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2018 NFL Mock Draft No. 4

Friday, April 13, 2018


Hello beautiful people. Plenty will happen in the draft world over the next two weeks. Draft meetings have obviously begun and prospect visits continue. Presentations by scouts and coaches will be made, but the final decision will be handed down by the ultimate decision makers. The longer I do this, the more I realize for early round prospects, the only evaluation that matters is that of the decision makers (head coach and GM). We might hear buzz from scouts via media quotes, but what matters is that final choice… and it might not be made by those open to the media.


Of course this mock 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. This is a mock of what I think will happen.


The Rotoworld Football Podcast is rumbling along. Subscribe. And Evan Silva and I are in the middle of the team needs/mock draft series. The schedule is here.


1. Cleveland Browns - QB Josh Allen, Wyoming - After Sam Darnold’s pro day, Daniel Jeremiah, Bucky Brooks and Joel Klatt put it in permanent marker that Darnold would be the Browns selection. That seemed to change in the last week, with Jeremiah stating he’s gotten the sense Allen will be the pick. There’s still time left in the process, but teams have at least started their scouting meetings and board placement.


Look, I’m not the biggest fan of Allen’s game, so let me approach this from a Browns’ point of view. Allen produced a clean process, including participating in the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine. I could see coaches believing in the improved footwork he showed at his pro day, stating Allen is “on the right track.” Above all, coaches think they can coach. That they can mold a piece of clay into something impressive. And in this case, they can always fall back on the plan to not play him in year one after trading for Tyrod Taylor and signing Drew Stanton.


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2. New York Giants - QB Sam Darnold, USC - Star beat writer Jordan Raanan has basically predicted the Giants will pick Sam Darnold if he’s on the board. Going with a quarterback would be the right move. Take advantage of your opportunity to draft the future when picking in the top five rather than trading up in a future draft. If he starts week one, Darnold will be the youngest quarterback ever to do so.


3. New York Jets (via IND) - QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma - Robert Klemko has written a great 50 part series on Mayfield during the draft process. Klemko was asked which team he expects Mayfield to land on. He predicted the Jets, insinuating there’s a reason why (that he won’t share until after the draft). Mayfield would certainly fit the style of offense the Jets deployed last season.


4. (TRADE) Buffalo Bills - QB Josh Rosen, UCLA - This is a projected trade, as the Bills send the No. 12, No. 22 and a second round selection to the Browns to move up to No. 4. It might take even more than that, like a first-round pick in 2019 instead of the lone second rounder. Or even two second round picks.

 

If we look at the passers the Bills recently moved on from (Tyrod Taylor) and acquired (Nathan Peterman and A.J. McCarron), it appears the Bills want a prototypical pocket passer. Rosen is easily the best quarterback that fits that label. Josh Allen might as well. The Bills seemed to be interested in last year’s quarterback class (maybe Mitchell Trubisky specifically) and likely plan to not be near the top of the draft for years. Shoot your quarterback shot now.


5. Denver Broncos - RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State - Possibly a worst case scenario for the Broncos, as they could get into a bidding war with the Bills for No. 4. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a team select Quenton Nelson over Barkley, as second contracts dictate the NFL valuing guards over running backs. But I could also see the Broncos concluding that if a quarterback is not the pick, that Barkley is another way to immediately elevate the offense.


6. Indianapolis Colts (via NYJ) - EDGE Bradley Chubb, NC State - The ideal outcome for the Colts. It is clear Chris Ballard wants to build a young core, and there’s a chance he can do that in this draft alone. Chubb is a building block piece on the defensive side of the ball.


7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - S Derwin James, FSU - My favorite defensive prospect in this class. On the first snap of the game, James might line up as a split safety. The second snap he might line up in the slot. Then outside corner. Then back to safety, either strong or free. I know it was a down 2017 season, but James is extremely talented with plenty of positive tape.


8. Chicago Bears - G Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame - The NFL respects interior offensive linemen, as they should. Interior disruption is king, so preventing it is important. The Bears have a need at one guard spot, and hiring Notre Dame’s offensive line coach only adds fuel to the fire.


9. San Francisco 49ers - LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech - Football players Edmunds’ size should not move the way he does. He has his flaws, but as a run and chase player with a theoretical high ceiling, Edmunds could shine with the 49ers. All three of the 49ers’ linebacker spots could feature an open competition in camp.


10. Oakland Raiders - OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame - Gil Brandt recently said McGlinchey will be a top 10 pick. I’m a big fan of his game and consider him the top tackle in this class (outside of Isaiah Wynn, who the NFL views as a guard). I know there are snaps where he loses. That can be said of almost every tackle in the league.


11. Miami Dolphins - LB Roquan Smith, Georgia - The right player for a sizable need. I’m sure the Dolphins still believe in Raekwon McMillan, but they can’t blindly trust him to change the success of the position. Roquan plays bigger than his size while still utilizing speed to make plays behind the line.


12. (TRADE) Cleveland Browns (via BUF) - CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State - Now to the Browns end of this projected trade. Ward is even a possibility if the Browns stay at No. 4. He offers outstanding athleticism and comfort in playing the ball in the air despite his smaller frame.

 

13. Washington Redskins - DL Vita Vea, Washington - The Redskins have invested a number of picks in their front five, yet they still need plenty of help. Vea could lock down the interior and instantly improve the run defense. That’s his floor. I question how consistently disruptive he can be game to game, but others do not. I’m not naive enough to think my evaluation is the only one that matters.

 

14. Green Bay Packers - EDGE Harold Landry, Boston College - The best speed rusher in this class. No one can get upfield in three steps, bend and take a tight angle to the quarterback in this group like Landry. I know his run defense is not good, but don’t focus on that. Focus on Landry being able to make an impact on a game, even as a situational player.


15. Arizona Cardinals - CB/S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama - The Cardinals drafted Tyrann Mathieu’s replacement in Budda Baker last year, but they showed two similar type players can be on the field at the same time. Insert Fitzpatrick, who fits best as a hybrid defensive back who works in the slot and the box.


16. Baltimore Ravens - WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama - It might not ultimately be at No. 16, but the Ravens should exit the early part of the draft with a pass catcher. It might be a cliché to lean in the direction of an Alabama prospect here since Ozzie Newsome is making the call, but Newsome has drafted a Crimson Tide prospect in the first round in two of the last four drafts. Ridley’s game is based on creating separation and sustaining it. That translates to the NFL.


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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 .
Email :Josh Norris



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