Happy NFL Draft Day everyone! Tonight, after months of rumors, speculation, and mock drafts, we will finally know where the NFL stars of tomorrow will call home to begin their professional careers.
Speaking of mock drafts, it’s time to unveil mine, which I prepared with my brother, an NFL Draft guru. Without further adieu, I present to you the Zupan brothers’ 2018 NFL Mock Draft.
1. Cleveland Browns – QB Sam Darnold, USC
The Browns haven’t drafted QB at #1 overall since Tim Couch in 1999. They’re hoping for better results with Darnold, who’s raw, but has all the talent in the world and the right attitude to be a successful franchise QB.
2. New York Giants – RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State
The Giants should take a QB here, but new GM Dave Gettleman doesn’t appear to be sold on any the top signal callers. Gettleman wants a future Hall of Famer, and he’ll likely get that with Barkley, who should be a star RB from day one.
3. New York Jets (from Indianapolis) – QB Josh Rosen, UCLA
Baker Mayfield could also be the pick here, but ultimately, I think Mike Maccagnan chooses the safer route. While there have been questions about his character, Rosen is arguably the most polished and pro-ready QB in this class and should end the Jets long search for a franchise signal-caller.
4. Cleveland Browns (from Houston) – DE Bradley Chubb, North Carolina State
Cleveland gets the draft’s best pass rusher along with their franchise QB. Chubb is a freak athlete and physical specimen who will pair nicely on the Browns defensive line with last year’s top pick, Myles Garrett.
5. Denver Broncos – QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
John Elway can’t be happy with Case Keenum and Paxton Lynch going forward. He needs to draft a young QB. Despite his small stature, Mayfield has the skills, attitude, and competitive nature to be a top QB in the league.
6. Indianapolis Colts (from New York Jets) – G Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame
Andrew Luck’s medical records alone should be the determining factor with this pick. Nelson is one of the best offensive lineman to come out in years and should make Luck feel a lot safer when he drops back to pass.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – S Derwin James, Florida State
Tampa Bay desperately needs help in their secondary after being torched by Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, and Drew Brees. James has drawn comparisons to All-Pro Eric Berry and is arguably the best safety in this class.
8. Chicago Bears – S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Chicago could go with a WR here, but there really isn’t a receiver worth selecting in the top 10. Fitzpatrick is the safest pick here, and he should become a key piece in an ailing Bears secondary.
9. San Francisco 49ers – OLB Roquan Smith, Georgia
The inevitable release of Reuben Foster due to a domestic violence issue leaves a huge hole at LB for the Niners. Smith was beast for Georgia last year, and his strong play in the college football playoffs almost won the Bulldogs a National Title.
10. Oakland Raiders – ILB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
At this point, it’s impossible to predict what Jon Gruden will do in his first draft in over a decade. Ultimately, I think Edmunds will be Gruden’s grinder in a formidable linebacker corps that already features All-Pro Khalil Mack.
11. Miami Dolphins – DT Vita Vea, Washington
Miami created a huge hole on their defensive line with the release of Ndamukong Suh, but they should have no problem filling it with the massive Vea. QB is an intriguing option, but I think Ryan Tannehill will get one more year to prove himself.
12. Buffalo Bills (from Cincinnati) – QB Josh Allen, Wyoming
Allen is arguably the most talented QB in this draft class. However, he’s also the rawest, but he has the size, athleticism, and arm strength to become an elite QB. If his development goes well, the Bills may end up with the best QB in this draft class.
13. Washington Redskins – CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State
This is an easy pick for Washington, who needs a CB to fill the hole left by Kendall Fuller after he was traded to the Chiefs for QB Alex Smith. Ward should have no issue with stepping in and forming a potentially elite tandem with Josh Norman.
14. Green Bay Packers – OLB Harold Landry, Boston College
Green Bay could go with a corner here, but I think they need to consider drafting an edge rusher to replace Clay Matthews, who is not getting any younger and could be a surprise cut come training camp.
15. Arizona Cardinals – OT Kolton Miller, UCLA
Arizona will need a franchise tackle to protect their current QB, the injury-prone Sam Bradford. Miller has been reportedly flying up draft boards in recent weeks, and he is an absolute house (6’9”) who could become a premier LT.
16. Baltimore Ravens – WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama
The Ravens are extremely thin at WR with Michael Crabtree currently penciled in as the top target for QB Joe Flacco. They need to get younger and more talented at the position and grabbing Ridley will allow them to do so.
17. Los Angeles Chargers – DT Tavon Bryan, Florida
The Chargers continue to add to an already fierce front-seven that features Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram on the outside. Bryan is a big body that will help on the inside, making the Chargers pass rush a bigger problem for opposing offensive lines.
18. Seattle Seahawks – G Will Hernandez, Texas-El Paso
Seattle could go with a CB to replace Richard Sherman, but last season made it evident that they need help on the offensive line to protect Russell Wilson. Hernandez is a high-character guy who should be a day one starter for the Seahawks.
19. Dallas Cowboys – ILB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State
Dallas would love for Calvin Ridley to fall here, but instead they’ll have to “settle” for Vander Esch, who has drawn comparisons to greats like Luke Kuechly and Brian Urlacher. Jaylen Smith and Sean Lee are both injury-prone, so this pick makes a ton of sense.
20. Detroit Lions – DT Da’ron Payne, Alabama
Detroit has other needs elsewhere, but Payne is too good of a prospect to pass up here. The Lions will go with the best player available to strengthen their front-seven and fill the hole left by Haloti Ngata.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (from Buffalo) – OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
Notre Dame has produced some awesome offensive lineman over the past few years. After trading for Cordy Glenn, the Bengals will also grab McGlinchey to help protect Andy Dalton and open the lanes for Joe Mixon.
22. Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City) – G Connor Williams, Texas
Mike McGlinchey would have been the ideal choice here for Buffalo, but Williams is a good versatile lineman who can play tackle and guard. After losing Cordy Glenn and Eric Wood, the Bills need to rebuild their line to protect A.J. McCarron and eventually Josh Allen.
23. New England Patriots (from Los Angeles Rams) – CB Josh Jackson, Iowa
Bill Belichick will have no issue finding Malcolm Butler’s replacement in this deep CB class. Josh Jackson sliding here would be a dream scenario for the Patriots. He has all the tools to become one of the league’s top corners.
24. Carolina Panthers – CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville
Carolina fills a big need in their secondary. Alexander is an undersized corner, but he had an excellent Combine and his speed and athleticism should help compensate for his small stature.
25. Tennessee Titans – S Justin Reid, Stanford
Tennessee goes with the best player available and grabs Eric Reid’s little brother. The apple doesn’t fall far from the talent tree for the gifted safety Justin Reid. He should fit nicely in new head coach Mike Vrabel’s defense.
26. Atlanta Falcons – WR D.J. Moore, Maryland
What in the world is going on with Julio Jones? For now, his status with the Falcons is questionable, which means Atlanta will have a huge hole at WR if he leaves. Moore is another Combine star who is shooting up draft boards.
27. New Orleans Saints – G Isaiah Wynn, Georgia
New Orleans has a need at TE, but with Drew Brees signed for two more years, New Orleans is in win-now mode. Wynn will fill a big hole on the Saints offensive line left by the recently retired Zach Strief.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers – OLB Rashaan Evans, Alabama
The Ryan Shazier injury was a devastating blow to the Steelers. Although Shazier said he wants to play again, he still has a long way to go with his rehab. Alabama has produced yet another talented LB with Rashaan Evans, who should help fill the void in Pittsburgh.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars – QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville
Blake Bortles may have a new contract, but that doesn’t mean his job will be safe forever. Jackson is last of the “big five” QB prospects to go off the board, and he’ll get the chance to sit and develop his game to one day become the starter in Jacksonville.
30. Minnesota Vikings – C Frank Ragnow, Arkansas
The Vikings are a deep team who look like a Super Bowl contender. After signing Kirk Cousins to be their starting QB, they will draft a versatile offensive lineman in Ragnow, who will eventually become their starting center.
31. New England Patriots – DE Marcus Davenport, Texas-San Antonio
After filling their need at CB, the Patriots will select another gem on defense with Davenport. He might come from a small school, but he’s a big, athletic kid and a talented pass rusher.
32. Philadelphia Eagles – RB Derrius Guice, LSU
The reigning Super Bowl Champions currently have Jay Ajayi, Wendell Smallwood, and Corey Clement at RB. With Guice, they’ll be getting a big, powerful RB who will make an immediate impact in Doug Pederson’s offense.