2018 NFL Mock Draft: Pick Predictions and Analysis of Top Prospects

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMarch 5, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 02: Penn State running back Saquon Barkley in action during the 2018 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 2, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The remarkable part about the now legendary 2011 NFL draft isn't the fact that so many players immediately launched themselves into successful pro careers (that class has combined for 85 Pro Bowl appearances in seven seasons, per Pro Football Reference).

Rather, it's that the draft class ran so deep: Thirteen players eventually selected for the Pro Bowl were picked in the second round or later, with seven of them being taken in the fourth through sixth rounds.

While it's hard seeing the 2018 class living up to that billing, this still looks like a loaded group filled with future stars on both sides of the ball.

Here's a look at a new mock draft prediction, as well as analysis on where some top prospects are projected to go and why.

      

2018 NFL Mock Draft 

1. Cleveland Browns: Penn State RB Saquon Barkley

2. New York Giants: USC QB Sam Darnold

3. Indianapolis Colts: North Carolina EDGE Bradley Chubb

4. Cleveland Browns: Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield

5. Buffalo Bills (trade with Denver Broncos): UCLA QB Josh Rosen

6. New York Jets: Wyoming QB Josh Allen

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Alabama DB Minkah Fitzpatrick

8. Chicago Bears: Notre Dame OG Quenton Nelson

9. San Francisco 49ers: Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds

10. Oakland Raiders: Georgia LB Roquan Smith

11. Miami Dolphins: Florida State S Derwin James

12. Cincinnati Bengals: Texas OT Connor Williams

13. Washington Redskins: Washington DT Vita Vea

14. Green Bay Packers: Iowa CB Josh Jackson

15. Arizona Cardinals: Ohio State CB Denzel Ward

16. Baltimore Ravens: SMU WR Courtland Sutton

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Alabama DT Da'Ron Payne

18. Seattle Seahawks: Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey

19. Dallas Cowboys: Alabama WR Calvin Ridley

20. Detroit Lions: UTSA EDGE Marcus Davenport

21. Denver Broncos (trade with Buffalo Bills): Ohio State OG Billy Price

22. Denver Broncos (trade with Buffalo Bills): UCLA OT Kolton Miller

23. Los Angeles Rams: Boston College EDGE Harold Landry

24. Carolina Panthers: Alabama S Ronnie Harrison

25. Tennessee Titans: Michigan DT Maurice Hurst

26. Atlanta Falcons: Florida DT Taven Bryan

27. New Orleans Saints: Texas A&M WR Christian Kirk

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Alabama LB Rashaan Evans

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Penn State TE Mike Gesicki

30. Minnesota Vikings: Georgia OG Isaiah Wynn

31. New England Patriots: UCF CB Mike Hughes

32. Philadelphia Eagles: LSU RB Derrius Guice

      

Top-5 Breakdown

Saquon Barkley and Baker Mayfield to the Browns

At this point, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley may simply force the Cleveland Browns' hand at the No. 1 spot.

His unbelievable combine performance (4.4-second 40-yard dash, 29 bench-press reps and a 41-inch vertical jump being the most noteworthy stats) established him as the clear No. 1 choice in this year's draft. He's No. 1 on many big boards, including those of Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN and Matt Miller of Bleacher Report.

Although quarterback is a more pressing need, the Browns can still get a signal-caller they like at No. 4. They could even trade up to the New York Giants' spot at No. 2 if they want to assure themselves of the player they like best at the position.

However, they could also wait and pick one that's there. Mike Garafolo of NFL Network gave his take on what the Browns may do:

A Barkley-Mayfield tandem would certainly make a big splash and reignite a franchise that has lost 31 of its last 32 regular-season games. 

     

Sam Darnold to the Giants

If Barkley goes No. 1, then the choice for the Giants should be easy: (a) pick the best quarterback on the board or (b) trade their pick for a king's ransom to a team looking to grab their top signal-caller.

Although Barkley would be a great fit for the Giants, having him go No. 1 to the Browns would give Big Blue an incredible amount of leverage at the bargaining table, so if the trade is there, the Giants should go for it.

But if not, then the Giants can hang tight and pick the player many believe is the best (and perhaps safest) quarterback prospect in this year's draft, and that's Sam Darnold of USC.

         

Bradley Chubb to the Colts

The choice is even easier for the Colts if Barkley is off the board, as North Carolina State edge rusher Bradley Chubb would fill an immediate pass-rushing need. The Colts only accrued 25 sacks last year, or just over 1.5 per game. That number ranked second-to-last in the entire NFL.

Chubb can immediately come in and help boost the Colts' pass rush. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com compared Chubb to defensive end Chris Long, who has carved out a nice career in the pros capped by Super Bowls in his last two seasons.

Ultimately, this seems like the most obvious pick of the draft if Barkley and Darnold go first and second.

       

Josh Rosen to the Bills

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported some interesting news regarding a potential Case Keenum-Denver Broncos union:

If Keenum does land in Denver, then the Broncos have a clear bargaining chip with the No. 5 pick of the draft. Look for a team like the Buffalo Bills to traverse up the first round and grab one of the top four signal-callers on most big boards (Darnold, Mayfield, Josh Rosen or Josh Allen).

The Broncos need to shore up their offensive line and can use some more help at linebacker next to Von Miller, so they could obtain an extra pick or two and fill multiple needs. A trade with Buffalo could work for both sides, especially because the Bills seem committed to finding a long-term signal-caller.

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