NFL Mock Draft 2018: Bold 1st-Round Projections for Top Prospects

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley runs a drill during the NFL football scouting combine, Friday, March 2, 2018, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)Darron Cummings/Associated Press

With less than a month remaining until the 2018 NFL draft, no one knows which player is going to be selected No. 1 overall.

There are also plenty of unknowns when it comes to the quarterback pool, as any one of the four featured signal-callers could be selected first overall by the Cleveland Browns.

In addition to the quarterback intrigue, we are anxiously waiting to see what happens with Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, who could hear his name called first at ATT Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on April 27.

As we have seen already this offseason, trades are going to change the complexion of the first round. While we don’t predict trades in this mock draft, there are plenty of possibilities for them to occur as draft week gets closer.

Below is a look at the latest mock draft coupled with some bold predictions regarding Barkley and a few other top prospects.


2018 NFL 1st Round Mock Draft

1. Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

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

3. New York Jets (via Indianapolis): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

5. Denver Broncos: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

6. Indianapolis Colts (via New York Jets): Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama

8. Chicago Bears: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

9. San Francisco 49ers: Marcus Davenport, DE, Texas-San Antonio

10. Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

11. Miami Dolphins: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

12. Buffalo Bills (via Cincinnati): Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

13. Washington Redskins: Vita Vea, DT, Washington

14. Green Bay Packers: Derwin James, S, Florida State

15. Arizona Cardinals: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

16. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

18. Seattle Seahawks: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF

19. Dallas Cowboys: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

20. Detroit Lions: Leighton Vander Esch, DE/LB, Boise State

21. Cincinnati Bengals (via Buffalo): Harold Landry, DE, Boston College

22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City): Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

23. New England Patriots (via Los Angeles Rams): Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

24. Carolina Panthers: Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford

25. Tennessee Titans: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

26. Atlanta Falcons: Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia

27. New Orleans Saints: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas AM

30. Minnesota Vikings: Connor Williams, OT, Texas

31. New England Patriots: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State


Bold Predictions

Browns Take Barkley Ahead of All Quarterbacks

It is hard to believe Barkley has flown under the radar a bit in the discussion for the No. 1 overall pick, but there is a real chance he gets selected by the Browns with their opening selection of the first round. 

The strategy behind this move is to load up the skill positions on offense to help out either Tyrod Taylor or Josh Allen, whom we have going to the Browns with the No. 4 pick. 

With Barkley and Carlos Hyde in the backfield and Jarvis Landry, Corey Coleman and Josh Gordon as the primary wide receivers, the Browns would have a collection of offensive weapons few can match in the AFC.

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 30:  Saquon Barkley #26 of Penn State Nittany Lions rushes for a touchdown against the Washington Huskies during the Playstation Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on December 30, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by NorNorm Hall/Getty Images

Cleveland’s offseason moves could also benefit Barkley, as he would get a chance to learn the ways of the NFL behind Hyde, who is entering his fifth season after spending the first four in San Francisco.

Taking Barkley to round out an impressive offensive core sounds like the simple move for the Browns, who are guaranteed to have one of the quarterback prospects drop to them at No. 4.

With Barkley off the board before both New York teams can make a run at him, the trade market might open up as a handful of teams try to persuade the Giants and Jets to make moves with hefty packages.


Mayfield Drops Out of Top 10

Although it seems unlikely at the moment given the high interest in the quarterback position, Baker Mayfield is going to fall out of the top 10 and end up in the AFC East with the Buffalo Bills.

Once the top four picks are over, the waiting game begins for the Oklahoma signal-caller, who should get bypassed by the Denver Broncos because of the Case Keenum signing.

With Keenum on the roster, the Broncos go after Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson to solidify their offensive line, with a potential late-round quarterback selection to provide Keenum with a young backup to work with.

After the Broncos, the next team in the draft order potentially in the market for a quarterback is Miami, which is in a bit of predicament.

Ryan Tannehill is coming back from injury, but head coach Adam Gase might want to select a quarterback who becomes his own guy and eventually takes over the starting job.

While it would be an intriguing move, it is hard to justify with a franchise quarterback entering the 2018 season with plenty of motivation.

That leaves the Bills at No. 12, a pick they gained in a trade with the Cincinnati Bengals. If Mayfield is still available, Buffalo shouldn’t let a minute come off its draft clock before submitting the selection.

MOBILE, AL - JANUARY 27:  Baker Mayfield #6 of the North team throws the ball during the Reese's Senior Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on January 27, 2018 in Mobile, Alabama.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

With Taylor now in Cleveland, the Bills are in search of a new starting quarterback, and there is a decent chance Mayfield could beat out both AJ McCarron and Nathan Peterman.

Don’t be surprised if the Bills are active in the trade market since they own the Nos. 12 and 22 picks in the first round, which could be packaged together to move into the top 10.

In this scenario, the Bills won’t have to worry about trading and the Arizona Cardinals are the team left scrambling for options at quarterback, which leads to their selection of Louisville’s Lamar Jackson at No. 15.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.