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By Dane Brugler, The Sports Xchange
Publish Date: November 21, 2017 11:52:17 PM


2018 mock NFL Draft: Long-range crystal ball

  As we peer from here, about five months before the 2018 NFL Draft, let's make a best guess at who gets whom April 26 in the first- round selections at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Yep, home of the Cowboys.
We are limited by not really knowing what order teams will pick in that first round, so we will do this as if this week's standings determine the sequence in the first round.
Starting there, we will match what is believed to be team needs as we know them now with players who are projected to be in the draft, and how we view them at this point.
Sure, it's a long shot, but it's for fun and it is the best we can do right here, right now. So, note that these picks are for fun only and not intended to back up a bet. Of course, if they somehow turn out to be really close to what happens in the first round, remember you learned it here first.
Here we go:

1. Cleveland Browns -- Sam Darnold, QB, USC
The Browns' search for a long-term answer at quarterback will continue into the offseason. If Darnold declares (and that is a big "if"), he boasts the instincts and intangibles that will put him in the running for the top pick.

2. San Francisco 49ers -- Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State
While not on the same level as Myles Garrett a year ago, Chubb is arguably the best defensive prospect in the 2018 class. His combination of athleticism, power and energy makes him a home-wrecker off the edge.

3. New York Giants -- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
The Giants don't expect to be drafting in the top three very often so it shouldn't be a shock if they strike while the iron is hot and get the future quarterback of the franchise. Rosen is far from a clean prospect, but his natural passing skills and arm talent are starter quality.

4. Indianapolis Colts -- Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama
Entering his second draft, Colts' general manager Chris Ballard has plenty of holes to fill. Fitzpatrick has the versatile athleticism and make-up to quickly establish himself as the leader of Indianapolis' defense.

5. Denver Broncos -- Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
Denver has major question marks at quarterback, but the offensive line also needs help regardless of who is under center. Nelson is a plug-and-play guard with Pro Bowls in his future.

6. Chicago Bears -- Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn
Chicago lacks playmakers on the outside at cornerback and needs to find upgrades this offseason. An ascending talent, Davis has the size, speed and physicality to match up well with NFL receivers.

7. Cincinnati Bengals -- Connor Williams, OT, Texas
Neither Cedric Ogbuehi or Jake Fisher, the Bengals top two draft picks from the 2015 draft class, have lived up to their draft selection, and Cincinnati needs to move on. Williams has missed most of this season with a knee injury, but his skill-set is first-round worthy.

8. Arizona Cardinals -- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Like numerous NFL teams, the Cardinals have invested a lot of time scouting the Wyoming quarterback as they search for the future face of the franchise. While undeveloped in several areas, Allen has the physical traits that will drive his draft value into the top-15 selections.

9. New York Jets -- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
The Jets need to invest in offensive playmakers this offseason, regardless of position. With his ability to impact the game rushing and receiving, Barkley gives New York a weapon that changes the identity of the offense.

10. Oakland Raiders -- Derwin James, SS, Florida State
The Raiders secondary has been a mess this season with issues at cornerback and safety. James has the athleticism and position flexibility that would help mask some of those problems.

11. Los Angeles Chargers -- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Philip Rivers is currently in his age 36 season and in the near future, the Chargers must invest in his replacement. Mayfield won't be for everyone, but his skill-set and competitive fire will get him drafted in round one.

12. Cleveland Browns (from Houston) -- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
If quarterback is need No. 1 for Cleveland, a playmaking wideout is a close No. 2 on the priority list. Ridley has the dynamic play speed and route-running to create his own separation -- before and after the catch.

13. Miami Dolphins -- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
Although the Dolphins picked up the 2018 option for Ja'Wuan James, his future with the franchise is very much in doubt. McGlinchey isn't a dominant player, but he can be a reliable NFL starter and help stabilize the Miami offensive line.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU
The Buccaneers have struggled to muster any consistent pass rush this season and need to upgrade the edge. Key is a complicated prospect for several reasons, but when his gas tank is full, the LSU rusher consistently disrupts the pocket.

15. Washington Redskins -- Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
The Terrelle Pryor experiment has been a failure and Washington needs to upgrade the receiver position opposite Josh Doctson. Sutton lacks seasoning, but he plays the position like a power forward and has a very high ceiling.

16. Dallas Cowboys -- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
The Cowboys are a very different team when Sean Lee is on the injury report, and Anthony Hitchens is a free-agent-to-be, putting linebacker high on Dallas' offseason wish list. Although a tick undersized, Smith is a magnet to the ball with the athleticism and instincts that translate well to the pro game.

17. Buffalo Bills -- Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
Buffalo needs to rebuild the defensive line, and Hurst offers position flexibility to line up inside or outside. Regardless of position, his initial surge and hustle will create disruption for offenses.

18. Green Bay Packers -- Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College
With the future of Clay Matthews Jr. in a Packers' uniform in doubt, Green Bay will be looking to add another pass rush option to the arsenal. Landry has the get-off quickness and natural flexibility to wrap the corner and penetrate the pocket.

19. Detroit Lions -- Ronnie Harrison, SS, Alabama
The Lions could use an enforcer with the range and aggressive nature that Harrison brings to the field. He is a better run defender than vs. the pass, but he has steadily progressed with his cover assignments.

20. Atlanta Falcons -- Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
With Dontari Poe currently on a one-year deal, the Falcons could be in the mix for a versatile defensive tackle in the early rounds. Payne is "Ndamukong Suh light" with his diverse skill-set to win with athleticism or power.

21. Baltimore Ravens -- Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
When healthy, Guice can be a difference-maker with the ball in his hands due to his quick feet and run violence. The Ravens have been mixing and matching the running back position in recent years, but Guice would give Baltimore with a true three-down player and a shot of energy on offense.

22. Tennessee Titans -- Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
Tennessee's defensive front isn't generating enough pressure on the quarterback and Wilkins, who can line up inside or outside, has the athletic profile that NFL teams covet on the defensive line.

23. Seattle Seahawks -- Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa
One of the breakthrough prospects this season, Jackson leads college football in ball production (24 passes defended) and has the size, length and instincts that will fit well in Seattle.

24. Carolina Panthers -- Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
The Panthers have received mixed results from their current group of cornerbacks and should be looking for upgrades. Ward doesn't have ideal size, but he is an elite athlete with the speed and twitchy movements to blanket receivers.

25. Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City) -- Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
After taking Hurst earlier in the first round, the Bills double-dip on the defensive line. Ferrell, who leads Clemson with 7.5 sacks, is just scratching the surface of his ability.

26. Jacksonville Jaguars -- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Blake Bortles has played well enough to help the Jaguars win games, but it is hard to see Jacksonville going deep in the playoffs with the current quarterback situation. Jackson is an electric athlete with promising arm talent, giving the Jaguars a succession plan at the position.

27. Los Angeles Rams -- Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
Regardless if Trumaine Johnson returns beyond this season, the Rams need help at the cornerback position. Oliver is a classic press-man corner with the ball instincts that could land him in round one.

28. Minnesota Vikings -- Vita Vea, DT, Washington
The Vikings are always looking to add depth in the trenches. Vea is an interesting prospect because his combination of power and athleticism for a 340-pounder are rare, but he is still figuring out how to use all his tools in conjunction.

29. Pittsburgh Steelers -- Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State
After earning All-American honors as a sophomore, McFadden entered the season as a possible top-10 pick. While he hasn't played nearly to that level as a junior, the Florida State product still boasts the traits that NFL teams seek in first-round cornerbacks.

30. New Orleans Saints -- Sam Hubbard, DE/OLB, Ohio State
Pass rusher might not be the No. 1 need for the Saints, but with Alex Okafor's recent injury, the Saints should be open to adding more talent at the position. Hubbard is a smart, athletic edge player who will be a consistent NFL performer.

31. New England Patriots -- Marcus Davenport, DE/OLB, UTSA
An athletic big man with a hoops background, Davenport has the edge speed and physical attitude to grow into a terror as a pass rusher. He is still patching together a consistent pass rush sequence, but he instantly upgrades the Patriots' front-seven.

32. Philadelphia Eagles -- Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State
With Jason Peters coming off ACL surgery and turning 36 years old in the offseason, the Eagles would be wise to upgrade the offensive tackle position if Halapoulivaati Vaitai doesn't lock down the position. Rankin might not have any special qualities, but he is a well-rounded blocker who projects as a steady NFL starter.

--Dane Brugler is a Senior Analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, distributed by The Sports Xchange. Brugler is so eager to see this draft that he is already in Texas. OK, he lives there already, but he is eager




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