NFL Mock Draft 2018: Projections for Top Prospects in 1st-Round Discussion

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistApril 7, 2018

STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 22:  Denzel Ward #12 of the Ohio State Buckeyes in action against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania on October 22, 2016.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

On April 26, we'll find out the landing spots for the top prospects in the 2018 NFL draft. For now, the guessing game continues as free agents ink deals nearly a month into the league year.

There's a spotlight on the Buffalo Bills as a team expected to move up for a quarterback. According to CBS Sports reporter Jason La Canfora, general manager Brandon Beane will make an aggressive push for a trade.

"Brandon is trying like hell to get up and get a quarterback," an NFL general manager who was recently in contact with Beane told La Canfora. "I'm convinced he'll trade up twice more if he has to. It reminds me of (Eagles general manager) Howie (Roseman) a few years ago (when he was moving up to land Carson Wentz)."

It's unclear whether the New York Giants have an interest in selecting a successor to quarterback Eli Manning, but the Bills can still land a top quarterback prospect after the New York Jets, who acquired the No. 3 selection in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts. 

Will the Bills find a trade partner? If so, how would the transaction affect the remainder of the first round? Let's take an updated look at projections for Day 1 selections.


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2018 NFL Mock Draft 1st-Round Projections

1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC 

2. New York Giants: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA  

3. New York Jets (via Indianapolis Colts): Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

*4. Buffalo Bills (via Cleveland Browns): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

5. Denver Broncos: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State 

6. Indianapolis Colts (via New York Jets): Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama 

8. Chicago Bears: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia  

9. San Francisco 49ers: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

10. Oakland Raiders: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

11. Miami Dolphins: Derwin James, S, Florida State

*12. Cleveland Browns (via Buffalo Bills): Vita Vea, DT, Washington

13. Washington Redskins: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

14. Green Bay Packers: Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

15. Arizona Cardinals: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

16. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama 

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

18. Seattle Seahawks: Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College

19. Dallas Cowboys: Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

20. Detroit Lions: Ronald Jones II, RB, USC

21. Cincinnati Bengals (via Buffalo Bills): Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia

*22. Cleveland Browns (via Buffalo Bills): Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama 

23. New England Patriots (via Los Angeles Rams): Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

24. Carolina Panthers: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

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

26. Atlanta Falcons: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

27. New Orleans Saints: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Tegray Scales, LB, Indiana

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

30. Minnesota Vikings: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP 

31. New England Patriots: Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Uchenna Nwosu, LB, USC 

*Indicates a trade projection


Buffalo Bills Trade Picks Nos. 12 and 22, Select QB Josh Allen at No. 4 

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 03: Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen throws during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 3, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

It seems the Bills will move up within the top 10 to acquire a quarterback, and expect Buffalo to select Wyoming prospect Josh Allen if they wind up picking fourth.

At this juncture, the Cleveland Browns should've already taken their potential franchise quarterback in the top spot. General manager John Dorsey could potentially land two first-round picks in exchange for the No. 4 overall selection. It's an extra handpicked prospect in an effort to build the roster.

The strong-armed signal-caller won't have to start right away in Western New York. Unless Allen shows accelerated development under center, A.J. McCarron holds the starting spot for at least a year.

In the meantime, the coaching staff will have time to develop Allen's lower-body mechanics, which may improve his ball placement.

Despite the criticisms of his subpar completion percentage (56.3 in 2017), Allen brings some upside as a mobile, sturdy quarterback who can endure a pounding from NFL defenders. When on target, he's also able to test deep safeties over the top.


Oakland Raiders Select CB Denzel Ward at No. 10

Gregory Payan/Associated Press

Look at this selection as the best player available for the Oakland Raiders. Furthermore, it's a draft choice that also addresses a need in the secondary.

The Silver and Black signed 28-year-old cornerback Rashaan Melvin to a one-year deal in free agency. The decision to add Ohio State product Ward gives the Raiders a solid trio at the position. Additionally, he could serve as a replacement for their veteran acquisition in case he's unable to replicate his solid play from the previous campaign with the Indianapolis Colts.

Is it a stretch to envision Ward available in this slot? In short, no.

Bleacher Report draft analyst Matt Miller lists Ward as the eighth overall prospect on his big board. Considering the frenzy for quarterbacks at the top, it's possible the best cornerback in the 2018 class falls to the Raiders at No. 10.

Oakland would select another top-notch cornerback prospect to prop up a subpar secondary. 2017 first-round pick Gareon Conley and Ward, an Ohio State duo, should boost the team's pass defense along with Melvin.

At 5'10", 191 pounds, Ward's size may turn off a few teams with a top-10 pick, but the Raiders could use him as a matchup defender with Conley able to play inside and outside.


Seattle Seahawks Select Harold Landry at No. 18 

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 04:  Boston College defensive lineman Harold Landry (DL39) participates in a drill during the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March , 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks must retool their defense after losing key players via trade or release on all three levels. General manager John Schneider could start with a high-upside selection in Boston College prospect Harold Landry.

Landry's best work came in the 2016 campaign. An ankle injury limited him to eight games last year, but he still flashed enough on film to stay in first-round consideration. The former Eagle displayed his pass-rushing skills during his junior season with 16.5 sacks. He also broke up seven passes.

During his tenure at Boston College, Landry stood up and had his hand in the dirt. Under head coach Pete Carroll and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., he could thrive in Bruce Irvin's old role as a pass-rusher who also dropped back in short-area coverage. On film, you can see the 6'3", 252-pounder sniff out the run as well. 

Landry's versatility should appeal to the Seahawks, who are looking to fill holes in the front seven. He's capable of reaching his full potential in Seattle.