2018 NFL Mock Draft – Club Fantasy Style

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By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson

This is one of my favorite times of the year. Seriously. Sure, it’s depressing that the NFL isn’t playing any games, but the movement in front offices, trades, signings, I love it all. Most of all? The NFL Draft. Since I was in college, I have requested off for the NFL Draft every year. Thankfully, I don’t need to do that anymore as it’s part of my job to cover it. Life can really be awesome sometimes.

The 2018 NFL Draft is unlike any that I can remember. In year’s past, there always felt like a hierarchy at the top of the draft. We knew the top draft prospects, had an idea of where they would go, and only had a few surprises. Then the Bears traded up to draft Mitchell Trubisky last year and subsequent trade ups for the likes of Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes and the flood gates apparently opened. Already this year we’ve had three significant trades that have altered how April 26th, 2018 will inevitably play out.

First, the Buffalo Bills, a team likely to take a QB early in this year’s draft, swapped 1sts with the Bengals and included LT Cordy Glenn in the deal to move from 21 to 12. Many of us assumed the Bills were trying to go the route of the 2016 Eagles who made two trades to go from a mid 1st round pick to 2nd overall to land Carson Wentz. That may have been derailed when the New York Jets made it publicly known they also wanted to draft a QB and made the move from 6 to 3 to get a chance to draft their quarterback of the future. That leaves the Bills on the outside looking in.

Not to be outdone, the New England Patriots shipped leading receiver Brandin Cooks to the Los Angeles Rams for the 23rd overall pick. The Patriots are now the third team this year with two 1st round picks, joining the Cleveland Browns (1st and 4th) and the Bills (12th and 22nd). Are the Patriots trying to make a move to the top to get an heir apparent to Tom Brady? Time will certainly tell!

This will be my third annual Club Fantasy Mock Draft. I will make the picks throughout the 1st round with how I see the teams going and provide analysis on how they can help your fantasy teams, when applicable. It should provide some entertainment as we all know Mock Drafts get shredded quicker than March Madness brackets once trades start occurring but what the hell, let’s have some fun!

SamDarnold

Former USC QB Sam Darnold is primed to be the 1st QB off the board in the 2018 NFL Draft. (photo from www.bigblueview.com)

With the 1st pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns select…

QB Sam Darnold, USC

So much of what I’m hearing is that the Browns are deciding between Darnold and Wyoming’s Josh Allen. While I think either of those picks would be a colossal mistake, here’s why I’m leaning towards believing the Browns will take Darnold: Darnold is better on short and intermediate throws, and is also more accurate than the big armed Allen. When you give WR Jarvis Landry, arguably the best slot receiver in the NFL, a contract worth $15 million a season, you need a QB who can throw him accurate passes underneath and over the middle within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. That’s not Allen. With Tyrod Taylor as the incumbent, Darnold can work on ball security and be ready to lead this team in 2019 and beyond. Think of it as yet another redshirt year. (Side note: I hate redshirt Sophomore QBs. I rarely see any come into the league and succeed. Say what you will about the NCAA, but those that stay in school tend to have better success.) If it were me, I’m taking Baker Mayfield and celebrating a 2018 playoff berth.

With the 2nd pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the New York Giants select…

RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State

I’ve waffled hard on this pick. I really think the Giants should take a QB, but I think the one they like best is Darnold and since he’s not there — in this scenario anyway — they go with the best player available. I know they traded Jason Pierre-Paul and Bradley Chubb makes a lot of sense as a result, but it’s hard to pass on the best player in this draft. Barkley is a beast with what he’s able to do as both a runner and receiver. The issue? That Giants offensive line has more holes than a block of Swiss cheese. Even so, I can see Barkley as a top 10 option in fantasy next year because the amount of weapons they have on offense will open up space for him in the passing game.

With the 3rd pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the New York Jets (via Indianapolis Colts) select…

QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

I would’ve bet a year’s salary the Jets were trading up to land Josh Rosen as late as a week ago. But a lot of noise I’m hearing is talking about how enamored the Jets are with Mayfield. Maybe it’s a smokescreen but I’m biting, if anything because I think Mayfield is worthy of being the first overall pick in this draft. He’s the most accurate, most accomplished, and most efficient QB in this draft class. If the Jets see Mayfield available when they come on the clock, they better run to the podium faster than a John Ross 40 time to get this pick in. Mayfield led the nation in passer rating when blitzed and when not blitzed and posted the two best passer ratings in NCAA history the last two years by a wide margin, so please, enlighten me. What can’t this kid do? The Jets will be primed and ready for the post-Brady AFC East with this pick. Dynasty players, make the pick, stash Mayfield, and watch him blossom into a top 10 starter in three years.

With the 4th pick in the NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans) select…

DE Bradley Chubb, NC State

With Barkley off the board, the Browns continue to build the defense and add a top flight talent to pair with last year’s 1st overall pick, Myles Garrett. I wouldn’t want to be the QB that has to see those two young studs breathing down his neck. If both stay healthy and they continue to infuse talent in this defense, I honestly think the Browns D/ST could be one to watch in 2018.

Quenton Nelson, Jovan Swann

G Quenton Nelson is easily one of the best players in this draft class. Will the lack of value of his position cause him to fall? (Photo from http://www.chicago.suntimes.com)

With the 5th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select…

G Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame

The Broncos graded out as the 10th worst offensive line in football last year, according to Pro Football Focus. If that doesn’t scream “draft some linemen!” I don’t know what does. Nelson is the best linemen in this draft and it’s not particularly close. When you can keep new QB Case Keenum upright, he can do some serious damage. Keenum was a top 10 QB in the NFL with a clean pocket. He ranked 18th when under pressure. Last year, Nelson allowed 5 total pressures, 3 hurries, 1 hit, and 1 sack. Sense, meet Common. An upright Keenum can find Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders and bring them both back into the WR2 conversation.

With the 6th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts (via New York Jets) select…

OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame

I was dead set on the Colts going defense, but if the goal is to protect QB Andrew Luck and his $140 million shoulder, there are worse decisions than reaching for the best offensive tackle in this draft class. With Anthony Costanzo on the left side, McGlinchey can slot in at right tackle and help Luck stay upright. He can even move to the left side when it’s time to move on from Costanzo.

With the 7th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select…

CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville

Can’t have a mock draft without a few surprises, am I right? Word out of Tampa is that the Bucs are enamored with Alexander. And with good reason. His 4.38 speed means he can run with the best WRs in the league but his 5’10” frame isn’t ideal. He spent much of 2017 injured, but when healthy in 2016, he had 5 INTs and 9 pass breakups. He’s the ball-hawking corner the Bucs haven’t had in years. This would allow the Bucs to move Vernon Hargreaves to the slot and try and salvage his career before Brent Grimes retires. The Bucs revamped their defensive line in free agency as they recorded only 22 sacks last season. If the secondary can hold their own, the line will have an opportunity to top that total before Week 10.

MinkahFitzpatrick

Is Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick a safety or a corner? Does is matter? His versatility will likely be a benefit at the next level. (Photo from www.hogshaven.com)

With the 8th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears select…

S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

The Bears have a very underrated defense. They stockpiled offensive weapons for QB Mitchell Trubisky in free agency so I expect they’ll look defense with how this draft shakes out. Fitzpatrick is versatile and with the Bears re-signing Kyle Fuller, they can move Fitzpatrick between safety or corner. The upgraded coverage will help a struggling pass rush, as will the return of OLB Leonard Floyd. The Bears could be another defense to keep an eye on in 2018.

With the 9th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers select…

S Derwin James, Florida State

The 49ers have their QB and they’ve spent the last three drafts infusing 1st rounders into their defensive line. Now it’s time to beef up the back end. James is a top end talent that can play deep or near the line. They need corners more than a safety, but James is a better, more versatile talent than Denzel Ward. They could also use help at linebacker since Reuben Foster is in trouble, but I just don’t see teams jumping to draft middle linebackers in the top 10 anymore, no matter how great they are. James helps the defense take the next step and provides linemen like DeForest Buckner time to sack that QB.

With the 10th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders select…

CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State

The Raiders go to Ohio State for yet another Buckeye corner. Here’s hoping they have better luck with Ward than they did with Conley in 2017, who was injured much of the year. Ward can fly with 4.32 speed and is arguably the best cover corner in the draft. He’s not as big as the recently released Sean Smith, but he may be the only corner in this class who has a fighter’s chance at running with WR Tyreek Hill. Why’s that important? The Raiders play the Chiefs — Hill’s team — twice a year.

With the 11th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select…

QB Josh Rosen, UCLA

I think the Dolphins really want Mayfield, but in this mock draft, he gone! So the Dolphins settle for the second coming of Jay Cutler. After a 2017 spent with Cutler as their QB, maybe that’s not a good thing, but at least HC Adam Gase knows how to work with his traits. Look, Ryan Tannehill is not the answer, and after missing all of last year with a knee injury, he can compete with Rosen in training camp and maybe beat him out. If he doesn’t, Rosen can be the one to finally make DeVante Parker fantasy relevant. I mean seriously, what’s a guy gotta do?!

NCAA Football: Wyoming at Iowa

I’m not the biggest Josh Allen fan, despite our shared first names. But he’s a likely 1st round pick and some team is bound to be disappointed. (Photo from http://www.billswire.usatoday.com)

With the 12th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills (via Cincinnati Bengals) select…

QB Josh Allen, Wyoming

For the record, I don’t think Allen should be a 1st round pick. I’ll agree, there’s a lot to like in terms of his physical gifts, but when you can’t showcase consistency against inferior competition, I don’t buy into the idea that you can at the next level when the talent is thrice as good. That said, I just feel like Allen fits here. He seems like a guy that can play in the cold and sling it through rough weather. He looks like a more athletic version of Ben Roethlisberger. I think he could do well in Buffalo, but that’s under the assumption that A.J. McCarron is actually a viable starter and can keep the Bills afloat throughout 2018. If Allen has to play in 2018, he won’t develop into the passer teams are hoping he will. You can save these words for a later date.

With the 13th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins select…

DT Vita Vea, Washington

I honestly will not be shocked if Vea doesn’t last this long. I became a fan of Vea when I saw him on special teams tracking down a returner and actually making the tackle. Vea is 347 pounds! Unreal. He should team with last year’s 1st round pick Jonathan Allen to upgrade a porous Redskins defensive line.

With the 14th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers select…

WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama

As bad as the Packers secondary has been, I can see them taking someone like UCF’s Mike Hughes or Iowa’s Josh Jackson, or even going with Texas’ Connor Williams to help an ailing offensive line. Here’s why I’m going with Ridley: he runs the best routes of any WR in this draft class and Rodgers puts more trust into his receivers than maybe any QB in the league. He and Ridley will develop instant chemistry and will be a great fill in when the team eventually moves on from Randall Cobb. Ridley has a chance to be the best rookie WR this year if he lands in Green Bay — think Cooper Kupp numbers from 2017 — and worthy of a 1st round pick in your Dynasty Leagues.

With the 15th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select…

OT Connor Williams, Texas

The Cardinals need a QB in the worst way, but taking one here when he’s not likely to play this year doesn’t make a ton of sense. Plus, I’m not in love with the fit for Lamar Jackson in Arizona. A healthy Sam Bradford can help the Cardinals contend for a playoff spot, but the Cardinals have to keep him upright. Williams will help make that happen. After trading Jared Veldheer, the need is even more pressing and I think this will help Bradford complete 90 passes to Larry Fitzgerald in 2018. There, I said it.

DJMoore

Maryland WR D.J. Moore would be a nice addition to several teams. But the pro team in his backyard may need him most. (Photo from www.baltimorebeatdown.com)

With the 16th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens select…

WR D.J. Moore, Maryland

Remember back when the Ravens selected WR Torrey Smith in the 2nd round? Everyone knew it was going to happen. The Ravens needed a WR and they had a good one in their backyard from the University of Maryland. Kind of feels like déjá vu, don’t you think? The more I watch tape of Moore, the more I think he can come in and compete right away. They spent five of seven picks last year on defense and the other two were guards. They whiffed on Breshad Perriman in 2015 — I saw that coming — but they shouldn’t let that deter them from going WR in the 1st this year. The Ravens brought in WR Michael Crabtree but they still need Moore, pun intended.

With the 17th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Chargers select…

Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech

I don’t know what to think of Edmunds. When 19 year olds come into the league, it rarely bodes well. It’s all about projection as many of them haven’t filled out yet. It’s no different with Edmunds. He’s kind of a tweener, so I think the Chargers would make a good home for him. They have great edge rushers in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram so they can use Edmunds in a situational role at first. Or they can make him a traditional outside linebacker and let him use his speed and athleticism to run sideline to sideline. He just needs to be eased in and I think this may be the best fit for him to do that.

With the 18th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks select…

Will Hernandez, UTEP

When you have one of the five worst offensive lines in football but one of the five best quarterbacks in football, you need to start investing resources into protecting said QB. The band aids are getting peeled off rapidly. Hernandez is a mauler. Put him next to LT Duane Brown and you’re heading in the right direction. Great value here to help keep a top 5 fantasy QB a top 5 fantasy QB.

With the 19th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys select…

WR Courtland Sutton, SMU

When you cut your best WR, you’re likely going to look to replace him with a younger, cheaper option. Enter Sutton. He’s one of my favorite WRs in this class. He’s a big, fast target that can remind Cowboys fans of Terrell Owens in his prime. Sutton has that kind of potential. With depth around him, Sutton can be eased into the rotation as he gets more comfortable with NFL level routes. In 2019 and beyond though, watch out. He should be a late 1st, high 2nd round pick in Dynasty Leagues.

With the 20th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select…

DE Marcus Davenport, UTSA

I’m not entirely sure Davenport lasts this long in a league starved for pass rushers, but we all know these mock drafts never go as scripted, so here we are. Stud defensive end Ziggy Ansah is signed to the franchise tag so it’s clear the Lions need a pass rusher just in case Ansah can’t be signed long term. But what if they can sign him? In a passing league, you can never have enough pass rushers. With a duo of Ansah and Davenport, the Lions should expect to accumulate more than the 35 sacks from a year ago, 20th best in the NFL.

RoquanSmith

Georgia’s Roquan Smith is a tackling machine. He should be a top 10 pick. Not sure he will because of his position, but I hope I’m wrong. (Photo from www.ndtscouting.com)

With the 21st pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals (via Buffalo Bills) select…

LB Roquan Smith, Georgia

I should be arrested for such criminal behavior, letting Smith last this long. And honestly, I hope he goes in the top ten because that’s more indicative of his talent. But like I said, inside linebackers don’t go early often so I let him fall. With starting LB Vontaze Burfict facing a suspension and getting up there in age, the Bengals need an infusion of youth on defense. I’ve been enamored with Smith since the College Football Playoff. Watching him blow up plays and come out of nowhere to make tackles, he has the potential to be the next Luke Keuchly. The Bengals would jump for joy if Smith falls this far.

With the 22nd pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs) select…

G Isaiah Wynn, Georgia

With the retirement of both C Eric Wood and G Richie Incognito, the Bills need to create running room for Pro Bowl RB LeSean McCoy. I think Shady can get behind this selection. Wynn is a stud on the interior and will move plenty defensive linemen out of Shady’s way. I firmly expect Shady to challenge for a top 10 finish at RB and Wynn will help him get there.

LamarJackson

Lamar Jackson is a QB. And a damn good one. Some team will draft him in the 1st and not look back. (Photo from www.canalstreetchronicles.com)

With the 23rd pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots (via Los Angeles Rams) select…

QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville

I doubt this happens. BUT. It’s clear the Patriots need a new heir apparent after dealing Jimmy G(Q) to the 49ers. They’ve met with just about every QB during the draft process. In a perfect world, they have time to develop the electric talent from Louisville. OC Josh McDaniels backed out of the Colts head coaching job to stick around in New England because he’s going to inherit the job from Belichick. McDaniels has to be salivating at the idea of tailoring an offense around Jackson’s skillset. Get ready for a new era of Patriots football. I would be very tempted to take Jackson 2nd overall in a Dynasty draft — behind Barkley — if he lands in New England, even if he doesn’t play until 2020. He has the kind of talent you let develop and reap the benefits when it’s time.

With the 24th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers select…

DE/OLB Harold Landry, Boston College

Landry feels like a perfect fit for the Titans but hey, they aren’t the only team in need of a pass rusher. Landry is so underrated, it’s criminal. Julius Peppers is 38 and they need some juice behind him. Landry can fill those shoes and keep the Panthers pass rush afloat. The Panthers have been a top 10 D/ST in Fantasy the last two years and Landry should help them stay there if he lives up to his draft spot.

With the 25th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans select…

LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama

After Chubb, Davenport, and Landry get picked, the Titans work to fill a need and take Evans. Losing LB Avery Williamson in free agency hurt but Evans slots in and has the ability to cover sideline to sideline with the best of them. New head coach Mike Vrabel is a defensive guy and it only makes sense for the Titans to start his first draft on the side of the ball he knows best.

With the 26th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons select…

DT Da’Ron Payne, Alabama

Losing Dontari Poe leaves a huge gap on defense. Literally. (Poe is 346 pounds.) What I saw from Payne last year shows me a guy who needs a challenge to stay motivated. How can you not be motivated chasing down the likes of Cam Newton, Drew Brees, and Jameis Winston six times a year? Payne will be a big boost to the Falcons defensive front.

DallasGoedert

South Dakota State’s Dallas Goedert may not have run a 40 yard dash, but the tape shows an extremely athletic TE that will be a difference maker in 2018 and beyond. (Photo from http://www.247sports.com)

With the 27th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints select…

TE Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State

The Saints nailed just about every single one of their draft picks a year ago so they have the luxury of taking this draft as it falls to them. They flirted with the idea of bringing back TE Jimmy Graham for round two, so why not draft a guy who can do a lot of what Graham can at a quarter of the cost? Goedert is tall and athletic and catches everything. He will add yet another dimension to the Saints offense and continue to extend Brees’ career. Goedert should be an easy 2nd rounder in Dynasty leagues and a top 15 option in season long leagues.

With the 28th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select…

S Justin Reid, Stanford

It would be easy to project a running back here, but in a deep class and Le’Veon Bell still under contract, I think they add another young talent to their secondary here. The Steelers let go of long time safety Mike Mitchell and brought in Morgan Burnett, but I think some young blood would do well. Reid has been rising up draft boards and I think he lands in the first round. The Steelers sound like a good spot for him.

With the 29th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select…

C Frank Ragnow, Arkansas

When you lead the league in rushing, it’s important to maintain a stout offensive line for your star running back. Ragnow is arguably the best center in this draft and while center isn’t a huge need, most centers transition to guard rather easily. Slot Ragnow next to Brandon Lindor next to free agent signee Andrew Norwell and that’s a pretty beastly interior. The Rolex’s from Leonard Fournette are in the mail, guys.

With the 30th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings select…

OT Jamarco Jones, Ohio State

Much of the Vikings’ signings in the 2017 offseason were to enhance the play of the offensive line. And while they proved effective, there’s still work to be done. Drafting a tackle like Jones will go a long way in helping sustain the unit’s success and keeping new franchise QB Kirk Cousins upright and opening holes for RB Dalvin Cook. I love when a draft pick can help more than one of our fantasy players.

With the 31st pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots select…

CB Josh Jackson, Iowa

Jackson is a steal this late in the draft. He’s a ballhawk and should slot in well opposite Stephon Gilmore. He also has the size the Malcolm Butler lacked so Belichick won’t be swayed to bench him in crucial situations. If that’s indeed what happened. Regardless, Jackson’s ability to create INTs will help one of the worst defensive units in football.

DerriusGuice

LSU’s Derrius Guice had the chance to shine outside of former teammate Leonard Fournette’s shadow. As a result, he has a chance at being a 1st round pick on April 26th. (Photo from www.faketeams.com)

With the 32nd pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles select…

RB Derrius Guice, LSU

I honestly would not be shocked to see them continue to add to their offensive or defensive line with this pick. Players like OT Kolton Miller and DT Maurice Hurst are still on the board and would look great in an Eagles jersey. But they don’t have a pick in the 2nd or 3rd round this year and they missed out on a franchise caliber running back in last year’s deep class. They can’t afford to do the same this year. Guice has a lot of the same traits as the departed LeGarrette Blount in his ability to extend plays and gain yards after first contact. The Eagles will also be pleasantly surprised with Guice’s ability on 3rd downs, as LSU never used him that way. He should be a late round pick in season long drafts and a solid grab in the 1st or 2nd round in your Dynasty drafts.