Final Notes for the 2018 NFL Draft
I just can’t remain silent about my final thoughts for this year’s 2018 NFL draft.
In just hours, each NFL team will hope to get that much better with the start of the draft. And I can’t remember a draft as storied as today in my 21 years on this planet.
There’s quarterbacks galore, corners and safeties that are projected high, pass rushers that are becoming invaluable, undersaught running backs that are climbing up draft boards and the offensive line never looked sharper.
Here are some final notes for this year’s draft:
Three teams are sure-fire at a quarterback, but who will be the fourth… and fifth?
The Browns, Jets and Bills all need to draft a quarterback today and they’ve made it very clear that they will do so. But who will join them? Giants have Eli Manning, Broncos have Case Keenum, Dolphins have Ryan Tannehill, Cardinals have Sam Bradford, Ravens have Joe Flacco, Saints have Drew Brees, Jaguars have Blake Bortles and the Patriots have Tom Brady, yet somehow all of these teams could draft a quarterback in the first round.
A safe bet is the Cardinals, who have a terribly inconsistent quarterback in Sam Bradford. But at No. 15, will anyone be available?
Then you look at the quarterbacks -- Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson -- all who can be first-round choices. Right now it looks like Darnold will be drafted within the top-five picks for sure. But beyond that, Mayfield’s stock is insanely rising, while both Rosen and Allen are seeing their draft value slipping. If Darnold is selected at No. 1, the second and third quarterbacks chosen will be really interesting. But if some way Mayfield is drafted first, then all hell will break loose, and I think it might just happen.
Your team needs to draft a running back
What do Dalvin Cook, Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, Joe Mixon, D'Onta Foreman, Alvin Kamara, Jamaal Williams, Kareem Hunt and Aaron Jones all have in common? They were each selected in the 2017 NFL draft and all played vital roles on their respective teams this season as rookies.
The running back is BACK in the NFL and better than ever, which means 2018’s talent shouldn’t be overlooked. Saquon Barkley is by far the best player in this year’s draft, who has a chance to make a significant impact almost immediately. Beyond him, there’s Derrius Guice and Sony Michel, who both have first-round caliber.
Then comes the rest of the overlooked backs of this year’s draft. Nick Chubb from Georgia could have one of the best rookie seasons by a running back, behind Barkley. Some other sleepers include Rashaad Penny of San Diego State, Kalen Ballage of Arizona State, Nyheim Hines and Jalen Samuels of N.C. State, Mark Walton of Miami, Bo Scarborough of Alabama, Ito Smith of Southern Miss… the list goes on and on.
If my team drafted a running back on Friday or Saturday, I would be completely satisfied, even in terms of a backup running back.
Offensive linemen: make or break
This seriously is a make-or-break draft for offensive linemen to see where they stand in terms of priorities for teams. The big question is how many will get selected in the first round? There’s not too much controversy on guys like Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey because they are probable first round acquisitions.
Then there comes the others, who are really good, but no telling where they land. Will Hernandez is probably going to be a star in the NFL and Mel Kiper Jr. called him the best run-blocker he’s rated in 20 years. Guys like Kolton Miller of UCLA, Connor Williams of Texas, Orlando Brown of Oklahoma, James Daniels of Iowa and Isaiah Wynn of Georgia might find their way into the first round.
But that word “might” could be stretched far in this draft. Maybe owners will come to an unspoken consensus to take these linemen in the second round. Maybe owners will start drafting linemen in the late first round.
One thing’s for sure, though, the valued state of all linemen will be put to a test tonight.
A pass rusher has value
If Barkley is the best available player to draft, pass rusher Bradley Chubb is a very, very close second. This also indicates how important a reliable pass rusher is in the NFL and how valued they are.
Marcus Davenport of UTSA lit up quarterbacks last year and he too could find his way to a top-10 draft choice.
Vita Vea of Washington, Da’Ron Payne of Alabama and Taven Bryan of Florida will most likely get drafted in the first for their run-stopping abilities. But personally, I would value talents of hybrid linebackers like Roquan Smith of Georgia, Tremaine Edmunds of Virginia Tech and Rashaan Evans of Alabama higher for their significant ability to pressure the quarterback.
Corners/Safeties: A risk not worth the take
Most mock drafts have around four to five defensive backs being taken in the first round. Although some of these guys showed off some great talent in college, it might not be worth a first round choice. Most young defensive backs take time to be groomed into the NFL.
As good as Minkah Fitzpatrick of Alabama, Derwin James of Florida State and Denzel Ward of Ohio State look, their use might not be worth a top-15 choice.