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2018 NFL Mock Draft

While many Americans are vigorously completing spring chores and planning summer activities, fantasy football zealots are ecstatic about the upcoming NFL Draft. The DFSDudes, Chris and John, asked two fantastic football minds, Phil Backert and Ken Zalis, to partake in a mock draft. The results are below, along with analysis and insight on the selections.

[Related: Full 60 NFL Mock Draft and podcast]

[Related: Top Prospects and Best Fits Part I and Part II]

#1 Cleveland Browns: QB Josh Rosen, UCLA

The Browns have failed so miserably to acquire a franchise quarterback during the past 20 years (Tim Couch 1999, Brady Quinn 2007, Brandon Weeden 2012 and Johnny Manziel 2014) that the organization must select wisely this year. In 1998, Colts General Manager Bill Polian navigated the Peyton Manning-Ryan Leaf debate and made the astute decision. Manning, a future Hall of Famer, turned the organization into perennially winners for years and won a Super Bowl. Now, Cleveland faces the same challenge. Josh Rosen is the paramount quarterback prospect in the Draft. General Manager John Dorsey surprises the world and selects a team leader for the next decade behind center. (John Laub)

#2 New York Giants: QB Sam Darnold, USC

The GMEN could go in many directions with the second overall pick. Barkley and Chubb will certainly be under consideration here, but with Sam Darnold still on the board, finding a replacement for ELI is the way to go. A trade down with the Bills has to be thought about here as well, but Darnold will be able to learn for a year or two behind Manning. Davis Webb isn’t the answer. (Ken Zalis)

#3 New York Jets: QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

Not the prototypical QB size the Jets have gone for in the past, but how has Christian Hackenberg worked out? Mayfield is much more of a sure thing than Josh Allen in terms of ability on the field, especially during broken plays, where no one was more efficient in college football last year. Mayfield has the temperament for the back pages of the NY Post, and we should expect to hear J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets chant in a cheery tone from the gang green faithful on draft day. (Chris Cichon)

#4 Cleveland Browns: RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State

There’s a chance the Browns could trade this pick to another QB-needy team, but if they stay put the organization has to be thrilled to select the running back. Barkley is the complete package and will give the Browns a playmaker on offense who will rarely come off the field — one they have lacked for many years. (Phil Backert)

#5 TRADE: Buffalo Bills: QB Josh Allen, Wyoming

General manager Brandon Beane offers GM John Elway two first-round picks (#12 and #22) and a third-round selection (#3-1) for the rights to draft Josh Allen. Buffalo has not had a franchise signal caller since hall of famer Jim Kelly retired, and the quarterback depth chart — A.J. McCarron and Nathan Peterman — needs an injection of talent. Beane acquires the future of the franchise and believes that the former Cowboy can be a star in the league. (JL)

#6 Indianapolis Colts: DE Bradley Chubb, NC State

The Colts race to the podium and select Chubb, the top defensive prospect in 2018. Chubb is a day one impact player and a future pro-bowler. In 2017, the Colts were the fifth-worst team vs the pass and the third-worst defense in both yards allowed and points allowed (over 25 a game). Chubb should provide an immediate upgrade to the pass rush and take pressure off a weak secondary. (KZ)

#7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: RB Derrius Guice, LSU

Make that consecutive years where an LSU Tiger RB is taken in the first round, only this year it’s just a couple of picks later (Fournette went #4 in 2017). Guice will help take some of the pressure off Jameis Winston, who is in a make or break year in terms of his future in the city by the Bay. Plus, can this team really go into the season with Peyton Barber as the starting running back? Something tells me no. (CC)

#8 Chicago Bears: G Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame

The Bears have been improving their offense throughout the offseason and now they draft a player who has a chance to be an all-pro at his position for years to come. Pro Football Focus rated Nelson the number one offensive lineman in the country, and even though this could be too early for a guard, the chance to draft an immediate starter is too tough to pass up. (PB)

#9 TRADE: Arizona Cardinals: QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville

The Bruce Arians Era has concluded and another begins with new coach Steve Wilks and a freshmen signal caller in the desert. The Cardinals send a plethora of picks to the 49ers — a first-round (#15) and third-round (#3-15) this year as well as a first-rounder next year — for the opportunity to select Lamar Jackson. If the former Heisman winner is not ready at kickoff, the Cardinals will take flight behind veteran Sam Bradford. In the long run, Jackson pilots Wilks’ offense for the next decade as he soars to stardom. (JL)

#10 Oakland Raiders: LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech

The Raiders must improve their defense first and foremost, and in this dream scenario only one defensive player is off the board. A trade down is considered but with two trades already made and four QBs gone, a partner could be tough to find. The Raiders signed Tahir Whitehead and is a solid run stopper, but he is 28 years old and the Raiders need to get younger and dynamic on defense. Edmunds can play inside or outside and should be a day one starter with Pro Bowl potential. (KZ)

#11 Miami Dolphins: LB Roquan Smith, Georgia

Aw snap! Miami was eyeing Edmunds, as its linebacker corps struggled mightily last season, but they’ll gladly select the Georgia standout and 2017 SEC title game MVP. Smith would start right away, presumably alongside Kiko Alonso and Raekwon Alonso and should adjust nicely to the next level in terms of his tackling and ability in coverage. QB Ryan Tannehill can breathe easy as he prepares to be the starter once again after working his way back from a torn ACL. (CC)

#12 TRADE: Denver Broncos: CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State

The Broncos traded with the Bills to acquire two additional first round picks in their quest to add more talent to the roster. They are still in search of their future signal caller, but signing Case Keenum in the offseason at least allows them to look at other positions and not overdraft a quarterback. This brings us to cornerback Denzel Ward, who has the ability to make an immediate impact like his former college teammate Marshon Lattimore. The Broncos need more depth in the defensive backfield after the loss of Aqib Talib. Denver could also look at the safety position with talents like Derwin James and Minkah Fitzpatrick dropping due to the heavy emphasis on quarterbacks. (PB)

#13 Washington Redskins: DT Vita Vea, Washington

The Redskins could not stop opponents on the ground last year, finishing dead last in the league against the run: Washington surrendered 2,146 rushing yards, allowing 134.1 yards per game. At 6-foot-4 and 347 pounds, Vita Vea provides the defense with a much-needed run stopper. The former Husky has a rare combination of size and quickness with potent upper body strength and would be best employed in a two-gap scheme. New coordinator Greg Manusky employed multiple schemes and fronts as defensive coordinator in Indianapolis, and Vea would fulfill many roles in Manusky’s scheme. (JL)

#14 Green Bay Packers: DB, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

To get a top 10 talent at 14 is great value for the Packers. Fitzpatrick can play CB, SS or FS. He checks all the boxes and is an explosive athlete with excellent ball skills. Green Bay traded Damarious Randall to the Browns and Morgan Burnett left via free agency. Kevin King and Josh Jones, the second round corners from the 2017 draft, should be contributors in 2018, but Fitzpatrick could have a Jalen Ramsey effect on the secondary in Green Bay. (KZ)

#15 TRADE: San Francisco 49ers: DE Marcus Davenport, UTSA

John Lynch is able to trade down and still bolster his pass rush by drafting the Conference USA’s defensive player of the year. Davenport is 6-foot0-6, can play in a two- or three-point stance and has some real explosion. A great combine and college career catapults Davenport to the middle of the first round where he’ll join a defense that is certainly trying to gear up for two matchups against the loaded LA Rams offense. (CC)

#16 Baltimore Ravens: WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama

The Ravens have made it a priority to revamp their wide receiving corps with the additions of Michael Crabtree and John Brown. Ozzie Newsome is potentially a hall of fame executive, but he has failed to ever draft an impact receiver. In what will be his last draft as the general manager of the Ravens, Ozzie will look to cement his legacy by adding the best receiver in the draft. There will be naysayers who will point out Ridley’s combine numbers, but the wide receiver has the speed and route running ability that should translate at the next level. (PB)

#17 Los Angeles Chargers: OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame

The Chargers have an aging quarterback and a solid core of offensive playmakers: Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen, and Hunter Henry. The offensive line is clearly a weakness, and San Diego needs a boost of ability up front. Mike McGlinchey ranks atop my tackle prospects in the draft and could start immediately on the right side of the O-line. At 6-foot-8 and 312 pounds, the former Notre Dame standout is a tireless worker with quick feet, good body control and strong hands. A plug-and-play starter on first day of training camp. (JL)

#18 Seattle Seahawks: OL Isaiah Wynn, Georgia

Offensive line is the top need for Seattle as Russell Wilson is always running for his life. Wynn is a jack of all trades who can play all five offensive line positions. Duane Brown came over in a trade last year and should continue to be the left tackle, but right tackle Germain Ifedi was ineffective. Ethan Pocic should be fine at guard and the team signed D.J. Fluker, but upgrades are needed. (KZ)

#19 Dallas Cowboys: LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State

Despite starting just one year at Boise State, Vander Esch performed well at the NFL combine where he had the best numbers of the 2018 linebacker class in terms of the vertical jump, 3-cone drill, and 20-yard and 60-yard shuttle drills. Sean Lee has dealt with nagging injuries and is 31 years old, and Anthony Hitchens signed with Kansas City this offseason so the Cowboys will be happy to add depth to their linebacking corps. (CC)

#20 Detroit Lions: DE/OLB Harold Landry, Boston College

The Lions ranked 20th in the league in sacks and desperately need to get a pass rusher at some point in the draft. Landry being available at this point would allow the Lions to accomplish just that. There’s still debate if Landry will settle in as a defensive end or outside linebacker, but he has the talent to get to the quarterback and could be an impact pass rusher immediately. (PB)

#21 Cincinnati Bengals: OG Will Hernandez, Texas-El Paso

The Bengals are below average along the offensive line and urgently need interior production to ignite the running game. Texas-El Paso guard Will Hernandez started 49 consecutive games at left guard and would be immediately inserted into the lineup. An impressive athlete at 6-foot-2 and 348 pounds, the former Miners standout is a powerful competitor with great initial quickness, nimble feet and wide base. (JL)

#22 TRADE: Denver Broncos: SS Derwin James, FSU

The Broncos double up in the secondary and now have a CB (Ward) and SS (James) that are arguably the best in this year’s draft at their respected position. James can be an in or out of the box safety. At 22 this is a steal. Even with the addition of Cravens, James is a ball hawking, blitzing player who can be molded to fit any scheme. (KZ)

#23 New England Patriots: LB Rashaan Evans, ILB Alabama

New England has been searching for a coverage linebacker since Jamie Collins was traded to Cleveland, and Evans can fit right in next to Donta Hightower. Speaking of Hightower, Bill Belichick traded up in 2012 for the Alabama linebacker, so fast forward six years and he’s doing it again (Brandin Cooks was dealt for this pick to LA). (CC)

#24 Carolina Panthers: WR D.J. Moore, Maryland

Moore exploded on the national scene with a very impressive combine showing, and he consistently made plays on Saturdays throughout his college career despite having awful quarterbacks throwing him the ball on a weekly basis. The Panthers desperately need to upgrade their passing attack and the addition of Moore will give Cam Newton exactly that. (PB)

#25 Tennessee Titans: ILB Josey Jewell, Iowa

Examining the Titans’ depth chart on defense, it become apparent that the team needs an upgrade at strong safety and inside linebacker. The three top tacklers are gone as well as the two elite safeties. One of the underrated prospects in the draft remains on the board and Tennessee grabs Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell. During his campus tenure, the Hawkeye’s top defender earned a surplus of accolades: (2015) most valuable player in the Bowl, (2016) team’s MVP and second team All-Big Ten and (2017) first team All-Big Ten and AP All-American. He tracks the football with excellent vision and natural instincts and eludes opponents to make the tackle. (JB)

#26 Atlanta Falcons: DT Da’ron Payne, Alabama

With Clayborn and Poe gone via free agency, the Falcons’ glaring need is on the defensive front. Grady Jarrett is a free agent after the season, so having Payne still on the board is a perfect storm for the Falcons. Payne is a very explosive defensive tackle who can get after the passer and control the running lanes. (KZ)

#27 New Orleans Saints: LB Malik Jefferson, Texas

A bit of a reach for New Orleans, but their linebacking corps was their biggest question mark last season so they bolster depth with an outside pass rusher in Jefferson. He might not be ready to immediately step in and start but he’ll at least fit in on special teams. He’s got tremendous upside could be someone the Saints rely on when trying to contain inter-division pass-catching backs like Christian McCaffery and now Derrius Guice of the Bucs. (CC)

#28 Pittsburgh Steelers: FS Justin Reid, Stanford

The Steelers would ideally like to draft an inside linebacker at this point, but the top ones have already been taken which moves them to finding someone to help on the back end of the defense. After the addition of Morgan Burnett in the offseason, the Steelers may look to find a free safety to complement Burnett. Reid can play both safety positions, which increases his value on draft day. (PB)

#29 Jacksonville Jaguars: C/G James Daniels, Iowa

The Jaguars do not need a quarterback and drafting one would be an incredible waste of draft capital and allocation of resources. Blake Bortles guided Jacksonville to the AFC championship game behind a rock-solid running game and dominant defense. Yet, the offensive line needs a an upgrade at right guard. The personnel office hopes that Isaiah Wynn or Will Hernandez would remain available late in the first round. However, with both off the board, James Daniels is the highest-ranked interior lineman available. At 6-foot-3 and 295 pounds, the former Hawkeye is a nimble athlete with great upper body strength and quick feet. (JL)

#30 Minnesota Vikings: OG/C Billy Price, Ohio State

Before the combine injury, Price was a top 20 pick and possibly the best center in the draft. The Viking have few holes, but offensive line could still be upgraded at the guard spots. Nick Easton was OK and Tom Compton was signed in free agency from the Bears, but Price would be an upgrade for either of them. Pat Elflein played well at center but he or Price can be used at either interior position and give the Vikings some flexibility. (KZ)

#31 New England Patriots: TE Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State

Tom Brady hasn’t committed to playing in 2018 yet, but those around expect the greatest quarterback of all time to be back. Even if he outright came out and said this was his last season, you’re not finding his heir apparent in this spot. Rob Gronkowski is in a similar position, but with Goedert the team can groom him to be eventual replacement and be the second tight end immediately. It’s no secret New England likes two tight end sets and has not enjoyed much success with guys like Tim Wright and Dwayne Allen over the years post-Aaron Hernandez. (CC)

#32 Philadelphia Eagles: RB Ronald Jones III, USC

The Eagles would probably elicit phone calls from teams trying to move back into the first round up until they are forced to pick, but if they stay put and end up with Jones, they should be happy. Jay Ajayi only has one year left on his contract so the Eagles could be looking for his replacement already. Jones has been compared to Jamaal Charles, who Doug Pederson is very familiar with from his days in Kansas City. The running back would need to add more bulk if he wants to be a true three-down workhorse, but his ability to make defenders miss and catch out of the backfield makes him an intriguing target at the end of the first round. (PB)

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