The 2018 NFL Draft is almost upon us.
Soon the Commish will make his way to the podium while the fans in attendance boo him and the Cleveland Browns will officially go “on the clock” to kick off a night of crazy mayhem.
We, as fans, sit on the edge of our seats that first night waiting in anticipation to see which players will be available to our team when their pick comes up. But the real anxiousness comes from not knowing what will happen in the picks leading up to your team’s pick. The NFL draft is always unpredictable and rarely goes the way any of the experts expect it to go. There’s always a few teams that decide to stir the pot and throw a wrench into the entire process. Well after all my research into this draft, I’ve got some unusual predictions for what could happen during the first two rounds of the draft. Some effect which direction the Bucs may go with their first pick and some have no effect at all. But they all could make for an interesting first round on Thursday night. So here it goes.
1) SAQUON BARKLEY WILL BE THE #1 PICK OF THIS DRAFT:
I realize that the popular choice for most mock drafts with the Browns first pick is a quarterback. Sam Darnold seems to be the player most frequently slotted there. I even had him there in one of my mocks. However, I think Cleveland may shock everyone and go with the best player in the draft instead. My reasoning? They traded away their 65th pick in the third round to the Buffalo Bills for quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Why do that if you’re going to use your #1 pick on a QB? Not only that, but they also signed veteran Drew Stanton to be his backup with a 2-yr/$6.5 million contract with $4 million guaranteed. That doesn’t sound like a team that’s still in the hunt for a quarterback to me.
2) BROWNS WILL TRADE THEIR 4TH PICK:
Considering what I said in prediction #1, the Browns took Barkley with their first pick and will trade their 4th pick away to move back towards the middle of the first round. The only two teams with enough trade ammunition to make this move would be the Bills and Pats who both have two first-round picks. The Bills currently possess the 12th and 22nd picks while the Pats own the 23rd and 31st. If I had to bet, my money would be on Buffalo moving up to take Josh Allen. The Browns slide back to the 12th pick where they grab their eventual franchise QB Lamar Jackson. That’s right, you heard me. Lamar Jackson to the Browns. Book it!
3) THERE WILL BE AT LEAST 3 TRADES IN THE TOP 10 PICKS:
At least 3 trades. Besides the Browns 4th pick, I also see the Colts trading their 6th pick and Bucs trading their 7th pick away too. The Broncos are even a wildcard with their 5th pick so there could be 4 trades in the top seven picks. With so many teams in the market for a QB and so few franchise worthy QB’s in this draft, this first round should be hectic. Besides the obvious teams like the Bills, Jets and Cardinals there are other teams that have aging starting quarterbacks like the Pats, Chargers, Saints and Steelers. Then there’s even more teams like the Dolphins, Ravens and Bengals who have quarterbacks that haven’t been able to get the job done and could be replaced. With only six QB’s really worthy of being selected in the first round, it makes for a competitive trade market.
4) PATS WILL TRADE THE FARM AWAY TO MOVE UP FOR A QB:
The New England Patriots have 8 picks in this draft, 5 of which are in the first three rounds. In fact, they hold 4 of the first 63 picks. If they really are looking for Tommy Boy’s replacement, they’ll have to move into the top 10 or 12 picks in order to find one. That means they’ll have to give away both first rounders just to get to #12 and an additional second rounder to get inside the top 10. That’s not quite at a “Mike Ditka trading for Ricky Williams” level, but it is a lot and it would be highly unusual for Bill Belichick and the Pats.
5) BUCS WILL TRADE THEIR 7TH PICK:
I think that the #1 player on the Bucs draft board is Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson. Should he be gone by the time the Bucs go on the clock at #7, they will probably look to trade back into the middle of the first round and pick up an extra early round pick or two. Even if he is there, it could still be a possibility. I’m a huge Nelson fan. The guy is a monster. But if the Bucs have a highly lucrative offer to move back and stay within range of picking UTEP guard Will Hernandez, then why would they pass that up? No doubt that Nelson is the best offensive lineman in this draft, but is there a big enough difference between him and Hernandez to give up those extra picks? I’m not so sure. The Bucs need a guard, but they also need to fill in other holes at cornerback, running back and safety. They’ll need the extra early round picks to do it so trading back seems like the most logical choice at this point.
6) MINKAH FITZPATRICK WILL DROP OUT OF THE TOP 10:
This is probably surprising to some of you Bama homers, but it has nothing to do with him as a player. He’s extremely versatile and will likely be an impact player in whatever secondary he ends up with. In fact, it sounds as though teams are having a hard time figuring out what to do with him. Is he a free safety? Is he an outside corner? Is he a nickel? Regardless, it will have more to do with the trade ups for quarterbacks than anything. I think his best shot to go in the top 10 is either with Denver or Tampa Bay, but both of them could be trading out of their picks. The next team that would make sense for him could possibly be Green Bay with the 14th pick. There’s an outside chance that former safety John Lynch decides to bring him to San Francisco with their 9th pick, but if not he could continue slipping a few more spots to the Packers.
7) THERE WILL BE 6 QB’s TAKEN IN THE FIRST ROUND:
That’s right, six. It’s only happened one other time in that historical 1983 NFL Draft when Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, John Elway, Tony Eason, Ken O’Brien and Todd Blackledge were all first-round picks. This year, I can see Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph all being selected in the top 15 picks. There’s a bunch of teams looking for a quarterback in this draft and they’ll be looking early.
8) BARKLEY WILL BE THE ONLY RB TAKEN IN THE 1st ROUND:
I’m not so sure about this one. LSU’s Derrius Guice could go late in the first round, but his stock has slipped a little bit due to off the field character concerns. This is a defense heavy draft and with so many top defensive players slipping down due to QB trades, teams could be inclined to go with one of them instead of a skill position player. There will for sure be a serious run on running backs in the second round where Guice, Sony Michel, Nick Chubb, Ronald Jones and maybe even Kerryon Johnson and/or Rashaad Penny could be taken. Hopefully, the Bucs will be grabbing one of those players at some point during the second round.
9) CALVIN RIDLEY WILL NOT BE THE FIRST WR TAKEN:
Like I said before, there probably won’t be many skill position players picked in the first round. I think Ridley will be a first-round pick, but he may not be the first wideout off the board. Some teams have SMU’s Courtland Sutton ranked higher than him on their draft boards. At 6’4″/220lbs, he has more of the NFL size that teams are looking for over the 6’/190lb Ridley.
10) SEAHAWKS WILL TRADE THOMAS TO COWBOYS ON DAY 2:
It’s no secret that the Seahawks have been dangling veteran safety Earl Thomas out there as trade bait and the Dallas Cowboys may have taken it. Releasing WR Dez Bryant cleared up a little bit of cap space for them and they’re in serious need of secondary help. Seattle doesn’t have a second or third round pick in this draft, so they may end up sending Thomas to Dallas for their 81st pick of the third round. Stay tuned for more player trades from them as well. They may be having a fire sale up there in Starbuck’s country to clean out the roster and start rebuilding another championship team.
I love draft season. The mocks. The trades. The rumors. The BS coming from each and every team. The best thing about the draft is it’s unpredictability. Some of these things could happen. Maybe all of them. Or none of them. We won’t find out until after the Commissioner makes his famous announcement and kicks off the start of the mayhem on Thursday night. One thing is for sure, it’ll be fun to watch unfold.
Until then, as always…GO BUCS!!!