MockOut’s Final 2018 NFL Mock Draft of the Preseason
Just like the college prospect tiers and NFL team needs are ever evolving… so too is MockOut. Stay tuned for a big announcement relating to this in the next few weeks, but for now just take this teaser and stash it away: my draft order for the 2018 NFL Draft has changed.
But what does that mean?
Why did my official draft order change? Well, as I stated before, the initial draft order was set according to the wisdom of Las Vegas and the betting public at large. This time? It’s all me. I’ve gone through and predicted who will win every game of the regular season, then looked at the records to determine playoff seeding, and finally ran the matchups all the way through the Super Bowl to come to a final draft order.
Warning: you WILL be triggered by this draft order.
But this is MY mock draft, and so I’m using MY draft order. I look forward to having it shoved in my face by Chiefs, Colts, and Raiders fans at the end of the season.
The prospects have remained mostly the same from my first 2018 NFL Mock Draft, but with some new team needs and in having conversations about prospects I might’ve been a little too low or too high on, I’ve made some changes. But since I’ve already gone over the prospects with you in that last mock draft, I’ll focus more on why I’ve put the team in that draft slot, which I hope is more interesting that just re-hashing what I like about these prospects.
If you don’t have the app yet, you don’t have a smooth and easy way to create and edit a mock draft. You’re gonna need that. So here you go.
What time is it?
It’s mock time.
(2-14) 1. Sam Darnold, QB USC
Jets get the same pick as last time, but without needing to trade up. This was an already-bad team before the offseason, and then they went and cleaned house, getting rid of most of their best football players. Easily the worst team in the league, in dire need of a franchise QB. No mysteries here.
(3-13) 2. Derwin James, S Florida State
Say what you want about Cutler… for this season, Glennon and Trubisky are downgrades. Losing Alshon (free agency)and Meredith (injury) means Chicago has possibly the most one-dimensional offense in the league. The defense isn’t horrible, but is not good enough to cover up for a season of offensive ineptitude. Derwin is the best player available, so they bolster their defense even more.
(5-11) 3. Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB Alabama
I wanted to give Cleveland a better record. I believe they can be better than a 5-win team this year. But running through the games, I think, even though they are much improved, they are going to have a hard time of it this season. But things are looking up, as I think Kizer is going to give them hope for the future, and I am still high on Corey Coleman. That defense is getting better, and quickly, and this will go another step toward turning that unit around, since Fitzpatrick can either play Safety across from Peppers or just replace Haden at CB, depending on where he fits best.
via KC (5-11) 4. Josh Rosen, QB UCLA
I think the Chiefs are going to be one of those teams that everybody gets hyped about based on last year’s success (like the Raiders and Titans) but will end up disappointing everyone. Except Bills fans, that is. They’ll be hyped. I don’t think Hunt will be able to carry the run game, and I think losing Poe will hurt the D more than many are anticipating. The Bills are turning their offense into more of a short area passing attack, and I think Rosen can execute that style of offense as well as any QB not named Darnold.
(6-10) 5. Christian Wilkins, DT Clemson
The Colts are a decent team with Andrew Luck, and possibly the worst team in the league without him. I don’t know how long he will be gone, and how long it will take him to get comfortable from his long absence once he returns. Not to worry! In the long run, this will be great for Colts fans, as they are able to draft the man who is, as of this writing, my favorite prospect for the 2018 NFL Draft. Wilkins is a flash in the middle of the line, and can have an Aaron Donald-type impact on the defense.
(6-10) 6. Harold Landry, OLB Boston College
While the Saints defense is slowly heading in the right direction, their offense is slowly going the wrong way, losing Cooks and now Snead for a few games. But they will always put up points, so I’m not too worried about that. This low ranking is still about the D, which is another two years away from being good, and has to face three very strong division rivals twice a year. Adding Landry, who is my favorite edge rusher from this year’s draft class, will be a huge boost.
(6-10) 7. Lamar Jackson, QB Louisville
With their current QB situation, I can still see the Jaguars drafting earlier than this next season. But let’s assume Fournette is as good as advertised, and that the defensive additions pay off as expected. They will still be one of the worst teams in the league, and I think the idea of pairing Jackson (who I still believe can be an NFL-caliber passer) with Fournette will be too good for the Jaguars to pass up. This running game will really be something…
(6-10) 8. Saquon Barkley, RB Penn State
Man, does this combo feel good. But will the Ravens have a bad enough season to find themselves in position to draft him? According to me… yes! I love what Woodhead can bring to this offense, but I don’t trust him to hold up for most of the year. I’m intrigued by what Maclin brings. But both guys are new to this team, and the offense just has the feeling of a lost cause. I think a good defense can only take you so far (and I wouldn’t call the Ravens D any better than “good”) so I think they take a step backward in a tough division, and draft in the top-10 this season.
(6-10) 9. Connor Williams, OT Texas
I was just as surprised as any of you to find the Rams fairing this well in my projections. But if Donald reports, and dominates as usual (a big “if”) then I believe that defense can be quite good, and I think the offense could take a mini-step forward. It would be very difficult for Goff to be worse than he was last year, especially with Watkins in the fold and a slightly better O-line. Not a great season, but baby steps forward. And with a top-10 pick at QB (Goff) RB (Gurley) and WR (Watkins) at the skill positions, it’s time to exorcise the Greg Robinson demons and draft an OT to protect these investments.
(6-10) 10. Bradley Chubb, DE NC State
I originally wanted to have Detroit finish better than this, but after seeing their defense completely fail to show up in the preseason, I worry about their ability to keep up on offense. And their schedule, particularly early in the season, is just brutal. Purging some underachieving linemen and losing a great FA addition to injury, I worry about production up front, and that trickles down to the rest of the offense. Could be a rough year for the $90 million man. At least they get a stud DE for their lost season.
(7-9) 11. Josh Allen, QB Wyoming
I actually think Miami might be a better team with Cutler at QB than with Tannehill, as I think his propensity to push the ball downfield works better for Parker, and for opening things up at the LOS for Ajayi. The defense isn’t horrible, though it isn’t great. I think Allen will start drawing Cutler comps pretty soon, and if Cutler does even a decent job in Miami this year, you have to think Miami might want to keep the same offensive system in place for the erratic but talented Allen.
(7-9) 12. Tarvarus McFadden, CB Florida State
I’ve actually been really surprised with what SF has shown in the preseason. All those first round picks on the D-line actually seem to be coming together so far. Foster, my 2017 draft crush, is looking every bit the animal I thought he was. Carlos Hyde is looking like he can excel in any system. Even Hoyer’s shown something. I think Shanahan has a very specific QB-type he would look for, and I don’t think this is the point in the draft where he wants to grab it. Instead he takes a shutdown CB to help shore up the back end of his D.
(7-9) 13. Arden Key, DE LSU
Bring on the boos! I know, I know. Oakland is supposed to be awesome. Well I’m not convinced. You will not find a bigger Lynch fan on earth than me, but even I don’t know what to expect from a 31 year old bruiser who hasn’t played a game in a year and a half. I think Carr is ridiculously overrated, and that defense looks to be a sieve. Like the Chiefs, I think the Raiders take a big step back this year. Arden Key is not my favorite prospect in the world, but everyone else seems to believe he is an elite edge rusher. I see him more as a Leonard Floyd-type really good pass rusher, rather than elite.
(7-9) 14. Derrius Guice, RB LSU
Philadelphia picked up Blount because they want a power back to complement their strong O-line, passing game, and pass catching backs. Unfortunately, Blount looks sluggish and a poor fit. Guice is anything but sluggish. I think their improved defense will keep them in a lot of games this year, but that Wentz and the running game are going to keep the Eagles in Mediocreville. I think another subpar year in a tough division will make fans uneasy, but adding Guice will allow the fans to actually cheer their pick in 2018.
(8-8) 15. James Washington, WR Oklahoma State
The Bills have done their own purge this season, but for some reason, I feel better about their chances than I do for the Jets. I think they got better value for the players they let go, and will still run behind a mean O-line and a talented duo of RBs (I’ve loved Jonathan Williams since he came out.) The other shocker here might be my placing Washington as the first WR off the board. Well, I’m not nearly as high on Sutton as many are (I think he’s pretty good, but not great) and I think Washington and his speed and route running will push him ahead of Christian Kirk. Washington brings the vertical element Buffalo lost when it traded Watkins away.
(8-8) 16. Mitch Hyatt, OT Clemson
The Chargers had the potential to be a really strong team this year, but my excitement for them has tapered off with the huge loss of Lamp, and the delayed arrival of Mike Williams as well. I still think even without those two guys, they are a great bet to improve on last year’s record with Keenan Allen returning and supposedly looking spry, but projecting them for more than 8 wins is not the slam dunk I used to think it was. They worked on their interior O-line in last year’s draft, and tackle the Tackle position in 2018.
(8-8) 17. Courtland Sutton, WR SMU
Just because I’m not in love with Sutton, that doesn’t mean I don’t think another team will fall for him. I actually think a really good Sutton comp is Michael Floyd, and so this pick makes a lot of sense to me. Palmer’s replacement will need to be found as well, but whoever plays QB in 2018 will need a bigger WR to go with the speedsters left on the roster once Fitzgerald hangs them up. Arizona should be better than last season, but not by much. I think losing Campbell will have a big impact on this defense, and no moves on either side of the ball have given me reason to think they’ll have any better than a middling season this year.
(8-8) 18. Cameron Smith, ILB USC
I have no idea what the Redskins are going to look like in 2018. Due to their unpredictable front office, I don’t think anyone can predict who will be playing QB beyond this year. Will they keep monsters Jordan Reed and Terrelle Pryor around? What about that RB situation? And the D? I think this year will be a lot like last year—poor defense, lots of passing yards, no real running game. Enough to get them to 8-8, and to take a field general on defense. But any more would be wishful thinking.
(8-8) 19. Malik Jefferson, OLB Texas
I had a bit of sense talked into me regarding Jefferson. I love the guy. But I also loved Jarrad Davis, Reuben Foster, and Zach Cunningham. I have to understand how teams think, and those players fell because the LB position has been devalued if rushing the passer isn’t your #1 trait. So, for that reason, I’ve got Jefferson falling here, to a team with a huge need at LB. The Giants are an improved team in some areas, but I don’t have enough faith in Eli or the ground game to have them take the division or make the playoffs.
(9-7) 20. Sam Hubbard, DE Ohio State
The best team I had to leave out of my playoff predictions, I’ve got Tampa Bay taking a 4-3 DE who will fit perfectly in their system. Why will they miss the playoffs? For starters, the NFC South is really good this year. I think their additions through free agency and the draft will help a lot, especially in run blocking and run D. I just don’t get the sense that Winston is a playoff caliber QB just yet, and with so many questions at the RB position, I’ve got them sitting at home during the big dance.
(9-7) 21. Mike McGlinchey, OT Notre Dame
Cincy is a tough one! Way back when I was on the CouchFans podcast, I predicted the Bengals would suck this year. I’ve since changed my tune. Joe MIxon is looking just as real-deal as I thought he would. Dalton-Green looks great, Eiffert is healthy. Yes, I am worried about the losses on the O-line, but Bengals fans aren’t. That means something to me. I also love their rookie pass rushers, Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson, both of whom I mocked as mid-first rounders in my Official 2017 NFL Mock Draft. If this team has their O-line figured out, this could be a seriously dangerous team, and that’s before considering the impact a healthy John Ross might someday have on the offense.
(9-7) 22. Andrew Brown, DE UVA
Andrew Brown is new to my mock draft, so I wanted to spend a little time on him. He seems to be the best bet as the top 3-4 DE of this class. Think Datone Jones, or Malik McDowell without the face injury. Green Bay can really use an inside-outside pass rusher to help cover up their still-weak pass defense. While I obviously think Rodgers will win a ton of games by himself, I think this defense might be really bad, and I’m worried about how much help the running game can bring. They make the playoffs for sure, but I don’t think they make it too far with such a one-dimensional team.
via HOU (9-7) 23. Azeem Victor, ILB Washington
Houston made it to the Divisional round last season, with Brock at QB. Let that sink in. Now remember Watt wasn’t on the field. This Texans team is going to make the playoffs. But I think they will again be held back by subpar QB play and a running game that cannot live up to its promise. I’ve also switched my Browns pick, after my favorite commenter, Sandra, set me straight on the current state of the Browns DTs. Thanks, Sandra! I’ll stick with the same team though, and if Victor can return from his leg injury (and stop getting suspended by his own coaches) he should be in play as a mid-late first rounder.
(11-5) 24. Jaire Alexander, CB Louisville
Lots of folks are jumping off the Cowboys bandwagon, as the Elliott situation grows murkier and murkier. I still think they are a strong team, and I think this will actually make them harder to defend in the long run. I think Dak is legit. He’ll show it during Zeke’s absence. And when Zeke returns, opposing defenses will have no idea how to stop this team. I’d love to mock a field-stretching WR like Washington here, but since he’s gone, I’d like to have them shore up their biggest weakness, the defensive backfield.
(9-7) 25. Vita Vea, DT Washington
Aside from looking like a 340-pound Polamalu, Vita Vea is also a powerful force at his position, just like the former Steeler great. The Steelers look to have an elite offense for as long as Roethlisberger decides to play, and their defense should be good again this season. One thing they always like to have is a big wide body taking up space in the middle, and with Vea still on the board, they look to go all-in for 2018. I won’t rule out a QB of the future here, depending on Ben’s status.
(11-5) 26. Derrick Nnadi, DT Florida State
I’ll give Denver the DT here again, though with news that they will cut Ward, I could easily see them going safety as well. As for their record… I said earlier that a good defense isn’t enough to carry a bad offense. Well, Denver’s defense isn’t just good… it’s elite. And their offense shouldn’t be bad so much as average. I’m high on their pass catchers, and think their RBs can give them enough so that they aren’t anemic. Siemian wasn’t horrific in his first season as a starter, and he dispatched with Paxton Lynch in the preseason with ease. Denver will remain a tough out for a while.
(11-5) 27. Quenton Nelson, G Notre Dame
The Panthers are due to return to the playoffs with how much potential this offense has. The defense is still good, but that offense has gone through a total face lift, and if properly deployed, I don’t know how opposing teams can stop it. It all comes down to McCaffrey. At first I didn’t like him. Then I warmed to him. By draft day, I really liked him a lot. And now, after seeing what he’s shown in the preseason, I am firmly in the camp that believes his skills will translate immediately to NFL success. Pairing him with a QB like Cam is just nasty. Letting big men Benjamin, Funchess, and Olsen roam the open field, while shifty Samuel and McCaffrey torment LBs in the middle, and adding the threat of a QB run to all that? It’s going to produce a lot of points.
(11-5) 28. Dorance Armstrong Jr., OLB Kansas
Possibly more surprising than predicting the Packers to finish at 9-7 is seeing the Vikings finish two wins ahead of them at 11-5. I really like this team, and their chances for success this year. That defense is always tough, and uniquely qualified to beat a Rodgers-led offense. I think Bradford will be allowed to go down the field a bit more this year as things open up deep for him, thanks to the threat Dalvin Cook brings to the LOS. The offense has got more balance. The O-line still worries me a bit, but Dalvin has great vision and can make guys miss, so he should be okay. As long as Bradford remains upright, this team will win.
(11-5) 29. Da’Ron Payne, DT Alabama
I admit it! I am firmly on board the Titans hype train! This team is looking really good, and it all starts with the growth Mariota showed from his rookie year to year two. Assuming he doesn’t regress (which he shouldn’t with a strong O-line and fierce running game) he’s got new weapons in the passing game to put up a ton of points this year. The defense was pretty good last year, with holes in the defensive backfield, but I expect the defense to be a little better this season. I think the Titans will be this year’s version of the 2016 Raiders.
(12-4) 30. Christian Kirk, WR Texas A&M
I think everyone’s concerns about Atlanta facing an offensive regression are way overblown. Will they take a step back in their efficiency? Probably. But it will be small. Everyone points to how efficient they were last season and says that pace cannot be maintained. Well, the reason they were so good is because the players they have are very good! Ryan’s a good QB! Julio is an all-world WR! Their RBs form the best tandem in the league! And their defense only improved in the offseason, adding Poe to the middle and Takk to the edge. This is going to be a very good team again, and if they end up adding Kirk to this offense… help us all.
via NE (13-3) 31. Mason Rudolph, QB Oklahoma State
I originally had this mock draft with the Pats winning the Super Bowl. But then I got to thinking… Do I think the Seahawks are a better team than the Patriots? Yes. But do I recognize that I am biased, and take that into consideration when making my mock drafts? I must. I think the two teams are neck and neck. The advantage Brady-Belichick has over Wilson-Carroll is legitimate, but is it enough to mitigate the advantage the Seattle defense has over the Pats defense? I say no. And I know I’m going to be called out for being a homer, but I’m not going to follow the wisdom of the crowd when I honestly believe the Hawks are the better bet to win the Super Bowl. So the Pats sit here at 31, just long enough to trade the pick to a QB-needy team who wants to take a chance on one of the non-elite options. Arizona needs a big-armed replacement for Palmer, and Rudolph will be used to throwing deep to speedsters thanks to his connection with James Washington. It’s a good scheme fit, and the value is right.
via SEA (12-4) 32. Luke Falk, QB Washington State
Here we are again, predicting the Seahawks to be Super Bowl champions. Two things here. First, Seattle. They just added one of the best interior D-linemen in the league to the best front-7 in the league, and it cost them a second round pick to do so. This defense is going to continue to be historic. On offense, the running game is showing signs of life, and Wilson’s never looked sharper. Nobody should be surprised to see them in the Super Bowl again, this time finishing the job. But why would they trade out of the first round? That’s what they do. If they can get the 49ers second rounder to replace the one they traded to the Jets, and a future 1st, they will jump at the opportunity. Secondly, San Francisco. Why would they? Because I think Falk is not just a potentially really good QB… I think he is a “Shanahan QB” and will fit in well with his system. For them to leave the first round with a shutdown CB and a potential franchise QB will make them more than willing to trade a 2019 first round pick.
You can track changes to my mock draft, as well as other mock drafts from around the web, at WalterFootball’s NFL Mock Draft Database.
photo: Matt Barnard, Tulsa World