Here we are with the third and final part of my 2018 mock draft. Today is the playoff teams. The cream of the crop.
22. Buffalo Bills: The second of Buffalo’s first rounders after moving up to the fourth spot. The Bills have a couple of big body WRs on the team with Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones. They need a slot guy to work underneath and bust open for big plays. They take Christian Kirk out of Texas A&M. Kirk can also double up as a return ace.
23. New England Patriots: Look, this may be the most controversial pick I have in this mock. Tom Brady won’t be getting younger anytime soon. Yes, he’s playing at a high level but why not grab his eventual replacement here. The Pats roll the dice on Lamar Jackson out of Louisville. Jackson reminds me of Michael Vick and I think he’d be a good fit in New England to learn from Tom Brady. At the worst, they trade him in a couple of years for more draft picks
24. Carolina Panthers: The Panthers are another team that could use some help up front. They have a pedestrian offensive line and could bolster it with the selection of guard Will Hernandez out of UTEP. They need to open holes for Cam Newton and Christian McCaffery. Simple pick.
25. Tennessee Titans: Not sure where they Titans go here. They could trade out of this pick with someone looking to get back in the first round. Never hurts to have more play making linebackers so I think they’ll take a look at Leighton Vander Esch, inside linebacker, out of Boise State. Again, just not sure if they keep this pick.
26. Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons need another defensive tackle after Dontari Poe left in free agency. I think this is another cut and dried pick. They’ll take Da’Ron Payne, DT, out of Alabama. Payne will be a space eater with the potential to be a great inside force for the Falcons.
27. New Orleans Saints: I wanted to have the Saints trade up but they lack a second round pick this year so it’s hard to do so. We all know that Drew Brees is getting up there in age and a quarterback may be tempting. However, I think they want to win now and not prep for the future. The first tight end comes off the board with Hayden Hurst out of South Carolina being the pick. Hurst is an older rookie at 25 due to minor league baseball, but fills a tight end need for Brees across the middle.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers could go five different ways with this first round pick. They need help on defense a bit more than the offensive side early. They’ve need a safety for a long time and with the loss of Mike Mitchell, it’s worse. They take Ronnie Harrison out of Alabama to fill up a spot on the back end of the defense.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: If it wasn’t for the decision to give Blake Bortles a lot of money for being middle of the road, the Jags would take a QB here. Since they did, they need to improve that right side of the offensive line for the running back. I think they go with Kolton Miller out of UCLA. Miller looks to be better on the right side with better run blocking in his game.
30. Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings need cornerback help. Sorry, Vikings fans, but Terrance Newman isn’t getting any younger. They take Mike Hughes out of UCF. Hughes has some baggage but could evolve into a solid #2 corner across from Xavier Rhodes.
31. New England Patriots: With their potential QB of the future the Pats can look in a different direction with this selection. I’m not too sure what else they need outside of always restocking pass rushers and cornerbacks. So, hey, why not take cornerback Donte Jackson out of LSU. Need someone to replace Malcolm Butler.
32. Philadelphia Eagles: I think the Eagles trade out of this pick but I’m not sure who with. So I’m just giving them a player to take here. Let’s give them linebacker Malik Jefferson out of Texas.
Both the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs will not be picking in the first round due to prior trades. Too bad for them. So there is my 2018 mock draft. The NFL Draft begins on April 26 and can be viewed on a variety of sports networks.