Alert the townsfolk and grab the pitchforks, there’s 8 days left until the 2018 NFL Draft and I’ve got a mock draft that is sure to anger everybody. I’ve got full confidence that this is exactly how things will unfold on April 26th, so join me in a journey to the future.
For full context, this mock is meant to complement The Kist & Solak Show episode on BGN Radio that drops today. Benjamin Solak and I use this mock, and play around with some scenarios, to try and get a feel for what needs to happen if the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles are going to have a best case scenario when they select at 32nd overall. Additionally, mocks without trades are gutless, so I took a stab at a few swaps. Without further ado, prepare to be mad online.
If the rumors about Wyoming QB Josh Allen being the first overall pick are true, this mock is already off to a roaring start. Allen fits new Cleveland Browns GM John Dorsey’s mold of taking raw prospects with gigantic arms, but I just can’t see a world in which the Wyoming product is worth the top pick in any draft. Allen lacks the accuracy, mental processing, and mental toughness to recover from mistakes rather than compounding them. USC’s QB Sam Darnold has variance to his game and probably should’ve stayed another year but won’t be forced into starting action right away with Tyrod Taylor on the roster.
The Buffalo Bills trading up has been in the cards for a year, as they’ve collected the necessary capital and offloaded Tyrod for this very reason. If the New York Giants aren’t sold on a quarterback, they can’t afford to pick at 2nd overall. The trade allows them to fill out their roster while giving them maneuverability in 2019 to trade up for a quarterback. I’m of the opinion that the Giants should stick and take UCLA QB Josh Rosen, but if they don’t this is the right move for them.
After the New York Jets take Rosen, the first non-quarterback comes off the board at 4th overall with Penn State running back Saquon Barkley going to the Cleveland Browns. The Miami Dolphins could be targeting the 4th overall pick to get their quarterback, but instead find a dance partner in the Denver Broncos. Head coach Adam Gase reportedly loves Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield and the cost isn’t too prohibitive.
Four quarterbacks going in the first five picks is great news for the teams picking directly after them. The Indianapolis Colts bolster their pass rush with NC State’s Bradley Chubb, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers add some nasty with Notre Dame’s guard Quenton Nelson, and the Chicago Bears get a dynamic, rangy linebacker in Georgia’s Roquan Smith.
Rich Homie Roquan Smith dogged ND, not even keying on him but he strung together some reps - pic.twitter.com/Y59B5sn7KE— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) March 28, 2018
I was told earlier in the season that the San Francisco 49er’s top player was Alabama’s DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, so their pick was a no brainer and an absolute steal. Virgina Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds brings his bonkers upside to the Oakland Raider’s at 10 to round out the top of the draft.
This is where things get difficult. Best case scenario for the Eagles is as many quarterbacks as possible coming off the board, which could happen at 11th overall with the Broncos (via Miami), 12th overall with the Giants (via Buffalo), and Arizona at 15th overall. The other two wildcards are the Baltimore Ravens and San Diego Chargers. The Ravens have interest in bringing a rookie quarterback onto the roster early in the draft, putting Louisville’s Lamar Jackson firmly in play, but chances are they wait for Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph in the 2nd round.
With Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey coming off the board to the Arizona Cardinals, the tackle position becomes instantly thin. Ohio State’s Denzel Ward, Iowa’s Josh Jackson, and Florida State’s Derwin James coming off the board in this area begin to thin out the defensive backs, but there is still some top talent left on the board for the Eagles to target.
Five prospects that the Eagles brought in for official visits come off the board in this area (Daniels, Vander Esch, Hughes, Evans, Alexander), narrowing the Super Bowl Champions’ options at 32. If the Jacksonville Jaguars decided against replacing the departure of nickel Aaron Colvin this early and instead went with a quarterback or a speedy wide receiver like LSU’s DJ Chark, Alexander would be hard to pass up for the Eagles.
One player that fell out of the first round in this exercise is Texas’ offensive tackle Connor Williams. Depending on how the Eagles feel about his ability to stick on the outside while providing depth at the guard spot while he sits behind Peters would largely affect this selection. Not knowing how they view Williams, I decided instead to go with the bell-cow running back from LSU that the Eagles have shown massive interest in by selecting Derrius Guice.
Good morning everybody, even to those that pulled a hammy trying to track down Derrius Guice - pic.twitter.com/XYJXy1nMwb— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) April 17, 2018
You can debate among yourselves about taking a running back “in the first round” and about the virtues of trading back to get a running back in the second round, but there’s an issue with that. Depending on what happens at the top of the first round, the beginning of the second round looks like murderer’s row for running back needy teams. The Browns at 33 and 35, the Giants at 34, the Colts at 36 and 37, the Buccaneers at 38 and the Raiders at 41 bring with them the potential for multiple running backs to get sniped. This is a prime area for other running backs like USC’s Ronald Jones and the pair from Georgia (Nick Chubb, Sony Michel) to come off the board.
Other options that remained for the Eagles include Oregon’s offensive tackle Tyrell Crosby, Colorado cornerback Isaiah Oliver, Maryland wide receiver DJ Moore, Stanford safety Justin Reid, Alabama safety Ronnie Harrison and all of the top tight ends (Mike Gesicki, Dallas Goedert, Hayden Hurst) among others.
Ultimately, several options exist for the Eagles, including trading back. If the massive smoke plume emanating from the Eagles targeting a running back at 32 has no fire, they’ve done well to drum up interest for running back needy teams at the top of the second round to trade up, which would provide the champs with extra capital to move around later in the draft.