Mike Mayock's 2018 NFL Draft position rankings 3.0 – NFL.com



Mike Mayock unveils the third and final of his position-by-position rankings for the 2018 NFL Draft.

Quarterback


1. Sam Darnold, USC
2. Josh Allen, Wyoming
3. Josh Rosen, UCLA
4. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
5. Lamar Jackson, Louisville

Fall: Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State (T-5)

Running back

1. Saquon Barkley, Penn State
2. Sony Michel, Georgia
3. Derrius Guice, LSU
4. Nick Chubb, Georgia
T-5. Ronald Jones II, USC
T-5. Rashaad Penny, San Diego State

Rise: Michel (3), Chubb (T-5)
Fall: Guice (2), Jones (4)

Wide receiver

1. DJ Moore, Maryland
2. Calvin Ridley, Alabama
3. Courtland Sutton, SMU
4. Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
T-5. James Washington, Oklahoma State
T-5. Anthony Miller, Memphis

Rise: Moore (2), Sutton (4), Washington (NR)
Fall: Ridley (1), Kirk (3), Sutton (3), DJ Chark, LSU (T-5)

Tight end


1. Hayden Hurst, South Carolina
2. Mike Gesicki, Penn State
3. Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State
4. Mark Andrews, Oklahoma
5. Chris Herndon, Miami

Rise: Gesicki (3), Herndon (NR)
Fall: Goedert (2), Will Dissly, Washington (5)

Tackle

1. Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
2. Kolton Miller, UCLA
3. Connor Williams, Texas
4. Tyrell Crosby, Oregon
T-5. Orlando Brown, Oklahoma
T-5. Geron Christian, Louisville

Rise: Miller (3), Christian (NR)
Fall: Williams (2), Martinas Rankin, Mississippi State (T-5)

Interior OL

1. Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame
2. James Daniels, Iowa
3. Billy Price, Ohio State
4. Will Hernandez, UTEP
T-5. Isaiah Wynn, Georgia
T-5. Frank Ragnow, Arkansas
T-5. Austin Corbett, Nevada

Rise: Daniels (3), Price (T-5), Corbett (NR)
Fall: Wynn (2)


Interior DL

1. Vita Vea, Washington
2. Da’Ron Payne, Alabama
3. Taven Bryan, Florida
4. Nathan Shepherd, Fort Hays State
T-5. Harrison Phillips, Stanford
T-5. Derrick Nnadi, Florida State

Rise: Shepherd (NR), Nnadi (NR)
Fall: Maurice Hurst, Michigan (4)

Edge rusher

1. Bradley Chubb, N.C. State
2. Marcus Davenport, UTSA
3. Harold Landry, Boston College
4. Lorenzo Carter, Georgia
5. Rasheem Green, USC

Rise: Green (NR)
Fall: Arden Key, LSU (T-5), Sam Hubbard, Ohio State (T-5)

Linebacker

1. Roquan Smith, Georgia
2. Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
3. Rashaan Evans, Alabama
4. Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State
5. Uchenna Nwosu, USC

Rise: Smith (2), Evans (4)
Fall: Edmunds (1), Vander Esch (3)


Cornerback

1. Denzel Ward, Ohio State
2. Jaire Alexander, Louisville
3. Mike Hughes, UCF
4. Isaiah Oliver, Colorado
T-5. Donte Jackson, LSU
T-5. Josh Jackson, Iowa

Rise: Hughes (4), Oliver (5), Donte Jackson (NR)
Fall: Josh Jackson (3)

Safety

1. Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
2. Derwin James, Florida State
3. Ronnie Harrison, Alabama
4. Justin Reid, Stanford
5. Jessie Bates III, Wake Forest

Rise: Reid (5)
Fall: Bates (4)

Follow Mike Mayock on Twitter @MikeMayock.



2018 NFL Mock Draft: Browns trade down, Bucs pass on Barkley, Falcons take receiver – CBSSports.com


We are one week away from the NFL Draft, and there is still so much uncertainty.

Who will go first overall to the Cleveland Browns? How many quarterbacks go in the top 10? How many trades will we see?

With that as a backdrop, here is Mock Draft No. 6 from me, which might be my final one depending on any late information.

In it, I have the four top quarterbacks going off the board with the first four picks — including the Buffalo Bills making a move up to the No. 4 spot to land UCLA’s Josh Rosen with a pick acquired from the Browns.

The Browns would take Wyoming’s Josh Allen, followed by the Giants taking USC’s Sam Darnold, the Jets taking Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, then Rosen to the Bills.

Four picks, four passers.

For much of the past two months, some league personnel men insisted to me that that this could be a possibility. I didn’t buy it, but now I do. This is a quarterback-starved league, so it makes sense.

The Browns could make out like bandits in this scenario. They would take Allen, then get Buffalo’s two first-round picks this year — No. 12 and No. 22 — and add at least one more pick in next year’s draft, likely a second-rounder. That’s a haul for a team that is rebuilding. It makes too much sense.

Then again, it’s a week to the draft. Does anything make sense?

1. Cleveland Browns

Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. I just believe he will be the choice for John Dorsey. Draft Twitter will go nuts, but it’s the right choice.


2. New York Giants

Sam Darnold, QB, USC. They need to find the successor to Eli Manning, so they take the quarterback most have ranked as the best in the draft.


3. New York Jets (from Colts)

Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. They opt to take the gunslinger from Oklahoma over UCLA’s Josh Rosen. Mayfield will be fun in New York. 


4. Buffalo Bills (CLE mock trade)

Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. The Bills make the move up with the Browns to land their quarterback. 


5. Denver Broncos

Bradley Chubb, DE/LB, NC State. They don’t get one of the top four quarterbacks, so they take the best player in this draft to team with Von Miller. 


6. Indianapolis Colts (from Jets)

Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia. They need a game-changing player on defense. With Chubb gone, they take the three-down linebacker. 


7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. They have a major hole at running back, so they land the best runner in the draft – even with defensive needs.


8. Chicago Bears

Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame. He is the cleanest player in the draft and the Bears need guard help. He would step in at left guard and start right away. 


9. San Francisco 49ers

Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech. They have issues at linebacker with the Reuben Foster situation. Edmunds could also help on the edge.


10. Oakland Raiders

Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. They signed Rashaan Melvin to go with Gareon Conley, but they need more help than that. Ward is the best cover player in the draft


11. Miami Dolphins

Vita Vea, DT, Washington. They have to get stronger inside with Ndamukong Suh leaving. Vea would be a great addition. 


12. Cleveland Browns (BUF mock trade)

Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama. The Browns move down and land a playmaking secondary player who will be a lot like Malcolm Jenkins of the Eagles.            


13. Washington Redskins

Derwin James, S, Florida State. The Redskins would be getting a real playmaker on the back end. His versatility would be a big addition to their defense. 


14. Green Bay Packers

Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA. At some point, they have to get better on the edge. Davenport is worth taking a risk on in this spot.


15. Arizona Cardinals

Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa. They need a cover player opposite Patrick Peterson. Jackson has the height and ball skills to help. 


16. Baltimore Ravens

Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina. They need to get a weapon inside for Joe Flacco. Hurst is the best tight end in this class. 


17. Los Angeles Chargers

Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama. The Chargers had some issues up front last season, and Payne would help fix that. He’s a physical player who can really help their run defense. 


18. Seattle Seahawks

Harold Landry, DE, Boston College. Pass rush is an issue with the Seahawks without Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. So they add a young player to help.


19. Dallas Cowboys

Leighton Vander Esch, ILB, Boise State. With Anthony Hitchens gone, they get a player some have compared to Luke Kuechly. His neck isn’t an issue for most teams.


20. Detroit Lions

Taven Bryan, DT, Florida. They need help inside on their front and Bryan has a lot of position versatility. GM Bob Quinn came from New England, where they loved position versatility up front. 


21. Cincinnati Bengals (from Bills)

James Daniels, C, Iowa. I’ve kept him here for much of the draft process. It just makes too much sense for the Bengals to add a center. 


22. Cleveland Browns (BUF mock trade)

Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. They take the replacement for Joe Thomas with one of the picks they got from the Bills. 


23. New England Patriots (from Rams)

Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA. They need a left tackle and he is the perfect pick. The scouts love this kid.


24. Carolina Panthers

Frank Ragnow, G/C, Arkansas. He could play guard for a year — a position he has played — and then move inside to center next year when Ryan Kalil retires.


25. Tennessee Titans

Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama. They lost Avery Williamson in free agency, so why not take a three-down linebacker to replace him?


26. Atlanta Falcons

Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. They have a good 1-2 combo in Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu, but this would be a nice addition for an offense that could use another threat. 


27. New Orleans Saints

Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State. They need a threat in the middle of the field since Coby Fleener hasn’t worked out. Goedert is a nice pass-catching tight end. 


28. Pittsburgh Steelers

Mike Hughes, CB, UCF. They have had corner issues for a while, and Hughes is a complete corner who could go higher if not for some off-field concerns. 


29. Jacksonville Jaguars

D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland. They still don’t have a No. 1 receiver, so why not go with Moore? Jaguars receivers coach Keenan McCardell coached Moore at Maryland his freshman year. 


30. Minnesota Vikings

Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia. They could move Mike Remmers back to right tackle if they were to take Wynn, who is coming off a shoulder injury. 


31. New England Patriots

Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville. This would be typical New England: Getting one of the top corners in this draft this late in the round.       


32. Philadelphia Eagles

Donte Jackson, CB, LSU. He is a fast corner who could help alleviate the loss of slot player Patrick Robinson in free agency. The Eagles brought him in for a visit. 



NFL draft: Four prospects who could be surprise first-rounders – NFL.com



After the limited number of elite prospects go off the board on Day 1 of the 2018 NFL Draft, which begins at 8 p.m. ET on April 26 in Dallas, there’s a slew of other prospects who might sneak into the first round. Here’s snapshot of four prospects who have a better shot to go in Round 1 than you might think, based on recent conversations with NFL executives, scouts and coaches:

Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas

One veteran NFL assistant coach compared Ragnow to Saints center Max Unger. In part because of his height (6-foot-5), some project him to be a guard at the next level. That versatility brings value, too.


“He’s a stud,” an offensive coordinator said of Ragnow, a three-year starter and team captain for the Razorbacks. “Nobody’s talking about him because he’s a guard, but he’s a really good football player.”

There could be a run on interior o-linemen, with Iowa center James Daniels, Georgia guard Isaiah Wynn and maybe even Ohio State center Billy Price — despite the partially torn pec he suffered at the combine — all potentially coming off late in the first.

“Those guys are just safe. They’re steady. The bust factor is very low on those guys,” an AFC executive said. “Maybe they’re not the sexiest picks, but worst-case scenario, you’re going to end up with a solid player who can step in and contribute pretty early.”

Sony Michel, RB, Georgia

After probable top-five pick Saquon Barkley, it’s pick your flavor among the next tier of backs — a list that includes LSU’s Derrius Guice, USC’s Ronald Jones II, Georgia teammate Nick Chubb and Michel, who racked up over 4,200 scrimmage yards and 39 total touchdowns in four years with the Bulldogs.

“He’s my second (ranked) back,” an NFC executive said. “Michel’s aggressive. He’s downhill. He’s got good vision. He’s strong. He’s got burst. He’s explosive. Doesn’t have elite long speed (4.54 in 40-yard dash at 5-11, 220 pounds), but he’s pretty good.”

Michel’s character is considered a plus, too. He’s a three-down player. If Michel doesn’t go high, one factor would probably be the medical report, which concerns some teams more than others. Michel missed just two games over the past three seasons, but he has dealt with some kind of injury every year.

Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

He probably has gotten the least attention among the clump of borderline late-first/early-second round cornerbacks behind top prospect Denzel Ward. Oliver isn’t a particularly “sudden” athlete, but the former high school track star’s length and long speed (4.5-second 40-dash dash) are intriguing to press-man teams.

“He’s tall (6-1) and he’s got long arms (33 1/2 inches), he’s got good range,” one scout said. “He kind of plays like Rod Woodson did back in the day, where he’s tough and he’ll hit. He’s a young kid. He’s only 21. He’s got a bunch of opportunity to grow and get better, too.”

Iowa’s Josh Jackson, UCF’s Mike Hughes and Louisville’s Jaire Alexander all figure to be in play in the same area.


Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina

On paper, no tight end should go in the first round, scouts and coaches say. But one figures to get pushed up the boards, and the best bet is Hurst, who turned to football in 2015 after control problems short-circuited his career as a minor league pitcher. He caught 92 passes over his last two seasons with the Gamecocks and declared for the draft after his junior year — a logical move, since he’ll already be 25 years old as a rookie when the 2018 season starts.

“It’s just such a thin position, and he’s pretty dang good,” an NFC scout said. “He can play Y or he can split out, play H, and catch the ball. Kind of a weird story — just walked on and has developed himself into this.”

Workout wonder Mike Gesicki of Penn State and perhaps South Dakota State’s Dallas Goedert are the other possibilities at the position.

Follow Tom Pelissero on Twitter @TomPelissero.



Micah Hyde suggests NFL fine QBs when receivers sustain helmet-to-helmet hits – ESPN


ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Buffalo Bills safety Micah Hyde has a creative solution to curb the number of dangerous hits that receivers take over the middle of the field: Fine the quarterback.

“Those bang-bang plays, it’s tough,” Hyde said Tuesday. “Start fining the quarterbacks. They’re the ones who are throwing the ball right there. It’s tough for us [defensive players] to be able to adjust last second to get our head to one side, the other side — up, down. We’re trying to make a play like the receiver is. It’s the sport of football.”

Hyde’s suggestion came as part of a discussion about a change to the NFL rulebook enacted at the league meetings last month in which a player — on offense or defense — will be penalized 15 yards and potentially ejected any time he lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent.

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While Hyde welcomed the potential for the rule to be enforced against offensive players, especially running backs who might use their helmet to initiate contact, he stressed that such contact can be unavoidable as a defensive player in certain situations.

“When a guy catches a ball across the middle and it’s bang-bang, and he’s just catching the ball and doesn’t have his feet down yet, as a defensive player, I’m not going to wait for him to bring the ball in and secure it,” he said. “That’s not realistic. In my eyes, if I’m able to hit him in his feet all the way up to his shoulders, I’m going to try to. Obviously, the head, the head contact, you can get away from that.

“[But] I actually had an incident in the playoff game [against Jacksonville when] the trainers didn’t like how I tackled on a few plays. My response to them was just the running back was running at me, and he’s getting as low as he can and lowering his shoulder, lowering his helmet. I have to make a tackle. I’m not going to stand straight up, because he’s going to run straight through my chest. It’s a violent game, it’s a violent sport. They’re trying the best they can do to make it as safe as possible, but at the end of the day, those bang-bang plays, they’re hard to get out of the sport.”

The NFL’s previous rule limited penalties to when a runner or tackler initiated contact with the top or crown of his helmet when both players were outside of the tackle box. The new rule is broadened to include any player who “lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent,” regardless of where it occurs on the field. It also eliminates a requirement from the previous rule for the contact to be “flagrant” for the player to be ejected.

“It just seems that players at every level are getting more comfortable playing with their helmets as a weapon rather than a protective device,” NFL competition committee chairman Rich McKay said last month. “Therefore, we need a rule that is broad and puts that in context, and that’s what we think this does.”

Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, a member of the NFL Players Association executive committee, hopes the league will reconsider its rule at the upcoming May owners meetings.

“Hopefully they go back and realize it’s not going to be a functional rule that’s going to make sense,” he said Tuesday. “It’s going to be hard on the refs, because they already have enough rules to call. Now, do they call it every single play, which they can do?

“It’s definitely going to be hard [as players], because our heads are at the top of our body. You play with forward lean. Even if I’m coming in with a shoulder, if [the offensive player] drops his head a little bit, it’s slight helmet-to-helmet. It can be called every single play. I just don’t think it was well-thought-out. The intention of the rule is great, but we have to understand at some point, this is a collision, contact sport. And I think that’s some of the allure to it. Everybody is not built to play this game. You can’t legislate out every injury. Then we wouldn’t be playing football. At that point, it changes to something different. If the fans and the owners are OK with that, then we’ll have to live in that new world.”

Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams, who has played in the NFL since 2006, agreed with Alexander’s opinion of the rule change.

“I understand the old rule of targeting and launching, but this seems to incorporate all contact, including incidental contact, which I think is a huge problem for players,” he told ESPN. “There is a risk that comes with playing the game, generally speaking. You can legislate out the flagrant attempts to use the helmet as a weapon, but the reason we wear helmets is because of incidental contact and just the nature of the game.”



Three and out: San Francisco 49ers' 2018 NFL draft needs, prospect fits – USA TODAY


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SportsPulse: NFL reporter Lorenzo Reyes details why Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski’s absences at Patriots’ offseason program shows there is still tension between the team and Brady’s trainer Alex Guerrero.
USA TODAY Sports

In the build-up to the 2018 draft, USA TODAY Sports will take a look at each NFL team’s situation and needs. 

San Francisco 49ers

1. Linebacker was a position of need even before 2017 first-round pick Rueben Foster’s troubling offseason, which included two arrests and three felony charges, including one of domestic violence. The 49ers would be wise to add a fast inside linebacker who can help improve a run defense that ranked 22nd last year.

Advice: The 49ers will be on the clock at pick No. 9 in the first round, which could be the perfect spot to take Georgia’s Roquan Smith or, if he’s gone, Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds.

2. The 49ers had just 30 sacks in 2017, fewer than all but five teams. After using first round picks last year on a versatile defensive lineman (Solomon Thomas) and linebacker (Foster), San Francisco could further rebuild its front seven with an edge rusher early in the draft.

Advice: Picking at No. 9 should take the Niners out of contention for North Carolina State’s Bradley Chubb, but the next best pass rushers should be available, including University of Texas San Antonio’s Marcus Davenport and Boston College’s Harold Landry. If the 49ers choose to wait until the second day of the draft to fill the need, Georgia’s Lorenzo Carter, Oklahoma’s Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, or Louisiana State’s Arden Key could be targets.

More: Dez Bryant landing spots: Eight NFL teams that make sense for ex-Cowboys WR

More: NFL mock draft 2018: Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield could be biggest QB dominoes

More: NFL’s most overpaid players: Jimmy Garoppolo, Kirk Cousins highlight list

3. After locking in their franchise quarterback (Jimmy Garoppolo) and a highly-paid running back (Jerrick McKinnon), wide receiver is the only skill position left unaddressed in San Francisco. A young target is needed to join veterans Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin.

Advice: It would make sense for the 49ers to spend their highest pick on a defensive player, but it would not be surprising in head coach Kyle Shanahan were to push for a receiver on the second day, especially if players like Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk or SMU’s Courtland Sutton are available early in the second round.

Follow Lindsay H. Jones on Twitter @bylindsayhjones.

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Aaron Donald not expected at Rams offseason program – NFL.com



Aggressive player acquisitions landed the Los Angeles Rams in the headlines this offseason, but the future for their top defensive star has kept them there. According to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, defensive tackle Aaron Donald plans to skip the team’s voluntary offseason program amid growing consternation over his contract.



Donald just completed a dominant fourth season in the NFL for which he earned Defensive Player of the Year honors. With only a fifth-year option remaining on his rookie contract, the star defensive tackle has his eyes on a long-term extension. Donald pushed for a new contract last year, holding out through the preseason before returning to the team on Sept. 7.

General manager Les Snead said publicly that the Rams have “budgeted” for the multiyear deal needed to keep Donald in Los Angeles but has also stated back in January that the team has higher priorities to consider. As such, it remains unclear whether Donald’s absence from the offseason program represents nothing more than a player opting to skip voluntary workouts or the beginning of another prolonged contract stalemate.

Barring a new deal, Donald’s current contract carries a cap hit of approximately $6.9 million for 2018, according to Over the Cap. That figure ranks sixth on the Rams defense behind Ndamukong Suh ($14.5 million), Lamarcus Joyner (roughly $11.3 million), Michael Brockers ($11 million), Aqib Talib ($11 million) and Mark Barron ($10 million).

Since entering the league in 2014, Donald has never missed a Pro Bowl and has earned first-team All-Pro honors three times. He has recorded 148 tackles and 39 career sacks, twice leading the league in sacks by a defensive tackle.