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NFL Draft 2018: Notable Picks from Latest Expert Mock Drafts

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistApril 22, 2018

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

It's not easy to find a consensus when it comes to 2018 NFL mock drafts.

Most years by now the general public has a good idea of what the team with the No. 1 overall pick is thinking, if not the first few teams in the order. But the Cleveland Browns continue to play things close to their chest as they clutch the first and fourth picks.

But credit for the secrecy goes beyond the Browns as well. There are a possible six first-round quarterbacks this year, four of them top-10 candidates. And no team is going to outright say which one they like best.

Sprinkle in a smattering of elite defensive prospects and a strong class along the offensive line, and it makes sense most expert mocks don't align. Some even offer notables we've outlined below.

                 

Expert: ESPN.com's Todd McShay

Notable Pick: 6. Indianapolis Colts (from Jets): Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Our first notable comes from ESPN.com's Todd McShay as he alternates picks with one Mel Kiper Jr., a format unique to the mock scene that always produces some interesting results because of how the two differ in the way they view prospects. 

McShay gets the pick for the Indianapolis Colts, and with Bradley Chubb off the board, he has them rolling with Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith.

It's an interesting slot for Smith because it's hard to find him higher in a mock. He's a superb prospect, if not one of the best linebackers to enter the draft in years, because of his solid do-it-all ability. A 6'1", 236-pound linebacker with elite athleticism and game sense who can slide over and cover the pass well doesn't come around often.

McShay wrote the following about the pick: "A hot name right now, Smith is a sideline-to-sideline linebacker who can play the run and the pass. Indianapolis needs playmakers all over on defense."

Still, this can be viewed as a bit odd for the Colts. They need better protection in front of quarterback Andrew Luck, whose future is a question mark as is. He needs more weapons around him, and the defense needs playmakers. Smith is one, but the mock has them passing on a more premium position by letting secondary members such as Minkah Fitzpatrick and Derwin James fall past them, not to mention a generational line prospect in Quenton Nelson.

Make no mistake, Smith is bound for NFL success and would make an impact for the Colts. It's just interesting to see the other names passed.

                

Expert: CBSSports.com's R.J. White

Notable Pick: 16. Baltimore Ravens: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

Mason Rudolph out of Oklahoma State is one of the six possible first-round quarterbacks, though his possible landing spot has been the most unpredictable of the six. 

For CBSSports.com's R.J. White in a seven-round mock draft, the logical landing spot is with the Baltimore Ravens at No. 16, as the front office looks to secure a high-end prospect behind Joe Flacco as a possible replacement down the road.

While every quarterback prospect has his critics this year, Rudolph might quietly be the most polarizing of the bunch. He's 6'5" and 235 pounds, yet he generally isn't viewed as a guy with elite arm strength, instead needing to lean on the offense and separation of his targets to move the ball.

Plenty of guys with those descriptions have excelled in the NFL, yet it's not enough for someone such as NFL.com's Lance Zierlein, who labels Rudolph as the draft's most overrated quarterback:

"Rudolph wasn't asked to go through many progressions in his offense and I felt like his arm strength was very average when he was asked to zip it on field-side throws. I like his size as well as the fact that Rudolph understood his offense and would attack down the field, but I see an average NFL quarterback prospect who shouldn't go inside the first two rounds."

Granted, this is a moot point if the Ravens feel they can groom Rudolph while implementing a deep-passing offense playing to his strengths. It's already a good fit in that regard, especially with the wideout depth chart improving with names such as Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead.

If the Ravens keep building the roster right, Baltimore might be one of the best landing spots for the Oklahoma State passer.

              

Expert: Draft Wire's Luke Easterling

Notable Pick: 11. Miami Dolphins: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

When it comes to polarizing quarterbacks, Lamar Jackson out of Louisville isn't far behind Rudolph, which is what makes Draft Wire's Luke Easterling's latest mock so interesting.

There, Easterling has the Miami Dolphins pulling the trigger just outside of the top 10 while thinking about the future: "If he's still on the board, though, it would be a home run pick for the Dolphins, who have little guaranteed money left on Ryan Tannehill's contract. A year of waiting and learning behind the veteran could help Jackson maximize his rare talent once he gets the reins."

Jackson is certainly brimming with upside. Any early-draft whispers about his playing a different position weren't to be taken seriously—Michael Vick-esque elusiveness doesn't mean he needs to play a different position for the first time in his career.

The Louisville product made his splashes in college while looking good as a passer, hence 3,660 passing yards with 27 touchdowns against 10 interceptions alongside another 1,601 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns last year alone.

ACC Digital Network captured one of Jackson's many impressive throws:

ACC Digital Network @theACCDN

WE know Lamar Jackson (@Lj_era8) can make all the throws. #NFLDraft #L1C4 https://t.co/LUp4Anr27n

Miami is an interesting landing spot for Jackson as it works hard to make over the culture surrounding the team. On paper, a strong defense got better this offseason via additions such as Robert Quinn, while a potentially on-the-rise set of weapons featuring Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker should make for a welcoming on-field environment.

Draft season has gone with countless scenarios for the quarterbacks, and the suggestion the Dolphins could pick a versatile, explosive player in Jackson to help in the arms race of the AFC East is refreshing.

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