2018 NFL Mock Draft: Predicting Every Pick For The 1st Round
Published on January 26, 2018
A year ago sports bettors officially got to do something online that wasn’t previously approved by the Nevada Gaming Commision; bet on the NFL Draft.
Betting on the draft was already a thing in some regards, depending on the site, but only in 2017 did it become commonplace on all of the top sports betting sites.
Naturally, 2018 promises to be a pretty interesting betting landscape once the NFL Draft rolls around.
Betting sites already got a glimpse of just how much betting action the draft can reel in while coming up with more creative NFL Draft props is sure to entice bettors even more.
It’s been slow to progress so far this year, but with the Senior Bowl firing off this weekend, it’s actually fairly understandable.
To this point, there have only been two really prominent draft wagers out there. One was regarding which quarterback would hear their name called first in April and the latest is which player will be the #1 overall pick.
That wager presently resides at BetOnline, where USC quarterback Sam Darnold is favored to go first overall to the Cleveland Browns. Here are the full odds, per BetOnline:
It is most certainly cloudy at the top of the draft right now, as you could make a very strong case for pretty much every option here. However, Cleveland just drafted a pass rusher at the top spot last year and they badly need help at running back and quarterback.
This is also a very concrete list of the most likely options to go first overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. For me, I think bettors can safely eliminate Fitzpatrick, Chubb and the Field as realistic betting options.
They’re all attractive and could return a big payday, but they’re just not logical.
Unless Cleveland trades out of the top spot (and they won’t), they’re almost certainly taking a franchise quarterback. Deshone Kizer doesn’t fit the bill and the Browns haven’t had a viable passer under center for ages.
Saquon Barkley is a fun sleeper play to pivot off of the quarterback position and I don’t think it’s impossible Cleveland goes there. After all, just look at how huge of an impact stud rushers like Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette have had for teams over the past few years.
That’s something to consider (especially at +1000), but the odds tell the story here. Darnold, Rosen and Allen are surely battling for that top pick and not so far behind them – perhaps tied with Barkley – could be Mayfield.
I won’t rule out impressive work at the Senior Bowl, the Combine and individual pro days shaking things up, but at the moment, the three options with the best odds are your best bets.
The process for the Browns to narrow it down and make a pick will not be easy, while there are going to be a lot of difficult questions even after the top pick is set in stone.
To get the process started to answer them all – especially for NFL Draft betting purposes down the road – let’s dive into my first mock of the 2018 NFL Draft:
I love Allen here for a lot of reasons. For one, he’s a heck of a talent. He moves in the pocket extremely well, he has a cannon for an arm and he can make plays with his legs.
On top of that, he’s been very vocal about wanting to go to Cleveland and be part of resurrecting this dormant franchise:
Josh Allen is ready to turn the Browns around.
— Sporting News (@sportingnews)
In addition, Mel Kiper Jr. pegged him as the top pick in his initial mock.
There is also so much value to be had here (+275 at BetOnline) strictly from a betting perspective. The kicker for me, though, is that this is such a Browns move.
Allen has mouth-watering talent and upside, but I don’t think he’s a finished product and he certainly isn’t the most complete passing prospect in this draft class. It’s entirely possible the Browns go after Darnold, Rosen or Mayfield here, too. Most people will say they really can’t go wrong.
I’m not sure picking Allen is “wrong”, but this is a kid who does have his question marks. Cleveland is going to make a gut-call here and make him their new franchise quarterback.
Eli Manning is aging rapidly and may have already seen the end. It , but either way, the G-Men need to start thinking long-term.
That should mean the franchise invests in a new quarterback. Considering they have an amazing opportunity at #2 overall and do not presently have a legit answer for when Manning is done, they need to take a stab at getting one here.
Pick your poison here, but for me, USC’s Sam Darnold offers the most polished, NFL-ready passer in this entire draft class. I agree he’s not the sexiest option and he might not have the most upside, but he’s probably the safest bet.
New York played it safe the first time around when they got Manning and they should do so again. They have other needs, but with their current franchise passer regressing and nearing retirement, I don’t see a greater one than this.
I really haven’t seen Penn State’s stud running back mocked to the Colts much, but that surprises me. Indy already has a franchise quarterback, talent in the passing game and some tools to work with on defense.
What this franchise doesn’t have – and hasn’t had in years – is an elite running back that can take the pressure off of Andrew Luck and their passing game.
An aging Frank Gore simply will not do and the Colts don’t have a contingency plan behind him. On top of all of that, Barkley is simply a sensational runner and overall, the total package at the running back position.
After seeing the massive difference a high level runner can make (i.e., Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette and Todd Gurley), Indy would be foolish to bypass such a magnificent talent.
Everyone wants Barkley to slide to the Browns, but that seems a bit too perfect. Cleveland is the worst team in the league and they probably want to nab two generational talents within the first 4 picks, but I don’t think it happens.
Instead, Cleveland will have to wait on extra offensive help and with the 4th overall pick, they’ll turn to their defense. The Browns oddly enough have some nice pieces on that side of the ball, but continued to struggle at defending the pass.
The team let Joe Haden go this past season and ranked near the middle of the pack against the pass.
The Browns do have talent at cornerback, but Jason McCourty is 30 and has an expiring contract after next season. They need to think long-term here, while an elite cover man like Fitzpatrick also enhances their overall depth in the secondary immediately.
The beauty here is Fitzpatrick has the versatility and athleticism to play corner or safety. Cleveland is getting a flat-out stud football player here.
Baker Mayfield proved to be quite the game in college with the Sooners and all signs point to scouts loving him for the next level. That probably extends to the Denver Broncos, who and other passers at this year’s Senior Bowl.
Broncos GM John Elway has made it known that Denver is going to go out of it’s way to land a legit franchise passer this offseason and I think they covet Mayfield the most.
Mayfield isn’t the most consistent passer and he lacks size, but he can make all of the throws, is athletic and has swagger for days. From a sheer talent perspective, he might be the best gunslinger this draft has to offer and I wouldn’t be shocked if Elway and co. roll the dice on him here.
Denver doesn’t have much to lose, as their alternatives at the moment are Brock Osweiler, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch.
Rosen is far from a consolation prize and could still easily work his way up to the #1 pick, but the Jets will gladly take him if he indeed slides this far.
Josh McCown recently suggested he wouldn’t mind returning in 2018, but the Jets need a long-term answer under center. They currently don’t have one, so whether it’s Rosen, Mayfield or another passing prospect, they absolutely need to make a play for one here in round one.
Rosen looks to be ready for the pros and gives the Jets a real chance at a star quarterback for the first time in years. They have other needs, but none figure to be greater than quarterback.
As you can see, the quarterback position is both extremely loaded heading into the 2018 NFL Draft, and also in great demand.
That won’t be the case for the Bucs, though, as Jameis Winston is their obvious answer under center. If anything, Tampa Bay needs to go after another offensive weapon to help him, or add a significant boost to their defense.
If I’m making the call, it’s Chubb by a mile and if there is a second pick, it has to be some type of pass rusher. Most would agree Chubb is the best natural pass rusher in this draft, though, and he should be high on the board for a team that ranked dead last in sacks in 2017.
Davenport is a trending pass rusher, as he’s been very much on the rise lately. It’s not impossible he trumps Chubb, but for now I’ll slot him in one spot lower to the Chicago Bears.
The Bears badly need help at wide receiver, but this high in the draft, I’m not sure they go there just yet. The horror of doing so with Kevin White still looms large, so I think it’s likely they’ll instead keep adding to a maturing defense.
Chicago has several good pieces on that side of the ball and they actually had a nice pass rush this past season, but an elite game-changing talent like this will be awfully hard to pass on.
Assuming the Niners bring back Jimmy Garoppolo as their quarterback of the future, they’ll be looking to build momentum elsewhere in the draft.
GM John Lynch and company went after key defensive players last year and I don’t see much reason to stray from that approach. San Francisco was previously built on elite defense and running the ball and it would make sense for the 49ers to work their way back to that.
Addressing the o-line (10th in sacks allowed) is something to consider, but I’m not sure a defensive-minded GM can pass on such a terror like Edwards.
Jon Gruden takes over in Oakland, so things are pretty wide open as far as trying to predict how the Raiders draft this year. Gruden is an offensive guy first, but Oakland seems largely set on that side of the ball. If he’s smart, he’ll nab a stud defender.
Oakland has some nice talent on defense, but they could certainly use some more difference-makers. No position needs it more than linebacker, however, as it’s Khalil Mack and little else.
Adding someone like Smith could inject serious life into a defense that has been aggressive, but inconsistent.
Miami should get Ryan Tannehill back next year and by all accounts, will put an improved offensive product on the football field. However, to do that, they probably need to get better in the trenches.
The Dolphins want to run the ball and uncovered a gem in Kenyan Drake, but their inside blocking hasn’t always delivered. They should take a good, hard look at Nelson, who is one of the top overall prospects heading into this year’s draft and would absolutely give their run-blocking a serious boost.
Marvin Lewis returns for what feels like his 100th season of mediocrity, but here the Bengals are. Despite their better efforts to fail, the Bengals actually have a lot of good talent on both sides of the ball.
Cincy is probably set offensively, but they regressed a bit on the defensive end. They should work to turn things back in the other direction and starting at safety wouldn’t be a bad idea.
The Redskins have more pressing needs than their pass rush, but I think this is a case of beefing up their defense and taking (arguably) the most talented player left on their board.
There is a chance Washington makes a play for a quarterback in the event free agent Kirk Cousins walks, but I’m convinced he’s their long-term guy.
It’s going to take some things breaking just right for a stud corner like Jackson to fall to Green Bay. Will they be wise enough to stick here and pull the trigger, though, is the question.
Only time will tell, but the big moves the Packers made to improve their secondary haven’t worked yet. They need to keep adding talent until they see marked improvement and Jackson is certainly a step in the right direction.
Some think Jackson is the best overall quarterback in this draft class. He’s not, but he sure is a dynamic, explosive weapon. If he can find a way to translate to the NFL as a passer and make plays from within the pocket, he could be the next Michael Vick.
Arizona doesn’t have much to lose here. They’re a veteran team that just lost their head coach and starting quarterback to retirement. Leaning on David Johnson while they groom a dual threat stud isn’t the worst way to rebuild on the fly.
For whatever reason, Baltimore is where wide receivers go to die. Steve Smith’s career ended here, Mike Wallace’s one-trick pony act is eroding here and nobody Baltimore drafts pans out.
Perhaps it’s the system, Joe Flacco or Baltimore’s scouting department. Whatever the case, they need help at wide receiver again and they might as well give it a go in round one.
Luckily there isn’t a massive need at wide receiver in the first round this year, so they have a great shot at nabbing Ridley, who is arguably the top receiver in this draft.
The Chargers are notorious for under-achieving, but last year they battled back after a slow start and nearly made the playoffs. The odds are decent they’re a threat in 2018, as they appear to have the talent needed on both sides of the ball.
One thing the Bolts could improve upon, however, is their offensive line. L.A. has gotten better in the trenches over the years, but they could improve upon their right side.
Firmly establishing an elite o-line is key for the Bolts to pound the rock and control games more next season.
The Seahawks learned the hard way last year how crucial a stud running back can be. The team does have some talent in their backfield, but they have lacked consistency ever since Marshawn Lynch left.
If Seattle really wants to be a team to fear, they need to go after a high level rusher and get that part of their offense back to a scary level on a regular basis.
Adding Guice could make that happen, as the LSU product brings amazing quickness and power to the table. He’s arguably the second best rusher in this draft class and could be a potential steal at this point in the draft.
The Cowboys seem pretty set on offense, but if they want to go places anytime soon, they need to batten down the hatches on the defensive side of the ball.
Dallas has not had a truly elite defense in years and they should either look to beef up their secondary. Ward is one of the best cover men entering the 2018 NFL Draft and could play a hand in drastically improving a middling pass defense.
The Lions have been inconsistent up front since they let Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley walk in free agency and that eventually led to a middling run defense.
Detroit needs to get better and younger up front and they should be able to do that with a few very interesting defensive tackles looking like round one targets.
The top option appears to be Vea, who is a natural brute who happens to excel versus the run.
The Bills have the odd opportunity to draft two times in a row near the middle of the draft and I suspect they’ll take full advantage.
Trading out of one of these spots is certainly in play, but the Bills need a franchise passer and with a loaded crop of quarterbacks in this year’s draft, they should be able to get one.
The best option left, per this mock, is probably Rudolph. He’s not the can’t-miss prospect some of these other passers are being made out to be, but he’s plenty talented and would be a talent upgrade over Nathan Peterman.
This is assuming, of course, Buffalo moves on from Tyrod Taylor, as expected.
Whether the Bills take a quarterback in round one or not, they need to keep adding offensive pieces to a lethargic group. Their passing game could use a jolt at wide receiver, but LeSean McCoy has taken a beating and a long-term replacement should be worth a look.
It’s ironic Buffalo could land a stud rusher like Jones via this pick, as it comes from the Kansas City Chiefs and Jones resembles former Chiefs star, Jamaal Charles.
Jones should be taken as Buffalo’s future star running back and can immediately be sprinkled in with a still useful Shady McCoy.
The Rams are another team who have built themselves up very well on the offensive side of the ball, so it should be obvious that defense is their target in round one.
Los Angeles actually looks good on that side of the ball, as well, but they’re set up for failure in their secondary heading into 2018. Barring a big move in free agency, cornerback looks to be a real problem area for this defense.
That’s nothing a first rounder can’t cure, as Donte Jackson is one of the best cover men in this draft and could start right away.
I personally find myself getting cute with the Panthers every year, perhaps because for such a competitive team, they constantly have so many problem areas.
The biggest is quite clear, however, as Carolina badly needs to inject new life into their passing game. Trading away Kelvin Benjamin made that a bigger problem than it already was, so one way or another, the Panthers need to land Cam Newton a new wide receiver.
James Washington and it’s hard to argue with the explosive deep threat. Hypothetically, he gives the Panthers the game-changing passing game weapon they sorely lack.
Tennessee could consider adding another wide receiver, but the playoff breakout of Corey Davis probably makes that less of a concern.
Instead, Tennessee can keep adding to a maturing defense that still ranked inside the bottom 10 against the pass in 2017. Davis gives them a talented cover man that can mesh with their current crop of corners and eventually take over a starting gig.
The Falcons are built fairly well defensively, but one spot where they can be pretty weak is up front on the defensive line. Putting together a pass rush hasn’t been the issue, but Atlanta has too much trouble against the run.
Dontari Poe could also be out the door after signing a one-year deal last year, so one way or another, the Dirty Birds could be in the market for some help in the middle of their defensive line.
That could lead them to a number of stud defensive tackles, but Hurst is among the best available. He lacks ideal size, but otherwise has the traits of an elite interior pass rusher. He projects well against the run, as well, so the Falcons can kill two birds with one stone here.
The Saints keep retooling their surging defense with Evans, who played for one of the best defenses in the nation at Alabama.
Linebacker has forever been a sore spot for what was recently a terrible defense, so the Saints should look to beef it up before things fall apart again.
Evans looks like a terrific addition on paper, as he has the versatility to play a number of spots and is a born playmaker.
Nobody knows what the future holds for former stud linebacker Ryan Shazier, but all signs point to his pro career likely being over. Regardless, the Steelers can’t sit back and hope he plays again, which means they probably need to make interior linebacker a top priority.
The Steelers saw a big hit defensively without Shazier and a collection of mediocre bodies failed to replace him. They need to aim high in their efforts to make up for this huge loss and Jefferson is a valid attempt near the end of round one.
The Jaguars are probably stuck with Blake Bortles and at this point in the first round, all of the top young signal callers are gone.
This team is also very strong defensively, so even though they’ve made massive strides along their offensive line, it makes a lot of sense to keep adding pieces there.
Price makes a lot of sense, as he’s extremely versatile and can be used in several spots – largely on the interior. This is a run-first offense, so it makes sense to strengthen that portion of their game.
Minnesota is another team that needs to put in some work up front, mostly because talented interior defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd (knee) is probably done in the pros.
He was a big investment just a few years ago, so the Vikes will probably want to land a long-term replacement. Luckily there are a few stud defensive tackles to look at in the first round and Payne could end up being available.
Payne is a menacing run-stuffer who also project well as a pass-rusher. If he’s here, the Vikings could actually enhance an already stout defense with one pick.
The Eagles are loaded across the board, but left tackle Jason Peters is nearing the end. They can draft for luxury at any spot, but bringing in a stud left tackle prospect makes a lot of sense.
Brown is such a great left tackle prospect that he could go in the top-10, but need drops him down considerably in my 2018 NFL mock draft. Philly won’t mind, as Carson Wentz will have someone protecting his blind side for years to come.
Lastly, the Pats have a decent chance to pick 32nd overall as the favored Super Bowl 52 champ. If they do win, I bet they just trade out of this pick, as they are ones to do.
If not, they should consider beefing up their pass rush. Bill Belichick defenses always seem to generate pressure, but New England is also notorious for sniffing out tantalizing help on the outside.
Okoronkwo is not the only option here, but he might be the most exciting.
That does it for my first round mock. Feel free to offer your own opinions in the comments and also keep on the lookout for more NFL Draft betting opportunities!