It’s Draft Day and the 2018 NFL Draft is officially here – finally!
PewterReport.com has come out with its fifth and final 2018 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft for our readers in the Tampa Bay area and beyond that bleed red and pewter. Our staff has put together its annual position previews and its popular Bucs’ Best Bets.
Now it’s time for one last mock draft – a league-wide first-round mock where each one of the Pewter Reporters guess who goes where and at what pick. Yours truly is up first, followed by Trevor Sikkema’s first-round mock draft on Page 2 and Mark Cook’s first-round offering on Page 3. Enjoy!
Scott Reynolds’ 2018 NFL First-Round Mock Draft
Table of Contents
1. Cleveland – USC QB Sam Darnold
After several swings and misses the Browns need to get their QB situation resolved, and trading for Tyrod Taylor is only a short-term fix and a slight upgrade over what they’ve had. The current buzz says it’s Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, but is that just Cleveland trying to get the Jets to trade up? Darnold has prototype size, arm strength, moxie and big-game experience to develop into a quality starter in the NFL. Cleveland hopes he’ll develop into a Pro Bowl-caliber QB.
2. New York Giants – Penn State RB Saquon Barkley
The temptation will be to draft Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson to make up for missing on Andrew Norwell in free agency, or North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb to replace Jason Pierre-Paul, who was traded to Tampa Bay. But Barkley gives Eli Manning a multi-dimensional weapon to take some of the offensive load off the aging QB’s shoulders.
3. New York Jets – Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield
The Jets will have their choice of quarterbacks between Mayfield and UCLA’s Josh Rosen. While Rosen may be the more NFL-ready QB, he does come with some quirks and question marks, especially due to two concussions he suffered his junior year with the Bruins. Mayfield, the Heisman Trophy winner, is an extremely tough and gritty competitor with tremendous leadership ability despite his lack of prototype size.
NC State DE Bradley Chubb – Photo courtesy of NC State Univ.
4. Cleveland – N.C. State DE Bradley Chubb
Pairing Chubb with Myles Garrett, last year’s top overall pick, gives Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams two bookend pass-rushing defensive ends to chase the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton in the AFC North. Another possibility is Barkley if the Giants elect to take Chubb with the second overall pick.
5. Buffalo (from Denver) – UCLA QB Josh Rosen
Buffalo is in desperate need of a quarterback and trades up with Denver to grab Rosen after he falls past the Jets at No. 3. The Bills traded away Taylor to Cleveland this offseason and need a mentally tough and savvy QB like Rosen to play in a division that features Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots.
6. Indianapolis – Notre Dame G Quenton Nelson
The Colts could trade down if a team wants to move up to grab Wyoming QB Josh Allen at this point, but will probably stick and pick at No. 6 to draft Nelson – although a wild card could be Georgia MLB Roquan Smith. Indianapolis missed out on Norwell in free agency and needs to bolster the offensive line in front of quarterback Andrew Luck, who has been battered and injured over the last couple of years.
7. Tampa Bay – Florida State SS Derwin James
While the temptation to trade down might be compelling, Bucs general manager Jason Licht has the chance to draft a Pro Bowl-caliber player inside the Top 10 and selects James, who has that type of ability. James can pair with Justin Evans and strengthen the Bucs secondary while bringing great size, speed, hitting ability and leadership to Tampa Bay.
8. Chicago – Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey
Do you know who Chicago’s left tackle is? Charles Leno, Jr., a former seventh-round pick. The Bears have just offensive two tackles on the current roster and must protect second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, which is why it makes perfect sense to draft McGlinchey, who is the top left tackle candidate in this year’s draft, in the Top 10.
9. San Francisco – Georgia MLB Roquan Smith
The 49ers gambled on the character of middle linebacker Reuben Foster last year in the first round and may have lost as Foster was accused of domestic violence, which could force San Francisco to release him. His girlfriend has recanted her story, but Foster’s questionable character lingers. That would leave a glaring hole in the middle of the 49ers defense. Enter Smith, who is fast, physical and a sure tackler.
Ohio State CB Denzel Ward – Photo by: Getty Images
10. Oakland – Ohio State CB Denzel Ward
Oakland could go in several different directions, but Jon Gruden has a history of spending a first-round pick on a cornerback in Aqib Talib in his last draft in Tampa Bay. Ward is a good value at No. 10 and would team with former Buckeyes cornerback Gareon Conley for the foreseeable future in the Raiders secondary.
11. Miami – Virginia Tech OLB Tremaine Edmunds
The Dolphins are looking to upgrade their linebacker corps and Edmunds is a big, rangy athlete that can blitz quarterbacks, drop into coverage and fly around and make tackles. He has yet to scratch his potential and Edmunds has the physical tools to be a great one if used properly and coached up.
12. Denver (from Buffalo) – Wyoming QB Josh Allen
The Broncos passed on drafting a quarterback at No. 5, but with Allen available after sliding down to No. 12 there’s too much value to pass up. Denver G.M. John Elway sees some of himself in the mobile, strong-armed passer in Allen, who will learn behind Case Keenum. This move allows Denver to trade backup QB Paxton Lynch, a first-rounder from 2016.
13. Washington – Washington DT Vita Vea
Washington needs a big run-stuffer to man the nose tackle position in its 3-4 defense, but the 6-foot-4, 347-pound Vea is athletic enough to also play the five-technique defensive tackle position. To get the top defensive tackle with the 13th overall pick is quite a coup for the Redskins.
14. Green Bay – Alabama S Minkah Fitzpatrick
The Packers need to bolster their defense and drafting a Swiss Army Knife player like Fitzpatrick, who can play nickel cornerback, safety and even outside cornerback. Once thought of as a possible Top 10 pick, Fitzpatrick is a good value here for Green Bay.
15. Arizona – Louisville QB Lamar Jackson
The Cardinals are thrilled to find Jackson here at No. 15 and need to find a QB of the future as neither Sam Bradford nor Mike Glennon fit that description. New head coaches like to select their own quarterbacks, and Jackson doesn’t have the pressure of playing right away, which is a bonus because he does need time to develop. Give a player with the skill set that Jackson has time to learn and he could end up being the best QB taken in this draft.
16. Baltimore – Iowa C James Daniels
Ryan Jensen was signed by Tampa Bay in free agency, leaving Baltimore with a gaping hole at center. The Ravens need to protect quarterback Joe Flacco at all costs and the team had success in drafting an Iowa offensive lineman before in Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda. Daniels is a very athletic center that is equally adept at pass protection and run blocking.
Alabama DT Da’Ron Payne – Photo by: Getty Images
17. L.A. Chargers – Alabama DT Da’Ron Payne
Corey Liuget isn’t getting any younger at three-technique defensive tackle, and Brandon Mebane is not a long-term answer at nose tackle. Payne has the size and toughness to play nose tackle and the quickness and athleticism to play three-tech at the next level, although he will need to be coached up in this area. The trio of Payne, Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram gives the Chargers a good nucleus of dangerous defensive linemen.
18. Seattle – Iowa CB Josh Jackson
The Seahawks need to replace Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman and the team likes long cornerbacks. Jackson, the Jim Thorpe Award winner, has good length and ball-hawking skills despite a lack of playing time at Iowa where he led the FBS with eight interceptions last year. Jackson is the type of cornerback Seattle likes, and this would be a great fit.
19. Dallas – Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch
The Cowboys have a desperate need for a strongside linebacker and are looking at all of the linebacker prospects in this draft. Vander Esch is one of the more athletic ‘backers in this draft class and Dallas would be thrilled to land the Boise State product, who some teams believe is a Top 15 pick.
20. Detroit – UTSA DE Marcus Davenport
The Lions used the franchise tag on Ziggy Ansah and would love to draft his eventual replacement in Davenport, a long, fast, athletic pass rusher. Davenport is far from being a finished product, and he will have a year to learn from Ansah before replacing him.
21. Cincinnati – UTEP G Will Hernandez
Clint Boling is a good guard, but Trey Hopkins, the team’s other guard, is less than ideal as a starter. The 6-foot-2, 327-pound Hernandez gives the Bengals a more stout pass protector and a more dominant run blocker to help Cincinnati’s offense achieve balance and take pressure off quarterback Andy Dalton.
22. Denver (from Buffalo) – Alabama WR Calvin Ridley
The Broncos acquired this first-round pick in the trade down with Buffalo and are thrilled to find Ridley, who is believed to be the best receiver in the draft, still on the board. Pairing Allen and Ridley together gives the Broncos’ passing game a bright future, and the Alabama product can learn from Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas in the present.
23. New England – UCLA OT Kolton Miller
The Patriots need a left tackle to replace Nate Solder and protect franchise quarterback Tom Brady. Miller, who guarded Rosen’s blindside at UCLA, is one of the most athletic tackles in this draft and even has a similar frame at 6-foot-9, 309 pounds. New England is also desperate for a young quarterback to be Brady’s heir apparent and could draft that position here instead.
24. Carolina – LSU RB Derrius Guice
The Panthers parted ways with two of the team’s more physical runners over the last two years in fullback Mike Tolbert, who signed with Buffalo last season, and long-time tailback Jonathan Stewart, who was released this offseason. Guice is an angry runner that fits Carolina’s style and would be an instant starter in the backfield.
Boston College DE Harold Landry – Photo by: Getty Images
25. Tennessee – OLB Harold Landry
Pass-rushing outside linebackers Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo are in the twilight of their careers, and Kevin Dodd, a former second-round pick, is a bust so far. The Titans need to get younger, faster and more athletic at the 3-4 rush linebacker spot, and Landry, who led all FBS players in sacks as a junior before an injury-riddled senior campaign is a great fit.
26. Atlanta – Florida DT Taven Bryan
The Falcons lost Dontari Poe to free agency and need to find another impact defensive end to pair with Grady Jarrett inside. That player is not Jack Crawford, who is currently atop the depth chart. Bryan is a big, athletic tackle with good penetrating ability and tons of potential despite being raw.
27. New Orleans – South Carolina TE Hayden Hurst
The Saints might select South Dakota’s Dallas Goedert here instead, or even Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews, but Hurst has a good combination of run-blocking ability and receiving ability to meet New Orleans’ needs. Hurst plays with a reckless abandon that will endear him to future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees.
28. Pittsburgh – Louisville CB Jaire Alexander
The Steelers have Joe Haden and Artie Burns at cornerback, but neither played that well last year. Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin is a DBs coach at heart, and loves the swagger and playmaking ability that Alexander plays with. Whether it’s inside at nickel cornerback or outside on the perimeter, Alexnader has the confidence to get the job done.
29. Jacksonville – Maryland WR D.J. Moore
The Jaguars definitely need an upgrade at wide receiver with the loss of long-time contributors Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns in free agency. Jacksonville could opt for size over ability and select SMU’s 6-foot-3 Courtland Sutton here, but Moore is smoother and is simply the better receiver. At 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, Moore is no midget, either.
30. Minnesota – Georgia G Isaiah Wynn
The Vikings’ offensive line needs a boost, especially at guard next to promising young center Pat Elflein. Getting an athlete like Wynn, who played guard and left tackle at Georgia during his career is a huge step in the right direction. Wynn, who was the best offensive lineman at the Senior Bowl, is a technician that is battle tested.
31. New England – Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph
The Patriots’ gamble of waiting until the 31st overall pick pays off as Bill Belichick drafts Rudolph as the team’s quarterback of the future. Rudolph is a smart, savvy quarterback that has plenty of passing experience playing in the wide-open Big 12. With an NFL build and good enough arm strength, Rudolph will learn how to play the game from the best ever at the position.
Georgia RB Sony Michel – Photo by: Getty Images
32. Philadelphia – Georgia RB Sony Michel
The Eagles traded for Jay Ajayi last year, but his knee issues will shorten his playing days in the league. The Super Bowl champions parted ways with LeGarrette Blount and Darren Sproles this offseason, and could use another running back that can play all three downs to team with Corey Clement for the future. Michel is a fast and physical runner with great hands.
Click the next page to see Trevor Sikkema’s 2018 NFL First-Round Mock Draft