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NFL Draft 2018: Latest Mock Draft, Projections for Difficult 1st-Round Decisions

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistApril 8, 2018

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) passes the ball against Mississippi State during the first half of the TaxSlayer Bowl NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

Each of the 32 NFL teams is going through every twist and turn the 2018 NFL draft could throw at them. But at the end of the day, they are all still going to be tasked with difficult decisions come April 27.

Whether it be on a larger scale at the top of the first round or mining for gems no one else would pick up on in the later rounds, franchises are under pressure to score the best players possible.

Most of the attention is centered on the top five picks in the first round because of the number of high-profile quarterbacks available.

While those teams face a ton of pressure, other franchises are tasked with weighing offers to move up in the selection order or take risks on players in positions of need.

               

2018 NFL 1st-Round Mock Draft

1. Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

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

3. New York Jets (via Indianapolis): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

5. Denver Broncos: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

6. Indianapolis Colts (via New York Jets): Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

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

8. Chicago Bears: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

9. San Francisco 49ers: Marcus Davenport, DE, Texas-San Antonio

10. Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

11. Miami Dolphins: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

12. Buffalo Bills (via Cincinnati): Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

13. Washington Redskins: Vita Vea, DT, Washington

14. Green Bay Packers: Derwin James, S, Florida State

15. Arizona Cardinals: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

16. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

18. Seattle Seahawks: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF

19. Dallas Cowboys: Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

20. Detroit Lions: Leighton Vander Esch, DE/LB, Boise State

21. Cincinnati Bengals (via Buffalo): Harold Landry, DE, Boston College

22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City): Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

23. New England Patriots (via Los Angeles Rams): Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

24. Carolina Panthers: Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford

25. Tennessee Titans: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

26. Atlanta Falcons: Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia

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

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

30. Minnesota Vikings: Connor Williams, OT, Texas

31. New England Patriots: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State

                  

Difficult 1st-Round Decisions

Denver Takes Nelson Over A Quarterback

The Denver Broncos' most difficult decision could be made before it is on the clock with the No. 5 overall pick.

With three quarterback-hungry franchises ahead of them, the Broncos could be on the outside looking in on the market for the best collegiate signal-callers, especially if the Cleveland Browns trade the No. 1 or No. 4 pick.

Even if there is one remaining quarterback prospect on the draft board, the Broncos should go after the best offensive lineman in the talent pool, Quenton Nelson, to solidify the protection for Case Keenum.

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 19: Quenton Nelson #56 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in action against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the game at Notre Dame Stadium on September 19, 2015 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Georgia Tech 30-22
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The former Houston Texans and Minnesota Vikings gunslinger's signing is the main reason why the Broncos can afford passing on a quarterback like Baker Mayfield in order to improve their roster in a different area.

By taking the best available player at No. 5, the Broncos choose long-term security of their quarterback instead of diving head first into the potentially murky waters of selecting a high-profile player in the top five.

Although Nelson's selection might raise confusion among the fanbase, it keeps open the possibility of trading back into the first round or higher up in the second round to take someone like Mason Rudolph, who has the potential to thrive in a high-powered offense after a year or two under the tutelage of a veteran signal-caller.

               

Cardinals Stay at No. 15, Select Jackson

The Arizona Cardinals are one of a few teams worth keeping an eye in the weeks leading up to the NFL draft and during the first round.

With the 15th pick, the Cardinals sit at a disadvantage since they won't come close to sniffing the top quarterback talent, but they still have to fill a need.

That's where Louisville's Lamar Jackson comes into the picture for new head coach Steve Wilks, as the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner should be available.

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 30: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Louisville Cardinals looks to pass against the Mississippi State Bulldogs during the TaxSlayer Bowl at EverBank Field on December 30, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Bulldogs won 31-27. (Photo by
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Although some teams will have Jackson lower on their respective draft boards for a multitude of reasons, the Cardinals shouldn't be afraid of trusting the quarterback by using a first-round pick on him.

Patience could end up benefiting the Cardinals in the long run, as they bring a motivated Jackson into a competition where Sam Bradford is the starter.

Not only would the move give Jackson the chance to start as soon as possible, but it would also allow Arizona to keep all of its draft picks as it looks to build up young talent for Wilks' first season in charge.

If the Cardinals were to move up into the top 10 to choose another quarterback, they would be giving up at least one of their two third-round picks and potentially their second-round selection depending on their potential trade partner's asking price.

           

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

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