The sideline pass 2018 nfl mock draft
1. Cleveland - Saquon Barkley RB Penn State
The star of the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine, Penn State's Saquon Barkley put a bow on top of his once-in-a-generation resume with a 4.40 40-yard dash, 29 reps on bench, and a vertical jump of 41-inches in Indianapolis. The 233-lb running back is a flawless prospect who I personally compare to Barry Sanders. The Cleveland Browns, who are undergoing a complete rebuild, need a face of the franchise that they can count on for the next 5-10 years to be the figurehead of their reconstruction project. Barkley is the type of athlete who will revolutionize the sport, and it is hard to envision a team passing on that rare type of opportunity.
2. New York Giants - Quenton Nelson OG Notre Dame
New Giants GM Dave Gettleman: “I believe in the ‘hog mollies.' We’ve had some great groups here, had great groups everywhere I’ve been, and we’re going to get back to that. They do allow you to compete.” Notre Dame's Quenton Nelson is the best guard prospect to enter the NFL in a over a decade. He's also one of the safest picks in the draft after leaving the Combine, where he put up 35 reps on bench. Nelson is a plug-and-play starer who will keep Eli Manning on his feet in 2018 and play in the league for 10-15 years.
3. Indianapolis - Bradley Chubb DE N.C. State
The Indianapolis Colts enter the draft looking to draft the best player available. Their chances of landing Saquon Barkley without a trade remain low, and thus they are expected to turn their attention to N.C. State's Bradley Chubb. A massive 6'4, 270 lb defensive end, Chubb is a well-built, balanced end prospect who would be the cornerstone of the Colts defense for the future.
4. Cleveland - Josh Allen QB Wyoming
Over the three-day 2018 NFL Draft the Browns own 12 picks, with six of them coming in the first three rounds. After landing the best player in the draft at No. 1 overall, I'd expect to see Cleveland target their franchise quarterback at No. 4. There is speculation that the Browns will pair a veteran quarterback with a rookie and allow the kid to develop as the Browns' rebuild begins. In this theory, pairing the strongest arm in the draft, in Josh Allen, with Barkley and a veteran, would be a perfect development plan for a talented signal caller, who is still a bit rough around the edges. Josh Allen is a great fit in Cleveland with the stage of their team's development.
5. Denver - Minkah Fitzpatrick CB Alabama
The Denver Broncos enter the offseason with a major conundrum at the quarterback position, however they are expected to land their signal caller through free agency. With that said, Denver is in prime position to add a young, rare talent at No. 5 overall. Alabama's Minkah Fitzpatrick has the athletic tools to play corner, safety, and nickel, and would be a high-caliber replacement for Aqib Talib, who the team is expected to part ways with.
6. New York Jets - Baker Mayfield QB Oklahoma
Giving off the impression that they were tanking the season back in August after cutting several veterans leading up to the start of the year, the New York Jets fulfilled their hope of a Top 10 pick in a quarterback-rich draft class. At the No. 6 pick in the draft, it is a near-certainty that the Jets will have their choice of a quarterback after the top one or two are taken. In this scenario, drafting the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Baker Mayfield would fit the bill as a home run-type swing to fix their rotating door at the QB position. Mayfield looks the part of a Russell Wilson/Johnny Manziel look-a-like, however what makes Mayfield special is that he has taken the best of both from Wilson and Manziel’s games. Mayfield’s improvisational skills are well-documented, however his leadership, charisma, and his ability to play within his physical limitations is what scouts are liking to Wilson. In New York, with Mayfield’s chip-on-the-shoulder persona, he would be beloved by Jets fans.
7. Tampa Bay - Denzel Ward CB Ohio State
The Buccaneers, the darling of HBO’s Hard Knocks, enter the offseason as arguably the NFL’s most disappointing team after entering the year with playoff expectations. Due to injuries, inconsistencies, and questionable play calling, Tampa Bay is in position to bolster its defense, which featured one of the league’s worst secondaries this season. The Bucs drafted Vernon Hargreaves out of Florida in 2016 and he has flashed promise, however the rest of the secondary has been a major problem for Tampa. Adding a player of the caliber of Denzel Ward would immediately boost the team’s talent level and depth. Ward is a talented cover corner who blossomed into one of the top defensive backs in the country this season. After seeing the Saints' success with former Buckeye Marshon Lattimore, I'd expect to see Tampa pursue Ward if they can't land Minkah Fitzpatrick.
8. Chicago - Calvin Ridley WR Alabama
After hiring head coach Matt Nagy, it is apparent that the Chicago Bears' offseason plans will revolve around the development of quarterback Mitch Trubisky. As far as Trubisky's supporting cast, the Bears have a well-rounded running game established, however their receiving corps is decimated. Former first round pick Kevin White no longer can be relied on, Cameron Meredith missed the entire 2017 season due to injury, and behind them is an assortment of cast-off's. To take the next step offensively, Chicago must add a vertical threat to their passing game to take advantage of Trubisky's arm strength. Alabama's Calvin Ridley is the consensus top receiver prospect in this year's draft and is expected to be a Top 10 pick.
9. San Francisco - Mike McGlinchey OT Notre Dame
The San Francisco 49ers' 5-0 finish on the back of Jimmy Garoppolo has provided renewed optimism for a franchise that was seen as being years away from being ready to compete at the beginning of the season. Although there is a need to continue to upgrade the weapons around Garoppolo, it would be smart for the 49ers to bolster their line up front. San Francisco has seen a revolving door at the guard position where the team signed Brandon Fusco signed from free agency and Laken Tomlinson aquired in a trade from Detroit. With Fusco headed to free agency again, adding a long-term answer at the position would be ideal. Notre Dame's Quenton Nelson is one of the best guard prospects in the past 25 years and figures to play a decade-plus for the team that drafts him.
10. Oakland - Roquan Smith LB Georgia
In Week 7, when Navorro Bowman joined the Oakland Raiders, the team's linebacker corps was considered one of the weaker units on the team. And while Bowman did play well in his 10-game audition, he is a free agent this offseason and his future with the team is unclear. Regardless of whether he comes back, it would be smart to re-invest in their defense. Georgia's Roquan Smith is a talented, athletic linebacker prospect who has the tools to be the signal caller for an NFL defense. Adding him to the middle of the Raiders' defense would give new head coach Jon Gruden a player to pair with Khalil Mack for the next 5-10 years.
11. Miami - Josh Rosen QB UCLA
The current expectation among league insiders is that the Miami Dolphins are prepared to target one of the high-end quarterbacks in this year's draft. Among those quarterbacks who could end up in Miami is UCLA's Josh Rosen. A cerebral athlete, both on and off the field, Rosen has the physical skill set desired of a top prospect, yet his true landing spot is up in the air. Because of his political stances and willingness to speak openly, it is going to require a team that is willing to take on a player who goes against the norm. The Dolphins, with HC Adam Gase, would be an ideal fit for a player who is as close to NFL-ready as any quarterback in the draft, yet will require a stern quarterback coach to develop his maturity on and off the field.
12. Cincinnati - Rashaan Evans LB Alabama
In recent years the Cincinnati Bengals linebacker corps has been a rotating door of old vets and inexperienced young players. In 2017, things came to a head when Vontaze Burfict missed six games. His absence was felt on a defense that has been trending younger over the past few seasons. Locking up a top linebacker prospect in the form of Rashaan Evans would give the team a leader and player to build around for the future. Although Evans did not run his 40-yard dash at the Combine or at Alabama's first Pro Day, he is seen as one of the premier defensive prospects in this class.
13. Washington - Da'Ron Payne DT Alabama
In 2017 the Washington Redskins ranked worst in the NFL in run defense, giving up 134-yards per game to opposing offenses. The loss of first round pick Jonathan Allen to a midseason injury didn't help matters, however this is a front seven that needs an upgrade. Alabama's Da'Ron Payne played his best on the biggest stage in the National Championship Game and has vaulted himself into the top half of the first round after the dominating performance. Adding Payne with his former Crimson Tide teammate in Allen would give Washington two building blocks up front for years.
14. Green Bay - Tremaine Edmunds LB Virginia Tech
Over the past couple seasons, the Green Bay Packers defense has deteriorated into a middle of the pack unit. With sweeping changes in the front office and coaching staff, it is clear that there will be a new direction in Titletown. Defensively, the Packers' pass rush has dwindled down to a combination of an overpaid Nick Perry and a diminished version of Clay Matthews. Among the team's greatest needs is an outside rush linebacker who has the versatility to play a number of roles. Some argue that Edmunds lacks the explosion to rush outside, yet may be too tall to play inside. Regardless of his alignment, Edmunds is a talented athlete at 6'4, 253 lbs who ran 4.54 in the 40, and led the Hokies in tackles (109) and TFL (14) this season. In the mold of Anthony Barr, he'd be a terrific fit in Green Bay.
15. Arizona - Sam Darnold QB USC
With the retirement of Carson Palmer, and limited salary cap space to pursue the big-name free agent quarterbacks, the Arizona Cardinals are expected to target a signal caller early in this year's draft. While it is difficult to see USC's Sam Darnold slipping to the midway point of the first round, people that I've spoken with are nervous about Darnold's redshirt sophomore season that saw him fumble the ball 11 times and throw 13 interceptions. Darnold could have used another year in school, however landing in Arizona alongside David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald would be a fantastic fit for the kid from Southern Cal.
16. Baltimore - Christian Kirk WR Texas A&M
It has been reported in recent days that the Baltimore Ravens are expected to remake their receiving corps this offseason in hopes of bolstering their passing game. While outgoing GM Ozzie Newsome has always had an affinity for Alabama players, it's hard to see Calvin Ridley lasting until No. 16. With that said, the second-best receiver in this draft class is Christian Kirk of Texas A&M. An explosive slot-type who returned six punts for touchdowns during his career, Kirk is a proven playmaker who has produced against the best defenses in college football in the SEC. His 4.47 40-yard dash confirms his electric ability to create separation. While this may be a bit high for Kirk, the Ravens are desperate to inject young talent at the receiver position into their roster, and adding Kirk would be a smart selection to give Joe Flacco a talented and versatile safety net in the short-to-intermediate range.
17. Los Angeles Chargers - Vita Vea DT Washington
In 2017, the Los Angeles Chargers saw their run defense to deteriorate to an NFL-worst 4.9-yards per carry given up. Although Corey Liuget and Joey Bosa pose formidable threats outside, the team is lacking a true nose tackle to anchor in the middle. Washington's Vita Vea is a massive, nimble defensive tackle prospect whose ability to command attention and collapse the pocket in the middle is his calling card. In Los Angeles, his ability to free up blockers for Bosa and Melvin Ingram would be incredibly valuable.
18. Seattle – Isaiah Wynn OG Georgia
In 2017, the Seattle Seahawks gave up 43 sacks, and those were the ones that quarterback Russell Wilson wasn't able to escape out of. With a house cleaning undergoing on defense to rid the team of large contracts, the team is expected to continue to focus their attention on building up front. Among the players who has had the greatest rise since the season ended is Georgia's Isaiah Wynn. Fresh off a dominating performance in the National Championship Game, Wynn was one of the standouts of the Senior Bowl last month, and continued his fine work with a strong Combine workout. At 6'3, 313 lbs with 33-inch arms, Wynn is ticketed for offensive guard in the NFL after playing left tackle as a senior. The 42-game starter would be a "plug-and-play" starter for Seattle.
19. Dallas - Derwin James S Florida State
The Dallas Cowboys enter the offseason with a "win-now" mentality after missing the playoffs in 2017 following the Ezekiel Elliott suspension. While the team could use another wide receiver to supplement Dez Bryant, Dallas' greatest need is in the secondary, where they have had a revolving door at the safety position. Florida State's Derwin James cemented his first round status after running a 4.47 40 and posting a 40-inch vertical jump. An in-the-box safety who is an intimidating presence over the middle, James would be a stellar fit in Dallas.
20. Detroit - Derrius Guice RB LSU
Anyone in the NFL knows the the Detroit Lions have been the most pass-happy team in the league over the past few seasons. While that is in part to their talented quarterback Matt Stafford, the Lions also do not possess a running back capable of being a three-down presence of them. The combination of Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick did not flourish the way they intended it to, and to take the next step offensively, a new back is needed. A strong, physical, intimidating runner who combines power with nimble, smooth feet, Derrius Guice battled injuries this season, however his raw body of work as a talented bell cow in the LSU offense has shown scouts the type of potential he could have in an NFL offense. Adding Guice would give the Lions a true three-down back to take the load off of Stafford.
21. Buffalo Bills – Maurice Hurst DT Michigan
There is a strong chance that the Bills could package their two first round selections and trade up for a quarterback. At No. 21 overall it remains to be seen if one will fall to them. If they stay put, I see them upgrading the front seven. As their run defense deteriorated throughout the season, the Bills made the decision to unload Marcell Dareus and his assortment of issues. Finishing the year among the league’s worst run D’s, there is a strong chance Buffalo uses one of their two first round picks on a stout defensive tackle. Maurice Hurst left the Combine due to a heart issue, however it is unclear if it will actually affect his draft stock, given he played with the issue in college. Hurst's combination of size, strength, quickness, and acceleration would give Buffalo a big man to build around on the interior.
22. Buffalo (from KC) – Leighton Vander Esch LB Boise State
This pick was acquired by the Bills in the deal that sent Pat Mahomes to Houston in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Buffalo concluded the 2017 season as one of the league’s worst pass rushing teams. After adding Maurice Hurst to anchor the defense, it would be advantageous for Buffalo to target a linebacker with this selection. Boise State's Leighton Vander Esch has skyrocketed up draft boards as team's have started to watch his tape from his one-year as a starter at Boise State. At 6'4, 256 lbs, Vander Esch posted a 4.65 40, 39.5-inch vertical, and 10-4 broad jump, all establishing him as one of the primer linebacker prospects in this class. With Kuechly-like instincts, Vander Esch would be a star with the defensive-minded Buffalo Bills.
23. Los Angeles Rams – Marcus Davenport DE Texas-San Antonio
After investing their last three first round picks into their quarterback (Jared Goff – 2016, 2017) and running back (Todd Gurley), I’d expect to see Los Angeles invest in sustaining one of the NFL’s top defenses. After trading Robert Quinn to Miami, the Rams are expected to target the defensive end position in the upcoming draft. UTSA's Marcus Davenport is a great-looking athlete who is just beginning to tap into his untapped potential. At 6'5, 264 lbs, Davenport has the frame to a base end in Wade Phillips' 4-3 defense, and would be a big raw slab of clay with the talent to develop into a star under Phillips' tutelage.
24. Carolina - Ronnie Harrison S Alabama
After letting Kurt Coleman walk and seeing Mike Adams turn 37 in March, the Carolina Panthers are expected to target the safety position this offseason. Among those that Carolina could target is Alabama's Ronnie Harrison. A long, 6'2, 207 lb box safety with 33-inch arms, Harrison has the length, range, and speed to be a versatile defender around the line of scrimmage and in the back half for an NFL team. Harrison has yet to run the 40-yard dash this spring, however he is the next in a long string of Alabama safeties to enter the NFL.
25. Tennessee - Joshua Jackson CB Iowa
In 2017 the Tennessee Titans ranked in the bottom-third in pass defense, and although Logan Ryan and Adoree Jackson have established themselves as pieces for the future, the Titans could use another big, athletic corner to play outside, which would allow Jackson to play in the slot. Iowa's Joshua Jackson broke onto the scene in 2017 with a tremendous eight interceptions and 18 pass breakups. A ball-magnet with the size to match up with bigger receivers on the perimeter, Jackson is a prospect on the rise who would solidify the Titans' secondary for years to come.
26. Atlanta - Sam Hubbard DE Ohio State
The Atlanta Falcons defense has improved rapidly over the past few years thanks in large part to an injection of young talent through the draft. With Dontari Poe and Adrian Clayborn headed to free agency, and Grady Jarrett entering a contract year, this is a clear need along the defensive line for the Falcons. Ohio State's Sam Hubbard is a technically and fundamentally-refine player who is ready to play early in his career in the NFL. A base 4-3 end, Hubbard would be a quality replacement for Clayborn out on the edge.
27. New Orleans – Harold Landry OLB Boston College
In 2017, the New Orleans Saints owned one of the league’s most surprising defenses, a unit that has meshed together with strong contributions up front and improved secondary play on the back end. In their linebacker corps, however, they do not have a single player at the position that they drafted. Held together with free agent signings, the Saints could use a young, athletic linebacker to bolster their front seven. Boston College’s Harold Landry is one of the most explosive athletes in the country who ran 4.64 and put up 42 reps on bench at the Combine at 6'2, 252. He had a slow season (5 sacks, 8.5 TFL) compared to last year – possibly playing not to get injured, knowing he had a top selection locked up after last year’s 16-sack, 22-TFL season. However, Landry is a quick-twitch specimen capable of running the arc with the best of them. He’d bring a rangy, athletic presence to the New Orleans defense.
28. Pittsburgh - Malik Jefferson LB Texas
The career-threatening injury to star linebacker Ryan Shazier left the Pittsburgh Steelers defense looking like a shell of the unit that helped power them to the No. 2 seed in the AFC. Looking to next season, with Shazier's future up in the air the Steelers are expected to look at the linebacker position in the offseason. Texas' Malik Jefferson is one of the best athletes in the draft, having run a 4.52 40 with 27 reps on bench and a 36-inch vertical at 6'2, 236 lbs. A former top recruit who is just beginning to tap into his rare athleticism, Jefferson would be an ideal fit as an inside linebacker in Pittsburgh's rising defense.
29. Jacksonville - Hayden Hurst TE South Carolina
One of the best stories of the 2017 season, the Jacksonville Jaguars enter the offseason with one of the strongest rosters in the league. After locking up quarterback Blake Bortles to a team-friendly contract, the Jags are positioned to grab one of the top tight ends in the draft with their pick at the end of the first round. South Carolina's Hayden Hurst is a former MLB minor league pitcher who went back to college and emerged as one of college football's best receiving tight ends. While still developing as a run blocker, Hurst would give the Jaguars a formidable safety net over the middle for Bortles in the passing game. Ran 4.67 at 6'4, 250 lbs.
30. Minnesota - Kolton Miller OT UCLA
The Minnesota Vikings enter the offseason attempting to fix their quarterback quandry via free agency. Up front along the offensive line the team will need to once again re-tool at the guard and tackle positions. While Riley Reiff was a standout on the left side this season, there has been speculation that Mike Remmers could be kicked inside to guard from his right tackle position. UCLA's Kolton Miller is a massive 6'8, 309-lb tackle who is one of the hottest rising prospects in the class after testing extremely well at the Combine. Miller posted a 4.95 40, 31.5-inch vertical, 10-1 broad jump, and 24 reps on bench in Indianapolis, confirming the buzz in scouting circles that he was on the rise. While his 34-inch arms are surprising for someone 6-8, he has the height, length, athleticism, range, and strength to at worst be a standout right tackle for Minnesota, and could be a future left tackle when Reiff retires. In this scenario, with addition by subtraction, the Vikings upgrade at both right guard and tackle.
31. New England - Carlton Davis CB Auburn
In 2017 the New England Patriots owned one of the NFL's worst pass defenses. With Malcolm Butler looking at finally cashing in on free agency this offseason, the Patriots are shaping up to be very thin at cornerback next year. A three-year starter at Auburn, Carlton Davis is an NFL-ready press corner whose physical play and size (6'1, 206) make it difficult for receivers to fight off of him to create separation. He is an instinctive player who could play early for a team like New England.
32. Philadelphia - Mike Hughes CB Central Florida
The retooling of the Super Bowl championship Eagles team is already underway, as the team traded for Michael Bennett from Philadelphia. On a team looking to draft the best player available, the Eagles are in the market to improve their depth at cornerback, and one player who would be a great fit is UCF's Mike Hughes. While smaller at 5'10, 189, Hughes is an impact cover corner + return man who could play early for the Eagles in their nickel packages alongside Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills. Hughes ran 4.53 with 20 reps on the bench at the Combine in Indianapolis.