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Justin Bales | Archive | Email |
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NFL Mock Draft: Version 3.0
4/9/18

Version 1.0 - 2/21/18
Version 2.0 - 3/26/18



Editor's note: Predict the top ten picks of the NFL Draft for a chance to win FFToday prizes. Enter our NFL Draft Contest now.

Saquon Barkley

If the Giants stay put at No.2 and pass on a quarterback, the top running back on the board is in play.


1. Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold, QB, USC

The Jets recently traded up to the third pick, which all but guarantees the Browns will be selecting a quarterback with their first pick. Darnold was widely viewed as the top option, and he solidified that at USC’s pro day. He flashed his upside during his throwing sessions, as he looked outstanding and was unfazed by consistent rainfall. Teams may be turned off by Darnold’s delivery, but his arm strength and accuracy more than makes up for it. The addition of Tyrod Taylor will allow Darnold to sit on the bench for at least part of this season, giving him ample time to adjust to the NFL.

Previous Pick – Sam Darnold, QB, USC

2. New York Giants – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

I have a difficult time believing New York is not going to trade out of this spot. I’m not predicting trades, though, so a pick must be made. It appears the Giants feel comfortable with Eli Manning, and while I may disagree, that has a lot of bearing on this pick. Barkley is arguably the best player in the draft, and the Giants are in need of a consistent option at running back. If the organization truly believes they have a few more years out of Manning, Barkley is the type of player that can ease his workload and provide an elite check down option.

Previous Pick – Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

3. New York Jets – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

There is a small chance that the Jets moved up ahead of the Colts and Browns for Saquon Barkley, but it’s more likely that they are after a franchise quarterback. Josh Rosen rubbed some teams the wrong way when he basically stated that he did not want to play for the Cleveland Browns. He also does not necessarily have the big personality that many people expect out of New York quarterbacks. What he does have is the talent to play on the big stage. While Darnold could be seen as the best quarterback in the draft after his elite pro day, Rosen was widely seen as the top option prior to that. It shows how close these two quarterbacks are, making this choice a no-brainer for New York.

Previous Pick – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

4. Cleveland Browns – Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

The Browns have so many picks that they can take the best player available at this point. That is likely Chubb, who is arguably the safest option in the draft. He is a disruptive end that posted 20 sacks and 44 tackles for a loss in his final two seasons at North Carolina State. End is not the biggest need for Cleveland, but imagine the pairing of Chubb and Myles Garrett. They would be one of the best young defensive end pairings in the entire NFL. This may be wishful thinking, but it also makes quite a bit of sense for Cleveland, who could rely heavily on defense this season with Tyrod Taylor or a rookie quarterback starting.

Previous Pick – Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

5. Denver Broncos – Denzel Ward, CB, OSU

Ward enjoyed an elite combine that has resulted in his skyrocketing up draft boards. Some scouts have stated they believe he is the best player in the draft. Ward ran a 4.32 40-yard dash to go along with a 39” vertical and 11’4” broad jump. He also added 19 reps on the bench for good measure. Ward’s quickness was not on display at the combine, but that, along with his footwork, is seen as his strongest attributes. There are some that believe Ward is better suited as a slot corner, but that thought was somewhat shut down after he displayed great strength at the combine. Denver recently traded away Aqib Talib, so they will need someone to step in immediately.

Previous Pick – Denzel Ward, CB, OSU

6. Indianapolis Colts – Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

Indianapolis has a lot of holes throughout their defense, but Nelson fits a need and is the best player available at this spot. The Colts have passed on offensive linemen in recent drafts, resulting in Andrew Luck suffering from injuries. Nelson is already an above average pass and run blocking guard, who also comes with All Pro potential. He could start from day one, immediately upgrading Indianapolis’ line situation. This is not the sexy pick that most fans want on draft day, but it is the correct one.

Previous Pick – Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Derwin James, S, Florida State

There is word around the Bucs that they like Justin Evans to take a step this season, but they’re looking to add help in the secondary. With Ward off the board, safety is the more likely position. James and Minkah Fitzpatrick are the top two safeties in the draft, and it seems somewhat 50/50 on who teams like better. There is word that the Bucs prefer James, who is more of an in the box, run stopping option. He would immediately upgrade a weak Tampa Bay secondary.

Previous Pick – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

8. Chicago Bears – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

Simply put, the Bears need help at linebacker, specifically edge rushers. Edmunds is an ultra-athletic player that has the potential to play any of the linebacker positions. He is not the most polished player in the draft based on football IQ, but his physical tools more than make up for it. He comes with tremendous size, and there is a belief that he will be able to add weight to his frame without losing any speed. He has nearly as much upside as any player in this draft, but his lack of polish will keep him from being a top-five pick.

Previous Pick – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

9. San Francisco 49ers – Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

The 49ers are a team that looks like they could make an elite jump next season. They finished last season strong, playing themselves out of a top pick. If they want to make a playoff push, they are going to need help in their secondary, which was one of the worst in the NFL. They were able to sign Richard Sherman, but more capable bodies are needed. Jackson flashed immense potential as a junior, but he is still an unproven prospect. He rarely played as a freshman or sophomore, but enjoyed an elite season as a junior once he got the starting nod. He recorded 18 pass deflections with eight interceptions and two defensive touchdowns in 13 games. He is a long defender that uses his length and decisive mindset to jump routes and contest catches. Jackson would be locked in as the top true cornerback in this class if he had two seasons of similar production, but the 49ers are a team that will likely be willing to risk their pick on someone with game changing upside.

Previous Pick – Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

10. Oakland Raiders – Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia

Every year there seems to be a consensus pick for a team in the top-ten. This season, the Oakland Raiders are that team and Roquan Smith is that pick. They have revamped their coaching staff, and they now need help at linebacker. Smith is an elite prospect, who would potentially be a top-five selection if he were a bit bigger. The only true knock on Smith is his size, but he has the athleticism to make up for his lone deficiency. He has sideline-to-sideline speed and the quickness and agility to avoid linemen. He has also tremendous football IQ, which also helps keep him out of compromising situations. Smith broke out as a junior, recording 137 total tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, and 6.5 sacks in 15 games. The Raiders need defensive help this offseason, and Smith is arguably the best prospect on the board.

Previous Pick – Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia

11. Miami Dolphins – Vita Vea, DT, Washington

Vea was turned into a star at the NFL Combine, as he ranked second behind on Harrison Phillips with 41 reps on the bench. Vea has been compared to former Washington DT Danny Shelton, but Vea is a bigger and stronger version. Vea also comes with elite athleticism, as he was a former running back in high school before transitioning to defensive tackle in college. Vea is one of the higher upside prospects in the draft, as he is big enough to stop the run, but athletic enough to develop a pass rush from the middle of the line. Miami is in need of a defensive tackle after releasing Ndamukong Suh, and they will be getting one of the fastest rising prospects in the draft with this pick.

Previous Pick – Vita Vea, DT, Washington

12. Buffalo Bills – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

I fully expect the Bills to try to trade up in the draft for a quarterback, but if they don’t, they will be forced to select whichever one falls to them with this pick. In this mock, that is Baker Mayfield. Mayfield enjoyed an elite colligate season, totaling 14,607 passing yards with 131 passing touchdowns. He also showed off his athleticism, recording over 1,000 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground. Mayfield comes with solid arm strength, but his accuracy is why many scouts love him. There are off-field questions that he will be forced to answer, but as we have seen before, those issues can sometimes go overlooked in a quarterback of Mayfield’s talent.

Previous Pick – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

13. Washington Redskins – Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama

The Redskins are in dire need of help in the secondary. They have an aging Josh Norman to go along with D.J. Swearinger. Outside of those two players, they have replacement level options. Also, they traded Su’a Cravens, who did not play last season, but was one of their better safeties. Fitzpatrick is a versatile option that has the potential to play cornerback or safety. Washington could use Fitzpatrick wherever they feel they need the most help. He’s arguably a top-10 talent in this draft, and this would be another first round steal for the Redskins.

Previous Pick – Mike Hughes, CB, UCF

14. Green Bay Packers – Mike Hughes, CB, UCF

Green Bay has struggled to find consistent production in the secondary. They’ve had a few busts in the draft, while allowing talented players to walk in free agency. They have high hopes for CB Kevin King, who struggled at times last season. They also signed Tramon Williams in free agency, but he is simply a one, maybe two-year player. Hughes is a player without much experience or tape in college, but he flashed tremendous skills when on the field. He is a quicker than fast cornerback that understands the game. He’s another boom or bust cornerback for Green Bay, who is in need of consistent production in their secondary.

Previous Pick – Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA

15. Arizona Cardinals – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

Arizona signed Sam Bradford to a huge deal, but they will still be looking for their future franchise quarterback early in this draft. Allen will almost certainly go higher than this with trades, and Arizona will be a team looking to move up. Allen looked outstanding at his Pro Day, which could increase his value, but he still comes with plenty of risk. He struggled with his accuracy against lesser opponents in the Mountain West Conference, which is a major concern. With that being said, Allen has the best pure arm strength of any quarterback in the draft. He also has a strong base in the pocket, often times throwing the ball with multiple defenders hanging on his legs. He could potentially have the most upside of any quarterback in this draft, but he also comes with the most risk. That’s something the Cardinals will have to accept at this pick.

Previous Pick – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

16. Baltimore Ravens – Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

The Ravens are in dire need of help at wide receiver for next season and the future. The additions of Michael Crabtree and John Brown ease the immediate need for a wideout, but they are far from long term solutions. Sutton is a big, possession receiver, who has the ability to make contested catches. That is a major part of his game, as he struggles with speed and separation, and those struggles will continue in the NFL. Sutton also wasn’t asked to run a full route tree at SMU, and there will be a learning curve as he prepares for the NFL. Still, Sutton was able to post a 193/3,193/31 line through 37 games. It’s hard to ignore his production, and his pure size makes him an intriguing prospect for a wide receiver needy team.

Previous Pick – Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

17. Los Angeles Chargers – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

McClinchey has inconsistent tape throughout his college career, but he has flashed All-Pro potential. He is an athletic tackle that struggles a bit with power. With that being said, McGlinchey’s athleticism has more than made up for his lack of power at this point in his career. He has the potential to start as a right tackle from day one with the potential to move to left tackle later in his career. Luckily for the Chargers, they need help along the right side of the line. McGlinchey has the potential to be the first tackle selected in the draft, but his inconsistencies have knocked him down early in the draft process.

Previous Pick – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

18. Seattle Seahawks – Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA

Davenport was a highly productive player in college, but he did not play elite level competition. In his final 24 games, he recorded 122 total tackles, 27.5 tackles for a loss, and 15 sacks. Seattle recently traded DL Michael Bennett to the Philadelphia Eagles, and they could be looking to replace his production along the defensive line. On occasion, players out of smaller schools get overlooked in the NFL Draft, and that could be the case here.

Previous Pick – Derwin James, S, Florida State

19. Dallas Cowboys – Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

Hurst is a perfect fit for the Cowboys, who are looking for pass rush help on the interior defensive line. Hurst is a defensive tackle that often times wins with agility rather than strength. Through three seasons as a full time player, Hurst totaled 127 tackles, including 31 tackles for a loss and 13.5 sacks. He is not necessarily ever going to become an elite run-stopper, but he has the ability to make plays in the backfield and pressure the quarterback. There were concerns about Hurst’s heart after issues appeared during the NFL Combine, but he has since been cleared to play without restrictions.

Previous Pick – Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

20. Detroit Lions – Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

Guice’s value has been all over the place this offseason. Most believe that Guice is a fringe first round pick, but teams will generally reach on players if they need a position. Guice is a heavy hitting running back that will excel on early downs. He was not asked to be a huge part of LSU’s passing attack, but he displayed good hands at his Pro Day. The Lions are rumored to be interested in the position for obvious reasons. They may only need an early-down runner, as well, as Theo Riddick is one of the better passing down backs in the NFL. Guice will take a bit of the pressure off of Matthew Stafford, while giving the Detroit Lions a more versatile offense.

Previous Pick – Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia

21. Cincinnati Bengals – Connor Williams, OT, Texas

The Bengals moved down in the first round of the draft, and they were gifted Cordy Glenn for their troubles. That does not mean they will not select a lineman here, though. They still have plenty of holes along the line, and Williams is a player that can immediately help. He produced elite film in 2016, but failed to live up to that hype in 2017. He is already a great run blocking tackle, and many scouts believe he can also become a high-end pass blocker in the NFL. There are other scouts that believe he will be best suited as a guard, as he has the frame to easily make the transition. That makes him the perfect option for the Bengals, who need help at multiple spots across the line. He could test his skills out at right tackle before shifting to guard if that fails. His versatility will be key with this pick.

Previous Pick – Connor Williams, OT, Texas

22. Buffalo Bills – Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

The Bills were able to draft their quarterback of future earlier in this draft, and now they address other needs. Cornerback makes sense here. Alexander is a player that has lost value based on lingering injuries in 2017, but he possesses tremendous 2016 film. He is quicker than fast, allowing him to make breaks on the ball that other corners can only dream of. He also has flashed tremendous anticipation and football IQ throughout his career. He is a cornerback that has the potential to play outside or in the slot, depending on where Buffalo needs the most help.

Previous Pick – Jaire Alenxander, CB, Louisville

23. New England Patriots – Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

The Patriots traded Brandin Cooks for this pick. The most likely scenario is New England is looking to move up in the draft for a quarterback, but once again, I’m not projecting trades here. Instead, they will address their line after losing Nate Solder to the Giants in free agency. Miller is somewhat similar to Solder, as they are both massive offensive linemen. Miller is also an extremely athletic player, who comes with tremendous upside. He comes with a bit of risk, as well, as he does not possess great bend, which could hurt him in the NFL. Still, this is a pick that fills a major need.

Previous Pick (Rams) – Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama

24. Carolina Panthers – Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

The Panthers have aging defensive ends, who will need to be replaced within the next couple of seasons. Hubbard ended his collegiate career on a high note, recording 42 total tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss, and 7.0 sacks as a junior. He is a hard working player that comes with good size. The biggest knock on Hubbard is that he is not an elite athlete, but we have seen multiple average athletes dominate along the defensive line with aggression and work ethic. Hubbard is a fairly low risk prospect that has the potential to start for years to come, although he likely will never become an All Pro player.

Previous Pick – Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

25. Tennessee Titans – Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College

Tennessee needs to find a way to create a consistent pass rush. They have not been able to do that, which has kept their defense from taking the jump to the next level. Landry is the type of player that can give them an immediate impact pass rusher. He dealt with injuries throughout his senior season, but was able to total 120 tackles, including 38 tackles for a loss and 20 sacks as a sophomore and junior. He could backup Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo before taking over after this season.

Previous Pick – Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College

26. Atlanta Falcons – Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

Atlanta has a huge hole a defensive tackle, and Payne somewhat fell into their lap at this pick. He is an elite run stopper, which is what Atlanta loves in their defensive tackles. Payne is a massive player, but could struggle with his pass rush. Still, that likely is not enough to make Atlanta go elsewhere with this pick. Keep in mind, there are some scouts that believe Payne has the potential to become an above average pass rusher because of his athleticism. At worst, Atlanta will find a dominant run stuffing defensive tackle with this pick.

Previous Pick – Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

27. New Orleans Saints – Dallas Geodert, TE, South Dakota State

The Saints only have a couple impact players leaving for free agency, and there is not a true need that sticks out on the team. They have not had a dominant tight end since Jimmy Graham, though, and Goedert is the type of player that will immediately make a mismatch for opponents. Goedert played at South Dakota State, facing off against lesser competition on a weekly basis. He suffered from inconsistent quarterback play, but was still able to record 164 receptions for 2,404 yards and 18 touchdowns in his final two seasons. Goedert is a mismatch on the field because of his elite combination of size, speed, and ball skills. Unfortunately, he has struggled to block near the line of scrimmage, which may cause him to fall in the draft. We have seen other receiving tight ends find plenty of success in the NFL recently and Goedert has the potential to be the next Evan Engram.

Previous Pick – Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State

28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

It is amazing to see videos of Ryan Shazier working out after his devastating injury last season. With that being said, there is no guarantee that Shazier is ever going to be able to play football again. If that is the case, Pittsburgh will have a huge hole at linebacker. They were consistently gashed by running backs after Shazier’s injury last season, and Vander Esch could help fill the void. There have been talks that he is flying up draft boards, and Pittsburgh recently stated that he will be their pick if he’s available. While I don’t fully believe they would take him over anyone, I feel he is the best inside linebacker at this point in the draft, and that is the position Pittsburgh needs here.

Previous Pick – Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama

The Jaguars were left with a hole at middle linebacker after Paul Posluszny abruptly retired this offseason. Some believe that Evans is the best linebacker in the draft, but circumstances have caused him to fall to this pick. He could lead a dominant Jaguars defense for the next decade. He is an extremely athletic player that can cover the field from sideline to sideline. He also played for one of the best defenses in the NCAA, leading Alabama during his final two seasons.

Previous Pick – Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

30. Minnesota Vikings – Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP

The Vikings are nearly a complete team, but they have an obvious hole along the offensive line. Hernandez looked like an elite player throughout his colligate career, but he played against lesser competition at the University of Texas-El Paso. He continued to dominate competition at the Senior Bowl, which was against significantly better competition. Furthermore, Hernandez posted great numbers at the combine, furthering the belief that he will succeed in the NFL. He’s an athletic player that has been successful with both run blocking and pass protection. He has a tremendous ceiling, but he also comes with a fairly low floor because of the questionable competition and size of Hernandez.

Previous Pick – Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP

31. New England Patriots – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

Yes, this situation looks ridiculous. However, the Patriots are known for making unorthodox selections on draft night. They are a team that continuously trades their backup quarterback, but at some point they are going to be forced to find their future signal caller. Jackson is a special player that has elite athletic ability. His arm is better than he gets credit for, and New England is the type of team that could take advantage of that. He would be able to sit behind Tom Brady for multiple years, and if any team can bring out the best in Jackson, it will be the Patriots. It’s an odd pairing, but this is great value pick for New England.

Previous Pick – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

32. Philadelphia Eagles – Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina

Philadelphia lost Trey Burton in the offseason, and they will need someone to replace him. They signed Richard Rodgers, but he is not the same type of player. Hurst is an athletic tight end that is better in the passing game than blocking. He should slide into the backup role behind Zach Ertz, and he will be another mismatch on the field. Hurst needs to improve his route running, but he will not be forced into a huge role early in his career, which will allow him to develop properly.

Previous Pick – Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma



Every year there seems to be a consensus pick for a team in the top-ten. This season, the Oakland Raiders are that team and Roquan Smith is that pick. They have revamped their coaching staff, and they now need help at linebacker. Smith is an elite prospect, who would potentially be a top-five selection if he were a bit bigger. The only true knock on Smith is his size, but he has the athleticism to make up for his lone deficiency. He has sideline-to-sideline speed and the quickness and agility to avoid linemen. He has also tremendous football IQ, which also helps keep him out of compromising situations. Smith broke out as a junior, recording 137 total tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, and 6.5 sacks in 15 games. The Raiders need defensive help this offseason, and Smith is arguably the best prospect on the board.