2018 NFL Mock Draft: Josh Allen, Leighton Vander Esch First-Rounders
Mountain West could have two first-round pick
Mel Kiper likes another Mountain West player
ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr. has released his second mock draft and it is very kind to Mountain West players. This latest edition includes Senior Bowl workouts and the game itself.
Plus, other moves which include Alex Smith going from the Kansas City Chiefs to the Washington Redskins and the ripple effect of Kirk Cousisns going to find a new team. Then there is quarterback A.J. McCarron who is going to be a free agent, but he will likely have minimal impact on teams taking a quarterback early in the draft.
In Kiper’s first mock draft he had just Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen from the Mountain West as first-rounder and being the top overall pick to the Cleveland Browns.
Mock Draft 2.0 still has Allen as the top pick:
I’m sticking with Allen here. The only way I see the Browns not ending up with a quarterback at No. 1 is if they sign Kirk Cousins, which is going to cost them around $100 million in guarantees. Then they could trade down with a quarterback-needy team to pick up more talent — and remember, they have the No. 4 pick, too. Allen had a strong week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, improving every day. The NFL statistical comp I make to Allen: Matthew Stafford, who completed 57.1 percent of his passes in 39 games at Georgia and still went No. 1 overall. And Stafford had better talent around him.
The other Mountain West player who cracked the first-round is former Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. Vander Esch has been gaining steam as a few other publications have slotted him in the first-round. Kiper pegs the former Broncos to the Pittsburgh Steelers at 28.
Vander Esch is a name I continue to hear for the end of the first round. I expect him to put up strong numbers at the combine. At 6-4, 240, he has the versatility to play outside linebacker, but I think his best fit is as an inside ‘backer in a 3-4. He’s a physical run-stopper who can defend tight ends and running backs — he had three interceptions in 2017. Inside linebacker is an obvious need for the Steelers, who will have to replace Ryan Shazier.
Vander Esch has always proved people wrong as he has just gotten better each step of the way from high school to college and he is continuing to do so as he gets ready for the next chapter in his football career.