The 2018 NFL Combine is done, which is a very important part of the NFL Draft Evaluation Process. We now have some raw data for speed, strength and agility that can be compared to past prospects and we have data that we can use to watch the tape and see how the raw athletic data translates into play on the football field.
For the prospects that did better than expected, NFL Front Offices will be pouring over the tape to see how that athletic talent translated onto the football field. For players that did not do as well as hoped, the Front Offices will be pouring over tape to see why that player did so well in the college season, even though the athletic indicators would say that he is not as physically gifted as they thought.
There are still Pro Days where players can redeem themselves or continue to ascend or decline. There are also individual meetings with the teams as NFL Franchises try to figure out character concerns and other issues. Here is my Mock Draft 2.0 coming out of the NFL Combine. I will release my Final Mock after the NFL Draft. I would like to thank CBS Sports.com, Walter Football.com, RotoWorld and NFL.com who are three great resources that I use to put my Mock Drafts together.
1) Cleveland Browns (0-16) – Penn State RB Saquon Barkley: I understand they need a franchise quarterback, but I do not think any quarterback separated himself at the NFL Combine and the Browns will be able to draft a really good one at the fourth pick, because the New York Giants may not draft a quarterback and Indianapolis definitely will not draft one. Barkley is a special player and his stock soared after the NFL Combine. Per Pro Football Reference, since the 2000 NFL Combine, no prospect that weighed at least 220 lb. has run faster than a 4.45 40-yard dash and benched 225 lb. 25 times. Barkley checked in at 6′ 0″ and 233 lb., benched 225 lb. 29 times, posted a 41″ vertical jump and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds.
They need to add Barkley to their roster, he is a once in a generation talent and none of the quarterbacks in this draft are of that caliber. He also will make their rookie quarterback better with a solid running game and a safety valve in the passing game that can take any play to the house. I do not think there is a quarterback in this NFL Draft that has as much upside at quarterback as Barkley has at running back. The Browns need to add the best available player and that player is Barkley and it really is not up for debate after his stellar NFL Combine performance.
2) New York Giants (2-14) – Wyoming QB Josh Allen: The Giants need to address quarterback in this NFL Draft, because QB Eli Manning is 37-years old and he is coming off a few down seasons. Allen is the quarterback that appears to have the best physical tools in this NFL Draft Class. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.75 seconds, posted a 33.5″ vertical jump, 119.0″ broad jump and he threw a ball that traveled 70-yards in the air. He probably could use a year to develop, which would allow Manning to be a bridge quarterback this year and for the Giants to go in a new direction with Allen in 2019.
3) Indianapolis Colts (4-12) – North Carolina State DE Bradley Chubb: This guy just makes plays, he had 72 tackles, 23.5 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks, nine quarterback hurries and four forced fumbles. He is 6′ 4″ and 269 lb. so he has the size to be an every down defensive end. He also has great physical gifts, running the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds and posting a 36″ vertical jump and 121″ broad jump at the NFL Combine. The Colts could also trade down from this pick, if the Browns take Barkley with the first pick, any team wanting a quarterback will want to trade with the Colts to jump in front of the Browns. They would be happy to improve a below average defense with a player like Chubb, who could be a foundation of their defense for the next decade.
4) Cleveland Browns via Houston Texans (4-12) – UCLA QB Josh Rosen: The Browns could also try to acquire some of the veteran players that may be available this year. They tried to trade for Cincinnati Bengals QB AJ McCarron and could explore signing the now unrestricted free agent. They could try to win the QB Kirk Cousins sweepstakes. As of right now, they must find a long-term answer at quarterback this off-season and Rosen has the arm to make all the throws and he should give them some stability at this position if they develop him properly.
5) Denver Broncos (5-11) – Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield: I think his draft status is going to be volatile, he is either a player that is going to have his stock sore through the roof or it could crash through the floor. Mayfield has some great intangibles and leadership traits, but he also is a bit of a hothead and he needs to work on his mechanics. The Broncos need a leader and a face of the franchise and if Mayfield impresses in the draft evaluation process, this pick could make a lot of sense. Mayfield did well enough at the NFL Combine that he should remain in the Top-5 discussion with a solid Pro Day and good interviews by teams interested in his services.
6) New York Jets (5-11) – USC QB Sam Darnold: It feels like Darnold has slid a little bit early in the NFL Draft Evaluation Proccess, as he was expected to be the top quarterback prospect in this class. He did not have a great NFL Combine and it is possible that he could slide further, because free agency is going to help a couple quarterback needy teams and it could impact the top part of the NFL Draft. Jets fans may not like going after a USC quarterback after drafting USC QB Mark Sanchez in 2009, but Darnold has a much better body of work coming out of college and he is still an elite quarterback prospect. He also would not need to play right away if they are able to come to terms with QB Josh McCown, who would be an excellent bridge quarterback for them in 2018.
7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11) – Alabama S Minkah Fitzpatrick: The Buccaneers need cornerback help over safety help, but Fitzpatrick can play both positions and he is the best defensive back available in the NFL Draft. The Buccaneers gave up a league-leading 4,169 yards passing and they also gave up 22 touchdown passes and recorded only 13 interceptions. Fitzpatrick would give them a very talented player in their secondary that could contribute immediately. He had a very solid NFL combine posting a 4.47 40-yard dash time and benching 225 lb. 14 times.
8) Chicago Bears (5-11) – Southern Methodist University WR Courtland Sutton: He has great size at 6′ 4″ and 215 lb. The Bears need someone on this offense that can scare defensive coordinators and he posted 62 receptions for 1,017 yards and 12 receiving touchdowns. He had a solid NFL Combine and I think his stock should continue to ascend as the NFL Draft evaluation process progresses. You cannot teach 6′ 4″ and 215 lb. with that speed and they need difference makers on offense.
9) San Francisco 49ers (6-10) – Notre Dame G Quenton Nelson: This team has a number of need areas, but Nelson would give them a massive upgrade on the offensive line. He is a fairly safe pick; Walter Football.com says that he is viewed as the next Logan Mankins. Makins had a great career for the New England Patriots and he was a Pro Bowl caliber player for a decade. The 49ers would be ecstatic to add that type of player to their offensive line that has really declined since they had one of the best units in the league from 2011-2013.
10) Oakland Raiders (6-10) – Georgia LB Roquan Smith: This offense underachieved as much as any team in the NFL last year, but I think Jon Gruden was hired to improve that offensive scheme with talented players they already have on the roster. I think they will focus on the defensive side of the ball early in the NFL Draft and try to identify offensive sleepers later in the NFL Draft. Smith has great speed and he is good in both run support and pass coverage and he could help one of the worst linebacker units in the NFL immediately.
11) Miami Dolphins (6-10) – Iowa CB Josh Jackson: Jackson has very good size at 6′ 1″ and 185 lb. and per Rotoworld.com, he led the FBS in interceptions with eight in 13 games, to go along with nearly 20 pass breakups. They could also look for a wide receiver or offensive line help in this spot, but I think Jackson is a player that would be a great value and help them at an area of need. He was not blazing fast with a 40-yard dash of 4.56 seconds, but it is fast enough for a cornerback of his size.
12) Cincinnati Bengals (7-9) – Notre Dame T Mike McGlinchey: The Bengals have a lot of needs, but they had an offense that was loaded with playmakers at running back, wide receiver and tight end that finished 26th in points scored and 32nd in yards gained. That is not all QB Andy Dalton‘s fault, he cannot block the pass rushers and run stoppers and an offensive lineman in this spot makes a lot of sense for them.
13) Washington (7-9) – Florida State S Derwin James: They really need help at the safety position and James would be someone that could help them immediately. He has great size at 6′ 3″ and 211 lb. and could help in both pass coverage and run support. There are concerns about torn cartilage in his left knee that caused him to miss the 2016 season. The NFL Combine did him a lot of favors, he posted a 4.48 40-yard dash time and he benched 225 lb. 21 times. That should ease concerns about the health of his knee.
14) Green Bay Packers (7-9) – Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds: They definitely need some help at linebacker and NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah has compared Edmunds to Minnesota Vikings LB Anthony Barr. Edmunds can play inside or outside and would be a great addition to this defense that is in need of some versatile playmakers. Edmunds had a stellar combine and his stock should continue to improve.
15) Arizona Cardinals (8-8) – UCLA OT Kolton Miller: I think he was a big winner for the offensive lineman at the NFL Combine. He is not the strongest tackle with 24 bench press reps, but that is not a horrible total and he showed that he is incredibly athletic for a guy that is 6′ 9″ and 310 lb. He showed that with a 31.5-inch vertical jump, a 4.91 second 40-yard dash and a 121.0-inch broad jump. The broad jump number was a record for an offensive tackle, breaking the record previously set by Philadelphia Eagles OT Lane Johnson. Miller would be a great addition to a team in need of some offensive line help.
16) Baltimore Ravens (9-7) – Oklahoma State WR James Washington: He posted 74 receptions for 1,549 yards and 13 touchdowns last year. That is an incredible 20.93 yards per catch, making him one of the best deep threats in this NFL Draft Class. The Ravens could go running back or tight end here, but RB Alex Collins showed well in the second half of the season and they need a wide receiver more than a running back. The Ravens have neglected skill position players in recent years; they need to give QB Joe Flacco someone to throw the ball to downfield.
17) Los Angeles Chargers (9-7) – Georgia T / G Isaiah Wynn: They really should have made the playoffs and they would have had it not been for disastrous kicker issues in September. They do not need to use a first round pick on a kicker and they really need to upgrade the offensive line. Last year, they drafted G Forest Lamp, but he tore his ACL in training camp. Lamp and a first round tackle would be a nice upgrade to the offensive line. Wynn is someone that dominated the Senior Bowl practices, but he is recovering from a shoulder injury he suffered there. As long as that checks out at his Pro Day, he is someone that should still hear his name called in the first round.
18) Seattle Seahawks (9-7) – Texas A & M WR Christian Kirk: He was more than stellar in his drills, posting a 40-yard dash time of 4.47 seconds and a 10-yard split of 1.54 seconds. Walter Football’s Charlie Campbell also reported that Kirk was very impressive in his interviews at the NFL Combine. He is a player that seems to be acceding and the Seahawks are likely going to lose TE Jimmy Graham and WR Paul Richardson in free agency. They need to address their receiver position and Kirk would give them a very good player to develop in their receiving core.
19) Dallas Cowboys (9-7) – Alabama DT Da’Ron Payne: He is instant pass rush in the middle of the field. He had seven quarterback pressures and six defensive stops in the National Championship Game and he was a solid player on their defense all season. The Dallas Cowboys could use some help in the middle of their defense and he would be a welcome addition to their roster.
20) Detroit Lions (9-7) – UTSA DE Marcus Davenport: He posted a 4.58 second 40-yard dash, 22 bench reps, 33.5″ vertical jump and a 124″ broad jump. Those are very good numbers for a defensive end that is 6′ 6″ and 264 lb. His NFL Combine Performance is a reminder of why people are talking about him going in the Top-20 of the first round. The Lions need an edge pass rusher and Davenport should be able to contribute immediately.
21) Buffalo Bills (9-7) – Michigan DT Maurice Hurst: He could continue to tumble or the NFL Combine could have been a minor hiccup for him. He was a player that would have likely dominated the NFL Combine, but instead was prevented from participating due to an irregular EKG. As long as the medical tests do not diagnose a serious heart issue, he should still go in the first round and he has a chance to workout at the Michigan Pro Day on March 23. The most important thing is his health; his draft stock comes second. I am going to keep him as a first round pick, unless more medical issues arise that would necessitate a change. Buffalo would love to have a player like Hurst that can be a mauler along the defensive line.
22) Buffalo Bills via Kansas City Chiefs (10-6) – Louisville QB Lamar Jackson: The Bills need a quarterback and they can afford to take one in the first round that is a bit of a developmental project, because they have two picks in the first round. There has been talk about him moving to wide receiver, but this is a player that had 7,203 yards passing and 57 passing touchdowns the last two years. He also has 3,172 rushing yards and 39 rushing touchdowns. There have been a lot of comparisons to former NFL QB Michael Vick and I think Jackson makes sense here, because he plays a similar style to current starting QB Tyrod Taylor and he has a ton of upside if he has time to develop.
23) Los Angeles Rams (11-5) – Ohio State CB Denzel Ward: I could see Ward going higher after positing a 4.32 second 40-yard dash, but he is a slot cornerback and I think that will prevent him from being the first defensive back drafted. They could use some help in the secondary and adding Ward would give them a very explosive player. He is a little undersized at 5′ 10″ and 191 lb., but he plays bigger than his height and should be a nice addition for the Rams in the back of the first round. Adding both Ward and CB Marcus Peters in the same off-season would be a great upgrade for a secondary that was 13th against the pass.
24) Carolina Panthers (11-5) – Alabama WR Calvin Ridley: His statistics were not good last year, posting only 63 receptions for 967 yards and five touchdowns. That was more a product of playing with a quarterback that could not throw the ball well more than his ability to catch the ball. The Panthers need to add receiving talent to their offense after trading WR Kelvin Benjamin to the Buffalo Bills last year and Ridley is a player that could contribute immediately for them.
25) Tennessee Titans (9-7) – UTEP G Will Hernandez: UTEP did not win a single game in 2017, but it had nothing to do with one of the best guards in the NCAA last year. The Titans run offense declined in 2017 and a big reason for that was they were not as good at guard. They could go edge rusher at this spot, but running the ball better in 2017 has to be a priority for this team. Hernandez had a great NFL Combine and he would be a great value in this spot.
26) Atlanta Falcons (10-6) – Washington NT Vita Vea: The Falcons appear to be letting DT Dontari Poe walk in free agency this off-season, which would necessitate them adding a defensive tackle in the NFL Draft. Vea is 6′ 5″ and 344 lb. and he would have the size the Falcons would be looking for in the middle of their defense.
27) New Orleans Saints (11-5) – Alabama LB Rashaan Evans: Rotoworld’s Thor Nystrom ranks Evans as the top inside linebacker ahead of Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch. I think the Saints will take one of those linebackers and the Steelers will take whichever one falls to them at the next pick. The Saints defense was much better in 2017, but it still needs work and Evans is someone that could contribute immediately.
28) Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3) – Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch: They definitely need some help at linebacker, their team was not the same when LB Ryan Shazier went down with a serious spinal injury. I think Edmunds and Evans will be gone by the time the Steelers draft, but settling for Vander Esch is not a bad consolation prize. His size and speed make him a very intriguing prospect that could have him developing into a very good NFL linebacker.
29) Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6) – LSU WR D.J. Chark: The LSU wide receiver had a great NFL Combine, as he finished with the fastest 40-yard dash time at 4.34 seconds. He also did well in the receiving drills, which is important, because football is more than a track and field event. The Jaguars could use some more good targets in the passing game and Chark would be a great insurance policy if they are not able to sign WR Allen Robinson to a long-term contract. Clark will not be available to them in the second round, so they may reach a little bit for a player that had only 40 receptions for 874 yards and three touchdowns last year. I think that was more the product of inconsistent quarterback play than his lack of ability and his physical gifts will be too great for the Jaguars to pass on him.
30) Minnesota Vikings (13-3) – Oklahoma OT Orlando Brown: Brown was a disaster at the NFL Combine and it could cause him to fall out of the first round. The Vikings are in desperate need of offensive line help and Brown would make sense for them, as he is someone they could try at offensive tackle and move him to guard if he is not athletic enough to play on the offensive side of the ball. The tape shows a Top-10- talent, the NFL Combine shows an undrafted free agent. Teams will have to reconcile the discrepancy between his college tape and his NFL Combine performance and make a decision.
31) New England Patriots (13-3) – LSU CB Donte Jackson: Their secondary is not what they hoped it would be this year and Jackson would add some speed to that unit, as he ran his 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in 4.32 seconds. He is only 5′ 10: and 167 lb., but he would be an excellent addition at slot cornerback and the Patriots need help in all areas of their secondary.
32) Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) – Colorado CB Isaiah Oliver: Oliver has a chance to shoot up draft boards, as he is a big corner at 6′ 1″ and 190 lb., but he is also a track athlete. He ran a very respectable 4.50 second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, a nice number for his size. The Eagles secondary needs to be upgraded this offseason; Oliver would be an excellent addition to that unit.