With the NFL season right around the corner it would be fun to see what each team's record would be at the end of December. Well instead we are going to take an early look at the 2018 NFL Draft. This year's draft class is very quarterback heavy, and there is a chance that we can see the most quarterbacks go in the first round in the history of the NFL Draft. The most quarterbacks ever taken in the first round in a single NFL Draft is five and has been done twice before (1983, 1999).
Most of the time first round draft picks can be either a boom or a bust, then you have your cases where it takes them a while to get going, and once they get going, you don't look back at your pick. Then you have your cases where the guy starts off hot has a good year or two, and then he gets a big contract and then plummets out of control. So many different examples of how first round picks are, what percentage of them actually succeed, and what percentage of them struggle to succeed in the National Football League.
There are several teams that have really liked the decision that they made in the first round as they found either a new face of the franchise, or they found a piece that can come in right away and be an effective part of the team in which they are drafted to. Other teams struggle with their first round selections and have terrible track records to prove it. With that being said here is an early look of projecting the entire first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
32 New York Jets - Sam Darnold
The New York Jets will finish with the worst record in 2017, and will end up with the number one overall selection. With that selection they would select the redshirt sophomore quarterback out of USC Sam Darnold. Darnold could be the future face of the New York Jets franchise, and the Jets fans would love to have him. He has another year to get better at the University of Southern California, and will only increase his stock.
The Jets are in desperate need of a starting quarterback that can start right away, and could help lead New York for the foreseeable future. Looking forward if the Jets have the number one overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, there is no way that they can screw this up. Darnold looks like the consensus number one overall selection at the moment and looks like a lock to be a member of the New York Jets.
31 Los Angeles Rams - Mike McGlinchey
The Los Angeles Rams could definitely use a talented offensive lineman like Mike McGlinchey. If the Rams want to find out if Jared Goff is their answer at quarterback, they can start by building an offensive line in front of him. McGlinchey can play either right tackle which he played up until this season. He is transitioning to left tackle, and could be a huge help for the Irish.
The senior lineman redshirted his first season, and is one of the most highly talented offensive lineman in this year's draft class. He is very technically sound, and his balance and wide base is what makes him so successful. Look for the Rams to be able to snag McGlinchey with the second overall selection, and to use him as Jared Goff's blind side guy.
30 Chicago Bears - Connor Williams
The Chicago Bears are in the same boat as the Rams as they need to find out if Trubisky is the guy that can help them move forward into the future. They need an offensive line to do it and why not draft what could possibly one of the best ones out of this year's draft class in Connor Williams. The junior offensive tackle is very talented and makes the hard tasks that are required for a lineman easy to do. He just does it effortless, and helps make the University of Texas a better football team.
Looking ahead Williams is a great run and pass blocker, and he has tremendous movement from side to side. The only thing about Williams is he can get a little too aggressive at times and that is something that he needs to work/contain while playing in the NFL. Other than that the Bears should look to have him protect Trubisky's blind side.
29 San Francisco 49ers - Josh Allen
The San Francisco 49ers are in need of a quarterback that they believe can shape their future, which is looking pretty bright. That quarterback is none other than junior Josh Allen out of the University of Wyoming. Allen has so many physical tools to his ability which makes him a highly looked at quarterback in this year's stacked draft class. With his great arm strength and has great accuracy throwing on the run.
He has all the skills that a number one overall pick has, but we think the Jets will decide to go in a different direction. While the Rams, and Bears already have a quarterback, the 49ers get lucky with Allen falling to them at four. He would fit in Kyle Shanahan's system really well, and could help lead the charge for that young San Francisco team.
28 Cleveland Browns - Saquon Barkley
The Cleveland Browns are slowly improving, but they have a tough decision to make which option to upgrade on the offensive side of the football. They can either go after a quarterback in a QB heavy draft, or they can go snag the best running back on the board. After a tough deliberation the Browns decide to go with a running back and they draft junior running back Saquon Barkley out of Penn State University.
The Browns are absolutely in a win win situation here, because they can grab a talented player on offense, and can help them out right away. Barkley has patience, great vision, and can be an effective pass blocker when needed. If he can consistently hit the hole, and not get too bounce happy he will be an effective running back in the National Football League.
27 Buffalo Bills - Lamar Jackson
The Buffalo Bills are another team that will end up in the top ten in the 2018 NFL Draft, but luckily for them they are able to draft a quarterback of the future. That quarterback will be none other than the reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson. The junior quarterback out of the university of Louisville looks not only to repeat as the Heisman Trophy Winner this upcoming season, but he is looking to cement his draft stock into a top ten selection.
With Buffalo being in need of a good talented arm that is not Tyrod Taylor, Jackson is younger, faster, and has some serious superstar potential. Another year at Louisville can go along way for Lamar Jackson especially if he can start getting consistent with his accurate passing game. Look to hear a lot about Jackson again this year, and could be taken by Buffalo wherever they pick.
26 Los Angeles Chargers - Josh Rosen
Another year of struggling means one thing for the Chargers, and that is that it is time to change things up at the quarterback position. With three of the top quarterbacks already taken, the Chargers will pull the trigger, and take the fourth quarterback off the board. That quarterback will be none other than Josh Rosen out of UCLA. Rosen missed half of his games last season due to injury, and is highly regarded by most teams as one of the better quarterbacks in the draft class.
If he can stop becoming careless with the balls at times when he is pressured in the pocket, he can be an absolute steal for the Chargers at seventh overall. Look to hear more about Rosen this season, and watch that draft stock increase after the great game, and great game he has during the course of the season.
25 Miami Dolphins - Arden Key
The first playoff team of last year that will miss the playoffs and plummet this season is the Miami Dolphins. The loss of Ryan Tannehill is a huge one for the Dolphins. Their defense is good, but it could use an upgrade, or could Miami look to go quarterback shopping in the draft with Tannehill's injury woes? In retrospect the Dolphins will look on the defensive side of the ball and they will draft the junior defensive end/outside linebacker Arden Key out of LSU.
At 6'6 and 231 pounds he is very quick and can get to the point of attack on a ball carrier. If he can work on not falling for play fakes as often as he does, he could be a top pick in the draft. As he is the top defensive player in my mock draft, Key has all the potential of becoming a star in the NFL, which is a steal for Miami at number eight.
24 Detroit Lions - Calvin Ridley
Another playoff team that will fall off this season is the Detroit Lions. There is no way that Matthew Stafford will be able to keep up his late game heroics like he did a season ago due to lack of running game that they have, and the non depth at receiver. Other than Marvin Jones, and Golden Tate, there are no really household names. So this makes me believe that they will draft the best wide receiver on the board and that is none other than the junior wide receiver Calvin Ridley out of the University of Alabama.
The underutilized wide receiver is looking to get more touches this season, and to show what the true talent he really has. Ridley is very explosive and in open space can be very effective. He can also run every route on the entire route tree and can be effective doing it. Having a receiver like this might want to make Matthew Stafford stick around.
23 Jacksonville Jaguars - Luke Falk
The Jaguars are in need of a shake up if they struggle to be able to contend for a playoff spot this season. One move would be to move on from Blake Bortles, and draft one of the talented ones in this year's draft. With four quarterbacks on the board they have it down to two potential guys that they could use in their style of offense. At the end of it all they will draft senior quarterback Luke Falk out of Washington State. He is a very accurate passer, even though he is out of the shotgun the entire time.
It is interesting to see how he would transition to an NFL type offense, but his career stats should stick out at you. He has passed for a lot of yards, and can be consistent with throws at all three levels. Look for the Jaguars to decide that enough is enough and draft a new franchise quarterback.
22 Philadelphia Eagles - Malik Jefferson
The Philadelphia Eagles are in need of a young linebacker to help their defense out. Mychal Kendricks wanting out of Philadelphia means that a spot is opening up and the Eagles should capitalize and draft one with their 2018 first round pick. One guy that would be great for the Eagles is none other than junior linebacker Malik Jefferson. He is climbing and climbing the board due to his playmaking ability.
Jefferson is athletic and can make plays all over the field like how many NFL teams would like their linebackers to be like. With great snap awareness he always gets a good jump, but when he works around the blockers is when he struggles. If he can work on working with his linemen in order to hit the gap hard, or to drop back in coverage in the open field, it would make Malik Jefferson the best linebacker prospect in the draft class.
21 Cincinnati Bengals - Da'Shawn Hand
The Cincinnati Bengals need some help on the defensive line especially someone that can play fast off defensive end. Well luckily for the Bengals they can get an SEC product that plays defensive end at one of the best universities in the country today. We are talking about senior defensive end Da'Shawn Hand out of the University of Alabama of course. Hand can interest the Bengals because not only can he play defensive end, but he can play defensive tackle as well.
He is going to be one of the top guys this year for the Crimson Tide's defensive line, and that is going to be a huge reason for the uprising of his draft stock. Look to hear more about Da'Shawn Hand doing wonders for the Crimson Tide's defense in 2017.
20 Indianapolis Colts - Lowell Lotulelei
The Indianapolis Colts could use some help at defensive tackle, and they have a brother of a current NFL defensive tackle that they would love to take a chance on. That brother that the Colts are going to take a chance on is none other than senior defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei out of the University of Utah. Lowell Lotulelei is a beast like his brother Star Lotulelei who was a former first round selection himself. He is very good at being able to stuff the run at the point of attack.
Look to hear more from the Utah Utes' defense this season and look to hear Lowell Lotulelei as the big part of the defense that makes them successful. His draft stock can continue to sky rocket especially if the Utes' have a good season this year.
19 Denver Broncos - Christian Wilkins
The smart move for the Broncos here would be to go after one of these top quarterback prospects and bring them in right. Well it would be, but knowing Denver they will try and make an upgrade on defense. One player that would be a big time upgrade for the Broncos would be none other than junior defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. Wilkins has played in two straight National Championship games, and has been a solid piece to the Clemson defense during his freshman, and sophomore season.
Looking forward Denver could use another big time run stopper like Wilkins, who can line up anywhere in the five technique. He can wreak havoc when he can get into the pocket, and can easily become a quarterback nightmare for any quarterback. Look for the Broncos to bounce on the opportunity to draft a skilled defensive player like Christian Wilkins.
18 Washington Redskins - Mason Rudolph
The Washington Redskins need to figure out if they want to keep Kirk Cousins, or are they going to let him walk. One move that they can definitely do is draft one of the talented quarterbacks in this draft class, and take advantage of having the luxury of working him into the system. The quarterback who would be good for that kind of situation would be none other than senior quarterback Mason Rudolph out of Oklahoma State University.
Rudolph is very accurate and can be a good solid quarterback in the NFL. His basic tools that he possess makes it hard for Washington to pass up on him. With his good mechanics and good work in the pocket the Redskins can potentially see their new franchise quarterback who will not cost him what Kirk Cousins does at this current moment at time.
17 Carolina Panthers - Sam Hubbard
The Carolina Panthers are just missing some pieces on the defensive end of the football which is preventing them from being a playoff team at the moment. One player that could help that situation out is none other than junior defensive end Sam Hubbard out of THE Ohio State University. Hubbard is very effective at stuffing the run, and putting pressure on the quarterback. He is always in pursuit of the ball, and uses his speed/power as the key to get to where he is needed to get to.
Hubbard has been a good solid piece for the Buckeyes' defense in his collegiate career, and could transition very nice when he makes it to the NFL. The Panthers absolutely get a solid steal at 16, as Hubbard can very well be a playmaker for Carolina that can help put pressure on the quarterback, and stop their opponent's run game in a instant.
16 Baltimore Ravens - Derrius Guice
The Baltimore Ravens are just on the outside looking into the playoff race, but imagine if they could have a good running game to take some of the pressure off of Joe Flacco. Well one move that would help Baltimore fans relax a little bit would be if the Ravens drafted junior running back Derrius Guice out of LSU. The leading rusher in the SEC a year ago has a very good solid running style that separates him from the pack to make him a first round pick.
He has very quick decision making, and can hit any hole that is open with his great speed while bouncing off defenders when need be. One factor that Baltimore would love for him to work on before getting their match made in heaven running back is if Guice could be more effective as a receiver out of the backfield. If Guice can become a good option as a receiver at LSU there is no doubt that Baltimore will use their first round selection on Guice.
15 New Orleans Saints - Derwin James
The New Orleans Saints definitely upgraded this offseason on the offensive side of the football, now it is time for them to work on their defense. One player that is a good solid young talent that would be great for the Saints is the redshirt sophomore safety Derwin James out of Florida State. James has very good size, speed, and versatility at the safety position. The way that James plays the safety spot makes it hard to believe that he would not be able to be one of the better safeties in the game today.
He has the ability to line up with some tight ends and can be effective at locking them down. There are little things that could be fixed like backside run stopping, and staying healthy is another one. If James can do that the Saints would love to take him with their first round pick.
14 Minnesota Vikings - Dre'Mont Jones
The Minnesota Vikings could use some help on the defensive line in order to help their case of becoming a playoff team again. One player that would be beneficial for the Vikings would be redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Dre'Mont Jones out of THE Ohio State University. Jones had a breakout season in his redshirt freshman season as he was the leading tackler among defensive lineman. Jones has some serious potential and can show how much progression he can do from year one to year two.
Look for the Buckeyes' defense to be solid yet again and for Jones to be one of the leading tacklers on the team. He can go through the blocks with ease at times, and can easily stop the run. Jones could be a good rotational player for the Vikings who can help give some key players rest from time to time.
13 Arizona Cardinals - Martinas Rankin
Now the Cardinals could go in two directions; they can either snag a quarterback with Carson Palmer close to retirement, or they can get someone that can help out their offensive line. It will be a tough decision for Arizona, but at the end of the day they will choose senior offensive guard Martinas Rankin out of Mississippi State. Rankin is a JUCO transfer who is starting to get some recognition now that he is at Mississippi State.
He is a good solid interior lineman that could help David Johnson in the running game. With him getting more experience in one of the best conferences at the collegiate level his stock can only go up from here.
12 Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Tarvarus McFadden
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the first playoff team from the upcoming season to get draft. One position that would be beneficial for the Buccaneers to draft is the defensive back position. The guy that could help Tampa Bay out is none other than junior corner back Tarvarus McFadden out of Florida State. McFadden has shown flashes of being the best corner back in the country today, and can be considered one of the top prospects for this year's draft class.
Then that makes you wonder why is he all the way down at 21st overall. Well not every team needs cornerbacks so he will slip lower and lower until there is a team on the board that needs him like Tampa Bay does. He also is a good kick returner, and adding his ability to locate the ball quickly makes it hard to believe that if he is there that the Buccaneers will pass on him.
11 Cleveland Browns (From Houston) - Bradley Chubb
The Cleveland Browns get another first round selection here thanks to Houston, and this could be where they could potentially draft a quarterback, but they will pass up on that. They will look to focus on defense and will look to upgrade in the front seven. One player that would be great for the Browns is senior defensive end Bradley Chubb out of N.C. State. Chubb is a solid well built defensive prospect who's solid frame helps him stop the run off the edge.
He is very ideal when it comes to bulk and build, and has good size to go along with it. Chubb also is a very heads up type of player and knows when to use a pass rush move, and when to use it. Look to hear more about Bradley Chubb as the season progresses and look for his draft stock to increase tremendously.
10 Dallas Cowboys - Marcus Allen
The Dallas Cowboys could use some help in their secondary for the future. Coming into the current season they lost the majority of their starting defensive backs, and need a solid one sooner rather than later. Lucky for the Cowboys that their is a great solid defensive back on the board still waiting for them. That defensive back is none other than senior safety Marcus Allen out of Penn State University.
This Marcus Allen, not the running back for the Raiders back from 1983-1992, is a great hard hitting safety that can punish anybody on the field. He is hard hitting, and very effective when lined up on the line of scrimmage. Allen is very effective and can take on blockers at times. He is a unique type of safety who can also line up at linebacker from time to time. Look to hear more on Marcus Allen as Penn State looks to continue to have success this season.
9 Tennessee Titans - Josh Sweat
We're projecting the Tennessee Titans will be another new team to the playoffs this season, and will need to get some help for a pass rusher. The Titans have one prospect that would be a great fit for them and that is junior defensive end Josh Sweat out of Florida State. He is very long and athletic with great arm strength to get inside hands on the offensive lineman. Sweat loves to make his moves on the outside and very rarely uses a move to get him on the inside.
If he can work on giving a different look at certain times he can be a very effective pass rusher for any NFL team. Look to hear more about Sweat as the Seminoles look to get back into the National Title hunt. While Sweat looks to improve and get his draft stock to go up even higher than it is currently.
8 Atlanta Falcons - Quenton Nelson
The Atlanta Falcons look like they will struggle at times from their Super Bowl collapse, and we predict they will make the playoffs only to lose in the NFL Divisional round, and end up with the 25th overall selection. One position that they could use help in is the offensive line, especially a guard. The guard that they should be looking at is none other than the senior offensive guard Quenton Nelson out of Notre Dame. This would be the second lineman of the Fighting Irish to come off the board, and he would not go to a better situation than Atlanta.
Nelson is very good at being able to move defenders off the line of scrimmage, and dominants run blocking. His ability to get low with his pad level is amazing, and can be a effective part of the Falcons offensive line from day one. Look to hear more from Nelson once the season starts especially because of his great run blocking ability.
7 Pittsburgh Steelers - Cameron Smith
The Pittsburgh Steelers are slowly building a good young defense, and one position that could use some help is their middle linebacker spot. One inside linebacker that would be great for the Steelers to go after is none other than the junior inside linebacker Cameron Smith out of USC. Smith loves the film room, and is in there more than your average player.
He is very instinctual and can make plays on the fly when needed especially in key situations. He is able to cover a lot of ground with his quick speed, and can recognize the pre snap count easily. As a blitzer he is very effective, due to the fact that of his speed burst that he can have to go along with his snap awareness. Look to hear more about Cameron Smith as the USC Trojans defense looks to help lead them to the college football playoffs this year.
6 Seattle Seahawks - Trey Adams
The Seattle Seahawks are in it every single year, but they always seem to fall apart in the playoffs the past few seasons. One reason is that they need some depth on the offensive line in order to be able to compete with some of the better teams. With that being said junior offensive tackle Trey Adams out of the University of Washington would be a good draft pick for them. He is 6'8 and weighs 327 pounds, which is an absolute beast of a tackle especially if you want to use him for the blind side.
One thing about Adams is that he always plays with an edge and will not stop unless he hears a whistle. He might not be as quick as some of the other offensive line prospects in this year's draft class, but he can easily stop some of the better pass rushers off the end. Adams would be a great fit in Seattle, and could start if need be.
5 Buffalo Bills (From Kansas City) - Deon Cain
The Buffalo Bills get another first round selection thanks to the Kansas City Chiefs. With the Bills drafting Lamar Jackson, they can focus now on potentially giving Jackson some new targets. There are two wide receivers that would be good for Buffalo, but the one that they will end up with is none other than junior wide receiver Deon Cain out of the University of Clemson.
We have no idea how his numbers will look this season without Deshaun Watson throwing him the football, but Buffalo has had some success with Clemson wide receivers before so they could try to continue that trend. Cain can be a deep threat and has very great speed especially off the line of scrimmage. In open space he could be very well tough to stop, and could also look to return kicks for Buffalo. Look for Buffalo to draft Cain after they get their new quarterback earlier in the first round.
4 Green Bay Packers - Vita Vea
The Green Bay Packers are looking like they will be going back into the NFC Championship game again this season, but they are going to need some help in the near future. Looking ahead in their defensive scheme a defensive tackle could be big for them. One defensive tackle that has been turning heads as of late is junior defensive tackle Vita Vea out of the University of Washington.
Vea excels at stuffing the run, and quickly closes the holes that the offensive line make for the running back. He is nearly impossible to move off the line of scrimmage due to his great strength, and size. Look to hear more about Vita Vea as the season progresses and look for the Packers to keep as close an eye out as possible on him.
3 Oakland Raiders - Christian Kirk
The Oakland Raiders are very close to a Super Bowl appearance as they will play in the AFC Championship game only to get knocked off. Oakland could use another talented wide receiver to add to Derek Carr's arsenal of receivers. One wide receiver that might be one of the better ones of the draft that Oakland could steal at the 30th overall selection is junior wide receiver Christian Kirk out of Texas A&M.
Kirk plays in a tough conference in the SEC, and faces against some of the best prospects in the country. Christian Kirk has good running route ability, and great agility that makes up for the lack of height that he has at 5'11. He is a great athlete that can cleanly get in and out of breaks with ease. Look for the Raiders to take the first chance that they can to add a player like Kirk to their roster for the future.
2 New York Giants - Nick Chubb
The New York Giants have some serious young talent, and look like they will be playing in Super Bowl LII this upcoming season. They end up with the 31st overall selection due to their loss in the Super Bowl. One spot that they need to address on offense is the running back slot, and there is a great senior running back that would be a great addition for the Giants. That senior running back is Nick Chubb out of the University of Georgia.
When healthy Chubb has some serious talent, and could have been a first round selection last year if he was fully healthy. He can easily take over games when he starts to get going and that would be a great thing for the Giants to have. Looking ahead Chubb's draft stock should only rise more and more the healthier he becomes. If his knees don't bother him you can lock him up as a first round selection for the New York Giants.
1 New England Patriots - Minkah Fitzpatrick
The New England Patriots look tough to beat in 2017, and are the odds on favorites to win Super Bowl LII. Well the Patriots love to draft defense in the first round and this year should look a little more of the same. The Patriots get lucky at the end of the 2018 first round as they will select the junior cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick out of the University of Alabama.
With his great lateral speed, and his patience he is the big guy this season for the Crimson Tide's secondary. He needs to work on opening up his hips against vertical receivers, but other than that the Patriots would love to have another Alabama product to be a part of their future. Look to hear more about Minkah Fitzpatrick this season and he can easily move up on the board.
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