1) Cleveland-Sam Darnold-QB USC
Darnold is not the best quarterback in this draft, however, he can come in and challenge Tyrod Taylor to start in week one. As a starter, he was 20-4 as a starter and led his team to a Rose Bowl along with a PAC-12 Championship in just two seasons.
He complted 63% of his passes last year with over 4,100 yards with 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He beat teams like Penn State, Texas, Stanford, Washington and Notre Dame during this span and made the teammates around him better.
2) NY Giants-Quenton Nelson-Guard Notre Dame
Nelson plays with a chip on his shoulder and is very physical at the point of attack. He lead a Notre Dame rushing attack that averaged 269 yards per game and can come in and start immediately. While many Giant fans want the team to draft a running back (Saquon Barkley) or the successor to Eli Manning, the addition of Nelson will help the team immediately.
New York has a solid running back in Wayne Gallman (Clemson) and needs depth at the offensive line which will help open up the play action passing game for Eli and company.
Also, keep in mind what Shurmur did with the offensive line in Minnesota. Even though the team drafted Dalvin Cook last year, Latavius Murray and McKinnon were not elite running backs.
3) NY Jets-RB Saquon Barkley-RB Penn State
Barkley is the best athlete in this draft next to Lamar Jackson.
Last season, Barkley rushed for over 1,200 yards with 18 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 54 passes for over 600 yards with 3 receiving touchdowns. Barkley is also solid in pass protection. He has great vision and cut back ability in finding running lanes.
He is a fierce competitor and stepped in some of the biggest games on Penn State’s schedule over the past two seasons. He was the strongest player on Penn State’s roster and was a true leader of not only the offense, but the whole Nittany Lion team.
Barkley also returned two kickoffs against Ohio State and Indiana last season.
4) Cleveland-CB Minkah Fitzpatrick-Alabama
Can play any position in the secondary and is always around the football. He is an excellent tackler in open space and has stepped up against elite competition within the SEC. He finished the 2017 season with 60 tackles and recorded 9 interceptions in his Alabama career. Fitzpatrick excels in bump and run coverage along with being used on the line scrimmage in run support.
5) Denver-WR Calvin Ridley-Alabama
Ridley is the best WR in this draft and can take the top off of opposing defenses. In 2017, Ridley caught 63 passes for over 900 yards with 5 touchdowns. His production was hurt by the lack of progression of Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts in the Crimson Tide passing game.
Denver has Case Keenum along with Chad Kelly on the roster and does not need a quarterback as much as wide receiver. Especially when Ridley will be sitting there at number five. Alabama wide receivers have also excelled in the NFL (Julio Jones and Amari Cooper) and Ridley does fit the mold of an Anotnio Brown type of player.
6) Colts (from Jets)-DT Da’Ron Payne-Alabama
Payne is run stuffing defensive tackle that can clog running lanes which would allow lienbackers to stuff running lanes. The Colts struggled in run support last year and getting Payne would be a huge upgrade to their roster.
He is 6’2 and weighs 311 pounds and his strength is at the point of attack. Payne finished with 53 tackles in 2017.
7) Bucs-DE Bradley Chubb- NC State
Chubb is a dominant defensive end that excels in run support. Built in the mold of Demarcus Ware, Chubb will constantly force double teams because of his size 6’4 and weighing 269 pounds. He has a very good first step and uses his hands extremely well. He recorded 25.5 total sacks the past three years and will have a solid career in the NFL. That being said, he is not the best pure pass rusher in this draft.
8) Bears-LB Roquon Smith-Georgia
The Bears have not been relevant since they played with a physicality on the defensive side of the ball. The team needs to get back to basics and drafting Smith will help them with that need. He led the Bulldogs with 137 total tackles and 6.5 sacks last season. He is player that can run sideline to sideline and is very good in pass coverage against running backs in the short to intermediate passing game.
All you need to do is pop in the film of Smith in pass coverage against Rodney Anderson and Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff. That will allow you to see the type of player Smith is.
9) 49’ers-DT Vita Vea-Washington
Vea is another run stuffer that will force double teams on the next level. Vea is a blue collar player that stands 6’4 and weighs 347 pounds. He has the ability to shoot gaps and be a dominant force in the league for years to come.
10) Raiders-WR Christian Kirk-Texas A&M
Kirk is a seamless route runner and can be utlized on the outside as a number one or play the slot in a five wide type of offense.
Kirk caught 234 passes in collegiate career and led the Aggies last year with over 900 receiving yards with 10 touchdowns. He is a fantastic punt returner that can be utilzied on fly sweeps or reverses.
11) Dolphins-QB Lamar Jackson-Louisville
In my opinion, Jackson is the best quarterback prospect in this draft. He can put pressure on opposing defenses on every play and forces opposing defenses to account for him at all times.
In 2017, he completed over 59% of his passes for over 3,600 yards with 27 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Many do not realize that Jackson lost his top three leading wide receivers from 2016 and became a better pocket passer in 2017. He cut the amount of sacks down to 27 total sacks last year after being sacked a total of 47 and 44 sacks in back to back seasons.
12) Bills (from Bengals) QB Baker Mayfield-Oklahoma
Even though I feel that AJ McCarron could be a potential star in the league, the Bills seem to want a quarterback. With Danold and Jackson off of the board, Mayfield could be the pick for Buffalo. His completion percentage rose year over year and he passed for 12,000 yards in college while throwing 118 touchdown passes in his career.
13) Washington-DE Arden Key-LSU
Key is one of the most polorizing players in this upcoming draft. If this was the 2017 draft, he would have been a top five pick.
Key battled off the field issues (drug related) and did have a shoulder injury to start the 2017 season. However, he has a quick first step and uses his hands very well to gain leverage in beating opposing defesive tackles to the passer.
In 2017, Key recorded 21 total sacks and did it against elite competition in the SEC.
14) Packers-RB Sony Michel-Georgia
Michel is the next Alvin Kamara (New Orleans) make no mistake about it. In today’s NFL, it is about being able to create one on one matchups in space (ala the NBA). If you watched the Superbowl, we saw backs Corey Clement, Dion Lewis and James White all be factors for their respective teams.
Michel is a homerun hitter that can be utilized in the slot on nickel backs or linebackers. Even though Green Bay has Jones, Williams and Montgomery at the running back positions-they have three backs doing the job of one.
Michel rushed for over 1,200 yards with 16 rushing touchdowns in 2017 and caught 64 passes in his four year career in Athens.
15) Cardinals-QB Josh Rosen-UCLA
Rosen possesses the raw attributes that a NFL qaurterback should have (arm strength and pocket pressence). However, he struggles to elevate his teammates along with overcoming adversity in a tough envirnnoment.
Rosen was 0-6 on the road last year and did not lead his team to a PAC-12 Championship or even a bowl win during his three year career.
16) Ravens WR James Washington-Oklahoma State
Washington has sprinter speed and can take the top off of opposing offenses for Balitmore. He catches the football at its highest point and runs very good deep patterns which allow him to find holes in opposing defenses.
In 2017, Washington caught 74 receptions for over 1,500 yards with 13 receiving touchdowns in 2017.
17) Chargers DT_Taven Bryan Florida
Bryan is another run stuffer that has great size 6’4 and weighing 291 pounds and agility. Bryan would be a solid addition to the Chargers and recorded 40 total tackles last season for the Gators.
18) Seattle CB Josh Jackson-Iowa
Jackson is a ball hawk that stepped up in the Hawkeyes best games of 2017. He recorded 3 interceptions against Ohio State and led the team with 8 total interceptions. Jackson will follow in the footsteps of former Iowa defensive back Desmond King who had a solid season in the NFL.
Iowa led FBS in interceptions last year and played for an NFL calibur coach in Kirk Ferentz. With the loss of Ruchard Sherman, Jackson fills an immediate need and can start in year one.
19) Cowboys-WR Courtland Sutton
Standing at 6’4 weighing in at around 220 pounds, many fans will think that Sutton is a spitting image of a younger Dez Bryant. However, Sutton is a raw wide receiver that excelled against sub-par competition playing in the AAC.
He is a raw prospect that caught 68 passes for over 1,000 yards with 12 touchdowns. When looking at how Corey Davis struggled in year one with Tennessee, do not expect Sutton to hit the ground running with the Cowboys. He is a wide receiver that must learn how to break bump and run coverage which could take him a few years to develop.
20) Detroit RB-Derius Guice-LSU
Guice is a great runner that excels to the edge and runs with an attitude. He set a school record at LSU rusing for 285 yards against Texas A&M in 2016 and is a patient runner much in the mold of Laveon Bell (Pittsburgh).
Guice rushed for over 1,200 yards with 11 touchdowns last year.
He is a raw receiver and must learn how to pass block on the next level. But his stats were skewed due to playing in a one dimensional offense with Danny Etling last year.
21) Bengals-OT Mike McGlinchey-Notre Dame
Standing at 6’7 and weighing around 315 pounds, McGlinchey can add about 20 pounds of muscle in the off-season. When breaking down his game film, he excelled playing against NC State defensive end Bradley Chuub and is very good in pass protection.
McGlinchey is downhill blocker in run blocking and can start right away for the Bengals.
22) Buffalo-LB Leighton Vander Esch-Bosie State
A solid linebacker that plays with a physcality. He is a solid run stuffer that has excelled in one on one match-ups in beating opposing blockers to the football. He recorded 141 total tackles in 2017.
23) Patriots-CB Jaire Alexander-Louisville
Solid cornerback that stepped up against some of the best wide receivers in the ACC. He plays well in bump and run coverage and should excell under the tutelage of Bill Belichick.
24) Panthers-LB Tremaine Edmunds-Va Tech
A raw talent that needs to add more muscle to his frame and also can be utilized as an edge rusher. He needs to develop better in run blocking but has the tools to be a solid starter in the NFL.
25) Titans-DT Maurice Hurst-Michigan
Has solid measurables and played in a solid defense in Ann Arbor led by defensive coordinator Don Brown. Can clog running lanes and could be slightly overrated at this position but with the defensive talent taken over at this point, it is a value selection for the Titans.
26) Falcons-DT Harrison Phillips-Stanford
Blue collar player that led the Cardinal in sacks (7.0) and tackles (107) last season. He is a perfect compliment for Dan Quinn’s defensive scheme and is very strong at the point of attack. He played for an NFL head coach in David Shaw and is a steal for the Falcons.
27) Saints-TE Mark Andrews-Oklahoma
A hybrid tight end that can be a perfect compliment in the Saints offense wiith Drew Brees. He is tall standing at 6’5 and can create mistmatch problems for nickel backs and linebackers in redzone opportunities.
Andrews caught 62 passes for over 900 yards with 8 receiving touchdowns in 2017.
28) Steelers-RB Rashaad Penny-San Diego State
Penny is a legitimate talent and runs with an attitude. He led FBS with over 2,000 rushing yards and 23 rusing touchdowns. He can return kicks and be utilized in the screen game just like Laveon Bell.
Penny is a fierce competitor that has been doubted his whole career. He is one of the best running backs in this draft and will have a fantastic career in the NFL.
He rushed for over 300 against Stanford and Arizona State last season and led his team to victory over both PAC-12 opponents
29) Jaguars-WR DJ Moore-Maryland
Led Maryland with 80 receptions for over 1,000 yards with 8 touchdowns in 2017. He played with a number of different quarterbacks in Maryland and can be an added addition to the Jaguars offense.
30) Vikings-Will Hernandez-OG UTEP
Solid run blocker that is a blue collar player that plays with an attitude. He stands 6’2 and weighs 327 pounds and was the best player on an 0-12 team for the Miners.
31) Patriots-QB Mason Rudolph Oklahoma State
Look for the Patriots to take Rudolph over Josh Allen. Playing in a wide open attack, Rudolph excelled in leading the Cowboys offense and will learn in the best system in the NFL from the greatest quarterback of the modern era-Tom Brady.
While most first round quarterbacks should be thrown into the fire in year one, the Patriots will find great value with Rudolph at number 31 overall.
32) Eagles-OT Connor Williams-Texas
Best offensive tackle in this draft and would help shore up the Eagles offensive line for 2018.
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