Tristan Beckmann’s 2018 NFL Mock Draft Version 4.0

With the NFL Playoffs having been in full swing and the Super Bowl finally coming up in a few weeks, most playoff teams have found out their draft slots in the 2018 NFL Draft. And these 30 NFL teams have now shifted their agenda towards scouting and finding prospects to potentially draft with their picks in the 2018 NFL Draft. 28 of those teams (sorry Houston and Kansas City!) either missed out on playoff berths or were sent packing in the playoffs already. They all mostly know exactly which position that they will be drafting from in the draft.

So let’s get to the point right. Over the last few months, I’ve been scouting this draft class, position by position, player by player, as the college football season chipped away. The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL Draft was on Monday, January 15th. That date has passed and now we have a definite amount of prospects who we know have entered the draft. I’ve watched enough tape on some of the guys to be able to put together rankings of them and now the fourth version of my mock draft for the 2018 NFL Draft. This mock draft is similar to Version 3.0 but I’ve changed up a few selections and this feels like a very good mock draft. Right now, I’ve projected the first 32 selections in the draft, (no trading predictions). The Senior Bowl is coming up this week as players practice and scouts watch from the stands. I will be watching and scouting some of the high level prospects that are participating in this year’s Senior Bowl. And now, with all of that said, it is time to unveil version 4.0 of Tristan Beckmann’s 2018 NFL Mock Draft!

1. Cleveland Browns (0-16):

USC QB Sam Darnold (Was: UCLA QB Josh Rosen)

2. New York Giants (3-13):

UCLA QB Josh Rosen (Was: USC QB Sam Darnold)

3. Indianapolis Colts (4-12):

Texas OT Connor Williams

4. Cleveland Browns (from HOU) (4-12):

Alabama DB Minkah Fitzpatrick (Was: Penn State RB Saquon Barkley)

5. Denver Broncos (5-11):

Notre Dame OG Quenton Nelson

6. New York Jets (5-11):

Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11):

NC State EDGE Bradley Chubb

8. Chicago Bears (5-11):

Alabama WR Calvin Ridley

9. San Francisco 49ers (6-10):

Penn State RB Saquon Barkley (Was: Alabama DB Minkah Fitzpatrick)

10. Oakland Raiders (6-10):

Georgia LB Roquan Smith

11. Miami Dolphins (6-10):

LSU DE Arden Key

12. Cincinnati Bengals (6-10):

Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey

13. Washington Redskins (7-9):

Florida State S Derwin James (Was: LSU RB Derrius Guice)

14. Green Bay Packers (7-9):

Ohio State CB Denzel Ward

15. Arizona Cardinals (8-8):

Louisville QB Lamar Jackson (Was: Texas A&M WR Christian Kirk)

16. Baltimore Ravens (9-7):

Texas A&M WR Christian Kirk (Was: Boston College LB Harold Landry)

17. Los Angeles Chargers (9-7):

Michigan DT Maurice Hurst (Was: Ohio State OL Billy Price)

18. Seattle Seahawks (9-7):

Ohio State OL Billy Price (Was: Iowa CB Josh Jackson)

19. Dallas Cowboys (9-7):

Iowa CB Josh Jackson (Was: Florida State DB Derwin James)

20. Detroit Lions (9-7):

Boston College LB Harold Landry (Was: Ohio State EDGE Sam Hubbard)

21. Buffalo Bills (9-7):

Alabama DT Da’Ron Payne

22. Buffalo Bills (9-7) (from KC):

Wyoming QB Josh Allen

23. Los Angeles Rams (11-5):

Louisville CB Jaire Alexander

24. Carolina Panthers (11-5):

SMU WR Courtland Sutton

25. Tennessee Titans (9-7):

Ohio State EDGE Sam Hubbard (Was: Clemson DT Christian Wilkins)

26. Atlanta Falcons (10-6):

Washington DT Vita Vea (Was: Michigan DT Maurice Hurst)

27. New Orleans Saints (11-5):

Michigan C Mason Cole (Was: Oklahoma State WR James Washington)

28. Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3):

Alabama LB Rashaan Evans

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (11-5):

Oklahoma TE Mark Andrews (Was: Louisville QB Lamar Jackson)

30. Minnesota Vikings (13-3):

Oklahoma OT Orlando Brown

31. Philadelphia Eagles (13-3):

Texas LB Malik Jefferson

32. New England Patriots (13-3):

Colorado CB Isaiah Oliver


2017 New England Patriots Bold Predictions

With the NFL season right around the corner, it seems we have finally hit prediction time. The New England Patriots have won the AFC East eight consecutive seasons, have been to the past six AFC Championship games, and won two Super Bowls in that time span. This off-season, the rich got even richer, as the Patriots reloaded a roster that will be defending the Super Bowl LI title. Heading into this season, Tom Brady may have the most talent around him on both sides of the ball he’s ever experienced. With various weapons aided by great depth up and down the depth chart, the 2017-18 Patriots will be even more difficult to predict than seasons past. Luckily for Patriots fans, no prediction can ever be too bold because you just never know what Bill Belichick will do.

1. Trey Flowers is among league leaders in sacks

Last year the Patriots had one of the top defenses in the league, including ranking number one in points allowed. Their most defined weakness was getting pressure to the opposing quarterback consistently. It showed in the stat column as the team finished 24th in sacks with just 34. While the Patriots chose to begin their season with Chris Long and Jabaal Sheard starting on the edges, it didn’t take long for Flowers to find his way into the rotation. Once given quality playing time, Flowers was arguably the most consistent force on the Patriots defensive line AND he lead the team in sacks with 7. This year, New England opted for a new direction when they let Long and Sheard sign elsewhere and then revamped the DE position by trading for Kony Ealy (Panthers), signing Lawrence Guy (Ravens), and drafting pass-rushing specialists Derek Rivers (Youngstown State), and Deatrich Wise (Arkansas). But those four newly acquired players seem to be vying for one starting spot, as Flowers figures to have the other starting spot at DE locked away. With one of the best secondary’s in all of football, Flowers will have even more time this year to get into the depths of the backfield. Look for Flowers to blow up over all over the NFL scene and create a name for himself, as he finishes in the top 5 in sacks with 12+.

2. Patriots finish top 5 in rushing yards

Last year the Patriots were 7th in team rushing yards with LeGarrette Blount leading the way with 1,161 rushing yards and Dion Lewis chipping in 283 yards. With Blount signing in Philadelphia this offseason, the Patriots will rely on the services of returning backs Lewis and James White, while also bringing in free agents Rex Burkhead (Bengals) and Mike Gillislee (Bills). None of these guys are household names in terms of NFL elite running backs, but the Patriots will still find their way into the top 5 in team rushing yards behind their sturdy offensive line. Last year, the Patriots O-line was rated as the number three rushing offensive line and the 10th best O-line overall by ProFootballFocus. Though the Patriots will use a running back by committee approach, look for Gillislee to lead the way. Last season with Bills, Gillislee averaged 5.7 yards per carry and ranked 3rd out of 58 RB’s in yards after contact with an average of 3.3 yards (according to ProFootballFocus). Gillislee achieved this by running through the right guard and right tackle of the line protection. It just so happens the Patriots two best run blockers are in fact, RG Shaq Mason (PFF’s #14 G), and RT Marcus Cannon (PFF’s #1 RT). Football Outsiders also rated Gillislee and fellow signee Burkhead as the two most efficient RB’s on a play by play basis last season. Now the Patriots will feature a balanced rushing attack, which plays right into Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels’ hands.

3. Rob Gronkowski breaks Moss’ NFL Single Season Receiving TD record 

This has been a popular prediction in previous years, but this year it’s more bold than ever due to the fact that Brady arguably has the best receiving core he’s played with and because of Gronkowski’s vast injury past. The mammoth tight end has been limited by injuries in five of his first seven seasons, which included last season where Gronk played in just eight games and reeled in a career low three touchdown receptions. The Patriots lost TE Martellus Bennett in free agency to the Packers, but added TE Dwayne Allen and Saints star receiver Cooks, who will definitely command his fair share of targets. With receivers Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Danny Amendola, along with the crafty receiving backs, James White and Dion Lewis still on the roster, players will have to take advantage of each and every target among the crowded offense. Despite all of these factors working against Gronk, once you consider how defensive resources will be focused on Cooks and Edelman, there’s plenty of room for Gronk to swiftly rack up scores. Tom Brady absolutely loves to spread the ball and does so about as well as any other quarterback, but once the Patriots get into the red zone, there’s no question who Brady’s favorite target will be; This year, if playing healthy, Gronkowski can snatch 23+ TD’s from Tom Brady, breaking Randy Moss’ 2008 record.


4. Patriots finish the season 18-1 again

18-1 is not a record any Patriots fan likes to hear. It brings back nightmares of the 2007 perfect season that ended with that one Giant loss in the Super Bowl. This year however, the Patriots will get redemption. While they may not achieve perfection, the Patriots are geared up for another 18-1 run, this time with a happier ending and a sixth Brady championship. Quite possibly better on paper than the 2007 team, this team is coming off one of the most incredible comebacks in Super Bowl history and somehow got better during the offseason. The Patriots have the 12th hardest schedule in the league, which includes a tough stretch of five road games in six weeks, but how difficult can a schedule truly be when you’re the New England Patriots led by Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Sure, the Patriots will have to travel to Denver, Mexico City to play Oakland, Buffalo, Miami, and Pittsburgh, but I expect the Patriots to be 8-0 when they roll into Denver, and 13-1 when they leave Pittsburgh. This 18-1 season certainly won’t be as nice as the perfect season, but ending the season with a 6th ring for the franchise will help erase some of the sting that remains from that 2007 loss.

5. Patriots end up top 3 in Pass Defense

Bill Belicheck’s defensive philosophy has always been “bend, don’t break.” This year’s defense may not have a “bend” setting built in and seems to be stuck on annihilation. The Patriots secondary ranked 12th last year in passing yards with Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan lining up as CB1 and CB2 respectively. This offseason the Patriots made a few tweaks to the secondary, most notably opting to sign Stephon Gilmore from the Bills after Logan Ryan scurried to the Titans. Gilmore and Butler on the outside gives the Patriots one of their best CB tandems in franchise history, arguably just falling short of the Revis and Talib days. The Patriots also signed linebacker David Harris from the Jets, an intelligent linebacker that should help the pass defense, as well. As mentioned earlier, a revamped defensive line could create more pressure on the opposing QB’s this year, too. The 2016 mid-season acquisition of Eric Rowe from the Eagles will prove to be a huge success as he eyes the CB3 position to start the 2017 campaign. While it’s easy to gloat about the cornerback talent in the Patriots’ secondary, their best player back there might be safety Devin McCourty. PFF ranked McCourty the 4th best safety in all of football last year. The bolstered D-Line, plus one of the most talented secondaries in the league equals a top pass defense this year.


These are my bold predictions for the 2017 New England Patriots – For more follow @dbeard13 & @prosportsfandom on twitter

An Overview of the Dangerous 2017 New England Patriots Offense

Following the 2016 season, highlighted by the New England Patriot’s incredible comeback over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI, it came to the surprise of just about everyone when Bill Belichick’s offseason took a complete 180° turn compared to offseasons of recent memory. This offseason, The Hooded Genius acquired a number of big-name players on both sides of the ball, including WR Brandin Cooks from the New Orleans Saints and CB Stephon Gilmore from the Buffalo Bills. Compared to the previous offseason, where TE Martellus Bennett and DE Chris Long were acquired from the Bears and Rams, respectively, it appears that the defending Super Bowl Champions are planning on not only repeating, but perhaps going for an even more dominant season than their 2016 campaign, where the team went 14-2 with losses only to Buffalo and Seattle. The Patriots’ 2016 Offense was ranked #4 in yards and #3 in points, averaging 386.3 yards and 27.6 points per game.

The top Offensive signing by the Patriots this offseason was undoubtedly WR Brandin Cooks, who was acquired via trade with the Saints back in March. The deal sent Cooks and a fourth round draft pick (Pick 118, which was confiscated as penalty for Deflategate) to New England for a first round pick (Pick 32, used to pick OT Ryan Ramczyk (Wisconsin)) and a third round pick (Pick 103, used to pick LB Trey Hendrickson (Florida Atlantic)). This trade was widely criticized by NFL fans everywhere, as it appeared the Saints gave the defending Super Bowl Champions a top-tier player for next to nothing. However, it is of note that this has happened several times in the past, and two situations come to mind in particular: The 2007 trade for Randy Moss and the 2011 trade for Chad Johnson. Of course, the Randy Moss trade led to a record setting 2007 season, while the Chad Johnson trade left much to be desired.

Image result for brandin cooks
Brandin Cooks is expected to do big things in the Patriots Offense

Cooks, 23, is one of the top young wide receivers in the NFL. Drafted 20th overall out of Oregon State by the New Orleans Saints in 2014, he has proven to be very effective as a vertical threat, Tom Brady’s first real vertical threat since the days of Randy Moss. Last season, Cooks caught 78 passes for 1,173 yards and 8 touchdowns, including one against the Raiders where he burned cornerback Sean Smith among other Raiders defensive backs for a 98 yard score. Cooks, being one of the fastest receivers in the NFL, can absolutely dominate man coverage over the top and this can lead to major gains of yardage, such as the previously mentioned touchdown. In his three-year career, he has caught 215 passes for 2,861 yards and 20 touchdowns. He will provide a great deal of talent to an already talented wide receiver core.

A lesser-name signing but one that will provide a large impact nonetheless is TE Dwayne Allen. The patriots acquired Allen via trade just days before the aforementioned Brandin Cooks trade. The Colts sent Allen and a sixth round draft pick (Pick 200, subsequently traded to Tennessee and then NY Giants, picked OT Adam Bisnowaty (Pittsburgh)) to the Patriots for the Patriot’s fourth round selection (Pick 137, picked OG Zach Banner (USC)). This trade is similar to the Martellus Bennett trade from a year prior, where the Patriots sent a fourth rounder for the tight end who acted as Gronk insurance along with a sixth round pick. Gronk has not played a full season since 2011, and in an offense where the TE is used frequently, keeping a backup for the injury-prone Gronk is essential to keep the Patriots Offense moving.

Image result for dwayne allen

Dwayne Allen will provide some much needed Gronk insurance at a position widely used in the Patriots Offense

Allen, 27, was drafted 64th overall out of Clemson by the Colts in 2012. In 6 seasons, he has caught 126 passes for 1,451 yards and 19 touchdowns. He saw a breakout season in 2016 where he caught 35 passes for 406 yards and 6 touchdowns. Allen proved to be a reliable target for the Colts, but following the emergence of TE Jack Doyle, it made it easier for the Colts to deal Allen away, who cost more to the Salary Cap. While he may not be a big-name signing, expect Allen to be a solid TE2 and to step up big if Gronk goes down.

Possibly the smallest of the big-name signings but arguably the most important signing overall is Mike Gillislee, the former Buffalo Bill RB. Gillislee was drafted in the 5th round of the 2013 Draft, 164th overall by the Miami Dolphins. He had a rather lackluster career in Miami, with minimal usage in his rookie season and spending his second year on injured reserve, he was cut by the Dolphins in 2015, and was soon signed by the Bills, where he saw much more success. Despite being the second-string running back behind the elusive Lesean McCoy, Gillislee saw easily his best season in 2016, where he had 101 carries for 577 yards and 8 touchdowns. Gillislee led the NFL in yards per carry with 5.7, and was one of only six running backs to average more than 5 yards per carry, of those including his former teammate McCoy. Blount, the lone Patriot qualifying for the list, averaged only 3.9 yards per carry on 299 carries, putting him as the 30th most efficient running back. With a vastly improved offensive line compared to two offseasons ago, it is reasonable to think Gillislee will improve in 2017 and beyond.

The Patriots also signed RB Rex Burkhead and WR Andrew Hawkins. Burkhead, a sixth round draft pick out of Nebraska in 2013, spent his first four seasons with Cincinnati. He was primarily used in a special teams role prior to last season, where Burkhead saw more touches following Giovani Bernard going down with an injury. He rushed for 344 yards last year on 74 attempts, scoring twice. He will likely be used in a special teams role but he can also be used as a speed back role should either Dion Lewis or James White be injured. If need be, he can be effective in this offense, where receiving backs are valued.

Hawkins was an undrafted rookie out of Toledo in 2011. In his six-season career, he has played for Cincinnati and Cleveland, while seeing limited success. The Patriots signed Hawkins in late May, and he will likely be on the practice squad or see extremely limited time as a sixth-string wide receiver. Given the Patriots current WR status, it is unlikely he will be a factor on offense, if he ends up making the final roster.

After the offseason roster moves, this is what the Patriots Offense currently looks like



Tom Brady

Jimmy Garoppolo

Jacoby Brissett

Need I really say more? Brady is coming off a career year and both Garoppolo and Brissett showed potential should anything happen to Brady. This quarterback core is one of, if not the best in the NFL.



Mike Gillislee

James White

Dion Lewis

Rex Burkhead (?)

Gillislee led the NFL in yards per carry last year with 5.7. James White proved his worth last season as a quality receiving back. Dion Lewis is also dangerous in open space, so long as he stays healthy, and in the event the Patriots lose Lewis, Burkhead will be an ample substitute.



James Develin

Glenn Gronkowski

In a league where the fullback position is dying, James Develin proves his worth by being one of the best at his position. Many of Legarrette Blount’s big runs in 2016 were made possible by key blocks by Develin.



Rob Gronkowski

Dwayne Allen

Matt Lengel

When Gronk is healthy, he is easily one of the best at his position. However, he hasn’t played a full season since 2011, which was statistically his best season. The offense did not look the same without Gronk, and with a healthy Gronk, this offense will dominate.



Brandin Cooks

Julian Edelman

Chris Hogan

Malcolm Mitchell

Danny Amendola

Andrew Hawkins (?)

The blockbuster trade for Brandin Cooks made this wide receiver core even more dangerous than it already was. Edelman, Brady’s current favorite target, just signed a two-year extension, keeping him signed through 2019 at this point, so not much will change in that regard. Chris Hogan led the NFL in yards per catch last season with 17.9 yards per catch, meaning the Patriots now have both the most efficient running back in Gillislee, and the most efficient receiver in Hogan. Interestingly, both were free agents from Buffalo. Hmmm…. Malcolm Mitchell got off to a slow start in 2016, but he showed promise about halfway through the season and got hot when it mattered. With Edelman and Amendola both aging and heading towards the end of their careers, it is reasonable to think he will be one of their replacements. Amendola, who has made many clutch plays in dire situations (See Super Bowls 51 and 49, 2014 AFC Divisonal Round, etc.) returns as likely the fifth-string wide receiver, but in an offense where Brady likes to spread the ball around, Amendola should still get a good amount of touches.



Nate Solder

Antonio Garcia (Rookie)

Conor McDermott (Rookie)

Solder is set to become a free agent next season. Given this most recent draft, where the Patriots drafted two left tackles, it does not appear he will be around after this year. Should he get hurt, Antonio Garcia was one of the top linemen in the nation at Troy, and Conor McDermott was also quite effective at UCLA. Chances are, Garcia will be the starter by the start of next season, if not earlier.



Joe Thuney

Thuney was one of the best rookie linemen last year, and that can be in part thanks to the return of Offensive Line Coach Dante Scarnecchia. Thuney played the most snaps of any Patriot last year, and there is no reason to think that he will decline in 2017.



David Andrews

Andrews was extremely consistent in 2016. His play will continue to develop with more time spent with Coach Scarnecchia.



Shaq Mason

Mason was inconsistent in 2016. There were instances where he played extremely well, not letting any pressure get by him, and there were instances where he was blown off the ball. He will get the job done, but it’s possible to see the Patriots look to upgrade at this position.



Marcus Cannon

Conor McDermott (?) (Rookie)

Following a disappointing 2015 season, Cannon stepped up big with the return of Scarnecchia. Cannon was one of the most improved Patriots in 2016, and 2017 should be even better for him. McDermott could also possibly play as a swing tackle, or even as a sixth lineman in certain running situation.

Looking at this offense, I don’t see any major holes. The two biggest questions regarding this offense this offseason were a potential replacement for Blount and the situation with Martellus Bennett. Both of these issues were dealt with and the new question is what happens to Nate Solder. The current starting Left Tackle is a free agent next offseason and two of the Patriots’ Draft Picks (Antonio Garcia (Troy) and Conor Mcdermott (UCLA)) both showed promise in college and are adapting well to the NFL scene. Only time will tell what the team plans to do with the aging Solder.


Overall, I predict this Patriots offense to tear up defenses, and to be one of the best in the NFL. Overall, I believe this offense may be better than the 2007 team. While the Brady to Moss connection might not necessarily be able to be recreated, this offense is more balanced than that 2007 squad, and Brady has never looked better. With Gronk, Cooks, Edelman, and company, who knows? Maybe Brady could break some records at 40.


Tom Brady has won 5 Super Bowls, including the most recent Super Bowl 51. Could this offense help the Patriots go back to back once again?