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Stampede Blue’s Consensus First Round 2018 NFL Mock Draft

NFL: 2017 NFL Draft Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This first round mock draft utilizes the information found in the 2018 Stampede Blue NFL Draft Guide, including first round mock drafts made by each of the contributing writers, to reach a consensus. Each pick will be evaluated based upon how strong the writers agreed about the team’s selection. A strong consideration falls just short of consensus and below that is simply a consideration. In the instance there was no consensus, Stampede Blue staff voted internally. Once we have addressed the first round, we can move on to the second and third rounds, where the Colts have four more picks.

(Editor’s Note: All editor’s picks in the mock draft are attributable to Jared Malott)

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Ohio State vs Southern California Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Browns - Pick 1 — QB Sam Darnold, USC

Stampede Blue’s consensus overall 1st pick is USC QB Sam Darnold. (Editor agrees)

Wyoming QB Josh Allen is also a consideration.

Team Needs: QB, LT, DT, OLB, DB

The Browns need a quarterback. It’s easily their biggest position of need. They’ve got picks 1 and 4 in the draft and will undoubtedly take a QB at 1 overall. But what do they do with pick 4? They need several positions, maybe most pressing is left tackle after the retirement of future hall of fame player Joe Thomas. They also need a true nose tackle for their 3-4 defense, so trading back with the Bills could net them Vita Vea at 12 and a left tackle option at 22.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Penn State vs Washington Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants - Pick 2 — RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State

Stampede Blue’s consensus 2nd overall pick is Penn State RB Saquon Barkley. (Editor’s pick: Josh Allen)

South Carolina Edge Defender Bradley Chubb and Wyoming QB Josh Allen are also considerations.

Team Needs: QB, OL, RB, RUSH, CB

The Giants are in an odd position at quarterback with a player who has won multiple Super Bowls and who still could have a few years in the tank. It appears that the organization is holding onto him for another year -- or could try to trade him for other QB needy teams in the draft -- and so just how desperate Dave Gettleman is to find the franchise’s future at the position is difficult to figure. There is enough smoke out there to believe that quarterback is at the top of the list, especially given that the G-Men will have a new head coach. New head coaches and new quarterbacks often go together.

Nonetheless, the franchise also lost Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg on the offensive line, making the trenches a priority that could be addressed in the first few rounds. There is also no clear starter in the backfield in New York so it could make sense to place a great deal of emphasis on the offensive side of the football early in the upcoming draft. The big surprise move for the Giants was moving Jason Pierre Paul to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Since that move, there are rumblings that Gettleman is eyeing defensive end Bradley Chubb.

NCAA Football: California at UCLA Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

New York Jets - Pick 3 — QB Josh Rosen, UCLA

Stampede Blue’s Consensus 3rd overall pick is currently UCLA QB Josh Rosen. (Editor agrees)

Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield is also a consideration.

Team Needs: QB, OL, EDGE, TE, CB

The New York Jets need to fill out an entire roster. Their offensive line is starting a lot of average to below average players, while the men they are hired to protect are old, injury-prone or terrible. Josh McCown, Teddy Bridgewater and Bryce Petty/Christian Hackenberg are far from the answer for the Gang Green, and the front office will need to address this dilemma on draft night. The Jets need an edge defender and until they fill the spot at quarterback this will likely continue to be a problem. With Jordan Jenkins and Lorenzo Mauldin starting – they need to start the healing process at this spot once and for all.

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Browns - Pick 4 — DE Bradley Chubb, NC State

Stampede Blue’s consensus 4th overall pick is South Carolina Edge Defender Bradley Chubb. (Editor’s pick: Saquon Barkley)

Alabama DB Minkah Fitzpatrick is also a consideration.

Team Needs: QB, LT, DT, OLB, DB. We expect the first overall pick to address the quarterback position.

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Broncos - Pick 5 — QB Josh Allen, Wyoming

Stampede Blue’s consensus 5th overall pick is Wyoming QB Josh Allen. (Editor’s pick: Baker Mayfield)

Baker Mayfield is also a consideration.

Team Needs: QB, OL, TE, ILB, WR

The Broncos made a wise move bringing in Case Keenum to play quarterback. However, who feels like Keenum is the guy for the next five-plus years? Denver also needs some depth and reinforcements up front. Ronald Leary, Connor McGovern and Jared Veldheer are susceptible to upgrades. Tight end Jeff Heuerman hasn’t developed into much of a difference-maker yet. Jake Butt may but there’s no evidence to support that since spent his entire rookie season recovering from surgery to his ACL. (Special thanks to Chad Jensen from Mile High Huddle on this submission.) Recent announcements say the Broncos are shopping the fifth pick.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Texas Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Indianapolis Colts - Pick 6 — G Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame

Stampede Blue’s consensus 6th overall pick is Notre Dame OG Quenton Nelson. (Editor’s pick: Bradley Chubb)

There’s a strong consideration for Georgia LB Roquan Smith.

Team Needs: OL, RUSH, LB, WR, RB, DL, CB

The Colts are clearly rebuilding, but if the Colts can build on the defensive momentum from last year and protect Andrew Luck, we’ll see an offensive renaissance and a winning season. I fully expect the Colts to take the best player available in the first round. At this point, it’s either Chubb, Barkley or Nelson. Beyond that, there is depth at running back and wide receiver in this class. A vital need is our lack of middle linebackers.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship Game-Alabama vs Georgia Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Pick 7 — DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

Stampede Blue’s consensus 7th overall pick is Alabama DB Minkah Fitzpatrick. (Editor agrees)

Ohio State CB Denzel Ward and Florida State S Derwin James are also strong considerations.

Team Needs: RB, CB, S, DE, WR

Their starting running back is Jacquizz Rodgers and he is not a long-term solution. Most of Tampa Bay’s offensive struggles last year were due to imbalance, forcing Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw the ball an average of 38 times per game (5th highest in the NFL). The Bucs are weak in the secondary, where they are also slowly aging. Hargreaves is developing into a good player, but the three other starters got picked on a lot last season. Their 7.6 yards per passing attempt average on defense was the second highest in the NFL (after the Colts).

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at East Carolina James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bears - Pick 8 — LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech

Stampede Blue’s consensus 8th overall pick is Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds. (Editor’s pick: Quenton Nelson)

Team Needs: LB, WR, CB, OT, G

The Chicago Bears have holes that need to be filled in the short and long-term. With the release of Jerrell Freeman, there is a gaping hole at linebacker and they could use a dynamic playmaker who has the range to play in the middle and the ability to move around in the front seven to help generate a pass rush. Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds is the kind of freakish athlete that Brian Urlacher used to be on the interior with even more speed and range. He could help Leonard Floyd rush the passer up the middle or off the edge on pass rushing downs and has the range to drop back and cover in the middle of the field as well.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship Game-Alabama vs Georgia Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers - Pick 9 — LB Roquan Smith, Georgia

Stampede Blue’s consensus 9th overall pick is Georgia LB Roquan Smith. (Editor agrees)

Team Needs: EDGE, G, LB, WR, CB

The 49ers signed Richard Sherman but the 30-year-old cornerback is trying to come back from a torn Achilles and isn’t a long-term plan. There is a need for a wideout as they need to plan for life after Pierre Garçon, who will be 32 this season. The current plan is to start a career backup across from Reuben Foster after letting Ray-Ray Armstrong sign with the Giants, also Foster was arrested twice this offseason, so it is safe to call this shaky spot a primary need.

NCAA Football: Florida State Spring Game Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland Raiders - Pick 10 — S Derwin James, Florida State

Stampede Blue’s consensus 10th overall pick is Florida State S Derwin James. (Editor’s pick: Tremaine Edmunds)

Ohio State CB Denzel Ward is also a strong consideration.

Team Needs: LB, WR, OT, RB, DL

The Oakland Raiders have been busy adding pieces to their team, but they also have a bit of a growing problem at wide receiver with one of the more dangerous young quarterbacks in the NFL. After Amari Cooper struggled through 2017 and Michael Crabtree left in free agency, it would make a great deal of sense for the Raiders to find a new target for Derek Carr. The two top wide receivers in the draft who could be available at their first pick are Calvin Ridley and Courtland Sutton. With Cooper already filling more of a possession receiver role, I could see the Raiders targeting Sutton to add a big bodied, red zone target who creates mismatches that Carr can exploit.

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Dolphins - Pick 11 — QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

Stampede Blue’s consensus 11th overall pick is Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield. (Editor’s pick: Derwin James)

Team Needs: LB, TE, OL, S, CB

The Dolphins have a lot of young developing talent at cornerback, but they haven’t consistently played well. Miami should look to add talent to the position. Safety is a position with talent, but that talent is on the wrong side of 30 and the signing of TJ McDonald hasn’t worked out. They have struggled to find talent up front and finally addressed their need at guard by bringing in Josh Sitton during free agency. They have a low-end starter in 30-year-old Daniel Kilgore at center and could absolutely use a swing tackle as they don’t have that guy is on the roster. The Dolphins jettisoned former starters Julius Thomas and Anthony Fasano, creating a big need at tight end. Still, their biggest need is at linebacker. Currently they plan to start Kiko Alonso and Raekwon McMillan but there no one knows who will start with them. The best linebacker available at pick 11 could be a serious candidate to get paid millions of dollars to live and play football in Miami, Florida.

Texas v California Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Buffalo Bills - Pick 12 — OT Connor Williams, Texas

Stampede Blue’s consensus 12th pick is Texas OT Connor Williams.

Quarterback is also a consideration. Guys like Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph come to mind. (Editor’s pick: Lamar Jackson)

Team Needs: QB, WR, LB, OL, DL

When the Bills traded quarterback Tyrod Taylor to the Cleveland Browns, they signaled that they have accepted a need to try something different at quarterback. The problem for Buffalo is that they’ve only been able to move up 10 spots in the draft and will need to get higher if they want to have any say in which of the top quarterbacks they will pick in the 2018 draft. The team also traded away tackle Cordy Glenn and starting center Eric Wood suffered a career-ending neck injury, making the offensive line a key priority in the upcoming draft. Finally, the Bills have had an unimpressive group of wide receivers for a while now and will need to find a way to pair their new signal caller with some weapons to move the ball through the air. There is a lot of work to be done for a franchise who just made the playoffs for the first time in 18 years.

Oregon State v Washington Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Washington Redskins - Pick 13 — DT Vita Vea, Washington

Stampede Blue’s consensus 13th pick is Washington DT Vita Vea.

Strong consideration for Ohio State CB Denzel Ward. (Editor’s pick)

Team Needs: CB, RB, WR, OL, DL

The Redskins find themselves with quite a few needs as they turn the page from the Kirk Cousins era. They had to use a starting cornerback in their trade to bring Alex Smith onto the team and Bashaud Breeland is currently still a free agent, making the secondary a huge question-mark with the draft only a few weeks away. The team also can’t feel entirely comfortable with their backfield after each of their backs struggled in 2017. In another strong draft class for rushers, it might make sense to give Smith some help with offensive balance. Washington lost wide receiver Ryan Grant to the Colts in free agency and can’t feel extremely confident about the position, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see at least one receiver join the team in the middle rounds. The difficult part about filling so many holes on the roster is that they gave up a third-round pick in the trade for Alex Smith and that will limit their ability to address all their primary needs early in the draft.

NCAA Football: Big Ten Championship-Ohio State vs Wisconsin Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA TODAY Sports

Green Bay Packers - Pick 14 — CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State

Stampede Blue’s consensus 14th pick is Ohio State CB Denzel Ward. (Editor’s pick: Sony Michel)

Boston College Edge Defender Harold Landry is a strong consideration.

Team Needs: CB, WR, RB, TE, OT

The most pressing need in a division that now has Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, and the unknown in Mitchell Trubisky is improvement at cornerback. They signed Tramon Williams, but a 35-year old cornerback is not a long-term answer. Receiver is an area to consider adding as well, with Jordy Nelson gone. Despite adding Jimmy Graham, there are reasons to add more to the position because Graham has not been what he was in New Orleans and is not a long-term solution at his age. Given the strength of the running back class in this draft, it would make a lot of sense to grab a solid back to pair with Ty Montgomery to solidify their backfield.

NCAA Football: TaxSlayer Bowl-Louisville vs Mississippi State Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Cardinals - Pick 15 — QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville

Stampede Blue’s consensus 15th pick is Louisville QB Lamar Jackson. (Editor’s pick: Vita Vea)

UTSA Edge Defender Marcus Davenport is also a strong consideration.

Team Needs: QB, WR, CB, OL, DL

The Cardinals need to work on finding their franchise quarterback. Sam Bradford is not it and that’s assuming that he even makes it through 16 games healthy. Franchises rarely go anywhere without a plan at quarterback. Unfortunately, Arizona needs depth in front of that quarterback as well. They get guard Mike Iupati back from injury and they signed Justin Pugh, but they need upgrades almost everywhere else. We’ve also reached the point where 34-year-old Larry Fitzgerald is about all they have at receiver. Both he and J.J. Nelson are set to hit free agency in 2019.

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Alabama vs Clemson Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Ravens - Pick 16 — WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama

Stampede Blue’s consensus 16th pick is Alabama WR Calvin Ridley.

LSU RB Derrius Guice is also a strong consideration.

Team Needs: WR, TE, ILB, OL, S

The Ravens desperately need to provide Joe Flacco with some pass catchers. This is not the best draft class to solve that problem, with a notably weak class of wide receivers and tight ends. The Ravens might be better suited to spending their early picks addressing the offensive tackle position or grabbing one of the many talented interior linebackers that can be had in this draft. Despite signing Michael Crabtree and John Brown, they still need to be thinking about their long-term solution as a pass catcher. Safety may be another position they’ll need to consider, as Eric Weddle is no spring chicken.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Southern California Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Chargers - Pick 17 — OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame

Stampede Blue’s consensus 17th pick is Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey. (Editor’s pick: Texas OT Connor Williams)

Team Needs: S, DT. OT, LB, QB

In Gus Bradley’s defense, safety is critical. Until Tre Boston re-signs the position will be a major need. Even if he is retained, depth at the position should be addressed in the latter rounds of the draft. With all the focus on Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, defensive tackles Corey Liuget and Brandon Mebane should have had a far-better season than they did. Mebane is 32 years old. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chargers take a defensive tackle for the future. While Michael Schofield was brought back after free agency, he was not effective in pass or run protection, making right tackle an area to upgrade. When starting middle linebacker Denzel Perryman wasn’t playing, the Chargers gave up 142 rushing yards per game. Finding hard-hitting linebackers is a big need for the Bolts. Philip Rivers is 36 years old, so finding a guy to sit underneath him for a season or two may find the next franchise quarterback for L.A.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle Seahawks - Pick 18 — CB Josh Jackson, Iowa

Stampede Blue’s consensus 18th pick is Iowa CB Josh Jackson. (Editor’s pick: Colorado CB Isaiah Oliver)

Team Needs: CB, G, DL, S, WR

The Seahawks will be without cornerbacks Richard Sherman, DeShawn Shead and Jeremy Lane next year, so that’s obviously going to require some attention. Shaquill Griffin is going to need help. While the Seahawks have needed offensive line help for years, they have been making some moves. They added left tackle Duane Brown last season and guard/tackle D.J. Fluker. If they can add another guard, Russell Wilson will be much safer. The Seahawks also need reinforcements on the defensive line. The futures for Cliff Avril and Malik McDowell are uncertain and Sheldon Richardson left in free agency.

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys - Pick 19 — DT Taven Bryan, Florida

Stampede Blue’s consensus 19th pick is Florida DT Taven Bryan.

Alabama LB Rashaan Evans is also a strong consideration.

Team Needs: G, LB, DT, S, WR

Believe it or not, the Cowboys need to find a starting left guard. They also need help at all three levels of the defense and they should begin to think about a long-term plan at the receiver position as well. An argument could be made that linebacker is that top need after Anthony Hitchens signed with the Chiefs and with Sean Lee’s struggles to stay healthy. The Cowboys offense, when everyone is healthy or not suspended, is a force to be reckoned with and the engine that drives that force is the offensive line. The Cowboys let their 2017 starting left guard Jonathan Cooper sign a one year contract with the San Francisco 49ers and need to address the line to ensure continued success.

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Louisiana State Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Lions - Pick 20 — RB Derrius Guice, LSU

Stampede Blue’s consensus 20th pick is LSU RB Derrius Guice. (Editor’s pick: San Jose State RB Rashaad Penny)

Strong consideration for Michigan DL Maurice Hurst, Jr.

Team Needs: DT, TE, OL, RB, CB

The Lions have serious needs at defensive tackle and tight end. They lost Haloti Ngata and Eric Ebron and have not found replacements in free agency. They lack a consistent pass rusher on their defensive line and haven’t had a presence inside since Ndamukong Suh. Luke Willson is their current starting tight end but is better in a complementary role and not as a starter. The Lions have needs at guard/center and running back. TJ Lang is a quality player but is getting older and while Graham Glasgow has had good moments, his play has been inconsistent. They don’t have a starter penciled in at center, so that’s a position they need to fill with a draft heavy with extremely talented interior offensive linemen. At cornerback, they don’t have a compliment for Darius Slay.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship Game-Alabama vs Georgia Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bengals - Pick 21 — LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama

Stampede Blue’s consensus 21st pick is Alabama LB Rashaan Evans.

Ohio State OG/C Billy Price is a strong consideration.

Team Needs: OT, G, TE, LB, CB

The most glaring issue for the Cincinnati Bengals is on the offensive line. After losing Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler in last year’s free agency, they lost guard Andre Smith and center Russell Bodine this season. The Bengals addressed this by trading back in the first round to acquire former Buffalo left tackle Cordy Glenn, but beyond Glenn and Clint Boling at left guard, I don’t feel comfortable with any of their projected Week 1 starters. The second most glaring need is at tight end. Yes, they brought back Tyler Eifert on a one-year, $5.5 million contract, but that’s exactly why they need one. Since joining the Bengals for the 2013 season, he’s played just 39 out of a possible 80 games — including just two last season. Switching to the defensive side of the ball, depth at linebacker is worth addressing in the draft. Bringing in Preston Brown from Buffalo helps create depth, but I think a mid-round flier can solidify the position. Getting younger in the secondary should be a focus as Adam Jones turns 35 in 2018.

NCAA Football: Camping World Bowl-Oklahoma State vs Virginia Tech Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo Bills - Pick 22 — QB Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State

Stampede Blue’s consensus 22nd pick is Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph.

Team Needs: QB, WR, LB, OL, DL

NCAA Football: Boise State at Air Force Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots - Pick 23 — LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State

Stampede Blue’s consensus 23rd pick is Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch. (Editor’s pick: Boston College Edge Harold Landry)

There’s also a strong consideration for OL or Edge Defender with no outstanding single player represented.

Team Needs: OT, LB, S, DT, QB

The Patriots are the best team at masking their weaknesses but they might not be able to mask the atrocious situation developing at offensive tackle. Antonio Garcia is currently slated as their left tackle and unless Garcia took a humongous step forward last year, they’ll have issues protecting Brady’s blindside. Marcus Cannon on the right side is a safer player, but he still has issues against speed rushers. Linebacker and safety are more a question of age and health over talent. Hightower is oft-injured, and McCourty and Chung are in their 30s. Finding potential replacements might make sense for the Patriots. Finally, the Patriots could use a good pass rushing defensive tackle. They have two good run stoppers in Danny Shelton and Malcom Brown, but they don’t have a player that can generate pressure inside. Finally, they need a quarterback… not to replace Brady now, but in a few years. They need a new Jimmy Garoppolo!

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Panthers - Pick 24 — CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville

Stampede Blue’s consensus 24th pick is Louisville CB Jaire Alexander. (Editor’s pick: Memphis WR Anthony Miller)

There’s also strong consideration for SMU WR Courtland Sutton.

Team Needs: OL, WR, DE, CB, RB

The Carolina Panthers are starting notorious under-performer Torrey Smith as their complement to Devin Funchess. Smith posted a 53.7% catch rate last year with the Eagles while racking up an underwhelming 430 yards and 36 receptions at 11.9 yards per catch. The Panthers need to help quarterback Cam Newton and grab another pass catcher in the draft. Additionally, the offense lost All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell and their current replacement is Greg Van Roten, an undrafted free agent who has bounced around the NFL and CFL. Former 5-star recruit Dorian Johnson is also on the roster, but the Panthers could use an upgrade at the tackle positions over Daryl Williams and Matt Kalil. There might also be a need for an insurance policy at center, where Ryan Kalil will enter the season at 32 years old. Finally, defensive ends needs an infusion of youth, with 38-year-old Julius Peppers and 30-year-old Mario Addison flanking the edges.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee Titans - Pick 25 — DL Da’Ron Payne, Alabama

Stampede Blue’s consensus 25th pick is Alabama DL Da’Ron Payne. (Editor’s pick: Ohio State Edge Sam Hubbard)

There’s also strong consideration for Texas A&M WR Christian Kirk.

Team Needs: EDGE, WR, ILB, OL, QB

The Titans were a significantly improved in 2017 but underwhelmed given the talent on the roster. Injuries played a role, but with a division on the rise, they’ll need to improve in a couple spots if they want to stay in step with the AFC South. Jurell Casey is disruptive from the interior, but their line could be truly nasty with a quality edge rusher. Wide receiver is still an area that could use an upgrade as well, with Corey Davis an unknown quantity after a poor season marred by a nagging hamstring injury. They could also use help on the offensive line after landing in the bottom half of the league in sacks allowed. Finally, given Mariota’s struggles to stay on the field, it would be worthwhile to look at grabbing a quality backup who could keep the team afloat should he have to miss time in the coming season.

NCAA Football: Illinois at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Falcons - Pick 26 — DL Maurice Hurst, Michigan

Stampede Blue’s consensus 26th pick is Michigan IDL Maurice Hurst.

Team Needs: TE, DT, LB, DE, G

The Atlanta Falcons are in a good place, but they have a few kinks they need to sort out before they become a top 3 or 4 team in the NFL. Since the departure of Tony Gonzalez, the Falcons have struggled to find a tight end who consistently creates match-up nightmares in the red-zone. There are some good tight ends in this year’s class that fit that mold.

On the defensive side of the ball, their front 7 needs to beef up and get more talented. They lost Dontari Poe and did nothing to replace him. Grady Jarrett and Vic Beasley are very good players but they don’t have good complementary players. The same goes for Deion Jones, who is a fantastic player with no complementary pieces. Finding quality complementary players for their stars on both sides of the ball will be the key for the Falcons in this year’s draft.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Penn State vs Washington Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Saints - Pick 27 — TE Mike Gisecki, Penn State

Stampede Blue’s consensus 27th pick is Penn State TE Mike Gisecki. (Editor’s pick: LSU RB Derrius Guice)

There’s also a strong consideration for South Dakota State TE Dallas Goedert.

Team Needs: TE, WR, OL, EDGE, QB

The Saints are in an enviable spot where they are in a Super Bowl window and have a relatively well-balanced team. The past season saw them change from pass-first to run-first but the addition of talented pass catchers at tight end and receiver would help the offense. Given the talent in the interior offensive line in this draft it would make sense to bolster their strength in the running game and to protect Brees, who is not getting any younger. Speaking of Brees, it may be time to look at investing in a quarterback so that when Brees hangs it up the Saints don’t go back to being the “Ain’ts”.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers - Pick 28 — S Ronnie Harrison, Alabama

Stampede Blue’s consensus 28th pick is Alabama S Ronnie Harrison. (Editor’s pick: Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch)

Team Needs: ILB, QB, OLB, RB, OL

The Steelers are an interesting case. With the injury of Ryan Shazier, they need a long-term replacement at inside linebacker. They realistically need help all over their defense. They need a high quality defensive back and picking late in round one could see a top tier corner back fall to them. They’d also be wise to pursue an outside linebacker and a potential quarterback option for when Big Ben decides to retire.

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl-South Practice Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

Jacksonville Jaguars - Pick 29 — QB Kyle Lauletta, Richmond

Stampede Blue’s consensus 29th pick is Richmond QB Kyle Lauletta.

There’s also a strong consideration for Oregon OT Tyrell Cosby.

Team Needs: QB, OT, TE, LB, WR

The Jacksonville Jaguars don’t have a lot of needs but one of them is at the most important position on the football field – quarterback. Blake Bortles had a fine performance in the AFC championship, but the play-calling amounted to baby-sitting him against a defense that allowed Nick Foles to put up a historic performance two weeks later. The Jags need to find a replacement and soon, lest they waste away the talent they’ve acquired on both sides of the ball, particularly on defense. The next step would be finding more protection up front and adding receiving weapons. Jermey Parnell is upgradeable at the right tackle position and Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Niles Paul aren’t scaring anybody at tight end. There are a lot of options at these positions in this year’s draft class, and Jacksonville can easily fill the few holes they have on a Super Bowl caliber roster.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship Game-Alabama vs Georgia Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Vikings - Pick 30 — G Isaiah Wynn, Georgia

Stampede Blue’s consensus 30th pick is Georgia OL Isaiah Wynn.

There’s a consideration for UTSA Edge Defender Sam Hubbard and UTEP OL Will Hernandez.

Team Needs: G, DT, CB, S, RB

The Vikings already boast a solid team and a balanced roster. However, they can definitely add more talent to the offensive line on either side of center Pat Elflein. It’ll help running backs Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray and help keep pressure out of new quarterback Kirk Cousins’ face. Minnesota could also use more depth behind Linval Joseph and Sheldon Richardson on the defensive line. Jaleel Johnson is not enough to hitch your wagon to just yet. (Special thanks to Adam Patrick from The Viking Age on this submission.)

NCAA Football: South Florida at Central Florida Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots - Pick 31 — CB Mike Hughes, UCF

Stampede Blue’s consensus 31st pick is UCF CB Mike Hughes. There’s a consideration for Iowa CB Josh Jackson. (Editor’s pick: Louisville CB Jaire Alexander)

Team Needs: OT, LB, S, DT, QB

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship Game-Alabama vs Georgia Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles - Pick 32 — RB Sony Michel, Georgia

Stampede Blue’s consensus 32nd pick is Georgia RB Sony Michel.

There’s a strong consideration for Stanford S Justin Reid. (Editor’s pick)

Team Needs: OT, RB, S, LB, TE

Didn’t the Eagles have one of the best offensive lines last year? Shouldn’t they be getting back all-pro left tackle Jason Peters back? Yes, but finding an heir to Jason Peters at the most important position on the offensive line is never a bad idea. Add in that he’s coming off a major injury and that he’s 36 years old, and the time has come to search for the future protector of Carson Wentz. Losing LeGarrette Blount puts Philadelphia on the market for a new power back. I expect Corey Clement to take on a larger role next season, but to keep him and Jay Ajayi healthy finding a big-bodied back will go a long way. Corey Graham has yet to sign with another organization but until he’s signed the dotted line, they need help at safety. The other safeties on this roster could become cap casualties over the next season or two, so bringing in a young guy to develop will be key. Speaking of cap casualties, the Eagles bringing back Nigel Bradham on a five-year, $40 million contract this off-season almost ensure that Mychal Kendricks will be eventually cut — it’d save them $7 million. Finding someone in the draft to take over his role would be a proactive move. While Zach Ertz had a monster season in 2017, Trey Burton fled to Chicago. Replacing him will ease some pressure off Ertz as he continues to grow.

Stampede Blue’s Consensus First Round 2018 NFL Mock Draft

  1. CLE - Sam Darnold - USC - QB
  2. NYG - Saquon Barkley - PSU - RB
  3. NYJ - Josh Rosen- UCLA - QB
  4. CLE - Bradley Chubb - SC - EDGE
  5. DEN - Josh Allen - WYO - QB
  6. IND - Quenton Nelson - ND - OG
  7. TB - Minkah Fitzpatrick - ALA - DB
  8. CHI - Tremaine Edmunds - VT - LB
  9. SF - Roquan Smith - ALA - LB
  10. OAK - Derwin James - FSU - S
  11. MIA - Baker Mayfield - OU - QB
  12. BUF - Connor Williams - TEX - OT
  13. WAS - Vita Vea - UW - DT
  14. GB - Denzel Ward - OSU - CB
  15. ARI - Lamar Jackson - LOU - QB
  16. BAL - Calvin Ridley - ALA - WR
  17. LAC - Mike McGlinchey - ND - OT
  18. SEA - Josh Jackson - IOWA - CB
  19. DAL - Taven Bryan - FLA - DL
  20. DET - Derrius Guice - LSU - RB
  21. CIN - Rashaan Evans - ALA - LB
  22. BUF - Mason Rudolph - OKST - QB
  23. NE - Leighton Vander Esch - BOISE - LB
  24. CAR - Jaire Alexander - LOU - CB
  25. TEN - Da’Ron Payne - ALA - DT
  26. ATL - Maurice Hurst, Jr. - MICH - DT
  27. NO - Mike Gisecki - PSU - TE
  28. PITT - Ronnie Harrison - ALA - S
  29. JAX - Kyle Lauletta - RICH - QB
  30. MINN - Isaiah Wynn - UGA - OL
  31. NE - Mike Hughes - UCF - CB
  32. PHI - Sony Michel - UGA - RB

Top Players Left On The Board

CB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado

G Will Hernandez, UTEP

C/G Frank Ragnow, Arkansas

S Justin Reid, Stanford

DE Sam Hubbard, Ohio State

DE Harold Landry, Boston College