NFL Mock Draft 2018: Latest Projections for Highly Sought-After Prospects

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorApril 15, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 03: USC quarterback Sam Darnold (right) and Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen look on 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

According to Justin Hartling of OddsShark, USC quarterback Sam Darnold is the "odds-on favorite" to be named the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft on April 26, with Wyoming signal-caller Josh Allen sitting second on the odds ledger at +175 (bet $100 to win $175).

This aligns with a report from Chris Mortensen of ESPN (h/t B/R NFL1000 Scout Marcus Mosher), who said that the Cleveland Browns will decide between Allen and Darnold for the No. 1 pick.

At this point, it's possible that they could be the two most sought-after draft prospects and go first and second overall. Below you'll find predictions for their eventual landing spots, as well as a new mock draft.

              

2018 NFL Mock Draft

1. Cleveland Browns: Wyoming QB Josh Allen

2. New York Giants: USC QB Sam Darnold

3. New York Jets: Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield

4. Cleveland Browns: NC State DE Bradley Chubb

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

6. Indianapolis Colts: Penn State RB Saquon Barkley

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. Denver Broncos (proposed trade with Buffalo Bills): Ohio State CB Denzel Ward

13. Washington Redskins: Washington DT Vita Vea

14. Green Bay Packers: Iowa CB Josh Jackson

15. Arizona Cardinals: Louisville QB Lamar Jackson

16. Baltimore Ravens: Alabama WR Calvin Ridley

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

18. Seattle Seahawks: Michigan DT Maurice Hurst

19. Dallas Cowboys: Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch

20. Detroit Lions: UTSA EDGE Marcus Davenport

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey

22. Denver Broncos (proposed trade with Buffalo Bills): Georgia OG Isaiah Wynn

23. New England Patriots: Boston College EDGE Harold Landry

24. Carolina Panthers: Maryland WR D.J. Moore

25. Tennessee Titans: Ohio State EDGE Sam Hubbard

26. Atlanta Falcons: Florida DT Taven Bryan

27. New Orleans Saints: South Dakota State TE Dallas Goedert

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Alabama OLB Rashaan Evans

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: South Carolina TE Hayden Hurst

30. Minnesota Vikings: UTEP OG Will Hernandez

31. New England Patriots: Louisville CB Jaire Alexander

32. Philadelphia Eagles: LSU RB Derrius Guice

                            

Cleveland Browns: Wyoming QB Josh Allen

There has been plenty of chatter in the predraft process connecting Josh Allen to the Browns at No. 1, and it's only gotten louder as draft day nears.

Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com summarized recent reports in an April 11 article, citing Peter King of Sports Illustrated and Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network (among others) who were hearing that Allen is the front-runner to be the pick.

Matthew Freedman of Fantasy Labs has been on the Allen-to-the-Browns bandwagon since January in direct response to Cleveland hiring former Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey to the same role. Here's part of what Freedman had to say on the manner:

"Dorsey is old school. When evaluating passers, he doesn't care what the numbers say: He wants guys who can play. ... Dorsey seems to be almost single-mindedly focused on upside: Potential value guides his quarterback decisions much more than positive expected value—or at least that's the conclusion I'd reach if not for his ridiculous record of success."

No one is questioning Allen's potential upside. He has the size (6'5", 233 lbs) and the throwing velocity (per Ourlads, it was clocked at a remarkable 62 miles per hour at the NFL Scouting Combine, which was easily No. 1 in the field) that could help him become a Hall of Famer.

However, Allen's accuracy numbers have been called into question, as the 21-year-old completed just 56.2 percent of his passes at Wyoming. To put that number in perspective, that figure would have placed Allen third-last in passing accuracy among 32 qualified quarterbacks in the NFL, per Pro Football Reference.

That being said, if the Browns draft Allen, he isn't going to be asked to start right away, as Tyrod Taylor will be calling signals in 2018. A year on the bench would certainly help Allen develop and acclimate to the pro game.

Ultimately, Allen is one of the draft's more intriguing prospects, one that is very much in play for the No. 1 overall pick. It will be interesting to watch his career unfold over the next few years.

           

New York Giants: USC QB Sam Darnold

The New York Giants hold a ton of leverage heading into the draft. If they hold on to the second pick, Big Blue can guarantee themselves one of the top non-quarterback prospects (Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson or NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb) or a quarterback to take over for 37-year-old Eli Manning in a year or two.

The Giants can also trade down to a team desperate for a long-term solution at quarterback and get a haul of picks in return.

However, if Darnold is available at No. 2, the guess here is that he's the Giants' pick. Darnold is considered the top quarterback in this year's draft by many pundits, including Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report and Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network.

He was fantastic in his first year as the USC quarterback in 2016, completing 67.2 percent of his passes, throwing for 31 touchdowns and leading his team to a Rose Bowl win.

The primary knocks against Darnold are that he seemed to regress in 2017 following a stellar 2016 campaign, completing 4.1 percent fewer passes, losing four more fumbles (nine total) and tossing four more interceptions.

Granted, Darnold played (and was asked to do) more in 2017, as he attempted 114 more passes. But he needs to take better care of the ball, which is something he acknowledged at his combine interview.

That being said, it's important to note that Darnold (a) is just 20 years old, (b) naturally dealt with a tremendous amount of pressure after his fantastic 2016 season and (c) played behind an offensive line that lost three starters after 2016 and dealt with injuries in 2017. And yet he still led the Trojans to a Pac-12 title and Cotton Bowl appearance.

Ultimately, Darnold should be the pick at No. 2 if he's there. Like Manning, he has the potential to lock down the quarterback position for 15 years.

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