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    2018 NFL Mock Draft 3.0: Mel Kiper's picks for 1-32

    2018 NFL Mock Draft 3.0: Mel Kiper's picks for 1-32

    Mel Kiper Jr

    So long, NFL free agency. That means team needs are much clearer, and we know which teams have gaping holes in their rosters. That's where the NFL draft comes in.

    Among the holes (mostly) filled in free agency: wide receiver in Chicago, cornerback in L.A. (Rams), left tackle in New York (Giants) and quarterback in Minnesota.
    So we're on to Mock Draft 3.0 -- click the links for 2.0 and 1.0 -- with several changes on the board based on how free agency impacted the first round. Let's go 1-32. (My new Big Board and position rankings can be found here.)
    Two reminders before I get started, same as always:

    • There are no trades allowed in this projection, and 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 underclassman.

    1. Cleveland Browns

    *Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
    No change here from my first two mock drafts. The Browns are zeroing in on a quarterback with the first overall pick, and Allen has crushed the pre-draft process. The addition of Tyrod Taylor allows Allen, who is the most raw of the top quarterback prospects in this class, to sit on the sideline and adjust to the speed of the NFL. Cleveland doesn't have to play Allen immediately, which really hurt DeShone Kizer in 2017.

    2. New York Giants

    *Sam Darnold, QB, USC

    The Giants are in a good spot here. If they don't love one of these quarterbacks, they can solicit trade offers to move down and pick the best player available. They have needs at several positions, including pass-rusher (they just dealt Jason Pierre-Paul) and running back (I went with Saquon Barkley here in Mock Draft 2.0). New York, however, also needs its quarterback of the future, and new coach Pat Shurmur was among the Giants contingent that met with Darnold before his pro day workout. The G-Men could stick with Eli Manning in 2018 and move on to Darnold in 2019.
    3. New York Jets (from Indianapolis Colts)

    *Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
    The Jets traded up with the Colts to get a quarterback. Now the question is: Which ones will be available? There's a legitimate chance the Jets have to settle for their third option, but it's possible they like three quarterbacks in this class. Rosen has rare arm talent and is the most NFL-ready of this group, but his injury history (shoulder in 2016, concussions in 2017) has been a point of discussion among teams.
    4. Cleveland Browns (from Houston Texans)

    *Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
    I suspect general manager John Dorsey would be thrilled if he got his quarterback at No. 1 and Barkley at No. 4. My top-ranked prospect in this class, Barkley would make the Browns better on day one as an elite back who will help in the passing game. If Dorsey & Co. decide to try to grab a running back later in the draft, this scenario would allow Cleveland to target the top defender on its board. Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick and NC State edge rusher Bradley Chubb are both in play here.
    5. Denver Broncos

    Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
    Count me among the people who believe the Broncos are still in for a quarterback at No. 5, even after signing Case Keenum to a two-year deal. That's a short-term commitment with only $25 million guaranteed, and Denver can't pass up a guy it thinks could be the face of its franchise for at least a decade. General manager John Elway was among the people in attendance at Mayfield's pro day on the first day of free agency. The 2017 Heisman Trophy winner put up huge numbers at Oklahoma, and he has moxie that NFL teams love. If Denver decides against a quarterback, Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson fills a major need.
    6. Indianapolis Colts (from New York Jets)

    Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
    So the Colts trade down from No. 3 and still end up with the prospect I've given them in my first two mock drafts. Chubb is the best pass-rusher in this class, and Indianapolis badly needs edge rushers for its expected move to a 4-3 defense. This fit is too perfect -- and the Colts added three second-round picks (two in 2018, one in 2019) in their trade with the Jets.
    7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    *Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
    Quenton Nelson might have been in play here, but the Bucs signed center Ryan Jensen in free agency and can move Ali Marpet back to guard. I think this pick has to be a defensive back -- the Bucs had the league's worst passing defense in 2017. Tampa Bay could choose from the best corner or safety on its board, and Ward is the top corner in this class. Former first-round pick Vernon Hargreaves III has not impressed, and Brent Grimes will be 35 when the season begins.
    8. Chicago Bears

    *Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
    I like what the Bears have done in free agency, adding weapons for quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in Allen Robinson, Trey Burton and Taylor Gabriel. Now go get Trubisky some more protection in Nelson, a dominant interior blocker who can slot in Josh Sitton's spot. Another thing to note: Chicago hired Harry Hiestand, Nelson's position coach at Notre Dame, this offseason to coach its offensive line.
    9. San Francisco 49ers

    *Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
    San Francisco picked up Richard Sherman before free agency started, but its defensive backfield still isn't set. The 49ers could take the versatile Fitzpatrick and use him in a hybrid safety role in which he plays some slot corner too. He's a true playmaker with the size and athleticism to play any position in the secondary. General manager John Lynch showed last year that he isn't afraid to make draft-day trades, so this is a spot to watch for teams moving up.
    10. Oakland Raiders

    *Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia
    This pick has been the same since Mock Draft 1.0 because Smith just makes sense as the new face of Jon Gruden's defense (with Khalil Mack, of course). Oakland's linebacker play was abysmal in 2017, and Smith is the type of sideline-to-sideline player that every defensive coordinator covets. Smith can play all three downs, and he also could pitch in and rush the passer.
    11. Miami Dolphins

    *Derwin James, S, Florida State
    James is back in the discussion for the top 10 after he ran a 4.47 40-yard dash and showed off a 40-inch vertical at the combine. He has rare athleticism for a 6-foot-2 safety, though his 2017 tape was inconsistent after he returned from a knee injury that caused him to miss most of the previous season. At his best, James is an enforcer in the mold of Kam Chancellor -- he's not afraid to bring the wood. He can be a versatile defender who plays in the box and also covers the deep middle of the field. The Dolphins have arguably lost more talent this offseason than any other team, and they have needs all across their roster.
    12. Buffalo Bills (from Cincinnati Bengals)

    *Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
    The Bills are trying to move up even more to draft a quarterback; four could be off the board by the time they select at 12, the pick they received from the Bengals in the trade for offensive tackle Cordy Glenn. So with no trades in my mock draft, I'm going with a need here, as Buffalo lost leading tackler Preston Brown in free agency and doesn't have much depth at the position. I see Edmunds' best fit as an inside linebacker in a 3-4, but there are teams that like him as an outside linebacker and edge rusher. The versatility is a plus, and he could play inside or outside in the Bills' 4-3.
    13. Washington Redskins

    *Vita Vea, DT, Washington
    As I noted in Mock Draft 2.0, Washington ranked last in the league in run defense in 2017, allowing 134.1 yards per game. This team needs a nose tackle who can eat up space and take on blockers, and that's what Vea brings. He's a strong and athletic tackle who also can get after quarterbacks. The Redskins like 2017 first-round pick Jonathan Allen, who played in only five games because of a Lisfranc injury, and he and Vea would be a nice defensive foundation on which to build.
    14. Green Bay Packers

    Marcus Davenport, DE, Texas San Antonio
    Cornerback is a need for Green Bay, but Davenport would be hard to pass up. He's the second-best pass-rusher in this class and a 6-foot-6, 264-pound quick-twitch athlete with a high ceiling. The Packers need to get younger at outside linebacker -- Clay Matthews will be 32 this spring -- and Davenport could be a part-time player while he gets up to speed at the NFL level. Davenport also fits as a defensive end with his hand in the dirt in a 4-3.
    15. Arizona Cardinals

    *Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
    Surprised? Don't be. Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon are short-term solutions for a team that has seen a talent drain since it went to the NFC title game in the 2015 season. There are holes all across the Cardinals' roster, particularly at wide receiver, as Larry Fitzgerald will be 35 when the season begins. Jackson is one of the most dynamic quarterback talents I've ever scouted, but he's raw. As I wrote in my updated Big Board, if a smart offensive coordinator builds his offense around Jackson's strengths, the former Heisman Trophy winner could be a star.
    16. Baltimore Ravens

    Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
    McGlinchey is a plug-and-play right tackle who would be playing on the same line as his college teammate Ronnie Stanley. McGlinchey played on the right side for Notre Dame two years ago, and he was dominant. Then he took Stanley's spot at left tackle -- and was dominant. This move also would allow Baltimore to keep Alex Lewis at guard instead of trying him at right tackle. Lewis also could move to center to replace Ryan Jensen.
    17. Los Angeles Chargers

    *Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
    This is another pick that has stayed the same across my first two mock drafts, and the Chargers haven't done anything in free agency to address their porous run defense (as I noted last month, their 4.9 yards per rushing attempt allowed ranked last in the league). Payne had only three career sacks at Alabama, but he's stellar against the run and is quick off the ball.
    18. Seattle Seahawks

    *Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
    Seattle is set at one corner with Shaquill Griffin, a steal in the third round of last year's draft. But after releasing Richard Sherman, the other corner spot is far from settled. The 6-foot Jackson fits the Seahawks' mold of bigger corners, and he has great ball skills (eight interceptions in 2017). Seattle has lost a lot of talent this offseason and could go after another offensive lineman or wide receiver.
    19. Dallas Cowboys

    Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama
    This pick could depend on how the Cowboys feel about Jaylon Smith, who improved as the 2017 season went along but struggled at times. If they think Smith can fill in at middle linebacker with Anthony Hitchens gone to the Chiefs in free agency, they might look elsewhere in the draft. For now, I think Evans is a good fit as an every-down player. Tight end is another position to watch here -- Dallas needs to replace Jason Witten at some point.
    20. Detroit Lions

    *Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
    This pick is all about projection, as Bryan is a freakish talent who didn't produce to his ability at Florida; he had only 5.5 career sacks. But there were games (turn on the Texas A&M tape from 2017) in which he looked like a top-10 pick. He would play 3-technique for the Lions and new coach Matt Patricia. Bryan is raw, but he could be a star given time (and coaching) to develop. Linebacker and cornerback also could be options for Detroit here, and running back shouldn't be out of the question.
    21. Cincinnati Bengals (from Buffalo Bills)

    *Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
    Miller impressed at the combine, running a 4.91 40 and jumping 10-foot-1 in the broad jump. Did I mention he's 6-foot-8, 309 pounds? The Bengals traded for Cordy Glenn to be their left tackle, as Cedric Ogbuehi struggled in 2017. Miller could compete with Jake Fisher on the right side, giving Cincinnati upgraded depth along the line. The Bengals also could eye a linebacker here with Vontaze Burfict facing a suspension to start the season.
    22. Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City Chiefs)

    *Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
    The Bills signed veteran Vontae Davis last month to start at corner opposite 2017 first-round pick Tre'Davious White, but it's a one-year deal. This is a team desperately in need of quality depth in the secondary. Alexander was a new addition to my latest Big Board because of how he performed at the combine; he ran a 4.38 40 and his numbers in the drills ranked near the top of his class. At 5-foot-10, 196 pounds, Alexander is undersized, and he could play in the nickel.
    23. Los Angeles Rams

    *Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
    The Rams' defense has undergone several changes this offseason. Robert Quinn, Trumaine Johnson and Alec Ogletree are gone, and Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, Sam Shields and Ndamukong Suh are in. Cornerback is no longer Los Angeles' top need, which is why I'm going with an athletic inside linebacker here to replace Ogletree. Vander Esch is versatile enough to be an every-down player. Trust in defensive coordinator Wade Phillips to develop him.
    24. Carolina Panthers

    *Justin Reid, S, Stanford
    Reid is another fast riser after the combine, and he stands out on the Stanford tape. He can play in the box or as a deep safety, taking over for Kurt Coleman in the Panthers' secondary. I think he's going to play on day one in the NFL and be a key rookie standout wherever he ends up. The Panthers traded for Torrey Smith, but they should still be in the market for an upgrade at receiver.
    25. Tennessee Titans

    Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College
    Landry is the top 3-4 outside linebacker in this class, an elite edge rusher when he's at his best. That wasn't in 2017, as he missed five games with an ankle injury. He dominated in 2016, though, with 16.5 sacks and looked like a potential top-five pick. The team that selects Landry will hope he can replicate his 2016 form. Tennessee needs to get younger at outside linebacker, and starters Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan will be free agents next March.
    26. Atlanta Falcons

    *Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
    Finally, a receiver comes off the board. Ridley is still my top-ranked wideout, but he's dropping a little bit. He didn't test well athletically at the combine, and he didn't show off the explosion I expected (a vertical jump of 31 inches was concerning). Still, the tape shows a player who consistently beats cornerbacks and is great after the catch. Ridley, Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu would form one of the most talented receiving corps in the league.
    27. New Orleans Saints

    *Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
    As I noted in Mock Draft 2.0 when I pegged Hurst to New Orleans, Drew Brees needs a No. 1 tight end. Coby Fleener was a free-agent bust, and we thought the Saints might try to bring back Jimmy Graham. Hurst is an all-around tight end who can help in the running game while he develops as a pass-catcher. The New Orleans offense is loaded, but this is a critical void that needs to be filled. I also wouldn't be surprised if the Saints targeted a quarterback at this spot or on Day 2.
    28. Pittsburgh Steelers

    Lorenzo Carter, OLB, Georgia
    Yes, the Steelers took an edge rusher in T.J. Watt in the first round of last year's draft, but I still think this is a position of need. Bud Dupree hasn't quite broken out like we thought he might when he was selected on Day 1 in 2015. The reason I'm going with Carter here is because he could potentially play inside linebacker too, taking over for Ryan Shazier. Carter showed versatility at Georgia and wasn't always asked to rush the passer -- he had only 9.5 sacks over the past two seasons.
    29. Jacksonville Jaguars

    *D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
    Moore is one of my favorite prospects in this class, and he tested off the charts at the combine (4.42 40 and 11-foot broad jump). He could be a No. 1 receiver in time, and he'll be an impact returner as a rookie. Jacksonville lost top wideout Allen Robinson in free agency and will try to replace him with a combination of Dede Westbrook, Donte Moncrief and Keelan Cole. Why not take a big-time receiver on Day 1 and fill that hole?
    30. Minnesota Vikings

    *James Daniels, C/G, Iowa
    Daniels is my top-ranked center, but in this scenario he'd slot in as an immediate starter at guard for the Vikings, who already have Pat Elflein at center. Daniels is a technically sound player who can get to the second level with ease. After having one of the NFL's worst offensive lines in 2016, Minnesota made some smart moves to upgrade in 2017. And if the Vikings add Daniels, they might have one of the league's best O-lines in 2018.
    31. New England Patriots

    *Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida

    The Patriots lost Nate Solder, Malcolm Butler, Dion Lewis, Cameron Fleming and Danny Amendola, among others, in free agency, and they have more holes in their roster than usual. Are they really expecting veteran Jason McCourty to replace Butler? Former second-round pick Cyrus Jones has barely played in two seasons in New England, so I don't think he's the answer. Hughes emerged as a shutdown corner in 2017 and also will help as a punt and kick returner. He had three returns for touchdowns last season. Given Bill Belichick's history in the draft, the Patriots could trade down to acquire more picks.
    32. Philadelphia Eagles

    Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
    My best comp for Goedert after watching him closely in 2017? Eagles tight end Zach Ertz. So this pick would mean the Eagles get a ready-made replacement for Trey Burton (and Brent Celek). Philadelphia showed last season that there are plenty of snaps available for multiple tight ends. Goedert is an adequate blocker who will be a threat as a pass-catcher. This is a great situation for him.

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    CWD's Avatar SBR PRO
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    theyre all playing BS mind games even kiper the RB is going # 1

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    Harry N. Lloyd
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    Nice post. Thanks.

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    I agree. If it does somehow come out this way, what a great trade for Indy.

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    Harry N. Lloyd
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    Quote Originally Posted by CWD View Post
    theyre all playing BS mind games even kiper the RB is going # 1
    Kiper has zero incentive to play mind games. He only wants to predict things correctly. Teams might bluff, but Kiper's stock rises when he calls is correctly.

    I think he's right that the RB goes to Cleveland 4th. QB's are where it's at in the new NFL.

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    Honeybadger44's Avatar SBR PRO
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harry N. Lloyd View Post

    Kiper has zero incentive to play mind games. He only wants to predict things correctly. Teams might bluff, but Kiper's stock rises when he calls is correctly.

    I think he's right that the RB goes to Cleveland 4th. QB's are where it's at in the new NFL.
    Yeah. Especially with all these trade ups. Those teams are obviously going for QB's, putting pressure on Cleveland to take one at no.1 as well. With the original order, they might think about taking Barkley first, but right now they cannot afford to do so.

    Not a huge fan of Kiper, but he might be on to something with Allen going first here. Despite being really raw, I know that most of NFL executives are getting boners thinking about his arm strenght and how they are going to teach him to play the position. Even though they have no clue how to do that.

    If he starts day 1, that's not gonna be a pretty scene. Same thing with Darnold.

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    kiper is paid entertainer like everyone else on that network, nothing more nothing less

    he has zero incentive to say or do anything other than what he is told

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    Kiper never gets it right! WTF is he thinking with the Eagles taking a TE with the 32nd pick? They already have a great, young TE in Zac Ertz. Why would they take another in the 1st rd and have to give 1st rd money to a guy who's going to be a backup most of his career? Idiot! I say they trade down to a team that's dying to get someone who slid down the draft board. They need more picks. The only way I see them taking a player at 32 is if Leighton Vander Esch or Kolton Miller makes it down to them. Aside from that they'll grab an extra 3rd rd pick to slide down a few spots and grab a RB and a lineman in those 2 spots.

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    jjgold's Avatar File Clerk
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    HMAN it is baseball season man

    Hit me up next August pal regarding football

    Thank You

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    Taking a RB at #4 is a wasted pick. RB's last a few years and that is it. Their talents are needed less and less in the NFL. The correct pick at #4 for the Brownies is Bradley Chubb, who can be a star for 10 years at his position. He is certainly worth a lot more than some Big 10 RB who made a living running up the numbers against teams like Indiana.

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    klemopixx's Avatar SBR PRO
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigdaddyQH View Post
    Taking a RB at #4 is a wasted pick. RB's last a few years and that is it. Their talents are needed less and less in the NFL. The correct pick at #4 for the Brownies is Bradley Chubb, who can be a star for 10 years at his position. He is certainly worth a lot more than some Big 10 RB who made a living running up the numbers against teams like Indiana.
    Depends on what team is looking at him. If it's the Browns then it's a wasted pick unless you use him during the rookie contract then deal him before the BIG payday. When time comes to commit major $$$ to him he'll be at the end of his prime. A QB at #1 and deal the #4 pick to for two later first rounders to select the best O-lineman and D-lineman available. You build long term through the lines because that's where your cap $$$ need to go if you're going anywhere in this league. That and your franchise QB.

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    who in the hell is mel kiper

    Last edited by cincinnatikid513; 04-06-18 at 06:47 PM.
    175 pts

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    Not many teams really want running back’s early rounds I guess they’re a dime a dozen