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2018 NFL redraft: Josh Allen or Lamar Jackson at No. 1?

WCG’s lead draft analyst tries out a redraft for the 2018 NFL Draft.

Baltimore Ravens v Buffalo Bills Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The exercise of going through and redrafting selections in the NFL Draft is a fun “what if?” game that messes with the idea of alternate football realities.

What if Tom Brady didn’t end up with the Patriots? What if the Raiders didn’t take JaMarcus Russell with the first pick in 2007? There are many draft picks over the years that have had major consequences on the NFL landscape, for better or worse.

I’ll be exploring a handful of recent drafts over the next few weeks, and I’ve already looked at the 2017 NFL Draft. That said, let’s move onto the next year, where a former NFL MVP, another bonafide franchise quarterback and several Pro Bowl talents reside. How would the 2018 NFL Draft turn out in a hypothetical redraft? Let’s take a look.

Note: The draft order used for these selections consisted of the pre-draft order, not involving Draft Day trades. These picks don’t keep in mind future selections teams made to solve positions of need, and future redrafts on this site will not keep the picks from previous redrafts in mind.

1. Cleveland Browns: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

Original Pick: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

One could argue for Lamar here because of his MVP, but Allen has been the more consistent passer and is a two-time Pro Bowler who’s led the Bills to a 52-24 record as starter.

2. New York Giants: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

Original Pick: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

With Allen gone at No. 2, the Giants’ choice is easy. They’ll gladly take the star quarterback with generational dual-threat ability.

3. New York Jets: Orlando Brown Jr., OT, Oklahoma

Original Pick: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

Brown has been a Pro Bowler in each of his last four seasons and excelled for both the Ravens and Chiefs before signing in Cincinnati. There isn’t a quarterback worth taking here, so a star offensive tackle isn’t a bad consolation prize.

4. Cleveland Browns: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

Original Pick: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

The Browns made a good pick by selecting Ward in 2018, but there was a slightly better cornerback in the class who got selected a bit later in the class. Alexander stakes a claim for being the best cornerback in the game.

5. Denver Broncos: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

Original Pick: Bradley Chubb, EDGE, North Carolina State

Chubb wasn’t a bad pick here, but Nelson has been a Pro Bowler in every season he’s played and was arguably the best guard in the league in his first three years with the Colts.

6. Indianapolis Colts: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Original Pick: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

Ward’s fall from No. 4 doesn’t last long, as the Colts would’ve gladly taken a two-time Pro Bowler with 13 interceptions through his first five seasons in the NFL.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama

Original Pick: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming (to Bills)

Fitzpatrick is a three-time first-team All-Pro and is arguably the best safety in the game right now. Imagine him in the Buccaneers’ secondary with the dominant defense they had in their 2020-21 Super Bowl campaign.

8. Chicago Bears: Shaquille Leonard, LB, South Carolina State

Original Pick: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

The Bears got great value with Roquan at the No. 8 pick, but he still wasn’t the best linebacker to come out of the 2018 draft class. Leonard is a three-time first-team All-Pro and was some form of All-Pro in every single NFL season he’s had prior to an injury-shortened 2022 season.

9. San Francisco 49ers: Fred Warner, LB, BYU

Original Pick: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

San Francisco drafted Warner in the third round in 2018, but they wouldn’t get so lucky in a redraft. Knowing how valuable of a piece of their defense he is in real life, it’s a no-brainer selection for them here.

10. Las Vegas/Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Original Pick: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA (to Cardinals)

Roquan has been named to an All-Pro team in each of the last three seasons, and he has 693 total tackles in his first five seasons. His fall in this redraft doesn’t last long at all.

11. Miami Dolphins: Daron Payne, DL, Alabama

Original Pick: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama

The Dolphins needed interior defensive line help in the 2018 draft, and Payne has proven himself over the years as one of the top pass-rushing defensive tackles in the NFL.

12. Buffalo Bills: Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas

Original Pick: Vita Vea, DL, Washington (to Buccaneers via Bengals)

Buffalo predictably misses out on Allen in this redraft, but if they aren’t going to solve the quarterback position in this hypothetical, a two-time Pro Bowl center is a pretty good backup plan.

13. Washington Commanders: Jessie Bates III, S, Wake Forest

Original Pick: Daron Payne, DL, Alabama

Bates was a productive ballhawk at safety for five years in Cincinnati before signing a massive deal with the Falcons this offseason. Both of Washington’s starting safeties from 2017 would be gone from the team before the end of the 2018 season, so this works out better for them longevity-wise.

14. Green Bay Packers: Bradley Chubb, EDGE, North Carolina State

Original Pick: Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA (to Saints)

The Packers’ edge rushers would eventually get better, but in 2018, their starting edge rushers were an aging Clay Matthews and a declining Nick Perry. Chubb fell a bit in this redraft, but he’s still a very productive pass rusher when healthy who has two Pro Bowls to his name.

15. Arizona Cardinals: DJ Moore, WR, Maryland

Original Pick: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA (to Raiders)

Arizona added a good wide receiver in Round 2 in the 2018 draft in Christian Kirk, but given how the board plays out here, they’d have the chance to make an upgrade at wide receiver with Moore. He has 5,201 yards through his first five seasons and is looking to crack the 1,000-yard mark again now that he’s on the Bears.

16. Baltimore Ravens: Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma

Original Pick: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech (to Bills)

The mismatch of a tight end on a few of these teams’ boards makes Andrews end up in the mid-teens, but the Ravens will gladly take advantage to get their top weapon in real life back on their team. He’s developed into one of the NFL’s best tight ends during his time in Baltimore.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Derwin James, S, Florida State

Original Pick: Derwin James, S, Florida State

This feels like fair range for James, who has struggled heavily with injuries but has been tremendous when healthy. With two consecutive Pro Bowl seasons to his name, the Chargers bet on the worst of his injuries being behind him to retain one of the best safeties in the game.

18. Seattle Seahawks: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College

Original Pick: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville (to Packers)

Landry has quietly been a high-quality pass rusher for the Titans these last few years, and though he tore his ACL before the 2022 season, he had 12 sacks and a Pro Bowl nomination the year before. He’s an explosive and bendy EDGE who would be a good addition to Seattle’s 2018 defense and beyond.

19. Dallas Cowboys: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

Original Pick: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

If you tell the Cowboys they’d still get to address their linebacker need while actually upgrading in the player they get to pick despite being further down at No. 19, they’d be ecstatic. Edmunds is a two-time Pro Bowler whose best football might still be in front of him.

20. Detroit Lions: Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia

Original Pick: Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas

The Lions tried a few moves to fix the running back position in the 2010s and early 2020s to no avail. The verdict’s still out on 2023 first-round pick Jahmyr Gibbs, but it’s safe to say a player like Chubb with four Pro Bowls and 6,341 rushing yards with 48 rushing touchdowns in the last five years would solve those issues.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Wyatt Teller, OG, Virginia Tech

Original Pick: Billy Price, C, Ohio State

It took Teller a little bit to get going, but by Year 3 he firmly established himself as one of the league’s top guards. Think of the offensive line issues the Bengals have had in recent years — you’re minimizing those significantly by drafting Teller.

22. Buffalo Bills: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Original Pick: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama (to Titans via Chiefs and Ravens)

From his positional value to injuries, Saquon falls a bit from his original No. 2 spot. That said, he’s clearly one of the best running backs in the game when healthy. He has three 1,000-yard rushing seasons to his name and likely has a few more up his sleeve.

23. New England Patriots: Brian O’Neill, OT, Pittsburgh

Original Pick: Isaiah Wynn, OT, Georgia

O’Neill is an athletic freak at offensive tackle who has done a great job of holding down the right tackle spot for the Vikings. Wynn wasn’t a terrible pick here by New England, but this is a definite upgrade.

24. Carolina Panthers: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

Original Pick: DJ Moore, WR, Maryland

The Cardinals and Panthers pull off a switcheroo at wide receiver in this redraft, and though Arizona got the better end of the deal, Carolina didn’t come away too bad, either. Kirk is a rock-solid slot receiver who’s had 161 catches and 2,090 receiving yards in his last two seasons.

25. Tennessee Titans: Sam Hubbard, EDGE, Ohio State

Original Pick: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina (to Ravens)

Hubbard isn’t the flashiest edge rusher out there, but he’s had at least 6 sacks in all but one of his five seasons in the NFL. He’d be a good addition to the Titans’ defense, especially with their original second-round pick off the board in Landry.

26. Atlanta Falcons: Vita Vea, DL, Washington

Original Pick: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

It took the Falcons a long time to find great value at defensive tackle alongside Grady Jarrett in real life, but they fix that problem with this redraft pick. Vea is a hulking nose tackle who plugs up holes and is a much better pass rusher than he has any credit being at nearly 350 pounds.

27. New Orleans Saints: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State

Original Pick: Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State (to Seahawks via Packers)

The Saints’ top tight end in 2018 was 38-year-old Ben Watson, so they were bound to need a replacement at some point. Goedert has really come into his own since taking over as Philadelphia’s starting tight end and has firmly entrenched himself as one of the most productive players at his position in the league.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

Original Pick: Terrell Edmunds, S, Virginia Tech

Vander Esch’s NFL journey has come with its fair share of highs and lows, but the highs have been quite high for him, especially being named a Pro Bowler and a second-team All-Pro as a rookie. He’d be a strong addition to a Steelers team that could’ve used just a bit more immediate impact to push them over the edge.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

Original Pick: Taven Bryan, DL, Florida

Miller has developed into a solid starting offensive tackle for the Raiders over the years, and knowing how up and down the offensive tackle position would be for the Jaguars in the coming years, a nice piece like Miller would’ve eventually helped provide some more stability for their offensive line.

30. Minnesota Vikings: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

Original Pick: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF

With Brian O’Neill no longer an option like they had in real life, the Vikings still get a pretty good starter at right tackle in McGlinchey, who just got a big payday from the Broncos in free agency.

31. New England Patriots: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Original Pick: Sony Michel, RB, Georgia

Not like it would’ve mattered too much since the Patriots would end up winning the Super Bowl in the 2018-19 season, but they have since ended up without a firm WR1 after Julian Edelman retired. Ridley would’ve been an upgrade as their WR2 right away and helped maximize their offense even further in the final years of Tom Brady’s tenure in New England.

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Jordan Mailata, OT, Australia

Original Pick: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville (to Ravens)

It took Mailata a bit of time to get used to the NFL, but once he did, the physical specimen has adapted incredibly well to the game and developed into a high-quality starter. The Eagles would likely do the process all over again if they could.