The first big wave of free agency is over. And while there are certainly still many signings to be made, rosters are starting to take shape and draft needs are becoming clear. Now we can see where strengths and weaknesses are and what positions teams will be targeting in the draft. Here’s how I see the first round going based on the current rosters in my post free agency 2018 NFL mock draft.
Post Free Agency 2018 NFL Mock Draft
1. Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold QB USC
The Browns desperately need a franchise quarterback and they seem sold on Darnold. He should have an opportunity to be brought along slowly, with Tyrod Taylor as a solid starter for now, and be able to take over when he’s truly ready to lead this offense.
2. New York Giants – Saquon Barkley RB Penn State
Barkley is a special athlete who can change the game with his speed and quickness. With Eli Manning still running the offense and the Giants not looking like they’re ready to start the rebuild quiet yet, Barkley seems like the most logical option.
3. New York Jets – Josh Allen QB Wyoming
The Jets are another team that hasn’t had a franchise quarterback since I can remember. They made the move to trade up to the third overall pick, so they seem motivated to get their guy. This would be a good landing spot for Allen who has massive upside, but isn’t a finished product yet. He can sit behind McCown and Bridgewater next year (when they aren’t expected to win anything anyway) and take over in in 2019.
4. Buffalo Bills (via Cleveland) – Josh Rosen QB UCLA
This is a trade I project and it works out extremely well for the Bills in this case. Rosen is the best and most pro ready quarterback in this class and he falls right into Buffalo’s lap here. He should be the day one starter.
5. Denver Broncos – Baker Mayfield QB Oklahoma
Denver has not been able to get the quarterback position right since signing Peyton Manning. Mayfield could change all that and get this talented roster back into the playoff mix. His excellent accuracy should translate right away and make the most of his veteran playmakers.
6. Indianapolis Colts – Bradley Chubb DE North Carolina State
The Colts had the second worst pass rush in the NFL last year and they haven’t done much to improve it in the offseason. Chubb is the best defensive end in this class and can excel vs the run and rush the passer. A well rounded cornerstone to build on moving forward.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Quentin Nelson G Notre Dame
Nelson is my top rated player in this class and is an excellent value pick here. The Bucs have been completely reliant on Jameis Winston over the last few years and have neglected the offensive line and running game. This pick improves both immediately.
8. Chicago Bears – Trumaine Edmunds LB Virginia Tech
Edmunds is a very good physical specimen who the Bears can build their defense around. He can step right in as the starting inside linebacker and keep that defense respectable as some of the older players start to get phased out.
9. San Francisco 49ers – Derrius Guice RB LSU
The 49ers got their quarterback last year and now they get the running back to compliment him. Guice is a physical runner who can do it all. This is the kind of pick that takes the 9ers offense from up and coming to respectable.
10. Oakland Raiders – Minkah Fitzpatrick DB Alabama
Oakland needs to keep building their defense and Fitzpatrick can help in a lot of ways. His athleticism, physicality, leadership and coverage ability make him a very intriguing option. History shows that head coach John Gruden knows how to utilize a talent like this, much like he did in Tampa with future Hall of Famer Ronde Barber.
11. Miami Dolphins – Vita Vea DT Washington
The Dolphins are in rebuild mode. After cutting Ndamukong Suh Miami needs a new star to build around on defense. Vea is a powerhouse defensive tackle with a rare ability to move fluidly at his size. He will be a strong foundation going forward.
12. Cleveland Browns (via Buffalo) – Roquan Smith LB Georgia
Somehow one of the top five players has fallen right into the Browns lap. Smith is a great linebacker who has the range and tackling ability to really improve the front seven and help Cleveland get moving in the right direction.
13. Washington Redskins – Harold Landry OLB Boston College
You can never have too many pass rushers and Landry is probably the best in this class. With Washington losing Kirk Cousins it’s likely they’ll have to rely on their defense to win games. This pick takes them from a good pass rush to a very dangerous defense.
14. Green Bay – Denzel Ward CB Ohio State
The Packers have been trying to improve their defense for years and they have to get it right now before Aaron Rodgers retires. Ward is ready to step in and start from day one and can be the number one guy in Green Bay next season.
15. Arizona Cardinals – Lamar Jackson QB Louisville
The Cardinals have no promising options at quarterback and that isn’t a recipe for success. Jackson is a dual threat who can hurt opponents from the pocket and with his legs. He has a few bridge guys in front of him if the Cards want to bring him along slowly, but I could see him starting week one.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Calvin Ridley WR Alabama
The Ravens offense has been struggling for years. Adding the best receiver in this draft would be a good way to start getting them going in the right direction. He can be the number one option in Baltimore for years to come.
17. Los Angeles Chargers – Derwin James S Florida State
The Chargers have a hole at safety and James looks like a dynamic candidate to fill that void. He is a great athlete who can help cover the back end of the defense and he’s a good tackler who can make an impact in the box vs the run. Great fit for him here.
18. Seattle Seahawks – Isaiah Oliver CB Colorado
Seattle likes their tall cornerbacks and with Richard Sherman now out of town they’ll need a guy to step in and help rebuild that secondary. Oliver has great length and the ball skills that can make him a lock down corner with the Seahawks.
19. Dallas Cowboys – Isaiah Wynn G Georgia
The Cowboys are competitive because of their fantastic offensive line. Wynn projects as a guard at the next level and can help keep that Dallas line as one of the best in the league for the next decade.
20. Detroit Lions – Taven Bryan DT Florida
The Lions need help on the defensive line. Bryan is an explosive and athletic defensive tackle who can bring a serious pass rush. He also looks like a guy who can play defensive end in a 3-4 system which the Lions are expected to do more of under new head coach Matt Patricia.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Connor Williams OT Texas
This would be a home run scenario for the Bengals. They trade to acquire a new left tackle and they’re still able to draft the best offensive tackle in this class. It is projected that Williams could play some guard in the NFL, so Cincinnati will have options on what to do with this big talent.
22. Cleveland Browns (via Buffalo) – Mike McGlinchey OT Notre Dame
With Joe Thomas retiring the Browns now have a hole at left tackle. While McGlinchey doesn’t have the ideal pass protection for a typical left tackle, he can still come in and play well overall in that spot.
23. Los Angeles Rams – Rashaan Evans LB Alabama
The Rams showed they have a scary offense last year and this year the defense could be just as good. Having already invested a lot in the secondary this offseason, Evans brings help as a run defender and pass rusher from the linebacker position. He also fits the 3-4 system well if defensive coordinator Wade Phillips wants to move more toward that scheme.
24. Carolina Panthers – Courtland Sutton WR SMU
The Panthers have several important needs on offense, but more than anything they just need playmakers. Sutton has the size and athleticism to cause matchup problems, especially if paired with Devin Funchess who is also tall and athletic.
25. Tennessee Titans – Leighton Vander Esch LB Boise State
Tennessee has done a lot in recent years to build their secondary and now they have to turn their attention to the front seven. With no pass rushers worthy of this pick, Vander Esch can come in and be an every down linebacker on the inside of the Titans defense.
26. Atalanta Falcons – Da’Ron Payne DT Alabama
Payne has excellent tools to be a very good run stuffer and pass rusher. Although he didn’t put up particularly impressive stats in college, i’d expect him to have a much more impactful pro career playing as a true 3 technique in the Falcons defense.
27. New Orleans Saints – Jarie Alexander CB Louisville
Last year the Saints drafted star rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore. If New Orleans is able to add Alexander on the other side then this defense becomes scary good. This has the potential to be the best cornerback duo in the NFL.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Justin Reid S Stanford
Reid is a great athlete who is extremely intelligent by all accounts. He can play in the box of help on the back end in coverage. The Steelers are getting a steal with this pick….pun intended.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Billy Price G/C Ohio State
After suffering a torn peck at the combine it was feared that Price might see his stock drop in the draft. However, he is too talented to slide any further than this. A versatile guy who can play center or guard can be a big addition to this smash mouth Jaguars team.
30. Minnesota Vikings – Will Hernandez G UTEP
Hernandez is the powerhouse that can generate real movement at the point of attack. He moves well enough to make the necessary blocks in space and would be an outstanding addition to an up and coming offensive line.
31. New England Patriots – Mike Hughes CB Central Florida
With Malcolm Butler taking his talents to Nashville, the Patriots have a big need for a corner. Hughes is a fast and physical athlete who can help a secondary that was shredded in the super bowl.
32. Philadelphia Eagles – Kolton Miller OT UCLA
Miller put on a very impressive show at the combine and will be moving up draft boards. His size and athleticism make him the type of prospect who projects to be a franchise left tackle and with improved coaching and technique he has the potential to be one of the better blockers in the game.