JANUARY 16, 2018–Draft season is upon us! Here, we take our first crack at a mock draft. Call this the Nachmany Football 2018 NFL Mock Draft 1.0.
This mock is a mix of what we think teams should do and what we believe they will do. As an example, we have a third-round grade on Josh Rosen, but conventional wisdom dictates he will get drafted early in the first round; as such, he makes it into the first round, but does slide down the board.
Players with links in their name have scouting reports on the website – click through to check those out. Also, take a look at our 400+ player Big Board to see where your favorite draftee is ranked, and what we are working from in formulating these mock drafts.
Let us know what you think on Twitter @NachFootball, and be sure to follow us on there for more draft content and analysis!
1. Cleveland Browns: QB Sam Darnold, Southern California (#11 on Big Board)
Sam Darnold is probably not a Top 10 player in this class, but that will likely not stop the Browns from pulling the trigger here. Darnold may be from Southern California, but he has enough Cleveland in him to succeed in Ohio – he’s a thick-framed, even-keeled son of a plumber who happens to have a rifle for an arm. Darnold needs to cut down on the turnovers if he is going to be successful, but is Hue Jackson’s last, best hope at keeping his job.
2. New York Giants: RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State (#3 on Big Board)
Saquon Barkley is going to be a Giants legend. He compares favorably to LaDainian Tomlinson and will put NFL defenders on skates from the first snap he takes in New York. Barkley grew up in the Bronx – this is his home turf. With Pat Shurmur coming in as the head coach, expect the Giants to feature a home-run offense in 2018.
3. Indianapolis Colts: EDGE Bradley Chubb, North Carolina State (#1 on Big Board)
When Josh McDaniels took over as the Broncos’ head coach in 2009, he had two first-round draft choices. He spent them on a top-flight SEC running back (Knowshon Moreno) and a well-built edge rusher (Bradley Chubb). Interestingly enough, this pick came down to those two choices, with LSU’s Derrius Guice and N.C. State’s Bradley Chubb. Unfortunately for the LSU Tiger, Chubb is a once-in-a-generation pass-rushing talent who likely does not get past Indianapolis.
4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans): S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama (#7 on Big Board)
In October of 2013, St. Peter’s Prep beat Paramus Catholic in the New Jersey high school football state championship. Leading the way for St. Peter’s in that game was Minkah Fitzpatrick (and quarterback Brandon Wimbush), and on the other side for Paramus Catholic was two-way star Jabrill Peppers. Suffice it to say the two are very familiar with one another. Pairing Fitzpatrick and Peppers in the defensive backfield makes sense for Cleveland as they continue to stockpile young talent. Compared to Derwin James, he is not the best safety available, but he grew up playing in the Northeast and the weather factor makes the slight difference.
5. Denver Broncos: QB Josh Allen, Wyoming (#15 on Big Board)
It is rare that a quarterback is as well accustomed to playing in Denver’s elevation as Josh Allen is. There is probably no better place for Allen to end up than Denver, as the opportunity to work with John Elway is second-to-none for a young quarterback. The pieces are all there with this signal caller, but he will need to find a way to put it all together if he is going to be successful. The Broncos should sign a stop-gap quarterback and let Allen sit for a year.
6. New York Jets: RB Derrius Guice, Louisiana State (#8 on Big Board)
For the second year in a row, the Jets use their first round choice on an LSU star – this time, it is running back Derrius Guice. In almost any other running back class, Guice’s supernatural ability is appreciated, but he is overshadowed this year by Saquon Barkley. No matter, as the Jets nab the prolific SEC star with a Top 10 selection here. He instantly changes the narrative about the Jets having no offensive weapons.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OG Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame (#2 on Big Board)
Roger Goodell approaches the podium and announces the Jets selection. He indicates that the Buccaneers are on the clock. Champagne bottles pop in the Tampa Bay war room. Quenton Nelson is still available. Nelson is on another level when it comes to interior offensive line play. Tampa Bay is a very good team – they were likely just a year away in 2017 and felt the growing pains of getting all of their pieces to click. Adding a player of Nelson’s caliber is not an opportunity that comes around in every draft, and the Buccaneers race to the table with this draft card.
8. Chicago Bears: OT Orlando Brown Jr., Oklahoma (#4 on Big Board)
The Mitchell Trubisky experiment has largely been a success in Chicago, and the next step for the Bears is to keep him upright. Orlando Brown is the most complete tackle prospect in the draft, and he is like Jonathan Ogden in that despite his 6-foot-8, 345-pound frame, he moves well and has great feet. Granted, he has a long way to go, from a technique perspective, before he can be compared to Ogden, but Brown’s father was a successful offensive tackle in his own right and Trubisky will welcome the help.
9. Oakland Raiders: LB Roquan Smith, Georgia (#6 on Big Board)
Jon Gruden is back in Oakland, and Raider Nation is excited. Roquan Smith is one of the most “Raiders”-style players in the draft. He has blistering speed, he hits hard, and he would pair well with Khalil Mack. Smith is a Thomas Davis-type player (before Davis’ ACL injuries), and he will need to overcome size concerns to succeed at the next level. Still, there is precedent for linebackers of Smith’s size having good NFL careers, and the Raiders get a gem with their Top 10 pick.
10. San Francisco 49ers: WR Equanimeous St. Brown, Notre Dame (#21 on Big Board)
While Equanimeous St. Brown may have spent his college years at Notre Dame, he is from California and his two younger brothers are playing wide receiver at Stanford and USC, respectively. The 49ers may be reaching a bit here, but they bring St. Brown back to his home coast and give Jimmy Garoppolo a wide receiver with a skill set different from those of Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin, and Trent Taylor. San Francisco is somewhere that St. Brown can make an impact from Day One.
11. Miami Dolphins: S Derwin James, Florida State (#5 on Big Board)
This has been a great draft for the Florida teams thus far, as Miami also snags a player high on their board. Derwin James is an NFL Pro Bowl-caliber safety right now, and he will slot perfectly next to Reshad Jones. The Dolphins, for all of their struggles in 2017, are actually a rather well-rounded team. This pick can be best player available, and James fits the bill.
12. Cincinnati Bengals: DT Da’Ron Payne, Alabama (#9 on Big Board)
It seems reasonable, actually, that as long as Marvin Lewis has a job, so does Andy Dalton. Instead of addressing the quarterback position, Cincinnati opts to plug a hole on the defensive line with the class’ best defensive tackle, Da’Ron Payne. The dire situation of the Bengals’ defensive line was exposed this season, as Cincinnati cut Pat Sims, only to bring him back three days later to start opposite Geno Atkins. Payne is far more athletic than your average defensive tackle, and he should succeed with the Bengals.
13. Washington Redskins: S DeShon Elliott, Texas (#13 on Big Board)
Although it looks like Su’a Cravens will return in 2018, the Redskins have an opportunity to lock down the safety position with this selection. Of the safeties available this year, DeShon Elliott is not getting much attention, but he may be the most talented safety to come out of Texas since Earl Thomas. Washington jumps at the opportunity to bring in Elliott, shoring up their defensive backfield instead of relying on Cravens to return to form.
14. Green Bay Packers: EDGE Arden Key, Louisiana State (#12 on Big Board)
There are many ways the Packers can go with this pick, but Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy need to recognize that they cannot fix everything that has gone wrong with the franchise since their 2016 NFC Championship Game run with this pick. Arden Key is a solid, if slightly overrated, pass rusher who will do fine. This pick is not unlike the Nick Perry selection a few years ago, but adding some youth to the team’s pass rush could help Green Bay compete in an NFC North that, all of a sudden, boasts three other solid passing attacks.
15. Arizona Cardinals: QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma (#17 on Big Board)
Shorter quarterbacks usually need a little help if they are going to establish themselves in the NFL, and playing in a dome helps. Case Keenum has been tremendous in Minnesota’s dome this year, and Drew Brees has set numerous passing records playing eight games every season in New Orleans’ dome. Baker Mayfield has a path to becoming a long-term starter in the NFL, but it is narrow and only runs through a few places. Arizona is one of those places. The Cardinals get a new coach, a new quarterback, and a new sense of urgency this offseason as the Rams and 49ers look like they could be on the verge of an era of success.
16. Baltimore Ravens: CB Josh Jackson, Iowa (#10 on Big Board)
It is too early for Baltimore to take one of the other running backs left on the board, so they go with the best player on the board in Josh Jackson. The Iowa defensive back came out of nowhere to establish himself as the best corner in college football, putting himself on the map against Ohio State when he logged three picks against J.T. Barrett and the then-invincible Buckeyes. Jackson is a physical, lockdown corner who is the second first-round corner in as many years for the Ravens.