Hudrick's 2018 NFL mock draft 1.0

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Hudrick's 2018 NFL mock draft 1.0

Mock draft season is here. The Super Bowl Champion Eagles will hold the No. 32 overall pick. Here is Paul Hudrick's mock draft 1.0 to get you ready for the 2018 NFL draft in Arlington, Texas. 

1. Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold, QB, USC (6-4/220)
Darnold has work to do mechanically, but his intangibles are off the charts. Mentally and as a leader, he has what it takes to make it in Cleveland. He'd benefit from watching behind DeShon Kizer to start the season.

2. New York Giants – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA (6-4/218)
If it were me, Rosen is the guy if I'm taking at quarterback. His footwork and toughness in the pocket are second to none in this draft. There are questions about his maturity, but moments like this make me believe he'll be just fine.

3. Indianapolis Colts – Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State (6-4/275)
The Colts need an impact pass rusher and Chubb is the best there is in this draft. He's also a nasty customer, something Indy could use a little more of.

4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans) – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State (5-11/223)
You already drafted your future franchise QB, now give him a serious weapon to work with. Sure, there are things Barkley needs to improve on, but he has the potential to be a perennial All-Pro.

5. Denver Broncos – Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame (6-5/329)
With Darnold and Rosen gone, the Broncos pick the best offensive lineman in the draft. Of all the players in the draft, Nelson seems like the most can't-miss prospect. He has the potential to make the Pro Bowl as a rookie.

6. New York Jets – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma (6-1/220)
This is where things get interesting. You might look at Mayfield and think his antics and off-the-field issues wouldn't fly in New York. I look at it like this: What prospect has dealt with more scrutiny over the past year than Mayfield? I see a Kirk Cousins-like QB with a little more attitude.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama (6-1/201)
This is a perfect fit. Fitzpatrick is a versatile DB who will help fix the Bucs' biggest flaw. Fitzpatrick can cover, has excellent range and he's physical. Easily the best safety in this draft.

8. Chicago Bears – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama (6-1/190)
When mock drafts first started coming out, Ridley wasn't regarded as a top-10 pick. I have no idea why. This guy has it all. He's an explosive and precise route runner who can be effective catching balls all over the field. He's a true No. 1 receiver, which the Bears desperately need.

9/10. Oakland Raiders (coin flip) – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia (6-1/225)
Smith earned being a top-10 pick after his play during the CFP. He's a monster. He plays sideline-to-sideline and will be a welcome addition to a Raiders' defense that has some pieces but has struggled.

9/10. San Francisco 49ers (coin flip) – Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa (6-1/192)
Jackson fits the mold of the modern corner with his length and ability to press. He's also showed the ability to play off and excel in zone. The 49ers will be an intriguing team next season and Jackson will add to that.

11. Miami Dolphins – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech (6-5/250)
Edmunds possesses unbelievable size and athletic ability. He'll excel at blitzing and covering tight ends at the next level.

12. Cincinnati Bengals – Connor Williams, OT, Texas (6-6/320)
The Bengals clearly made a mistake in letting Andrew Whitworth go to the Rams. Their first step in rectifying that would be to take the best tackle in the draft.

13. Washington Redskins – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming (6-5/223)
You've all likely heard it by now: Allen has all the physical tools, he just needs work. Well, it's absolutely true. From a physical standpoint, there isn't a more gifted QB in this draft. Give him a couple seasons to sit behind Alex Smith and hope Jay Gruden can get the most out of Allen.

14. Green Bay Packers – Arden Key, EDGE, LSU (6-6/265)
Key was a beast his sophomore season (11 sacks), before a junior year mired by injuries and inconsistency. He has all the tools to be a disruptive NFL edge rusher. Can the Packers get it out of him?

15. Arizona Cardinals – Orlando Brown, OL, Oklahoma (6-8/360)
With the top four quarterbacks off the board, the Cardinals look to bolster their offensive line. Brown is a road grader that should help pave the way for star RB David Johnson. Does Brown have enough athleticism to play the left side? I believe he does.

16. Baltimore Ravens – Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU (6-4/218)
Sutton is an interesting case. He has great size and is pretty quick for a bigger receiver. He dominated in the American Conference and should test well at the combine. His stock could rise, but he'd be a great fit for the Ravens.

17. Los Angeles Chargers – Vita Vea, DT, Washington (6-4/344)
Putting Vea on the inside with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram on the outside seems unfair. He's the most athletic 344-pounder I've ever seen.

18. Seattle Seahawks – Derwin James, S, Florida State (6-3/215)
James was once thought of as a top-10 talent but struggled last season coming off an injury. He's the type of physical, versatile player that will thrive in Seattle and possibly replace Kam Chancellor.

19. Dallas Cowboys – Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama (6-2/308)
Payne showed how disruptive and dominant he can be in the National Championship Game. If the Cowboys can get that player to show up every week, he'll be giving the Eagles trouble for years.

20. Detroit Lions – Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA (6-6/255)
There may not be a player riding a bigger hype train than Davenport. He has great measurables, was extremely productive and should test well. The Lions are perpetually in need of pass rushers.

21. Buffalo Bills – Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan (6-2/282)
There are a few mocks out there that have Hurst ahead of Payne. I will say that Hurst was a more consistent player this season, but Payne is younger and has a bigger upside. Still, Hurst should help the Bills immediately.

22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs) – Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado (6-1/190)
Like Jackson, Oliver fits the mold of the prototypical NFL corner. He also fits the mold of what head coach Sean McDermott has looked for in his corners.

23. Los Angeles Rams – Denzel Ward, CB, OSU (5-10/191)
I'm not as high on Ward as others. I thought he got bullied by bigger receivers. With that said, he has excellent footwork and speed to mirror receivers up and down the field.

24. Carolina Panthers – Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College (6-3/250)
Landry would've probably gone around this range if he'd come out last year (16 1/2 sacks). He wasn't as productive this season (five sacks) but is certainly worth a shot here for the Panthers.

25. Tennessee Titans - Billy Price, C, OSU (6-4/312)
The Titans have bookend tackles but could use help in the middle. Price's issue might be that he's a little too aggressive at times. Better than the alternative. He's tough, athletic and plays with an edge.

26. Atlanta Falcons – Will Hernandez, G, UTEP (6-2/348)
Hernandez is the second-best guard in this draft. He had a nice week at Senior Bowl that will likely make him first-rounder.

27. New Orleans Saints – Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama (6-3/234)
Evans would've looked great in midnight green, but I don't see any way he gets to pick 32. Recruited as a pass rusher, Evans became an inside 'backer for Nick Saban. That versatility should serve him well as a 4-3 OLB.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn (6-1/203)
I like Davis more than Ward, but going off the hype, I'll mock Davis here. Joe Haden doesn't seem like a candidate to return for the Steelers and they could use more help at corner.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville (6-3/200)
The Jags are giving Blake Bortles another shot. Taking Jackson hedges their bets. No doubt Jackson has work to do with his mechanics and accuracy (though he's much improved), but putting him in the same backfield as Leonard Fournette with a dominant defense would be awfully intriguing.

30. Minnesota Vikings – Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia (6-2/300)
The Vikings' O-line was vastly improved in 2017, but could still use more help. Wynn provides versatility, having played left tackle for the Bulldogs but projecting as a guard at the next level.

31. New England Patriots – Mike Hughes, CB, UCF (5-11/191)
This is an interesting spot. If Rob Gronkowski decides to retire, look for South Dakota State TE Dallas Goedert as a possibility. With Malcolm Butler on his way out, Hughes could make a solid tandem with Stephon Gilmore.

32. Philadelphia Eagles – Taven Bryan, DT, Florida (6-4/291)
If Beau Allen leaves in free agency, the Eagles are left with Destiny Vaeao and 2017 sixth-round pick Elijah Qualls at DT. With Jim Schwartz's D-line rotation, they'll need more depth and competition at the position. Enter Bryan. Don't be fooled by the lack of production (four sacks in 2017), Bryan has impressive physical traits that will translate to the NFL. He's an attacking style player, the perfect fit for Schwartz's scheme. He's got a quick first step and consistently blows offensive lineman off the ball. Asking him to be a rotational piece, especially in pass rush situations, would be the ideal way to bring him along.

Why Ben Simmons is still Rookie of the Year favorite over Donovan Mitchell

Why Ben Simmons is still Rookie of the Year favorite over Donovan Mitchell

Rookie Donovan Mitchell has led the surprising Utah Jazz to an 11-game winning streak and into the thick of the Western Conference playoff race.

Along the way, his campaign for Rookie of the Year has picked up steam. Media types and fellow NBA players have been hopping aboard the Mitchell hype wagon over past the few weeks.

After appearing to have the trophy locked up in October, it seems Ben Simmons finally has some competition. On Wednesday, he made a statement for all those ready to hand over the award to Mitchell.

During the Sixers' incredible 104-102 comeback over the Miami Heat, Simmons recorded his sixth triple-double this season with 18 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. The only players with more triple-doubles as a rookie: some dudes named Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson. While Simmons has serious work to do to catch Robertson's record (26), he's only one behind Johnson (7) with 27 games remaining.

"I was only reminded of his triple-double about three steps before I opened the door to come out here," head coach Brett Brown said after the game. "And he just sort of quietly assumes statistics. You feel his presence but not to the level until I look at the stat sheet and you say, 'Really? 18, 10 and 12?' Those are massive numbers — in a close game."

Mitchell has been tremendous. He's averaging 21.3 points per game and shooting 40 percent from three in his last 10 games. This isn't a hit piece on Donovan Mitchell. It's a reminder of how stellar Ben Simmons has been.

Case and point:

One argument that was brought to the table was the idea that Mitchell deserves the award more because he's a "lockdown defender."

While the numbers above aren't a perfect measure, there's something to them. Another factor: Mitchell is 6-foot-3. He's a great defender but is really only capable of guarding ones and twos. At 6-10 and with unbelievable quickness, Simmons can guard all five positions on the floor. It's what allows Brown to run what he wants defensively and the Sixers to switch on everything. 

"I think his 6-10 frame, his ability to go from A to B, his reaction time from his shoulder, up above his head with deflection-type hands, is really impressive," Brown said. "He covers ground. I think there's a really big difference between being fast and being quick. He has both. That's really the place where he can impact a game the easiest at his early stages is through his defense."

The argument people seem to be making against Simmons and for Mitchell has to do with their supporting casts. There's no doubt Simmons is playing with one of the best players in the league — although not last night — in Joel Embiid. But Mitchell isn't exactly playing with the 2015-16 Sixers.

It's likely not a coincidence that the Jazz started winning when 2016-17 Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert got back in the lineup. Or that Derrick Favors and Joe Ingles are playing some of their best basketball. Or that, for a chunk of this winning streak, point guard Ricky Rubio had been playing out of his mind before succumbing to injury himself. 

Before being sidelined, Rubio outplayed Mitchell during the first seven games of the winning streak, posting 20.7 points, 7.7 assists and 5.3 rebounds a night while shooting a ridiculous 57 percent from three.

Speaking of point guards, here's another thing to think about: Simmons is playing the position at the NBA level after never playing the position in his entire life. This is a 6-10 player that was asked to guard John Wall in his NBA debut. He's now tasked with leading a team with playoff aspirations while running the point. 

"He has tremendous poise," Brown said. "It's the word that so easily comes out of my mouth when they say, 'What do you think of Ben Simmons?' Because as I've said so many times, you take a college four man and you make him an NBA point guard and you kind of say, 'good luck, figure it out and lead a team in an unbelievable city.'"

Look out, East — Sixers have new 'firepower'

Look out, East — Sixers have new 'firepower'

Marco Belinelli has built a reputation during his career of needing to be watched with a close eye.

On Wednesday at Wells Fargo Center, his skills were on full display during the Sixers' unbelievable 104-102 comeback over the Heat (see observations).

"What a great introduction to the city for him," head coach Brett Brown said. "That's why we brought him in."

The Sixers have lacked two things during the first half of the season: perimeter shooting and bench scoring. Belinelli provided both Wednesday, scoring 13 of his 17 points during the Sixers' second-half comeback. He shot 7 of 12 from the field and hit on 3 of his 5 threes in 28 minutes off the bench.

The Sixers had a need and president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo filled it. Not with a trade, but by picking up the 11-year veteran shooting guard after he had been bought out by the fledgling Atlanta Hawks.

On Wednesday, Belinelli made Colangelo look like a genius.

"I think the firepower that we needed from somebody was provided by him," Brown said. "I give tremendous credit to Bryan Colangelo for making this happen. We gave up no assets to bring him in and we bring in somebody that can change a game like that. Bryan deserves a lot of credit."

Before spending the early portion of this season with the 18-40 Hawks, Belinelli toiled away on a 36-46 Charlotte team last season and a 33-49 Kings team the year before. At the All-Star break, the Sixers already have 30 wins and are right in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race.

"I wanted to be on this team so bad," Belinelli said. "Just play with guys who go on the court and try to be better, try to play together and they want to win so bad and that's one thing I've been missing the last couple years, so I'm really happy."

With the Sixers trailing by 23 at the half and with no Joel Embiid on the floor (see story), it was not what Belinelli had signed up for. But thanks in large part to the firepower he provided, the Sixers outscored the Heat, 65-40, in the second half to secure a perfect 5-0 homestand (see story).

The atmosphere during the comeback was electric.

And Belinelli felt it.

"I need that," Belinelli said. "The last couple years — Sacramento, Charlotte and Atlanta — it's not easy to go out on the court and win games with the young guys. Just to be able to be a part of this team, that's what I need." 

And if his performance Wednesday wasn't enough to endear him to Sixers fans, this should only help:

"I want to win so bad and I really trust this process," Belinelli said. "That's the truth."