NFL Mock Draft 2018: Round 1 Projections for Class' Pivotal Prospects

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2018

Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith runs the 40-yard dash at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, March 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

The 2018 NFL draft continues to slowly move back into the spotlight. 

It hasn't been as sudden as recent years, though—not with so much going on outside of the draft process. Ndamukong Suh finally just came off the market by signing with the Los Angeles Rams, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. There is all kinds of drama surrounding New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and his future. 

Heck, even Johnny Manziel is out here slinging passes in the hopes of an NFL comeback. 

So no, it isn't hard to see why the long path to the draft hasn't assumed the role of headline act just yet. But knowing the upcoming details is critical, so let's take a look at a fresh mock draft.  


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: Isaiah Wynn, OT, Georgia

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: James Daniels, OL, Iowa

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma 


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

Gregory Payan/Associated Press

The first non-quarterback to come off the board is a big deal in this draft class. 

Going into the draft, fans know the depth at quarterback and the serious need around the NFL could have as many as four quarterbacks coming off the board to start the order, provided more trades happen. 

But the Cleveland Browns at No. 4 are interesting because they can get their quarterback with the first pick and either land a major haul via trade or take the best player available and beef up an already-improving roster. 

NC State edge defender Bradley Chubb is the best player available there, and though it's typical of pre-draft hyperbole, it is still notable when someone such as ESPN's Adam Schefter provides the following note: 

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Both @LRiddickESPN and @Realrclark25 said on SportsCenter that Bradley Chubb is a better football player than last year's No. 1 pick, Myles Garrett.

What's great for the Browns here would be pairing the 6'4", 269-pound Chubb with Myles Garrett and turning them both loose on opposing quarterbacks. A strong pass rush is a key element to contention and having both guys on the same unit would carry the defense as a whole. 

This pick is devastating for those teams in need of talent besides quarterback. Interestingly enough, it also pushes quarterbacks one more spot down the board and perhaps creates another bidding war for trades at the same time. 


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

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Unlike a handful of prior years, the 2018 class is incredibly deep along the offensive line. 

Meaning the first guy off the board is going to start an interesting run. 

Interesting because teams will then have to decide if they want to go elsewhere with their picks or grab prospects in the offensive trenches who are both becoming harder to develop and more expensive to keep in free agency. 

The Chicago Bears, at least, won't have any hesitation if Notre Dame's Quenton Nelson remains on the board at No. 8. It gets thrown around often, but Nelson is a generational prospect at 6'5" and 329 pounds with no notable flaws on his tape and elite awareness to pair with the obvious physical dominance. 

The connection with the Bears is there too, as NBC Sports Chicago pointed out: 

Bears Talk @NBCSBears

Notre Dame G Quenton Nelson would be pretty stoked about a reunion with #Bears OL coach Harry Hiestand. Could that be a reality on Draft night? 👉 https://t.co/SPapZ49mV4 https://t.co/Yg7ACczoHW

After some successful splashes on guys like Allen Robinson, the Bears have to make sure they keep Mitchell Trubisky healthy while he develops. 

The move creates an interesting problem for the rest of the teams in the first round thanks to high-end prospects like Isaiah Wynn and Mike McGlinchey, as well as surefire interior guys such as Will Hernandez and James Daniels. 


10. Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Linebacker is a bit different than offensive line but should create the same dilemma and domino effect in the draft order. 

This is a mostly weak class for pass-rushers at the linebacker spot, and it's top-heavy when it comes to guys who don't rush the passer often. 

Smith was never in danger of losing his spot as the top linebacker in the class—and for good reason. Antiquated analysis might peg him as small at 6'1" and 236 pounds, but Smith's position has required more safety-esque skills from players for a while now, and he shows it all on film, flying around the field, taking good angles against the run and holding up in coverage. 

Some of the strengths of Smith's game listed by NFL.com's Lance Zierlein rarely, if ever, get written for a linebacker: "Rare stop-start and change of direction talent. Flips pursuit from one target to the next seamlessly. Gets early bail into coverage against play-fake. Able to mirror and match against the most athletic running backs in coverage. Gets early jumps to join crossing routes and has the speed to carry them across the field. Searches out and squeezes receivers when playing zone."

So no, the Oakland Raiders aren't going to hesitate with the 10th pick, especially as Jon Gruden searches for more attitude and leadership on defense. 

The impact on the rest of the draft is huge. With Smith off the board, almost every team left in the order will have to consider Leighton Vander Esch or Tremaine Edmunds as defensive core pieces in a top-heavy class. 


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