2018 NFL Draft Ten Prospects To Watch
2018 First Look Top Ten NFL Draft Prospects To Watch
Of course doing anything related to 2018 right now is insane, but when it comes to the 2017 NFL Draft, it matters.
Jared Goff is still emerging and needs time, and Carson Wentz looks like a keeper, but neither one has the upside of DeShone Kizer or Mitch Trubisky, and neither one has the could-be-truly-special-but-is-a-risk potential of Deshaun Watson. And that doesn’t even include Brad Kaaya, Jerod Evans or Patrick Mahomes, three interesting quarterback prospects coming out early.
All of those quarterbacks, though, would likely take a backseat behind the 2018 crop. No NFL team, though, is going to plan on being miserable in 2017 to wait to get the top guys on the 2018 list, but some scouts will.
Keeping in mind – at least quarterback-wise – that Lamar Jackson, Mason Rudolph, and J.T. Barrett aren’t on this list, and others will emerge, here’s the first look at who the top NFL prospects will be in college football next season.
2018 NFL Draft Ten Prospects To Watch: January 14
1. QB Sam Darnold, USC (Redshirt Soph.)
It’s way too simplistic to suggest that USC wouldn’t have started 1-3 if Darnold had started the season – the Trojans weren’t going to beat Alabama – but the team took off after No. 14 took over. The Utah game might have gone differently if he had a few games of experience under his belt, but again, that’s a big assumption. The 6-4, 225-pound bomber showed what he could do when given the opportunity, beating Washington and coming through in the clutch in the classic Rose Bowl win over Penn State. Yeah, he’s a Cleveland Brown if he was eligible to go in this year’s draft.
2. QB Josh Allen, Wyoming (Jr.)
The hype started to grow and grow through December as Allen turned into the next Carson Wentz-like prospect. Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl discovered Wentz and North Dakota State, and now he’s got a 6-5, 222-pound bomber who might be even better. Allen has good mobility and a live, accurate arm throwing for 3.203 yards with 28 touchdowns and 15 picks, and running for 523 yards and seven scores. He’s still more of a projection than a sure-thing NFL franchise-maker, but the spotlight will be on.
3. S Derwin James, Florida State (Jr.)
Jalen Ramsey was the sure-thing NFL defensive back star after the 2015 season, but it was the 6-3, 211-pound James that the scouting world was gushing over. He missed almost all of last year with a knee injury, but he’s about to be ready to rumble after making 91 tackles with 4.5 sacks growing into a superstar late in the 2015 campaign. In a safety-starved NFL, James is what everyone is looking for.
4. DE Arden Key, LSU (Jr.)
After showing nice promise in a five-sack freshman season, the 6-6, 238-pound pass rushing superstar blew up in the Dave Aranda defense coming up with 12 sacks and 56 tackles as a terror on the outside. He suffered from being in the same league as Myles Garrett, Derek Barnett, and all the Alabama defensive line stars, but he’ll get the spotlight in 2017 as the key to the Tiger defensive front. Add a little bit of good weight, keep the explosiveness, and he’s a top five-caliber pick.
5. DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson (Jr.)
Pretty much the entire Clemson defensive front will be in the league in the near future, but for next year’s draft, it’ll be Wilkins who’ll be the key man early on. The 6-4, 310-pound athletic rock on the inside followed up an 84 tackles year with 50 tackles and 10.5 sacks, taking his pass rushing game up to another level. Smart, tough, and active, he’s the defensive tackle who fits the NFL mold.
6. QB Josh Rosen, UCLA (Jr.)
If Josh Allen isn’t the most polarizing star prospect in the 2018 NFL Draft, it’ll be Rosen. He’s a slender 6-4, 210-pounder coming off a shoulder injury, but when he’s right, he’s possibly the most dangerous pure passer in college football. He’s got the attitude – for good, and potentially bad – he hasn’t won much of anything yet, and he’s going to suffer from being in the same city as Sam Darnold, but if he can improve his accuracy, and if he can stay in one piece, he’s the top ten pick with the upside to be a franchise-maker.
7. DE Da’Shawn Hand, Alabama
Just another cog in the Alabama defensive system last season, now it’s his turn up to take over as a star in the 3-4 defensive front. The one-time super-recruit has been solid, and he can get into the backfield, but he’s returning for his final year to raise up his stock. As is, the 6-4, 280-pounder would be a top 50 pick had he come out early – he’s got rare skills – but this year he should grow into must-have lineman with the versatility to do a little bit of everything.
8. RB Derrius Guice, LSU (Jr.)
Leonard Fournette might be the freakish otherworldly talent full of skills, but Guice will grow into every bit the NFL prospect with a flash of speed to go along with the 5-11, 212-pound size. The running game didn’t skip a beat when Fournette was out and Guice stepped in, and when given the chance, he’s got the ability to catch and return kicks, too.
9. DE Tyquan Lewis, Ohio State
The Buckeyes caught a massive break getting back the 6-3, 260-pound pass rusher for another year. He’s have been the third or fourth end taken in the 2017 NFL Draft, but he’d have still been a first rounder with a nice burst into the backfield and a great motor. He already graduated and has nothing left to prove, but by coming back for one more year his stock should go up with another big season.
10. RB Royce Freeman, Oregon
Probably the third running back off the board if he came out early, he should blow up in the Willie Taggart offense to cement himself as a top 15-overall player in 2018. Georgia’s Nick Chubb and LSU’s Derrius Guice will be in the discussion for the top running back, but the 5-11, 230-pound Freeman has the tools and balance to be a No. 1 NFL workhorse to potentially carry an entire offense. Does he bring the power? Not really, and he doesn’t have elite wheels, but he could and should be a pro starter right now.