The 2018 NFL Draft is a few days away. All NFL teams have created their big boards. All NFL teams have already anticipated what might happen once the draft officially starts on April 26. Most NFL teams have anticipated to the point of knowing what they will do if a competing NFL team (which always happens!) messes with their fool-proof plan.
There isn't a lot that any NFL Draft analyst gets right. The reason is because information that draft analysts get isn't real information. No NFL team hands out every piece of information, about who they're looking to draft, whether or not they wish to draft up, etc. before the draft actually takes place.
There are a few things we know about the 2018 NFL Draft, though. We know that the New York Jets will draft a QB with pick 3. We just don't know which QB. We also know that Cleveland will draft a QB. We just don't know if they draft a QB with pick 1 or pick 4.
Below, I've listed something else that I know. I know, well, I'm pretty sure, that if the teams below listed draft the players I've written next to their names, they'll make it to the playoffs this season.
NFL Draft: These Teams Should Make the Playoffs If They Draft These Players
Buffalo Bills – LB Tremaine Edwards, Virginia Tech
The Bills were horrendous last season at stopping the rush. There was one point where teams averaged over 200 rushing yards per game versus Buffalo's defense. Buffalo must grab a linebacker that can stop the rush while also having decent coverage skills.
Yes, Tremaine Edwards is only 19-years-old. He's still the best LB in this year's NFL Draft. Buffalo must manage to get Edwards up to speed right away. If they can do that, he should help the Bills play rush defense much better than this season than they did last season.
Head coach Sean McDermott's defense excels when a linebacker of Luke Kuechely's skill-set runs it. Again, Edwards is young. However, he does have the skill set to become a Luke Kuechely clone. McDermott, if Edwards is available, shouldn't pass Eon him.
San Francisco 49'ers – LB Roquan Smith, Georgia
The San Francisco 49'ers need help on defense. Roquan Smith is a beast of a linebacker that can not only stop the run, but that can also rush the quarterback. With Smith in San Francisco's front seven, the Niners should manage to protect their young secondary.
Not only that, but SF can do different things on defense with Smith because he's a versatile linebacker. They mustn't rush him on every play. He's decent against the run while also having the ability to play in coverage.
Roquan might be the one player that turns the San Francisco 49'ers from a 9 and 7 team to a 10 and 6 team. San Francisco already has the offense to make a run to the playoffs. Roquan Smith could ensure the 49'ers knock down the proverbial playoff door.
Baltimore Ravens – S Derwin James, Florida State
CBS Sports has Derwin James ranked second overall in this year's NFL Draft. I disagree with CBS Sports. James is the best overall player in the 2018 NFL Draft. He's 6′ 3″ and weighs 215 lbs. He's a great tackler that can rush the QB on the blitz, pull back into coverage, play in the middle of the field, or play center field.
The Baltimore Ravens have had issues at the wide receiver position for years. Most feel the Ravens pull the trigger on a wide receiver when they pick 16th. They might do that. But, the WR they end up drafting won't help them get to the playoffs.
Derwin James will help Baltimore get to the playoffs. If he's available at pick 16, the Ravens would be crazy to pass up on his incredible talents.
L.A. Chargers – OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
Because Orlando Brown had such a horrendous NFL Combine, Mike McGlinchey has become the de facto number one offensive tackle on the board. The New England Patriots could be eyeing McGlinchey with pick 23. Luckily for the Chargers they draft ahead of the Patriots. The Bolts draft 17th in Round 1.
McGlinchey almost certainly will be available. Most NFL mock draft experts (is there such a thing?) feel the Chargers should draft defense on Thursday night. I don't think so. The Bolts' defense needs some work, yes, but the Chargers' rushing attack wasn't nearly as effective in 2017 as it was in 2016. Also, LAC must find a way to protect aging QB Philip Rivers.
If the Chargers can't protect Rivers, or if RB Melvin Gordon doesn't get back on track, forget it. They could have the best defense in the NFL, they won't make the playoffs. If the Bolts go with McGlinchey, they get to the postseason.
Dallas Cowboys – WR Courtland Sutton, SMU
Many NFL Draft analysts are impressed with WR D.J. Moore. Most feel he's the second wide receiver drafted in Round 1. Moore would fit well with the Dallas Cowboys. But, I'm not sure Courtland Sutton isn't the best wide receiver in this draft.
First, the Cowboys must draft a WR in Round 1. They could not draft a WR. That won't help QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott. Second, if the Boys do draft a WR, they're not going to listen to anybody, especially NFL writers, and go with the wide receiver that they feel helps give them a chance at returning to the playoffs.
From my perspective, that wide receiver is easily Courtland Sutton. He's 6′ 3″ and weighs 218 lbs. Plus, he runs like a gazelle. Sure, he's not as polished as Moore, or the diminutive Calvin Ridley, but he's got the better physical tools.
Carolina Panthers – G Willie Hernandez, Texas-El Paso
It's difficult to see the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, and New Orleans Saints all making the playoffs this season. Because New Orleans is close to a lock to win the division, that means Atlanta and Carolina will fight it out for a wildcard berth.
Carolina could garner that wildcard berth by drafting Willie Hernandez. Hernandez might be the best interior offensive lineman available in this year's NFL Draft. He most certainly looks like the best on game film. Why do the Panthers need a guard? The up the middle rush was effective at getting to QB Cam Newton last season. Also, Christian McCaffrey is effective running between the tackles. He must get some daylight, though.
Too many times last season both McCaffrey and Cam had to evade a defender that had gotten into the backfield. Just by preventing that from happening this season, the Panthers put themselves in a position to repeat last season's playoff appearance.
The 2018 NFL Draft takes place this Thursday on April 26. Television coverage is on ESPN and ESPN 2. Don't forget to watch and root for your team!