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The 2018 NFL Draft kicks off April 26th inside Jerry’s World in Arlington, Texas. We still have a while to go and a lot can happen but with the college football season winding down we are putting together our first mock draft of the season. Could this be the first year since 1995 that a running back gets taken first overall? We shed some light on what we think could and/or will happen come April.

Saquon Barkley

Penn State Running Back Saquon Barkley Photo Credit: Penn State-Under Creative Commons License

We are going to use a draft order based on how we think the season will end and not necessarily how the standings are looking right now. For those of you unfamiliar with how the draft order is determined, the team with the worse record gets the earlier picks. If a team has the same record, the team with the easier strength of schedule gets the earlier pick. Once the first round is over the teams with identical records then go into a cycle. For instance, if Cleveland and San Francisco both end up 1-15, Cleveland would get the first overall pick because they had the easier schedule of the two teams. However, San Francisco would get the first pick of the second round based on the cycle rule. There are more tiebreaking rules in place if needed but are rarely put into use.

With the first pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns select…

1. New York Jets (From Cleveland Browns): Sam Darnold-Quarterback-USC

The Cleveland Browns have a ton of picks in 2018, they also have DeShone Kizer on the roster who they need to give at least one more year. New York trades the 8th overall pick, the 39th overall pick, and their 2019 first round pick to the Browns for the first overall pick to go get their guy.

2. San Francisco 49ers: Bradley Chubb-EDGE-North Carolina State

The 49ers will see if Jimmy Garoppolo can be the new face of the franchise after trading a second-round pick to New England to acquire him. They take an edge defender that will fit in their new 4-3 defense and move Arik Armstead inside that will give them a front four of Solomon Thomas, DeForest Buckner, Armstead, and Chubb. Winning starts in the trenches.

3. New York Giants: Mike McGlinchey-Offensive Tackle-Notre Dame

New York could go a number of ways here but their biggest need is offensive line help. McGlinchey is a stud and adding him to the mix can allow them to shuffle guys around and put them where they are best utilized and is a significant upgrade to a very poor line.

4. Chicago Bears: Minkah Fitzpatrick-Safety-Alabama

Chicago takes a running mate for surprise playmaker Eddie Jackson in the secondary and it just so happens they played together for the Crimson Tide. They can address the wide receiver spot later on in the draft. There could be some nice receiver options early in the second round.

5. Denver Broncos: Josh Rosen-Quarterback-UCLA

John Elway needs to make the right move here and with the top offensive tackle off of the board, they go with Rosen. Trevor Siemian is not a starting quarterback in the NFL and Paxton Lynch can’t stay on the field long enough to prove himself.

6. Cleveland Browns (From Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Saquon Barkley-Running Back-Penn State

After trading back from the number one spot, Cleveland trades back up to the 6th spot to take the best running back in the draft. Cleveland trades their 8th overall pick and their 3rd round pick to Tampa Bay to move up and take Barkley to add an element to their offense that has been lacking for a very long time.

7. Indianapolis Colts: Harold Landry-EDGE-Boston College

The Colts take a pass rusher that they have sorely needed for the last few years. Their defense takes a step in the right direction with Landry coming to town.

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (From Cleveland Browns via New York Jets): Christian Wilkins-Defensive Tackle-Clemson

Tampa Bay takes the productive defensive tackle out of Clemson to play side by side with Gerald McCoy. These two can be very dominant in the NFC South.

9. Miami Dolphins: Derwin James-Safety-Florida State

James doesn’t have to move far after Miami adds the final piece to their young and hungry secondary. James joins Xavien HowardCordrea Tankersley, and Reshad Jones to face Tom Brady twice a year.

10. Cleveland Browns (From Houston): Courtland Sutton-Wide Receiver-SMU

Cleveland adds another weapon for Kizer with the addition of Sutton. At 6’4 and 220 pounds, he can be a great compliment to Corey Coleman and tight end David Njoku.

11. Cincinnati Bengals: Brian O’Neill-Offensive Tackle-Pittsburgh

A relatively unknown prospect heading into the draft season but be on the lookout for O’Neill to shoot up draft boards if he declares. The redshirt junior has nice size, strength, and is a great athlete. The Bengals could find a gem and the anchor for their offensive line for the next decade.

12. Green Bay Packers: Arden Key-EDGE-LSU

Clay Matthews is getting on in years and the Packers need some fresh blood to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Key can do just that and do it well.

13. Dallas Cowboys: Micah Kiser-Linebacker-Virginia

Sean Lee is going to be 32 years old next season and he can’t be relied on to remain healthy. Dallas can grab Kiser to replace the aging Lee. Kiser is one of the best linebackers in the country and Jones is known to go out and grab players who may not be as expected as others.

14. Arizona Cardinals: Mason Rudolph-Quarterback-Oklahoma State

The Cardinals need to find the heir apparent to Carson Palmer and they need to find him soon. Rudolph is kind of the sexy pick in this draft as his numbers are very impressive but some wonder if he is just the product of the offense. We will find out a lot more during his Pro Day and the Combine.

15. Washington Redskins: Derrick Nnadi-Defensive Tackle-Florida State

I mentioned it above but successful teams win in the trenches. Nnadi can join Jonathan Allen on the defensive front for the Redskins and help with stopping Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas run game and do their best to get after Carson Wentz and the Eagles twice a year. Nnadi is a naturally strong kid who can win at the point of attack with his low center of gravity.

16. Buffalo Bills: Derrius Guice-Running Back-LSU

Buffalo’s biggest offensive weapon all year has been LeSean McCoy but he’ll be 30 years old next summer so the Bills can get him a running mate with Guice who has relatively low miles on his tires and a similar repertoire.

17. Oakland Raiders: Ronnie Harrison-Safety-Alabama

The Raiders secondary are their biggest need at the moment and Harrison could be a difference maker for the Silver and Black. He and Karl Joseph can be a nice pairing while Gareon Conley hopes to live up to his expectations at cornerback once healthy. Obi Melifonwu has proved his versatility in the short time he has played this year so he will be used all over the field while Harrison can lock down the safety spot.

18. Tennessee Titans: Denzel Ward-Cornerback-Ohio State

The Titans need help at corner and Ward is a great talent. Most critics say he is undersized and but his athletic ability speaks for itself.

19. Seattle Seahawks: Quenton Nelson-Guard-Notre Dame

Seattle’s line has been a mess and Nelson is as NFL ready as any player in the draft. He can step in and improve the Seahawks line day one.

20. Detroit Lions: Sam Hubbard-EDGE-Ohio State

Detroit finally adds a buddy for Ezekiel AnsahHubbard has the skill set to provide much more than just a pass rush and will be a force in the run game as well.

21. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley-Wide Receiver-Alabama

The Ravens lack a premier receiver and Ridley can be that for them. He is a very polished route runner and even though his numbers don’t look elite, he is a steal at 21.

22. Buffalo Bills (From Kansas City): Baker Mayfield-Quarterback-Oklahoma

Buffalo’s second pick in the first round thanks to the Patrick Mahomes trade from 2017, they address the quarterback spot with the potential 2017 Heisman winner. He is very talented and may be able to find a home in Buffalo with some coaching.

23. Carolina Panthers: Dorance Armstrong-EDGE-Kansas

Armstrong is brought in to be the next great pass rusher in Carolina. Both starting defensive ends in Carolina are over at least 30 years old and need an injection of youth. Armstrong becomes the first Jayhawk drafted in the first round since Aqib Talib in 2008.

24. Atlanta Falcons: Maurice Hurst-Defensive Tackle-Michigan

Atlanta adds much-needed talent and depth to their interior defensive line. Hurst has one of the quickest bursts in college and that will translate well into the NFL.

25. Los Angeles Chargers: Jamarco Jones-Offensive Tackle-Ohio State

Jones adds yet another great young blocker to shore up the Los Angeles offensive line along with Dan Feeney and the injured Forrest Lamp. He will be the replacement for Russell Okung.

26. Jacksonville Jaguars: Lamar Jackson-Quarterback-Louisville

Blake Bortles has not been a complete disaster this year but Jacksonville still needs to upgrade that spot. The 2016 Heisman winner can be added to create competition with Bortles and Jacksonville has the potential backfield duo of Jackson and Leonard Fournette

27. Minnesota Vikings: Mark Andrews-Tight End-Oklahoma

The Vikings have one of the best rosters across the board and with the emergence of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs the receiving group is in good hands. Andrews will add a dimension to Minnesota’s offense that not a lot of defenses will be able to stop. He and fellow tight end Kyle Rudolph can cause a lot of headaches together.

28. New Orleans Saints: Tyquan Lewis-EDGE-Ohio State

New Orleans needs help at the defensive end spot and Lewis opposite of Cameron Jordan will make getting to opposing NFC South quarterbacks a little easier.

29. Los Angeles Rams: Tarvarus McFadden-Cornerback-Florida State

Los Angeles has turned their offense around so they can utilize their first-round selection on a big athletic cornerback. The Florida State product can come in and compete immediately for an already impressive Rams defense.

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (From New England Patriots): James Washington-Wide Receiver-Oklahoma State

The Patriots pull a classic New England move and trade back with Tampa who trades up to grab a running mate for Mike EvansWashington has a ton of talent and could be a great asset in Tampa. The Bucs give up their 2nd round pick and their 4th round pick to move up.

31. Philadelphia Eagles: Connor Williams-Offensive Tackle-Texas

Peters suffered a season-ending injury but will be back next year. However, he is not getting any younger. Williams can learn and develop until his time comes.

32. Pittsburgh Steelers: Joshua Jackson-Cornerback-Iowa

Jackson’s stock has risen steadily all year and if it keeps improving he may not be here for the Steelers to take. Jackson is long and athletic. Pittsburgh needs help in their secondary and Jackson is a pretty nice addition if he is available.

Sports Al Dente 2019

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