Few will be Interested in this Article, Except the Die-Hard NFL Fan
I always write about two subjects, which involve either pursuing passion or showing the negative effects of an overreaching government in the United States. Today, however is a special day, and for the die-hard NFL fan, the NFL season starts today.
This article is going to interest few of my blog’s followers, but it does show what sound research and preparation can do for any writer pursuing their passion. As an NFL fan since birth, I love using my annual NFL Mock Draft to show ways to link research with writing, and as a Browns fan, it’s always fun to see whose career my team will ruin next (hopefully the trend changes this season).
Without further ado, here’s my 2018 NFL Mock Draft.
Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield, QB/Oklahoma
The brash Mayfield will be a cornerstone of the Browns franchise for years to come. He comes in with a great deal of confidence and drive not displayed by a quarterback in years. Many are drawing comparisons between Mayfield and Brett Favre. If so, the Browns finally landed a franchise quarterback.
New York Giants: Sam Darnold, QB/USC
Many are going with either NC State’s Bradley Chubb or Penn State’s Saquon Barkley. However, word around the league states if Cleveland passes on Darnold, the Giants will bite on a quarterback.
New York Jets: Josh Rosen, QB/UCLA
The Jets love both Mayfield and Rosen, but in this scenario, Mayfield has gone to Cleveland, so Josh Rosen gets the call. Sources everywhere are stating Rosen and the Jets looks to be a done deal, made official tonight.
Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley, RB/Penn State
Many have Barkley going either one or two, but he falls to four due to the quarterback demand. Barkley is said to be one of the greatest backs to leave college in years. He’ll enter Cleveland as part of a three-back system which already includes Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson. Barkley, however, is the most complete back of the three.
Denver Broncos: Denzel Ward, CB/Ohio State
The Broncos take Ward here at number four. Ward is a physical corner who will replace Aqib Talib in the defensive backfield. While a quarterback is needed in Denver, the top three are already taken off the board, and Denver goes with their best available.
Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, Edge/NC State
Chubb is this year’s version of Myles Garrett, and many have him going to Cleveland at four to line up opposite Garrett. Many also have Indy trading out of the spot, but if Chubb is available, he’ll be scooped up and give the Colts their first legitimate pass rusher since Dwight Freeney.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Derrius Guice, RB/LSU
While many have Guice falling to the second round, the Bucs are rumored to be in love with Guice here. This mock entails who I think teams will pick, so ordinarily I’d project a trade here for the Bucs to acquire Guice at a later slot. Nevertheless, I see him going in the first.
Chicago Bears: Roquan Smith, LB/Georgia
Arguably the best linebacker in the draft, Smith will replace an age-old void left by former Bears great, Brian Urlacher. The Bears struggled on all sides of the ball but have a young quarterback in Mitchell Trubisky. The best way to develop Trubisky will be to bolster the defense so he can continue to manage the game in his second season. Smith will help this cause.
San Francisco 49ers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB/S/Alabama
Fitzpatrick is dropping here and the 49ers are said to be looking for defensive backs. While Fitzpatrick is their preferred player, there will be several to choose from at nine if he goes higher. Many have Fitzpatrick ranked ahead of Denzel Ward, but the Broncos are said to prefer Ward over Fitzpatrick if the rumors hold true.
Oakland Raiders: Kolton Miller, T/UCLA
Many have Miller projected to be a late-first round pick and the Raiders are reportedly talking to teams about trading down. It’s said their pick is zeroed in on Miller which will do wonders for quarterback Derrick Carr, who battled injuries in 2017. Miller is a mammoth of an athlete at 6’9, and the Raiders love players with freakish traits, which will get him picked ahead of consensus offensive lineman, Quenton Nelson.
Miami Dolphins: Tremaine Edmunds, LB/Virginia Tech
The Dolphins may go quarterback here, but the jury is out on the effects of the Josh Allen tweets revealed earlier today. Also, Ryan Tannehill is on pace to make a comeback from his ACL injury. The Dolphins have let many go on defense, and Edmunds will be the one to plug in the middle to reinvigorate a team who has seen a lot of turnover in the past few months.
Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen, QB/Wyoming
Someone won’t hold Allen accountable to the tweets he posted years ago, and the Bills aren’t going to be starting A.J. McCarron all season unless he plays lights out. Allen is the quarterback who can sit behind McCarron for a time while getting acclimated to the game. He’s purely a potential pick with limited collegiate production and success, but his physical traits are among the most superior in the draft.
Washington Redskins: Sony Michel, RB/Georgia
One of two great Georgia backs entering the draft, the Redskins are reportedly going running back here. The lack a complete back and Michel has the size and characteristics to be a featured back. It depends on the best back available, but in this scenario, it appears Michel is going to be the pick for Washington.
Green Bay Packers: Derwin James, S/Florida State
The Packers have struggled on defense over the past two seasons and when Aaron Rodgers went down with an injury in 2017, the offense could no longer bail them out. They traded Demarious Randall to Cleveland in March and Haha Clinton-Dix has been inconsistent. James, while raw, may bring consistency.
Arizona Cardinals: Lamar Jackson, QB/Louisville
Sam Bradford is the best quarterback on Arizona’s roster and the best receiver on the roster is an aging Larry Fitzgerald. Jackson has drawn comparisons to Michael Vick and Fran Tarkenton, two of the greatest duel-threat passers in the game. While his accuracy needs work, Jackson’s playmaking ability will wow Cardinal fans early and often.
Baltimore Ravens: Da’Ron Payne, DT/Alabama
Payne will fill a void left by Haloti Ngata. While it’s rumored the Ravens may take a quarterback, five have already left the board, and the Ravens defense was spotty in 2017, at times shutting teams down and other times allowing 40+ points. Payne will help plug the middle and give the ballhawk defensive backs much more opportunity.
Los Angeles Chargers: Rashaan Evans, LB/Alabama
While Evans didn’t have the greatest collegiate production, his tackling ability and vision will make him one of the more coveted prospects. The Chargers have several needs in the middle of the defense, and Evans will be another centerpiece here, working behind a talented defensive line.
Seattle Seahawks: Isaiah Oliver, CB/Colorado
Rumor has it the Seahawks are trying to trade defensive back Earl Thomas. The team of interest is Dallas, so a pick swap here may be likely. Oliver, however, has been linked to Seattle, so packaging their first-round pick with Thomas to trade down seems likely and I’m hearing Oliver is the target.
Dallas Cowboys: Leighton Vander Esche, LB/Boise State
The Cowboys defense is full of holes and Vander Esche is one player Jerry Jones has been very high on. After losing quality defensive starters the past few years, look for a playmaking linebacker such as Vander Esche to be the replacement for Anthony Hitchens.
Detroit Lions: Taven Bryan, DT/Florida
After failing to reunite with former first-round pick Ndamukong Suh, the Lions go out on a limb and grab Bryan. While a running back would be ideal, Detroit must fix a defense which has been a thorn in their side during their mediocre run these last few seasons. The goal is to make the playoffs, and Bryan will be a cornerstone on defense.
Cincinnati Bengals: James Daniels, C/Iowa
The Bengals have not filled many holes on the offensive line and Daniels has been linked with the team. While a center, Daniels can be inserted at guard, which was ineffective last season following Kevin Zeitler’s release.
Buffalo Bills: Quenton Nelson, G/Notre Dame
While many have Nelson a top-ten pick, scouts believe much of his success may be attributed to playing alongside tackle Mike McGlinchey which may cause Nelson to the “the guy” who topples down the draft board. The Bills, after taking Allen earlier in this scenario, halt Nelson’s fall and scoop him up here.
New England Patriots: Marcus Davenport, Edge/UTSA
A small-school stud here, Davenport has no idea what he’s doing, but he’s arguably the most physically gifted player in the draft. He lands in the ideal spot with New England will be coached by Bill Belichick’s staff. I can’t see Davenport succeeding anywhere unless he falls into New England’s grasp, as is the case of many players, but if he lands in New England, the Pats just landed a pass rusher for years to come.
Carolina Panthers: Frank Ragnow, OL/Arkansas
With Ryan Kalil stating he’s in the twilight of his career, the Panthers will seek to fill the void. Ragnow can come in and immediately start at guard, moving to center when Kalil decides to hang it up.
Tennessee Titans: Sam Hubbard, DE/Ohio State
While the Titans have a few decent defensive linemen, none jump out at us. Enter Sam Hubbard, who possesses ideal size, characteristics, and potential. While his production in college is so-so, this is another potential pick whose best days may lay ahead of him.
Atlanta Falcons: Calvin Ridley, WR/Alabama
Finally, a receiver to a team to wouldn’t ordinarily need one, but judging Julio Jones’ recent social media actions, one can conclude his days in Atlanta are numbered. For this reason, it’d be wise to take the best receiver in the draft. While the receiving class in 2018 offers more depth than star power, Ridley is perhaps an exception to the rule.
New Orleans Saints: Mason Rudolph, QB/Oklahoma State
The Saints are a good trade candidate here, and while they may go defense, Drew Brees isn’t getting any younger and they need a potential successor sooner than later. Mason Rudolph may be the most underrated quarterback in the entire draft class, checking all the boxes. Like New Orleans, Rudolph excelled in a pass-happy offense. He may be the perfect fit in New Orleans.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Harold Landry, DE/Boston College
The Steelers had a splashy defense in 2017 and ranked high in many categories. They were inconsistent and are in need of someone to line up opposite last year’s first round pick, T.J. Watt. Landry is a sack artist, leading the nation with 16.5 in 2016. Steeler football revolves around strong, aggressive pass rushers.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Hayden Hurst, TE/South Carolina
It’s clear unless they’re willing to trade up, a quarterback isn’t happening. Besides, Blake Bortles led the Jags to their first AFC Championship appearance since 1996, when they coincidentally lost to New England. The Jags offense is hot, but they parted ways with franchise stalwart, Mercedes Lewis. Hurst makes sense here.
Minnesota Vikings: Dallas Goedert, TE/South Dakota State
Goedert would be a top ten pick had he gone to a Power Five school. Minnesota has been linked to Goedert and if he’s available, I’m hearing he’s the pick. While Kyle Rudolph has played well, the Vikes lack a legit number two option at tight-end.
New England: Malik Jefferson, LB/Texas
The Patriots will be on a mission to fill a defense ranking near the bottom of the league in 2017 and after an embarrassing Super Bowl performance in which they’d given up 41 points, it’s clear the defensive side of the ball must be fixed. Look for Belichick to pick players he fills will fit his system, choosing skill-set over production and potential.
Philadelphia Eagles: Ronald Jones, RB/USC
While Jay Ajayi will remain the featured back, Jones can be the change of pace guy. While neither a blocker nor pass catcher, Jones can spell Ajayi when necessary with between twelve and fourteen touches per game. For the Super Bowl Champions, it’s all about filling the big rocks with some small ones.