We are nearing the end of March my friends, and the 2018 NFL Draft is only a mere 27 days away. In celebration of being so close yet so far, I have decided to give you, the people, my first mock draft of the season. Picks 1-32, just for you. Let’s get it.
1(1) Cleveland Browns select- USC QB Sam Darnold
Although the Browns traded for Buffalo Bills QB Tyrod Taylor, the Browns pull the trigger on their hopeful franchise QB of the future in Sam Darnold. Darnold brings a lot of good (and bad) things to the table at QB for the Browns. He brings you relatively good size at QB standing at 6’3, 221lbs. If you want to see Darnold’s’ potential, just watch the 2016 Rose Bowl, when Darnold threw for 453 yards, five touchdowns to one interception. With the Browns having Tyrod Taylor, they can afford to possibly sit Darnold to start his career and take over control when ready.
1(2) New York Giants select- N.C State DE Bradley Chubb
The Giants recently traded DE Jason Pierre-Paul to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, suddenly created a hole at the edge spot for them defensively. How do you fix that? You pick the best edge rusher in the draft in Bradley Chubb with the second overall pick. Chubb might be one of the best edge rushers to come out of college in the last few seasons. His ability to use moves and bend around offensive tackles in college was phenomenal. The Giants get a franchise defensive end on their defensive line.
1(3) New York Jets (via IND) select- UCLA QB Josh Rosen
Don’t let the signings of Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater throw you off. The Jets need a QB and after missing out on the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes this past free agency, they nab the most pro-ready QB in the draft in Josh Rosen. Josh Rosen will walk into New York (Jersey really) and by week one of the 2018 NFL season, will be the starter for years to come. Coming in at 6’4 226 lbs, Rosen gives you near perfect QB size, topped with his 9 7/8 hands, The Jets are gifted an excellent sized, pro-ready QB to try and lead them back to the playoffs.
1(4) Cleveland Browns select- Alabama DB Minkah Fitzpatrick
Saquon Barkley is still on the board here at four, however, I don’t think the Browns pull the trigger after singing former 49ers, RB Carlos Hyde. Now I don’t think by any means that the Browns don’t select a running back early in this draft. They own the first and third picks at the beginning of the second round and I do believe there will be very good talent at the running back position there for the Browns. Instead, the Browns select one of the most versatile defensive backs in the draft in Minkah Fitzpatrick. With Fitzpatrick, you have the option of putting him at cornerback or safety and get a good day one starter.
1(5) *TRADE* Buffalo Bills (via DEN) select- Wyoming QB Josh Allen
Early in the offseason, the Buffalo Bills traded up from 21 to 12 thanks to a trade sending LT Cordy Glenn to the Cincinnati Bengals in exchange for the 12th overall pick. That was the first step in their plan to get the QB of their future. On draft day they pull the trigger and move from 12th all the way to top five at number five with Denver. With the fifth overall pick, the Bills select their signal-caller of the future in QB Josh Allen. Allen has a remarkably strong arm, with a velocity of 62 MPH, putting him in the 100th percentile for ball velocity. He also has great hand size at 10 1/8 and stature, standing at 6’5, 237 lbs. The Bills are banking on a very high ceiling and very low floor for Allen and I think he pans out well for the Bills.
1(6) Indianapolis Colts (via NYJ) select- Penn State RB Saquon Barkley
The Colts are banking on either Andrew Luck or Jacoby Brissett to lead them at QB this offseason, preferably the former. With this in mind, they take arguably the best offensive prospect in the draft in Saquon Barkley. Barkley is an immediate upgrade at the running back position for the Colts with the departure of veteran Frank Gore. Barkley joins second-year RB Marlon Mack in what could be a good 1-2 punch for Indy.
1(7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers select- Notre Dame OG Quenton Nelson
The Buccaneers have several needs that need to be addressed in this draft. They were able to scratch one off early in the trade for Jason Pierre-Paul. However, Bucs starting LG Evan Smith is getting older, and when the best guard in the draft falls to your lap, you take him, especially when you’re trying to run the ball and keep franchise QB Jameis Winston off his back. Nelson gives TB a mauler in a guard and wants to “Take away opposing players will to play the game.”
1(8) Chicago Bears select- Ohio State CB Denzel Ward
The Bears matched an offer sheet from the Green Bay Packers on CB Kyle Fuller, keeping him in Chicago for years to come. The Bears have completely overhauled their offense in the past two seasons, drafting QB Mitchell Trubisky, and signing WRs Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel as well at TE Trey Burton, on top of WR Cameron Meredith. The Bears now focus on what made them dominant in the 80’s, the defense. They add a playmaking CB in Denzel Ward who will always be making a play on the ball and forcing turnovers.
1(9) San Fransisco 49ers select- Boston College EDGE Harold Landry
Some people will likely look at this pick with a confused face. However, the 49ers were 26th in the league last year in sacks, a number they want to improve on greatly. Adding Harold Landry to the edge would be an immediate upgrade on a DL filled with former first-round picks, ready to dominate.
1(10) Oakland Raiders select- Georgia LB Roquan Smith
Arguably the best LB prospect in the draft and is the first taken off the board. Roquan Smith plays mean and fits right in with the Raiders and gives Jon Gruden his franchise MLB.
1(11) Miami Dolphins select- Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield
I have been formulating a plan from afar to rebuild the Miami Dolphins. They already did my first step in moving on from DT Ndamukong Suh. The next step is finding and replacing QB Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill has been average-good his whole career but Baker Mayfield can come in and be great, as he’s my second best QB prospect in this draft. His will and ability to make plays with his legs and arm give him all the tools to win, something he’s accustom to doing. He lacks size but that hasn’t stopped yet and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon.
1(12) Denver Broncos (via BUF) select- Texas OT/OG Connor Williams
The Broncos signed Case Keenum in free agency, and I believe he is good enough to play at a high level for the Broncos after leading the Vikings to the NFC championship game. The Broncos trade back and stockpile draft capital and continue to fortify the OL. The Broncos likely gain 2-3 more picks on day two of the draft to continue to fill needed holes on both sides of the ball.
1(13) Washington Redskins select- Michigan DT Maurice Hurst
The Redskins started off the offseason with a blockbuster trade sending CB Kendall Fuller to the Chiefs in return for QB Alex Smith and then signed him long term. The Redskins address the other side of the ball and target the DL and pick the best interior defensive linemen in the draft in Maurice Hurst. Hurst however, sat out the combine with a heart issue, but it isn’t believed to be long term.
1(14) Green Bay Packers select- Iowa CB Joshua Jackson
The Packers need help in the secondary, and after losing out on Kyle Fuller, they go CB early in the draft and nab a really good corner in Joshua Jackson. Although Jackson doesn’t have a lot of starting tape to look at, the tape he does have, he produced. In 14 career starts, he has 27 passes defensed and eight interceptions. He excels in playing the ball with his long arms and makes a play on the ball on 25.7% of his targets.
1(15) Arizona Cardinals select- Louisville QB Lamar Jackson
This offseason, the Cardinals signed the often injured QB Sam Bradford. This move I believe is more of a placeholder than a long-term fix for the Cardinals. The Cardinals take a chance on a dynamic quarterback in Lamar Jackson, who might have the ability to sit and grow if Bradford can stay healthy. Jackson and running back David Johnson could wreak havoc on opposing defenses for years to come.
1(16) Baltimore Ravens select- Maryland WR D.J Moore
The Ravens have had terrible luck in picking receivers in recent years. WR Breshad Perriman has been a non-factor for the Ravens and the carousel of WRs for QB Joe Flacco has been frustrating. The Ravens hopefully have their guy who has great upside but definitely has the speed to stretch the field vertically. The Ravens recently signed former Raiders WR Michael Crabtree, so to pair him with a local talent in Moore could really bolster this Ravens passing attack. Moore is viewed by many as the top WR prospect in this draft. The Ravens value guys who can speed upfield and Moore fits that bill perfectly.
1(17) Los Angeles Chargers select- Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey
The Chargers were hit with the injury bug early last season with now second-year RG Forrest Lamp, tearing his ACL early into summer practices for the Chargers. The Chargers look to upgrade at tackle over Russell Okung and Joe Barksdale by adding a top tackle talent in McGlinchey to the offensive line. The Chargers would enter the season with a young and promising OL including players like Dan Feeney, Mike McGlinchey, and Forrest Lamp.
1(18) Seattle Seahawks select- UTEP OG Will Hernandez
The Seahawks offensive line was abysmal last year. The OL should be their #1 focus at 18, regardless of who falls. Their porous lineup front resulted in an ineffective run game for the Seahawks, as well as QB Rusell Wilson scrambling more than he should all season long. Hernandez bullies whoever is in front of him and that type of mentality and production is just what the doctor ordered for the Seahawks.
1(19) Dallas Cowboys select- Florida DT Taven Bryan
Cowboys Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli was all over Bryan at Florida’s pro day. The Cowboys need all the help they can get on the interior defensive line and to get help for Demarcus Lawrence should be the Cowboys top goal. Bryan has the best first step for defensive linemen in this draft and should make an immediate impact in the pros.
1(20) Detroit Lions select- LSU RB Derrius Guice
The Lions haven’t had a running back rush for over 100 yards since 2013 when Reggie Bush last did it. That is a very long time and quite frankly embarrassing streak to have. Guice gives you a great combo of catching, agility, and explosiveness to compete in the NFL. The league is changing and pass-catching running backs are becoming essential to a successful NFL offense and it wouldn’t surprise me if Guice broke the streak in week one of the 2018 NFL season.
1(21) Cincinnati Bengals (via BUF) select- Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds
The Bengals get a young, speedy linebacker to add to their defense. Edmunds, only 19 years old, would be 23 or 24 when going into his second contract, which is insane to think about. One drawback to Edmunds is his lack of film and experience at the collegiate level but ceiling wise, the potential is all there.
1(22) Buffalo Bills select- Texas A&M WR Christian Kirk
The Bills trade up early in the first round and get their franchise QB. Now they get a franchise target for their QB in Christian Kirk. Kirk lacks size but makes up for it with great route running, and the ability to get open in the NFL is a great ability to have. Bills fans should be excited about the future with Allen and Kirk at the helm of the offense.
1(23) Los Angeles Rams select- Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch
The Rams have been very busy this offseason, trading for CB Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib as well as trading away LBs Alec Ogletree and Robert Quinn. Vander Esch gives the Rams a big linebacker inside standing tall at 6’4 and 256 lbs. They continue to overhaul the defense with this pick to compliment a strong offense led by QB Jared Goff and RB Todd Gurley II.
1(24) Carolina Panthers select- Alabama WR Calvin Ridley
The Panthers traded away WR Kelvin Benjamin last season in an attempt to churn the passing attack. The emergence of Devin Funchess was pleasing for Panthers fans, and the signing of Torrey Smith shouldn’t go unnoticed. However, the Panthers still need help and depth at WR and Ridley is the perfect combination of talent and upside to go to the Panthers and maybe not have to be the #1 guy right away.
1(25) Tennessee Titans select- UTSA DE Marcus Davenport
The Titans upgrade the pass rush in selecting a guy with a lot of upside in Marcus Davenport. Davenport looked great during Senior Bowl week and had been mocked as high as seven in some mock drafts. However, he takes a tumble on draft day and winds up in the AFC South on the Tennesee Titans.
1(26) Atlanta Falcons select- Washington DT Vita Vea
The Falcons continue to bolster the defense. Vita Vea was unblockable at times for Washington and pairing him with Takarrist McKinley and Jarrett Grady could be deadly for a Falcons defense that already has a strong offense and strong secondary. Vea could be a piece that puts the Falcons back on track to take another stab at the Superbowl.
1(27) New Orleans Saints select- Georgia OG Isaiah Wynn
The Saints and the NFL were set on fire by rookie sensation Alvin Kamara. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram were the perfect 1-2 punch last year, and the best way to make a running attack better is fortifying the line they have to run behind. Rookie RT Ryan Ramczyk was sensational last year, and the Saints look to nab another top OL talent to bolster the line. Wynn is a top three guard in this draft and to snag him at 27 is a steal for the Saints.
1(28) Pittsburgh Steelers select- Georgia RB Sony Michel
A stunner in a pick here as the Steelers embrace an inevitable future with Le’Veon Bell. Sony Michel offers a nearly identical skill set to what Bell does and if Bell leaves, could allow the Steelers to seamlessly transition at the running back position.
1(29) Jacksonville Jaguars select- Florida State S Derwin James
The Jaguars have the luxury of picking the best available player here in reuniting former Florida State stars Derwin James, Jalen Ramsey, and Telvin Smith. Drafting James would likely mean the writing is on the wall for FS Tashaun Gipson, who has minimal dead cap remaining on his contract. The Jaguars would be gaining a top 3 safety in the draft and another gritty, playmaking defensive back to an already historically good pass defense. Another home run pick for Caldwell & Co. here at 29.
1(30) Minnesota Vikings select- South Dakota State TE Dallas Goedert
Dallas Goedert would be the first tight end taken off the board and Minnesota is getting a good one. Although missing the Senior Bowl and the combine with a hamstring injury, Goedert has often been compared to the likes of Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce. The Vikings already have a great tight end in Kyle Rudolph but adding Goedert could be lethal for an offense with star QB Kirk Cousins now at the helm and the return of RB Dalvin Cook. The Vikings could look to have the best offense and defense in the NFL next season.
1(31) New England Patriots select- Louisville CB Jaire Alexander
Former NE cornerback and Superbowl hero Malcolm Butler signed a five year $61.2 million contract with the Tennesee Titans, reuniting him with former Patriots CB Logan Ryan. With Butler leaving, the Patriots are left with a gaping hole in the secondary. The depth behind Stephon Gilmore is bleak and the Patriots address this need early by getting the most pro-ready cornerback in this class. Jaire Alexander gives you everything you could need in a cornerback; Size, instincts, and stats are all things you get when you draft Jaire Alexander. Having to go against QB Lamar Jackson in practice every day can also have its advantages.
1(32) Philadelphia Eagles select- SMU WR Courtland Sutton
The defending Superbowl champions have an interesting dilemma at quarterback, however, the best way to help any quarterback is to give him as many weapons as possible, and the Eagles do just that. Nelson Agholor was hot and cold this past season, and Alshon Jeffrey was good. The Eagles decide to pull the trigger on a WR who has size (6’3 218 lbs) and agility (10.68 agility score, 97th percentile) and the ability to go up for catches but also stretch the field with his speed and agility. Whether it be Wentz or Foles, the Eagles get a stud for the wide receiver group.
So what did you think? Did you love your teams pick? Or did you hate it? Give me your feedback and questions on twitter @MistoChristopho! Follow @LockedonJaguars on Twitter for daily updates and listen to us on Itunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play Store and more!
Dante Fowler Jr. suspension gives Taven Bryan an early chance to flash
Jaguars’ backup defensive end and former third overall pick Dante Fowler Jr. was slapped with a one-game suspension on Friday afternoon for a battery incident in the summer of 2017, per Mike Kaye of First Coast News.
— Mike Kaye (@mike_e_kaye) July 20, 2018
This isn’t news that Fowler Jr. could possibly have wanted to hear, as the team declined his fifth-year option earlier this year. He is facing a prove-it season in 2018, with a second contract in Jacksonville on the line — missing time, even one game, due to a suspension doesn’t help his case.
It does, however, give another former Florida Gator-turned- Jacksonville Jaguar an early chance to shine.
Taven Bryan, the Jaguars’ first round selection in this year’s draft, undoubtebly has a big role in the team’s defense ahead of him, but with such a star-studded group of defensive linemen already on the roster, his career could start a little slow. Before the Fowler Jr. suspension, it was easy to assume Bryan would start the year with minimal game-time reps and work his way up as the season goes on and/or injuries begin to affect the team.
Now, Bryan has a chance to make an impact early, and demand more playing time out the gate.
While Fowler Jr. isn’t a starter, he plays a significant role in the Jaguars’ pass rush. He was on the field for 44.83% of the Jaguars’ defensive snaps in 2017, where he accumulated eight sacks, per ProFootballReference.com.
Fowler Jr. saw a lot of his snaps on third down in obvious passing situations. He would often play opposite of weakside-defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, the team’s primary pass rushing-end. This speed-rush subpackage pushed Calais Campbell inside to defensive tackle opposite of Malik Jackson, with Marcell Dareus and Abry Jones receiving inside reps as well.
With the interior having solid depth in the team’s, for lack of a better term, “lightning package” (a Gus Bradley expression”, someone will need to fill in Fowler Jr.’s role in week one against the New York Giants.
Now, being this is only one game and it will be Bryan’s first professional regular season game, he certainly may not look polished. However, he will almost certainly see an increase in snaps in the defensive line rotation, and since he has reportedly been receiving time at defensive end during the team’s offseason, it would only make sense to see Bryan acquire what would be Fowler Jr.’s lightning-package role at defensive end.
Bryan would be getting a big chance to flash the skillset that got him drafted in the first round. Despite a low sack count of 5.5 at the University of Florida, Bryan had a killer first-step off the line as a pass rusher. He would bully offensive lineman with a mix of speed and power out of his stance, and find ways to disrupt passing plays more than the stat-sheet ever exemplified.
Dante Fowler Jr.’s suspension isn’t an huge blow to the defense for their game against the Giants. However, this may be a small blessing in disguise for Bryan. If he can take advantage of Fowler Jr.’s absence in a pure pass-rushing role, Bryan could force the team to feed him more snaps early on, and cement a big role in the Jaguars’ fearsome pass-rushing attack.
If Bryan receives Fowler Jr.’s snaps and flashes the skillset that the team drafted him for, he could be a major factor in the “lightning package” going forward.
2018 Jacksonville Jaguars Rookie Class Projections
The Jacksonville Jaguars’ entire 2018 NFL draft class is officially under contract and has reported to training camp. The last signee, defensive lineman and first round pick Taven Bryan, signed a 4-year $10.2 million deal with a $5.5 million signing bonus.
With the rookies officially reporting to camp, let’s look to the future and project how each rookies’ first season in Jacksonville will play out.
1st round: Taven Bryan, DE/DT Selected 29th overall, Bryan, while not expected to start, is expected to receive a solid amount of snaps, especially deep into the season. Bryan is expected to one day take over at either the 5-tech defensive end position for Calais Campbell or the 3-tech defensive tackle position for Malik Jackson, so expect to see him back those two up and get some playing time at both positions in relief of the starters.
I expect Taven Bryan to have a year like Tyson Alualu’s rookie season. Alualu accounted for 38 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and one defended pass. While these numbers do not pop off the page, they are a fair benchmark for someone who will be learning a ton of new responsibilities on the defensive line.
2nd round: D.J Chark, WR Chark was selected with the idea to create a vertical threat to open the run game for Leonard Fournette and the Jaguars offense. He posted a 4.34 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine and lit up the Senior Bowl, hauling in five receptions for 160 yards and a touchdown.
The Jaguars are hoping to have drafted a steal in the second round and will use him early and often. As far as projections, I could see Chark having a similar rookie campaign to Keelan Cole who posted 42 catches, 748 yards, and three touchdowns depending on how often he is used.
3rd round: Ronnie Harrison, safety Harrison was selected to eventually take over the starting strong safety position from 30-year-old Barry Church. While Church is only entering the second year of his deal, Harrison has the ability to take snaps from Church as the year goes on.
For his rookie season projection, he will most likely rotate in as the 3rd safety as more of a run-stopping presence/nickel linebacker role as well as play on special teams. As far as statistical projections, he should be expected to have around 30 tackles and a few pass deflections.
4th round: Will Richardson, OL Richardson was brought in to add depth and competition at right tackle, as well as potentially competing with AJ Cann for the starting right guard position. As far as 2018 projections, he more than likely will simply be the swing tackle in case Parnell goes down but could eventually become the starter down the line.
6th round: Tanner Lee, QB Lee was selected to compete for the backup QB position with Cody Kessler, who was traded to the Jaguars from the Browns prior to the draft. Lee was not a highly touted QB coming out of Nebraska, known for poor decision making and being turnover prone, throwing 37 interceptions in three years.
As far as projections for this season, he is not expected to have a spot on the active roster, and could be cut before the season even starts. I still expect him to at least make the practice squad as the Jaguars really like his arm talent.
7th round: Leon Jacobs, LB Jacobs is projected to be the backup strong-side linebacker for his rookie campaign, a position that doesn’t see the field much in this Jaguars’ nickel-heavy defense in the first place. He will not be expected to do much on defense as most of his time will be participating in special teams. However, he will be an interesting player to watch during training camp in a week or so.
7th round: Logan Cooke, P Cooke was the Jaguars final pick in the 2018 NFL draft and is not talked about too much, however, he will be a key component to the Jaguars success. Last year’s punter, Brad Nortman, was very inconsistent last season, which led to his release shortly after Cooke was drafted. Cooke will take over the starting punter job and look to flip the field for the Jaguars for years to come.
Jaguars agree to terms with 2018 first round pick Taven Bryan
The Jaguars have come to terms on a contract with first round pick defensive tackle Taven Bryan, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
The #Jaguars agreed to terms with first round DT Taven Bryan on a 4 year deal worth $10.2M deal with a $5.5M signing bonus, source said. Right before rookies report
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 17, 2018
Bryan’s rookie deal is worth $10.2 million over 4 years, and includes a $5.5 million signing bonus.
The contract, relatively low compared to the NFL’s most expensive defensive line, could help relieve the Jaguars cap space within the next few years when Bryan inevitably takes on a bigger role.
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