2018 Draft Top Ten Review will give you the need to know about the athletes, NFL’s executives believe will be the future of the game.
THE 2018 NFL DRAFT TOP TEN
1. Cleveland Browns – Baker Mayfield, QB
Mayfield may be something of a gamble for your team — especially if you’re taking him with the number one overall pick — and it all depends on the team’s ability to control the potential chaos and Baker’s desire to put the team’s best interest above his at-times questionable objectives.
The 2017 Heisman trophy winner is certainly going to give you everything he can to win. With a strong-arm and an even stronger competitive drive, Mayfield will compete whistle to whistle and is a versatile quarterback, capable of making things happen with his feet as well.
After transferring to Oklahoma from Texas Tech following his freshman year, the 23-year-old won the starting position and quickly began making a name for himself. Over the course of his tenure with Oklahoma, Mayfield compiled 14,320 yards — 4,340 of those in his senior year.
Averaging nearly a first down an attempt (9.8 yards), Mayfield completed 129 touchdowns to only 29 interceptions in college. In his final year as a Sooner, Mayfield was incredible, launching 41 TDs to only 5 INTs.
Still, there are potential issues with Mayfield going first. He’s a shorter-than-you’d-like quarterback and can make decisions that leave him getting hit quite a bit. You don’t want your star quarterback getting tagged too many times.
Equally worrisome is the off the field stuff. He was arrested for public intoxication, disorderly conduct, fleeing and resisting arrest back in February of 2017.
Hopefully, an organization like the Browns will have learned how to deal with an at times troubled QB, having selected a similar quarterback in Johnny Manziel back in 2014. With the right approach, Mayfield can help turn the Browns around if all hands are on deck and both sides are singular in their focus.
2. New York Giants – Saquon Barkley, RB
College: Penn State
The two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year could well be the most versatile player in this year’s draft class and could make an immediate impact with the Giants.
The 5’11”, 230 lbs. running back can do a little bit of everything. From rushing to kick returning, the 21-year-old compiled a Penn State record for most overall yards in a single game with 358 against Iowa. Those all-purpose yards included receiving as Barkley also has decent hands that improved over the course of his three years in college.
The 2016 Big Ten Champion has reliable hands out of the back field, protects the rock well, and is a sizeable ‘back with speed (he clocked a 4.40 for his 40 yard dash at the NFL combine) and great vision. His cuts are also quite impressive for a young man his size.
Over his three-year stay at Penn State, Barkley averaged over 5.5 yards per carry and contributed a touchdown either in the air or on the ground in all but three of the games in which he played since his sophomore year.
If the Giants wanted to add a versatile player, Barkley really is their man. Whether adding 632 yards in receiving his junior year or acquiring 500 kick return yards in only 18 attempts, Barkley can do a bit of everything.
For the Giants, Barkley may be a perfect fit. He will allow an aging Eli Manning to rely on a run game a bit more and perhaps help him get going in the passing game with some quick dump offs and screens. While a high pick for a back, it’s definitely worth it if he helps reignite multiple fazes of the offense.
3. New York Jets – Sam Darnold, QB
As a red shirt rookie for the USC Trojans in 2016, Sam Darnold set records for the school and amassed over 3,000 passing yards and 31 touchdowns while only starting in 10 games.
The 2017 Rose Bowl champion struggled at the beginning of his sophomore year, throwing nine interceptions in his first six games — a total that matched his total for the previous year.
In fairness, the 6’3″ quarterback had to deal with a new receiving corps and an injury-stricken team. Nonetheless, his improvisational skills coupled with his steadiness behind the line allowed for the 20-year-old to recover. By year’s end, he had only thrown 13 INTs against 26 touchdowns and had garnered 4,143 passing yards. The Trojans finished with an 11-3 record and a Pac-12 Conference championship.
While Darnold will certainly give you some points (the Trojans averaged 32.5 PPG in 2017), Darnold is a quarterback that will take chances. He will scramble when he feels the time calls for it and will try to fit that ball in some tight windows.
The selection may have some rough moments. New York is a very unforgiving market and some might wonder if Darnold’s understated approach may come across as passionless to the fan base. Still, if the Jets take their time, learn his strengths and weaknesses, he certainly has a decent shot at developing into their guy.
But it will take some time.
4. Cleveland Browns – Denzel Ward, CB
College: Ohio State
The 20-year-old cornerback out of Ohio State made steady progression during his three seasons as a Buckeye.
While he only recorded 17 tackles in his first two years, he nearly doubled that effort in his third with 30. He’s also a gamer that will continue to grind it out, even when his side of the field is being heavily targeted.
At 5’11” and 183 lbs., he’s not massive but jumps out at you with his sheer athleticism. He can make up ground well and smothers receivers as the game wears on. Still, the league has gotten much longer at the position in recent years and his size may have contributed to his low number of interceptions, of which he only had 2 during his time in college.
The Browns really needed a good cornerback and likely selected the best one available in this draft. So, they certainly helped make up ground in an area of struggle.
However, the selection isn’t without its concerns as his technique needs work when sizeable receivers are blocking on the outside. Ward has a tendency to get a bit locked up and will need to put on a bit of muscle and work on his hand game to free himself up a bit faster.
5. Denver Broncos – Bradley Chubb, DE/LB
College: NC State
A 4.65 40 yard dash and a 36″ vertical.
Those are the combine stats of the 6’4″, 270 lbs. defensive end Bradley Chubb. The NC State product is virtually everything you’re looking for in a football player. Some have touted as the best defensive player in the draft, here is why.
The 2017 ACC Defensive Player of the Year compiled impressive stats since converting to DE for his sophomore campaign (he started as an outside linebacker). By the time he completed his senior year, Chubb had surpassed Mario Williams at NC State for sacks (25) and tackles for loss (54.5).
His inside game is pure class, with his technique being top-notch. His hand skills allow him to create space and his speed allows him to take advantage of the gaps. He can turn a corner on a dime as well, with an ability to get after the quarterback in a hurry.
Whether a 3-4 or a 4-3 set-up, Chubb can adjust and make an impact on the game. And, wow, is he relentless.
How relentless? Look no further than his play against Florida State where he forced a fumble on NC States’ own 23 yard line, hit the turf, rallied and collected the ball inside the five.
One area of potential worry could be his temperament. Whether it’s stealing a towel from the opposing team’s quarterback or spitting on another team’s logo, he certainly can be a little emotional at times.
Nonetheless, he will be a tremendous fit with the Denver Broncos (where he will reportedly switch back to outside linebacker), working with an already impressive unit that includes Von Miller and Shaquil Barrett.
2018 Draft Top 10 Review continued….
6. Indianapolis Colts – Quenton Nelson, G
College: Notre Dame
If you’re looking for a guard that is NFL ready in the draft, you’re best bet is likely Quenton Nelson out of Notre Dame. With insane power, a 6’5″/330 lbs. frame and quality technique, Nelson will almost undoubtedly make an immediate impact with the Colts.
As part of a run-heavy team in college, Nelson helped contribute to over 2,400 rushing yards for his runningbacks as well as 21 touchdowns in 2017. Backs at Notre Dame averaged 6.2 yards a carry.
Nelson is the sort of player opposing teams will have to plan around, at times relying upon defensive lineman doubling him up. As a result, Nelson will free up space and create holes for backs with the patience to wait for them.
He will also help contribute to protecting quarterback Andrew Luck. Luck has taken his fair share of shots and Nelson will allow Luck to have a bit more time and potentially make better decisions. Also, with the extra time, the receiving core in Indianapolis will have more time to break free of cornerbacks.
7. Buffalo Bills – Josh Allen, QB
If you can finely tune the game of Josh Allen, you have a serious weapon on your hands. He is a mountain of a man at 6’5″ and 233 lbs., and has the strongest arm of his draft class.
In his second and third year at Wyoming (he was injured his freshman year), Allen threw for 5,015 yards and 44 touchdowns. However, his issues stem from his accuracy and anticipation. That showed up in part in the stats, as he had a noticeable dip in productivity from the year prior as his touchdowns fell to 16 from 28 in 2016.
Thankfully for his supporters, if nurtured along as a professional, those are issues that can be corrected to at least some extent.
Equally, with the Bills having the sort of defense that can keep them in games, Allen may find some early success by merely making the right plays at the right time.
As he progresses, receivers such as Kelvin Benjamin will help him shine and have the sort of athleticism needed to go out and get those long balls that make Josh Allen such a threat as his best.
8. Chicago Bears – Roquan Smith, LB
The 2017 Consensus All-American is arguably the best choice the Chicago Bears could have made with their first selection.
An ability to play sideline-to-sideline with a perfect mix of speed and power make the now-former Georgia Bulldog an impact player.
The fact that he can more or less be a four down player that disrupts entire game plans helped make him the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2017.
And while he is certainly physically gifted, he becomes even more dynamic with sound technique and a very high football IQ.
Smith, 21, will unsettle run games and force errant throws with his combination of will and skill. And he’s a very solid pick for the Bears, who have recently lacked the defensive identity that once preceded them.
At his best, he will help cover up a lot of deficiencies troubling the Bears as he will even be able to make an impact in straight up coverage on some plays.
Perhaps most importantly, he is the sort of player that will rub off on other defensive players, helping strengthen the unit when leading by example.
9. San Francisco 49ers – Mike McGlinchey, OT
College: Notre Dame
The addition of Mike McGlinchey to the San Francisco 49ers will help virtually all fazes of the offense — in the long run.
If allowed to fully develop behind Joe Staley his rookie year, the former Notre Dame offensive tackle will be able to use his magnificent size (6’8″, 315 lbs.) to open up running lanes as well as provide protection for relatively newly acquired franchise quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Along with fellow top 10 draft selection Quenton Nelson, McGlinchey helped a stellar run team produce more than 2,400 rushing uses a for their backs to go along with 21 touchdowns.
If the 49ers are able to develop a run game to go along with what looks to be a promising passing game, they have a solid chance of competing in a potentially loaded NFC West in the coming season.
10. Arizona Cardinals – Josh Rosen, QB
21-year-old “Chosen Rosen” went a little lower in the draft than some expected and that might come down to a couple of factors, including his penchant for rubbing some people the wrong way.
Rosen has been a bit banged up during his time with UCLA, suffering a shoulder injury in his sophomore year that kept him sidelined for half of the season.
Also, he missed the Cactus Bowl in his final season with the Bruins due to a concussion. So, some might question his durability.
There’s plenty to like in Rosen, he’s just something of a mixed bag.
At 6’4″, 220 lbs., Rosen is a solid size for a passer and his height coupled with impressive arm strength allows him to be very accurate on quick routes and intermediate passes.
An area of concern would be down the field, reflected in his over all completion percentage of 60.9.
In his final year with UCLA, he didn’t have the greatest TD-to-INT ratio, throwing 26 scores to 10 picks. Still, he managed 3,756 yards due in large part to his ability to read a defense and his impressive pocket awareness.
Rosen, in many respects, could be the most NFL-ready prospect in this year’s draft. Still, the Arizona Cardinals will need to be patient with their selection and allow him to find his groove.
nonetheless, a solid move by Arizona to move up and get him as they were in dire need of a passer to build around. A veteran presence in the receiving core such as Larry Fitzgerald may help the process along as well.
What did you think of the draft?
Any surprises? Let downs?
Let me know what you think on Twitter @JayCalderon_BBB. Also, if you’re into boxing, be sure to check out my fight game-related stuff by clicking here.
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