A lot can change as the season progresses and then there is the NFL Combine in Indianapolis well after the season and the All Star games. However, these are the guys that should be among the first to go in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Sam Darnold – USC: Darnold has been the favorite to win the Heisman and to be the first player chosen, but his stock is probably dropping along with his play. He is definitely missing last year’s receivers like JuJu Smith-Schuster. At 6-4, 220, Darnold is perfectly sized for the NFL and he is cool under pressure. This season, Darnold is having problems with interceptions having thrown at least one in every game. But, he is still a fantastic NFL prospect.
Josh Rosen – UCLA: The long and lanky Rosen has the arm and the size at 6-4, 218 and all of the abilities that quarterback hungry NFL teams desire. After being injured as a sophomore, Rosen is back and his stock should be climbing.
Mason Rudolph – Oklahoma State: Rudolph is a natural. At 6-5, 230 is definitely the NFL
prototype. Rudolph took over the starting role at the end of his freshman season and is now a 4 year starter and is pretty consistent. He throws a great deep ball hitting James Washington for numerous touchdowns.
Baker Mayfield – Oklahoma: Without Mayfield, Oklahoma would be pretty average in spite of a great offensive line. I don’t know that Mayfield will make it into the 1st round, but he might be considered. He is a bit on the smaller size as far as length at 6-1, 220. But, he is a strong scrambler and can buy time with his feet better than most quarterbacks. On this season, he has yet to throw an interception with 15 touchdown tosses.
Lamar Jackson – Louisville: Jackson has a cannon for an arm and he can obviously run better than most running backs. He also has good size at 6-3, 210. His performances against good teams may be a factor against him and some may question his leadership abilities. But, he does have the athletic ability and the arm to make a great NFL quarterback. He will go somewhat early, but the question is how early.
Clayton Thorson – Northwestern: There are always surprises when the draft gets going and Thorson may be one of those shockers. Thorson has been mentioned as a possible first day kind of guy with his 6-4, 225 and his strong arm. He might even return for his senior season.
Luke Falk – Washington State: There can be no going back for Luke Falk, he is a senior. Some will say he is a system quarterback because he plays for Mike Leach and none of his quarterbacks have made it in the NFL. But, others say that Falk is different. He is 6-4, 223 and has had an incredible college career throwing the football.
Saquon Barkley – Penn State: Probably the best player in this draft. Barkley is 5-11, 230 with tremendous strength and speed. He supposedly ran a 4.33 40 yard dash and bench pressed 455 pounds. He is something of a super man that can also return kicks and catch out of the backfield.
Nick Chubb – Georgia: The 5-10, 225 Chubb splits time with the talented Sony Michel and has been one of the nation’s best backs since his freshman season in 2014. There was a time when people were declaring Chubb better than Leonard Fournette. He is big, powerful and fast and
should have a great NFL career for somebody.
Darrius Guice – LSU: Leonard Fournette basically called Guice his equal and while that may, or may not, be true Guice probably doesn’t go as quickly in the draft as Fournette. Guice runs really hard and is really hard for one guy to bring down.
Bryce Love – Stanford: After losing Christian McCaffrey, some thought that Stanford would go down hard. But, Bryce Love is running through defenses as if they aren’t even there. Currently, he is averaging over 10 yards per carry. He isn’t big, but he has great speed and moves.
Ronald Jones II – USC: Another back with great speed and moves, Jones is well thought of by many. He hits the hole really quickly and is gone into the secondary. If looking for a speed back, Jones might be your guy.
Calvin Ridley – Alabama: After Amari Cooper declared for the NFL, Ridley came in the following season and took over almost where Cooper left off. Ridley has been the leading receiver for the Crimson Tide for the past 3 seasons. Ridley is about 20 pounds lighter than Cooper, but has a lot of the same qualities.
James Washington – Oklahoma State: Washington has been Mason Rudolph’s go to guy and big play threat for 3 seasons. He’s about 6-0, 205 with breakaway speed and great hands. He could be some team’s first choice if they need a big play receiver.
Christian Kirk – Texas A%M: The 5-11, 205 Kirk is a dangerous return man and an outstanding receiver. He was the top wide receiver recruit in the nation a few years ago and has lived up to the billing and then some. No team is safe with Kirk in the game.
Courtland Sutton – SMU: Might be the best of them all with his good size, 6-4, 215, and big play ability. He plays in the American Athletic Conference, but a lot of great players come out of
smaller schools, or lessor conferences.
Deon Cain – Clemson: The Tigers have a lot of big play receivers and Cain is the guy that replaced Mike Williams for Clemson. He doesn’t have that great size, but the 6-1, 190 Cain is a big play waiting to happen.
Equanimeous St Brown – Notre Dame: St Brown is an intriguing prospect at 6-5, 205. He’s really thin at this point, but still growing and he’s another big play guy. Right now, the Fighting Irish don’t throw the ball a lot. But, St Brown is a guy that they go to when they need big yardage.
Deontay Burnett – USC: Burnett is really small at about 6-0, 170 but he is a guy that’s a dependable receiver and also a big play guy. Some think he’s a 1st rounder, but others do not.
Dante Pettis – Washington: Great return guy as well as receiver. The 6-1, 195 Pettis has 6 touchdown receptions and 3 punt returns for touchdowns so far this season. He’s very scary with the ball in his hands.
Hayden Hurst – South Carolina: An older and more mature guy, Hurst played some minor league baseball before returning to football. Hurst is 6-5, 250 and is a good blocker as well as a receiver from his tight end position.
Troy Fumagalli – Wisconsin: Might be the best pure tight end in the country. He can definitely catch the football, watch the Cotton Bowl from last season for proof. He also has great size at 6-6- 250 and his blocking has come a long way.
Mark Andrews – Oklahoma: Andrews is 6-5, 255 and he usually plays wide in the Oklahoma offense. He definitely is a threat in the receiving game, but I am unsure of his blocking abilities.
Adam Breneman – Mass: Penn State transfer is considered by some as the best tight end in the country. He is 6-5, 255 with great hands and he is the top target in their offense. He is definitely
one of the top guys to consider.
Mike Gesicki – Penn State: What an outstanding athlete the 6-6, 250 Gesicki is. He can dunk a basketball like an NBA player and he can come up with the big catch. I don’t expect 5 tight ends to go in the first round, but any of these guys could possibly go quickly.
Orlando Brown – Oklahoma: Giant offensive tackle at 6-8, 345. But, even at that incredible size, he moves really well. Either Brown, McGlinchey or Hyatt should go first but it’s going to depend on the team that needs the offensive tackle. Brown is a freak of nature and that should make him a wealthy man in 2018.
Mike McGlinchey – Notre Dame: The 6-8, 315 McGlinchey decided to return for his senior season at Notre Dame and he teams up with guard Quenton Nelson to form one of the more formidable pairs of left tackle and guard in recent memory. Like Brown, McGlinchey is very light on his feet and athletic. He is cousins with Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and it would be cool if they picked him.
Mitch Hyatt – Clemson: Hyatt has started since his freshman season and has already played in 2 national championship games against Alabama. This kid can play and is quick enough to handle just about anyone off of the edge. Compared to the other tackles, Hyatt is tiny at 6-5, 305, but he can play.
Trey Adams – Washington: Adams might also be in the mix. He’s another guy that’s come in and started since day one even though he hadn’t filled out at that point. Now, Trey Adams is 6-8, 327
and a grown man.
Connor Williams – Texas: The athletic Williams was considered to be the guy that was going to be taken first. But, he looked bad in his opening game and then he went down for the season with a knee injury. Williams will probably still declare for the NFL, but how quickly he can be ready to play may determine when he is selected. I can see him dropping in the draft and losing a lot of money. He should return for his senior year and become a top 10 pick in 2019, but I would bet he doesn’t.
Chukwuma Okorafor – Western Michigan: Another guy that is a top talent up front. He is 6-6, 330 and a talented run, or pass, blocker. He’s been the top lineman in the MAC for a while and he did return for his senior year.
Martinas Rankin – Mississippi State: A lot of people love this guy and he deserves it. The Bulldogs are not having a great season, but that has little to do with Rankin. I don’t think the 6-5, 315 Rankin goes in the 1st round, but you never know.
Quenton Nelson – Notre Dame: Rarely are guards taken in the first round, but Nelson is a special talent. I like Nelson because he is 6-5, 330 and seems to have very little fat on him, plus he has a motor that seemingly doesn’t quit. You want a guy like this on your team, but he probably falls to the 2nd round.
Billy Price – Ohio State: Price is another special player. He will be a 4 year starter for the Buckeyes and moved to center for his senior season. He has long been rumored as the strongest player on the team and he has been playing at championship level since his freshman season.
Harold Landry – Boston College: Superb pass rusher off of the edge. As a junior, Landry led the nation in sacks and he returned for his senior season. He’s not huge at 6-3, 250 but he’s one of those guys that has a non stop motor and is hard to block. Guaranteed first round pick essentially.
Tyquon Lewis – Ohio State: One of the Buckeyes best players over the past 3 seasons. He is pretty consistent in his pass rush and he should be a 1st or 2nd round draft pick. Lewis is 6-4, 265 and a beast coming from his end position.
Arden Key – LSU: Key has been a tall and lanky pass rusher for the Tigers. At 6-6, he hadn’t filled out until recently and is now carrying about 265 pounds. Because of his length and potential, Key could go really early in the draft to somebody needing some heat on the quarterback.
Bradley Chubb – NC State: One of the best players in America. The senior Chubb is 6-4, 275 and equal against the run or the pass. With already 13 tackles for loss and 6.5 quarterback sacks,
Chubb is on track to equal last year’s success and then some. If Chubb isn’t a 1st rounder, I will stop blogging about college football and take up fishing.
Josh Sweat – Florida State: Sweat was a top recruit that’s been starting since his freshman season. Although starting, I wouldn’t say that he has lived up to his potential. However, he is starting to come on strong and the 6-5, 255 Sweat has a shot at going pretty early in the draft. Who knows, he might even return for his senior season and do better.
Clelin Ferrell – Clemson: The Tiger’s defensive line is more than filled with talent and Ferrell came on strong last season helping Clemson win the national title. Ferrell is 6-5, 260 and always in the enemy backfield. He possesses super quickness, but he can also play the run really well. He is only a sophomore, but he redshirted as a freshman giving him 3 years in the program and making him eligible.
Sam Hubbard – Ohio State: Another star at defensive end. The former safety is 6-5, 265 and also a terror from his end position. The Buckeyes have so much defensive line talent that they all share time and that makes the production down somewhat.
Austin Bryant – Clemson: This season, Bryant is playing better than Ferrell, so far. He leads the team in quarterback sacks and he also lives in the backfield of the enemy. Bryant is 6-5, 265 with excellent athletic ability.
Dorance Armstrong – Kansas: Probably a second, or third day guy, Armstrong still has a ton of potential. He is about 6-4, 245 or more, and has very good quickness.
Marquis Haynes – Ole Miss: Way undersized at about 6-3, 230 but he has the quickness to play either outside linebacker, or inside linebacker. Haynes has been Ole Miss’ top pass rusher for about 3 years.
Christian Wilkins – Clemson: The most athletic defensive tackle in the nation outside of maybe teammate Dexter Lawrence. Wilkins can run with the best of them and he’s 6-4, 300. With injury problems, the Tigers moved Wilkins to defensive end last year and he didn’t miss a beat. With his size and quickness, Wilkins should be an easy 1st round choice.
Derrick Nnadi – Florida State: Great run stopper that gets great penetration in opponents backfield. He’s not necessarily a great pass rusher and he’s short at 6-1, 310. In spite of lack of length, Nnadi is a very productive player.
Da’Ron Payne – Alabama: Super strong and similar to Nnadi in size and production. He’s 6-2, 308 and right now is almost tops on the Bama defense in total tackles at this early point of the season. Payne is a physical specimen who should go quickly in the draft.
Maurice Hurst – Michigan: Hurst is thought of as a 1st round pick by most experts even though
he’s only 6-2, 280. Hurst is a force up front and he is highly disruptive to offensive lines. Mo Hurst is super quick and a good pass rusher from inside.
Da’Shawn Hand – Alabama: A 6-4, 290 beast that can play either tackle or end. Hand hasn’t been a starter much during his career, but his potential is so great that he may be hard to pass up for some NFL teams.
Vita Vea – Washington: Dominating defensive tackle with great size at 6-5, 340. He is quick, strong and powerful with the ability to take over games.
Andrew Brown – Virginia: A former 5 star recruit, Brown had been practically forgotten until recently. Brown is another guy that might go pretty quickly based on potential.
Trenton Thompson – Georgia: In last year’s bowl game against TCU, Thompson may have saved his reputation by sacking the Frog quarterback 3 times. Thompson has dropped about 20 pounds and might be a little quicker. It’s not a given that he comes out, but if he does he has a shot at going quickly.
Micah Kiser – Virginia: Strong and aggressive inside linebacker at 6-2, 240. He battles yearly with teammate Quin Blanding for team leader in tackles.
Malik Jefferson – Texas: Jefferson is finally start to live up to his enormous potential. At 6-3, 240, Jefferson has good linebacker size and he’s got really good speed.
Kendall Joseph – Clemson: Very speedy and hard hitting linebacker that’s not perfectly sized at 6-0, 225 but he does have a lot of talent. He is the leader of a very talented defense, but in all fairness the defensive line playing in front of him is almost super natural.
Cameron Smith – USC: One of the better run stuffers in the country, Smith is 6-2, 250 and able to make plays from sideline to sideline. Smith has been a grown man since high school and is very
Jerome Baker – Ohio State: Super productive and athletic play maker that’s all over the field and mixed up in everything on the defense. Baker is somewhat undersized at 6-1, 225, but he makes up for it with great speed.
Azeem Victor – Washington: Another very physical inside linebacker and strong on 6-3, 235. He may not go first day, but he should be taken pretty early.
Tarvarus McFadden – Florida State: Best cornerback in the country. He had 8 interceptions a year ago and quarterbacks are mostly keeping away from the 6-2, 205 corner and that’s a wise choice. Cornerbacks are one of the more popular position players picked on draft day and McFadden should go quickly.
Jaire Alexander – Louisville: Pre season All American that was lost in game 2, so it’s hard to tell what he might do. He is an excellent cover corner when healthy and he might return for his senior season, but who knows at this point.
Iman Marshall – USC: Biggie Marshall is one of the more well thought of cornerbacks in the nation and he’s got good size at 6-1, 205 for a corner. He’s in his third year as a starter and a very physical defensive back against the run.
Denzel Ward – Ohio State: What’s an NFL draft without a Buckeye defensive back going in the 1st round? Ward has great speed and is a really tough hitter.
Derwin James – Florida State: A lot of people think that James is the top player in the country regardless of position but that doesn’t mean he will be the first player picked in the draft. The Seminoles have the top safety, cornerback and one of the very best defensive tackles but that hasn’t helped much in a 1-3 start to 2017 when many had them picked as a playoff team.
Minkah Fitzpatrick – Alabama: Fitzpatrick started as a true freshman at cornerback. He has the coverage skills to make a top safety in the NFL. He has that great size, too, in 6-1, 205.
Marcus Allen – Penn State: Tackling machine of a 4 year starter for the Nittany Lions. In his
career, he only has one interception which could cost him a first round selection. But, he has a good build at about 6-2, 205. A lot may depend on his combine results.
Ronnie Harrison – Alabama: Harrison is a hard hitting safety with linebacker size at about 6-3, 215 and he possesses great speed and ball skills. He leads the team in tackles so far and he has 2 picks on the year.
Armani Watts – Texas A%M: The Aggies have not been known for defense in recent years, but Watts is a keeper. He will be among the team’s leading tacklers and he already has 3 interceptions on the season.