The workouts are complete, the draft boards have been compiled and the day has arrived.
The 2018 NFL Draft is set to begin Thursday night at Dallas’ AT&T Stadium, with the Cleveland Browns owning picks Nos. 1 and 4. A slew of moves already have been made, as seven first-round picks will come by way of trade. We could see more maneuvering Thursday, as well.
There is no shortage of talent in many positions, and with a handful of quality quarterbacks and plenty of teams pining after them, the next three days is sure to feature plenty of chaos.
Here’s our final 2018 NFL mock draft.
1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
The Browns need a quarterback, and Darnold is the most complete signal-caller out of college. In the past, Cleveland has taken quarterbacks who have upside but are works in progress. (Johnny Manziel, anyone?) While there is no such thing as a slam dunk on paper, Darnold likely is the Browns’ best bet for a stable presence under center as they look to climb out of the basement.
2. New York Giants: Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State
The Giants need to improve in many areas, and what they elect to do with the second pick is based largely on how they are planning for their future. Eli Manning will be the starting quarterback this season, but while his days are numbered, there is an immediate need for help on their defensive front. Chubb certainly could provide that, allowing New York to address a glaring need early and consider Manning’s replacement later.
3. New York Jets (from Indianapolis Colts): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
The Jets also are desperate for quarterback help, and Rosen is another polished signal-caller. New York has been linked to Baker Mayfield on several occasions, but Rosen appears to be more on its radar of late.
4. Cleveland Browns (from Houston Texans): Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
It appears new Browns general manager John Dorsey is serious about the Browns taking big steps forward in 2018, and choosing arguably the best player in the draft to compliment a quarterback would play a big part in making Cleveland’s offense worthy of attention.
5. Denver Broncos: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
The Broncos need secondary help, especially with Aqib Talib now in Los Angeles. While no one would blame them for snagging a quarterback at No. 5, their addition of Case Keenum this offseason should enable them to tend to another need first.
6. Indianapolis Colts (from New York Jets): Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
Once the Colts finally get Andrew Luck back, actually keeping him on the field will be an integral part of their success. Bolstering their offensive line with a guy who can pass block well to compliment his stellar run blocking would be a good way to make that happen.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Derwin James, S, Florida State
Tampa needs help in a few spots, but its secondary may be the most urgent of them all. The Bucs allowed the most passing yards in the NFL last season, so adding help either at corner or safety is a must. On top of the fact that James is gifted defensively, he is renowned for his leadership ability and would be a great fit for the Bucs.
8. Chicago Bears: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
While the Bears’ defense is adaquate, it could stand to be upgraded in many areas. Edmunds is fast, explosive and agile, and would help bolster Chicago’s front seven.
9. San Francisco 49ers: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Smith quite simply is a tremendous athlete and has all the tools to become an elite linebacker in the NFL. The Niners have stabilized their offense, while also signing Richard Sherman on the other side of the ball. Strengthening their linebacking core will make San Francisco a pretty well-rounded group heading into next season.
10. Oakland Raiders: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
Above all else, the Raiders need some help in the secondary. Because Oakland could stand to improve at both safety and cornerback, Fitzpatrick could become an important asset. He can provide pass coverage in pretty much any role, and demonstrated good range while defending in college.
11. Miami Dolphins: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Miami needs a competent quarterback, and multiple reports have indicated the team likes Mayfield. So long as the Jets don’t snatch him, he presumably could fall to 11th, which would make his selection here a no-brainer.
12. Buffalo Bills (from Cincinnati Bengals): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Buffalo seems committed to A.J. McCarron (for now at least) and while the Wyoming product picked apart opposing defenses in college, his transition to the NFL could be dicey purely because of the level of competition he faced in college. Still, the Bills need a long-term quarterback solution and could take a chance with Allen at No. 12.
13. Washington Redskins: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Vea displayed the ability to pursue rushers well and beat opposing guards while at Washington, and the Redskins need a player who can keep their rush defense from being so porous.
14. Green Bay Packers: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Jordy Nelson is gone, and Green Bay’s receiving corps as a whole is lacking. Ridley would address this major area of need.
15. Arizona Cardinals: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
The Cardinals also need QB help, and Rudolph is worth of consideration here given his ability to sling the ball out of the pocket.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
Baltimore has no depth at tight end, and Hurst is the best available in the draft.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
In order to make their defense remotely competitive, the Chargers need to strengthen up the middle, something Payne can do.
18. Seattle Seahawks: Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa
The Legion of Boom now is a distant memory, so the Seahawks need to start retooling in the secondary. And if Jackson wants the ball, he’ll go and get it, a good quality for a team needing ball-hawkers.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
The days of Dez Bryant now are in the past, meaning it’s time to find an explosive receiver. Why not go for the kid right down the road?
20. Detroit Lions: Marcus Davenport, DE, Texas-San Antonio
While defensive end is not necessarily a glaring need, the Lions need stability and depth at the position. Davenport could contribute both of those things and more.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (from Buffalo Bills): Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia
Not only does Andy Dalton need to stay upright, but the Bengals’ run blocking was horrid last season. Wynn could tightening things up front.
22. Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City Chiefs): D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
Whether or not the Bills go with a quarterback at No. 12, they need some weapons at receiver. Moore is explosive and has solid playmaking ability.
23. New England Patriots (from Los Angeles Rams): Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
With the departure of Nate Solder, the tackle position becomes an essential need for the Patriots. McGlinchey not only is an adept blocker, but he is a great athlete who also played tight end one upon a time. Sounds like someone Bill Belichick would take a liking to.
24. Carolina Panthers: Will Hernandez, G, Texas-San Antonio
Although the offensive line isn’t a huge area of need for the Panthers, improving it won’t hurt, especially with how much Cam Newton plays outside the pocket.
25. Tennessee Titans: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
The Titans need someone to set the edge, and Landry simply is the best at doing it out of this group.
26. Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
With Dontari Poe gone, the Falcons have a need at defensive tackle. Given Bryan also can play at defensive end, he would be a sensible pick for Atlanta.
27. New Orleans Saints: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
It’s time for the Saints to go all-in on getting Drew Brees another ring, and giving him a tight end who is a good route-runner and pass-catcher is a solid start.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
It is essential for the Steelers to strengthen at linebacker, and Vander Esch is one of the more exciting linebacker talents in the draft.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
The Jags have their share of weapons on both sides of the ball, and improving upon their pass coverage — which doomed them late in the AFC Championship — is an area worth addressing.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Connor Williams, G, Texas
Now that they have their quarterback in Kirk Cousins, they need to ensure he’s protected. Williams is a fundamentally sound blocker who could help keep Cousins safe.
31. New England Patriots: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Eventually, Tom Brady will retire, and by all accounts, New England’s interest in Jackson is real. He’s a versatile quarterback who wouldn’t need to start right away, and certainly would have a great mentor in front of him.
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
The Eagles don’t have many glaring needs, but Evans is another gifted talent in a linebacker-heavy draft who could help the reigning Super Bowl champs.
Thumbnail photo via Kelvin Kuo/USA TODAY Sports Images
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