2018 NFL Mock Draft: 1st-Round Predictions for Prospects with Rising Stock

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2018

MADISON, WI - NOVEMBER 18: Maurice Hurst #73 of the Michigan Wolverines in action during a game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium on November 18, 2017 in Madison, Wisconsin. Wisconsin won 24-10. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

With pro days underway across the country, the stock market surrounding the 2018 NFL draft continues to see significant changes.

In most cases, pro days won't alter things too dramatically for a prospect. But like the combine, it's another chance for teams to get up close and personal with prospects and put numbers to what they are seeing on film.

For some rare cases, like we have seen this year, late medical developments have altered the first round entirely.

Let's take a look at an updated mock draft based on the constantly evolving stock market and then point to some prospects whose fortunes have taken an upswing lately and examine why.


2018 NFL Mock Draft

1. Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

2. New York Giants: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

3. New York Jets: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans): Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

5. Denver Broncos: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

6. Indianapolis Colts: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Derwin James, S, Florida State

8. Chicago Bears: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

9. San Francisco 49ers: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

10. Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

11. Miami Dolphins: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

12. Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

13. Washington Redskins: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

14. Green Bay Packers: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

15. Arizona Cardinals: Vita Vea, DT, Washington

16. Baltimore Ravens: Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

18. Seattle Seahawks: Connor Williams, OT, Texas

19. Dallas Cowboys: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

20. Detroit Lions: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State 

22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs): Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

23. Los Angeles Rams: Billy Price, C/G, Ohio State

24. Carolina Panthers: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

25. Tennessee Titans: Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

26. Atlanta Falcons: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

27. New Orleans Saints: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Marcus Davenport, DE/OLB, UTSA

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

30. Minnesota Vikings: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

31. New England Patriots: Isaiah Wynn, OT, Georgia

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma 


16. Baltimore Ravens: Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College

Steven Senne/Associated Press

Sometimes, a class' weakness can boost a prospect's stock.

That isn't meant to sound like a knock on Boston College edge-rusher Harold Landry. But with pass-rushers a key part of today's game, the position has become premium just like quarterback and cornerback—and the 2018 class happens to be weak in this area.

Landry is the exception.

Standing at 6'3" and 252 pounds, Landry was a consistent speed rusher in college, though an on-and-off 2017 hurt his stock somewhat.

Still, the upside isn't hard to see and sometimes catches the eye. Bucky Brooks of NFL Network is impressed:

NFL Network @nflnetwork

How good can Harold Landry be? @BuckyBrooks sees a ⭐️ https://t.co/Gy5N6TbUEB

Landry can work in a 4-3 alignment with his hand in the dirt or stand up, which is one of the many reasons the Baltimore Ravens can't pass him up in the first round above. With Terrell Suggs only having so many 11-sack years left in him, Landry could help in a rotational role right away before developing into the team's primary rusher.

The only problem for the Ravens is hoping his stock doesn't rise even higher between now and the draft.


21. Cincinnati Bengals: Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

The big combine winner this year, Mike Gesicki is a natural fit for one of the draft's fastest-rising prospects.

To put it simply, Gesicki had one of the greatest combine performances ever, ranking among the best at his position, tight end, in every workout. For a guy who weighed in at 6'5" and 247 pounds, a 4.54 40-yard dash and 41.5-inch vertical jump, as well as a 6.76-second three-cone drill to show off the burst in small spaces, blew scouts away.

Gesicki wasn't a bad prospect before the combine by any means, not after catching nine touchdowns last year at Penn State. But in this case, the numbers hint at extreme upside coaches can put to work in various situations during a game.

As NFL.com's Lance Zierlein pointed out, those situations are, for now, limited to the passing game:

"However, if you want a pass-catcher who can get open and has the ball skills to win against linebackers and safeties, he might be your guy. Gesicki needs to improve his play strength and his issues as a blocker could limit the amount of teams who will target him, but he has a chance to become one of the better pass catching tight ends in the league."

But teams aren't drafting Gesicki as anything but a weapon who can create mismatches for defense, whether that's in the slot or otherwise.

It's why the Cincinnati Bengals take him in the mock above. While the team got Tyler Eifert back under contract in free agency, the Bengals can't afford to gamble on his health alone again. Gesicki is a future-minded pick, but one the team could use right away if necessary.


26. Atlanta Falcons: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

Gregory Payan/Associated Press

Maurice Hurst could end up being the best story from the 2018 draft class.

Hurst's tale emphasizes the blessing extensive medical combine testing is for prospects. In Indianapolis, Hurst was flagged for a heart issue after EKG tests and didn't get to work out, putting a damper not only on perhaps his first-round stock but also on his football career.

Further evaluation after the trip to the combine, though, has cleared Hurst to get back on the field, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter:

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Michigan’s potential first-round pick Mo Hurst has met with cardiologists at University of Michigan and Harvard, and they have cleared him to resume playing football, per league source. Hurst will do a full workout at Michigan's pro day on Friday.

It's great news on multiple levels and throws Hurst's stock right back up into the first round, where NFL teams will once again covet the rare interior rush he brings on passing plays.

Football writer Marcus Mosher provided a simple comparison between two of the top linemen in the class:

Marcus Mosher @Marcus_Mosher

In 30 career collegiate games, Taven Bryan had 10.5 TFLs and 5.5 sacks. In 2017, Maurice Hurst had 13.5 TFLs and 5.5 sacks.

The Atlanta Falcons will like this versatility up front and how it pairs well with a unit that got after quarterbacks well a year ago, even after losing Adrian Clayborn in free agency.

Already one of the draft's better stories, Hurst lands in a locale where he could have a lengthy career.


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