2018 NFL Mock Draft

Mock draft 1.0: Steelers among 5 to pick QB

By Rhett Lewis |

NFL Network host

Published: April 25, 2018 at 11:47 a.m.

On the eve of the 2018 NFL Draft, here's my one and only mock of the year. As you can see, I'm projecting two trades (Bills-Broncos, Dolphins-Colts) in Round 1.
  1. Pick No.
    1
    QB
    USC
    Let's not overthink this thing, right? As we've discussed all along on Path to the Draft: Darnold's hands are big enough to keep bad weather from being an issue for him in Cleveland, and his arm is strong enough. Darnold has the lowest potential for failure of any QB the Browns will have drafted since returning to Cleveland in 1999. Turn in the card.
  2. Pick No.
    2
    DE
    N.C. State
    Eli Manning can still play at a high level. So, let's give him the opportunity to contend for another Super Bowl with Chubb, who could help make the Giants' defense look like the one that helped the team win titles. This pick could easily end up being Saquon Barkley, but I've been listening to Pat Shurmur and Dave Gettleman this offseason, and this sure sounds like a spot for the draft's best edge rusher.
  3. Pick No.
    3
    QB
    UCLA
    There's plenty of buzz for Baker Mayfield here, but if the Jets are comfortable with Rosen's durability, then how can you pass on a polished natural passer like Rosen, a guy my colleague Bucky Brooks has had as his No. 1 QB throughout the process?
  4. Pick No.
    4
    RB
    Penn St.
    He's been Daniel Jeremiah's No. 1 player since Day 1. This pick makes the Browns' draft a success. Carlos Hyde can be Ray Griffen, but Barkley will be Darnell Jefferson, and suddenly, this "program" has some juice.
  5. Pick No.
    5
    QB
    Wyoming
    Projected trade to Bills
    PICK ACQUIRED IN PROJECTED TRADE WITH BRONCOS. I have no problem with the Bills trotting out AJ McCarron for next year or throughout his two-year contract. Give Allen the time he needs to be ready to succeed, and just maybe the golden arm will unleash a golden era at New Era Field.
  6. Pick No.
    6
    QB
    Oklahoma
    Projected trade to Dolphins
    PICK ACQUIRED IN PROJECTED TRADE WITH COLTS. While other quarterback-needy teams have been paired with multiple QBs during this process, the buzz in Miami has been about Baker Mayfield almost exclusively. Here, with three QBs off the board in the top five, the Dolphins get aggressive so they don't miss out on the final top-tier passer and perhaps the draft's most polarizing prospect.
  7. Pick No.
    7
    S
    Florida St.
    I'd love for the value of this pick to match an elite pass rusher here for the Bucs, but it seems like this is a little high for UTSA DE Marcus Davenport. There's no such issue with the selection of James, though. A game-changing defensive back, James sticks in the state of Florida and becomes an absolute stud in the Tampa secondary.
  8. Pick No.
    8
    G
    Notre Dame
    Everything fits here. Support your young QB (Mitchell Trubisky), continue a commitment to the power running game and, yes, Nelson's O-line coach from Notre Dame (Harry Hiestand) is now with the Bears.
  9. Pick No.
    9
    ILB
    Virginia Tech
    I thought hard about Minkah Fitzpatrick, especially considering John Lynch's background, but settled on Mr. Prototype when I took into consideration the 49ers' success in the earlier part of this decade with premier off-ball linebackers like Patrick Willis. I'm projecting Tremaine Edmunds over Roquan Smith here because of the higher presence of pass-rush potential with the 19-year-old former Hokie.
  10. Pick No.
    10
    LB
    Georgia
    This is a popular projection in what's becoming linebacker alley at the back end of the top 10. It certainly makes sense when you look at Gruden's Bucs teams. Smith might not be Derrick Brooks, but the similarities between the two has to be part of the thinking here when the Raiders turn in their card for this one-man wrecking crew.
  11. Pick No.
    11
    DE
    Texas-San Antonio
    Projected trade to Colts
    PICK ACQUIRED IN PROJECTED TRADE WITH DOLPHINS. After trading back eight spots with two separate trades and accumulating a treasure trove of picks, Chris Ballard and the Colts are still able to upgrade their woeful pass rush by selecting the still raw but supremely talented Davenport.
  12. Pick No.
    12
    CB
    Ohio St.
    Projected trade to Broncos
    PICK ACQUIRED IN PROJECTED TRADE WITH BILLS. For the second year in a row, the draft's best CB falls out of the top 10. Like Marshon Lattimore last year, Ward could compete for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. With the departure of Aqib Talib, the no-fly zone in Denver doesn't skip a beat, with the talented Ward joining Chris Harris and Bradley Roby. Massive value pick for Denver, which might've considered Ward at No. 5 if it had stayed put.
  13. Pick No.
    13
    DT
    Washington
    I strongly considered putting Minkah Fitzpatrick here, with Fitzpatrick going on a bit of a freefall in this mock, but the thought of an intimidating interior presence in Greg Manusky's defense, to go along with Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan on the edges, was too much to pass up.
  14. Pick No.
    14
    S
    Alabama
    It's hard to imagine a scenario where Fitzpatrick would slip past the Packers. A more pure outside corner might be the bigger need, but the value of the Crimson Tide do-it-all DB is too great to pass up.
  15. Pick No.
    15
    WR
    Alabama
    We go 'Bama in back-to-back picks. A polished route runner already, Ridley would thrive under the tutelage of future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald. There's an obvious need, with Fitz at the end of his career, and in this scenario, the Cardinals add a building block on the perimeter. Side note: I wanted to put Mason Rudolph here, but he'll find a home before the end of Round 1.
  16. Pick No.
    16
    TE
    South Carolina
    This was the most difficult pick to predict, and perhaps there's a trade-down opportunity here. With Ridley off the board, let's try to get another target for Joe Flacco in Hurst. One drop in 100 career catches, according to our Lance Zierlein, sounds pretty good to me, especially with the issues the Ravens have had finding consistency from the TE spot.
  17. Pick No.
    17
    OT
    Notre Dame
    There seem to be a ton of options for the Chargers at this spot, and yes, I know they went heavy on the offensive line last year with Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney. While those players should solidify the interior, let's get a tackle who might be able to plug in ahead of Joe Barksdale right away and eventually take over for Russell Okung at LT. This scenario provides a solid O-line core for the foreseeable future.
  18. Pick No.
    18
    CB
    Louisville
    Alexander doesn't represent the length at CB that has become synonymous with the Seahawks in recent years, but he certainly brings the swag -- Daniel Jeremiah made note of it several times while watching Alexander on tape. Along with Shaquil Griffin, the youth movement in the Seattle secondary is underway.
  19. Pick No.
    19
    I might be reading too much into the Cowboys' attention toward Sutton at his pro day, but he gives Dallas some size on the edge, even if it doesn't translate into the physicality that Dez Bryant brought to the position. Sutton is from Texas, and hearing his name called by his hometown team inside AT&T stadium would make for a pretty cool atmosphere.
  20. Pick No.
    20
    DT
    Alabama
    The Lions could consider some interior offensive line help here, but with Payne on the board, new head coach Matt Patricia gets a serious boost up front as he tries to build this Detroit defense in his image.
  21. Pick No.
    21
    T
    Georgia
    The Bengals added Cordy Glenn in a trade with Buffalo earlier this offseason, and they continue the OL rebuild with an upgrade on the interior in Wynn. I could see Iowa's James Daniels coming off the board here, as well.
  22. Pick No.
    22
    RB
    LSU
    Projected trade to Broncos
    PICK ACQUIRED IN PROJECTED TRADE WITH BILLS. Part of the Vikings' success with Case Keenum came from the ground game with Dalvin Cook and then Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon. A major factor in John Elway's success late in his playing career with the Broncos was Terrell Davis. Guice might not be T.D., but there is a sentiment that he is the best between-the-tackles runner in the draft. With the release of C.J. Anderson, Guice could be a bell-cow candidate for the Broncos as a rookie.
  23. Pick No.
    23
    OT
    UCLA
    Obviously, the Patriots need a tackle after watching Nate Solder leave in free agency and Miller provides OL coach Dante Scarnecchia a nice canvas to paint another Pro Bowl-caliber player.
  24. Pick No.
    24
    G
    Texas-El Paso
    One of my favorite players in this draft for his physicality and ferocity, Hernandez fits with Carolina's desire to pound the rock. He provides a replacement for the departed Andrew Norwell.
  25. Pick No.
    25
    EDGE
    Boston College
    I really enjoyed getting to know Landry in his appearance on Path to the Draft, and I'm sure Titans coach Mike Vrabel will enjoy getting to know him, too. I wouldn't be surprised if Landry isn't on the board here, given the lack of top-end edge rushers in this draft, but it feels like a great spot for Landry to contribute immediately as a rotational edge rusher.
  26. Pick No.
    26
    DT
    Florida
    This is a popular pick in other mock drafts, and it makes sense. As a frenetic interior player to go alongside Grady Jarrett, Bryan would fit right in on this speedy, athletic Falcons defense.
  27. Pick No.
    27
    TE
    South Dakota St.
    Outside of Benjamin Watson's one-year renaissance with the Saints, Sean Payton has struggled to get consistent production out of the tight end spot since the departure of Jimmy Graham. Now, with Watson back, Goedert gets a fantastic mentor and gives Drew Brees another excellent pass catcher.
  28. Pick No.
    28
    QB
    Oklahoma St.
    There's no hiding my affinity for the winningest QB in Oklahoma State history. Ask teammate James Washington (nearly 21 yards per reception in 2017) if Rudolph has enough arm to get it done in the NFL. When you break a scoring record held by Barry Sanders at Oklahoma State, you've truly accomplished something. The Steelers have certainly looked the part of Rudolph fans during the pre-draft process, especially at his pro day. Go check the smile on Mike Tomlin's face in the background of one of Rudolph's Instagram posts following the workout.
  29. Pick No.
    29
    WR
    Maryland
    With Allen Robinson off to Chicago, the Jaguars add the highly productive Terrapin in Moore. He managed a school-record 80 receptions in 2017 while catching passes from four different quarterbacks.
  30. Pick No.
    30
    G
    Texas
    GM Rick Spielman deserves a ton of credit for reshaping the Vikings' offensive line last offseason, and he continues that work by adding a player in Williams who could compete at guard or tackle.
  31. Pick No.
    31
    ILB
    Boise St.
    Vander Esch seems like a perfect Patriot -- a physical and athletic second-level player who has a nose for the football. With a full 16-game slate proving hard to come by for Dont'a Hightower -- he's played a full season only once in his six-year career -- Vander Esch makes a lot of sense here.
  32. Pick No.
    32
    C
    Ohio St.
    Is it a mistake to not put Georgia RB Sony Michel here? Probably, but with Price's ability to play guard and center, Philly gets some valuable depth along the offensive line.
  33. 2017 NFL Mock Draft Central

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