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Chris James’ 2018 NFL Mock Draft – February | FOOTBALL GAMEPLAN

Chris James’ 2018 NFL Mock Draft – February

Here are the rules for my 2018 mock draft

1. The picks are made as if I (Chris James) were the GM of each team
2. The selections are made based off team needs on the roster as of (today’s date)
3. The selections are based on my own player rankings NOT what you see anywhere else
4. There are NO TRADES, period!
5. And last, but not least, RELAX, it’s just a mock draft…enjoy!

1. CLE: RB – Saquon Barkley, Penn State

As GM, I believe we have a quality, young QB in DeShone Kizer. WE, didn’t do a good enough job surrounding him with upper echelon talent or a consistent culture. It’s my job to provide this newly 22-year-old QB with the best offensive weapon in the draft. Saquon Barkley is a day one impact player on offense and in the situational return game. The addition of the best talent, in concert with a consistent base of players, is the best way to build a winner.


2. NYG: QB – Josh Rosen, UCLA

The best passer in the 2018 class is Josh Rosen. He’s the most refined from regulation of speed to ball placement. My biggest issue with Rosen is the injuries he’s suffered during his college career. Assuming a “thumbs up” from the medical staff, I would feel comfortable with the organization’s future once Eli Manning retires. He also has the personality necessary to deal with the New York media.


3. IND: DE – Bradley Chubb, NC State

The narrative that Andrew Luck hasn’t had enough offensive help has put a, once high quality, defensive unit into a fragile state. Malik Hooker was drafted in the 1st round last season to sure up the back end. Now let’s address the DL with a movable piece in Bradley Chubb. Chubb is a great fit as a LDE in a 4-3 scheme with the ability to move inside or play the 5-tech situationally.


4. CLE: DB – Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

Sticking to the belief that Kizer has franchise caliber talent, we won’t take a QB at 4 either. What I will do is take the top player on my board in Minkah Fitzpatrick. He’s a great move piece that could be a high-level performer at FS in Gregg Williams’ defense.


5. DEN: QB – Lamar Jackson, Louisville

There have been many views expressed on Lamar Jackson, but my opinion has been consistent. Jackson is a generational talent at the position that could make a franchise great for a decade or more. He has some holes in his game that can easily be corrected. For what it’s worth, Bobby Petrino did an excellent job assisting in the progression of Jackson each season. Lamar Jackson is an investment that any winner should be willing to make. I strongly believe, the defensive unit would be in support of this selection.


6. NYJ: QB – Sam Darnold, USC

I have a late 1st/early 2nd round grade on this player, but there are several factors for taking Sam Darnold at pick 6. The first is the upside value of a QB that won’t turn 21 until after the draft. Next is the presence of Josh McCown, a veteran that is aware of his surroundings and place on this roster. The final reason is the Jets fan base. The selection of Darnold will give them hope and provide a positive reflection on the organization.


7. TB: EDGE – Marcus Davenport, UT-San Antonio

My initial read on Marcus Davenport had him as more of a splash player. Further review showed more consistency from him that reminded me of Cam Jordan when he came out of Cal. The Bucs desperately need pressure from the edge and Davenport would be a day one contributor. He can play on either side but the left side seems like a better fit. Davenport’s presence will alleviate pressure on the Bucs’ secondary.


8. CHI: WR – Calvin Ridley, Alabama

The Bears need exterior help for an offense that didn’t put up nearly enough points in 2017. The Kevin White experiment hasn’t bared fruit, Cameron Meredith may have been a short-term thing, and there was a mid-season trade for Dontrelle Inman. The Bears’ receiving corps is in disarray. Best way to solve this issue is by taking the most complete WR in the class. Calvin Ridley isn’t as physically gifted as other options, but his knowledge of the position is on par with current NFLers.


9. SF: WR – Christian Kirk, Texas A&M

The 49ers were gifted a QB by the Patriots and finished the season on a 5 game winning streak. Now it’s time to bring in more talent to gain the full scope of Kyle Shanahan’s offense. I’ve compared Christian Kirk to one of the NFL’s best game changers in Odell Beckham Jr. He’s a great fit to along with speedster Marques Goodwin, creating mismatch issues often.


10. OAK: LB – Roquan Smith, Georgia

The Raiders need a leader on this defense. They have an All-Pro rush end in Khalil Mack. There’s also back end talent with Conley, Joseph, and Melifonwu. The missing piece is an elite playmaker that can galvanize the troops at ILB. Roquan Smith is an NFL ready player that can make these things happen to propel the Raiders defense into the top 10.


11. MIA: DB – Derwin James, FSU

The Raiders selection allows for a value pick by the Dolphins. The SS position is manned by Reshad Jones, so Derwin James doesn’t seem necessary. I’d beg to differ since James is a versatile piece that can play safety, big slot, or LB. Miami plays in a division with Gronkowski, Clay, and Seferian-Jenkins. Derwin James is another piece to aid in the match-up process.


12. CIN: OG – Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame

The addition of Joe Mixon seemed like a home run until the 2017 season got moving. He averaged 3.5 yards per carry, which is awful considering his level of talent. A portion of this was a lack of interior blocking that reared its ugly head in both run & pass protection. Quenton Nelson is a very natural OG that will get to the second level when necessary. We’ve seen how successful this offense can be when the blocking is up to par.


13. WAS: EDGE – Harold Landry, Boston College

There’s something to be said for technical acumen being valued over raw athleticism. It also helps when the technician also possesses high level athletic ability. Harold Landry is an “undersized” edge prospect that can make plays with hand off the ground. There were times when he reminded me of Vic Beasley on film. Washington could stand to add a player of Landry’s caliber.


14. GB: CB – MJ Stewart, UNC

I thought about adding a pass catcher for Aaron Rodgers, since Nelson is becoming a sub-package player as create this mock. The bigger problem for me is the secondary talent. Kevin King is a match-up CB in my opinion that should be used against specific player types (taller, physical WRs). This defense needs an “every down” CB. MJ Stewart can mirror opposing WRs at a high level. He will be a day one starter on the field side.


15. ARI: QB – Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

I really wanted to take Josh Jackson with this pick as he would be perfect opposite Patrick Peterson. Instead, I will take Baker Mayfield. This is one of the few rosters on which a 1st round pick for Mayfield makes me comfortable (Jacksonville is the other). The fan base, the local media, and the surrounding talent takes pressure off a player that needs it early in his career. Mayfield will be successful if placed in the right situation and this fit should be helpful to him and the organization.


16. BAL: WR – Anthony Miller, Memphis

Joe Flacco didn’t play well in 2017; that being said, he had one of the most inconsistent receiving corps in the NFL. A lack of players drafted at the position contributed, as the Ravens went the veteran route. Anthony Miller is a complete WR that can play inside but is better suited as an X. Miller will dominate the intermediate area of the field; the Ravens haven’t had a player do so since Steve Smith.


17. LAC: DT – Vita Vea, Washington

The Chargers get lucky landing a talented DT with Dontari Poe like athleticism. Vita Vea looks like the traditional NT at 6’5″ 344lbs. His abilty to transfer speed to power quickly is top notch. Adding Vea to a DL that has Bosa & Ingram as book-ends makes for tough sledding for opponents.


18. SEA: RB – Derrius Guice, LSU

The term “You get what you pay for” has been the situation for the Seattle RBs. There has been little to no consistency since Marshawn Lynch wasn’t given the ball late in Superbowl 49. Taking late round fliers, past their prime vets, and younger undrafted players has bared no fruit. Let’s “help out” Russell Wilson by giving him a dynamic back that runs like he hates EVERYONE! Derrius Guice would be the first legitimate backfield threat Wilson has had since “Beast Mode” left the great Northwest.


19. DAL: WR – James Washington, Oklahoma State

WR Sr The Cowboys have a top-flight RB and a promising, young QB. The 2017 offense didn’t show off their talents due in large part to mediocre results from the WR corps. There wasn’t much separation created by anyone on the roster, especially late in the season. Enter James Washington, a player that seemed to be wide open in every highlight. The addition of Washington allows Dez to move inside, which creates a difficult offense with which to match-up.


20. DET: RB – Rashaad Penny, San Diego State

The 2017 version of Matt Stafford had the look of a franchise level QB. He handled pressure well and appeared to see more of the field than past seasons. The main piece missing was the presence of a consistent running game. I’m a fan of Ameer Abdullah’s talent but not his production with Detroit. There may be a need for competition in the form of Rashaad Penny. The addition of Penny provides a top flight interior runner that won’t need to come off the field in clear passing situations.


21. BUF: DT – Da’Ron Payne, Alabama

There were too many instances in which the Bills gave up 200 yards rushing in 2017. The New Orleans Saints had 24 straight run plays IN BUFFALO! I’m adding Da’Ron Payne to the roster, a penetration DT that held up very well in the run game at Alabama. Payne played like a top 10 pick in high leverage moments this year, so the Bills are getting a steal at 21.


22. BUF: DT – Maurice Hurst, Michigan

Yes, I’m taking another talented DT for the Bills to recreate what McDermott had in Carolina. Maurice Hurst is an effort player with the talent to justify this selection. He can play the 3-tech role next to Da’Ron Payne’s shade role. Hurst is an underrated player against the run due to his size but this isn’t a concern for me.


23. LAR: CB – Joshua Jackson, Iowa

The Rams are strong up and down both sides of the roster. The only area of concern is CB. Trumaine Johnson is an unrestricted FA that may not sign a long-term deal. Joshua Jackson would be a solid replacement for Johnson, providing the Rams with another rangy CB with ball skills. Jackson is still a great fit even if they’re able to work out a deal with Johnson.


24. CAR: WR – Courtland Sutton, SMU

I, and the rest of the NFL watching populous, saw enough to know the WR corps isn’t up to par in Carolina. The addition of Courtland Sutton would be an upgrade to any player they’ve had since Steve Smith. Devin Funchess would be allowed to play an inside WR role full-time, a role that suits him better than split end.


25. TEN: CB – Denzel Ward, Ohio State

The Titans have a new HC in place in Mike Vrabel. This means they’ll likely keep most of the defensive roster in-tact from a schematic standpoint. One thing is certain, the CB corp needs a talent upgrade. I like what Adoree’ Jackson did as a rookie and Logan Ryan was a solid player. There is still a need for a CB that can play outside and in the slot. Denzel Ward should supply the versatility necessary to fill this role. He will also allow for more aggressive attacks from the front seven.


26. ATL: OT – Orlando Brown, Oklahoma

The Falcons started to rely on the run game more as the 2017 season progressed. The play action pass started to take form right before the playoffs. This is the recipe for success with the way the roster is constructed. A way to help both aspects of the offense is by adding talent on the OL. Orlando Brown is a massive human that is a high-quality run blocking OT. He has good enough footwork to keep Matt Ryan clean as well.


27. NO: LB – Rashaan Evans, Alabama ILB

There was discussion of “too much depth” at LB for the Saints during the 2017 preseason. Injury destroyed this perceived depth and showed a lack of overall speed and quickness. Alex Anzalone will be back at WLB and Teo was solid at SLB. Craig Robertson was quality in the run game but lost often in coverage at MLB. Rashaad Evans would be a great piece that upgrades the size, speed, and overall talent of this unit. He allows all other backers to function in more natural roles.


28. PIT: LB – Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech

I find no pleasure in the need for this selection. There was a glaring absence at ILB the latter half of the season. While I hope Ryan Shazier makes a full recovery to live the quality of life that he deserves, I must fill this spot. Tremaine Edmunds has the type of high end physical ability that would address some of the concern in the middle of the Steelers D.


29. JAX: TE – Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State

There weren’t many weaknesses on the 2017 edition of the Jaguars. The QB play of Blake Bortles is the easy scapegoat for them failing to reach Superbowl 52. I would like to replace him, but this may be better served via FA. Instead, I’ll upgrade the TE with Dallas Goedert. This kid is a match-up nightmare the likes of Rob Gronkowski. He uses his size well to shield defenders from the ball. This should make the offense an even harder guard than the 2017 version.


30. MIN: EDGE – Arden Key, LSU

The Vikings learn that depth at a high leverage position is never a problem. Arden Key is a luxury pick with Danielle Hunter & Everson Griffen under contract, but why not add this talent. I believe that Key is best suited as a situational rusher early in his career. He still lacks the positional nuance to dominate the opposition. Mike Zimmer’s crew will get the best possible talent out of Key.


31. NE: EDGE – Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma

Saying the 2017 Patriots lacked the ability to rush the passer is an understatement. Their best edge rushing threat in Superbowl 52 was 39-year-old James Harrison. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo is a former LB that made the transition to edge rusher seamlessly. He was a consistent force with several secondary moves, the best of which is his spin move. Okoronkwo doesn’t have the requisite edge rusher “size” but that is of no concern to me. The Patriots love a player of this type as he has worked to become a high-level DE.


32. PHI: OT – Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame

The Eagles are one of the most complete teams in recent NFL history. They’re deep at most positions, including a back-up QB that just happened to win Superbowl MVP. The one position that sticks out as an area of concern (other than a CB group that forgot to cover anyone on 2/4/18) is LT. Jason Peters’ may come back to give everything he has left to the franchise. Truth is that an heir apparent is necessary even if he does return. Mike McGlinchey has the nasty nature of a RT with the solid footwork to play LT. The Eagles are a rushing team at heart and McGlinchey will aid this attack.

Questions? Comments?

Email: cjames@footballgameplan.com
Twitter: @cjflorida9

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