NFL Draft Rants: Best Locks at Each Position
Quarterback: Sam Darnold USC
- I have no idea why people seem to try to find a way to talk themselves out of top quarterbacks. It even happened the year Andrew Luck was coming out of college. It\'s like people cannot except that it is too good to be true and that now includes Sam Darnold. He has been a lock top pick the past two seasons after he had a break out year when he took up the starting reigns at USC. He righted the ship on a flailing blue blood team at the time with underdeveloped players and a poor overall coaching staff. You would think the bright lights might scare him off, but he embraced it instead and took the challenge head on. Remember he is still a young kid at the age of 20 and will be 21 by the start of the season. Not only that, but he was a linebacker in high school and did not go to the qb camps that many other top high schoolers did before heading to college. His mechanics are not perfect, but he is a raw mold if you ask me who embraces being coached, learning, and working hard to get better. He is also a true leader, a gamer, and knows how to elevate the moral of a locker room. If the Browns do not pick him then I will be glad to see them be in turmoil for another decade since they would show that they have no clue what they are doing. In fact, then he would head to a better run team like the Giants and probably turn in an even more successful career.
Runningback: Nick Chubb Georgia
- This is why I would not take a back in the first round there are so many great names in this draft that will slide. I could pick from a bunch of Sony Michel, Ronald Jones, Royce Freeman, Rashaad Penny, and many others here. However, a bigger name among all of them that could sneak into the first round in my opinion could be Chubb. He is a bigger back than his teammate Sony Michel to better hold up to the rigors of the NFL. The only drawback is his pass catching reps or blocking reps that were taken by Michel, but there is enough tape to show that he can catch passes well. For a man his size it is impressive how good his breakaway speed is getting away from defenders. Not only that he is not a big back looking for contact that will ultimately end up getting you hurt. He avoids those big hits with good vision and footwork to absorb big blows better. I could honestly see him being a better back than Barkley down the line.
Wide Receiver: Calvin Ridley WR Alabama
- I cannot stand how drastic people can be after the Combine and are quick to knock a guy down the boards or up the boards just by working out well in shorts. If you are a good scout or GM you already have an idea who can play from watching game tape that and should not be swayed by a 40 time or how high a guy can jump. If you put on Ridley\'s tape you see savvy route runner with a smooth release and amazing hands. No he is not the biggest receiver, but neither are the top guys like OBJ, Antonio Brown, Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster, T.Y. Hilton, or Keenan Allen. I actually see a lot of similarities between he and Smith-Schuster. Both had disappointing Combines and had kind of steady albeit not impressive tape throughout the year. However, both to me have the natural talent and stuff to be a dominant target. Ridley could be taken in the mid-20s range in the first round, which to me is a steal to possibly land a top receiver.
Tight End: None
- There really is not a top tight end to label a lock in this class nor is there any that I am truly in love with.
Offensive Line: Orlando Brown OT Oklahoma
- Quenton Nelson is too easy of a lock to declare so I am going to go out on a limb here and call Brown my lock blocker from this class. Again, I do not think the Combine holds much staying power in determining if you slide up or down my big board. I put more stock in tape and if a top guy has a bad day at work outs I just chalk up to a bad day. As expected Brown came back on his Pro Day and looked a whole lot better there. My only issue is how tall he is, which usually is not a problem at most positions. However, I find taller left tackles to be exposed against smaller edge rushers. On the other end he can be an excellent right tackle with his size and power. I would not be shocked if he turns into one of the better blockers from this weak class and mostly due to being a strong pass blocker with a lot of experience in the Big 12 in the passing game.
Defensive Line: Da\'Ron Payne DT Alabama
- Again, Bradley Chubb would be the easy pick here so I will look elsewhere to make my lock. I normally am not a fan of Alabama defenders since they do get a lot of help from the players around them, but this year I am going against my word. Payne to me is a different type of player out of Alabama for the first time in awhile. He spent most of his career on the bench, which means he has less wear and tear on his body like others that came into the NFL. That also means there is much more to develop out of the star of the National Championship who was flying all over the field for long periods of the game. I also like him a bit more than Vita Vea since he has more scheme versatility over the nose tackle who is a best fit in a 3-4 front. Payne can be a nose, five-technique, or even a big three-technique. I think he could be one of e best defenders from this draft in general.
Linebackers: Roquan Smith Georgia
- Personally, I would not draft him in the first round since off ball linebackers values have dropped a bit in the modern day NFL. However, I fully contend that he could also be one of the best defenders from this draft. He is just a modern day linebacker who can fly around the field making plays all over it. He has a nose for the ball and high end instincts. Meanwhile, some are comparing his leadership and fire to one Hall of Fame backer by the name of Ray Lewis. I really think he was also a star during the Bulldogs run in the playoffs displaying great all around impact on the game against Oklahoma and then against Alabama. Personally, I would not draft him high, but I would be shocked if he turned into a bust in any form.
I am not in love with any of these corners really and at this point it feels like everyone has their own favorite flavor on who is the best. I think the activity of teams locking up their own corners or aggressively going after them in free agency tells you this is not a strong class at the position.
Safety: Minkah Fitzpatrick Alabama
- Again, normally I avoid over hyped Alabama players, but this year Fitzpatrick and Payne have been the exceptions in my book. Not often does a freshman come in and take up a leadership role in Alabama\'s secondary. Especially, with how meticulous Nick Saban is at the position. He is not the fastest, biggest, or most athletic guy, but you rarely need to be at safety where IQ usually is more valuable. Fitzpatrick just makes the right plays, has great ball skills, and has a nose for the ball on every play. He reminds me a lot of Eric Berry and Earl Thomas as quarterbacks in the secondary dissecting plays and calling the coverage. I can see him being a steady high end player for a long time in this league, but like linebacker safeties rarely make as big of an impact as compared to a pass rusher or a strong corner. However, I would probably draft him if he was there with how savvy and intelligent he is.