With the senior all-star games, the NFL Scouting Combine, and the 2018 NFL Draft all right around the corner, I thought this would be the perfect time to bring you my first big board of the 2018 draft season. Here is my top 50 players that have entered the 2018 NFL Draft as of January 12th 2018. Enjoy!
- Quenton Nelson - Notre Dame - Guard
The value at guard over the last few years in the NFL has diminished, but when you can get a guy that will have a Zack Martin type of impact for your football team, there is no question about his value. Quenton Nelson is a strong, athletic, and mean player that does everything at an extremely high level.
2. Minkah Fitzpatrick - Alabama - Defensive Back
Minkah Fitzpatrick is an interesting evaluation. He's another guy that has few holes in his game. Fitzpatrick is a guy that moved all around in the Alabama secondary. He played anywhere from cornerback, nickel corner, free safety, and even sometimes as a box safety. Fitzpatrick can do it all and will be targeted by any team needing defensive help in the top five-seven picks.
3. Bradley Chubb - N.C. State - Defensive End
Similar to the first two players on my board, Bradley Chubb does almost everything right, and has few holes in his game. While he's not as athletic and isn't nearly as explosive as Myles Garrett was coming out of Texas A&M, Chubb plays with a great amount of power that allows him to manhandle blockers when rushing the passer and setting the edge in the run game. Chubb reminds me quite a bit of what Joey Bosa was coming out of Ohio State.
4. Roquan Smith - Georgia - Linebacker
We've all seemed to fall in love with Roquan Smith over the last month or so of the college season. Smith is lighting in a bottle at the linebacker position, consistently flying all over the field. Smith makes his money chasing the ball sideline to sideline, but also is very good in coverage. The Georgia junior is a bit undersized, but he makes up for that with his playing speed and mental awareness.
5. Calvin Ridley - Alabama - Wide Receiver
There are few drafts where I really go all in on a wide receiver. Calvin Ridley is that guy this year. I have scouted few receivers in my day, that are as developed as Ridley is coming out of Alabama. The Alabama junior didn't get much help from his quarterback position, but will be an immediate impact player in the NFL. His route tree, ability to separate, and releases at the line of scrimmage will allow him an easy transition to the NFL.
6. Saquon Barkley - Penn State - Running Back
I'm not quite as high on Saquon Barkley as most, but I still do love the player. Barkley is an explosive runner with great athletic ability and a real threat to hit the home run on every carry. Barkley's ability as receiver makes him even more intriguing in the NFL's eyes.
7. Baker Mayfield - Oklahoma - Quarterback
Baker Mayfield is my #1 ranked quarterback heading into the Senior Bowl week and Combine. His confidence and arm talent are extremely impressive and make up for him being a little undersized. Mayfield has a good understanding of how to make the easy and tough throws from the pocket, as well as make the throws out of the pocket. The NFL will fall in love with Mayfield as a leader and his will to win, I sure have.
8. Da'Ron Payne - Alabama - Defensive Tackle
This DT class is absolutely ridiculous, and Da'Ron Payne tops my list as it stands. We saw the Alabama juniors ability to take over a game like he did in the national championship earlier this week. Payne is extremely athletic for being 310+ pounds and backs that up with an absurd amount of power in his upper and lower half. Payne will be an instant impact in both the run and pass defense his rookie year. He reminds me a lot of what Green Bay has in Mike Daniels.
9. Denzel Ward - Ohio State - Cornerback
Denzel Ward is attempting to follow in former teammate Marshon Lattimore's footsteps. Ward is a tick undersized at 5-foot-10, but he plays much bigger and with a huge chip on his shoulder. Denzel Ward is extremely sticky in coverage and can play outside or move inside in nickel situations. Along with being the best cover man in this draft class, I like Ward's ability and willingness to play against the run. If the Ohio State product was just a bit taller, I would have him ranked even higher.
10. Taven Bryan - Florida - Defensive Tackle
Taven Bryan isn't the most refined regarding his technique, but he may be the most disruptive player in this draft class. Bryan is extremely aggressive getting up field and consistently blows up running plays and does damage as a pass rusher. Bryan has a nasty push pull move that he has nearly perfected. If a talented defensive coordinator gets his hand son Taven Bryan we may be looking at the next Ndamukong Suh.
11. Josh Rosen - UCLA - Quarterback
Josh Rosen has plenty of talent to be a franchise quarterback in the NFL. But there will be plenty of questions regarding his ability to lead and the coach-ability aspect of his game. As far as on the field talent goes, he may be the leader of the pack. Allen has a big arm that can make the tight window throws on a consistent basis.
12. Jaire Alexander - Louisville - Cornerback
Jaire Alexander has all the skills you want in a lockdown corner. At 5-foot-11, Jaire has good size and is a physical corner on the outside. Alexander has good athletic traits and has shown the ability to read quarterbacks eyes and drive on the football. Alexander's injury filled 2017 season forced me to drop him down a few spots. If he gets back to full strength he'll push Ward for CB1 rights.
13. Derrius Guice - LSU - Running Back
Derrius Guice is a violent runner that has the threat to break the big one for four straight quarters. AT 5-foot-11 220lbs, Guice has the ideal size and explosiveness to be a exceptional three down back in the NFL. He can do damage as a receiver as well.
14. Lamar Jackson - Louisville - Quarterback
Lamar Jackson is a fantastic evaluation. When watching his film a Louisville, it's hard not to be reminded of Michael Vick. The development from the pocket I saw from his Sophomore season to his Junior season was phenomenal. The damage he can do with his legs and arm will make him a hot commodity come draft day.
15. Rashaan Evans - Alabama - Linebacker
Rashaan Evans is a guy that does everything extremely well, but isn't quite elite at anything. Evans is a consistent tackler, does an outstanding job of shedding blocks, and will hit you in the mouth time and time again. I'm interested to see what he tests like because that will weigh on my final evaluation of him heavily.
16. Vita Vea - Washington - Defensive Tackle
Vita Vea is an absolute beast on the interior at 340 plus pounds. Vea plays with good athleticism and good technique in his arms and hands. Vea plays with unbelievable strength and sometimes relies on that just a little too much. If a talented coordinator can get their hands on Vita Vea, look out.
17. Maurice Hurst - Michigan - Defensive Tackle
This DT class is ridiculous. In past years, Hurst would likely be my DT1/DT2, but falls down to my DT4 due to the talent at the position in this class. Hurst plays with a non-stop motor and has tons of explosion as an under tackle. His speed, power, and ability to be disruptive for four quarters will keep him in the NFL for a long time.
18. Tremaine Edmunds - Virginia Tech - Linebacker
The Virginia Tech Junior is a rare combination of size, speed, and athletic ability at the linebacker position. His ability to be a force against the run and play comfortably in coverage will make him easily one of the top five linebackers drafted in April. Edmunds is a fluid athlete who is one of the more consistent tacklers in this class.
19. Michael Gallup - Colorado State - Wide Receiver
I'm much higher on Michael Gallup than most. At 6-foot-1 200lbs, Gallup has good size, but pairs his size with a developed route tree and the ability to separate with ease. Gallup is ideally a WR2 in his rookie year, with potential to be a stud WR1. Gallup does an excellent job of high pointing the ball and has extremely strong hands that allow him to catch just about anything.
20. Sam Darnold - USC - Quarterback
One of the toughest evaluations for me was USC's quarterback, Sam Darnold. Darnold made his fair share of NFL throws on Saturday's at USC, but also missed on throws I could make and made a ton of bad decisions that left me scratching my head. Darnold is a high risk high reward type of player that could go anywhere from #1 overall to the end of the first round.
21. Marcus Davenport - University of Texas at San Antonio
The UTSA edge rusher is an extremely raw player when it comes to technique, but his traits are extremely intriguing. His size (6'7" 255lbs) and speed could make him one of the scariest players in this draft if coached up the right way.
22. Connor Williams - Texas - Offensive Tackle
Connor Williams, even with all the 2017 criticism is still an extremely talented player. Although his 2017 season was filled with injury and inconsistency, Williams' 2016 tape is top five pick worthy. If Williams can get back to his 2016 form, he will be a franchise left tackle in the NFL.
23. Harold Landry - Boston College - EDGE
Harold Landry is another tough evaluation. In 2016, Landry looked like a top five pick. In 2017, Landry dealt with lower body injuries that slowed him down. Landry has the burst and bend to be a dominant pass rusher at the next level. He must improve his run defense and stay healthy in order to make an impact.
24. Leighton Vander Esch - Boise State - Linebacker
Leighton Vander Esch may be the most underrated prospect in this draft class. The Boise State junior is a tackling machine at 6-foot-4 240 lbs. It's rare we see linebackers that tall that do as well in space as Vander Esch does. The combine will either confirm my thoughts on Leighton or have me reconsider his mobility as an NFL player.
25. Anthony Miller - Memphis - Wide Receiver
One of my favorite players in this draft is Memphis WR, Anthony Miller. Miller is an excellent route runner and easily separated from defenders at the college level. Anthony Miller also has extremely sticky hands and high points the ball well for being only 5-foot-11.
26. Tarvarus McFadden - Florida State - Cornerback
27. Derwin James - Florida State - Safety
28. Martinas Rankin - Offensive Tackle - Mississippi State
29. Christian Kirk - Texas A&M - Wide Receiver
30. Ronald Jones II - USC - Running Back
31. Kerryon Johnson - Auburn - Running Back
32. Mark Andrews - Oklahoma - Tight End
33. Orlando Brown - Oklahoma - Offensive Tackle
34. Arden Key - LSU - EDGE
35. Josh Jackson - Iowa - Cornerback
36. Will Hernandez - UTEP - Offensive Guard
37. Quenton Meeks - Stanford - Cornerback
38. Isaiah Oliver - Colorado - Cornerback
39. Marcus Allen - Penn State - Safety
40. Ronnie Harrison - Alabama - Safety
41. DJ Moore - Maryland - Wide Receiver
42. Courtland Sutton - SMU - Wide Receiver
43. Dallas Goedert - South Dakota State - Tight End
44. Josh Allen - Wyoming - Quarterback
45. Sony Michel - Georgia - Running Back
46. Chukwuma Okorafor - Western Michigan - Offensive Tackle
47. Rashaad Penny - San Diego State - Running Back
48. Isaiah Wynn - Georgia - Offensive Line
49. Harrison Phillips - Stanford - Defensive Tackle
50. Malik Jefferson - Texas - Linebacker