2018 NBA Mock Draft: Projecting NBA Prospects as NFL Players

by Eric Galko

The NBA Draft is today, and I know very little about how these prospects will fare in the NBA, other than Collin Sexton will be a star and at least five of these guys will be out of the league in five years.

But I do know football. And in using the 2018 NBA Draft lottery teams to generate an NFL team order, coupled with projected the expected lottery pick players as NFL Draft prospects, I was able to Mock Draft the entire top-14 picks. 

I think I nailed it. Two quarterbacks, two offensive tackles and a ton of receivers, tight ends and pass rushers all included in the mock draft, including the next Baker Mayfield.

1. Arizona Cardinals (Phoenix Suns) - Marvin Bagley, TE, Duke 

Considered one of the top players in the NBA Draft, Marvin Bagley III has football pedigree in his family too. His father played tight end for North Carolina A&T and then in the AFL, and although he never reached the NFL apex, he had the size to do so.  Bagley III would need to add 15-20 pounds, but his fluidity in movements, natural bounce even through contact, and finishing ability in air all would make him a Jimmy Graham like talent. Cardinals could use a feature tight end.

2. San Francisco 49ers (Sacramento Kings) - Wendell Carter, OT, Duke

At 6’10 and around 250 pounds, Carter would need to only add 20 pounds or so to be ready to handle the NFL size he’d face on the edge. He averaged over 9 rebounds and 2 blocks per game, so he can handle the physicality. He compares to Al Horford in basketball, who could certainly be a pass blocker in the NFL. 

3. Atlanta Falcons (Atlanta Hawks)- Robert Williams, OT, Texas A&M

Texas A&M offensive tackle? Sign me up! We’ve seen FOUR Aggies offensive tackles go in the first round in the last six years, so Robert Williams’ position is easy. He’s only 240 pounds, so he’ll need to add weight, but he has the school pedigree. The Falcons already have one of those Texas A&M blockers (Jake Matthews). 

4. Tennessee Titans (Memphis Grizzlies) - DeAndre Ayton, DE, Arizona

Titans stole Harold Landry in the 2018 NFL Draft, and adding the top (basketball) prospect in the 2018 NBA Draft would be fun. Ayton is a bit  tall (7’0) to play in the NFL, but the edge position is probably where he’d have the best chance. 

5. Dallas Cowboys (Dallas Mavericks) - Shai Alexander, CB, Kentucky

Alexander is a lottery pick in the NBA because he’s remarably quick, long, and is a great on ball defender. Sounds like a cornerback to me. Cowboys could use a long edge cornerback. Fun Fact: Cowboys haven’t drafted a Kentucky player in the modern seven round draft.

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Orlando Magic) - Colin Sexton, QB, Alabama

My favorite player in the 2018 NBA Draft, Collin Sexton (at 6’2, 190 pounds) won the McDonalds All-American Dunk Contest (previously won by LeBron, Blake Griffin and Carmelo Anthony) AND a national three-point shooting contest in the same high school year. Not to mention he nearly won a college basketball game this year playing 3-on-5. He’s this draft’s Lamar Jackson. 

7. Chicago Bears (Chicago Bulls) -  Miles Bridges, OLB, Michigan State

A plus athlete who’s also shown toughness, leadership ability and big play confidence, Miles Bridges would work so well as an NFL strongside linebacker. Long, athletic, physical and with swagger, Bridges could help complete the Bears. He’s from Flint, Michigan (Go Tropics!) and knows the Midwest culture. 

8. Cleveland Browns (Cleveland Cavaliers)  - Mo Bamba, EDGE, Texas

All the best players left are receivers and tight ends, of which the Browns have plenty of. Instead, they go with the project EDGE rusher Mo Bamba. He’s extremely smart (something Browns front office members seem not to really like), but he’s a fast learner and has a ridiculous wingspan and length (something the Browns front office DOES like).

9. New York Giants (New York Knicks) - Kevin Knox, WR, Kentucky

Giants always need receiver help, and Knox can play outside OBJ and Sterling Shepherd. A crazy athlete who’s going to be drafted high in the NBA Draft because of his upside, the 18 year old kid could be the team’s feature receiver of the future when Kyle Lauletta (#myguy) is ready.

10. Philadelphia Eagles (Philadelphia 76ers) - Luka Doncic, WR, Slovenia

The Eagles are always on the forefront of scouting, and they would be the first team to take an international player. Doncic will get the soft label (and maybe for good reason?) but the Eagles can slow play his development and look like geniuses in a few years, per usual. In Howie I Trust.

11. Carolina Panthers (Charlotte Hornets) - Mikel Bridges, TE, Villanova

Greg Olson about to be in the broadcast booth by 2019, so the Panthers have to find his replacement. Bridges is a bit thin for tight end now, but has the frame to get there. And as a Villanova Law alum and a Cam Newton staunch supporter, I approve of this match.

12. Los Angeles Chargers (Clippers) - Jaren Jackson, TE, Michigan State

Antonio Gates is gone and Hunter Henry is hurt, so the Chargers could use some tight end help. Jackson is just 18 years old, but has awesome balance and explosiveness, and could thrive as a steam tight end. Hopefully the Chargers injury curse doesn’t bite him like it does for seemingly every other Chargers draft pick.

13. Los Angeles Chargers (Clippers) - Michael Porter, WR, Missouri

Speaking of injuries, it only fits that the Chargers would draft the biggest injury red flag player in the 2018 NBA Draft. At least one of their young players gets hurt every few weeks, so drafting Porter can be a sacrifice upfront to the injury gods.

14. Denver Broncos (Denver Nuggets) - Trae Young, QB, Oklahoma

The Broncos wanted an Oklahoma 6’0 playmaker in the 2018 NFL Draft, and they can get one now in Trae Young. If Young goes Top-10 in the NBA Draft, that’ll give Oklahoma a top-10 pick in the NFL, MLB and NBA Draft in the same calendar year. The other two were quarterbacks, and Trae Young is a great passer (albeit turnover prone) and a highly accurate shooter.