Five years have passed since the 2018 NFL Draft, giving us plenty of time to re-assess how teams deployed their draft choices that year. The 2018 draft class has produced plenty of stars who have either already earned second contracts or are set to reach the open market this offseason.
Twelve players from the 2018 crop have earned first-team All-Pro nods, while 27 have made at least one Pro Bowl. There’s plenty of talent to go around, beginning with elite producers near the top of the draft and continuing with depth throughout the first round.
Let’s dive into our 2018 redraft and see which players rose, which fell, and whether the quarterbacks landed in new spots.
Redrafting the 2018 NFL Draft
As we redraft 2018, trades that were agreed to before the start of the draft will stay in place. But deals that took place during the draft itself will not be included.
1) Cleveland Browns: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Original Pick: QB Baker Mayfield
The Cleveland Browns will stick with a quarterback in our alternate reality, but they’ll make the easy decision to choose Josh Allen over Baker Mayfield. Allen came off the board seventh in the actual draft, but he’s been the best overall player from the 2018 class.
Over the last three seasons, Allen has helped the Bills to a 37-12 record while averaging 4,411 yards passing and 36 touchdowns per season.
MORE: Carolina Panthers Trade for No. 1 Overall Pick Takeaways
He finished second in MVP voting in 2020 and third in 2022.
A one-man wrecking crew, Allen has averaged 617 rushing yards and 7.6 rushing scores per season over his five-year career. He would have given the Browns their best quarterback in recent memory.
2) New York Giants: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Original Pick: RB Saquon Barkley
While Allen has posted a more consistent career thus far, Lamar Jackson has hit higher highs. He won the MVP award in 2019, his first season as a full-time starter. That year, Jackson set the NFL quarterback rushing record by posting 1,206 yards on the ground.
Jackson has missed time with injuries in recent years, but he’s a unique, dynamic threat that would have helped the New York Giants as they transitioned from Eli Manning. He could have helped New York prevent its dreadful run from 2018-21 when the club won just 19 games over a four-season span.
3) New York Jets (from IND): Jordan Mailata, OT
Original Pick: QB Sam Darnold
The New York Jets needed a quarterback in 2018, but there are too many talented players still available at other positions that Gang Green can’t afford to pass up on. Offensive tackle is a premium position, too, and New York needed help there, given that Kelvin Beachum and Brandon Shell were penciled in as starters.
You might notice we don’t have a school listed for Jordan Mailata. That’s because he didn’t play collegiate sports — or even play football at all — until the Eagles drafted him in the seventh round in 2018. A former rugby player, Mailata has developed into one of the best tackles in the league and is still only 25 years old.
4) Cleveland Browns (from HOU): Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
Original Pick: CB Denzel Ward
The Browns are back on the board after selecting Allen first overall, and they’ll fill a hole at left tackle by drafting UCLA’s Kolton Miller. Originally viewed as a reach in 2018, Miller has progressed into a well-rounded blindside protector — an asset that teams generally can’t find on the free agent market.
After Joe Thomas retired following the 2017 season, Cleveland went through a two-year stretch with Greg Robinson at left tackle. That won’t be necessary with Miller in the fold. In this scenario, Jedrick Wills Jr. never becomes a Brown in 2020.
5) Denver Broncos: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
Original Pick: EDGE Bradley Chubb
Bradley Chubb was relatively productive for the Denver Broncos before they traded him to the Dolphins in 2022, but he was also inconsistent and regularly hampered by injuries. Given that Denver already had Von Miller on its roster, we’ll go in a different direction at No. 5 overall.
Like Chubb, Jaire Alexander has also battled injury issues, but 2021 was the only season where he missed significant time. He sandwiched that lost campaign with second-team All-Pro berths in 2020 and 2022. Alexander gives the Broncos an inside/outside-flexible, shutdown corner, and Denver can still pair him with Patrick Surtian Jr. in a few more years.
6) Indianapolis Colts: Fred Warner, LB, BYU
Original Pick: G Quenton Nelson
The Indianapolis Colts’ 2018 draft produced a class for the ages, as both Quenton Nelson and Shaquille Leonard became first-team All-Pros in their rookie seasons, while Braden Smith and Nyheim Hines have had productive careers in their own right. However, none of those players will head to Indy in our redraft.
Instead, the Colts will go with Fred Warner, who’s become the best linebacker in football. He’s the most proficient coverage LB in the NFL, and we can’t stop thinking about his pass breakup against CeeDee Lamb in the 49ers’ playoff win over the Cowboys.
7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
Original Pick: QB Josh Allen (by Bills)
Nelson won’t fall far, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers scoop him up with the seventh overall pick. Paired with incumbent Ali Marpet, Nelson would give Tampa Bay the best guard combo in the NFL — although one of them would have to move to the right side.
Nelson is a fantastic player who has two first-team All-Pros, one second-team All-Pro, and five Pro Bowls under his belt. He even came third in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting in 2018. Nelson is on a Hall of Fame track, so even position value concerns won’t push him down the board.
8) Chicago Bears: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
Original Pick: LB Roquan Smith
The Chicago Bears very well could have chosen Roquan Smith again, but they’re too tantalized by the prospect of adding Minkah Fitzpatrick to their defensive backfield. Chicago already had Eddie Jackson in place, but Fitzpatrick would have replaced Adrian Amos, who departed for the Packers in free agency in the 2018 offseason.
Fitzpatrick requested a trade from the Dolphins in his second NFL campaign, and he’s flourished after being sent to the Steelers. Capable of playing deep or in the box, Fitzpatrick led the league with six interceptions last season. Few safeties make as much of a week-in, week-out impact.
9) San Francisco 49ers: Derwin James, S, Florida State
Original Pick: OT Mike McGlinchey
The San Francisco 49ers are fond of “positionless” players on offense, and Derwin James would have brought the same approach on the defensive side of the ball. James has missed significant time with injuries, but he’s been insanely productive when available.
For that reason, the Chargers made James the NFL’s highest-paid safety. He’s been an essential part of Brandon Staley’s defense in Los Angeles, but we would have loved to see how he could have thrived under Robert Saleh and DeMeco Ryans over the past several seasons.
10) Las Vegas Raiders: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
Original Pick: QB Josh Rosen (by Cardinals)
One of five players in our redraft scheduled to hit free agency this offseason, Orlando Brown started his career as a right tackle for the Baltimore Ravens before requesting a trade and a move to left tackle heading into the 2021 season. Baltimore obliged and sent him to the Kansas City Chiefs, who declined to deploy a second consecutive franchise tag on Brown this offseason.
Brown probably isn’t an elite left tackle, but he’s above average — and that’s an extremely valuable commodity. There are players available to the Raiders at No. 10 overall who might be more talented, but positional value will make Brown the choice here.
11) Miami Dolphins: Shaquille Leonard, LB, South Carolina State
Original Pick: S Minkah Fitzpatrick
Shaquille Leonard underwent two back surgeries in 2022, and we haven’t heard any recent updates on his status for 2023. Those injury issues would create risk for the Miami Dolphins (assuming Miami would know they’re coming), but Leonard is still a risk worth taking.
MORE: Miami Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa Fifth-Year Option Decision Sends Two Important Messages
Leonard has already collected first-team All-Pro honors three times, tied with Nelson and Fitzpatrick for the most among the 2018 draft class. He’s also earned 56 points of Pro Football Reference’s Approximate Value, tied for third in the class behind only Jackson and Allen.
12) Buffalo Bills (from CIN): Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Original Pick: DT Vita Vea (by Buccaneers)
Leonard has been more productive than Roquan Smith thus far, but Smith might be the better bet moving forward. With the Dolphins selecting Leonard one pick earlier, the Buffalo Bills will be happy to land Smith, who spent the early part of his career with the Bears before being traded to the Ravens in 2022.
In real life, Buffalo used its second first-round pick on linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, so they’ll stick with the same position in our redraft. Smith won’t turn 26 years old and is still ascending. He made a clear impact on Baltimore’s defense from Day 1, and the club responded by making him the NFL’s highest-paid linebacker.
13) Washington Commanders: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Original Pick: DT Daron Payne
Denzel Ward went fourth overall in 2018 but will slip to 13th in our redraft. The Ohio State product has flashed shutdown corner ability on numerous occasions, but he’s also been inconsistent. Coverage ability is often fickle, but Ward could be more dependable on a play-for-play basis.
Still, above-average corner play is incredibly valuable, and the Washington Commanders won’t let Ward fall too far. Washington has tried and failed to fill its corner void with free agent additions like Josh Norman and William Jackson III in the recent past, so adding a young talent like Ward is an easy decision.
14) Green Bay Packers: Jessie Bates III, S, Wake Forest
Original Pick: EDGE Marcus Davenport (by Saints)
Jessie Bates III is about to become a very rich man. After playing for the Cincinnati Bengals on the franchise tag in 2022, Bates will reach the open market and figures to land a hefty contract. He’s one of the best deep safeties in the league, adding a presence in the secondary that might not always show up in his statistics.
The Packers started Tramon Williams and Kentrell Brice at safety in the 2017 season, so Bates would have represented an immediate upgrade the following year. Adding Bates would have altered Green Bay’s subsequent roster-building approach, as the team likely would have eschewed either signing Amos or drafting Darnell Savage.
15) Arizona Cardinals: Bradley Chubb, EDGE, North Carolina State
Original Pick: OT Kolton Miller (by Raiders)
Chubb slides 10 spots in our redraft after being chosen fifth overall in the actual 2018 draft. He hasn’t been a poor player by any means, but Chubb hasn’t exactly developed into a stud pass rusher. His best season remains his inaugural NFL campaign when he posted 12 sacks and finished third in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting.
Still, Chubb is talented enough that the Dolphins sent a first-round pick to acquire him from the Broncos at last year’s trade deadline. The Arizona Cardinals have been searching for edge rushers for what seems like forever, making Chubb a worthwhile risk at No. 15, even factoring in his injury problems.
16) Baltimore Ravens: Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
Original Pick: LB Tremaine Edmunds (by Bills)
Mark Andrews is a Baltimore Raven — he’s just coming off the board 70 picks earlier than he did in real life. Andrews wasn’t even the first tight end the Ravens selected in 2018. That honor went to Hayden Hurst, a decent player but not a talent on Andrews’ level.
Andrews became a regular contributor for Baltimore in 2019, and since then, ranks second among tight ends in targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns. The Ravens haven’t been able to find competent wide receivers, leaving Andrews as a one-man receiving corps. His 1,361 yards in 2021 were the third-most for a tight end in NFL history.
17) Los Angeles Chargers: DJ Moore, WR, Maryland
Original Pick: S Derwin James
The Los Angeles Chargers had already drafted Mike Williams in the first round in 2017, but given that he missed time with injuries and managed only 10 receptions, Los Angeles may feel the need to add another wideout. Plus, we want to give Philip Rivers all the weapons he can handle.
The 2018 draft class didn’t include a great crop of wide receivers, but DJ Moore has been the best of the bunch. He’s averaged a 73/1,040/4 line over five NFL seasons despite working with suboptimal quarterback play. Moore remains one of the most underrated pass catchers in the league.
18) Seattle Seahawks: Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
Original Pick: CB Jaire Alexander (by Packers)
Pete Carroll took a running back in the first round of the 2018 draft, and there’s no way we can exit this redraft without sending another back to Seattle. Instead of Rashaad Penny, the Seahawks land Nick Chubb, who is arguably the most talented pure runner in the NFL.
Among active RBs with at least 100 attempts since 2018, Chubb ranks first with 2.9 yards after contact per rush. He exhibits tenacity with each carry, and it’s rare to see the four-time Pro Bowler go down without taking a few defenders with him.
19) Dallas Cowboys: Daron Payne, DT, Alabama
Original Pick: LB Leighton Vander Esch
The Dallas Cowboys have seen plenty of NFC East rival Daron Payne over the past four years, and they’ll now add him to their roster in our alternate reality. Dallas hasn’t used very many early picks on defensive tackles, but they can’t let a talent like Payne slip through their fingers.
Payne has shown growth in every season of his career and is fresh off a career-high 11.5 sacks. At times in 2022, he looked even better than more-accomplished teammate Jonathan Allen. We want to live in a world where Payne, Micah Parsons, and Demarcus Lawrence line up next to each other on the same defensive front.
20) Detroit Lions: Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas
Original Pick: C Frank Ragnow
Frank Ragnow is the first player in our redraft to land with the team that actually selected him in 2018. Some injury issues aside, Ragnow has been one of the better centers in the league over the past five seasons. As the Detroit Lions continue to build through the trenches, there’s no reason from the pass over Ragnow here.
21) Cincinnati Bengals (from BUF): Brian O’Neill, OT, Pittsburgh
Original Pick: C Billy Price
Billy Price ended up being one of the worst selections in the first round of the 2018 draft, but the Bengals were in the right neighborhood by targeting offensive line help. The front five is still an issue in Cincinnati to this day, so they’ll take another lineman in our redraft.
Brian O’Neill has been ascending for his entire career, and he would give the Bengals a lockdown option at right tackle. While he wouldn’t solve Cincinnati’s OL issues on his own, he’d offer the Bengals a baseline level of production on the right side.
22) Buffalo Bills (from KC): Wyatt Teller, G, Virginia Tech
Original Pick: LB Rashaan Evans (by Titans)
The Bills drafted Wyatt Teller in 2018, but it wasn’t until the fifth round. Teller made seven starts in his rookie season, but Buffalo traded him and a 2021 seventh-round pick to the Browns the following offseason for 2020 fifth- and sixth-round selections. It’s a deal the Bills would clearly like to have back.
Teller has since developed into of the best guards in the game. He’s gotten plenty of assistance from Browns offensive line coach Bill Callahan, which Teller wouldn’t have had in Buffalo. But Teller’s power and tenacity — especially as run blocker — is something the Bills are currently lacking up front.
23) New England Patriots: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Original Pick: OT Isaiah Wynn
The New England Patriots drafted a running back in Round 1 of the 2018 draft, but it was Sony Michel, who never surpassed 1,000 yards nor looked like more than replacement-level talent during his time in Foxborough.
Bill Belichick and Co. didn’t have a chance at Saquon Barkley in 2018, but they do in our redraft. Barkley has several dynamic seasons under his belt, but he’s also dealt with serious injury issues. Missed time plus a lack of positional value means he’ll fall from second overall to 23rd here.
24) Carolina Panthers: Josh Sweat, EDGE, Florida State
Original Pick: WR DJ Moore
With Moore already off the board, the Carolina Panthers are forced to go in a different direction. They’ll move to the defensive side of the ball and pick up Josh Sweat, who wasn’t drafted until the fourth round in 2018.
Sweat became a full-time starter for the Eagles in 2021 and proceeded to post 7.5 sacks and make the Pro Bowl. He was more dominant this past season, managing 11 sacks and 23 quarterback knockdowns. He’d give the Panthers a legitimate threat on the edge, and Carolina could pair him with Brian Burns, whom they eventually drafted in 2019.
25) Tennessee Titans: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
Original Pick: TE Hayden Hurst (by Ravens)
The Titans’ original pick in the 2018 draft was Rashaan Evans, who became nothing more than a league-average linebacker. Here, Tennessee will stick with the same position but go after Tremaine Edmunds, who offers a much higher upside than Evans.
Edmunds has been up and down throughout his career, but it all came together in 2022. He was among the NFL’s best coverage linebackers and should be set up to cash in as a free agent on the open market.
26) Atlanta Falcons: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
Original Pick: WR Calvin Ridley
The Atlanta Falcons eventually solved their right tackle problem in 2019 when they took Kaleb McGary at the end of the first round. But Atlanta grabs Mike McGlinchey here, solidifying the right side of their offensive line a year earlier.
McGlinchey isn’t elite, but he’s a more-than-capable starting tackle. In many ways, he’s similar to incumbent Falcons left tackle Jake Matthews in that he’s a quality starter but not a regular Pro Bowler. Getting that level of production on a rookie contract marks a win for Atlanta.
27) New Orleans Saints: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Original Pick: RB Rashaad Penny (by Seahawks)
Baker Mayfield was the first overall pick in the actual 2018 draft, but he won’t come anywhere near that slot in our redraft. While he’s posted a few above-average seasons, Mayfield has shown too many limitations to be a top-10 pick again.
However, teams are always willing to take chances at quarterback, and New Orleans stands out as a viable landing spot. Learning under Sean Payton and Drew Brees might have done wonders for Mayfield’s career, and it’s possible he’d still be New Orleans’ signal-caller to this day.
28) Pittsburgh Steelers: Charvarius Ward, CB, Middle Tennessee State
Original Pick: S Terrell Edmunds
Charvarius Ward didn’t even get drafted in 2018. He signed with the Cowboys as a UDFA, then was traded to the Chiefs for offensive lineman Parker Ehinger — a deal Jerry Jones and Co. would clearly like to undo.
Ward was a solid three-year starter in Kansas City before joining the 49ers, for whom he posted arguably the best season of his career in 2022. Ward is one of the most physical corners in the NFL, so he’d fit right in with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive mantra.
29) Jacksonville Jaguars: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Original Pick: DT Taven Bryan
Vita Vea went 12th to the Buccaneers in the 2018 draft, so his fall to 29th here represents a precipitous drop. While he’s an excellent player, his lack of production as a pass rusher doesn’t warrant a top-15 selection. Vea set a career-high with 6.5 sacks last season, but his 38 pressures ranked only 21st among defensive tackles with at least 350 pass-rushing snaps.
Vea’s job isn’t necessarily to get after the quarterback, though, and he does an outstanding job as a run defender. He’s certainly a better player than Taven Bryan, whom the Jaguars drafted with this selection in 2018.
30) Minnesota Vikings: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Original Pick: CB Mike Hughes
Had we done this redraft two years ago, Calvin Ridley would have gone much higher. But his career took a turn when the league suspended him for the entire 2022 season for betting on NFL games. Ridley has since been traded from the Falcons to the Jaguars and reinstated for the 2023 campaign.
MORE: 2023 NFL Mock Draft Simulator
Selecting Ridley in 2020 would have given the Minnesota Vikings two seasons with Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Ridley on the roster, and it would have made it even easier for Minnesota to eventually trade Diggs to the Bills.
31) New England Patriots: J.C. Jackson, CB, Maryland
Original Pick: RB Sony Michel
J.C. Jackson signed with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2018, but he becomes a first-round selection in our redraft. While Jackson struggled in his first season with the Chargers in 2022, he was an outstanding asset for New England, earning first-team All-Pro honors in 2021. Jackson was a great fit for Bill Belichick’s man-coverage scheme, so sending him back to the Patriots is a no-brainer.
32) Philadelphia Eagles: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
Original Pick: QB Lamar Jackson (by Ravens)
The Eagles are never wary of investing early-round draft capital in the trenches, and they’ll continue that approach here with Harold Landry. The former second-round pick missed the 2022 campaign after tearing his ACL in the preseason, but he managed 12 sacks for the Titans in 2021. Philadelphia’s uber-productive defensive line would be even more fearsome with Landry on the edge.
Leave a Reply