We are what seems like forever away from the 2018 NFL Draft. Shoot, we haven’t even started the NFL Regular Season and we’re barely into the College Football season, but that’s why I’m here. I’m giving you a super early look at my Top 15 Big Board for 2018. After a weekend of NCAA games to get one more look at some of these prospects before putting this together, here it is.
- Harold Landry | Boston College | Defensive End | Senior
Last week I wrote a piece giving everyone a short scouting report on some of my favorite pass rushers who are slated to enter the 2018 NFL Draft. So far, Harold Landry is my #1 ranked pass rusher and my #1 ranked overall player. Landry has all three tools to be a disruptive pass rusher in the NFL.
At 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds, Landry has the speed, power, and technique that gives tackles nightmares in the ACC. While all his tools are impressive, how polished he is as a rusher is probably the most impressive trait of his right now. Landry didn’t record a sack in his first game of 2017, but did finish the day with 6 total tackles and a pass defended. A solid start for the Boston College stud.
2. Derwin James | Florida State | Safety | Junior
We became very familiar with Jalen Ramsey this time two years ago, now we’re buying into that same hype with Derwin James. James is a monster patrolling the back end of the defense for Florida State and looks to bring his ball hawk, hard hitting, and stellar run support to the NFL level.
Standing at 6-foot-3, 211 pounds James’ size speaks for itself. While being that big, he moves very nimbly on his feet, but makes his presence known when he meets you face to face. James and the talented Florida State defense had a solid game against the power house Crimson Tide. In the contest, he recorded 6 tackles, 0.5 sack, and 0.5 tackle for loss. ≥
3. Arden Key | LSU | Defensive End / OLB | Junior
One of the most disruptive pass rushers in the nation, Key knows exactly how to use his speed and length to consistently beat offensive lineman in college. The one knock on the LSU pass rusher is that he’s very thin. At 6-foot-6, 230 pounds key is standing very tall but not very heavy. Even with his size, Arden Key had 55 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, and 11 sacks last season as a Tiger.
Unfortunately, for Key he was unable to play in LSU’s opener due to a shoulder injury that required him to have offseason surgery. Hopefully we will see the development of Arden himself sooner rather than later.
4. Derrius Guice | LSU | Running Back | Junior
A few weeks ago Derrius Guice was my number one player on my board and by no means did he do anything to fall a few spots. Guice is one of my favorite evaluations out of every prospect I’ve ever studied. His combination of speed, power, and vision are incredible for a player who wasn’t even the starter at LSU.
Not only does Guice do damage in the running game, but he can do just as much damage catching the football. With what I’ve watched from the LSU Junior, he reminds me of a combination of Ezekiel Elliott, David Johnson, and Jerome Bettis. Yes, I said it.
In LSU’s 27-0 victory over BYU. Guice rushed 27 times for 122 yards and 2 touchdowns. Another big game for the LSU product.
5. Saquon Barkley | Penn State | Running Back | Junior
Similar to Derrius Guice, Saquon Barkley has the ideal size, speed, and vision to be an every down back in the NFL. Both ball carriers are extremely talented and will be looked at as sure-fire first rounders if/when they declare.
Barkley showed up in a huge way in a 59-0 win against the Akron Zips. On just 14 carries he rushed for a whopping 174 yards and also added 2 scores to his monster game. The Penn State running back showed his great change of direction, speed, and power in Penn State’s victory.
6. Tyquan Lewis | Ohio State | Defensive End | Senior
Lewis was one of the most dominating pass rushers in the nation in 2016 and started off 2017 just as hot. In Ohio State’s dominating matchup versus Indiana, Tyquan Lewis registered 3 tackles, 2 sacks, and 2 tackles for loss.
Lewis was one of the few players in my top 15 that did move up some spots due to his level of play on Thursday nights matchup against Indiana.
7. Tarvarus McFadden | Florida State | Cornerback | Junior
With two Florida State defensive backs in my top 10 we get a good feeling that defense is going to be a lot of fun to watch. With Derwin James holding down the back end of the field for the Seminoles defense, Tarvarus McFadden normally has the opposing teams WR1 locked down. McFadden has the ball skills scouts dream for in all college corners. He put that on display after picking of eight passes in 2016, which led the nation.
8. Josh Rosen | UCLA | Quarterback | Junior
Josh Rosen made a name for himself last year and looks to continue to strengthen his reputation. He did just that in an impressive comeback victory over Texas A&M in Sunday Night’s matchup.
Rosen started off slow, but heated things up fast and finished the night with 491 yards and 4 touchdowns. Rosen showed his poise in the pocket, his ability to avoid trouble, and his consistent arm to make some big plays that led the Bruins to a victory.
9. Sam Darnold | USC | Quarterback | Red-Shirt Sophomore
After just 13 starts in 2016, most were ready to crown Sam Darold the NFL Draft’s number one pick. While I love Darnold’s potential and what he’s shown already I think we need to pump the break’s just a little bit.
Darnold was fantastic in 2016. Taking his team to and winning the Rose Bowl. But after a lackluster start to the 2017 season, some draft analysts are already changing their perspective. Let’s let this season play out before we destroy or build him up. Remember he is just a red-shirt Sophomore.
10. James Washington | Oklahoma State | Wide Receiver | Senior
James Washington is a 6-foot, 205 pound man who looks more like a running back than a receiver. Washington currently is a huge deep threat, but has been working on his route running more and more. In 2016, the Oklahoma State wideout brought in 124 catches at nearly 20 yards-per-catch with 20 total receiving touchdowns.
He picked up right where he left off in OSU’s season opener. On just 6 receptions, Washington had 145 yards and 2 touchdowns, solidifying himself as one of the nation’s most dangerous receivers.
11. Bradley Chubb | N.C. State | Defensive End | Senior
Bradley Chubb made quite the name for himself in 2016 after registering 21 tackles for loss and 10 sacks in his Junior year. Chubb isn’t the dominant speed rushers that Arden Key and Harold Landry are, but he is very explosive. While his toolset doesn’t compare to Key and Landry, Chubb wins in his own ways.
For one he uses his large frame to gain leverage and overpower opposing offensive lineman. At 6-foot-4, 275 pounds, he already has a plug and play NFL body. Along with his ability to rush the passer, Chubb is a great run defender as well. In N.C. States loss to rivals South Carolina, Chubb had an impressive game. While not registering a sack, he still made his presence known with 5 tackles with 2 tackles being for losses.
12. Courtland Sutton | SMU | Wide Receiver | Junior
Courtland Sutton is a freak athlete with ideal size for a NFL ready receiver. At 6-foot-4, 225 pounds Sutton has a similar body type to great NFL receivers Dez Bryant, Julio Jones, and A.J. Green. While having a similar body type is nice, playing like those guys would be even better, and he does.
Sutton isn’t the most polished route runner or speed threat, but he wins with his physicality, separation at the top of his routes, and extremely strong hands. If the SMU Junior can develop his route tree just a bit more in 2017 he is looking like a sure-fired first rounder.
13. Mason Rudolph | Oklahoma State | Quarterback | Senior
Mason Rudolph has almost all the tools of a NFL ready quarterback and has plenty of experience to back that up. Rudolph has been fantastic in his years at OSU. In 29 starts he’s thrown a total of 958 passes, 55 of those going for touchdowns and just 17 interceptions in his college career. Not only does he have fantastic numbers, he also passes the eye test easily. At 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, Rudolph has the size and the arm that will make NFL scouts fall in love with him come draft time.
14. Mike McGlinchey | Notre Dame | Offensive Tackle | Senior
My first offensive lineman in my top 15 is a good one in. Mike McGlinchey out of Notre Dame. He will be looking to keep up the trend of Notre Dame offensive lineman success in the NFL. McGlinchey has played both left and right tackle and done so at a high level. His versatility and experience at Notre Dame will likely make him one of the first offensive lineman off the board in the 2018 NFL Draft.
15. Ronald Jones II | USC | Running Back | Junior
In most draft classes, Ronald Jones would be at the top of my running back big board, but unfortunately for him he’s got two freak of natures in front of him in Guice and Barkley. But don’t take Ronald Jones lightly. The Junior at USC put on an absolute clinic in 2016 finishing the year with 177 attempts for 1,082 yards, and 12 touchdowns. 2017, looks like it’s going to be an even better year for the Mr. Jones. In his first game of 2017, Jones rushed 18 times for 159 yards and 3 touchdowns. It’s fair to say that Ronald Jones II was pretty much unstoppable against Western Michigan.
Jones has a smaller build standing at 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, but is lightning in a bottle when the ball is in his hands. Jones is fast, elusive, and tough to bring down in the open field. Look for Ronald Jones II name to start showing up more and more as the college season moves on.
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