The 2018 NFL Draft is soon approaching, and just like us you’re probably sifting through mock draft after mock draft of your favorite team’s projections. Whether you agree or disagree with that particular writer’s estimate, you’re next move would probably be to wait for an updated version or to look through a different mock draft altogether. Well look no further, not only will we give you the most in-depth mock draft but we’ll do so with science. Yes, science.
Specifically speaking, we’ll be working with the science behind a Meta-analysis. This form of statistical analysis combines the results of multiple scientific (or in this case: mock draft) studies, in order to find a conceptually common truth.
Confused? To simplify, we randomly selected the mock drafts of 25 of today’s top sports world analysts and isolated their popular majority per player, per draft pick. Thus, after all the dirty work and number crunching, including our opinion on each overall draft position; we present to you the Round 1 Meta Mock Draft:
No.1) Sam Darnold, QB, USC
After passing up on several franchise QB’s in past drafts, the Browns will want to get this one right and get the most pro-ready college quarterback this year. Darnold has deep ball ability and can make the most of a broken play. Cleveland can see him being the guy at the helm for years to come.
New York Giants
No.2) Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
New York could’ve gone with several positions that would bolster any key weaknesses in the team’s core. Regardless, they keep it rolling with Eli Manning and give him an offensive weapon that’ll help take the pressure off. Saquon Barkley is this draft’s player with the most big play ability and can change a game’s outcome all by himself. The Giants will make sure to feed him the ball plenty, as well as utilize his immense agility by having him pass catch out the backfield.
New York Jets
No.3) Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Baker Mayfield was the star of the show in Oklahoma and was able to lead his side to the college football playoff semifinals. Behavioral issues aside, he’s perhaps the most underrated QB in this draft. The Jets have quietly been putting together a team that’ll hopefully look to compete at a high level in the next few seasons to come, Mayfield seems to be that missing offensive piece and face of the franchise that they need.
No.4) Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
Bradley Chubb is easily the most talented pass rusher of his draft class. So the Browns will pounce on the thought of having him line up opposite of last year’s draft DE stud Myles Garrett. Chubb has the speed to chase down halfbacks and the strength to make opposing O-linemen look silly, seems like an easy choice at No. 4 for Cleveland.
No.5) Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
It has been quite a while seen we’ve last seen a QB sling the ball as hard and as accurate as Josh Allen does. Every time he starts it seems like the Wyoming star is going to put on a show, and his highlight reels will make this case for him to go even higher than expected in the draft. Denver is still looking for their main man at quarterback, and even if he doesn’t start, the Broncos believe he has the potential to eventually answer the call down the line.
No.6) Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
The reason Andrew Luck is having the health questions he’s been experiencing is because of O-line issues; this lead him to getting hit several times each game during the last season he played. Quenton Nelson will help resolve this issue as the Colts will continue to rebuild their team’s offensive core for the time being.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
No.7) Derwin James, S, Florida State
Derwin James is perhaps the hardest hitting of this draft’s secondary class. He also shows off his football IQ by reading and blowing up seemingly every defensive play he’s involved in. Tampa Bay has a lot of question marks when it comes to their defense, James’ immediate impact will be able turn one of those spots into an exclamation mark.
No.8) Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Chicago will want to return to its gritty and elite defensive days of the past. Ohio State’s star cornerback in Denzel Ward will be a key piece of this campaign for a better Bears secondary. Ward is one of the best tacklers for his position in this year’s draft, not to mention his knack for poaching the ball no matter what way it comes to him.
San Francisco 49ers
No.9) Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
The 49ers have a great need at the linebacker position, considering NaVorro Bowman left last season and Reuben Foster from last year’s draft is facing serious legal issues. Roquan Smith seems like a prime candidate to help San Francisco start again as a LB leader. Smith covers his zone really well and breaks up passes as if it’s second nature to him, solid pickup at No. 9.
No.10) Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
Minkah Fitzpatrick is a defensive leader, plain and simple. He always has his eyes on the quarterback and will ‘meet you there’ every time. Additionally, he’s a heck of a special teamer and the list of things he’s good at just seems ever growing with every game he adds under his belt. With this selection, the Raiders find a diamond in the rough with giant red arrows pointing directly at him.
No.11) Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
You usually won’t find anyone running nearly as fast or as hard as Tremaine Edmunds at his size. With the No. 11 spot, it would be wise for the Dolphins to keep adding to their defense by picking up Edmunds. As a versatile linebacker, we’ll surely hear his name be called for either a great tackle or stripped ball all year long.
No.12) Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Health concerns and off the field issues are perhaps the only caution signs for NFL teams to allow UCLA’s quarterback to drop this far down the draft. Regardless, Josh Rosen is no doubt a top QB prospect. He can read defenses like a book and the more time he’s allowed in the pocket the worse it gets for his opponents. The Bills just lost Tyrod Taylor and appears to have struck out with Nathan Peterman; if they give Rosen some time and the protection he needs, watch out.
No.13) Vita Vea, DT, Washington
The Redskins are another team that are also subtly building a great defensive side. In a division with quarterbacks like Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott who can be mobile when they want to, it’s wise that Washington pursues an improvement in the pass rush category. Vita Vea’s strength and presence on the field is that very improvement they’re searching for.
Green Bay Packers
No.14) Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida
For as much yards that the Packers seem to earn on offense, they eventually lose that same amount on defense. Green Bay recently lost Sam Shields to the Los Angeles Rams, and as good as Damarious Randall is, he won’t be able to get the defensive back job done by himself. Mike Hughes is yet another player in this draft that is underrated. Good at man to man coverage, Hughes also intercepts passes like it’s his business to, and business is booming.
No.15) Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
The wide receiver class in this year’s draft will probably go under the radar considering other teams’ quarterback and defensive priorities. Nevertheless, they remain a very talented group and Calvin Ridley appears to lead the way. Ridley is fast enough for the deep ball, big enough to win 1 on 1’s, and can extend the play after the catch. The Cardinals find a great complementary piece that’ll draw coverage in an offensive that seemingly revolves around star running back David Johnson.
No.16) Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Joe Flacco is only getting older and the window for another spectacular Super Bowl run seems ever closing. Those running the show in Baltimore see the potential in former Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and select him with the No. 16 overall pick. Jackson is fast, clever, and knows how to score touchdowns, all things that the Ravens can very much utilize at the quarterback position.
Los Angeles Chargers
No.17) Derwin James, S, Florida State
It seems like whenever Derwin James wants to tackle you, he won’t go around your O-linemen, he’ll go through them; or if you’re lucky enough to escape the pocket, you won’t find another inch if you’re one on one with him. The Los Angeles Chargers’ defense has arguably the most improved defense in the NFL, and they’ll love to take a hard hitting tackler in Florida State’s safety.
No.18) Harold Landry, DE, Boston College
The Legion of Boom has slowly calmed down these past couple of seasons, but their least flashy position was always the defensive linemen. Well, not totally true considering they had star defensive end Michael Bennett. However, he’s now left Seattle for Philadelphia and there’s a big hole to fill in the front seven. Reports have the Seahawks liking Harold Landry, and they’ll like him even more once they see his big play ability translate to the pros.
No.19) Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Courtland Sutton is the epitome of a WR1. He’s tall, built, and it seems like he can beat any DB in the air. After releasing Dez Bryant, Dallas will want to sign up SMU’s star receiving talent right away. The Cowboys can see him one day possibly turning the young talented duo of Elliot and Prescott into a trio that takes fans of the league by storm.
No.20) Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
Da’Ron Payne is larger than life, but his speed off the line and ability to turn on a dime won’t reflect that. Alabama’s star defensive tackle will attract a lot of attention from teams with this positional need, and there’s plenty of reason for him to go higher than the 20th spot. The Detroit Lions get a steal in with this selection, as they continue to bolster their D-line even more.
No.21) Isaiah Wynn, OT, Georgia
The projected second O-linemen to go in this year’s draft, Isaiah Wynn played the biggest role in keeping Georgia’s freshman QB safe, since Week 1 and all the way to the College Football Playoffs championship game. Wynn is an immovable force and the Bengals will need all the help they can get as they seek to keep Andy Dalton upright next season.
No.22) Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
After a QB selection, the Bills’ next biggest need would most likely be on defensive side of the ball. Boise State might just have an answer with their always moving, always surveying linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. Now, he may not start right away in the NFL, but he truly is a project that Buffalo will want to be a part of.
New England Patriots
No.23) Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
There’s a lot of speculation behind what the New England Patriots will do with the pick the Rams gave them in exchange for stud WR Brandin Cooks. Some analysts have them going receiver, others have them looking to the future and snagging a potential quarterback replacement for Tom Brady. Nope, their best option is finding help for the O-line that protects the GOAT. UCLA’s Kolton Miller would be a valuable asset at the offensive tackle position, especially since former OT Nate Solder just left for the Big Apple.
No.24) Will Hernandez, G, UTEP
The pattern of taking offensive linemen late in the first round of the draft continues here. The Panthers need a guard that is equal parts strong and mobile in order to protect the most out of the pocket QB in the league, Cam Newton. Will Hernandez fits both these needs and Carolina will very much appreciate everything UTEP’s OG can bring to the table.
No.25) Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
With a similar measureable, Maurice Hurst will be able to easily complement the pass rushing talents of the Titans’ star DE Jurrell Casey. What Hurst lacks in size, he makes up for in speed. He can wrap around an O-line or find the right gaps to get through them. At No. 25, this is a great spot for Tennessee to find a great prospect that will surely add to sack production.
No.26) Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
Perhaps the biggest need for the Atlanta Falcons would be their lack of a pass rush. With some skill comparisons to that of NFL star J.J. Watt, Taven Bryan seems to be either directly or indirectly involved in almost every play. He knows how to land the sack, hold on to a tackle for loss, and has a good eye for the loose ball; he’ll surely find an important role in this defense down the line.
New Orleans Saints
No.27) Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
A huge target down the middle of the field, TE Hayden Hurst can make both the short 5-yard gain or earn a homerun play through yards after the catch. With an offense that’s as flashy and fast as the Saints’, a big and secure receiver for Drew Brees to rely on between the hash marks would add even more firepower to this offense.
No.28) Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans is a full motor player that only stops for the whistle. He was arguably the most versatile player on last year’s championship team, and can become one of the best in the league if coached properly. Enter Pittsburgh, as the Steelers are known for shaping elite linebackers. This is an almost perfect spot as Evans is projected to land at the 28th selection.
No.29) Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
Jacksonville’s strongest side of the ball last season was by far their defense; primarily because of the turnover potential each time the ball was handed off. With cornerbacks like Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye in front of him, Jaire Alexander will be able to sharpen his ball hawking talents by learning from some of the best in the business.
No.30) Connor Williams, OT, Texas
The Minnesota Vikings are a playoff ready team and by default have little needs besides O-line improvement that they must focus on. Connor Williams out of Texas is known for his knack of blocking lanes and altogether cancelling out the pass rush. After making the biggest offseason trade for star quarterback Kirk Cousins, the team will want to give him all the protection they can possibly get.
New England Patriots
No.31) Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
As there are rumors swirling around Tom Brady, almost the same is being said about one of the NFL’s best TEs in Rob Gronkowski. Sure, these are only rumors at the moment, but the Patriots’ plans for the future will be put on display depending on how this year’s draft goes for them. Dallas Goedert is an exceptional receiver and will definitely be a useful tool in New England’s catching corps.
No.32) Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
To close out the 2018 NFL Draft, the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles will most likely either trade back for more 2nd round capital, or select an offensive weapon to grow alongside Carson Wentz. Ultimately, analysts have them going with Georgia RB Sony Michel, who will surely give them another useful rotational back following LeGarrette Blount’s departure.