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Tuls | Pre-Senior Bowl 2018 NFL Mock Draft

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  • Tuls | Pre-Senior Bowl 2018 NFL Mock Draft

    Tuls | Pre-Senior Bowl 2018 NFL Mock Draft
    By Jonah Tuls
    Published on January 17, 2018

    My first 2018 NFL Mock Draft of the season is here with the Senior Bowl only a couple of days away. Just a reminder: This is not an exercise of where I think the players *should* go, but it is what I think *would* happen if the draft were held today. For instance, I have players like Quenton Meeks, Jordan Whitehead and Jamarco Jones higher on my board than I believe NFL teams do at this point in the process. Read and judge accordingly, and remember: I hate your favorite team. Enjoy.

    1. Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold, QB, USC

    Sam Darnold is my QB1, and I also believe he will be the QB1 on most NFL boards when it is all said and done. With his intangibles, arm talent, athleticism, production on tape, and upside, I think he would be a no-brainer for Cleveland.

    2. New York Giants – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

    The New York Giants are a wildcard team because they very well trade out of this spot to a desperate team looking to move up for a quarterback. This team does not expect to be picking here often, and with Eli Manning’s future uncertain, it would be wise to capitalize and draft his successor in such a premium spot.

    3. Indianapolis Colts – Bradley Chubb, EDGE, NC State

    Indianapolis is another team that could trade down to acquire more picks and replenish a depleted roster, but in this scenario, the most likely option here would be NC State edge defender Bradley Chubb. Some may argue for Barkley here, but I think Chris Ballard makes the gamble that there would be a starting-caliber running back at the top of the second round.

    4. Cleveland Browns (via HOU) – Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

    I can just see Cleveland Browns fans booing this pick because it is not Saquon Barkley. When you look what John Dorsey did by drafting Kareem Hunt in the third round last year for Kansas City, he may try the same route again in a deep class. Minkah Fitzpatrick is an elite talent and immediate impact player at any spot in the secondary. Think of him as a souped-up Tyrann Mathieu.

    5. Denver Broncos – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

    I apologize in advance, Broncos fans. With the connections the team will have by coaching the North team in the Senior Bowl, I think this coaching staff will be blown away by Allen’s flash plays in an All-Star environment. Unless someone jumps ahead of Denver, I think this is one of my surest bets of the first round.

    6. New York Jets – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

    The Jets finally get their quarterback of the future, and I think Baker Mayfield would be a perfect fit for John Morton’s offense. If they can grab a starting-caliber running back on Day 2, this offense suddenly becomes really fun to watch. Mayfield will need to have favorable measurements at the Senior Bowl and Combine to solidify his top 10 status, however.

    7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

    Barkley’s floor is most likely Tampa Bay at 7. In this scenario, the Buccaneers walked through a mine field to get him, but he is exactly what this team needs. Jameis Winston and this offense desperately needs a run game, and I think Barkley is instantly a rookie of the year favorite with his unique skill set and athleticism.

    8. Chicago Bears – Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

    Quenton Nelson is another prospect who could go a lot earlier than this, especially if the Giants truly go best player available with the second overall pick. Given the connections with new Bears OL coach Harry Hiestand, who coached Nelson at Notre Dame throughout his three-year career for the Irish, I think this is another no-brainer.

    9. Oakland Raiders – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

    Anyone who has watched the Oakland Raiders knows how big of a need the linebacker position is on this roster. Jon Gruden is going to fall in love with the play speed that Smith brings to the table, and I think he could be an instant playmaker for that defense. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Orlando Brown or Denzel Ward are in consideration here.

    10. San Francisco ***** – Orlando Brown Jr., OT, Oklahoma

    It looks like John Lynch hit the jackpot by acquiring Jimmy Garoppolo, and I can see him looking to pick somebody here who can help protect his investment. Joe Staley is nearing the end of his career, but until he calls it quits, Brown can play on the right side. This would be an ideal landing spot for Zeus Jr.

    11. Miami Dolphins – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

    The biggest riser of the underclassmen in the 2018 NFL Draft class is undoubtedly the 19-year-old linebacker from Virginia Tech, Tremaine Edmunds. Miami needs an injection of speed and youth into their front seven, and with Edmunds’ versatility and athleticism to rush the passer, cover in the slot, or run sideline to sideline, I believe this team will fall in love with him.

    12. Cincinnati Bengals – Vita Vea, DT, Washington

    With an injury plagued depth chart and new OL coach Frank Pollack in town, I could see Cincinnati targeting someone like Connor Williams here, but I also think this is an ideal landing spot for Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea. He can step right in as the nose and help turn around this run defense, a unit that finished 30th against the run in 2017.

    13. Washington Redskins – Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

    The Redskins are another team in desperate need of run defense, as they finished dead last in 2017 by giving up just over 134 rushing yards per game. This is why I could see them going with another Alabama defensive lineman in the first round with defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne. He has as much upside as any defensive player in this draft, but his inconsistency could scare teams off.

    14. Green Bay Packers – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

    We’ll see if Denzel Ward is able to pass the 5105 height threshold at the Combine in order to be considered in the first round on draft boards for some NFL teams, but his game is very similar to Casey Hayward. Ward can lock down receivers in man coverage on the outside or in the slot, and with his speed and ball skills, he could be in line for big time production at the next level.

    15. Arizona Cardinals – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

    It is a shame that Bruce Arians will not be in Arizona to develop a potential quarterback prospect like Lamar Jackson, but the Cardinals are still in desperate need of a quarterback to step in and give this team hope for the future. I think Jackson’s stock will rise after the Combine, but as of now, this looks like a great match.

    16. Baltimore Ravens – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

    Talk about a match made in heaven. Calvin Ridley, an Alabama receiver, falling into the lap of an Alabama guy in Ozzie Newsome? It would take a package unworldly for Newsome to move off of this pick, and given the need Baltimore has for the position, you can write this in stone if Ridley is available.

    17. Los Angeles Chargers – Derwin James, S, Florida State

    Adding a downhill enforcer like Derwin James to this defense would have Gus Bradley’s fingerprints all over it. The Chargers need talent at the safety position and I can see Bradley clamoring for his Kam Chancellor in the first round. While James is underdeveloped in Zone right now, he is a plug and play box starter and tone setter.

    18. Seattle Seahawks – Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA

    What do the Seahawks love? Long, explosive, and disruptive athletes on the defensive side of the ball. At 6’6, 250, Marcus Davenport is going to blow away the Combine with his numbers, and given his pass rush production at UTSA, I think Seattle is going to absolutely fall in love with Davenport as a potential defensive end/LEO candidate.

    19. Dallas Cowboys – Taven Bryan, DT, Florida

    A lot of the Cowboys targets were wiped off the board in this scenario, but I do believe there is a certain under tackle that will have Rod Marinelli standing on the table in board-setting meetings. That player is Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan. He has flashed more pass rush potential than any defensive tackle prospect I’ve seen since Aaron Donald, but his run awareness and gap integrity is incredibly raw right now. Once he blows up the Combine, he will rise up the board and I believe Marinelli will attempt to sell the front office on how he can develop Bryan into a potential 10-sack player at three technique.

    20. Detroit Lions – Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

    If Guice didn’t have to battle an injury-plagued junior season or a deep running back class this year, he would probably be a top 10 pick. This is great value for the Detroit Lions, a team that finished dead last in rushing offense with a paltry 76 rushing yards per game on 3.4 yards per carry. Guice’s presence will at least give this offense a shot of making noise in the postseason.

    21. Buffalo Bills – Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

    With the Senior Bowl coming up, I feel like Hurst has a big opportunity to separate himself as a top prospect with a good showing in Mobile. His pass rush production and discipline as a run defender shows that he can be an immediate impact player at the next level for Sean McDermott and this defense.

    22. Buffalo Bills (via KC) – Connor Williams, OT, Texas

    This is another BPA pick, but you can never have enough offensive linemen. Connor Williams is a mean, athletic offensive tackle who looked like a top prospect in 2016, but fell off this past season with poor showings and a knee injury. This could be a blessing for Buffalo if they can bottle up what he did his sophomore season for the Longhorns.

    23. Los Angeles Rams – Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

    With stud cornerback Trumaine Johnson about to hit the market, Los Angeles is going to have to fill a major void at the cornerback position on their depth chart soon. Luckily for McVay and company, the 2018 NFL Draft is loaded with cornerbacks at the top. He will fall due to injury concerns, but Jaire Alexander is the top cornerback on my board because of his man coverage skill set and versatility to play inside and out, which is very similar to All-Pro Chris Harris Jr.

    24. Carolina Panthers – Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College

    The Carolina Panthers are another team in need of an injection of youth and speed off of the edge on the defensive line. Julius Peppers is not going to play forever, and I think a player like Harold Landry has double-digit sack potential as a next-level pass rusher. His production dipped, but he was hampered all year with injuries, and I believe he is still the same player who racked up 16.5 sacks his junior season at Boston College. His bend, explosiveness, and hand violence off of the edge will excite teams like Carolina.

    25. Tennessee Titans – Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

    Tennessee went with a cornerback in the first round last year with Adoree’ Jackson, but I still think they need another stud cornerback on the outside. Joshua Jackson fits that mold with his length and exceptional cover skills with his back to the ball. He is a game-changing playmaker who I could see racking up multiple interceptions early on in his career. With a pair of Jackson’s on the outside and Logan Ryan in the nickel, this cornerback group could be elite in a short amount of time.

    26. Atlanta Falcons – James Daniels, OG/C, Iowa

    This pick may be a bit of a surprise to some people, but I have James Daniels graded as a first round center and the best interior offensive lineman not named Quenton Nelson. He does not turn 21 until September, and I think he can play guard or center at the next level given his mobility, power, and reliability in both pass protection and the run game. Daniels puts on a clinic with his reach blocks, and if you put him in a zone blocking scheme, I strongly believe he will have multiple Pro Bowls in his future.

    27. New Orleans Saints – Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

    Adding another weapon to this New Orleans offense? That would be scary, especially if it were a playmaker in the open field like Christian Kirk, who makes the defense believe they’re chasing a ghost when he has the ball in his hands. I could also see New Orleans trading way up for a quarterback, if the right opportunity presents itself.

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

    Ever since Ryan Shazier suffered that tragic spinal injury in Week 13 against Cincinnati, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense fell apart. In fact, it became one of the worst units in football. With Shazier’s uncertain future going forward, a player like Leighton Vander Esch can help shore up the linebacker spot with his uncanny instincts, play speed to go sideline to sideline, and overall cover skills. He is also a much more physical player than people give him credit for, and I personally believe there are not 20 football players in this draft that are better than this guy.

    29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP

    The Jacksonville Jaguars are clearly going to try to build their offense around star running back Leonard Fournette, which means more power and talent on the offensive line. UTEP’s Will Hernandez has King Kong strength with his hands and can absolutely crush opponents in the run game with his overwhelming power and leg drive. He is also incredibly mobile for his size, and I think he can be one of the best run blockers in this league in due time, if he can stay healthy.

    30. Philadelphia Eagles – Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

    I don’t know which team pulls the trigger, but Malik Jefferson will go in the first round. He is going to absolutely blow the roof off of the Combine with his 40 time and vertical/broad jump numbers. His explosion and athleticism at the linebacker position is as rare as it gets, but his football traits and overall recognition skills are incredibly lacking at this stage of his development. The Eagles need a linebacker, and I think this could be a landing spot for the uber-athletic Longhorn.

    31. Minnesota Vikings – Mike Hughes, CB, UCF

    I was pleasantly surprised with Mike Hughes’ tape because he is a 5’11 cornerback who plays like he is 6’3 with his aggressiveness and physicality at the LOS in press man coverage. He also has incredible recovery speed and ball skills as well. Adding another talented secondary player to this loaded defense should give teams nightmares.

    32. New England Patriots – Hercules Mata’afa, EDGE, Washington State

    I mean, this has Bill Belichick written all over it. Drafting a first round talent who falls because some teams don’t know where to play him is Belichick’s MO. Mata’afa can rush the passer with incredible quickness off of the snap, set the edge in the run game, while also having the athleticism to drop back in coverage on occasion. If the rest of the NFL lets New England land Hercules, they deserve what they get when he becomes a core piece of that defense.

  • #2
    I think we're going to see an overwhelming majority of mock drafts selecting a CB for the Rams. It makes sense, of course, particularly if TruJ leaves, but I would not rule out Wade Phillips campaigning for a pass rusher.


    • #3
      It's going to be an interesting call for Snead to make. Without a 2nd round pick, there's a long time to wait after their 1st round pick and a lot of talent that will get picked up by other teams. They're ability to accurately predict who will still be available in the 3rd and 4th rounds will be huge.


      • #4
        I think the 20s is strictly "best player available" territory. If a DB is the best dude there then great but I wouldn't rule out OL or DL.

        Also, I don't think Barkley gets past the Colts


        • #5
          We could also see a trade down into the last 1st round or early 2nd to accumulate another Day 2 pick which is a Snead staple. Correct me if I'm wrong but he's traded down every year since 2012( minus trade up with TA).


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            1. Tennessee Titans

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            Getting the best defensive lineman in any draft really transcends need. Every team wants great D-linemen, and Bosa has the upside of a star. He's a dominant pass-rusher who piled up 51.0 tackles for loss over three seasons despite running into a steady supply of double-teams, and he's also outstanding against the run. You can move him around on the line at will. The son of a former first-round pick, he comes in ready to contribute.

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            3. San Diego Chargers

            *Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss

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            No. 3 – Chicago Bears
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            1. Tennessee Titans: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Mississippi
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            6. Baltimore Ravens: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
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            ROUND ONE
            1. Tennessee Titans: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Mississippi
            -Tunsil did nothing at the Combine to change my perception that he will be the top pick in the draft. His selection will shift Taylor Lewan to the right side, upgrading two spots at once.

            2. Cleveland Browns: Jared Goff, QB, California
            -I still have Jared Goff as the top rated quarterback in the class, which means he should be in contention here for the Browns as they have a desperate need at the position.

            3. San Diego Chargers: Jalen Ramsey, CB/FS, Florida State
            -Ramsey’s Combine performance confirmed that he could be worthy of the first overall pick, so San Diego should be very pleased with their selection if he’s their guy.

            4. Dallas Cowboys: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
            -It’s looking less likely that Dallas will go with a passer – or is that what they want us to think? – so I still have Bosa penciled in here to replace Greg Hardy.

            5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
            -Jack is another top overall contender type of prospect in this class, and gives Jacksonville the kind of versatility that they’d like to add to their defensive front seven.

            6. Baltimore Ravens: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
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            7. San Francisco 49ers: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
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            8. Miami Dolphins: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
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            10. New York Giants: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
            -The Giants need to improve on their 30th ranking in the sacks department, and while they might prefer an edge rusher, Rankins will be a welcome addition to a DT unit that woefully underperformed.

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