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New 2018 NFL Mock Draft has Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield at #1

Could the Heisman winner go first overall, and how would that affect the Los Angeles Rams at 23?

Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield runs the ball against Georgia in the 2018 College Football Playoff Semifinal Game
Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield runs the ball against Georgia in the 2018 College Football Playoff Semifinal Game
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Well, last night was pretty fun. Congrats to the Philadelphia Eagles and to our pals over at Bleeding Green Nation.

But that means 2017 is officially over and we’re on to the 2018 season across the NFL and for our Los Angeles Rams too.

First up, a Monday mock from Mocking the Draft’s Dan Kadar that centers on a bit of new information that could change the landscape of the 2018 NFL Draft. We learned yesterday that longtime evaluator and former general manager Scot McCloughan will be joining the Cleveland Browns’ staff for the draft. Given that McCloughan has been vocal about his opinion that Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield is his top QB available, could he advise the Browns to scoop him with the first pick overall? Kadar’s mock starts off with that premise.

Here’s the major storylines playing out in this new mock.

The top...whatever

This one sets up for a Top 7 that we’ve identified before: Mayfield, USC QB Sam Darnold, UCLA QB Josh Rosen, North Carolina St. DE Bradley Chubb, Penn St. RB Saquon Barkley, Notre Dame G Quenton Nelson and Alabama Crimson Tide DB Minkah Fitzpatrick.

One of the main reasons a top tier is important is the drop-off beyond invites much more chaos. So if we lock in the top tier to seven players, that leaves 15 picks after the top tier before we’re on the clock. So don’t rule out the idea of the prospect we’re seeing at #8 dropping to us at #23. It happens all the time.

And that’s the value of locking in the top tier.

The QBs

Mayfield at 1. Darnold at 2. Rosen at 6. Whew.

Things get wackier at #15 with the Arizona Cardinals taking Wyoming QB Josh Allen. Certainly a new-look NFC West with that on the table... Louisville QB Lamar Jackson went 13th overall last week in Kadar’s mock, but with Washington trading for Alex Smith, he has Jackson dropping to 21 to the Buffalo Bills this week.

Five first-round QBs.

Cornering the cornerbacks

Ohio St. CB Denzel Ward goes at 10 to the San Francisco 49ers. As I mentioned above with the idea of the top tier inviting much greater deviation, we’ve seen Ward mocked to us often and he’s at 10. Rule nothing out, friends.

No other cornerbacks come off before 23 leaving a host of options for us. Kadar thus makes our pick as:

23. Los Angeles Rams: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

Trumaine Johnson is poised to sign perhaps the largest contract for a cornerback in NFL history. With Aaron Donald likely getting a new deal, that means Johnson may have priced himself out of Los Angeles. If so, a player like Jackson is a near-identical replacement.

As you might have noticed with the updated NFL calendar for the next seven months, we’re gonna get some clarity on this front one month from tomorrow. On March 6, we hit the deadline for franchise or transition tags. Should the Rams decide to tag WR Sammy Watkins (or someone else instead), we’ll know by then. Doing so would pretty much eliminate any WR personnel changes save for maybe a late round flier or a UDFA to fill out the depth at the bottom of the position chart. Six days later on March 12, the “legal tampering” period begins with free agency opening in full two days thereupon. At that point, we should get a final decision on Tru and any potential free agent solution at the position. If he leaves in free agency and the Rams can’t identify and sign a legitimate successor, it will be very hard to envision anything but a corner at #23 unless we see a heavy run ahead of our pick, a bit of a doomsday scenario.

As for the mock, UCF CB Mike Hughes goes at #30 and Auburn CB Carlton Davis, whom we saw mocked to us by ESPN’s own Mel Kiper, goes at #31. No Colorado CB Isaiah Oliver and no Louisville CB Jaire Alexander. I am fascinated to see this class take shape as we head toward the combine in just three weeks.

The 2017 season is over. Welcome to the 2018 season!