2018 NFL Mock Draft- Updated: Friday, May 19th
Without question, no position is more valuable in the NFL -- or all of sports, for that matter -- than quarterback.
In the previous draft with many question marks at the position, three quarterbacks still managed to hear their name called within the first 12 selections of last month's 2017 NFL Draft.
At this point, it appears that the 2018 quarterback class has the makings of being special. A lot could change, some could return for another year of school in 2018, etc. On the other hand, it wouldn't be a shock if the 2018 draft began with three consecutive quarterbacks.
If anything in this mock is true, it's this statement: This mock will change often and significantly between now and the final version the night before the 2018 NFL Draft next April. As we move closer to the draft, I will continue to update this mock and eventually add all seven rounds.
Note: The draft order has been determined by the inverse order of consensus 2017 NFL Power Rankings. Keep in mind, these are based on average of power rankings from five media outlets -- NOT us/me.
For now, here is an early look at how the 2018 NFL Draft could play out:
1. Cleveland Browns (Draft History): Sam Darnold, QB, USC Trojans
Of course, it takes time to accurately evaluate a draft class, but the widely-held view is that the Browns had a strong draft. Resisting any rumored temptation to draft a quarterback at No. 1 overall, the Browns instead opted for the most talented player in the 2017 draft class: Myles Garrett. They did use a high pick (No. 52 overall), however, on Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer, a nice value at that spot.
It's certainly possible that Kizer gets a chance to start a game or two down the stretch especially if the Browns have a poor enough record to earn the top overall pick again, but there's no need to force him into action. In addition, the amount of draft capital used to draft Kizer doesn't necessarily rule out using this pick on a potential franchise-changing quarterback like Darnold.
The early favorite in Vegas to win the Heisman Trophy, Darnold could be the most coveted of this talented crop of signal-callers. With prototypical physical tools as well as outstanding poise and leadership, the redshirt freshman engineered an instant-classic come-from-behind victory over Penn State in Rose Bowl as he threw for 453 yards and five scores.
2. New York Jets (Draft History): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming Cowboys
It's unclear who will be the Week 1 starter for Gang Green, but Josh McCown, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg currently fill their quarterback room. In other words, there's a good chance that their Week 1 starter in 2018 is not currently on the roster.
Allen has great size (6-5, 222) and plays in a pro-style offense although he is a bit raw. As one AFC Exec told MMQB's Albert Breer, "He’s a big ol’ kid with a big arm, and he’s pretty athletic too. We gotta learn more about him, but the tools are there." Coincidentally, Allen plays at Wyoming for Craig Bohl, who recruited Carson Wentz to North Dakota State.
3. San Francisco 49ers (Draft History): Derwin James, S, Florida State Seminoles
If the 49ers make it three consecutive quarterbacks with UCLA's Josh Rosen here, it wouldn't be a surprise. That said, it's perhaps more likely that Kirk Cousins signs a free-agent deal with the 49ers next offseason.
Meanwhile, one ACC coach said of James before the start of last season: "Derwin James is flat scary good. He could probably start at all 11 positions. He’s one of those freaky guys who might be better than [Jalen] Ramsey when it’s all said and done."
4. Chicago Bears (Draft History): Arden Key, EDGE, LSU Tigers
Currently away from the team for "personal reasons," Key has confirmed that he will play for the Tigers in 2017. An explosive edge rusher with enormous upside, Key set the school's single-season sack record (12) as a true sophomore last year.
5. Los Angeles Rams (Draft History): Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama Crimson Tide
Not only is starting cornerback a free agent after the upcoming season, but the team's other starting cornerback (E.J. Gaines) graded out as the 107th-best of 112 qualified cornerbacks by PFF last season. With experience at both cornerback and safety, the 6-foot-1 Fitzpatrick led the SEC with six interceptions as a sophomore.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars (Draft History): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA Bruins
If the Jaguars are picking this high in 2018, the likely culprit will be (continued) poor quarterback play by Blake Bortles, who regressed in his third season. There were some questions about whether the Jags would draft a quarterback fourth overall or use their fifth-year option on Bortles.
Ultimately, they passed on a quarterback for Leonard Fournette and exercised Bortles' option, but it's likely they go in a different direction if he doesn't show considerable year-over-year improvement. Even though Rosen's 2016 season was cut short by a shoulder injury and he will now have his third offensive coordinator in as many seasons, he was expected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft even before he stepped foot on campus and would be in the mix to be the No. 1 overall pick this year with a bounce-back season.
7. Buffalo Bills (Draft History): Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson Tigers
In his first two seasons at Clemson, Wilkins has played both defensive tackle and defensive end for the Tigers. An AP Third-Team All-American as a sophomore, Wilkins (6-4, 310) had 13 tackles for loss, 20 quarterback pressures and 10 passes broken up in 2016. Not only is starter Kyle Williams a free agent next spring, but he turns 34 years old next month.
8. Los Angeles Chargers (Draft History): Bradley Chubb, EDGE, North Carolina State Wolfpack
Cousin of Georgia running back Nick Chubb, it's likely that the other Chubb hears his name called first during next year's NFL Draft. Chubb had 22 tackles for loss, fourth-most in the country, and 10.5 sacks in 2016 for the Wolfpack. Chubb's 22 TFL ranks second all-time in school history behind only Mario Williams.
9. Philadelphia Eagles (Draft History): Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State Nittany Lions
Passing on Dalvin Cook in the first round, the Eagles were leapfrogged in the second round by the Vikings, who selected Cook with the 41st overall pick. While they signed LeGarrette Blount to a one-year deal in free agency, it appears likely that the Eagles will release Ryan Mathews and soon-to-be 34-year-old Darren Sproles could be playing his final season. The team drafted Donnel Pumphrey in the fourth round, but he's best-suited for a change-of-pace role at 5-foot-8 and 176 pounds.
Appearing on Bruce Feldman's Top 20 'Freaks' in college football list for 2016, the 223-pound running back posted a 4.38 forty time, a program-record 390-pound power clean and 600-pound squat. As a sophomore, Barkley had nearly 2,000 yards from scrimmage -- 1,496 rushing and 402 receiving -- and scored 22 touchdowns.
10. Cincinnati Bengals (Draft History): Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson Tigers
The Bengals added John Ross, who ran a 4.22 forty at the combine, and Joe Mixon in the first two rounds of the draft to give Andy Dalton and the offense improved weapons. That said, the offensive line, which allowed 41 sacks (T-7th most in NFL), lost starters Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler in free agency. The Bengals will go into the season with their first two picks in 2015 -- Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher -- as bookend tackles, but it's possible that they add a tackle in next year's draft.
11. Minnesota Vikings (Draft History): Connor Williams, OT, Texas Longhorns
The Vikings signed Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers in free agency to be their starting offensive tackles in 2017 and drafted a pair of interior offensive linemen -- Pat Elflein and Danny Isidora in the third and fifth rounds, respectively. While the additions make their line better, they had one of the league's worst offensive lines last season. Strong in both pass and run blocking, Williams is another step as the Vikings revamp their offensive line.
12. New Orleans Saints (Draft History): Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State Seminoles
Perhaps the Saints won't double-dip at cornerback after selecting Marshon Lattimore 11th overall, but the trio of Lattimore, Delvin Breaux and McFadden give the Saints one of the best young trios of cornerbacks in the NFL. A former five-star recruit, the 6-foot-2 McFadden tied West Virginia's Rasul Douglas for the national lead in passes intercepted (eight).
13. Baltimore Ravens (Draft History): Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama Crimson Tide
It was a defense-heavy draft for the Ravens last month and they go into the 2017 season with Breshad Perriman, Mike Wallace and Michael Campanaro as their top-three options. Both Wallace and Campanaro will be free agents next spring and Perriman has had an injury-plagued and underwhelming start to his career. While his sophomore season (71/776/7) may have been a disappointment, at least when compared to expectations and his freshman production (89/1,045/7), Ridley has elite speed, hands and route-running ability to develop into a true No. 1 receiver for the Ravens (whether former first-rounder Perriman does or doesn't).
14. Carolina Panthers (Draft History): Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State Buckeyes
The Panthers used a third-round pick on Daeshon Hall and I really like Hall as a prospect even though college teammate Myles Garrett obviously received much more attention and press. That said, the team's current starters at end are Julius Peppers and Charles Johnson, both of whom are on the wrong side of 30. Adding reinforcements would make sense here.
15. Indianapolis Colts (Draft History): Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Since taking over as general manager, Chris Ballard has focused on re-making the defense through free agency and the draft. As Darin Gantt of PFT notes, the Colts could have as many of nine new starters on defense.
That's one way to take pressure off of Andrew Luck, who may no longer feel as though he needs to score 30 points to keep the Colts in the game. Another way to reduce pressure on Luck is to add someone like McGlinchey, who could have been a first-rounder in April had he not decided to return for another year in South Bend.
16. Washington Redskins (Draft History): Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M Aggies
Perhaps Kirk will be long gone by this point? And maybe Washington will lose Kirk Cousins (to the 49ers ... or someone else)? I could see Washington add a potential future replacement for Cousins here, but Christian gives whomever that future signal-caller may be a weapon to help replace Terrelle Pryor, who signed a one-year deal in free agency.
One of the most explosive receivers in college football, Kirk (5-11, 200) has 80-plus catches and 900-plus yards in each of his first two seasons in College Station. In addition, he has averaged returned five punts for scores over the past two seasons.
- Continue to picks 17-32 in our 2018 NFL Mock Draft
- An early look: 2019 NFL Mock Draft
- For more mocks, check out our NFL Mock Draft Database.
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