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    Mel Kiper's 2018 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

    Mel Kiper's 2018 NFL Mock Draft 1.0
    Melanie Kiper Jr

    The evaluations for the 2018 NFL draft have been particularly tough this year. When Todd McShay and I took an early look at the class, we focused on the quarterbacks, and bowl season didn't bring much clarity to the order of those prospects. It's also different from 2017, when Myles Garrett was the surefire No. 1 prospect.

    Now that the deadline for underclassmen to put their name in for the draft has passed, though, it's time for my first projection of all 32 first-round picks. The order for the first 28 picks is set -- with two teams having two first-round picks because of trades last year -- and we've projected picks 29-32 based on who Vegas has picked as the favorites.

    A few reminders before I get started:

    Teams are still early in their evaluations. No team has a draft board yet, and we still have to get through postseason all-star games, combine testing, medicals, pro days and individual workouts.

    There's a long time until the draft, and we have to get through free agency before we truly know each team's needs. That's why several of these picks are based on who I think is the best player available. In some cases, I have identified a few needs that could be targeted.

    An asterisk denotes a prospect who is an underclassmen, and I have 24 of them here, which means there are only eight seniors. The position split for the first round here is 15 on offense and 17 on defense.

    Check out our SportsCenter Special breaking down the Mock on ESPN2 and WatchESPN at 7 ET on Thursday night, and my new Big Board and position rankings are here. Here we go:

    1. Cleveland Browns

    *Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

    Cleveland has to take a quarterback. Has to. And a winless season means the Browns can pick whichever one they want. My evaluations on this quarterback class are really close. I've gone back and forth a few times on Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold and Allen, but I just moved Allen up to my No. 1 quarterback. His numbers aren't impressive, I know. But the NFL is all about projection, and he has a high ceiling. Coaches want to work with the 6-foot-5 Allen because he has all of the tools. I said last month that he is one of my favorite prospects in this class. The other top quarterbacks have warts, and there is no slam-dunk No. 1 prospect, which makes it a fun class. Scouts are looking forward to seeing Allen at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, next week, where he will work out with much better talent.

    2. New York Giants

    *Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

    Rosen is the top pure passer in this class. He looked better than Darnold when UCLA and USC played late in the season. Rosen, however, has dealt with injuries the past two seasons, and there already have been rumblings that he doesn't want to end up in Cleveland. There are some red flags. But some team is going to draft him high -- he has rare arm talent and has been much more secure with the ball than Darnold and Allen. The Giants could move into life after Eli Manning with a new franchise quarterback.

    3. Indianapolis Colts

    Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

    Indianapolis is in a good spot to take the best non-quarterback available, and the No. 1 pass-rusher in this class is Chubb. He has a tremendous motor and has been unblockable for two straight years. He has 46.5 tackles for loss since the beginning of the 2016 season. Chubb was the tone-setter for the Wolfpack, and coaches raved about him as a leader. The Colts ranked 31st in the league in sacks (25) this season, and Chubb is a great fit.

    4. Cleveland Browns (from Houston Texans)

    *Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

    This is the pick acquired in the Texans' trade up for Deshaun Watson last year. Cleveland has a new front office, and Barkley could be the best overall player in this class -- he's No. 1 on my Big Board. But how much do teams value running backs? We've seen in recent years that they can hit on backs in the top 10 (Leonard Fournette, Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley), but the Browns also have recent history missing on one (Trent Richardson, though they later got a first-round pick in return for him). And there is always value in the middle rounds -- just look at Kareem Hunt and Alvin Kamara in 2017. Barkley is a big-time running back, and I think he'll be a top-10 pick. He is built for today's NFL as a do-it-all runner and pass-catcher out of the backfield.

    5. Denver Broncos

    *Sam Darnold, QB, USC

    Denver sits in a pivotal spot in the draft. Will it take the third quarterback? Could it move down? There will be a ripple effect in the top 10. Either way, it looks like the Broncos are ready to move on from 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch. Darnold had an up-and-down season and struggled with turnovers -- his 22 were tied for most in the FBS. Can he figure out the ball security? If he can get rid of the bad habits, he could be a special player. Darnold is an accurate, natural passer with high upside who still needs to tweak his mechanics. I believe in his talent long term, and I think John Elway would love to have him in Denver.

    6. New York Jets

    *Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama

    Fitzpatrick is the top cornerback and safety in this draft. He could play either position. He was primarily a safety at Alabama, but he covered receivers in the slot and on the outside, and he consistently made plays. New York took safeties with its top two picks last year (Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye), so Fitzpatrick would be a corner for the Jets, who have an opening with Morris Claiborne a free agent this offseason. This is another spot to watch for one of the top quarterbacks.

    7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    *Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

    The Bucs couldn't run the ball in 2017, averaging only 3.7 yards per carry and 90.6 yards per game. Was it the running backs, the offensive line or both? Nelson is a plug-and-play starter who would be an upgrade for almost every team. He's a dominant run-blocker at 6-foot-5, 330, who causes destruction at the point of attack. If Barkley falls a little bit, could the Bucs snag him at No. 7?

    8. Chicago Bears

    *Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

    Chicago has to add weapons for Mitchell Trubisky, and Ridley is the best receiver in this class by a mile. If the Bears can get a pass-catcher here -- and don't upgrade in free agency -- Ridley makes the most sense. If he had played in a better passing offense, he could have been a Biletnikoff winner. He's extremely talented.

    9. San Francisco 49ers

    *Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

    The 49ers have a really solid young core on defense, but most of their top picks were spent on the front seven. They really need a top-tier cornerback. Ward is the top corner in this class -- if you consider Fitzpatrick to be a safety -- though I don't have as high a grade on him as I did for his former teammate Marshon Lattimore, who went No. 11 last year and had a great rookie season in New Orleans. Ward flashed in 2016 and had a tremendous junior season.

    10. Oakland Raiders

    *Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia

    Smith is the type of player new coach Jon Gruden loves. He's physical. He can get sideline to sideline in a hurry. He's a force in the middle. Smith was one of the best players on the field in the College Football Playoff National Championship, and he could slot into the middle of the Raiders' defense in place of NaVorro Bowman, who's a free agent. Oakland also could target a pass-rusher to help Khalil Mack & Co.

    11. Miami Dolphins

    Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

    The Dolphins are a tough team to pick for because the roster has so many questions. What's going to happen with free agent Jarvis Landry? Are they set long term at quarterback? Is there a No. 1 back on the team? And that's just offense. For now I'll go with McGlinchey, who is my top-ranked tackle in a solid class. There are five tackles who could go in the first round. He has played on the left and right sides and could be the immediate starter at right tackle for the Dolphins, who have Laremy Tunsil slotted in on the blind side.

    12. Cincinnati Bengals

    *Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

    Edmunds is another one of my favorite prospects. At 6-5, he doesn't have the typical frame of a middle linebacker, but he truly could play inside or outside -- he had 109 total tackles and 14 tackles for loss in 2017. If he ended up in Cincinnati under new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, he'd probably be an outside linebacker who could rush the passer on passing downs. I've said before that Edmunds has the most upside of any linebacker in this class.

    13. Washington Redskins

    Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

    This all depends on Kirk Cousins. Is Washington going to franchise tag him again? Remember, if the Redskins do it for the third straight year, he would cost more than $34 million in 2018. Could Washington let him test the free-agent market? He could get a huge deal, but it might not be from the Redskins. If Cousins walks, there's no ready-made replacement. They would have to scan the free-agent market or draft a quarterback. Don't count out the Heisman Trophy winner being taken this high. He is going to get a chance to impress scouts at the Senior Bowl, and I know they're interested in seeing how he performs. If Washington keeps Cousins, inside linebacker is a clear position of need.

    14. Green Bay Packers

    Marcus Davenport, DE, UT San Antonio

    Yes, Green Bay has Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, but Matthews will be 32 when the 2018 season begins, and he hasn't had double-digit sacks in a season since 2014, and Perry didn't replicate his breakout 2016 season and had only 13 quarterback knockdowns. The Packers need a young pass-rusher. There has been a buzz about Davenport, who has a huge 6-6 frame and rare quick-twitch traits off the edge. He's one of the best pure pass-rushers in this class, and we'll get to see him against better competition at the Senior Bowl.

    15. Arizona Cardinals

    *Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

    This is a tough spot because the Cardinals don't have a coach yet. Could they target a quarterback? It's probably safe to say that Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert will have some company in the QB room, but that also could come in free agency. Arizona has been looking for years for a corner to play opposite of superstar Patrick Peterson, and Jackson is a good fit. He was phenomenal in his lone season as a starter, picking off eight passes, including three in the Hawkeyes' win over Ohio State. He has great length at 6-1 and has long arms. The question will be his straight-line speed, so his 40-yard dash time will be big. But Jackson was the best corner in college football in 2017.

    16. Baltimore Ravens

    *Brian O'Neill, OT, Pittsburgh

    Right tackle Austin Howard didn't have a great year in pass protection, and the Ravens could find an immediate upgrade with O'Neill, a former tight end who kept his athleticism as he put on weight and moved to tackle. He was dominant on the left side at times this season after starting on the right in 2015 and 2016. O'Neill also could kick in and play guard.

    17. Los Angeles Chargers

    *Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

    The best nose tackle in this class is Payne, who was a monster in the College Football Playoff, even if he didn't always show up on the stat sheet. Georgia couldn't block him in the national title game. The Chargers are set with good, young pass-rushers, but they could upgrade on Brandon Mebane, who's signed for only another year. Payne would strengthen the belly of a defense that ranked last in the league in rushing yards per attempt allowed (4.9).

    18. Seattle Seahawks

    *Derwin James, S, Florida State

    James is tough to figure out, but Seattle would be thrilled to get him here. He's super talented and looked like a top-five pick as a freshman at Florida State in 2015, but he missed the entire 2016 season because of a knee injury. James had a solid 2017 season with 84 total tackles and two interceptions, but scouts wanted to see more. At his peak, though, James is a typical Seattle safety and fits what it looks for. Kam Chancellor's future is up in the air after a neck injury, and the Seahawks could need a replacement.

    19. Dallas Cowboys

    *Vita Vea, DT, Washington

    The Cowboys took a step backward in 2017, and it was a regression across the board. Receiver could be a target here, along with offensive tackle. But what's tough to find on the free-agent market is a disruptive defensive tackle, which Dallas just didn't have. Vea is a freakish talent at 6-4, 346 pounds who can be a three-down player and add an interior pass-rush presence.

    20. Detroit Lions

    *Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

    Ezekiel Ansah had a bounce-back year with 12 sacks, but he's a free agent. Will the Lions give him a long-term deal? Detroit's No. 2 sacker was former sixth-round pick Anthony Zettel, who had 6.5, so this is a clear area of need. Hubbard is probably better for team that plays a 4-3 like the Lions. He didn't have a consistent 2017 season, but he finished strong with 2.5 sacks at Michigan and 2.5 more in the bowl win over USC. Is he Joey Bosa? No, but that's why Bosa went No. 3 overall. Hubbard would be good value at pick No. 20.

    21. Buffalo Bills

    *Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida

    Buffalo got a great rookie season out of first-round pick Tre'Davious White, but there's a hole on the other side because E.J. Gaines, who was part of the Sammy Watkins trade, is a free agent. The Bills could bring back Gaines, but they also could target another corner on Day 1. The arrow is pointing way up on Hughes, who emerged as a shutdown corner in 2017. He also could help on special teams as a returner.

    22. Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City Chiefs)

    Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

    The Bills picked up this extra pick when the Chiefs traded up to draft Patrick Mahomes last year, and they ended up with back-to-back picks after a surprise playoff season. Hurst is a 3-technique penetrator who gets into the backfield and gets after quarterbacks. He's a perfect fit for a 4-3 team, and the Bills need pass-rushers. They had only 27 sacks in 2017, which ranked 29th in the league. Buffalo is a team to watch for the second tier of quarterbacks because Tyrod Taylor's future is up in the air.

    23. Los Angeles Rams

    *Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

    If the Rams had a weakness in their huge turnaround from 2016 to 2017, it was at cornerback. They have to upgrade. Trumaine Johnson was franchise tagged last offseason and is a free agent. Nickell Robey-Coleman is also a free agent. Troy Hill is a restricted free agent. This is a clear hole. Davis had a great season and is my fourth-ranked corner. At 6-1, 200 pounds, he has good size.

    24. Carolina Panthers

    Billy Price, C/G, Ohio State

    The Panthers are locked in with one of the best centers in the league in Ryan Kalil, so Price could be a replacement for free-agent guard Andrew Norwell. Carolina already has a lot of money committed to its O-line and might not be able to afford Norwell. Price was a three-year starter at guard for the Buckeyes before moving over to center as a senior. He has the frame to play either spot.

    25. Tennessee Titans

    Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College

    Tennessee needs a young pass-rusher. Veterans Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan will both be free agents in 2019, and 2016 second-round pick Kevin Dodd has only one career sack in limited action. I thought Landry had a chance to be a top-10 pick after he had 16.5 sacks last season, but he had a down 2017 season and missed five games because of an ankle injury. He's talented, but he needs to show he's fully healthy and explosive. The Titans will have a new head coach and could have a different scheme if they move away from Dick LeBeau's 3-4.

    26. Atlanta Falcons

    *Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

    Kirk isn't a giant, go-to No. 1 wide receiver -- he's only 5-11 -- but Atlanta doesn't need that with Julio Jones already on the roster. Kirk would be a versatile offensive threat who could immediately help as both a punt and kick returner. He can play in the slot and burn defensive backs, and he could play outside too. Kirk had an up-and-down 2017 season, but he still finished with 12 total touchdowns, including two on returns. He's my No. 2-ranked receiver.

    27. New Orleans Saints

    *Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

    Drew Brees is 39, and the Saints just made a playoff run with one of the most productive rookie classes in recent history. This is a team built to win right now. Sutton is a huge 6-4 matchup nightmare who could play opposite budding superstar Michael Thomas. He was inconsistent at times for the Mustangs, but he's a big play-threat who averaged at least 16 yards per catch over the past three seasons. New Orleans could have some receiver turnover with Brandon Coleman and Willie Snead both restricted free agents.

    28. Pittsburgh Steelers

    Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama

    The big looming question for the Steelers is Ryan Shazier's future, and no one knows if he'll play again. Even if he returns, though, the Steelers need depth at linebacker. Evans is versatile enough to play inside or outside, and he had 15 career sacks at Alabama, where he often played on the edge and blitzed. He is a perfect fit in the middle of a modern-day defense -- he can play every down.

    29. Jacksonville Jaguars

    *Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma

    Could the Jaguars target a quarterback here? It's possible, though they might want a veteran whom they could plug in and play for a team that is trying to win with a loaded defense that has almost all of its best players under contract. So I'm going with a versatile 6-6 pass-catcher who is a mismatch wherever he lines up. Marcedes Lewis is really just a blocker at this stage of his career, and Andrews is a huge receiver who needs to improve his blocking. Receiver also might be an option as Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson are both free agents.

    30. Philadelphia Eagles

    *Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

    Jason Peters, a stalwart at left tackle for the Eagles, turns 36 this month and is recovering from a torn ACL and MCL. Can they really expect him back at his best? I don't think fifth-round pick Halapoulivaati Vaitai is the answer as his replacement, either, which means Philadelphia could move super athletic right tackle Lane Johnson to Carson Wentz's blind side, and draft a new right tackle. Miller is a developmental prospect with a 6-8 frame and limited game time. He has a high ceiling.

    31. Minnesota Vikings

    *Connor Williams, OT, Texas

    The Vikings spent a lot of money last offseason on free-agent tackles Mike Remmers and Riley Reiff, and the duo had a solid season, but Remmers moved to guard late in the year because of injuries. Could he stay there in 2018 and beyond? I like Williams as a left tackle, but he could move to the right side. He suffered a sprained MCL and PCL in his left knee and missed seven games in 2017, but he looked like a potential top-10 pick last season. This could be a value pick.

    32. New England Patriots

    *Rasheem Green, DE, USC

    Green was absolutely unblockable in the second half of the season, finishing with 10 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss. He could play tackle in a 4-3 defense or end in a 3-4, which is probably what he'd be for New England. At 6-4, 275 pounds, Green has a tremendous frame, and I think he'll be impressive in workouts. Could New England think about a quarterback here? Tom Brady will be 41 when the 2018 season begins. The Patriots also will have a pick in the first half of the second round as a result of the Jimmy Garoppolo trade.

  2. #2
    MinnesotaFats's Avatar SBR PRO
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    Browns lol

    Dont theyvwant AJ Mcarren still?

  3. #3
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    daneblazer's Avatar SBR PRO
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    So Kiper likes the pats and Vikings this weekend

  4. #4
    Hman's Avatar Become A Pro!
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    Quote Originally Posted by daneblazer View Post
    So Kiper likes the pats and Vikings this weekend

    Ha good eye dane