I have been hard at work scouting players this draft season, but I finally have my top 50 players decided. Here’s my 2018 big board.
1. RB Saquon Barkley Penn State
Barkley’s name will belong next to the greatest backs like Tomlinson, Payton, Sanders, Dickerson and Faulk. He has extremely strong legs that’ll power him through between the tackles, shifty feet and great patience to wait for plays to develop. On top of his insane ability in the run game, he’s a supreme back in the passing game. He’ll need some work in protection but that goes for all prospects at the next level. I was really high on Fournette, Elliott and Gurley, but Barkley is on a level higher than that, believe it or not.
He’s truly something special. One of the very best to ever come out of college.
2. OL Quenton Nelson Notre Dame
The best offensive lineman prospect since Brandon Scherff. There’s really no weakness in his game. Throughout all of his games I’ve scouted, he keeps shocking me with his consistency. It takes a couple of snaps for the defense to realize that going through or around Nelson is not going to happen. I’d honestly pick him even if I was stacked at guard – he’s that good.
3. DE Bradley Chubb N.C. State
A freak athlete with elite overall skills. A very safe top 5 pick that will upgrade any team from day 1. Bradley will step in and make plays from the first day in training camp to the last play of the season. His motor is so much fun to watch – it’s a non-stop vicious, mean and bullying style of play.
4. LB Tremaine Edmunds Virginia Tech
Sideline-to-sideline monster in the middle. Will be a nightmare for every coordinator in the league. At only 19, he’s developing into a monster that is just better than the best athlete on the opposite team. He doesn’t get blocked on outside plays and can cover ground in the passing game. He flies all over the field with a wingspan that kills throwing lanes.
5. DB Minkah Fitzpatrick Alabama
Fitzpatrick is an extremely good football player. Most of Fitzpatrick’s snaps came from the nickel position. I wouldn’t put him at corner, not that because he can’t do it, but because he’s so natural in – and – outside the box. He’s an explosive missile vs the run and completely shuts down the area where he lines up. Defensive coordinators will have a lot of fun with his ability and versatility on the field.
6. CB Denzel Ward Ohio State
Ideal in both man and zones. Slick, quick and sticks like glue. Ward is the best cover corner in this class. His game is very easy to fall in love with, as it shows up on tape. He might not be the biggest kid out there but his game is. Don’t be surprised if he gets picked before Fitzpatrick by a team that is looking for an instant starter on the outside. His skills are that good.
7. QB Sam Darnold USC
Big and strong, good movement, great character and shines in big games. Everything you want in a franchise QB. It does irritate me that he won’t throw at the combine – something i believe a franchise QB should do – to deliver in all kinds of environments. Regardless, Darnold’s size, character and production without a solid offensive line will make him my #1 prospect at the position.
8. QB Josh Rosen UCLA
A phenomenal passer with great toughness. He’s the best pure passer in the draft but his character might be an issue. I love the kids’ tape and after watching that, I don’t understand why people doubt his love for the game.
This kid looks like a stud that enjoys being a winner and playing in the spotlight.
9. CB Mike Hughes UCF
An exceptional athlete with elite movement skills. His game is consistent with a lot of intriguing traits. He’ll step in as an explosive returner from day one. Coaches will love his versatility and quickness. He’s one of my favorite players in this entire class. He really sticks out on tape. What you see is what you get.
10. RB Ronald Jones II USC
Jones is a non-stop runner with breakaway speed. His motor is off the charts and will be a very fun toy to play with for coordinators. As most rookie running backs, he’ll struggle at times with pass protection, but that’s not why he’ll get drafted. He’ll be a perfect primary back in year two but exceptionally good as a complementary back as a rookie, both in the pass and run game.
11. DT Vita Vea Washington
A big block of iron that can move exceptionally well for his size. At 344lbs, he will be a safe pick to anchor the middle for a decade.
Not many people in the world at his size can move the way he does. I’d say he’s faster than quick, although he does have a nice burst to his game. He’s a plug-in-play monster from day one and I honestly don’t think he’ll get pushed around as a rookie.
12. OT Connor Williams Texas
Connor Williams is a coach’s dream for the position. His arm length will be discussed but everything to his game is fast, explosive, strong and technical. Williams shows up on tape with great consistency. The tackle class isn’t as deep as you would like, so Williams could hear his name called earlier than expected. I don’t mind picking him just outside the top 10. He’s never played guard but could possibly start his career on the right side to adapt to the NFL speed.
13. CB Josh Jackson Iowa
Jackson’s ball skills are as good as it gets for the position. He’s very calm and sneaky in zone and supports well in the run. With such a deep class at corner, i think Jackson might slip cause he doesn’t possess that elite speed and quickness. He’s a bigger, vicious threat in cover 2. He’ll handle one side as good as anyone. The comparison to Richard Sherman makes sense in my mind.
14. QB Baker Mayfield Oklahoma
Character will be a concern but he’s a gamer. When the lights come on – he’s on. Might sneak higher up in the first round after people saw what Watson did with the Texans. He goes through his reads well and stays patient without scrambling out of the pocket when threatened. Even when he takes of, he keeps his eyes on the receivers for possibilities. Not ideal arm strength but has a quick gun that shoots fast.
15. RB Derrius Guice LSU
Guice is a monster back with great toughness, power and balance. He’ll be an every down back and carry the load with pleasure. Feed him the ball and keep those chains moving. Guice might not be taken until round 2 and could be the first steal of the draft.
16. LB Rashaan Evans Alabama
A prototypical inside backer that can move around and be successful. With great athleticism and leadership character, Evans solidifies as one of the best prospects at his position. Evans has that old school toughness and demeanor that coaches love.
17. SS Derwin James III FSU
James is a violent hitter that’ll sit in the box and smacks you in the mouth. He’s a new school Cov 3 strong safety with great size and traits to match offensive schemes. He very good when keeping receivers and running backs in front of him. He’ll fly down from the safety position fast to cover or simply, hit you with anger.
18. LB Roquan Smith Georgia
Smith is a new school inside linebacker that flies around the field. He does need some improvement to face tougher offensive lineman but his game can’t be ignored. A vicious hitter that covers a lot of ground in the passing game. He’s also a missile as a blitzer. He’ll thrive in a 3-4 scheme where he can be moved around and use his speed and explosiveness better.
19. RB Sony Michel Georgia
Michel runs with good patience, burst and top-end speed. He’s an intriguing athlete that will help any team with his versatility in both the run and passing game. A change of pace back that can be a workhorse in year two.
20. OLB Harold Landry Boston College
Landry might have the best first-step in this class. He shows up on tape with great explosiveness and runs the arch beautiful. He’s a bit inconsistent at times but his top potential could land him in the middle of the first round. He uses his arms well and is natural at the position.
21. CB Jaire Alexander Louisville
Alexander plays with a lot of swagger. He looks like a sneaky ninja and disguises his coverages well. He’s a sticky corner that is not afraid to support the run with some highlight tackling. People have him going in the first or second – I think he’s a sure day 1 pick, even in a deep class like this one.
22. C James Daniels Iowa
Daniels might be one of the best interior offensive linemen I’ve seen in years. He’s a bit small and needs to grow into a prototypical size. He’s so darn fast to the second level that inside backers don’t have a shot at the running back. Daniels is very aware in the middle and keeps great balance when picking up stunts and blitzes. He’s quick and knows how to position himself with nifty feet and great hand placement.
23. QB Lamar Jackson Louisville
Might be the best athlete at the position since Mike Vick. He doesn’t have the same laser arm but he can toss it quite well. Lamar Jackson entire game is based on his ability to break loose and get an extra 20 yards with his legs. If given the right coach and scheme, he can be a very dangerous dual-threat QB. Jackson has some durability issues so he’ll have to learn to be smarter in his scramble game. He’s a headache to prepare for and most defensive players would argue that he’s one of the best players they ever faced.
24. DT Maurice Hurst Michigan
Hurst loves the game in the middle and it shows up on tape. His ceiling is sky high and he looks like a prototypical defensive lineman at the next level. His game is about being a monster in the middle and beat the opposite player with explosiveness and tough demeanor. His burst and wrecking ball play is exactly what you look for in a true defensive tackle.
25. CB Donte Jackson LSU
He might break the 40-yard dash record with his blazing speed. Jackson is an undersized corner, but don’t let the size fool you. He plays very hard and isn’t afraid to get in there. With elite speed and quickness, Jackson might hear his name a bit earlier than expected.
26. OG Isaiah Wynn Georgia
Wynn is a monster run blocker who played his latest season at left tackle. He moves very well at 6’2 300. He’s explosive off the snap and Sumo-blocks hard to create big lanes quickly. His size is an issue at tackle, but at guard, he’s a very intriguing prospect in the trenches.
27. QB Josh Allen Wyoming
If you like a big arm, Allen is your guy. Rumor says that he might go #1 overall. I’m not too high on that deal – he does, however, have a very good character to his bazooka-arm. Allen can move well for his size and should be a sound leader in the locker room. Allen might need to sit behind a veteran for a couple of weeks to adapt. His game isn’t the fastest so he’ll need some weeks to feel comfortable.
28. OLB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo Oklahoma
Okoronkwo is a stud at the position. He’s an outside linebacker perfect fitted for the 3-4. A very natural rusher with great burst and first step. He’ll attack the quarterback with an elite motor and violent – but – technical pass rushing moves. He’s a very good football player and natural at his position.
29. DE Marcus Davenport UTSA
He might be the biggest question mark in the first round (Or is he a first rounder?) He’s a freak athlete with exceptional size. His game is to “out-monster” the edge with crashing moves and violent arms. He looks like a lion on the outside – however – his game is a bit inconsistent and the level of play wasn’t really elite. He did show up in the senior bowl and made himself into a name. He’s an interesting player that might hear his name in the middle of the first round.
30. OT Tyrell Crosby Oregon
Crosby doesn’t get the cred he should. He’s a big mammoth at left tackle and will stay sound in the passing game. I would love to see him to replace Nate Solder in New England. He’s a strong solid rock that can handle speed with good angles and punishing arms. He’s a better finisher than you might think. Royce Freeman ran very well behind him in case you question his ability in the run game.
31. DT Taven Bryan Florida
Bryan might be a bit inconsistent but when he’s at his best it’s off of the charts. He has an amazing motor well fitted to the next level. If he gets into a rotational role as a rookie, he could flash some pro bowl potential. His tape is a lot of fun to scout as he punishes offensive lineman with violence.
32. OG Will Hernandez UTEP
If you’re looking to upgrade the offensive line or the run game, Hernandez is your guy. He’s a mean and tough bully at the position. He finishes very well and really enjoys to make people look bad. He’ll let you know what you’re going against from the first snap of the game.
33. C Billy Price Ohio State
Price is a very skilled center with exceptional movement at 312 lbs. He’s smart, tough and perfect suited for the position. He does at times fall to the ground as he cannonballs out of his stands. He’s a day one starter and will anchor that middle for a very long time.
34. OLB Chad Thomas Miami
Come closer to the draft, we’ll hear about Thomas more and more. He’s a vicious violent rusher off the edge. He crashes plays with toughness and haunts the quarterback with his presence. Thomas possesses an elite motor and tackles very well. Put his tape in and you won’t be disappointed.
35. CB Tarvarus McFadden FSU
Like almost every other corner in this class, McFadden plays with tons of swagger. He’ll stick his head in vs the run as a sure tackler. He can match up vs tight ends, blitz off the edge and play in the box. This kid has all the tools you want to play with and his size is ideal.
36. CB Carlton Davis Auburn
It’s hard to be the best in this class, almost every corner in the top 50 is a solid first-round pick. Davis is one of them. He doesn’t have many weaknesses in his game and has ideal size with good movement. He might not have that swagger like Alexander and Ward.
Bottom line is, he’s a very good corner that will see the field a lot from day one, both on special teams and in multiple sets on defense.
37. DE Sam Hubbard Ohio State
Hubbard isn’t the fastest DE but he plays the position very well. I don’t think he’ll blow up the combine but he does shut down that left side of the defense. He should step right in and play well with a high motor, good leverage and natural moves as a 4-3 DE.
He did move around a lot and was involved in some zone-blitzing schemes. He’s a good football player that will do what he’s told.
38. CB Isaiah Oliver Colorado
Oliver is a tall corner with long arms that he uses well. He doesn’t have that elite speed or quickness. He does, however, cover very well and plays the flat well. He’s a bit raw but would work well vs taller receivers and in the red zone.
39. SS Marcus Allen Penn State
Allen is one of my favorite player in this draft. Put on the tape, any tape, and you’ll understand why. He’s a vicious player that faces blockers just the way you want. He’s not a single high safety and he lacks that elite speed to cover a lot of ground. He can play one side in a cover 2 but his game is about setting the tone on defense. I think this kid will grow into a big name in year two. He’ll need to adapt his timing vs NFL speed. He’s very consistent hard-hitting tackler.
40. DT Harrison Philips Stanford
Philips is a different type of defensive tackle. He doesn’t get moved, he just doesn’t get moved! It’ll be a lot of fun to see how strong this kid is. I’ve watched all of his games in 2017 and he is just a monster in the middle. Now – He’s not a pass rusher, at all, something that’s valued very high in the pros but he doesn’t get moved and can play all downs. He’s truly a force in the middle.
I would dare to say that he’s slow but super-man strong and explosive.
42. WR Dante Pettis Washington
Pettis is my first pick at receiver. He’s an exceptional route runner with sure hands. As a returner, he’s quick, shifty and finds the lane fast. He’s a bit skinny but don’t let his size fool you. He’s a baller.
43. OLB Lorenzo Carter Georgia
At 6’6 242, Carter is a rangy LB that flies to the sideline fast with great tackling ability. He shuts down one side of the field and can rush the passer with violent arms. His tape was fun to watch. He uses his long body and arms well and rarely misses a tackle. Carter might not be high on other boards but I’ll challenge them. This kid will be a star in a couple of years.
44. WR Christian Kirk Texas A&M
Kirk is a dynamic, muscular receiver that was used as a slot and running back. The idea at A&M was to get the ball in his hands so he could outplay the defense. He runs routes well and is explosive in and out of his cuts. Kirk might be the first receiver getting picked but I question his catching ability as a rookie.
45. MLB Leighton Vander Esch Boise State
Talk about a fun tape to scout. At 6’4 240, Vander Esch is all over the field. He has an elite motor and runs sideline-to-sideline with consistent tackling ability. He does it all and at a good level. You can match him up vs big tight ends but he will struggle at times vs shifty running backs.
46. WR Calvin Ridley Alabama
Ridley is a slick receiver that always seems to come up with the ball. He finds himself in good positions and works very well with the QB on broken plays. He didn’t play with a natural passer at Alabama but he still ended up as a prime receiver. He has some nice route running ability and is a sure pass catcher.
47. WR Courtland Sutton SMU
Sutton is a big receiver that can develop into a stud #1. He does need some work and shouldn’t be counted as a starter in the first half of the season. In the red zone though, he should be accounted for. That’s his game. He uses his arms and body well to create separation and is a reliable target closer to the endzone.
48. TE Dallas Goedert South Dakota State
Goedert will be the first tight end of the board. He didn’t play vs elite defenses but what he did do was to catch the ball with great concentration and exceptional eye-hand-coordination. He wasn’t asked to do a lot of blocking but his main game is as a flexed tight end.
49. OT Mike McGlinchey Notre Dame
Big and heavy mammoth to anchor the right side. McGlinchey has a solid foundation and some movement for his size. More ideal for the right side as he’ll struggle vs elite pass rusher exploding of the left side of the offense. This kid doesn’t get pushed around by anyone. Big, strong and solid.
50. RB Kerryon Johnson Auburn
Like the cornerback class, it’s tough to be the best at the position. Johnson has a very enjoyable tape to watch. His game is pro-like and should be able to step right in from day 1. I see him as an all-purpose back with the ability to create of his own. He’s tough, hard and fast. A very consistent ball carrier. Coaches will love his game from day one.