Justin’s 2018 Way too Early Top 10 NFL Mock Draft
Team positions are estimated predictions of the 2018 season
1) San Francisco 49ers: Sam Darnold –QB : USC– John Lynch had a pretty good first draft. He got a lot of pieces to begin building the new look 49er’s around. The pick of CJ Beathard is one I don’t understand. The Iowa QB is nothing better than a two – three year back up with limited upside. San Fran fans want to believe they will make a play for Kirk Cousins and if they don’t have one of the top two pick they probably will go all in for a trade. However, if they have the first pick Darnold is the slam dunk option. He’ll be the front runner for the Heisman this year and will have USC back in a title hunt as well as playoff spot. He has the size, the intangibles, the big arm, the pocket presence, and the feet of a franchise all pro quarterback. You know a player is special when they are the major topic of conversation at the combine and still a year away from coming out.
2) New York Jets: Josh Rosen- QB: UCLA– Back to back QB’s from California to begin the draft. This is almost as sure of a thing as we will see especially after one of the most sporadic and wild drafts this past weekend. Rosen is another young gunslinger. He has an arm that can make every throw. His game has only improved since his first start. He does not look as ready as Darnold for the next level, but what he lacks currently in development and fundamentals he makes up for in his mobility. He has proven excellent at getting outside the pocket and extending the play, as well as being a presence in the run game. Expect to see the UCLA vs USC rivalry matchup be for the Pac 12 Title and possibly first overall draft pick at QB as scouts will be salivating at the talent.
3) Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley- RB: Penn St– The Brown’s were another team that made huge strides in turning around their franchise in the 2017 draft. If Kizer or one of the other young QB’s pan out then they will be looking for a work horse RB to take some of the pressure off their young signal caller. Barkley is in the mold of Fournette and Elliott. As much as draft analyst go insane about taking a running back early; when you see game changing talent you don’t pass it up. Barkley is a strong runner with elusive skills. He can improve by being a bit more involved in the passing game, as well as work on his blocking to become the total package.
4) Los Angeles Rams: Derwin James- S: FSU- The Rams will either be on the verge of throwing the towel in on Goff or will begin seeing improvements to make him the future face of the team. If anyone can do it McVay is the ultimate QB whisperer. If they decide to cut their losses Allen is in play here. I’m assuming Goff turns the corner and the Rams turn their attention to a game changing safety. James if he is fully recovered from his meniscus injury last year will be one of the premier defensive players of this draft. James is a do it all safety that compares to Sean Taylor. He can line up anywhere on the field and have his presence known. He rushes the passer, and takes on blockers like a linebacker. He is a huge support in the run game and can take away receivers underneath or overtop in coverage.
5) Jacksonville Jaguars: Josh Allen- QB: Wyoming– The Jaguars spent a ton of money on free agency and had a solid draft. The only piece they may be missing is a franchise QB. Bortles showed flashes of greatness but hasn’t been able to put it all together for an entire season. Contract years are make or break so unless Bortles raises his game to a new level; the Jaguars will be looking for their new field general. Allen is the big framed tough QB that looks like the next Roethlisberger or Wentz. He can make the throws but he does force the ball a bit too much for my liking. He needs to make a large stride in decision making if he is going to move up any higher than the third quarterback off the board.
6) Chicago Bears: Arden Key- DE: LSU- After a horrendous 2017 draft where they overpaid and overvalued players in position not of immediate need. Da Bears get a chance to show they are ready to make a difference. Fans are restless in the windy city and rightfully so. Key’s set the sack record at LSU and is one of the best defensive ends to come out. The LSU star pass rusher would have rivaled Garrett for the #1 pick if he could have come out this year. Unfortunately for him the 2018 draft is going to be filled with elite talent and will come down to the teams need. Key is fast and a hard hitter. He gets around offensive blockers unlike anyone I’ve seen. His relentless pass rush however does cause him to get caught off balance for making plays in the run game. He will need to improve that discipline in his junior year
7) Buffalo Bills: Christian Kirk- WR: Texas A&M– The Bills can not put off adding another receiver to help Sammie Watkins any more. After firing their GM the new captain of the ship will not make the same mistake. Kirk has the intangibles that set him apart from others in the class. He has amazing open field vision and can produce big YAC numbers. He is a game changer in the return game and will make an immediate impact. Kirk’s biggest downfall is his size. Smaller receivers often get manhandled and he is not going to win many jump balls. Kirk makes up for all this with his crisp route running and feet.
8) Minnesota Vikings: Mike McGlinckey- OT: Notre Dame– If Bridgewater can come back then the Vikings may not be picking here. Minnesota’s largest hole regardless who the starter is at the helm is the O-line. Connor Williams is the safe pick out of Texas but McGlinckey has the upside and the tremendous size that scouts can’t look away from. McGlinckey will certainly benefit largely from coming back for a final year at South Bend. He does a tremendous job protecting the quarterback but needs to improve on his mental toughness in high pressure situations. If he’s going to be a left tackle he needs to keep his quarterback‘s back side clean and pressure free. He is very quick off the snap but only in pass protection. His long arms that are such value are his detriment as he overextends himself trying to assist in the run game. He also plays a bit too high at the position for my liking.
9) Denver Broncos: Christian Wilkins- DT: Clemson– I’m not a believer in Denver’s QB play. Their division is getting stronger and the Broncos defense is aging. I think Denver may end up having a top 10 selection and if so they will focus early on their biggest hole in the middle of their mighty defense. Wilkins is a game changer. Wilkins stole the show during the National championship celebration with his dance moves and splits. Not many 310 pound guys are dropping moves like that. His athletic ability is through the roof. He is the rare big body that can pass rush the QB and get intense pressure. He has active hands that he gets up when he can not make it to the quarterback in time. He’s not a two gap DT and will need to work better on holding his ground in the middle. Wilkins is a monster that may only move up draft boards as the season progresses.
10) Cincinnati Bengals- Bradley Chubb- DE: NC State– If the Bengals are going to get back on track they need to get their sack total back up. They are in desperate need of a jolt and Chubb who may not be a household name yet, but will certainly be one to burst on the scene. He is Mario Williams but with a greater tenacity. He has no problem collapsing the pocket but, he also holds the run game. He’s really the total package for an edge player and one that won’t slip in April 2018.