DESTINY: 2018 DRAFT LOCKS

April 24, 2018

 

With the 2018 NFL Draft finally on the horizon, we will soon know how the story will be written. Personally, I can't wait.

 

When the 2017 college football season started, I made a resolution to do a 7 round mock draft twice a week, every week. While it has been an exhausting endeavor, I did it to be able to marry patterns between my own perceived ideal scheme fits between what a player does well and how a team plays. As the process of the Senior Bowl, Combine, and private team meetings and workouts commenced, I was able to validate what I had been penciling in for teams as information regarding team interest has been leaking in. These are names that have seemed to survived many mock revisions, and I've listed one player who is destined to land on a particular team, along with one UDFA lock.

 

ARIZONA CARDINALS

QB KYLE LAULETTA

While everyone else has has already given Lauletta away to the Patriots, I firmly believe he will be a Cardinal. The Cardinals have sniffed around Lauletta every step of the way and QB Coach Byron Leftwich seems to be a big fan. It could be as early as the 47th pick, or a package of 79 and 97 to trade back up into the end of the 2nd round isn't out of the question, either.

 

UDFA Pick: CB Chris Seisay

 

ATLANTA FALCONS

DT BJ HILL

Taven Bryan is being discussed as a first-round lock as a 3-technique, but the Falcons have such little depth at nose tackle that multiple picks to address the defensive interior will be used. Hill is a stout player who can control gaps and also contribute as a pass rusher. The Falcons have worked Hill out and met with him more than once.

 

UDFA Pick: RB Mark Thompson

 

BALTIMORE RAVENS

C BRADLEY BOZEMAN

The Ravens have one of the worst situations at center heading into 2018 with Matt Skura penciled in as the starter, but I don't expect them to invest a high draft pick to address it. Between Ozzie Newsome adoring Alabama players and the Ravens showing Bozeman a lot of love at the Senior Bowl, where Bozeman impressed scouts, Bozeman seems like their guy. Expect Bozeman to Baltimore with one of their two sixth round picks.

 

UDFA Pick: TE Nick Keizer

 

BUFFALO BILLS

OG MARTINAS RANKIN

Rankin has played every position at Mississippi State outside of center, and that versatility is exactly what the Bills need with the departure of 3 starting lineman in Cordy Glenn, Richie Incognito and Eric Wood. If the Bills still have one of their two second round picks, I would expect Rankin, who had an official visit with Buffalo, to be one of them. Rankin would likely kick inside to left guard out of the gate for the Bills.

 

UDFA Pick: WR Devonte Boyd

 

CAROLINA PANTHERS

RB JAYLEN SAMUELS

The Panthers stay close to home and snag their replacement for Jonathan Stewart as the stout power back who can also kick out in specialized packages to do a lot of what Ed Dickson used to do. While Samuels is likely a target for one of their two third round picks, I wouldn't bat an eye if they took him as high as 55. They like him.

 

UDFA Pick: OG RJ Prince

 

CHICAGO BEARS

WR EQUANIMEOUS ST BROWN

This is a fit I felt really good about before free agency, then less good about when they signed Allen Robinson, and then good about again when they lost Cameron Meredith to the Saints. St. Brown is an NFL X receiver who is used to playing up north and wouldn't be pressured to make an impact right away slotted behind Robinson. The Bears also buy insurance in case that spotty turf re-claims Robinson's knee.

 

UDFA Pick: RB Michael Boone

 

CINCINNATI BENGALS

CB DARIUS PHILLIPS

With Adam Jones out of the mix, the Bengals will be looking for a CB who can also return kicks (assuming kick returns aren't eradicated). Armed with two third round picks thanks to a compensatory selection, I would be surprised if Phillips isn't one of them. They've shown interest.

 

UDFA Pick: RB Boston Scott

 

CLEVELAND BROWNS

WR ANTONIO CALLAWAY

I know Tony Pauline recently shared that new information has popped up that may prevent Callaway from getting drafted, but who better to pull the trigger than the guy who has 9 draft picks and drafted Tyreek Hill despite off-field issues? Callaway could compete with Corey Coleman for the starting Z spot; the talent is there.

 

UDFA Pick: LB Shaheed Salmon

 

DALLAS COWBOYS

S DESHON ELLIOTT

The Cowboys stay local and take Longhorns prospect Deshon Elliott, who has the range to play free safety and the reliability as a tackler to play strong safety. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, they have needs at both spots with Byron Jones moving back to cornerback full time. Round 3 sounds about fair for Elliott.

 

UDFA Pick: TE David Wells

 

DENVER BRONCOS

CB ANTHONY AVERETT

The Broncos got to see Anthony Averett up close and personal at the Senior Bowl, where he had a strong week. All he did after that was run in the 4.3s at the Combine and his versatility in the Crimson Tide secondary makes him an attractive prospect for Denver. They brought him in for a top 30 visit.

 

UDFA Pick: RB Trenton Cannon

 

DETROIT LIONS

TE DEON YELDER

One of my favorite under-the-radar prospects, Yelder worked his way to a scholarship at Western Kentucky as a walk on and is exactly the type of player that new Head Coach Matt Patricia wants in the building. The Lions brought in a couple blocking tight ends in Luke Willson and Levine Toilolo, but Yelder would replace Eric Ebron as a receiving option at the position.

 

UDFA Pick: WR Vyncint Smith

 

GREEN BAY PACKERS

TE TROY FUMAGALLI

An injury prohibited Fumagalli from taking part in athletic testing in the pre-draft process, but the local product is exactly the type of player they are missing on their TE depth chart behind high-profile free agent signing Jimmy Graham. Fumagalli is a balanced, tough guy tight end who shows enthusiasm as a blocker and can contribute in two-tight end sets. I have pick #101 circled for Fumagalli.

 

UDFA Pick: OG Gerhard DeBeer

 

HOUSTON TEXANS

OT/OG ALEX CAPPA

There's debate whether Cappa will need to slide inside to guard at the next level, but for the Texans who have holes at both left tackle and left guard, that doesn't matter. The Texans coaches had the opportunity to get their eyes and hands at Cappa at the Senior Bowl and his surliness is exactly what the offensive line is lacking.

 

UDFA Pick: TE Matt Flanagan

 

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

CB RASHARD FANT

I was torn between Fant and Malik Jefferson, but went with the more obscure player (plus I like hometown fits, especially late in the draft). The Colts brought Fant in on an official visit and need to add some juice and attitude to that secondary. 

 

UDFA Pick: LB Anthony Winbush

 

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

LB SHAQUEM GRIFFIN

The Jaguars have met with Griffin 2-3 times already in the process and he is a perfect fit to play as their SAM linebacker in base downs, as well as dismantle people on special teams for Joe DeCamillis. I am going all in on Griffin being the Jags pick in round three.

 

UDFA Pick: OG Chris Gonzalez

 

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

DT NATHAN SHEPHERD

Huge need at nose tackle and Shepherd has the athletic profile to fit in nicely in that three linemen set. Shepherd has met with the Chiefs and the fact that he played his ball right down the road at Fort Hays State means they've likely done their research in droves.

 

UDFA Pick: SS CJ Reavis

 

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

DE CHAD THOMAS

A music producer on the side, Thomas will feel right at home in LA and provide some crucial depth at the "big end" position behind Joey Bosa, allowing Bosa to move inside in specialized nickel packages. The Chargers have met with Thomas a few times and brought him in for a top 30 visit.

 

UDFA Pick: OT Jordan Maitala

 

LOS ANGELES RAMS

LB MICAH KISER

Trading away Alec Ogletree left a big hole at inside linebacker for the Rams, and Micah Kiser's production and leadership would be a perfect fit for Wade Phillips and his defense. Kiser has 22 career sacks from the MIKE spot so he can flip to the edge in some packages and has recently visited the Rams.

 

UDFA Pick: OT Jamil Demby

 

MIAMI DOLPHINS

K EDDY PINEIRO

The Dolphins are one of the few teams without an incumbent kicker on the roster and were recently dining with Pineiro, who plied his trade in the state of Florida. Olindo Mare 2.0 coming up?

 

UDFA Pick: OT David Steinmetz

 

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

DE LORENZO CARTER

With Brian Robison running on fumes, the Vikings need to add some players to their pass rushing arsenal. Lorenzo Carter is a perfect athletic profile fit for what the Vikings normally look for and looking ahead, could allow them the flexibility to let Danielle Hunter walk so they can pay other players like Anthony Barr. Hopefully Carter will last until their second round pick.

 

UDFA Pick: C Brad Lundblade

 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

LB JACK CICHY

Coming off of an injury-plagued career at Wisconsin, Cichy is the ideal blue-collar linebacker for the Pats who also can contribute in pass coverage. They've had him in for visits, but the question will be how late can they wait to pull the trigger on Cichy due to his medical red flags sliding him down?

 

UDFA Pick: WR Braxton Berrios

 

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

DE JUSTIN LAWLER

A defensive lineman who had a terrific outing at the East West Shrine Game, Lawler would add some juice to the Saints pass rush rotation. A top 30 visit to the Bayou, Lawler should come off the board somewhere between round five and seven.

 

UDFA Pick: FS Secdrick Cooper

 

NEW YORK GIANTS

OT CHUKWUMA OKORAFOR

Recent rumblings of a disgruntled Ereck Flowers being shopped point to Dave Gettleman pulling the trigger on a replacement at right tackle, and Okorafor is a player they seem to really like. Gettleman took Chook's teammate, Taylor Moton, last year, so I fully expect this to be a potential selection in the top of the third round.

 

UDFA Pick: DE Zach Sieler

 

NEW YORK JETS

OT GREG SENAT

Lacking depth at the offensive tackle position (sorry Brent Qvale), the Jets have shown a ton of interest in backyard brawler Greg Senat from Wagner. I would be surprised if Senat isn't a Jet at the end of the day on Saturday.

 

UDFA Pick: K Michael Badgley

 

OAKLAND RAIDERS

OT GERON CHRISTIAN

Kolton Miller at 10 is all the rage right now in NFL whispers, but if that doesn't come to fruition, Louisville swing tackle Geron Christian would likely be Plan B in this draft. Christian could challenge for the starting right tackle job from day one until Tom Cable gets his hands on him and ruins him.

 

UDFA Pick: OT David Goldsby

 

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

RB BO SCARBROUGH

I know Eagles fans are clamoring for Derrius Guice at 32, but Scarbrough would be a terrific LeGarrette Blount replacement for their stable and likely could be had with either of their round four selections. The Eagles also like Nyheim Hines and John Kelly, but I'm not sure either is there by the time their pick hiatus is over between 32 and 130. Unless they trade down, of course...

 

UDFA Pick: CB Malik Reaves

 

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

WR/KR QUADREE HENDERSON

With Antonio Brown getting older, I'm not so sure the Steelers are thrilled with the prospect of trotting AB out to return punts anymore in Pittsburgh. Henderson was one of the most prolific return specialists in college and is already familiar with Heinz Field. Henderson also provides depth at WR and figures to go some time in the middle of day three.

 

UDFA Pick: FB JD Moore

 

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

WR MARCELL ATEMAN

A GreatValue (TM) Mike Evans, Ateman fills a big need at X Receiver on the 49ers roster and adds a lot on the perimeter as a run blocker for when Jerick McKinnon breaks contain on stretch runs. San Fran likes Ateman and his catch radius for red zone sets a lot. 

 

UDFA Pick: DT Abdullah Anderson

 

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

CB TONY BROWN

The Seahawks have been all over Tony Brown to the point where I think they've made it so obvious that it must be a smokescreen. The CB depth in Seattle is scarce all of a sudden with Sherman's move to the bay, and Brown's off-the-wall personality would fit in fine in that Seattle locker room.

 

UDFA Pick: CB Simeon Thomas

 

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

RB JOHN KELLY

The Saints stole a Tennessee Volunteers RB in Alvin Kamara last year, so it's the Bucs turn to get their own NFC South counterpart to take the reigns of their rushing attack. I like Kelly more than most and he would immediately be penciled in as the starter, assuming they don't select another RB before him.

 

UDFA Pick: DE Jalen Wilkerson

 

TENNESSEE TITANS

WR RICHIE JAMES

Local product Richie James has been a hot commodity for teams looking at productive slot receiver options, but the Titans should be where he lands. They need WR depth badly and their scouts should know all about him, including his favorite breakfast cereal.

 

UDFA Pick: SS AJ Howard

 

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

SS QUIN BLANDING

The Redskins don't have to travel far to get their staple at strong safety and take the roster spot of Su'a Cravens, who was a tremendous disappointment. Blanding is a tackle machine box safety that will help in run support and he could be their target in round 4 or 5. 

 

UDFA Pick: OG Connor Hilland

 

 

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