great fit. Maybe Rosen doesn't start right away, but he's backed by a Von Miller-led defense and has weapons like Demaryius Thomas on offense. Even if he's not on the field, a strong core isn't disappearing soon around Rosen's position.


11. Miami Dolphins: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

The pre-draft hype for Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick seems too quiet, making him a big breakout candidate in Indianapolis.

Maybe folks are just tired of hearing about elite defensive backs. Jamal Adams was a huge deal. So was Jalen Ramsey. Marcus Peters turned out pretty good from a deep class. It goes on and on.

These guys turned out to be "best to enter in a long time" prospects—yet Fitzpatrick is flirting with the same territory. He's 6'1" and 201 pounds coming out of a Nick Saban defense with experience all over the defensive backfield as he helped the team compensate for injuries.

Adams, in fact, is a good comparison, as an AFC team executive told NFL Media's Lance Zierlein: "He's not quite on the same level of Jamal Adams when it comes to changing the entire culture of a locker room, but he is just as talented and probably more versatile."

Even so, a run on quarterbacks pushes a premium-position prospect like Fitzpatrick down the board to the Miami Dolphins in Round 1, which isn't a bad way for a team still needing to deal with Tom Brady to spend a pick.

Those Dolphins ranked 14th or worse against the run and pass last year and allowed 24.6 points per game, so going best player available and plugging in Fitzpatrick alongside guys like Cordrea Tankersley makes sense.

If the Dolphins are lucky, they make one of the safest moves of the first round by securing a prospect similar to Adams.


22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

Perhaps no player will be more scrutinized at the combine than former Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen.

Rightfully so. Allen had a monster 2016 campaign and has plenty of first-round traits like his 6'5", 233-pound frame and live arm. But he also only completed 56.3 percent of his passes with 1,812 yards and 16 touchdowns against six interceptions in 2017.

So begins an interesting debate. Do we want to avoid relying on completion percentage so much despite playing at such a small school? Do we want to hurt Allen's stock for his failure to put up better numbers against worse competition or blame the talent around him?

It's almost an impossible situation, so settling somewhere in the middle makes sense—and the combine is going to decide much about his fate.

We at least know Allen won't have a hard time impressing from a physical standpoint in Indianapolis, as SportsCenter captured:

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

Josh Allen's got an ARM. #SCtop10 https://t.co/SyUkUdcn4x

Still, with the risk and other prospects involved, it could take a team with a pair of picks in the first round to roll the dice on Allen.

Think about the Buffalo Bills, a team stuck in an odd situation with Tyrod Taylor and Nathan Peterman. From a long-term perspective, using one of the back-to-back picks on the most important position of all seems obvious.

In this scenario, Allen doesn't hit the field right away unless he wins a competition. In the interim, the Bills will keep building up the roster in anticipation of his taking over.


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