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NFL Mock Draft 2018: Projections for Most Hyped 1st-Round Prospects | Bleacher Report

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, tosses a football during Penn State Pro Day in State College, Pa., Tuesday, March 20, 2018. Barkley did not participate in the drills. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

The 2018 NFL draft has entered full-blown smokescreen season. 

This is the time of year player reps and teams leak to the media in the hopes of influencing the draft one way or another. Generally speaking, teams have boards set and needs targeted and little changes. 

Hence a rumor such as Josh Rosen being the likeliest quarterback to take a draft-day fall, according to NFL journalist Benjamin Allbright. That’s not to say it won’t wind up being true—but it’s a good example of a sudden narrative shift. 

Some of the most-hyped prospects, at least, don’t see much of a shift. Let’s take a look at those lucky few after another glance at a first-round mock draft based on one possible scenario. 

        

2018 NFL Mock Draft

1. Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

2. New York Giants: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

3. New York Jets: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans): Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

5. Denver Broncos: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

6. Indianapolis Colts: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

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

8. Chicago Bears: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

9. San Francisco 49ers: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

10. Oakland Raiders: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

11. Miami Dolphins: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

12. Buffalo Bills: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

13. Washington Redskins: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

14. Green Bay Packers: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

15. Arizona Cardinals: Vita Vea, DT, Washington

16. Baltimore Ravens: Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

18. Seattle Seahawks: Isaiah Wynn, OT, Georgia

19. Dallas Cowboys: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

20. Detroit Lions: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State 

22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs): Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

23. New England Patriots (via Los Angeles Rams): Billy Price, C/G, Ohio State

24. Carolina Panthers: James Daniels, OL, Iowa

25. Tennessee Titans: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

26. Atlanta Falcons: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

27. New Orleans Saints: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Marcus Davenport, DE/OLB, UTSA

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

30. Minnesota Vikings: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

31. New England Patriots: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma St.

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma 

          

4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans): Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

Gregory Payan/Associated Press

In most classes, Bradley Chubb would be the top overall pick.

Chubb checks all the boxes, coming in at 6’4″ and 269 pounds with elite physical traits and strong collegiate production, not to mention the versatility to play in any scheme. 

A player who already transitioned from standing up to having his hand in the dirt, there are a handful of teams in the top 10 likely crossing their fingers Chubb falls far enough.

ESPN’s Greg Cosell provided a quality scouting report on Chubb the prospect: 

Were it not for a predictable run on quarterbacks, Chubb would likely be off the board in the top three. In the above scenario, he falls one spot farther, sending him to the Cleveland Browns with their second of two picks in the first round. 

It’s a nightmare scenario for the AFC, as it pairs the pass-rushing talents of Chubb with Myles Garrett, last year’s top overall pick—and good luck figuring out which prospect of those two is better, let alone how to block both of them on every down. 

The Browns need plenty of improvements, but forming an elite pass rush is a key component to making the playoffs these days, and Chubb rounds out a dynamic group. 

         

6. Indianapolis Colts: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Hailed by some as a generational prospect, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley isn’t going to see his stock change much between now and the draft. 

Generational might be an exaggerated tag, but guys like Barkley don’t enter the NFL often. He’s 6’0″ and 233 pounds of elusive versatility that drummed up 1,200-plus rushing yards and 18 touchdowns apiece in each of his last two years at Penn State. 

Barkley’s junior year also saw him catch 54 passes for 632 yards and three touchdowns, meaning he has the versatility of an every-down back so rare in the NFL these days. 

“You don’t screw up the special ones when you are a talent evaluator,” an NFL general manager told NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein. “This guy is special. Any concerns you file on him just feels like nitpicking to fill out the report.”

The Indianapolis Colts won’t be able to pass on an opportunity like this. While the front office needs to address the offensive line and defense, it’s a deep draft class for both—there is only one Barkley. 

With the Colts, Barkley would see the entire offense revolve around him in an every-down capacity as he’s tasked with taking pressure off Andrew Luck. It wouldn’t be perfect, but Barkley is the type of player who can already carry an NFL offense. 

          

8. Chicago Bears: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Quenton Nelson is the definition of a generational prospect. 

We’re at the point with Nelson where it would be hard to complain if he came off the board second overall. He’s got size at 6’5″ and 329 pounds. He’s got versatility, as he’s athletic and smart enough to kick outside and play tackle if a team really wants to give it a go. And on film, Nelson is shutting down one guy, if not two while kicking upfield, giving his team a numbers advantage on almost every play. 

Besides Nelson’s endless violent streak as a run blocker, he’s already nailed down what most rookie linemen struggle with—pass protection. 

The Ringer’s Robert Mays put it nicely while throwing out some big-time comparisons: “Of course, becoming a Yanda- or Martin-like blocker also requires mastery of the mental aspect of pass protection. That’s where plenty of incoming offensive linemen have recently flamed out. Blitz concepts and line stunts are far more prevalent in the NFL than in the no-huddle, up-tempo world of college football.”

Nelson does these things routinely on film and happens to do them at a time where pass protection from the interior is more important than it has ever been, both thanks to quick-hitting passing plays and elite players at applying pressure from the inside such as Aaron Donald. 

Rest assured the Chicago Bears won’t let Nelson get past them at No. 8. They have a new franchise centerpiece in Mitchell Trubisky to protect and need to do a better job up front for Jordan Howard after the guard spot has struggled with injuries in Chicago for years. 

Nelson falls due to the run at premium positions, but the Bears won’t have an issue with getting the rarest and surest thing in the draft. 


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