2018 NFL Draft: Offensive Prospect Notes and Breakdowns
Sam Darnold, USC
He’s my favorite. Recent mock drafts have relegated him to sub-top 2 pick status for some reason, but I chalk that up to the media trying to create a roller coaster. He has the “It” factor intangible, is a tough competitive kid, and has the frame to compete in the brutal AFC North. If I’m the browns, Darnold is the no brainer. He throws with anticipation and goes through his progressions like an NFL QB. Can extend plays with his legs and craftyness. He has sort of an awkward throwing motion, and he can fumble the ball, but both of those can be cleaned up.
Josh Rosen, UCLA
Best Pure passer, confident kid and vocal leader. Big personality but it’s tough to determine whether that will help him succeed or fail at this point. Super pretty passing mechanics but his thin frame and injury concerns would make me weary about rolling the dice on him as a number 1 pick. All in all great mechanics though. Puts the ball right on target with ideal velocity. Sort of lacks instincts as a play extender, but if drafted to a team with a good offensive line that would obviously be mitigated. Day 1 starter, but I’m a firm believer that all QB’s can benefit from a year on the bench and in the film room.
Josh Allen, Wyoming
Not a huge fan of inaccurate quarterbacks, but Allen is a big guy (6’5) with a lot of physical talent. He’s mobile and has an ultra rare touch on the deep throw that only about 5 NFL quarterbacks have. His senior bowl week helped his draft status and I support the notion of a QB needy team spending a pick on him, but I’m still not sold on him due to accuracy concerns. Mechanics always translate to the next level, but a “talented athlete/developmental project” has failed many a times.
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
In his words, “Winner.” I’m weary to go all-in on the heisman winner because I was also guilty on going all in on Johnny Manziel after his Pro-day (The Camo Shorts and Drake combo really spoke to me.) Of course, comparing Mayfield to Manziel is a lazy comparison and most likely a product of recency bias with respect to my schema of short dynamic playmakers at the QB position. Much like Allen, I do think a team should spend a high pick on him. The Jets at 6 is an ideal landing spot. His technique is great, he throws the ball with a lot of velocity and despite his height deficiency he still has a compact frame.
Lamar Jackson, Louisville
Scouts are saying he should switch to WR. While it is true that he wont be able to torch NFL defenses with his legs like he once did in the NCAA, he has a rocket arm and playmakers should play QB. Ideally he’d be able to sit behind an experienced veteran, and when his time comes his OC will craft a scheme around his talents instead of trying to mold him into a pro-style pocket passer. I think the Chargers or Patriots would be wise to spend a 2nd round pick on him and let him soak in the wisdom from sitting in the QB room with a legend for a few years before he’s unleashed on the league.
Saquon Barkley, Penn State
The high-pick running back seems to be making a resurgence after back to back years of Zeke Elliot and Fournette going in the top 5 of the past drafts. Media members are saying that teams have Saquon Barkley no higher than 7 overall, but I think that is smoke. Barkley is a legit home-run threat at 230 pounds with thighs that look like tree trunks. In a unique game theory strategy, assuming no trades occur, the Browns could pick Barkley number 1 and walk out of the draft with best scenario. Under the premises that A.) the Browns believe the Colts could take Barkley B.) The Browns have equal grades on the top 2 QB’s C.) No trades occur, they could safely expect to have Barkley and one of the top 2 QB’s because the Colts will not spend the number 3 pick on a QB. Not saying I expect this to happen, but in a Kevin Costner parallel universe it would be an interesting gamble. Barkley is a can’t miss prospect and will be awesome in the NFL. He doesn’t really lower his shoulder on contact, but his running style is conducive to never having contact once he gets past the second level.
Ronald Jones II, USC
My number 2 running back, Jones is a bigger Jamaal Charles with legit speed and receiving ability. His lower body strength allows him to fight through contact, and he has good vision and feel for cutback lanes.
Derrius Guice LSU
I think it would be cool to yell “The Guice is loose!” after he breaks off a big run. Probably the most natural runner in this draft class, he runs with power. Contrast to Barkley, he seeks out contact once he gets to the second level and seems like he wants to hit DB’s more than they want to hit him.
Hayden Hurst, SCAR
Pretty interesting story of a guy who got drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012 and played professional baseball in their organization for a while before walking on to South Carolina. Had Tommy John surgery as an 8th grader, some scouts would say that's a knock but I think it's kinda badass. Smooth and fast with a big catch radius. Probably a 1st rounder.
Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin
I watch a lot of Big 10 games on Saturdays and when I watched Wisconsin, I was always like “holy shit their tight end is nice!” Kind of ironic that he only has 9 fingers but is probably one of the best catchers in this entire draft class. He’s not a super athlete but he has a knack for finding the soft spot in a zone and again, comes up with some ridiculous catches. Reliable target.
Quinton Nelson, Notre Dame
Allegedly better than his former teammate Zach Martin, and also allegedly a lock to be a 10 year all-pro. Would like to see him go number 9 to the 49ers. Guard isn’t exactly a sexy position to spend a top 10 pick on, but having a tough nasty and technical lineman enter the building can change the whole culture of an offensive line and change the demeanor of an offense (see: Redskins and Brandon Scherff)
Will Hernandez, UTEP
Was allegedly fucking people up (I said the F word sue me) in 1-on-1 drills at the senior bowl. A super tough guard from a small school, I expect him to sneak into the first round.
Orlando Brown, Oklahoma
A mountain of a man at 6’8 and 360, Brown is going to move some people at the next level. Son of former NFL lineman Orlando Brown Sr. who famously missed 2 seasons after a ref “unintentionally” threw a penalty flag at his eye. In an interview with Bleacher report, Brown Jr. tells a story that as a 6’6 450 pound eighth grader (he throws that detail in there casually, I think it's worth noting that he was 450 pounds in eighth grade) he was in a game and his dad screamed at him from the sideline “stop playing so soft! If you don’t stop playing so soft, I’m gonna get in the car and go home!” and he said that was a “eureka” moment that football was less about technique and more about mentality. Doesn’t have perfect mechanics but is huge and strong and will be drafted likely as a right tackle in the 1st round.
Isiah Wynn, Georgia
The left tackle for the NCAA Championship losers Georgia Bulldogs, Wynn projects as an awesome guard at the next level. He is kinda small (6’1, 305) but he’s an advanced technician with super nimble feet. Was extremely dominant at Senior Bowl. Natural player who is great in pass protection.
Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
Good tackle but kind of overrated. Stiff, will play RT in league. Maybe 1st Round. Great size but lacks elite quickness to succeed against premier pass rushers.
Connor Williams, Texas
The LT from Texas is getting praised and mocked as high as 3rd overall to the Colts in some mock drafts, but that is asinine. Better than all of the LT’s from last years class but still struggles with strength and in pass protection. Not very high on him but he could be good. He’s a fluid athlete who can succeed in the running and passing game. He played better 2 years ago than he did last year.
Billy Price, Ohio State
The G/C from Ohio State is versatile and can play anywhere in the interior. Super nasty attitude and I would love him on my team. Nick Saban and Urban Meyer produce superior NFL players in comparison to other schools purely as a product of their coaching. Could slip into 1st round.
James Daniels, Iowa
Best C in the draft, he will rise up draft boards. O-linemen from Iowa are always coached well as they are one of the last teams in the NCAA that still run a pro-style offense. He’s very quick to latch on in the run game and is also outstanding in the pass game. He’s an “All-Albert” guy I think will make an impact early on with good “between the ears” skills.
Rick Leonard, FSU
First round potential. An underlooked prospect. Switched from D line 2 years ago and has grown tremendously both physically and as a player. Look for him to make a huge impact for the right team.
Still have to evaluate WR’s but for now I like James Washington and Christian Kirk. Kirk is compact and reminds me of Golden Tate.
Calvin Ridley is probably the top WR in the class but I still have to evaluate Sutton and others. Ridley has elite athleticism and route running. More of a technician than a jump ball guy.