Circle the wagons, gang! It’s late August, which means it’s officially #MockDraftSZN for us NFL Draft analysts. After grinding through the tape this summer, a mock draft should be a fun exercise to illustrate who I think are some of the top names in the country (or who I could see the NFL totally falling in love with).
As a full and total disclaimer, the order of the selections below is based on the latest Vegas Super Bowl odds. Please direct your vitriol accordingly!
The draft order for this mock has changed slightly from the mock drafts produced by my colleagues here at The Draft Network over the past two weeks. You can read Trevor Sikkema and Jon Ledyard’s first mock drafts of the season below.
No. 1 – New York Jets (Super Bowl odds: 150/1)
PICK: Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
QUICK! When’s the last time the New York Jets had a great outside pass rush presence? While you’re flipping through the index of Jets’ history, I’ll go ahead and make my case for Nick Bosa.
Nick, like big brother Joey, has versatility and experience as both an inside and outside defender. Possessing the needed hand usage and anchor to play stout against the run, Nick can afford this defense the chance to remain multiple with him on the field. Yes, the Jets will need to ensure he keeps his hand in the dirt. But his physicality will mesh well with how the Jets do business and to put it bluntly, I think he’s the best player in the talent pool as things currently stand.
(P.S. – The correct answer would be John Abraham and his 53.5 sacks from 2000-2005. Sorry, Calvin Pace’s one double digit sack season as a 33-year old in 2013 doesn’t count.)
No. 2 – Miami Dolphins (Super Bowl odds: 100/1)
PICK: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
The Miami Dolphins bid farewell to DT Ndamukong Suh this offseason, simultaneously clearing an obscene amount of cash for future seasons and creating a massive void on the interior.
Yet even when Suh was present on this Dolphins’ front, he wasn’t the same penetration defender that he showed he could be during his tenure with the Detroit Lions. With just 15.5 sacks in three seasons with the Dolphins, Suh was underwhelming in that area.
Enter Ed Oliver, the human bowling ball who has totaled some obscene tackle for loss production as an undersized nose tackle at Houston. Like…38.5 tackles for loss in 25 career games levels of obscene.
Miami has youth on the defensive interior, but they don’t have a playmaker. Oliver would provide them that.
No. 3 – Chicago Bears (Super Bowl odds: 100/1)
PICK: Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
Rush LB Leonard Floyd has shown promise for the Bears in his first two seasons, but durability has been a big concern. Other outside pass rush threats for this team include Sam Acho, Aaron Lynch, Kylie Fitts, Isaiah Irving…
You get the point. Ferrell would be an excellent addition to this defensive front seven, providing some of that same pass rush prowess Floyd offers, but on a much more developed body. Ferrell is also an ace run defender, offering complimentary three down skills that will offer him a chance to be a plug and play defender.
Chicago’s aggressive 2018 offseason added many tools for QB Mitch Trubisky to gel with this season. It’s only appropriate that the team gets aggressive in addressing a key need on the other side of the football in next year’s draft.
No. 4 – Cincinnati Bengals (Super Bowl odds: 100/1)
PICK: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Andy Dalton? He ain’t it.
Dalton’s career with the Bengals has slid into mediocrity over the past two seasons, and a simple eyeball test of his game will alert viewers that there’s often meat left on the bone with the clock strikes triple zeroes. The Bengals have reached a point in Dalton’s contract where a separation would incur zero dead cap space and Dalton will be 32 years old by mid-2019.
It’s time to move on. Do I have my apprehensions surrounding Herbert? Absolutely. I’m not certain how much of his production comes from schemed targets and he’s been a bit too rattled by pressure to this point in his career.
But I do know NFL scouts were raving about him last September when I visited Tempe to see the Ducks take on Arizona State. And with a prototype build and a big time arm, that infatuation isn’t going to go away any time soon.
No. 5 – Buffalo Bills (Super Bowl odds: 100/1)
PICK: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
Woah, nelly. Metcalf is a specimen! At 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, Metcalf is fully capable of flying down the field. A surreal mismatch for his size, Metcalf would be a welcomed addition to the Buffalo Bills’ wide receiver room.
Buffalo will need big play receivers to help draw out the best of what Josh Allen’s physical tools can be as he develops as the team’s starter. Metcalf as a downfield target for Allen is a terrifying possibility for opposing defenses if both players develop to reach their full potential.
No. 6 – Arizona Cardinals (Super Bowl odds: 100/1)
PICK: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
Does Left Tackle D.J. Humphries have ability? Absolutely. He’s shown some promise and as a former 1st-round pick, of course the Cardinals would love to retain his services. But Humphries is 24 years old and will be entering the final year of his contract in 2019, where he will be due $9.625 million.
For a player that has logged just over 1,100 snaps in his first three seasons, that’s a hefty price tag, never mind he’s coming back from a dislocated knee-cap last season that cost him more than half the season.
One reason why Humphries faced a longer transition time to the NFL was due to below average functional strength as a college prospect. The Cardinals would not have such an issue with Jonah Williams, who is an absolute mauler up front.
With QB Josh Rosen now in the building, it’s imperative that the Cardinals get the offensive line right. Sometimes that means targeting a position that may not rank highest on the list of needs.
No. 7 – Cleveland Browns (Super Bowl odds: 66/1)
PICK: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
Imagine if you will that Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams are your team’s starting cornerbacks. No, these two aren’t going to win any power lifting competitions, but they’ll win a lot of battles for the football. Both Ward and Williams would provide the Browns with terrific click and close ability to drive on targets in front of their face, which would allow the front seven to be aggressive with blitzes on obvious passing downs.
The Browns’ defense is coming along quite nicely, with many gifted young talents on that side of the football. But no candidate between Terrance Mitchell and Travis Carrie is an acceptable long term answer on the boundary and E.J. Gaines is currently in town on a 1-year deal.
No. 8 – Washington Redskins (Super Bowl odds: 66/1)
PICK: Jeffery Simmons, DL, Mississippi State
I can hear the gripes already.
“Washington has taken a defensive lineman in the 1st-round in each of the last two years already! Why in the world would they take another one?!”
Answer: because Ziggy Hood was horrible last year in 13 starts and 49% of the team’s defensive snaps. And because Matt Ionnadis, despite 4.5 sacks last year, isn’t an acceptable long term starter alongside Da’Ron Payne and Jon Allen.
The Redskins are a team that has a clear identity: they kick butt in the box with heavy handed defenders and stout play at the line of scrimmage. Pop in some Simmons tape and I expect you’ll see what I do: he’d fit right in up front on this physical front seven.
No. 9 – Indianapolis Colts (Super Bowl odds: 66/1)
PICK: Raekwon Davis, DL, Alabama
The Colts just drafted a 270 pound defensive end from Ohio State (Tyquan Lewis) and he’s currently listed as the team’s back-up three technique. Just in case there were any questions regarding the status of the Colts’ interior defensive line.
Davis is a terrific talent in his own right. He’s a bit more raw than Simmons, Oliver, Ferrell and Bosa. But his upside and foundation as a player would automatically make him the best option on the roster from day one.
That is, of course, barring exceptional unforeseen development from the likes of Denico Autry, Al Woods, Grover Stewart, the previously mentioned Lewis, Hassan Ridgeway or Rakeem Nunez-Roches. I’ll take my chances with Davis.
No. 10 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Super Bowl odds: 66/1)
PICK: Trey Adams, OT, Washington
QUICK! How many pressures has Donovan Smith allowed in the last three years as the Bucs’ starting left tackle?
If you said 153, congratulations, you were right on the button!
If you’re new to being a football fan, that’s a really, REALLY high number. So as Smith enters the final year of his contract this year, the Bucs would be wise to turn their eyes to left tackles across the college ranks and see if there’s anyone worth targeting.
I think Adams has the makings of an early pick, given his active feet and his sense of timing with his hands in pass protection.