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We are just over a month away from the 2018 NFL Draft. Draft time is my favorite time of year on the NFL calendar. I genuinely think I take more joy in the offseason, and particularly the draft, than I do with the actual games. I love the analytical and behind the scenes aspects of the game so much. Every year, I try to predict how the first ten or so picks will play out. While my list very well may change, and I very well may upload another mock draft before the April 26th draft date, here is who I believe will be selected in the top 10 of the 2018 NFL Draft.
1. Cleveland Browns-Sam Darnold
Sam Darnold is the best QB prospect in this draft, hands down. He towers at 6’4 and has the physical build to take the beatings that the Cleveland O-line is sure to put him through. He makes throws that others simply can’t. Colin Cowherd said it best when he referred to Darnold as “the best QB prospect since Andrew Luck”. While sometimes his decision making leaves you scratching your head, his good moments are absolutely brilliant and if done properly, Darnold could be developed into an elite level NFL quarterback within a few years.
2.New York Giants-Saquon Barkley
All signs point to the Giants drafting Saquon Barkley. Before I go on the mini-rant I am about to go on, let me make myself very clear when I say that Saquon Barkley is extremely talented and very well may be one of the best running back prospects in the last decade. With that being said, taking a running back this early in the draft is completely idiotic, especially if you need a quarterback as badly as New York does. Running back is a dying position. You could get most of the value you get from a guy like Saquon Barkley from a 2nd or even 3rd round running back. If I were the Giants GM, I’m drafting whichever remaining quarterback I like best (personally, I like Josh Allen) and not thinking twice. However, the Giants organization, as well as the fans, seem stuck on Eli Manning. He’s likely going to be sticking around for a few more years and the Giants will be drafting the Penn State back to accompany him in the Giants backfield. I like the Giants to be strong contenders for the 1st pick in next year’s draft.
3. New York Jets-Baker Mayfield
While this is another pick I don’t like even a little bit, I like the chances of Baker Mayfield being the second quarterback off the board. Baker Mayfield is the off-field trouble of Johnny Manziel paired with the skillset of……… Johnny Manzeil. The guy is basically Johnny Manziel. While I was a big fan of Manziel, it was clear that his problems deeply impacted his ability to play the game at a high level. The same will happen to Mayfield. With that being said, he’s an exciting player with a big personality that is fit for New York. It isn’t hard to understand why the Jets will take him at 3.
4. Cleveland Browns-Minkah Fitzpatrick
I think Minkah Fitzpatrick is the most talented player in this year’s draft. He will be an instant contributor to the Cleveland defense. He does not have the blazing speed that I generally like to see in defensive backs, but the Alabama safety is the definition of a defensive anchor. I envision Fitzpatrick being the defensive captain of the Browns within two seasons. He’s that good of a player.
5. Denver Broncos-Quenton Nelson
Quenton Nelson is one of the most talented linemen I have ever seen coming out of college. In preparation for writing this article, I looked up his dimensions and I was stunned. While he isn’t mind-blowingly tall, he is absolutely huge in terms of his arm length and his overall girth. He has the skillset to completely move opposing defensive linemen off the line. My only complaint is that his slightly shorter stature will prevent him from playing the tackle position and I like my linemen to be interchangeable. Other than that, I feel that Nelson is an absolutely incredible prospect.
6. Indianapolis Colts-Denzel Ward
In my humble opinion, Denzel Ward is the most under the radar player in this year’s draft. Indianapolis lost its standout cornerback Vontae Davis this offseason. Ward is a perfect replacement. I would trust him to cover top corners in the league immediately. While the secondary certainly isn’t Indy’s biggest problem, it still certainly needs to be addressed. Denzel Ward is a great pick for the Colts at 6.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Bradley Chubb
Simply put, Bradley Chubb is a man. Watching him play this past season was incredible. I have not seen a pass-rusher of this caliber since Jadeveon Clowney. While Chubb is no Clowney, he is still immensely talented and Tampa Bay is in desperate need for a viable pass-rusher. Chubb is an excellent fit for Tampa. Paired with newly signed defensive end Vinny Curry, Chubb could lead a defensive resurgence in Tampa Bay.
8.Chicago Bears-Calvin Ridley
Alabama’s Calvin Ridley is the only highlight in this abysmal receiver class. Ridley is an extremely dynamic player who can immediately make an impact on the perimeter. While I worry deeply about the guy who will be throwing to him, the Bears believe that they have their quarterback in Mitchell Trubisky. It makes sense to draft him a viable weapon and Ridley is the best available weapon at the 8th spot.
9.San Francisco 49ers-Tremaine Edmunds
The 49ers need to beef up their linebacking corps in the worst way possible. Reuben Foster has gotten himself into trouble already this offseason. There is no telling if he will be available for the 9ers to utilize next season. Even if he is, Edmunds is an excellent addition to the defense who can contribute from either side of the field.
10. Oakland Raiders-Derwin James
The Oakland Raiders are a viable defense away from being serious Super Bowl contenders. The secondary is probably Oakland’s biggest hole. Derwin James is an elite prospect with All-Pro potential. Jones would have easily been the best safety in this draft if not for Minkah Fitzpatrick. While the Raiders need a corner much more than they need a safety, James is simply too good of a player to pass on at the 10 spot.
*I conducted this mock draft without any trades. I think it is strongly possible that at least one, but probably two teams trade into the top 10 at some point to draft a quarterback. I like Josh Allen to Buffalo and Josh Rosen to Miami or Arizona. I think that there almost certainly be at least 3 quarterbacks taken in the top 10.*
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