NFL Draft Diamonds 2018 NFL Mock Draft 4.0
1) Cleveland Browns Sam Darnold QB USC
At this point in the Draft process, my $ is still on Darnold being the pick at #1. While he is far from a perfect prospect, Darnold possess the traits that could make him a true franchise QB. Under the guidance of Hue Jackson, & new OC Todd Haley, Darnold could be the player to turn the fortunes around in Cleveland.
2) New York Giants Josh Rosen QB UCLA
Eli Manning has shown a decline in passing yards, yards gained per attempt & TDs since 2015. This may signal a changing of the guard for the Giants. Josh Rosen is seen as somewhat polarizing by the scouting community, but not to me. Rosen seems like to type of QB tailor-made for NYC. The Giants have some intriguing weapons on offense already (Beckham, Shepard & Engram) which makes this an intriguing organization even after a disastrous 2017-2018 season.
3) Indianapolis Colts Bradley Chubb EDGE NC State
Josh McDaniels comes in with a, if healthy, top 10 QB and dynamic #1 receiver in Andrew Luck & T.Y. Hilton. It is tempting to give them Saquon Barkley in this situation to give them their own “Big 3.” In reality, Indy has a defense that is currently in shambles. The Colts in 2017 were 30th in Total Defense, 28th in Passing Defense, 26th in Rushing Defense, 30th in Scoring Defense & 31st in Sacks. Enter Bradley Chubb. The NC State DE was an absolute terror for opposing offenses in the NCAA during 2017 with 10 sacks and 23 TFL. Depending on the defensive scheme McDaniels decides to run in Indy, Chubb can play either a traditional 4-3 DE or transition to a standup EDGE rusher in a 3-4.
4) Cleveland Browns (from Houston Texans) Saquon Barkley RB Penn State
In this exercise, Cleveland has their QB in Darnold. The Browns were average rushing the ball last season (18th in the league, 107.1 Yds./G). Isaiah Crowell will be an UFA this offseason, while Duke Johnson has rushed the ball 259 times in his 3-year career. Saquon Barkley was the engine for the Nittany Lion offense in his three years in Happy Valley. Barkley is the top player on my board & gives the Browns a true workhorse back.
5) Denver Broncos Quenton Nelson OG Notre Dame
The Broncos are in a weird situation. Is their SB window closed or are they a few players away from being back in contention? The QB room in Denver is a mess. Does John Elway dare spend another first round pick at the QB position after failing on Paxton Lynch? On the other hand, does the organization make a run at a veteran like Kirk Cousins or Tyron Taylor? My gut feeling is that Elway somehow figures out a way to add Cousins to the mix. In that case, I am giving them Quenton Nelson from Notre Dame. Nelson is mauler in the mold of an old school NFL O-Lineman. Denver could get back to running the ball to help set-up the pass to their dynamic receivers Demaryius Thomas & Emmanuel Sanders.
6) New York Jets Baker Mayfield QB Oklahoma
The Jets are still searching for a QB since the departure of “Broadway” Joe Namath in 1977. Head Coach Todd Bowles & GM Mike Maccagnan earned two-year extensions after a surprising 2017 campaign. Since this pair has led the organization since 2015, the QB situation has been less than ideal. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith, Bryce Petty & Josh McCown are the players who have led this team in that span. Baker Mayfield feels like a lite version of Broadway Joe. Brash, unpredictable & outspoken are a few adjectives for Mayfield. This regime may not pull the trigger, but it would sure be fun having Baker in the Big Apple.
7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers Marcus Davenport EDGE UTSA
Best-case scenario, the Bucs sprint to the podium with their card after Bradley Chubb falls down the Draft board. In this case, Chubb is a Colt & the Bucs are onto another option. In 2017, this team was last in the league (32nd) in sacks with 22.0. While the secondary also needs help, the pass-rush should be a priority. In a division with QBs Cam Newton, Matt Ryan & Drew Brees, Tampa Bay must get to them to compete. A relative late-bloomer in the process, Marcus Davenport has become the darling of this class. Measuring in at 6’5” 259lbs along with production at UTSA (8.5 sacks/17.5 TFL in 2017), this player would an ideal piece in a thin front four.
8) Chicago Bears Calvin Ridley WR Alabama
John Fox is out in Chicago. The Bears brought in former Chiefs OC Matt Nagy to help fix this team. Nagy hired former Oregon OC & HC Mark Helfrich to be his OC, but Nagy figures to have a large say in how the Offense runs. Mitchell Trubisky showed signs of being a long-term starter for the Bears, but was throwing to a less than stellar WR group. Calvin Ridley should be a better pro than he was at Alabama. The Tide execute a run-heavy offense with the air attack being secondary. Ridley is a crisp route-runner with above average hands & good size. Give Trubisky a potential top wideout to grow with & watch them shine.
9) # San Francisco 49ers Minkah Fitzpatrick DB Alabama
You can make arguments that Fitzpatrick is the top player in this class. In this mock, he falls right in the laps of Kyle Shanahan & John Lynch. Eric Reid is set to be an UFA & has been the topic of trade rumors the past few seasons. Whether he is out or not, Minkah would come onto a roster as an immediate starter in the secondary. After spending multiple resources on the front seven recently (Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas & Reuben Foster), the Niners get a prospect that could rule the backend of their defense for the future.
10) # Oakland Raiders Roquan Smith LB Georgia
You could argue that Oakland needs an entirely new trio of LBs going into 2018. NaVorro Bowman gave the team a shot in the arm last season after joining the Raiders. Bowman enters 2018 as a 29-year-old UFA with an injury history; he may not be back. Roquan Smith is undersized to be a true Mike LB. For what he lacks in size, Smith makes up for in effort & production. Coming off a year at UGA where he tallied 137 total tackles, 14.0 TFL & 6.5 sacks is impressive. New Head Coach Jon Gruden can give DC Paul Guenther a weapon to unleash havoc in his scheme.
11) Miami Dolphins Denzel Ward CB Ohio State
Assuming the Jay Cutler experiment is over, the Dolphins are in a tough spot with their offense heading into 2018. Cutler was a disaster; Jay Ajayi is now a member of the Eagles & Jarvis Landry is currently an UFA looking for a lucrative multi-year contract. Then there is Ryan Tannehill, who is coming of a significant knee injury after missing the 2017 season. I believe Head Coach Adam Gase stick with Tannehill, if he is healthy. The defense is also in dire need of help in the back seven. It is a little early for Rashaan Evans from Alabama, so I am giving them my top CB on the board Denzel Ward. Considered undersized, Ward is an above average press corner who has the speed to play catch-up to wideouts.
12) Cincinnati Bengals Connor Williams OT Texas
The loss of Andrew Whitworth really showed up this season for the Bengals. While Whitworth & the Rams were on their way to the playoffs, Andy Dalton & co. limped to a 7-9 season in the Queen City. With Marvin Lewis still running the show in Cincy, the Bengals need to find a way to protect their QB & get the run game going. Connor Williams missed the majority of 2017 at Texas due to injury, but when he is healthy, he can be a top-tier OT. With great size, length & tenacity, Williams could be the blind-side protector to help the Andy Dalton get back to a Pro Bowl level.
13) # Washington Redskins Joshua Jackson CB Iowa
Dan Snyder has opted to make Alex Smith his QB of the present. While Washington does need to start thinking about a long-term solution, Smith steps in to lead an offense that has been very good under Jay Gruden. The Redskins could be losing starting CB Bashaud Breeland to free agency & shipped CB Kendall Fuller to KC as part of the Alex Smith trade. That would leave Josh Norman as the only proven CB on the roster. Joshua Jackson made headlines with his 3-INT game against Ohio State in 2017, but he is more than just a flash-in-the-pan. Jackson is not going to run 4.2 at the combine, but he is going to beat you with technique and physicality. Washington finished 27th in the league in scoring defense in 2017, so the defense needs help.
14) # Green Bay Packers Harold Landry EDGE Boston College
If it were not for injury, Harold Landry may be in the conversation as a top five pick. As far as pure pass rusher goes, I do not think there is any better prospect in the class better than Landry. The Packers could move on from Clay Matthews this offseason as a cap casualty. That would leave a glaring hole at EDGE for a team that finished in the middle of the league with 37.0.
15) Arizona Cardinals Josh Allen QB Wyoming
With none under contract, the Cardinals literally need a QB. The Palmer/Arians era is now over. New Head Coach Steve Wilks will look to come in & put his stamp on the organization. Josh Allen had a less than impressive season in 2017 while at Wyoming. It was the opposite during the Senior Bowl week in Mobile, AL. Allen dazzled scouts with his arm strength & confidence, but also made some mistakes reminiscent of his collegiate days. Allen the prototype size at 6’5” 237lbs. Arizona needs a signal-caller in the most desperate way. Allen may be the ultimate boom or bust player in this class, but the risk could pay huge dividends.
16) Baltimore Ravens Courtland Sutton WR SMU
The Ravens have tried, & failed, to get by with a makeshift receiver group these last few years. Jeremy Maclin is on the downside of his career, while Breshad Perriman has trouble staying on it due to injury. Courtland Sutton has the size and ability to be a dominant red zone threat in the NFL. At 6’4” 218lbs, he fits the mold of a modern NFL WR. Sutton would give Joe Flacco a nice weapon to reignite his career as an upper echelon QB.
17) Los Angeles Chargers Vita Vea DL Washington
The Chargers gave up 4.9 YPC in 2017, worst in the NFL. While LA has two great EDGE rushers in Joey Bosa & Melvin Ingram, the rush defense is an area of concern. Vita Vea could be the true run-stuffer the Chargers have been looking for. At 6’5” 340lbs., Vea is a great athlete who can also get to the QB. Plug him in the middle to eat up double teams & let the EDGE rushers feast.
18) Seattle Seahawks Derwin James S Florida State
It seems as if the Legion of Boom’s dominance over the NFL is coming to an abrupt end. With the injuries to Richard Sherman & Kam Chancellor combined with the uncertain future of Earl Thomas as a Seahawk, it may be time for a rebuild of the secondary in the Pacific Northwest. Derwin James may take a fall on Draft night, due to teams being afraid of him not having a “true” position. Bottom line, DJ can play football. Give Derwin the freedom to play near the LOS and make plays, while also protecting the back half of the field.
19) # Dallas Cowboys Maurice Hurst DL Michigan
America’s Team has drafted very well these last few seasons. Adding such players as Dak Prescott, Zeke Elliott, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, Demarcus Lawrence, Byron Jones, and Jourdan Lewis. It looks like the Cowboys are set-up very well for the future. Although 2017 was disappointing, optimism is high in Dallas going forward. Maurice Hurst is undersized for a DT, but is always making plays when you see his film. Hurst would be a solid force next to Lawrence & 2017 first round pick Taco Charlton.
20) # Detroit Lions Arden Key EDGE LSU
If the Lions are not able to retain Ziggy Ansah, they will be in a tough situation with their pass rushers. I could see them adding an interior defender to add depth, but in this situation, they land Arden Key from LSU. Yes, Key has some off-field concerns, but as a football player, he is elite. Adding Key would give Detroit a potential game-changer in the front seven.
21) Buffalo Bills Da’Ron Payne DL Alabama
The Bills made a surprise playoff run in Sean McDermott’s first season as Head Coach. The future looks to be bright in Buffalo after a solid 2017 class the performed very well. The rush defense is a concern though, especially after trading former first round pick Marcell Dareus to Jacksonville. Da’Ron Payne really showed out during the CFP. He is incredibly athletic at his size, but also showed tenacity & motor at the point of attack. Kyle Williams is close to the end of his career for the Bills; Payne would be a nice addition to learn from the veteran.
22) Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City Chiefs) Billy Price OL Ohio State
Unfortunately, for the Bills, injury has forced starting C Eric Wood into retirement due to injury. As they say, when one door closes another one opens. Bill Price was a three-year starter at G before his senior year in Columbus. After transitioning to C, he proved that no single position on the O-Line would be a problem. The Bills seem to be sticking with a run heavy offensive scheme under this new regime; Price would fit right in.
23) Los Angeles Rams Mike Hughes CB UCF
Coming off a great season in LA, the Rams look to reload & continue contending in a competitive NFC. In the secondary, LA is set to lose both Trumaine Johnson, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Lamarcus Joyner & Cody Davis. That is two CBs & two safeties potentially gone. Coming after a season where he helped lead the UCF Knights to a 13-0 record, Mike Hughes looks to make an impact in the NFL. Hughes could be an immediate contributor in Wade Phillips’ defense. The Rams seem to be here to stay after 2017, watch out for more coming soon.
24) Carolina Panthers Christian Kirk WR Texas A&M
The Panthers regime has recently preached how they want to add more speed to their offense. They did that in the 2017 Draft with the selections of Christian McCaffrey & Curtis Samuel. While McCaffrey looks to be a potential superstar, the jury is still out on Samuel due to a trip to IR from an ankle fracture midseason. Christian Kirk was a decorated high-school recruit who arrived in College Station to fanfare. After three solid, if unspectacular years, he has moved on. Kirk brings electric speed & quickness to the field along with the ability to be a dynamic force in the return game. Look for Kirk to be a game changer wherever he lands.
25) Tennessee Titans Harrison Phillips DL Stanford
The Titans limped into the playoffs after an up & down 2017 season, but managed to upset the Chiefs on Wildcard weekend. Regardless of that win, the coaching staff were relieved of their duties & the team brought in former New England Patriot turned Houston Texans DC Mike Vrabel as Head Coach. Tennessee could potentially lose two starting defensive linemen in Daquan Jones & Sylvester Williams. While neither were particularly elite at their position, both were solid starters for the defense. Harrison Phillips is a very solid D-Lineman with the ability to play multiple positions on the line. In the Titans 3-4 scheme, he could line up opposite Jurrell Casey or slide inside on passing downs. By the time the Draft comes around, I could see him going a lot higher than this.
26) Atlanta Falcons Taven Bryan DL Florida
The Falcons are a team with a loaded roster who, unfortunately for them, play in what is possibly the toughest division in football, the NFC South. After their stunning collapse in Super Bowl LI, Atlanta picked themselves up & pushed the Eagles to the brink of another conference Championship birth. While Atlanta signed DT Dontari Poe to a one-year deal last offseason, he could be on the move again looking for a more lucrative long-term deal. Grady Jarrett looks to be a budding star on the DL, but the Falcons could use some depth alongside him. Some have called Taven Bryan the next J.J. Watt. High praise for a young man with 5.5 career sacks while at the University of Florida. Bryan may never get to that level, but playing next to someone like Grady Jarrett would sure be a nice start.
27) New Orleans Saints Rashaan Evans LB Alabama
The Saints followed-up three straight seasons with a record of 7-9 with an 11-5 record & division title. The Vikings on a historic catch & run by Stefon Diggs then ousted New Orleans in the divisional round. New Orleans is a team that has drafted well recently & looks to be set-up for another run in 2018. The elephant in the room, though, is what happens with Drew Brees? The all-time great QB has shown minimal signs of regression, but is due for a new contract & will be 39 when the 2018 season begins. In this spot, there is not a QB of the future to draft IMO. Sean Payton elects to keep building the ever-improving defense with another star in the line of Alabama LBs, Rashaan Evans. Evans helped lead the Crimson Tide to yet another National Championship in the 2017-2018 season. The Saints would be delighted to have this sideline-to-sideline playmaker in the middle of their defense.
28) Pittsburgh Steelers Malik Jefferson LB Texas
Pittsburgh has a few questions hanging over the head of the franchise this off-season. Will Big Ben retire? Will they finally lock Le’Veon Bell up to a long-term contract? Who will replace Ryan Shazier in the middle of the defense? For an organization that has been so stable over the years, it feels like there may be some changes coming in the Steel City. The biggest concern regarding this franchise is the health of Ryan Shazier. Replacing him will be a priority for Kevin Colbert & Mike Tomlin. The top three LBs are already off the board in this scenario, but I am still going to go with that position and give the Steelers Malik Jefferson out of the University of Texas. Jefferson has been a bit of an enigma during his career at UT, but has all the ability to become a three down LB in the NFL. Pittsburgh has drafted some potential long-term starters recently in T.J. Watt & Artie Burns. Jefferson could be the young alpha piece to the LB group that they need.
29) Jacksonville Jaguars Orlando Brown OT Oklahoma
“Maybe we’re not the biggest idiot on the football block.” This is a direct quote from Jaguars owner Shad Khan in regards to the organization’s decision to pick-up the fifth year option on Bortles. The team did make it all the way to the AFC Championship game after all. Bortles is the ultimate wildcard for contenders in the AFC. The Jags could easily draft a young QB to develop if “Bad Blake Bortles,” decides to come out again. This is also a team with very few glaring needs & a Super Bowl caliber defense. With a lot of money & resources already tied up in the defense, so in this situation the Jaguars get a potential franchise OT. Orlando Brown is hard to miss, at 6’8” 345lbs. & could potentially be a long-term starter at either OT spot. I believe he is a better fit at RT with his dominance in the run game. Having Leonard Fournette & T.J. Yeldon running behind Brown would be a nightmare for opposing offensive lines.
30) Minnesota Vikings Kolton Miller OT UCLA
The Vikings are coming off a magical season that saw them get all the way to the NFC Championship game. Minnesota has a real decision to make with their QB group. Mike Zimmer has built a defense that is fast, aggressive and relatively young. The team invested Free Agent money & Draft capital on the offensive line, but that is still an area of need. Kolton Miller is insanely athletic for his size (6’8” 310lbs.) & has an edge to his game in both pass protection & the run game. Whoever the QB is in Minnesota going forward, they could have the luxury of Miller being their blind-side protector.
31)* Philadelphia Eagles Tyrell Crosby OT Oregon
Howie Roseman has done a great job rebuilding the Eagles into a perennial powerhouse. Until the knee injury Carson Wentz was the MVP of the league, Jay Ajayi a bargain trade from Miami & Alshon Jeffery has turned into a true top receiver. The offensive line has been incredible, even with the unfortunate injury to Jason Peters. Tyrell Crosby is another offensive lineman in this class that is incredibly athletic for their size. Lane Johnson seems entrenched at the RT spot on the line, & may be the best at the position in the league. Wentz has proven he can be a top-tier QB in the NFL, give him all the protection he can get.
32)* New England Patriots Brian O’Neill OL Pittsburgh
New England has built a true dynasty this millennium. Tom Brady & Bill Belichick could very well go down in history as the best at their crafts. This Sunday could bring the duo their sixth Super Bowl Championship. An area where the team could use some improvement, since it seems Tom Brady is truly going to play forever, is the offensive line. At LT, Nate Solder is set to become a FA this offseason. He could be back in Foxborough on a Patriots friendly deal. The RT spot has been an issue the past two seasons, since Sebastian Vollmer departed. Brian O’Neill could be the eventual answer at LT, but until then would an upgrade at the RT position. Much like the majority of the OTs in the class, O’Neill is huge & athletic.
Houston Texans N/A N/A N/A
Kansas City Chiefs N/A N/A N/A
# — Coin flip will break these ties
* — Playoff results will determine final draft order