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Justin Bales | Archive | Email |
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NFL Mock Draft: Version 4.0
4/24/18

Version 1.0 - 2/21/18
Version 2.0 - 3/26/18

Version 3.0 - 4/9/18


Editor's note: Predict the top ten picks of the NFL Draft for a chance to win FFToday prizes. Enter our NFL Draft Contest now.

Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield: Will the Jets land Oklahoma's quarterback? Will he even be available at pick No.3?


1. Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold, QB, USC

The Jets recently traded up to the third pick, which all but guarantees the Browns will be selecting a quarterback with their first pick. Darnold was widely viewed as the top option, and he solidified that at USC’s pro day. He flashed his upside during his throwing sessions, as he looked outstanding and was unfazed by consistent rainfall. Teams may be turned off by Darnold’s delivery, but his arm strength and accuracy more than makes up for it. The addition of Tyrod Taylor will allow Darnold to sit on the bench for at least part of this season, giving him ample time to adjust to the NFL.

Previous Pick – Sam Darnold, QB, USC

2. New York Giants – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

I have a difficult time believing New York is not going to trade out of this spot. I’m not predicting trades, though, so a pick must be made. It appears the Giants feel comfortable with Eli Manning, and while I may disagree, that has a lot of bearing on this pick. Barkley is arguably the best player in the draft, and the Giants are in need of a consistent option at running back. If the organization truly believes they have a few more years out of Manning, Barkley is the type of player that can ease his workload and provide an elite check down option.

Previous Pick – Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

3. New York Jets – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

It was difficult to pick between Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield, but ultimately, I went with the latter. There have been reports that New York is leaning towards the Oklahoma QB, tipping the scales in his favor. He has the personality to handle the New York fan base, although he does come with off-field concerns. He recorded over 15,000 total yards and 150 total touchdowns throughout an elite colligate career. He is also arguably the most accurate quarterback in this draft class, which would fit well in the New York offensive scheme.

Previous Pick – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

4. Cleveland Browns – Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

The Browns have so many picks that they can take the best player available at this point. That is likely Chubb, who is arguably the safest option in the draft. He is a disruptive end that posted 20 sacks and 44 tackles for a loss in his final two seasons at North Carolina State. End is not the biggest need for Cleveland, but imagine the pairing of Chubb and Myles Garrett. They would be one of the best young defensive end pairings in the entire NFL. This may be wishful thinking, but it also makes quite a bit of sense for Cleveland, who could rely heavily on defense this season with Tyrod Taylor or a rookie quarterback starting.

Previous Pick – Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

5. Denver Broncos – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

There is a chance that Allen is the first overall pick, but he could fall if Cleveland opts for Sam Darnold. Overall, Allen is seen as the highest upside quarterback in the draft, possessing superior arm strength over other quarterbacks in this class. He is also a plus athlete with a strong base that helps him avoid pressure. He has struggled at times against lesser competition, and he comes with serious accuracy issues. Denver currently has Case Keenum sitting atop their depth chart, allowing Allen to sit for a season, which could help him in his development. He’s a boom or bust option early in the draft for the Broncos, who have also talked about trading out of this pick.

Previous Pick – Denzel Ward, CB, OSU

6. Indianapolis Colts – Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

Indianapolis has a lot of holes throughout their defense, but Nelson fits a need and is the best player available at this spot. The Colts have passed on offensive linemen in recent drafts, resulting in Andrew Luck suffering from injuries. Nelson is already an above average pass and run blocking guard, who also comes with All Pro potential. He could start from day one, immediately upgrading Indianapolis’ line situation. This is not the sexy pick that most fans want on draft day, but it is the correct one.

Previous Pick – Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Derwin James, S, Florida State

There is word around the Bucs that they like Justin Evans to take a step this season, but they’re looking to add help in the secondary. With Ward off the board, safety is the more likely position. James and Minkah Fitzpatrick are the top two safeties in the draft, and it seems somewhat 50/50 on who teams like better. There is word that the Bucs prefer James, who is more of an in the box, run stopping option. He would immediately upgrade a weak Tampa Bay secondary.

Previous Pick – Derwin James, S, Florida State

8. Chicago Bears – Denzel Ward, CB, OSU

I feel Ward is quietly one of the best prospects in this draft class. He displayed elite speed, power, and athleticism at the NFL Combine. He did not show elite quickness, but that, along with his footwork, are seen as two of his best attributes. He also is coming off an elite season for Ohio State, consistently shutting down top-notch wide receivers. They recently signed Kyle Fuller to a big contract, and drafting Ward would give them one of the best cornerback duos in the NFL.

Previous Pick – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

9. San Francisco 49ers – Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

The 49ers are a team that looks like they could make an elite jump next season. They finished last season strong, playing themselves out of a top pick. If they want to make a playoff push, they are going to need help in their secondary, which was one of the worst in the NFL. They were able to sign Richard Sherman, but more capable bodies are needed. Jackson flashed immense potential as a junior, but he is still an unproven prospect. He rarely played as a freshman or sophomore, but enjoyed an elite season as a junior once he got the starting nod. He recorded 18 pass deflections with eight interceptions and two defensive touchdowns in 13 games. He is a long defender that uses his length and decisive mindset to jump routes and contest catches. Jackson would be locked in as the top true cornerback in this class if he had two seasons of similar production, but the 49ers are a team that will likely be willing to risk their pick on someone with game changing upside.

Previous Pick – Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

10. Oakland Raiders – Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia

Every year there seems to be a consensus pick for a team in the top-ten. This season, the Oakland Raiders are that team and Roquan Smith is that pick. They have revamped their coaching staff, and they now need help at linebacker. Smith is an elite prospect, who would potentially be a top-five selection if he were a bit bigger. The only true knock on Smith is his size, but he has the athleticism to make up for his lone deficiency. He has sideline-to-sideline speed and the quickness and agility to avoid linemen. He has also tremendous football IQ, which also helps keep him out of compromising situations. Smith broke out as a junior, recording 137 total tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, and 6.5 sacks in 15 games. The Raiders need defensive help this offseason, and Smith is arguably the best prospect on the board.

Previous Pick – Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia

11. Miami Dolphins – Vita Vea, DT, Washington

Vea was turned into a star at the NFL Combine, as he ranked second behind on Harrison Phillips with 41 reps on the bench. Vea has been compared to former Washington DT Danny Shelton, but Vea is a bigger and stronger version. Vea also comes with elite athleticism, as he was a former running back in high school before transitioning to defensive tackle in college. Vea is one of the higher upside prospects in the draft, as he is big enough to stop the run, but athletic enough to develop a pass rush from the middle of the line. Miami is in need of a defensive tackle after releasing Ndamukong Suh, and they will be getting one of the fastest rising prospects in the draft with this pick.

Previous Pick – Vita Vea, DT, Washington

12. Buffalo Bills – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

The Buffalo Bills are in dire need of a franchise quarterback. It is likely they trade up on draft day to get their QB, but I’m not predicting trades in this mock draft. Some teams believe that Rosen has the most talent of any quarterback in the draft, but there are serious concerns about his personality and love for football. Ultimately, teams are going to overlook those issues based purely on Rosen’s talent. He is the high floor type of quarterback that Bills fans have been begging for over the last few years.

Previous Pick – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

13. Washington Redskins – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

The Redskins could go a few different directions with this pick, but Edmunds seems like the safest bet. They need help at linebacker, and he could add a new dimension to their defense. He is an ultra-athlete that projects safely to any linebacker position. He comes with great size, although some scouts believe he will be able to add more weight to his frame. He also comes with elite speed, adding to him as a physical specimen. The only problem with Edmunds is his football IQ, but teams will be willing to look passed that for his unmatched athleticism.

Previous Pick – Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama

14. Green Bay Packers – Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama

There is word that Fitzpatrick is the player that Green Bay wants at this pick. I think it is somewhat odd that he has fallen this far, but with a multitude of teams looking to draft quarterbacks, it is far from a lock that Fitzpatrick is off the board. Green Bay needs help in their secondary, and some scouts believe Fitzpatrick has the potential to play either safety or cornerback. He was a dominant player for an elite Alabama defense, and he would immediately help Green Bay’s defense.

Previous Pick – Mike Hughes, CB, UCF

15. Arizona Cardinals – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

Arizona recently signed Sam Bradford so they won’t necessarily be forced into drafting a quarterback here. With that being said, Lamar Jackson is the last “elite” QB prospect left in the draft. There are questions about his arm accuracy, including some teams believing he will be forced to change positions. Jackson comes with tremendous upside because of his athletic profile - some scouts have compared him to Michael Vick. There have been rumors that five quarterbacks will be selected in the top-20 picks of this draft, and Jackson would turn that rumor into truth.

Previous Pick – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

16. Baltimore Ravens – Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

The Ravens are in dire need of help at wide receiver for next season and the future. The additions of Michael Crabtree and John Brown ease the immediate need for a wideout, but they are far from long term solutions. Sutton is a big, possession receiver, who has the ability to make contested catches. That is a major part of his game, as he struggles with speed and separation, and those struggles will continue in the NFL. Sutton also wasn’t asked to run a full route tree at SMU, and there will be a learning curve as he prepares for the NFL. Still, Sutton was able to post a 193/3,193/31 line through 37 games. It’s hard to ignore his production, and his pure size makes him an intriguing prospect for a wide receiver needy team.

Previous Pick – Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

17. Los Angeles Chargers – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

McClinchey has inconsistent tape throughout his college career, but he has flashed All-Pro potential. He is an athletic tackle that struggles a bit with power. With that being said, McGlinchey’s athleticism has more than made up for his lack of power at this point in his career. He has the potential to start as a right tackle from day one with the potential to move to left tackle later in his career. Luckily for the Chargers, they need help along the right side of the line. McGlinchey has the potential to be the first tackle selected in the draft, but his inconsistencies have knocked him down early in the draft process.

Previous Pick – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

18. Seattle Seahawks – Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA

Davenport was a highly productive player in college, but he did not play elite level competition. In his final 24 games, he recorded 122 total tackles, 27.5 tackles for a loss, and 15 sacks. Seattle recently traded DL Michael Bennett to the Philadelphia Eagles, and they could be looking to replace his production along the defensive line. On occasion, players out of smaller schools get overlooked in the NFL Draft, and that could be the case here.

Previous Pick – Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA

19. Dallas Cowboys – Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

Hurst is a perfect fit for the Cowboys, who are looking for pass rush help on the interior defensive line. Hurst is a defensive tackle that often times wins with agility rather than strength. Through three seasons as a full time player, Hurst totaled 127 tackles, including 31 tackles for a loss and 13.5 sacks. He is not necessarily ever going to become an elite run-stopper, but he has the ability to make plays in the backfield and pressure the quarterback. There were concerns about Hurst’s heart after issues appeared during the NFL Combine, but he has since been cleared to play without restrictions.

Previous Pick – Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

20. Detroit Lions – Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia

It’s tough to decipher exactly what the Lions are going to do. They need help along the offensive line, but they could be looking defense with Matt Patricia as their new head coach. It wouldn’t be shocking if Detroit takes a flashier player here, but Wynn makes a lot of sense. They need help at guard, and he is a player that could start from day one. He is somewhat built like a small tackle rather than a true guard, which some scouts believe to be a major problem. That adds to his versatility, though, as it allows him to show off his tremendous athleticism to go along with solid power. He is not the safest option on the board, but he is a great option in this spot for a Detroit team that desperately needs help at the position.

Previous Pick – Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

21. Cincinnati Bengals – Connor Williams, OT, Texas

The Bengals moved down in the first round of the draft, and they were gifted Cordy Glenn for their troubles. That does not mean they will not select a lineman here, though. They still have plenty of holes along the line, and Williams is a player that can immediately help. He produced elite film in 2016, but failed to live up to that hype in 2017. He is already a great run blocking tackle, and many scouts believe he can also become a high-end pass blocker in the NFL. There are other scouts that believe he will be best suited as a guard, as he has the frame to easily make the transition. That makes him the perfect option for the Bengals, who need help at multiple spots across the line. He could test his skills out at right tackle before shifting to guard if that fails. His versatility will be key with this pick.

Previous Pick – Connor Williams, OT, Texas

22. Buffalo Bills – Mike Hughes, CB, UCF

I’ve continuously moved cornerbacks in and out of this slot throughout my mock drafts, and I’m doing it once again. With the multitude of quarterbacks being selected higher in the draft, it has caused Hughes to fall a bit. He doesn’t have a ton of film, but he has looked outstanding in the limited games he’s started. He is a quick cornerback with tremendous football IQ. His knowledge allows him to make early breaks on the ball, although his limited experience could have potentially hidden his some flaws. He is somewhat of a boom or bust option, but Buffalo needs a lot of help in the secondary.

Previous Pick – Jaire Alenxander, CB, Louisville

23. New England Patriots – Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

The Patriots traded Brandin Cooks for this pick. The most likely scenario is New England is looking to move up in the draft for a quarterback, but once again, I’m not projecting trades here. Instead, they will address their line after losing Nate Solder to the Giants in free agency. Miller is somewhat similar to Solder, as they are both massive offensive linemen. Miller is also an extremely athletic player, who comes with tremendous upside. He comes with a bit of risk, as well, as he does not possess great bend, which could hurt him in the NFL. Still, this is a pick that fills a major need.

Previous Pick – Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

24. Carolina Panthers – Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

The Panthers have aging defensive ends, who will need to be replaced within the next couple of seasons. Hubbard ended his collegiate career on a high note, recording 42 total tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss, and 7.0 sacks as a junior. He is a hard working player that comes with good size. The biggest knock on Hubbard is that he is not an elite athlete, but we have seen multiple average athletes dominate along the defensive line with aggression and work ethic. Hubbard is a fairly low risk prospect that has the potential to start for years to come, although he likely will never become an All Pro player.

Previous Pick – Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

25. Tennessee Titans – Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College

Tennessee needs to find a way to create a consistent pass rush. They have not been able to do that, which has kept their defense from taking the jump to the next level. Landry is the type of player that can give them an immediate impact pass rusher. He dealt with injuries throughout his senior season, but was able to total 120 tackles, including 38 tackles for a loss and 20 sacks as a sophomore and junior. He could backup Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo before taking over after this season.

Previous Pick – Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College

26. Atlanta Falcons – Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

Atlanta has a huge hole a defensive tackle, and Payne somewhat fell into their lap at this pick. He is an elite run stopper, which is what Atlanta loves in their defensive tackles. Payne is a massive player, but could struggle with his pass rush. Still, that likely is not enough to make Atlanta go elsewhere with this pick. Keep in mind, there are some scouts that believe Payne has the potential to become an above average pass rusher because of his athleticism. At worst, Atlanta will find a dominant run stuffing defensive tackle with this pick.

Previous Pick – Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

27. New Orleans Saints – Dallas Geodert, TE, South Dakota State

The Saints only have a couple impact players leaving for free agency, and there is not a true need that sticks out on the team. They have not had a dominant tight end since Jimmy Graham, though, and Goedert is the type of player that will immediately make a mismatch for opponents. Goedert played at South Dakota State, facing off against lesser competition on a weekly basis. He suffered from inconsistent quarterback play, but was still able to record 164 receptions for 2,404 yards and 18 touchdowns in his final two seasons. Goedert is a mismatch on the field because of his elite combination of size, speed, and ball skills. Unfortunately, he has struggled to block near the line of scrimmage, which may cause him to fall in the draft. We have seen other receiving tight ends find plenty of success in the NFL recently and Goedert has the potential to be the next Evan Engram.

Previous Pick – Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State

28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama

This is an interesting pick. I had Leighton Vander Esch selected here, but he has been dealing with injuries that teams are concerned with. They still need help at middle linebacker, though, and Evans is arguably the top option on the board. He’s an athletic linebacker that can cover sideline to sideline. He somewhat struggled in coverage, but his athletic profile suggests that he could potentially turn into a dominant pass coverage linebacker.

Previous Pick – Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

29. Jacksonville Jaguars – D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland

I don’t love this pick, but it does make sense. Jacksonville is in need of a wide receiver, and that position generally gets drafted higher than people expect. After losing Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns in free agency, Jacksonville is trying to piece together this position group. Moore played with terrible quarterbacks throughout his career, but still posted tremendous numbers at Maryland. His NFL Combine performance was solid and Moore has the size to be a featured wide receiver in the NFL. He was not asked to run a full route tree on a consistent basis in college, which comes as a concern. Still, he is a high upside receiver that Jacksonville is in dire need of.

Previous Pick – Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama

30. Minnesota Vikings – Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP

The Vikings are nearly a complete team, but they have an obvious hole along the offensive line. Hernandez looked like an elite player throughout his colligate career, but he played against lesser competition at the University of Texas-El Paso. He continued to dominate competition at the Senior Bowl, which was against significantly better competition. Furthermore, Hernandez posted great numbers at the combine, furthering the belief that he will succeed in the NFL. He’s an athletic player that has been successful with both run blocking and pass protection. He has a tremendous ceiling, but he also comes with a fairly low floor because of the questionable competition and size of Hernandez.

Previous Pick – Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP

31. New England Patriots – Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

The Patriots are in an odd position, as it seems that Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are questioning their future. New England could look to draft a quarterback, and Rudolph makes a great option. He understands his reads and generally allows plays to develop. He posted tremendous numbers at Oklahoma State, but there have always been questions about Rudolph’s arm strength. There have also been reports that New England actually prefers Rudolph to other quarterbacks in this class. If they opt to keep this pick, Rudolph will likely be the best quarterback available.

Previous Pick – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

32. Philadelphia Eagles – Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

The Eagles traded Torrey Smith for DB Daryl Worley this offseason, but they were forced to cut Worley after an incident with the law. They could be looking to replace him with a first round cornerback, especially if someone like Alexander falls. Alexander would easily be a first round selection based on his 2016 film, but he struggled with injuries throughout 2017. He has tremendous anticipation to go along with great football IQ. He’s a player that saw his value drop because of a few injuries, but Philadelphia is a team that can take a chance on him late in the first round.

Previous Pick – Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina



Every year there seems to be a consensus pick for a team in the top-ten. This season, the Oakland Raiders are that team and Roquan Smith is that pick. They have revamped their coaching staff, and they now need help at linebacker. Smith is an elite prospect, who would potentially be a top-five selection if he were a bit bigger. The only true knock on Smith is his size, but he has the athleticism to make up for his lone deficiency. He has sideline-to-sideline speed and the quickness and agility to avoid linemen. He has also tremendous football IQ, which also helps keep him out of compromising situations. Smith broke out as a junior, recording 137 total tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, and 6.5 sacks in 15 games. The Raiders need defensive help this offseason, and Smith is arguably the best prospect on the board.