The 2018 NFL Draft is finally here and with this year’s event shaping up to be one of the most significant in recent memory, it might be hard to break it all down. Here is a full draft preview complete with a mock draft, prospect analysis, and much more to help dissect the 2018 draft class.
The NFL Draft is a crucial time of the offseason filled with feelings of anxiety, angst, and anticipation. All 32 NFL teams will do their best to sort through a collection of the best college athletes from around the country and select which ones they feel will be most beneficial for their organization going forward.
It could be a franchise-altering event, one that could propel the team to future success and set the layout for a subsequent dynasty. Or it could be a dreaded “draft-day disaster” that could set a franchise back years in development.
Either way, it’s certainly a lot for evaluators and team officials to take in. It is simultaneously difficult for fans and analysts to assess the draft pool and all of its encompassing prospects, stories, and outcomes.
Consider this your crash course on the 2018 NFL Draft.
The following will provide a detailed analysis of the upcoming draft containing a mock draft, prospect spotlights, an inspirational story or two, best team fits for the New York Jets, and a special collection of prospects with the most….interesting and funny names.
Thus, in the words of the immortal Black Eyed Peas, “Let’s Get it Started.”
Mock Draft (with trades)
As a rule, I typically do not like to draw up mock drafts with trades as there is almost an infinite amount of possibilities that could occur. That being said, there is close to a guarantee that there will be at least one trade in this year’s draft and that trade will likely have major implications.
With that, the following is a look at one potential scenario that could play out in the first round of this year’s draft. For a more in-depth look at this mock draft with analysis of each pick, check it out here.
1. Cleveland Browns: QB Sam Darnold (USC)
2. Buffalo Bills (from NYG): QB Josh Rosen (UCLA)
3. New York Jets (from IND): QB Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma)
4. Cleveland Browns (from HOU): RB Saquon Barkley (Penn State)
5. Denver Broncos: QB Josh Allen (Wyoming)
6. Indianapolis Colts (from NYJ): EDGE Bradley Chubb (NC State)
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: S Derwin James (Florida State)
8. Chicago Bears: OG Quenton Nelson (Notre Dame)
9. San Francisco 49ers: LB Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech)
10. Oakland Raiders: LB Roquan Smith (Georgia)
11. Miami Dolphins: DB Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama)
12. New York Giants (from BUF, from CIN): OT Mike McGlinchey (Notre Dame)
13. Washington Redskins: DT Vita Vea (Washington)
14. Green Bay Packers: CB Denzel Ward (Ohio State)
15. Arizona Cardinals: QB Lamar Jackson (Louisville)
16. Baltimore Ravens: WR Calvin Ridley (Alabama)
17. Los Angeles Chargers: DT Da’Ron Payne (Alabama)
18. Seattle Seahawks: CB Josh Jackson (Iowa)
19. Dallas Cowboys: WR Courtland Sutton (SMU)
20. Detroit Lions: EDGE Harold Landry (Boston College)
21. Cincinnati Bengals (from BUF): C James Daniels (Iowa)
22. New York Giants (from BUF): EDGE Marcus Davenport (UTSA)
23. New England Patriots (from LAR): OT Kolton Miller (UCLA)
24. Carolina Panthers: WR Christian Kirk (Texas A&M)
25. Tennessee Titans: LB Rashaan Evans (Alabama)
26. Atlanta Falcons: DT Maurice Hurst (Michigan)
27. New Orleans Saints: TE Hayden Hurst (South Carolina)
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: LB Leighton Vander Esch (Boise State)
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: WR D.J. Moore (Maryland)
30. Minnesota Vikings: OG Isaiah Wynn (Georgia)
31. New England Patriots: EDGE Sam Hubbard (Ohio State)
32. Indianapolis Colts (from PHI): OG Will Hernandez (UTEP)
Next: Squeaky Clean Selections
Squeaky Clean Selections
EDGE Bradley Chubb – NC State
Bradley Chubb highlights this year’s list of the safest prospects in the draft.
Chubb is a high-motor, athletic pass rusher who has the production and physical traits necessary to be one of the premier edge defenders in the NFL. He has prototypical size and has experience playing multiple different positions on a defense. Whether he’s a standup 3-4 outside linebacker or a hand-in-the-dirt 4-3 defensive end, Chubb will find a way to make an impact on the football field.
While he may not be the same kind of athlete we’ve seen from edge rushers drafted early in previous drafts (i.e. Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney), Chubb is as well-rounded as they come with the ability to do other things besides rush the passer. The NC State product is also an excellent run defender and his ability to set the edge is not something that is lost on scouts and analysts.
Ultimately, Chubb is a high floor player who is going to be a good starter at the next level in a worst-case scenario. Best case scenario: he’s a top-five pass rusher.
OG Quenton Nelson – Notre Dame
Quenton Nelson has been called the best guard prospect since Steve Hutchinson and one quick look at his tape makes it hard to argue that claim.
He is an absolute mauler of a blocker who possesses elite strength and the technique to hang with even the most gifted defensive linemen. Nelson’s footwork and experience as a starter make him one of the safest players in this class simply due to his high-floor. Everyone knows he’s going to be good.
His run blocking is his greatest strength as he demolishes opposing defensive tackles and finishes his block by driving them five, sometimes 10 yards downfield. However, calling something his “greatest strength” shouldn’t mean that any other part of his game should be labeled a “weakness.”
Make no mistake about it, Nelson has no weaknesses.
Barring any non-performance disruptions, there is no reason why Nelson shouldn’t be a perennial All-Pro player year-in and year-out. Seldom has there ever been a prospect with as few red flags as Nelson.
And by few, I mean none.
C Billy Price – Ohio State
Let’s first address the elephant in the room, that being the absence of Penn State phenom Saquon Barkley. Barkley is an exceptional talent, there’s no disputing that. There is no reason why he shouldn’t be a fantastic NFL player and one of the top running backs in the league. But therein lies the problem.
He’s a running back.
It can be difficult to declare any running back a “safe pick” simply because of the beating they take every time they touch the football. While Barkley doesn’t have a concerning medical history, there is no guarantee that he can stay healthy in the pros. Less of a guarantee than players at other positions in fact.
While Barkley may be the safest running back prospect in quite some time, he isn’t the safest player.
Now, on to Billy Price. Price has long been one of my favorite prospects in this entire class and much of that has to do with his status as a “safe pick.”
The former Ohio State center is a no-nonsense tough guy who doesn’t know the meaning of the phrase “take it easy.” Price displays intense power and explosiveness from the time of his initial first step to the sound of the whistle. There’s no slowing this guy down.
He has the leadership and intangibles to be exactly what a team is looking for in a 10-year starter at center and there’s little that should get in his way of reaching stardom. Some point to Price’s impatience and overzealous blocking style as a weakness, but I see it more as a strength. He has an excellent first step and little could slow him down once he gets going.
Does he need to be a bit more patient and disciplined as a blocker? Probably. But this doesn’t make him one of the safest prospects in this class with sky-high potential to boot.
Next: Boom or Bust Options
Boom or Bust Options
QB Josh Allen – Wyoming
In a class full of controversial, unpredictable quarterback prospects, Josh Allen may just be the most contentious of them all.
There are concerns over Sam Darnold’s turnover tendency, concerns over Josh Rosen’s injury history and attitude, and concerns over Baker Mayfield’s height, level of competition, and personality, but none compare to the boom or bust prospect that is Wyoming’s, Josh Allen.
It’s been said before, but Allen has all the tools from a physical standpoint to be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He has the size, arm strength, and athleticism to be the next Cam Newton or Ben Roethlisberger, but his mechanics are a major concern.
Allen finished his collegiate career with a completion percentage of 56.2 and while stats never tell the whole story, it’s a concerning number nonetheless. His major problem seems to be with his footwork, mainly in the placement of his front left foot.
Too often Allen has found himself over-stepping with his front foot which has forced many of his passes to sail high and over the heads of his intended targets. This is an area where he has shown improvement, most notably with his performance in workouts at this year’s Senior Bowl, but there’s no guarantee that he will be able to continue this development.
Any team that drafts him will be taking a major risk that he will be able to maintain his growth and maturation as well as putting immense trust that their coaching staff will be able to guide him to success.
It’s a risk, but one that could pay off quite nicely if all goes according to plan.
EDGE Marcus Davenport – UTSA
Marcus Davenport is the defensive version of Josh Allen.
Much like Allen, Davenport is a physical specimen. Standing at 6’6″ and weighing in at over 265 pounds, the UTSA product ran a blazing 4.58 40-yard dash and his agility is more reminiscent of Antonio Brown than a typical edge rusher.
He’s a physical freak on the level of NFL Pro-Bowlers Calais Campbell and Jadeveon Clowney but his makeup and refinement have plenty of scouts concerned. Right now he’s more flash than substance with the ability to make game-changing plays at will, but without the consistency to be a top-five pick.
Davenport must learn to not rely as much on his athleticism and try and develop his pass rushing traits to be successful at the next level. He was able to easily dominate low-level competition in the C-USA with his athletic traits but the NFL is an entirely different story. His athleticism is a good start, but to become a complete player he must first work on his fundamentals.
He could be really good one day, but for now, he’s a major risk.
WR Equanimeous St. Brown – Notre Dame
Drifting away from the first round, Notre Dame’s Equanimeous St. Brown is one of the mid-round intriguing boom-or-bust prospects in this year’s draft.
Besides having perhaps the greatest name in the entire class — more on that later — the Fighting Irish receiver has an exceptional size and speed combination that could be deadly for opposing defenses. At 6’5,” St. Brown ran a 4.48 40-yard dash which is essentially equal to Antonio Brown’s 40-time at his combine. But many scouts have concerns about his effort.
St. Brown is an ideal example of a player with the physical aptitude to be a dominant force, but at the same time lacks the want and desire to strive for greatness. Despite his size and large frame, the Anaheim native struggles to release from press coverage and analysts point to his apathy and lack of effort for this weakness.
He has the potential to be an elite downfield threat for any offense he’s a part of, but he must become a more consistent performer and that could start with his intentions on the field.
For that reason, teams should be well-aware of the risk they are taking with this ultimate boom or bust option.
Next: Unheralded Prospects
S Justin Reid – Stanford
Justin Reid is a player who has been overshadowed a decent amount because of the high profile safeties expected to go early in the first round but make no mistake about it, he’s going to be a very good player in the pros.
Plenty of teams likely have their eyes on players like Derwin James and Minkah Fitzpatrick as safeties to watch out for this coming NFL seasons. Which is fair because those are two really good players. But some team is going to get very lucky when they land Reid early in the second round as they will snag a player who has a high floor and will likely be a starter from day one.
The Stanford defensive back could be this year’s version of Marcus Maye of Marcus Williams, safeties who went early in the second round of last year’s draft but turned out to be excellent starters right out of the gate and overall solid players.
Reid is the prototypical do-it-all kind of new age safety who has the athleticism and versatility to perform well in man coverage while he has the range and ball-hawking ability to play anywhere from a robber zone to a center field zone. He even has the strength and tackling ability to be able to play up near the box if asked to.
If you’re looking for value and a player who is all but guaranteed to be very good at the next level, then Reid is a safe option who also possesses All-Pro upside.
DT Nathan Shepherd – Fort Hays State
Unlike Reid, Nathan Shepherd is more of a developmental prospect, but one that’s been shooting up draft boards ever since his performance at the Senior Bowl a few months back.
Shepherd is a small-school raw talent who possesses the NFL talent to be a successful pro but needs a little more refinement. The Canadian-born defender dominated the competition at the Division II level but there were concerns about hos his level of play would be affected by such a drastic step-up in competition.
Those concerns were at least partially put aside when he impressed with his Senior Bowl workouts and with his overall performance during the game. He showed that he could step up and compete with talent from the big Division I programs which opened the eyes of many scouts and analysts alike.
Shepherd still needs to develop more and become a complete player but his raw traits are already there. He flashed his ability as a pass rusher which leads many to believe that he would be a better fit as a 4-technique 3-4 defensive end rather than an interior defensive lineman.
Wherever he plays at the next level, Shepherd has a chance to become the next small-school defensive lineman to become an All-Pro in the NFL following in the footsteps of players like Jared Allen and Damon Harrison.
CB D.J. Reed – Kansas State
D.J. Reed is a player that may get overlooked because of his size and pigeonholed as a nickel corner at the next level, but that would be doing the talent and heart that he possesses a considerable disservice.
First of all, the entire idea of a player’s value taking a hit because of the fact that he’s a slot corner should be an outdated notion regardless. Luckily for players like Reed, it appears to be trending in that direction. In today’s NFL where defenses are in their nickel packages over two-thirds of the time, one would think nickel cornerbacks would finally be valued as a true starting piece of a defense.
With Reed likely to fall into Day 3 of this year’s draft, it’s clear we aren’t at that point yet.
What Reed lacks in size he more than makes up for with his heart and determination to play the game. A former community college standout, Reed has enough athletic ability to get by and consistently plays bigger than his size. He’s not afraid to catapult himself head-on into traffic to make a tackle and he hits harder than his 5’9″ stature would indicate.
Reed has the mentality to become better and he is a player who will maximize his abilities to become the best player he could be. He will likely never be a star outside corner in the NFL, but he projects as someone who could make a real difference as a slot corner which should keep him busy and on the field more often than not.
His value as a potential return man should only help his stock and he could be a major steal on Day 3 and perhaps even sneak into Day 2.
Next: An Inspirational Story
CB Michael Joseph – Dubuque
For the inspirational slide of this preview, it could have been easy to go with one of the more high-profile heartwarming stories of this year’s class. Shaquem Griffin is likely the name that comes to mind for most. However, at this point, there have been so many stories done on his unbelievable path to the NFL that it would seem a bit redundant.
This slide could have been used to highlight South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst whose original dream to play in the MLB came to a screeching halt so he turned back to football, walked on with the Gamecocks, and now at almost 25-years old is a potential first-round pick.
Instead, let’s focus on the incredible, improbable journey of Michael Joseph, a Division III athlete who very well could find himself drafted come this year’s draft. The fact that Joseph is a Division III football player should give a good idea about how unlikely his journey to this point has been, but to simply leave it at that would fail to tell the whole story.
Joseph wasn’t just a no-name coming out of high school, his name didn’t even exist. Seriously, out of the 8,506 prospects that received profiles via Rivals.com‘s official scouting database, over half of them didn’t even receive a single star rating (the ratings were out of five stars).
Michael Joseph didn’t even receive a profile.
By their standards, he wasn’t even considered a student-athlete, just a student.
But looking at his high school “credentials,” it’s hard to blame them. Joseph played on his junior varsity team as late as his junior year and never started a game for his varsity team. Chase Goodbread of NFL.com does a fantastic job of recounting a story of a time where a starting cornerback on Joseph’s team was injured in a playoff game. The coach hollered for him to get ready for game action, only to change his mind a put the team’s quarterback out there instead.
The team had such little confidence in Joseph’s abilities that they opted to put in their quarterback over the team’s actual backup. Joseph wasn’t just a reserve, he was a bench warmer.
The only time Joseph ever saw in high school was garbage time or as a special teamer. He had some noticeable athleticism to his game, but at just 5’8″ and weighing in at around 130 pounds, Joseph resembled more of a walking stick than a football player.
Nonetheless, Joseph wanted to continue playing football at the collegiate level. The only problem was no team had any interest. Joseph worked to compile a list of so-called “highlights” consisting of strictly garbage time snaps and special teams tackles. At one point in Goodbread’s article, Joseph estimates that he had no more than a dozen tackles throughout his entire high school career. He sent his “highlights” out to small, local schools, mostly at the Division III and community college level.
Not even Division III or junior college teams had any interest in Joseph playing for their football teams. It wasn’t until a last-ditch effort in an email to the University of Dubuque, a small D-3 school in eastern Iowa, that Joseph was finally accepted to a school to play football.
Being so small and skinny, it was imperative that Joseph should put on weight to beef up and fill out his frame. He actually had some solid athleticism but was too small to see the field during his freshman year.
Due to the college’s minimal budget, they were unable to provide the necessary amenities for Joseph to gain the weight he needed. In fact, he worked a variety of jobs and even struggled to eat typical amounts of food some nights. His coaches simply told him to eat whatever he could get his hands on. Eventually, this approach paid off as he slowly started to gain weight around the same time that he hit his growth spurt.
Once Joseph grew into his body, it was revealed the type of special talent he was on the football field. He started at Dubuque for the majority of his remaining three years and earned numerous honors including All-Iowa Conference first-team, Iowa Conference Defensive Player of the Year, and the prestigious Cliff Harris Award, given to the top small-school defensive player in the country.
Eventually, word began to get around to some NFL scouts about how talented Joseph was and this year he became just the second Division III player to receive an invite to the Senior Bowl in the six years that executive director Phil Savage has been running it. The other player, Ali Marpet, is doing pretty well for himself as a current starting offensive guard for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Now, standing at 6’1″ and weighing in at 187 pounds, size is no longer an issue, but a strength. Joseph is projected to be drafted in one of the final few rounds of the NFL Draft and he will once again have to fight an uphill battle and prove his worth.
But it’s hard to bet against a guy who’s been doing exactly that his entire football career.
Next: Jets Selections and Best Team Fits
Jets Selections and Best Team Fits
Round 1, 3rd Overall: QB Josh Rosen (UCLA) — Alternative Options: QB Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma), QB Sam Darnold (USC), QB Josh Allen (Wyoming)
More from The Jet Press
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- NY Jets: Why the team should not cut Jamison Crowder
- NY Jets should try to sign Kenny Golladay in free agency
- NY Jets: Jonnu Smith would be a smart free-agent target
Round 3, 72nd Overall: EDGE Dorance Armstrong Jr. — Alternative Options: EDGE Kemoko Turay (Rutgers), EDGE Uchenna Nwosu (USC), CB Donte Jackson (LSU)
Round 4, 107th Overall: OT Desmond Harrison (West Georgia) — Alternative Options: EDGE Tyquan Lewis (Ohio State), WR Cedrick Wilson (Boise State), DL Trenton Thompson (Georgia)
Round 5, 157th Overall: CB Kevin Toliver (LSU) — Alternative Options: TE Troy Fumagalli (Wisconsin), EDGE Ade Aruna (Tulane), CB/S Kameron Kelly (San Diego State)
Round 6, 179th Overall: DL Folorunso Fatukasi (Connecticut) — Alternative Options: TE Dalton Schultz (Stanford),), CB Darius Phillips (Western Michigan), WR Quadree Henderson (Pittsburgh)
Round 7, 235th Overall: TE Durham Smythe (Notre Dame) — Alternative Options: CB Michael Joseph (Dubuque), EDGE Joe Ostman (Central Michigan), LB Mike McCray (Michigan)
Next: 2018 NFL Draft: All-Name Team
2018 NFL Draft: All-Name Team
Every year there is a long list of prospects with funny, interesting, and sometimes downright ludicrous names that are eligible for the NFL Draft. I have compiled a list of the players with the most interesting names out of every player that will be eligible for and be a part of the 2018 draft class.
Not every one of these players will be drafted, but they are all entered as a part of this year’s draft. With that, enjoy this positional breakdown of the most unusual names of the 2018 draft prospects.
Quarterback: Anu Solomon (Baylor)
Running Back: Diocemy Saint-Juste (Hawaii)
Running Back: Akrum Wadley (Iowa)
Running Back: Roc Thomas (Jacksonville State)
Wide Receiver: Equanimeous St. Brown (Notre Dame)
Wide Receiver: Key’vantanie “Keke” Coutee (Texas Tech)
Wide Receiver: Simmie Cobbs Jr. (Indiana)
Tight End: Jeb Blazevich (Georgia)
Offensive Tackle: Joseph Noteboom (TCU)
Offensive Tackle: Timon Parris (Stony Brook)
Offensive Guard: Salesi Uhatafe (Utah)
Offensive Guard: Gerhard De Beer (Arizona)
Center: Jacob Ohnesorge (South Dakota State)
Defensive Line: Dee Liner (Arkansas State) *Yes, there is a ‘defensive lineman’ named ‘Dee Liner’
Defensive Line: Poona Ford (Texas)
Defensive line: Handsome Tanielu (BYU)
Defensive Line: Zaycoven Henderson (Texas A&M)
EDGE: Finesse Middleton (South Alabama)
EDGE: Hercules Mata’afa (Washington)
EDGE: Ogbonnia “Obo” Okoronkwo (Oklahoma)
EDGE: Kemoko Turay (Rutgers)
Linebacker: Leighton Vander Esch (Boise State)
Linebacker: Bayle Wolf (Army)
Cornerback: Zykiesis Cannon (Maryland)
Cornerback: Daletavious “Duke” McGhee (Minnesota)
Cornerback: Secdrick Cooper (Louisiana Tech)
Safety: Godwin Igwebuike (Northwestern)
Safety: Dane Cruikshank (Arizona)
Kicker/Punter: Shane Tripucka (Texas A&M)