2018 NFL Mock Draft: 1st-Round Predictions and Prospects in Danger of Falling

Richard Janvrin@@RichardJanvrinFeatured ColumnistApril 17, 2018

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 08: Calvin Ridley #3 of the Alabama Crimson Tide warms up before taking on the Georgia Bulldogs during the College Football Playoff National Championship held at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 8, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. Alabama defeated Georgia 26-23 for the national title. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)
Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

Heading into the NFL draft, there are certain players who you can make a confident estimate about where they might be drafted.

For instance, maybe a few quarterbacks will go inside the top five picks. But it doesn't always happen that way.

Sometimes, players fall down the board and get drafted later than you might expect.

A classic example of this is Aaron Rodgers falling to No. 24 overall in the 2005 draft. After Alex Smith was taken at No. 1, Rodgers continued to fall.

Below you'll find a first-round mock draft, but we'll also look at three players who could potentially fall down the board for one reason or another.


NFL Mock Draft: Round 1

1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

2. Buffalo Bills (projected trade w/ New York Giants): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

3. New York Jets (via Indianapolis Colts): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans): Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

5. Denver Broncos: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

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

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

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

9. San Francisco 49ers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama

10. Oakland Raiders: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

11. Miami Dolphins: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

12. New York Giants (projected trade w/ Buffalo Bills, via Cincinnati Bengals): Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

13. Washington Redskins: Vita Vea, DT, Washington

14. New England Patriots (projected trade w/ Green Bay Packers): Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

15. Arizona Cardinals: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

16. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

18. Seattle Seahawks: Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia

19. Dallas Cowboys: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

20. Detroit Lions: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College

21. Cincinnati Bengals (via Buffalo Bills): Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

22. New York Giants (projected trade w/ Buffalo Bills, via Kansas City Chiefs): Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA

23. Green Bay Packers (projected trade w/ New England Patriots, via Los Angeles Rams): Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State

24. Carolina Panthers: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP

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

26. Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida 

27. New Orleans Saints: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame 

30. Minnesota Vikings: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

31. Green Bay Packers (projected trade w/ New England Patriots): Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

32. Arizona Cardinals (projected trade w/ Philadelphia Eagles): Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State


Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

While Lamar Jackson is a prime candidate for a team to trade up and get him, he's also a candidate to fall a bit in the draft.

It's not like he's going to slip to the second-round, but he could slip into the 20s.

It really depends on how the other quarterbacks get drafted—Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield.

All of those guys are projected to go within the first five picks.

If they start to fall, Jackson will fall, too.

The Bills are projected to trade up to No. 2. If they're not able to, they might have to stay put at 12 and get a quarterback that way.

However, Jackson could also be drafted higher than we expect, too.

But, if I had to guess, Jackson goes after those four guys, and where they get drafted could determine where Jackson goes.

In this scenario, Jackson lands with the Patriots after they trade up. Should they not, it's wide open as to where Jackson could land.

Either way, Jackson will go in the first round. Maybe he lands with the Cardinals at No. 15 or he could fall to 23 for the Patriots to snag him with their original pick should they not trade up.

Pegging Jackson's draft spot is quite tricky.


Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

This is a fairly simple reason: Health concerns.

Heading into the NFL Scouting Combine, Hurst was diagnosed with a heart condition that held him out of the event.

Fortunately, Hurst was cleared and able to compete at his pro day.

Hurst is arguably the top defensive tackle in the entire draft class, and even though he was cleared, a heart condition could potentially scare some teams off.

Based on talent alone, Hurst would be an excellent selection for the Chargers at No. 17 to line up in between Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.

The team that takes Hurst will need to be willing to trust the doctors clearing him.

Hurst could actually fall to the second round should teams be wary of giving him a five-year rookie deal as a first-round pick considering his health issues.

If not for health, Hurst would be an early-teens pick.


Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

The wide receiver class is a bit quirky.

While Calvin Ridley is the consensus No. 1 wide receiver in the class, there are still questions as to whether he's a true No. 1 receiver or more of a secondary receiver.

Being a secondary receiver isn't a bad thing whatsoever, and they can still provide value. But does a team invest in Ridley high in the first round or just get a player who, although not as talented, can still fit a similar role for a less valuable draft spot?

That's the question teams will face on draft day.

In my eyes, the two highest draft positions Ridley will land in are the Ravens at No. 16 and the Cowboys at No. 19.

After them, the Patriots at No. 23, the Panthers at No. 24 and the Jaguars at No. 29 could make sense, too.

Ridley will go in the first-round, but looking at last year's draft slots and rookie contracts, the difference between going No. 16 and No. 29 could be right around $2.5 million—that's a solid chunk of change.

Will teams wait on a receiver based on what this class consists of and draft the best player available, or will they just pull the trigger and get the consensus No. 1 guy?

That's what Ridley will be dealing with on draft day.