It rarely always works out. But without further ado, here’s our 2018 NFL Draft Studs and Busts. Let the debates begin!
1. Baker Mayfield – QB – Oklahoma Sooners – Stud
A household name the last few years in College Football, Baker Mayfield took over for injured Trevor Knight as a freshman and never looked back. If you didn’t believe the hype then, you better now. Mayfield graduated from OU with over 14,000 career-passing yards and 152 total touchdowns. Last season Mayfield won the Heisman trophy, which is collegiate footballs most prestigious individual award, and also led the nation in completion percentage. Even with all of the personal success, Baker didn’t graduate with a ton of hype from the NFL, nor was he viewed as one of the top QB prospects. None of that bothered Baker as he did what he’s always done, work. Baker’s work ethic is second to none, and his leadership along with his ability to perform on the biggest stage is the best in this draft class. The Cleveland Browns have been the worst team in the NFL for some time now and have only won one single game over the course of the last two seasons. For a franchise that keeps missing on QB’s throughout their history, we believe they’ve finally found the one. Mayfield’s gunslinger mentality will boast well for the culture of the organization, and the front office is finally giving their QB a reliable receiving corps should make things easier. Jarvis Landry should serve as an immediate safety valve, and the big play ability of Josh Gordon should open the field. Baker will be handed the reigns to the worst organization in all of sports, and we fully believe he will be the reason the Browns will be relevant in 2018. Baker will win at least 50% of his starts in his first NFL season.
2. Saquon Barkley – RB – Penn State – Stud
If you are confused about what a freak may be, then use Saquon Barkley as your reference. The guy is chiseled like a warrior from Sparta. You don’t typically see running backs drafted this high, but you also don’t usually see running backs as gifted as this one. Barkley will be an immediate 3-down back who can run, block, and catch out of the backfield. Barkley’s monstrous thighs help him maintain an incredible balance, making it extremely hard to bring him down. The NYG haven’t had a quality running game since Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw held down the backfield. Pairing Barkley with wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will give the Giants an immediate 1-2 explosive offensive punch. Expect the Giants to use Saquon early and often, and watch for him to dominate their backfield touches. He’s too talented to not use, and the Giants are well aware of that, we expect Barkley to make a serious push for the Rookie of the Year award come seasons end.
3. Sam Darnold – QB – Southern Cal – Bust
Many of the draft experts were high on Sam Darnold, whose size and playmaking ability give them good reason to be. While we don’t believe Darnold will be terrible, we do believe he won’t be nearly the player he’s being hyped up to be. Darnold makes too many careless mistakes. He often tries to squeeze the ball into too tight of a window trying to make something out of nothing, resulting in careless interceptions. He threw 13ints last season, the most out of all 5 of the QBs drafted in the first round. None of the others threw more than 10ints. Darnold is a poor man’s, Jameis Winston. He has all of the ability in the world, but for whatever reason, he can’t put it all together. We expect Darnold to put up decent numbers on a bad team. Jets fans, we apologize. You will have better days ahead.
4. Denzel Ward – CB – Ohio State – Stud
The Cleveland Browns were highly criticized for drafting Ward over NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb, and we don’t understand why. Yes, Chubb comes into the league as the better prospect, and talent, but that doesn’t necessarily mean his services are what a particular team needs at the moment. The Cleveland Browns are deep on the DL, and they have their last year’s top draft pick Myles Garrett, who is on track to be the next great DE in the NFL. The organization lost their top cover corner in Joe Haden last season, and their DBs as a whole unit had a poor season. Ward is the best cover corner in this class, and with the Browns desperately needing someone that can cover long enough to let the talented pass rushers the team possesses get to the QB, Ward was a great pick. Denzel has already been promoted to first-team defense, and coach Hue Jackson has praised the rookie throughout OTAs. Expect a solid season, from a solid player.
5. Bradley Chubb – DE – NC State – Stud
Football runs in this guy’s family. For those who don’t know, Georgia standout running back, Nick Chubb, is his cousin. Chubb has elite talent and size. At 6’4” and 270lbs, Chubb is a defensive force on the outside edge. Chubb became the first player in school history to win both the Hendrick’s award and the Bronko Nagurski. One of which goes to the nation’s best defensive end, and the other going to the nation’s best defensive player. Chubb finished number two in the nation with 26 tackles for a loss and was a disruptive nightmare for opposing teams all year long. Chubb has landed in the perfect system, being paired with hall-of-famer to be, Von Miller. Chubb really didn’t have anyone opposite of him at NC State who could relieve him of double teams. Von Miller will undoubtedly be able to do so, and the 1-2 tandem of them both will certainly be a lot for any offensive line to handle. The Denver Broncos got a blessing at the number 4 overall pick, as Chubb was rated the top player in this draft. Be ready for many pro bowls and potentially even some defensive player of the year awards coming Chubb’s way.
6. Quenton Nelson – G – Notre Dame – Stud
Throw on the film from Nelson’s college days at Notre Dame and it’s easy to see why he was the first offensive lineman the Colts have drafted in the first round in 34 years. Nelson’s opponents spend more time on their backs then they do standing upright as he pancakes anyone and everyone. Nelson is just the fourth offensive tackle drafted in the top 10 in the last ten years. That alone speaks to his talent. For an offensive line that has been abysmal the last few years, Nelson is a huge step in the right direction for the Indianapolis Colts. Andrew Luck has had numerous injuries and if the Colts wish to keep him healthy and on the field, bolstering their o-line is going to play a crucial part in that. Drafting Nelson is proof that they are committed to doing so, and we fully believe he will live up to the hype.
7. Josh Allen – QB – Wyoming – Bust
From a purely physical viewpoint, Josh Allen is the best quarterback prospect in this draft, and it’s not even close. At 6’5” and 240lbs, with a cannon for an arm, Allen has all the intangibles needed to succeed in the NFL. Unfortunately, intangibles don’t win football games. Of the 5 QBs drafted in the first round, Allen has the worst completion percentage, and also the lowest passer rating. Allen had poor outings against power-5 foes Iowa and Oregon. In the two meetings combined Allen only threw for 250yds, and had zero touchdowns, with three interceptions. Decision-making will play a big part in Allen’s development. The NFL defenses are going to be far more challenging for him to dissect, and his struggles against college programs could be a sign that he’s not up to the task. We’re not saying he’s the next Jamarcus Russell. However, we believe the Bills could have done better here.
8. Roquan Smith – LB – Georgia – Stud
Roquan Smith is fresh off a season in which he became the first Georgia Bulldog ever to win the Butkus Award, an award that goes to the nation’s top linebacker and he was well deserving. Smith is next in line to be a defensive force from the linebacker position for years to come. Smith possesses elite speed, and instincts, allowing him to play all over the field defensively. He’s also the signal caller as a defensive captain and has shown tremendous leadership throughout his Bulldog days in making sure his defense is lined up properly. The Bears have desperately needed to strengthen their defensive unit, and Smith has the potential to be their leader, and star player for years to come. We see a lot of Patrick Willis in his ability, instincts, and reactions. Expect stardom for this young man sooner than later.
9. Mike McGlinchey – OT – Notre Dame – Bust
The first cousin of NFL quarterback Matt Ryan grew up living and breathing football in a family that loved the game. While McGlinchey is a solid prospect and had a terrific career at ND, we believe some of his success was due to being paired with fellow first-round talent Quenton Nelson. Together, they were often too much for college defenses to handle. While McGlinchey possesses a massive frame at 6’8” and over 300lbs, it’s clear he needs to add strength. NFL d-linemen are absolute animals and strength will be a necessity to hold them off. McGlinchey possesses below average core strength and is inconsistent at containing opponents as a base blocker. He too often raises his pad level, pulling him out of position. While the potential is there, too many concerns are arising right now. The 49ers reached on a prospect that needs to be seasoned, something that may never come full circle. San Francisco swung and missed here. Better luck next year.
10. Josh Rosen – QB – UCLA – Bust
Coming out of high school, Rosen was a sure bet to transition to the pros as top draft pick and lead a franchise as a great NFL quarterback. Rosen’s draft stock may have dropped in each of his three collegiate seasons. Many NFL executives have questioned his leadership and maturity, something that is vital to being the face of an NFL franchise. Rosen, much like Josh Allen, possesses all of the physical tools needed to succeed in the NFL. However, his numbers and collegiate success don’t necessarily scream that he’s going to reach his “potential.” Rosen’s questionable attitude and commitment to the team standout as glaring issues for us, and quite frankly we don’t think he will ever change. He too often makes erratic decisions with the football. You cannot make it in the NFL if you can’t protect the football. For us, there are more weaknesses and issues than there are pros here, so we’re going bust. The Cardinals could have taken someone like Lamar Jackson, who has far more upside. At best, Rosen becomes a middle of the pack QB for a few years, insert Mark Sanchez here.