2018 NFL Draft Positional Rankings

Here with a quick pre-combine positional ranking list for the 2018 NFL Draft.  Not gonna ramble too much here I’ll get right to business with my top 7 prospects per position.

Quarterback:

  1. Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma)  The stats on this kid tell the entire story, 3 straight seasons leading the nation in QBR, 71% completion percentage, 4,627 yards, 43 TDs to only 6 INTs.  A great leader, Mayfield reminds me of a combination of Russel Wilson and Drew Brees.
  2. Josh Rosen (UCLA) – Watching Rosen throw the ball is a treat, he has such a natural release and his mechanics are unmatched in this class.  He had a terrible line in his UCLA career yet maintained his poise and ran a pro-style offense from under center, something not many guys can say anymore.
  3. Sam Darnold (USC) – He needs to find a way to cut down the turnovers, a lot of bad decisions led to him throwing 13 INTs last season.  That aside, he has all the arm talent in the world, NFL size, and has made great throw after great throw in crunch time.
  4. Lamar Jackson (Louisville) – Even Mike Vick said he was a better version of him.  While I don’t believe him, I do think Lamar has special talent.  He has a wiry frame and will need to survive some hits in the NFL but he doesn’t get enough credit for his arm talent and ability to make multiple reads.
  5. Josh Allen (Wyoming) – It’s been very widely reported that Allen has tremendous arm talent, he has a cannon attached to his shoulder, but hasn’t figured out how to use it.  Doesn’t make many good decisions, overthrows a lot of deep balls, and misses a lot of easy throws.  All the potential in the world but not very polished as an NFL QB.
  6. Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma St) – These air-raid offenses are tough to judge from a QB perspective.  Rudolph has good size, can throw the ball down field and lead receivers in to open windows.  The question remains, can he make multiple reads and deliver accurate throws against NFL coverages?
  7. Luke Falk (Washington St) – Another product of an air-raid offense led by Mike Leach, Falk has shown the ability to throw the ball into tight windows by throwing for 70% this year.  Not very athletic, but if he adds some weight he has the ability to become a qualify NFL starter.

Running Back:

  1. Saquon Barkley (Penn St) – The consensus #1 RB, and viewed by many as the top overall prospect in the draft, Barkley has run for over 3,800 yards in his 3 years at PSU with an average line.  That’s not taking into account his 54 catches for 632 yards receiving and 2 kick return TDs this year.
  2. Derrius Guice (LSU) – A strong RB who loves contact, Guice runs hard and has had to consistently run against a box of 7-9 men.  Taking that into consideration Guice has still averaged 6.5 ypc for his career, and over 2,600 yards and 26 TDs the last 2 years.
  3. Sony Michel (Georgia) – Sony is a true one cut slasher who ran for almost 8 ypc this year to go with 1,227 yards and 16 TDs in a crowded backfield.  You only have to watch his CFB Playoff performances this year to see he has all-pro capability, I still think if Georgia gives him the ball another 5-10 times against Alabama he’d have a ring.
  4. Ronald Jones II (USC) – The Jamaal Charles comparison is real, RJII is a great athlete who has the potential to go the distance every time he touches the ball.  He is a great fit in the modern NFL, finishing with over 1,500 yards and 19 TDs in a lead-back role for the Trojans this year.
  5. Nick Chubb (Georgia) – Reminds me of Curtis Martin, someone who doesn’t necessarily have 1 “special” trait, but does everything well.  Good size, good (not great) speed, good vision, and the ability to break tackles in space.  If it weren’t for injuries he might be higher up on this list.
  6. Kerryon Johnson (Auburn) – A decisive runner who has the ability to find and hit a hole hard.  He has NFL size, and the ability to be a 3 down running back.  Johnson racked up over 100 yards against Alabama, Georgia, and LSU, and ended up with nearly 1,400 yards and 24 TDs while battling injuries.
  7. Rashaad Penny (San Diego St) – Penny is one of those guys with great size and speed, the question is did he just dominate lesser opponents or can he run through NFL defenses as well?  He is a draft crush of mine and put up crazy numbers in his career, over 2,248 yards, 7.8 ypc, and 23 TDs his senior year, all to go with 8 career return TDs.

Wide Receiver:

  1. Christian Kirk (Texas A&M) – A guy without much QB help in his career, he is someone who has made an impact on his program from day one.  He is a versatile receiver who can play on the boundary or in the slot in the NFL, as well as return kicks and punts.
  2. Calvin Ridley (Alabama) – Another guy who made an impact right away at Alabama, Ridley is viewed by many as WR1 this year.  I think he’s going to have a very good career, it’s just hard to see anything truly special in his game.  He’s a consistent receiver who knows how to run a clean route, but didn’t make enough big plays to warrant a top 15 pick.
  3. Courtland Sutton (SMU) – A big body receiver who is going to be a great 3rd down/red zone threat on any offense.  Not very versatile, he’ll be locked into the boundary, but with the lack of great outside receivers in the league right now Sutton will step in and make an impact right away.
  4. Equanimeous St. Brown (Notre Dame) – Another big body, St. Brown checks in at 6’4 and is a phenomenal athlete for his size, doing a lot of damage after the run this year.  He fought through a lot of double coverage to end up with 1,400 yards and 11 TDs the last 2 years in a run first offense.
  5. Michael Gallup (Colorado St) – This guy can flat out play with anyone.  Gallup is a gamer who ended up with almost 2,700 yards and 21 TDs the last 2 seasons.  He has sure hands (100 catches in 2017) and the ability to make a big play out of any completion.
  6. Anthony Miller (Memphis) – Miller is a great athlete with quick feet that helps him get separation with clean route running, and explode past the secondary after the catch.  In a high powered offense, Miller shined with over 1,400 yards and 14 TDs each of the last 2 seasons.
  7. Deon Cain (Clemson) – While he may not be on Hopkins level in Clemson lore, Cain is a big dude with long arms who made big catch after big catch in jump ball situations.  Not a burner, he’s more in the Alshon Jeffrey mold in today’s NFL as someone who excels in the red zone.

Tight End:

  1. Dallas Goedert (South Dakota St) – Has ‘special’ potential in today’s NFL.  Phenomenal athlete who makes huge plays with his jump ball ability as well as his ability to run after the catch.  Has soft hands for a man of his size and should upgrade the passing game of any NFL team.
  2. Mark Andrews (Oklahoma) – Really good in space with his ability to find open windows in the middle of the field.  Not a great blocker, but how many of today’s NFL TEs are?
  3. Hayden Hurst (South Carolina) – Has good size and good production from his time at South Carolina.  Hurst’s main knock is the fact that he will be a 25 year old rookie after a stint in minor league baseball.  He is a polished blocker and pass catcher and will fit right into today’s NFL.
  4. Mike Gesicki (Penn St) – Gesicki is a great athlete who you could mistake as a WR but will surely line up in a similar role as Evan Engram (a TE you don’t rely on to block).  Had 9 TDs for Penn State and should be a solid red zone threat in the league.
  5. Ian Thomas (Indiana) – He came onto the scene with 2 TDs against Ohio State earlier in the year, and has all the physical tools to succeed in the NFL.  Not very consistent, and could use a lot of work blocking.
  6. Troy Fumagalli (Wisconsin) – “the prospect with 9 fingers” Fumagalli is a true tight end.  He’s a solid blocker, and has soft hands, but is not the athlete that makes you stand out of your seat all too often.
  7. Dalton Schultz (Stanford) – A Stanford tight end, that is all you need to know about Schultz.  Solid blocker who can open holes in the running game, Schultz also has the ability to make plays in the passing game although he didn’t have many opportunities to do so.

Offensive Tackle:

  1. Mike McGlinchey (Notre Dame) – Has true tackle size, and is a good enough athlete to trust with the blind side.  He also led one of the best running attacks in college football last year, McGlinchey can do it all and has moved his way to my OT1 in this draft.
  2. Connor Williams (Texas) – While he has fallen off his status as the top tackle in America going into this season, flip on the tape and see Williams has great technique in pass protection.  A little smaller than you’d hope for out of the position, Williams makes up for it with his fundamentals.
  3. Orlando Brown (Oklahoma) – Brown is a man among boys, coming in around 6’7 360 lbs.  He is a better run blocker than pass blocker, so I see him fitting better at RT in the NFL.  He needs to get lower at the point of attack to become a better pass blocker to hit his potential.
  4. Brian O’Neill (Pittsburgh) – A wide receiver in high school, a tight end as a freshman, O’Neill might be the best athlete at his position in the draft.  Has the potential to be a great pass blocker with proper coaching, he just needs to add strength and weight to succeed at the next level
  5. Martinas Rankin (Mississippi St) – Another good athlete who needs to add strength and power to his game to take him to the next level.  Rankin is a solid pass blocker and helped a very successful Miss St offense.
  6. Jamarco Jones (Ohio State) – Played very well in OSU’s spread, read option offense.  Jones is very capable at both pass and run blocking, and should succeed at either LT or RT in the NFL.
  7. Chuckwuma Okorafor (Western Michigan) – A better run blocker than pass blocker, I see Okorafor as a very solid NFL RT.  He has good size, should check in around 330 lbs, and paved the way for a very successful Western Michigan running game the last few years.

Interior Offensive Line:

  1. Quenton Nelson (Notre Dame) – Might be the best player in the draft.  Nelson is someone who you can almost guarantee as an all-pro at some point in his NFL career.  He is a true mauler in the running game, and a more than capable pass blocker.
  2. Will Hernandez (UTEP) – Hernandez is a straight up mauler, big boy who throws his weight around and dominates at the point of attack.  We’ll see how his pass protection holds up early in his NFL career but if you need help in the running game this is your guy.
  3. Braden Smith (Auburn) – Another guy who can help your running game right away.  Smith paved the way for a great Auburn running game this year and is an above average pass blocker to boot.  Technically sound, should be a great 2nd round pick.
  4. Isaiah Wynn (Georgia) – A college tackle who is just too small for the position in the NFL, Wynn should make the transition inside seamlessly. He has proven himself as a run blocker even on the outside, and even provided more than adequate pass protection for his freshman QB last season.
  5. Billy Price (Ohio State) – A very solid, intelligent player in the middle of your offense, Price lined up at center for most of his career and performed extremely well.  Well balanced for the passing and running game, can play C or G in the NFL.
  6. Frank Ragnow (Arkansas) – The best name I could possibly find for an interior lineman in the NFL.  Ragnow has great fundamentals from the center position and extremely balanced run blocking or pass protecting.
  7. James Daniels (Iowa) – Like most Iowa linemen before him, Daniels excels in the running game, paving the way for a great Hawkeye rushing attack, but he is also a plus pass protector.  Doesn’t have great size or athleticism so I see him sticking to his center position at the next level.

Defensive End/Edge:

  1. Bradley Chubb (NC St) – Chubb should end up being a top 3 pick in this years draft, a great fit as a 4-3 DE, but can also stand up in a 3-4.  Extremely productive last season with 73 tackles, 25 TFL, and 10 sacks against a tough conference.
  2. Harold Landry (Boston College) – Landry took a step back from a production stand point after his phenomenal junior year where he racked up 16.5 sacks.  He isn’t the biggest guy in the world but he holds up well enough against the run, should be a 3-4 pass rushing specialist for at least his first few years in the league.
  3. Arden Key (LSU) – Has elite potential, with motor concerns.  Should be a top 10 pick in the draft on talent alone, just flip on the Florida tape and watch him go to work.  He has all the tools you want, but struggles to flash them consistently.
  4. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (Oklahoma) – Flashes elite traits as a pass rusher at the next level, and I was surprised/impressed with his ability to play the run, and drop back in coverage.  Somebody nearly every 3-4 team should be targeting on the outside.
  5. Duke Ejiofor (Wake Forest) – Technically sound pass rusher who doesn’t have a huge body or elite athleticism, but rather, relies on his bevy of moves to get past linemen.  Should translate well to the next level, not somebody who will be an all-pro level player but a plus starter in the NFL.
  6. Marcus Davenport (UTSA) – A small school guy who tore up lower competition.  Really made his name at the Senior Bowl where he dominated nearly everybody who stepped in front of him.  Boom or bust athlete who, if he receives good coaching, should have a fruitful career ahead of him.
  7. Uchenna Nwosu (USC) – One of my favorite players in the draft, Nwosu is a stud pass rusher who can drop into coverage and make plays.  Watch his tape against Stanford and you’ll see why I think he’s a potential 1st round talent.

Interior Defensive Line:

  1. Da’Ron Payne (Alabama) – Big, athletic, technically sound, Payne was the anchor of a few great Alabama defenses in recent years.  He’s a guy who can hold his own to stuff the run, and get penetration to get after the QB, should be a great fit as a 4-3 DT or 3-4 DE.
  2. Vita Vea (Washington) – About 6’4 and 340 lbs, Vea is a monster in the middle with shocking athleticism.  His first step is extremely quick and allows him to generate a solid pass rush up the middle.  Should be a mammoth in the middle of nearly any defensive front you want to deploy him in.
  3. Maurice Hurst (Michigan) – I’ve watched Hurst dominate competition for a few years now and can say he’s going to be a great fit for whoever drafts him into the NFL.  His best fit would be a 4-3 DT where he can use his size to plug running gaps and penetration to generate an inside pass rush.
  4. Taven Bryan (Florida) – Another guy with a quick first step who can generate some pressure on the QB from the inside.  Needs to develop in terms of football IQ and how to attack the lineman in front of him, but in terms of raw talent, this guy might end up being the best of the bunch in this draft.
  5. Tim Settle (Virginia Tech) – Settle has exploded on the scene recently and for good reason.  He’s a true nose tackle and knows how to throw his weight around the interior line.  Had a very productive season with 36 tackles, 12.5 TFL, and 4 sacks last year.
  6. RJ McIntosh (Miami) – This guy was constantly in the backfield disrupting offenses to lead that great Hurricanes defense.  Extremely productive with over 50 tackles (12.5 for loss).  Could benefit from adding a few lbs and some strength to his game but he has some pass rushing moves and gets to the backfield in a hurry.
  7. Harrison Phillips (Stanford) – A monster season, 100 tackles, 17 TFL, 7.5 sacks.  Those are some video game numbers, that said Phillips has a lot to learn to be productive at the next level.  He plays a bit too high and I’d like to see him lower his pad level to be more consistent at the point of attack.

Linebacker:

  1. Roquan Smith (Georgia) – Someone who really stands out watching tape, Smith is constantly running sideline to sideline making plays, which showed up big time with 137 tackles, 14 TFL, and 6 sacks.  The fastest ‘on field’ LB I’ve seen in a long time, he’ll be a treat to watch in the NFL.
  2. Rashaan Evans (Alabama) – Comes into any play with aggression, Evans is a missile when he finds the ball carrier.  Plays fast, violent football and will find a spot in nearly any defensive front.
  3. Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech) – A big, fast, physical specimen, Edmunds is all over the field for Virginia Tech, in both a good way and a bad way.  You can find a lot of plays watching him over pursue or fail to hold contain, but it’s really hard to ignore the raw talent and athleticism he brings to the table.
  4. Malik Jefferson (Texas) – Someone who has been in the spotlight at Texas since he stepped foot on campus, Jefferson didn’t disappoint.  He finished his junior season with over 100 tackles, 10 TFL, and 4 sacks.  He really stands out on tape as a versatile linebacker who I think is best fit as a 4-3 OLB.
  5. Darius Leonard (South Carolina St) – Another guy who dominated lower level competition, Leonard stood out at the Senior Bowl as someone who can really play against anybody.  He is impressive in coverage, gets behind the line of scrimmage to make plays, and should be ready to go day 1 in the league.
  6. Jerome Baker (Ohio State) – Probably the best cover linebacker in the draft this year, Baker has speed to spare and uses it very well getting outside the hashes to cover running backs, tight ends, and even receivers.  Also one of the smallest linebackers in the draft, he’ll need to add some strength to his game to excel at the next level.
  7. Josey Jewell (Iowa) – Call me crazy I don’t like Vander Esch as much as most (not good against the run).  Jewell is a polished linebacker coming from Iowa who can do everything well, can play inside or outside, make plays in the running game or in coverage, should be a good fit for a lot of teams especially in the middle of a 3-4.

Cornerback:

  1. Joshua Jackson (Iowa) – Minkah would be my CB1, but for simplicity we’re keeping him at safety today.  Jackson is very versatile, he has an NFL body, NFL athleticism, and translated that into big time production in college.  Hard to forget his 3 INT game against OSU this year.
  2. Denzel Ward (Ohio St) – Speaking of Ohio State, Denzel Ward should be the 2nd corner off the board in this draft.  He isn’t the biggest guy in the world where we now look for 6’0+ CBs, but he plays physical and makes up for his size with great play making ability.
  3. Jaire Alexander (Louisville) – Alexander is a rangy cover corner who isn’t afraid to step up and make a play.  He has a quick first step and can come up to knock down a curl, or leap in front of you to make a game-changing interception.
  4. Isaiah Oliver (Colorado) – Another guy who isn’t afraid of making a big play, Oliver has made plenty of them in his time in Boulder.  He has made a few “wow” plays in coverage, and isn’t afraid to come up and make tackles at the line of scrimmage.
  5. Donte Jackson (LSU) – Probably the best athlete in this class, coming out of “DB-U” Jackson has a knack for coming up to hit, playing well in zone coverage and reading the QB, and has the speed to stick with anyone man to man.
  6. Mike Hughes (UCF) – Hughes is a fluid athlete who can turn and run with anyone in man coverage.  He has the ability to make plays in coverage, and in the return game where he took back 2 kicks and a punt for TDs last season.
  7. MJ Stewart (North Carolina) – MJ loves playing in press coverage.  He’s a guy who can get up in your face, and stick with you deep into the route.  Loves contact and isn’t afraid to get behind the line of scrimmage and make tackles in the running game.

Safety:

  1. Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama) – The best safety in the draft, the best corner in the draft, maybe the best player in the draft.  I think Fitzpatrick is best suited as a ball hawking safety but it will all depend on who drafts him and where they need him, All-Pro capability at either position.
  2. Derwin James (Florida State) – An absolute best in the back end of your defense, James is a tremendous athlete.  He’s a big, strong guy who can run sideline to sideline and make plays all over the field in coverage, and get to the QB or make plays behind the line of scrimmage in the run game.
  3. Ronnie Harrison (Alabama) – Should be a rangy strong safety in the league, loves contact and isn’t afraid to make his presence felt in the middle of the field.  A true enforcer, he doesn’t have the body of a Kam Chancellor, but he hits like him.
  4. Justin Reid (Stanford) – Reid is a guy who gives you a little bit of everything, he’s a prototype safety who can make plays over the top in the passing game, and isn’t afraid to come into the box to make stops in the running game.
  5. DeShon Elliott (Texas) – Elliott got a lot of attention for his 6 INTs this season but he’s more than a ball hawking free safety.  He is great in space and doesn’t allow for many yards after the catch, and isn’t afraid of contact in the running game.
  6. Terrell Edmunds (Virginia Tech) – Edmunds has good size for the safety position and is another versatile weapon in the back end.  Flashed the ability to cover, whether you need him sitting in a zone or manning a tight end, Edmunds can cover, and make plays in the run game.
  7. Kyzir White (West Virginia) – True strong safety.  White loves contact and comes up to lay the boom whenever he gets the chance.  Had a solid Senior Bowl after totaling nearly 100 tackles in his final year at West Virginia.

 

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