Kevin Hanson's 2018 NFL Mock Draft- Updated: Tuesday, April 24th
|The Huddle Report tracks NFL Mock Draft Accuracy and EDSFootball's Kevin Hanson ranks 5th over the past five years. In addition, his 2015 NFL mock was the most accurate among the 113 tracked that year.|
Given the seemingly endless amount of possibilities including draft-day trades, projecting an NFL draft is virtually impossible even minutes before it begins, let alone a couple of days ahead of time.
[Note: There will be at least one more update (late-Wednesday night) of this mock draft before the real thing.]
With that said, here is a look at how the 2018 NFL Draft could play out:
1. Cleveland Browns (Draft History): Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Another prospect tops our 2018 NFL Draft Big Board (and most big boards), but this pick will almost certainly be a quarterback. While the Browns have two top-four selections, the only way they have their choice of quarterback is by using this pick to draft one.
With the Jets trading up to No. 3, at least one other QB will be selected before the Browns pick again at No. 4. Perhaps the Giants won't draft Eli Manning's eventual replacement at No. 2, but it wouldn't be shocking to see Buffalo (or Arizona or someone else) trade up in front of the Jets.
As we all know, no position is more important in professional team sports than quarterback and Cleveland needs to get this pick right after passing on opportunities to draft Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson in back-to-back drafts. By trading for Tyrod Taylor, who will be the team's 29th starting quarterback since 1999 (when pro football returned to Cleveland), the Browns are afforded the opportunity to sit whichever signal-caller they draft here and allow him to learn and develop before being thrown into the mix.
So, will the pick be Sam Darnold, who has a higher floor, or Josh Allen, who has a higher ceiling?
Not only has John Dorsey's "friend" suggested the Browns will take Allen, but you could also argue that Allen more closely fits the style of a Dorsey pick. As NFL Network's Bucky Brooks notes (via Cleveland.com): "Dorsey ... has a long track record of going for projection and potential over production.''
As much as Allen fits the profile of what Dorsey may want, it's difficult to envision them pass on a safer prospect with plenty of his own upside given the team's track record at the position. Only 20 years old, the USC signal-caller possesses the prototypical size and arm strength to make all of the throws with plus mobility to extend plays.
For me, a tie-breaker is Vegas. Since my last mock draft update, the odds on Darnold-vs.-Allen (-200 to -220 for Darnold and +150 to +140 for Allen) as the top-overall pick has widened in favor of Darnold (via sportsbook.ag).
2. New York Giants (Draft History): Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
This is where the draft gets interesting (although the Josh Allen-vs.-Sam Darnold debate has added intrigue to the first overall pick as well).
Gettleman does not have a history of trading out of picks, but it would certainly make sense for him to do so (if he's not comfortable taking a quarterback here). In a previous version of my mock, I had Gettleman going with Darnold, the one quarterback the Giants GM seems willing to consider here. Gettleman has talked about drafting a future Hall-of-Famer this high and although it's obviously way-too-early to make those declarations about any prospect, that would seem to imply that he could go with Saquon Barkley or Bradley Chubb here.
An athletic freak at 230 pounds, Barkley put on a display at the NFL Scouting Combine last month -- 4.40 forty, 29 bench press reps, 41-inch vertical, etc. -- and racked up 3,801 yards from scrimmage and 43 touchdowns over his past two seasons at Penn State. If the Giants organization believes that Eli Manning has a few more years left, Barkley would give a turbo-charged boost to the running game they lacked last season.
"He’s one of those guys that my mother could have scouted," Gettleman said (via the NY Post). "When you’re picking this high, if you make a mistake, if you miss on a quarterback, it’s a five-year mistake."
MORE: Giants get Eli's heir apparent in our way-too-early 2019 NFL Mock Draft
3. (via IND) New York Jets (Draft History): Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Using Day 2/3 picks on quarterbacks -- Bryce Petty (2015) and Christian Hackenberg (2016) -- in recent drafts hasn't put the Jets any closer to finding their franchise quarterback. By giving up three second-rounders including both this year, the Jets will undoubtedly draft a quarterback here.
There have been increasing links between the Jets and Baker Mayfield with DraftAnalyst.com's Tony Pauline saying one of his sources calls Mayfield to the Jets a "done deal." Extremely confident and playing with a massive chip on his shoulder, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner has the two highest grades given by PFF College.
MORE: 2018 New York Jets Mock Draft Database
4. (via HOU) Cleveland Browns (Draft History): Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
In previous mock updates, I had the Browns getting their choice of non-QBs and going with Penn State running back Saquon Barkley here. Even though they used the top overall pick on Myles Garrett last year, you could argue that Chubb would be even a wiser pick (based on positional value). Plus, there are a lot of talented running backs that should be available at picks 33 and 35 as well (or later in the draft) and the draft isn't as deep when it comes to edge rushers.
As MMQB's Albert Breer recently wrote, "We know Ron Wolf’s DNA lives in Cleveland, with protégé John Dorsey in charge and son Eliot Wolf second-in-command. ... Only two backs taken in the Top 100 picks over those 10 seasons [when Wolf was GM in Green Bay], and one was fullback William Henderson. And remember, Dorsey got last year’s rushing champ in the third round for the Chiefs. This person reminded me Dorsey’s a stickler for Wolf principles, and one was that you never take a running back in the Top 10."
With a non-stop motor as well as elite measurables, Chubb had double-digit sacks and 20-plus tackles for loss in back-to-back seasons. A trio of young pass-rushers of Garrett, Chubb and Emmanuel Ogbah would give Gregg Williams and the Browns a potentially lethal pass rush for years to come.
- Continue to 2018 NFL Mock Draft: Picks 5-10
- For more mocks, check out our NFL Mock Draft Database.
- Also, check out our way-too-early 2019 NFL Mock Draft or our 2018 NBA Mock Draft
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