Josh Norris

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2018 NFL Mock Draft No. 2

Monday, February 12, 2018

Friends, back again.

Rather than write an intro you won’t read, I’ll write something short for myself. Lately there’s been hate thrown at mock drafts at this point in the football calendar, specifying the inaccuracies come late April. Of course it will be inaccurate. The goal of every mock draft is to identify current needs, potential needs, draft trends of specific decision makers and highlight names that all of you can go and watch. Accuracy is not exactly the goal.

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1. Cleveland Browns - QB Sam Darnold, USC - We all know this will be a quarterback, the only question is which one (and to those that don’t see below). We can only assume John Dorsey and Hue Jackson will work in tandem to identify the top passer. Jackson previously discussed his height threshold (6’2), potentially eliminating Baker Mayfield. Peter King cited a scouting source stating Dorsey would fall in love with Josh Allen… but I just can’t. The Darnold versus Rosen debate will rage on for months.

Recently I’ve seen the hypothesis the Browns will take a non-quarterback at No. 1 and select one of three names at No. 4. This makes absolutely no sense, as the positional value of quarterback is not equal to others. If a quarterback is worthy of being selected at No. 4, he is worthy of being selected at No. 1. And throwing out Saquon Barkley’s name at No. 1 is totally losing sight of positional importance.

Again, “playing the draft” is one thing, but you cannot take that risk this early in the draft. Who is to say another team is not in love with the same passer and is willing to deal major assets to move up to pick two or three? As for the thought that a team can just select Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield or whoever else and be equally as happy… it does not work like that. Teams don’t fall in love with multiple quarterbacks in the same tier. They lock on to one, envision their offense around that player, and try to acquire him.

2. New York Giants - QB Josh Rosen, UCLA - With Dave Gettleman in charge, this could absolutely be an offensive lineman or defensive lineman. But Gettleman has been great at finding mid, late or undrafted talents at offensive line. The time is now for the Giants to take a quarterback. Teams need to take advantage of picking in the top two when quarterback is even slightly a need as the working assumption should be that they will never been picking in that range again for a long time.

3. Indianapolis Colts - EDGE Bradley Chubb, NC State - The Colts have a number of non-guaranteed contract decisions to make on the defensive side of the ball. The goal of this pick is to find a prospect who creates big plays. Saquon Barkley does that on offense, and Jim Irsay insinuated he’d be in favor of this pick, but the perceived best edge rusher in the country would be ideal as well.


4. Cleveland Browns - CB/S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama - I used to think Fitzpatrick would be a similar situation as Jalen Ramsey out of FSU, in terms of cornerback or safety. Remember, that was a real debate and corner should win out due to positional importance. However, Fitzpatrick just doesn’t have the reps on the outside to make that an easy projection. He certainly looks like an every down starter, either at safety or in the slot.

5. Denver Broncos - QB Josh Allen, Wyoming -  Paxton Lynch is not it. The Broncos will certainly be in the veteran quarterback market. With that said, there’s plenty of pressure on John Elway to nail a quarterback evaluation. When is the next time the Broncos will be drafting in the top 5? Take advantage of it if there’s a quarterback worthy of the selection, and the Broncos certainly had a first-hand look at Allen. If they liked what they saw is another question.

6. New York Jets - RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State - In this scenario the Jets end up with Kirk Cousins. Outside of the Browns, the Jets currently have the most cap space ($73 million) among QB-needy teams with the ability to clear even more. I like Bilal Powell, the Jets like Matt Forte, but both are nearing the end of their guaranteed money.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - G Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame - Self-evaluation needs to insert itself. I know Jason Licht drafted Kevin Pamphile and signed J.R. Sweezy, but neither are working out. Nelson will be ranked by some as the top prospect in the entire draft, and protecting the interior of the pocket is essential.


8. Chicago Bears - LB Roquan Smith, Georgia - The Bears are a difficult team to project for. They are “good” at many spots. In this case, they upgrade a spot that featured multiple players due to injuries over the last few years. Plus, Smith produces Patrick Willis vibes.


9. San Francisco 49ers *Coin Flip* - WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama - I almost projected a left tackle of the future here but decided to go with the presumed top receiver in the draft. Pierre Garcon missed time last season, however, he is locked into his deal. Marquise Goodwin took a huge step forward and Trent Taylor might be a solid slot option, but Ridley could infuse early round talent at the position.

10. Oakland Raiders *Coin Flip* - LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech - Edmunds is such an interesting, and potentially unique, prospect. He plays off the ball with range while boasting a 6-foot-4, 250-pound frame. The Raiders off-ball linebackers are a bunch of replaceable talents. A slow linebacker group equals a slow defense.

11. Miami Dolphins - G Billy Price, Ohio State - I swear, every year the Dolphins’ top need is offensive line. Price spent 2017 at center, playing at a high level, but he lined up at guard prior to that. Again, some might think this is early for a guard, but protecting the interior is vital.

12. Cincinnati Bengals - T Connor Williams, Texas - Another episode of self-scouting is important here. Marvin Lewis and company drafted multiple tackles in recent years with limited success. An upgrade is needed. But looking at Lewis’ history, a first round pick won’t immediately play an important role anyways.


13. Washington Redskins - DL Da’Ron Payne, Alabama - I know the Redskins just added an Alabama defensive lineman in the first round last year. They still need more help up front. Turn on Payne’s game versus Georgia and you’ll witness one of the best performances from a prospect last season.


14. Green Bay Packers - EDGE Harold Landry, Boston College - 2016 was better than 2017 for Landry. Clay Matthews is 31 and going on the final year of his deal. Nick Perry is solid. Adding another true pass rusher would absolutely help this defense. It will be an interesting offseason for the Packers with a new GM in charge.

15. Arizona Cardinals - QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma - The Cardinals released a trailer for a docu-series, and it was focused on finding the team’s next quarterback. That is the clear priority. That means a potential trade up or selecting a passer in this spot, as well as free agency.

16. Baltimore Ravens - T Orlando Brown, Oklahoma - Brown will be a controversial prospect. It might not look pretty at all times, but Brown frequently accomplishes his assignment with length, size and power. And when all of those function as one, he moves defenders. In this scenario Brown would play right tackle.


17. Los Angeles Chargers - S Derwin James, FSU - I know Tre Boston and Jahleel Addae played at a startable level, but James would be an infusion of talent at the position. I almost gave the Chargers an interior defensive lineman, but they treat those spots like a true rotation.


18. Seattle Seahawks - T Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame - The Seahawks started spending resources along the offensive line… with mixed results. Germain Ifedi must be replaced at right tackle, and McGlinchey arguably looked more comfortable at right tackle than on the left side.


19. Dallas Cowboys - DL Maurice Hurst, Michigan - I know Vita Vea is on the board, but in Hurst the team is getting more of an upfield, disruptive lineman. He has special moments off the snap, creating instant penetration and totally destroying the offense’s plan.

20. Detroit Lions - EDGE Marcus Davenport, UTSA - The Lions just added UTSA’s defensive line coach to the same position. It is also a position of need. We saw the same thing last offseason with the Bills and Zay Jones and the Panthers and Christian McCaffrey. Yes, it’s a leap, but all of this is.

21. Buffalo Bills - DL Vita Vea, Washington - Interior defensive line and linebacker play are two critical factors in a Sean McDermott defense. Vea is outstanding against the run and would create space for defenders behind him to run free.

22. Buffalo Bills - iOL Isaiah Wynn, Georgia - I absolutely love Wynn’s game. One scout said his future could be at center, and the Bills have a need at one guard spot (potentially another with Richie Incognito aging) and at center with the likely retirement of Eric Wood. Where does that leave the Bills at quarterback? I don’t know, but Kirk Cousins is possible.

23. Los Angeles Rams - CB Denzel Ward, Ohio Stae - Trumaine Johnson might not be back. Wade Phillips’ defense reached its ceiling in Denver with three quality corners. I'm sure more corners will go in the first round, and those teams will likely be more clear after free agency.

24. Carolina Panthers - TE Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State - It is a bit difficult to project for a team with a new offensive coordinator, new defensive coordinator and potentially new general manager. Adding pieces on offense is important, and Goedert can be used in multiple tight end sets and win in individual matchups at multiple levels of the field.

25. Tennessee Titans - EDGE Sam Hubbard, Ohio State - Brian Orakpo is on the wrong side of 30 and Derrick Morgan is nearing it. Seeing Mike Vrabel add another edge rusher would not be a surprise, especially one from Ohio State.


26. Atlanta Falcons - DL Taven Bryan, Florida - The Falcons love their phrases, mottos and clichés when evaluating. They always go back to his explosion off the snap, and Bryan certainly has that along the interior.

27. New Orleans Saints - EDGE Duke Ejiofor, Wake Forest - It is unfair to ask my friend Cameron Jordan to carry the pass rush for another season. Alex Okafor gave him a bit of help last season. As of now, the edge rushing group kind of falls off a cliff after Hubbard. Ejiofor is having shoulder surgery, but that didn’t keep Takk McKinley out of the first round.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers - LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama - The last time Pittsburgh selected a prospect from Alabama? 1998. 20 years is long enough. Evans would add speed to a linebacker group, something that was obviously missed after Ryan Shazier’s injury.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars - WR Christian Kirk, Texas A&M - The Jaguars have decisions to make at receiver with Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee approaching free agency and Allen Hurns out of guaranteed money on his contract. Kirk would give them another big play threat, especially with the ball in his hands.

30. Minnesota Vikings - G Will Hernandez, UTEP - When healthy, the Vikings offensive line was very solid. Then injuries hit, and it appears Joe Berger is nearing the end of the road. Enter Hernandez, who is an absolute old school mauler. I can’t wait for Dalvin Cook 2018.

31. New England Patriots - T Kolton Miller, UCLA - A goal for the Patriots is to find their future left tackle. Antonio Garcia has upside, but missed his entire rookie season. Miller has a chance to be a popular name after the NFL Combine.

32. Philadelphia Eagles - RB Derrius Guice, LSU - It is difficult to find a real need on the Eagles. Linebacker is one spot, due to potential free agents and injuries in 2018. But with LeGarrette Blount a free agent, Jay Ajayi nearing the end of his rookie deal and a tight cap, why not add a great running back talent like Guice?

Josh Norris is an NFL Draft Analyst for Rotoworld and contributed to the Rams scouting department during training camp of 2010 and the 2011 NFL Draft. He can be found on Twitter .
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