With the NFL Scouting Combine in the rearview mirror, we take a look at what the first round might look like in the 2018 NFL Draft in April.
The NFL Scouting Combine was a complete success for a ton of prospects this past weekend, including some of the star quarterbacks in this draft class. Guys like Josh Rosen and Josh Allen really showed off their arm in the quarterback drills, while running back Saquon Barkley proved to be superhuman during his workout.
However, the talk of the draft was Shaquem Griffin, who not only ran a 4.38 40-yard dash and put up 225 pounds on the bench 20 times, but he also did it with only one hand. Griffin put an exclamation point on an incredible year for him, and should hear his name called within the first three rounds in April.
Here is our latest 2018 NFL Mock Draft.
The debate over which quarterback is going to be taken first overall will rage on up until draft night, as there are a handful of signal-callers it could be. Players like Josh Rosen and Josh Allen had some big moments during the Combine, though some did not even throw. Sam Darnold from USC made the decision to run, but not throw during the Combine, but it should not hurt his draft status.
With the first overall pick in April, the Browns are expected to take a quarterback, although Penn State running back Saquon Barkley did his best to put a wrench in that thought process this past weekend. Still, Darnold should be the first overall pick for Cleveland, and he should get the chance to start immediately. New general manager John Dorsey has to get this pick right, as the Browns have been wrong far too often with this position.
Cleveland will also pick in the No. 4 spot, thanks to a trade they made with the Houston Texans during the 2017 NFL Draft. With that pick, they could wind up getting Barkley, though building up their defense makes more sense. There is a ton of pressure on the Browns front office to finally turn this thing around, and it all begins with their top two picks in the first round in a little under two months.
There were plenty of prospects who really stood out during the NFL Scouting Combine, but Penn State running back Saquon Barkley might have had the best workout. The stunning feature back showed incredible speed, strength, and agility, and pushed himself into the question of being the top pick overall. While he will likely not be picked by the Cleveland Browns, the New York Giants should be waiting with open arms
Sure, you hear it everywhere that no running back should be taken this high, but Barkley is that special. He is the kind of player you can really build an offense around, and he would take so much pressure off of Odell Beckham Jr. on the offensive side of the ball. The plan is to roll with Eli Manning for at least next season, so it makes sense to draft Barkley if the team wants to win now.
The bottom line is that the Giants have a new head coach and general manager, and they will not be the business of waiting around to win. This is too proud a franchise to let that happen, and if they build up the offensive line via free agency, they should be a playoff contender next season. The Giants have the talent on both sides of the ball to make a mark next season, and Barkley could put them over the top in their race back to the playoffs.
The Indianapolis Colts have a lot of holes to fix this offseason, though they will have an exciting new head coach in place. The team went out and hired former Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich as their new head coach, and he certainly has a history of winning in the NFL. If this team gets Andrew Luck back healthy next season, the roster takes on a whole new shape, as he should be once again one of the better quarterbacks in the league.
That is a big if, however, as Luck missed all of last season. If he is back, the team needs to focus their top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft on the defensive side of the ball, specifically getting a better pass rush. While this draft class is loaded with edge rushers, there is none better than Bradley Chubb, who could wind up being a Pro Bowl player as a rookie next season.
Chubb has a very rare blend of size and speed, and he should be a dominant player at the next level. In order to survive in the AFC South, teams need to be able to get after the quarterback, and that is his specialty. This Colts team is not terrible, and should rebound off of their 3-13 season from a year ago, but they need elite talents like Chubb to come to Indy if they want to do so.
The Cleveland Browns have a lot of work to do before draft night, as they currently have two of the first four picks in the first round. They received pick No. 4 thanks to a trade they made with the Houston Texans during the 2017 NFL Draft, a pick that became quarterback Deshaun Watson. Cleveland should get their quarterback with the first overall pick, and then switch their attention to their secondary at No. 4.
The top defensive back in this draft class has long been Minkah Fitzpatrick, and he should be the first one off the board. Though he made some pointed comments towards the organization during the NFL Scouting Combine, he may be too good to pass up. He has the size and speed you look for in a player who can lead your secondary, and he should be an impact guy from day one.
If the Browns can hit in the first and second round, they could be a legitimate football team for the first time in a long time. Their defense actually was not that bad last season, and adding a player like Fitzpatrick to the secondary could make them tough to throw on next season. Cleveland is starving for at least a competitive team, after winning only one game in the last two seasons.
The real question surrounding the Denver Broncos this offseason will be who will be their starting quarterback in Week 1 of the 2018 season. The Broncos went through last season with Brock Osweiler, Trevor Siemian, and Paxton Lynch, which led to them finishing at the bottom of the AFC West. That is pretty shocking considering they had a good running back, and their defense was solid once again.
While the rumors are swirling that they could make a play for either Kirk Cousins or Case Keenum, the team still needs to focus on this position group in the NFL Draft. There are some legitimate franchise guys who should go at the top of this draft class, and Josh Rosen is definitely one of them. Rosen had a great combine, showing a nice blend of arm strength and personality, and would be a good fit in Denver.
The bottom line is the Broncos cannot win with the players they have at quarterback right now, so a signal-caller makes sense at No. 5 overall. Rosen has the talent to be a solid player at the NFL level, and could end up being the best quarterback of this draft class. John Elway needs his franchise guy, and he would certainly get it if he calls Rosen’s number in the first round in April.
The New York Jets made some news this week, as they got rid of defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson. While they could certainly use some help up front on defense via the NFL Draft, picking at No. 6 is too early to go that route in this draft class. The odds are the Jets will roll the dice on a franchise quarterback, and Baker Mayfield could be available, giving them the signal-caller this franchise so desperately needs.
Mayfield has been linked to the Cleveland Browns, so he could be done by No. 6. However, he would be a nice fit in New York, as he has the star power to play under the bright lights. The Heisman Trophy winner has had to work for everything he has earned in college football, as he had to walk on twice at both Texas Tech, and Oklahoma.
The Jets saw some unexpected people step up last season, and their defense should be solid in 2018. Quarterback Josh McCown had a career-year under center, but he is way too old to be considered a franchise quarterback. McCown may stick around, and for Mayfield, he would learn a lot from the veteran, who can teach him a lot about playing the game at the NFL level.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will try to shake off a rough 2017 season, where they failed to live up to their preseason expectations. Coming off a solid 2016 that saw them finish at 9-7, many believed Jameis Winston would lead the team to the playoffs for the first time in a decade, but he battled inconsistent football and injuries. In 2018, they will have to navigate a tough NFC South, one that saw every other team make the playoffs last season.
In order to be competitive in the NFC South, you have to be good against the pass. If the Buccaneers want to get out of the cellar next season, they should spend their first round pick on a defensive back. Derwin James from Florida State is an absolute freak of an athlete, and he could be available when the Bucs pick at No. 7.
James played all over the secondary during his time with the Seminoles, and could be a key contributor in year one. He has the speed and size to play cornerback, but many believe he is the best safety this draft class has to offer. In addition, he was a great return man at Florida State, so he checks off a lot of boxes for the Bucs.
The Chicago Bears traded up one spot in the 2017 NFL Draft to grab North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, as they saw enough in him to make him their future at the position. Due to the fact Mike Glennon was terrible, the rookie had to come in a lot earlier than hoped for last season, and he played well at times. The real issue was he had nobody to throw to, as both Kevin White and Cameron Meredith missed the season due to injuries.
Heading into next season, this Bears team needs to get him some weapons. Sure, White looked to be in great shape based on a photo posted to social media, but how much can you really count on him. Star tight end Zach Miller has a long road ahead of him after nearly losing his leg in a mid-season injury, so the onus is on the organization to draft a wide out in the first round.
The best wide receiver in this draft class is Calvin Ridley, and it is not really close. He would be an instant star with the Bears, giving Trubisky a legitimate threat down the field. Chicago was decent on defense last season, and with a new offensive-minded head coach at the helm in Matt Nagy, this offense should take a step forward in 2018.
The San Francisco 49ers made the best trade deadline move of any team in 2017, as they grabbed Jimmy Garoppolo from the New England Patriots. Many believed that Jimmy G would be a good starting quarterback in the NFL, but could anybody have guessed he would win all five of his starts as a member of the 49ers. He appears to be the real deal, and the 49ers have some decent pieces around him.
With their first round pick in 2018, the team should look to bring in a player on the defensive side of the ball. Denzel Ward from Ohio State has had an incredible NFL Scouting Combine, and is creeping high into the first round. He appears to have the attributes needed to be a CB1 at the next level, and the 49ers could certainly use some help in their defensive backfield.
If the team does go with Ward, they will be adding an elite athlete to their secondary. This team has the talent to make a serious run towards an NFC West title next season, and are already in the mix to sign free agent Trumaine Johnson. If they can add Johnson and Ward this offseason, they could have one of the better cornerback tandems in their division, which would go a long way in them making a run to first place.
Will they go linebacker or defensive tackle? That is the question for the Oakland Raiders, who need a lot of help at both positions this offseason. Luckily for the Raiders, this draft class is loaded with talent at both of those positions, so they should be able to get what they need in the first round. While a lot of Raiders fans are clamoring for Vita Vea from Washington, Roquan Smith from Georgia has to be the pick.
Sure, everybody doing a mock draft is picking Smith to go the Raiders, but it is for good reason. He is the best linebacker this draft class has to offer, and he plays on the inside. The Raiders seriously need help at middle linebacker, even if they bring back NaVorro Bowman, as smart linebackers are needed in new defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s scheme.
Smith had some issues during the Combine, including not benching due to a shoulder injury. He also pulled his hamstring while running the 40-yard dash, so the injury issues are a bit alarming. Still, he has the talent to be a standout player at the next level, and while 6-10 certainly was a disappoint last season, it will lead to them getting a top-10 talent in the draft.
The Miami Dolphins have a lot of work to do this offseason, and they kicked it off with a bang by placing the franchise tag on Jarvis Landry. While the tagging is likely going to lead to him being traded, the team could retain his services, as quarterback Ryan Tannehill needs him as he returns from injury. Last season, running back Kenyon Drake came on to be a stud when Jay Ajayi was traded, but he needs help up front.
With their No. 11 pick in the first round, the Dolphins should look to add a guard to their offensive line. Quenton Nelson is the best guard prospect in this draft class, and he would be an excellent addition to this Dolphins offensive line. Adding more strength up front could make them a contender for a playoff spot next season, as a healthy Tannehill should make this offense go.
Nelson is a great addition, and would join a young offensive line that includes 2016 first rounder Laremy Tunsil. The Dolphins were a playoff team in 2016, and they still have the talent to challenge for a spot in the postseason in 2018. The team can go a bunch of different ways with this pick, including trading it, but Nelson makes sense with the way the roster is currently set up.
The Cincinnati Bengals struggled through another season with Marvin Lewis as their head coach, and all indicators were that he would be fired after the year. However, the team decided to extend his contract, which means he will likely be with the team for another two seasons. If they are ever going to get back to the playoffs, they need to be better up front on offense, and they should focus their draft pick on a tackle.
The best tackle in this draft class is Mike McGlinchey, who has been a star for the past two seasons for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. In fact, many believe he could have been a first rounder last year, but he decided to return to school to finish out his eligibility. He teamed with Quenton Nelson to give the Irish the best offensive line in the country, and he should be picked in the first 15 selections.
McGlinchey is an incredible specimen, and he has the size and feet to stay on the left side at the next level. He is very strong in his upper body, enabling him to control the line of scrimmage during his time at Notre Dame. The Bengals have a strong running back in Joe Mixon, and Andy Dalton is still a Pro Bowl player, they just need better people in front of them giving them time to operate.
The No. 13 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft belongs to the Washington Redskins, who failed to make the playoffs last season. The year before, the Redskins won the NFC East, and were expected to challenge for a playoff spot again in 2017. However, quarterback Kirk Cousins had really no weapons to speak of in the game, and the offense sputtered at times because of it.
As they head into next season, there will be a new quarterback leading the charge. Washington made a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs for Alex Smith, who will be supplanted by Patrick Mahomes II with the Chiefs. In Washington, Smith should enjoy the same kind of success he did in Kansas City, where he led the team to three straight playoff berths.
With their first round pick in 2018, the Redskins should look to bring in some talent along the defensive line. The best defensive tackle in this draft class is Vita Vea, who put on quite a show during the NFL Scouting Combine. Vea is the kind of player who can transform a defensive line, and at the next level, he could be one of the best rookies in his class next season.
The Green Bay Packers tried to make it to the playoffs without Aaron Rodgers last season, but they fell quite short. Rodgers broke his collarbone towards the middle of the season, and though he did make it back late in the year, the damage was already done. Backup quarterback Brett Hundley just did not have the experience to lead the team to crucial wins, and they found themselves outside of the playoffs after entering the year as Super Bowl contenders.
With their first round pick next season, the team should look to add some talent to their defensive backfield. While Denzel Ward from Ohio State really impressed during the Scouting Combine, Iowa’s Josh Jackson was not too far behind. Jackson led the FBS in interceptions last season, capping his final campaign with the Hawkeyes with a pick in the Pinstripe Bowl.
If Green Bay is to get to the top of the landscape in the NFC, they have to get better in the defensive backfield. Bringing in a player like Jackson instantly makes them better at the cornerback position, and in a conference where some of the elite passers reside, the addition of Jackson could put them over the top. Green Bay has a lot of holes to fill this offseason, but cornerback may be the biggest.
The Arizona Cardinals need a quarterback, and luckily for them, this draft class is loaded with first round guys. During the NFL Scouting Combine, Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen really showed what he can do with a football, and should definitely find himself going in the first round. Some believe he is the best signal-caller in the entire draft, but he just may be available to the Cardinals this late in round one.
Last season, the Cardinals had to deal with an injury to Carson Palmer, and the quarterback position really suffered. Heading into 2018, they can afford to go into the season with a rookie under center, thanks to the fact star running back David Johnson will be back healthy. In addition, future Hall of Fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will also be back, so this offense should be fine.
Arizona plays in the NFC West, which suddenly has some of the better quarterbacks in the league. Russell Wilson, Jared Goff, and Jimmy Garoppolo will be battling out for supremecy in the division, so the team will be behind the eight ball with Allen if they choose him. He has the physical gifts to be a stellar player at the next level, but there is certain to be a big degree of a learning curve in year one in 2018.
The Baltimore Ravens needed only to win at home in Week 17 to clinch a spot in the playoffs, and they welcomed in the lowly Cincinnati Bengals. However, the Bengals were playing good football at the time, and they went into M&T Bank Stadium and throttled the Ravens. As they head into the 2018 season, the team needs to add some talent to the offensive side of the ball, especially at the skill positions.
At running back, there is a glaring hole for the Ravens, and they could afford to spend their first round pick on the position. During his time at LSU, Guice actually led the SEC in rushing, all while playing behind Leonard Fournette on the depth chart. Fournette tore up the NFL in his rookie season in 2017, and Guice could have that kind of impact in 2018.
Guice is an incredible physical specimen, and he should be a solid player at the next level. Not only does he run with great speed, but he is a very strong kid, and should be able to run over, and around the competition in the NFL. If it were not for Saquon Barkley, Guice would be the top running back in this draft class, but he should join Barkley in the first round when the draft kicks off in April.
The Los Angeles Chargers head into next season as a very sexy pick to win the AFC West, after finishing the 2017 as one of the hottest teams in the league. The Chargers began the season at 0-4, and it looked like they made a huge mistake with Anthony Lynn at head coach. However, Lynn proved to be one of the better rookie coaches in the league, nearly leading the team to the playoffs
Heading into next season, the Chargers need to get better on the offensive line. One player they could bring in is Texas offensive tackle Connor Williams, who has been one of the best tackles in college football over the last two seasons. Williams has the size and foot work to stay on the left side at the next level, and the Chargers have not had a franchise left tackle during Philip Rivers career.
Rivers can still sling it, and there is incredible young talent on both sides of the ball for the Chargers. While the roster does have holes, one could argue they are the more complete set of players of any team in the AFC West. Williams fills a big need for Los Angeles, who just may be the team that comes out of the division next season, which is their second in LaLa Land.
The Seattle Seahawks made a trade during the trade deadline for Duane Brown, as he served a stopgap for their issues at left tackle. While Brown is a solid veteran, the team needs to start thinking long-term about what they plan to do with the position. If they decide to draft a left tackle in 2018, there are a bunch of names to choose from, and one is the son of a former NFL player.
Orlando Brown had a very round NFL Scouting Combine, but he should still find himself picked in the first round. Many scouts are going to rely on the tape, where he played a key role in helping the Oklahoma Sooners to the College Football Playoff last season. He has spent the last few years protecting Baker Mayfield’s blindside, helping the former walk-on win the Heisman Trophy last season.
Brown does have incredible physical abilities, though he did not really show them during the combine. Still, he is one of the more powerful offense lineman in this draft class, and his game should translate well to the next level. The Seahawks need to do a better job protecting Russell Wilson next season, and Brown can certainly help them do just that.
The Dallas Cowboys were the class of the NFC East in 2016, finishing the regular season with the best record in the conference. However, they failed to make the playoffs this past season, as they had to deal with a six-game suspension served by star running back Ezekiel Elliott. There just was not enough talent on offense to make up for the lack of Elliott, and the team should bring in a skill player in the first round this coming April.
While Dez Bryant is still a solid player, this Cowboys team needs to bring him in some help at the wide receiver position. While Calvin Ridley should be the first wideout taken, teams will not be able to pass up the talents of SMU’s Courtland Sutton. Sutton is a physical freak, and on the Cowboys, he would give team another weapon to worry about, freeing up Bryant in the passing game.
Sutton put on quite a display during the NFL Scouting Combine, and should find himself in the first round in 2018. He has the size and speed to make all the plays at the next level, and is one of the smartest wide receivers in this draft class. He may not have been well known heading into the Combine, but he left his mark, and is going to be a very special player in the NFL, especially going over the middle.
The Detroit Lions nearly made the playoffs for the second straight season in 2017, though they fell just short. Prior to the regular season, the organization made Matthew Stafford the highest-paid player in the NFL, and he did not disappoint. The team just did not have enough weapons on either side of the ball to make it back to the postseason, but they should be back in 2018.
While the offense looks to be ready to battle it out in the NFC North, this defense needs work. Sure, they locked up Ezekiel Ansah already this offseason, but they need help on the edges heading into next season. One player they could target this late in round one is Marcus Davenport, who is one of the highest-rated edge rushers in this draft class.
Davenport is going to be an explosive player at the next level, and the Lions certainly need someone with his skill set. The NFC North should be interesting next season, as the Packers will have Rodgers back, and the Vikings are coming off a season that landed them in the NFC Championship Game. The Lions have the horses to challenge anyone in the division, and Davenport should put their pass rush over the top.
The Buffalo Bills finally made it back to the playoffs this past season, making it to the postseason for the first time since 1999. Still, the team lost in the Wild Card Round to the Jacksonville Jaguars 10-3, ending what was one of the better season we have seen from them in the last 20 years. They head into next season as a favorite to make it back to the playoffs, but they need to add talent on defense.
One player they could look to bring in is Da’Ron Payne, who won two national titles with the Alabama Crimson Tide. Payne is a freak of an athlete up front on defense, and the Bills need some help after losing Marcel Dareus to the Jaguars. He instantly makes the Bills better on the defensive line, and should be an impact player even in year one.
While Payne would help the Bills up front, the team also needs some help at the linebacker position. Luckily for Buffalo, they will pick twice in a row in the first round, thanks to a trade they made with the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2017 NFL Draft. If they add two to the defense in the first round, they just may challenge the New England Patriots for supremacy in the AFC East next season.
With their second of two picks in a row in the first round, the Buffalo Bills should look to bring in a linebacker. The team received this pick thanks to a trade they made with the Chiefs during the 2017 NFL Draft, and because both teams lost in the Wild Card round, the picks just happen to be back-to-back. Buffalo may decide to trade these two picks to move up in round one, but if they keep the picks, look for them to add to the middle level of the defense at No. 22.
With this pick, the team should bring in Rashaan Evans, who was a teammate of Da’Ron Payne at Alabama. Evans was one of the captains of the Crimson Tide last season, which is a testament to how far he has come as a player. To be named a captain for Nick Saban is quite an honor, and Evans is just a fantastic talent from his inside linebacker position.
Evans has the size and speed to play on the inside, or the outside at the next level, and the Bills defense needs that kind of versatility. The organization has a great opportunity to really improve the roster in April, and they need to get these two picks right. Their head coach is a big-time defensive mind, so you could imagine the fun he would have adding guys like Payne and Evans to the mix on the Bills defense.
One of the biggest surprises of the 2017 NFL season was the play of the Los Angeles Rams. The team headed into the campaign with the youngest head coach in the league, and all Sean McVay did was win NFL Coach of the Year honors. In addition, 2016 first overall pick Jared Goff was seen as a bust, but shook that label off by making it to the Pro Bowl in year two.
This Rams team is built to last, but they certainly have some holes to fill this offseason. The team plans to part with star cornerback Trumaine Johnson, so bringing in someone to fill that void has got to be the priority in round one. Jaire Alexander is a freakishly good athlete, and he could wind up being a shutdown cornerback at the next level in 2018.
Alexander has had to deal with some injuries during his time at Lousiville, but that should not keep him from being an early pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. While some believe he could fall into the second round due to injury issues, we like him sneaking into the first round. If healthy, he is one of the best cornerbacks this draft class has to offer, and just could be the best of the bunch before all is said and done.
The Carolina Panthers finally made it back to the playoffs last season, after failing to make the postseason the year before. In 2015, the team made it all the way to the Super Bowl, though they were thrashed by the Denver Broncos. During the 2017 NFL Draft, Carolina went out and drafted Christian McCaffrey in the first round, and he will be asked to do more next season with Jonathan Stewart recently released.
McCaffrey was an incredible selection, and could be something special as the main running back in 2018. However, this team needs help up front, and they could find the kind of player they need this late in round one. Will Hernandez from UTEP is as special as they come when it comes to guard prospects, and the Panthers would benefit by bringing him on board.
The bottom line is the Panthers need to be better up front, especially in blocking for the likes of McCaffrey and quarterback Cam Newton. They have the talent on both sides of the ball to be a perennial playoff contender, but they play in arguably the best division in football. Spending a first round pick on a guard will go a long way in making sure the Panthers continue to be a playoff-caliber team for the foreseeable future.
The Tennessee Titans put together a solid 2017 NFL season, as they finally made it back to the playoffs. Once in the playoffs, the Titans won a huge Wild Card game, beating the Kansas City Chiefs on the road. With one of the better young quarterbacks in the NFL on the roster, this Titans team should be a playoff contender every season, as Marcus Mariota showed he can win big games last season.
As they head into the 2018 NFL Draft, the Titans have to get better on the defensive side of the ball. Last season, the team was drubbed by the New England Patriots in the Divisional Round, as they had no answer to Tom Brady and company. If they want to be a serious Super Bowl contender, they have to get better at getting after the quarterback, and Tremaine Edmunds could definitely help them in that regard.
Edmunds is pretty much a freak, as he is one heck of a strong teenager. He made his mark during the college football season, and then went out and showed at the NFL Scouting Combine that he was one of the best athletes in this draft class. He is gong to be a sack machine at the next level, and the Titans would have a steal if he is still available this late in round one.
After suffering the worst defeat in Super Bowl history, the Atlanta Falcons figured to have a bit of a hangover in 2017. Well, they struggled a bit out of the gate, but came on strong, and was one of three NFC South teams to make the playoffs. The Falcons advanced to the Divisional Round, where they lost to the Philadelphia Eagles on the road, but they should be back in the postseason next year.
With their offense pretty much set, the team should look to draft a defensive player in the first round in April. They need help at the defensive tackle position, and they may be able to get a player like Maurice Hurst this late in round one. Hurst was viewed as a possible top-15 pick going into the Combine, but had to leave with a heart issue, which may affect his draft status.
Hurst will not fall out of the first round, and would be a nice grab this late in round one by the Falcons. They have strong edge rushers, and if they can get better in the middle, they could be the best team in a very tough division next season. Quarterback Matt Ryan has the talent to win a Super Bowl, and having a tough defensive line could make a huge difference for the team in 2018.
The New Orleans Saints won seven games in each of the last three seasons, so head coach Sean Payton was on the hot seat heading into 2017. However, Payton turned things around, thanks to an incredible running back tandem in Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. With Drew Brees likey to be locked up this offseason, this Saints offense will be special once again in 2018, and they should look to add a wideout weapon in round one in April.
Michael Thomas is one of the best wide receivers in the NFC, but he needs some help next season. There have been rumors that the team will bring in former tight end Jimmy Graham this offseason, which will give them another target in the red zone. With their first round pick, the team may decide to bring in a player like Christian Kirk, who has first round ability to go along with an incredible football IQ.
Kirk was a beast during his time with the Texas A&M Aggies, proving to be one of the best wideouts in the SEC. He is going to be a game-changer at the next level, as he has the kind of talent that can really take the lid off a defense. The Saints need to be able to throw to more than just Thomas next season, so adding Kirk and a tight end like Graham could make them elite on that side of the ball.
The Pittsburgh Steelers were supposed to play the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game last season, but the Jacksonvilel Jaguars got in the way. Still, it was another incredible season for the Steelers, who continue to be one of the best teams in football. They have a lot of questions to answer this offseason, especially when it comes to running back Le’Veon Bell, who may sit out the year if he does not get a long-term deal.
When it comes to the 2018 NFL Draft, the Steelers should look to bring in some talent on the defensive side of the ball. The Steelers need some help on the inside at linebacker, and Malik Jefferson from Texas should be available this late in round one. Jefferson is a special player, and at the next level, he has the size and speed to play both on the inside, and on the outside at linebacker.
The Steelers have the horses to make another run next season, but the defense has to be better. The organization has done a nice job of getting younger on that side of the ball, and they got an incredible first season from rookie T.J. Watt in 2017. This Steelers team has a small window left with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, so expect the 2018 offseason to have plenty of movement with the roster.
The Jacksonville Jaguars surprised everybody last season, as they made it all the way to the AFC Championship Game. In fact, they appeared ready to get to the Super Bowl, as they held a ten-point lead over the New England Patriots heading into the fourth quarter. Well, Tom Brady crushed those dreams, but the stage is set for this team to be good for a very long time.
The organization took care of business when it comes to the Blake Bortles this offseason already, inking him to a long-term deal. In order for the team to continue to win games, they need to focus on the running game, where Leonard Fournette was great as a rookie last season. With their first round pick in 2018, the team should look to bring in talent along the offensive line, and Isaiah Wynn from Georgia would be a nice pick at No. 29.
Wynn is one of the more versatile offensive lineman in this draft class, and he would be a perfect fit in Jacksonville. He has the talent to play tackle at the next level, but he could be an elite player if he stays at the guard position. If the guard play is better in Jacksonville, then Fournette could lead the league in rushing next season, taking a lot of the pressure off of Bortles in 2018.
The Minnesota Vikings battled through injuries last season, as both their starting quarterback, and star rookie running back both went down with knee issues. As they head into next season, the hope is Dalvin Cook will be back running the ball, though they have no idea who will be playing quarterback. Case Keenum went from third-string to starting in the NFC Championship Game, and he may be the best player to lead this team moving forward.
When it comes to the offense next season, the Vikings have to focus on running the ball. One of the better interior linemen in this draft class is Billy Price, who has been a stud during his time at Ohio State. Price has been a star center and guard for the Buckeyes, and while he tore his pec during the NFL Scouting Combine, he should still be a first round pick.
This Vikings team has one of the better defenses in the league, and they should once again be a playoff team next season. The issues at quarterback are worrisome, and some believe they may actually go with Sam Bradford as their starter in 2018. Whoever is under center, this team is going to feed Cook if he is healthy, and Price would be a solid addition to an offensive line that needs help.
Playing against the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl, many predicted the New England Patriots would win their second straight big game. However, the Eagles had other plans, and in the process, Tom Brady was denied his sixth ring. Still, this team is once again going to be one of the better teams in the AFC, and they just may actually hang onto their first round pick this April.
With their first round pick, the Patriots should focus on the defensive side of the ball. The bottom line is, this team was shredded by Nick Foles in the Super Bowl, as the team failed to get any kind of pass rush. They could bring in an elite edge rusher via the draft, even this late in round one, as Arden Key may just fall to them with the No. 31 overall pick.
During his time at LSU, Key established himself as one of the better pass rushers in the league. He battled through some injuries last season, but he should be a key contributor for whoever drafts him in the 2018 NFL Draft. He will likely stay in the first round, due to his incredible athletic abilities, and the Patriots would be a perfect landing spot for someone with his skill set.
When Carson Wentz tore up his knee in December, nobody could have predicted that the Philadelphia Eagles would win the Super Bowl. Well, the No. 1 seed in the NFC did just that, shredding the underdog role in every round of the playoffs they played in. Backup quarterback Nick Foles was actually named Super Bowl MVP, after tearing up the New England Patriots secondary all game long.
As they look towards next season, there are a lot of questions. They are getting offers for Foles’ service, but with the uncertainty surrounding when Wentz will be back, he will likely stick with the team. With their first overall pick in the April draft, the Eagles should look to bring in a weapon on the offensive side of the ball, specifically at wide receiver.
James Washington is an elite talent at the wideout position, and really helped Oklahoma State be a competitive team in the Big 12 during his time with the school. He has a rare blend of speed and power from the wide receiver position, and his skill set should translate well at the next level. The Eagles have a lot of questions as to what wide receivers to bring back next season, and Washington could be a legitimate option this late in round one.