2018 NFL Rookie Draft Class Preview

When I formed this blog in 2016, the first article I wrote was a preview of the 2016 NFL Draft. The draft preview included a top-five ranking of each position, followed by bold predictions.

Last Season, I did the same thing but at this same time last year right before the regular season, but posted a separate article for each position, focusing on QB, RB, and WR’s. When looking back at each of my predictions, some of them are starting to look very promising, as well as some of them not looking too hot.

In my first draft preview in 2016, for quarterback I selected Jared Goff to have the “best career”, which is not too bold of a prediction for the first overall pick. On the other hand. my “biggest disappointment”, ended up looking pretty accurate, with first-round pick Paxton Lynch released this past week by Denver.

At running back, Jordan Howard was my third-ranked RB, despite being the 10th RB selected, and immensely has exceeded expectations with two straight 1,000+ yard rushing seasons. Baltimore Ravens starter running back Alex Collins was named as the “biggest sleeper”, who also has exceeded expectations for a fifth-round pick. In contrast listing Derrick Henry as the “most disappointing” does not appear to be too accurate.

Michael Thomas was the 6th receiver taken in the draft, but was my pick to have the “best career” at the position. Thomas has been a star to say the least in New Orleans, accumulating two straight seasons of 90+ receptions and 1,000+ yards.

In 2017, I had Mahomes, Trubisky, and Watson (in order) at quarterback, which was tough to rank out because I believe all of them will be fantastic players. Nathan Peterman was my “biggest sleeper”, and he is all geared up to be the started for Buffalo. My “biggest disappointment” was Davis Webb, whom I did not even rank, and has already disappointing resulting in being cut last week from the New York Giants.

A couple of the predictions at running back from last year appear to be pretty accurate so far. Alvin Kamara was chosen to  “Most Potential”, Kareem Hunt as the honorable mention for “best career”, Tarik Cohen for “biggest sleeper”, and Corey Clement as the “top undrafted free agent”.

In contrast, Leornard Fournette was my “biggest disappointment”, in which I based off his draft value as a top-five pick, with concerns surrounding his long-term durability due to his running style.

Three wide receivers, Corey Davis, Mike Williams, and John Ross were all selected in the top-ten, and were supposed to be guaranteed as the top three in the class. I ranked JuJu Smith-Schuster and Cooper Kupp, both over Williams and Ross.

Smith-Schuster and Kupp both ended up leading all rookies in receiving yards, and appear to have a very bright future. My “biggest disappointment” was Seattle’s third-round pick Amara Darboh, who I did not even rank in my top-30, and he ended up being cut this past week.

Every season I study and follow every potential college prospect towards their path to the NFL, which I can confidently say is my favorite aspect about analyzing professional & collegiate football.

My rankings are based upon where I believe each prospect will end up ranking at the end of their career, opposed to just ranking them based upon their college performance and hype surrounding them.

In the pre-draft process, when evaluating prospect at the same position, there are a several key factors that influence my evaluation. The most important one pre-draft evaluation is of course how they performed on tape in college. Although, there are some other crucial factors which includes; their baseline measurements towards the position, combine/pro-day results, off-field character, injury-history, draft-value, and scheme fit.

In the post-draft evaluation, some other factors that then come into effect includes; how the prospect fits with the team, the scheme he will play under, his competition on the depth-chart, and lastly their overall performance in OTA’s, Training Camp, and Preseason.

With that being said, that was some of history and thought process that went and goes into constructing my rookie rankings. This season I will expand the ranking to every position, breaking them up into three-tiers along with predictions. So without further ado, here is the 2018 NFL Rookie Class Preview.

Top-10 Overall Prospects:

  1. Saquon Barkley (New York Giants)
  2. Quenton Nelson (Indianapolis Colts)
  3. Derwin James (Los Angeles Chargers)
  4. Vita Vea (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
  5. Roquan Smith (Chicago Bears)
  6. Bradley Chubb (NC State)
  7. Josh Rosen (Arizona Cardinals)
  8. Minkah Fitzpatrick (Miami Dolphins)
  9. Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens)
  10. Jaire Alexander (Green Bay Packers)

Offensive Position Rankings:

Quarterbacks:

(Tier 1):

  1. Josh Rosen (Arizona Cardinals)
  2. Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens)
  3. Josh Allen (Buffalo Bills)
  4. Sam Darnold (New York Jets)
  5. Baker Mayfield (Cleveland Browns)
  6. Mason Rudolph (Pittsburgh Steelers)

(Tier 2):

  1. Kyle Lauletta (New York Giants)
  2. Mike White (Dallas Cowboys)
  3. Luke Falk (Miami Dolphins)

Top-Five Undrafted Free Agents:

  1. Chad Kanoff (Arizona Cardinals)
  2. Chase Litton (Kansas City Chiefs)
  3. Tim Boyle (Green Bay Packers)
  4. Nic Shimonek (Washington Redskins)
  5. J.T. Barrett (New Orleans Saints)

Running Backs:

(Tier 1):

  1. Saquon Barkley (New York Giants)
  2. Nick Chubb (Cleveland Browns)
  3. Kalen Ballage (Miami Dolphins)
  4. Sony Michel (New England Patriots)
  5. Rashaad Penny (Seattle Seahawks)
  6. Kerryon Johnson (Detroit Lions)

(Tier 2):

  1. Chase Edmonds (Arizona Cardinals)
  2. Royce Freeman (Denver Broncos)
  3. Nyheim Hines (Indianapolis Colts)
  4. Mark Walton (Cincinnati Bengals)
  5. John Kelly (Los Angeles Rams)

(Tier 3):

  1. Jordan Wilkins (Indianapolis Colts)
  2. Ito Smith (Atlanta Falcons)
  3. Ronald Jones (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
  4. Justin Jackson (Los Angeles Chargers)
  5. Trenton Cannon (New York Jets)

Top-Five Undrafted Free Agents:

  1. Phillip Lindsay (Denver Broncos)
  2. Gregory Howell (Houston Texans)
  3. Roc Thomas (Minnesota Vikings)
  4. Ralph Webb (New England Patriots)
  5. Ryan Nall (Chicago Bears)

Wide Receivers:

(Tier 1):

  1. Christian Kirk (Arizona Cardinals)
  2. D.J. Chark (Jacksonville Jaguars)
  3. Courtland Sutton (Denver Broncos)
  4. D.J. Moore (Carolina Panthers)
  5. Calvin Ridley (Atlanta Falcons)

(Tier 2):

  1. Dante Pettis (San Francisco 49ers)
  2. Anthony Miller (Chicago Bears)
  3. TreQuan Smith (New Orleans Saints)
  4. Antonio Callaway (Cleveland Browns)
  5. DaeSean Hamilton (Denver Broncos)
  6. Michael Gallup (Dallas Cowboys)

(Tier 3):

  1. Javon Wims (Chicago Bears)
  2. James Washington (Pittsburgh Steelers)
  3. Equanimeous St. Brown (Green Bay Packers)
  4. Justin Watson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
  5. Richie James (San Francisco 49ers)
  6. Keke Coutee (Houston Texans)
  7. Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Green Bay Packers)
  8. Trey Quinn (Washington Redskins)

Top-Five Undrafted Free Agents:

  1. Robert Foster (Buffalo Bills)
  2. Cameron Baston (Tennessee Titans)
  3. Cam Sims (Washington Redskins)
  4. Saeed Blacknall (Oakland Raiders)
  5. Steven Mitchell Jr. (Los Angeles Rams)

Tight Ends:

(Tier 1):

  1. Mark Andrews (Baltimore Ravens)
  2. Dallas Goedert (Philadelphia Eagles)
  3. Ian Thomas (Carolina Panthers)
  4. Mike Gesicki (Miami Dolphins)
  5. Hayden Hurst (Baltimore Ravens)

(Tier 2):

  1. Jordan Akins (Houston Texans)
  2. Will Dissly (Seattle Seahawks)
  3. Tyler Conklin (Minnesota Vikings)
  4. Dalton Schultz (Dallas Cowboys)

(Tier 3):

  1. Jordan Thomas (Houston Texans)
  2. Durham Smythe (Miami Dolphins)
  3. Chris Herndon IV (New York Jets)
  4. Troy Fumagalili (Denver Broncos)

Top-Five Undrafted Free Agents:

  1. Jordan Franks (Cincinnati Bengals)
  2. Andrew Vollert (Arizona Cardinals)
  3. Deon Yelder (New Orleans Saints)
  4. Matt Flanagan (Washington Redskins)
  5. Pharoah McKever (Cleveland Browns)

Offensive Linemen:

(Tier 1):

  1. Quenton Nelson (Indianapolis Colts)
  2. Mike McGlinchey (San Francisco 49ers)
  3. Frank Ragnow (Detroit Lions)
  4. Kolton Miller (Oakland Raiders)
  5. Connor Williams (Dallas Cowboys)
  6. Will Hernandez (New York Giants)
  7. Mason Cole (Arizona Cardinals)
  8. Billy Price (Cincinnati Bengals)
  9. James Daniels (Chicago Bears)

(Tier 2):

  1. Brian O’Neill (Minnesota Vikings)
  2. Austin Corbett (Cleveland Browns)
  3. Wyatt Teller (Buffalo Bills)
  4. Orlando Brown (Baltimore Ravens)
  5. Will Richardson (Jacksonville Jaguars)

(Tier 3):

  1. Braden Smith (Indianapolis Colts)
  2. Alex Cappa (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
  3. Brian Allen (Los Angeles Rams)
  4. Sam Jones (Denver Broncos)
  5. Tyrell Crosby (Detroit Lions)
  6. Brandon Parker (Oakland Raiders)
  7. Scott Quessenberry (Los Angeles Chargers)

Top-Five Undrafted Free Agents:

  1. Brendan Mahon (Carolina Panthers)
  2. Evan Brown (New York Giants)
  3. Desmond Harrison (Cleveland Browns)
  4. Aaron Stinnie (Tennessee Titans)
  5. Matt Gono (Atlanta Falcons)

Defensive Position Rankings:

Defensive Ends:

(Tier 1):

  1. Sam Hubbard (Cincinnati Bengals)
  2. Nathan Shepherd (New York Jets)
  3. Marcus Davenport (New Orleans Saints)
  4. John Franklin-Myer (Los Angeles Rams)
  5. Taven Bryan (Jacksonville Jaguars)

(Tier 2):

  1. Josh Sweat (Philadelphia Eagles)
  2. B.J. Hill (New York Giants)
  3. Kemoko Turray (Indianapolis Colts)
  4. Arden Key (Oakland Raiders)
  5. Chad Thomas (Cleveland Browns)
  6. Rasheem Green (Seattle Seahawks)

(Tier 3):

  1. Marquis Haynes (Carolina Panthers)
  2. Julian Taylor (San Francisco 49ers)
  3. Marquis Haynes (Carolina Panthers)
  4. Folorunso Fatukasi (New York Jets)
  5. Dorance Armstrong Jr. (Dallas Cowboys)
  6. Da’Shawn Hand (Detroit Lions)
  7. Dorance Armstrong Jr. (Dallas Cowboys)
  8. Bilal Nichols (Chicago Bears)

Top-Five Undrafted FA’s:

  1. Matt Dickerson (Tennessee Titans)
  2. Trent Harris (New England Patriots)
  3. Alec James (Arizona Cardinals)
  4. Jacob Tuioti-Mariner (Atlanta Falcons)
  5. JoJo Wicker (Washington Redskins)

Defensive Tackles:

(Tier 1):

  1. Vita Vea (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
  2. Deadrin Senat (Atlanta Falcons)
  3. Harrison Phillips (Buffalo Bills)
  4. P.J. Hall (Oakland Raiders)
  5. Da’Ron Payne (Washington Redskins)

(Tier 2):

  1. Derrick Nnadi (Kansas City Chiefs)
  2. Tim Settle (Washington Redskins)
  3.  Maurice Hurst (Oakland Raiders)
  4. Jalyn Holmes (Minnesota Vikings)
  5. Justin Jones (Los Angeles Chargers)

(Tier 3):

  1. Sebastian Joseph (Los Angeles Rams)
  2. Zach Sieler (Baltimore Ravens­)
  3. Andrew Brown (Cincinnati Bengals)
  4. James Looney (Green Bay Packers)
  1. Top Five Undrafted Free Agents:
  2. Poona Ford (Seattle Seahawks)
  3. Bruce Hector (Philadelphia Eagles)
  4. Josh Fatu (Detroit Lions)
  5. Taylor Stallworth (New Orleans Saints)
  6. Frank Herron (Seattle Seahawks)

Outside Linebackers:

(Tier 1):

  1. Bradley Chubb (Denver Broncos)
  2. Lorenzo Carter (New York Giants)
  3. Darius Leonard (Indianapolis Colts)
  4. Leon Jacobs (Jacksonville Jaguars)
  5.  Jerome Baker (Miami Dolphins)

(Tier 2):

  1. Malik Jefferson (Cincinnati Bengals)
  2. Uchenna Nwosu (Seattle Seahawks)
  3. Genard Avery (Cleveland Browns)
  4. Harold Landry (Tennessee Titans)
  5. Shaquem Griffin (Seattle Seahawks)
  6. Breeland Speaks (Kansas City Chiefs)

(Tier 3):

  1. Trevon Young (Los Angeles Rams)
  2. Matthew Adams (Indianapolis Colts)
  3. Peter Kalambayi (Houston Texans)
  4. Jacob Martin (Seattle Seahawks)
  5. Jermaine Carter Jr. (Carolina Panthers)
  6. Jack Cichy (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
  7. Chris Covington (Dallas Cowboys)

Top-Five Undrafted FA’s:

  1. Dewey Jarvis (Atlanta Falcons)
  2. Dennis Gardeck (Arizona Cardinals)
  3. Chris Worley (Cincinnati Bengals)
  4. Chad Meredith (Detroit Lions)
  5. Corey Thompson (Buffalo Bills)

Inside Linebackers:

(Tier 1):

  1. Roquan Smith (Chicago Bears)
  2. Rashaan Evans (Tennessee Titans)
  3. Tremaine Edmunds (Buffalo Bills)
  4.  Leighton Vander Esch (Dallas Cowboys)
  5. Fred Warner (San Francisco 49ers)

(Tier 2):

  1. Micah Kiser (Los Angeles Rams)
  2. JaWhaun Bentley (New England Patriots)
  3. Oren Burks (Green Bay Packers)
  4. Zaire Franklin (Indianapolis Colts)

(Tier 3):

  1. Shaun Dion Hamilton (Washington Redskins)
  2. Joel Iyiegbuniwe (Chicago Bears)
  3. Foyesade Oluokun (Atlanta Falcons)
  4. Josey Jewell (Denver Broncos)
  5. Keishawn Bierria (Denver Broncos)

Top Five Undrafted Free Agents:

  1. Matthew Thomas (Pittsburgh Steelers)
  2. Dorian O’Daniel (Kansas City Chiefs)
  3. Skai Moore (Indianapolis Colts)
  4. Ben Niemann (Kansas City Chiefs)
  5. Jason Cabinda (Oakland Raiders)

Cornerbacks:

(Tier 1):

  1. Jaire Alexander (Green Bay Packers)
  2. Isaiah Oliver (Atlanta Falcons)
  3. Denzel Ward (Cleveland Browns)
  4. Josh Jackson (Green Bay Packers)
  5.  Carlton Davis (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

(Tier 2):

  1. Nick Nelson (Oakland Raiders)
  2.  Tremon Smith (Kansas City Chiefs)
  3. Isaac Yiadom (Denver Broncos)
  4. Tarvarius Moore (San Francisco 49ers)
  5. Donte Jackson (Carolina Panthers)
  6. Mike Hughes (Minnesota Vikings)

(Tier 3):

  1. Avonte Maddox (Philadelphia Eagles)
  2. Taron Johnson (Buffalo Bills)
  3. Anthony Averett (Baltimore Ravens)
  4. Parry Nickerson (New York Jets)
  5. Tre Flowers (Seattle Seahawks)
  6. M.J. Stewart (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
  7. Keion Crossen (New England Patriots)

Top-Five Undrafted Free Agents:

  1. Deatrick Nichols (Arizona Cardinals)
  2. J.C. Jackson (New England Patriots)
  3. A.J. Moore (Houston Texans)
  4. Tony Brown (Green Bay Packers)
  5. Danny Johnson (Washington Redskins)

Safeties:

(Tier 1):

  1. Derwin James (Los Angeles Chargers)
  2. Minkah Fitzpatrick (Miami Dolphins)
  3. Jessie Bates III (Cincinnati Bengals)
  4. Rashaan Gaulden (Carolina Panthers)
  5. Justin Reid (Houston Texans)
  6. Duke Dawson (New England Patriots)

(Tier 2):

  1. Ronnie Harrison (Jacksonville Jaguars)
  2. D.J Reed (San Francisco 49ers)
  3. Dane Cruikshank (Tennessee Titans)
  4. Tracy Walker (Detroit Lions)
  5. Marcus Allen (Pittsburgh Steelers)

(Tier 3):

  1. Siran Neal (Buffalo Bills)
  2. Jordan Whitehead (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
  3. Troy Apke (Washington Redskins)
  4. Terrell Edmunds (Pittsburgh Steelers)
  5. Natrell Jamerson (Houston Texans)

Top-Five Undrafted Free Agents:

  1. Ezekiel Turner (Arizona Cardinals)
  2. Tyree Robinson (Dallas Cowboys)
  3. Sean Chandler (New York Giants)
  4. J.T. Gray (New Orleans Saints)
  5. Raven Greene (Green Bay Packers)

Predictions:

Most Talented Offensive Player: Saquon Barkley (New York Giants)

Most Talented Defensive Player: Derwin James (Los Angeles Chargers)

Safest Pick: Quenton Nelson (Indianapolis Colts)

Riskiest Pick: Antonio Callaway (Cleveland Browns)

Biggest Reach: Hayden Hurst (Baltimore Ravens)

Biggest Steal: Josh Sweat (Philadelphia Eagles)

Most Explosive: Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens)

Best Undrafted Offensive Free Agent: Phillip Lindsay (Denver Broncos)

Best Undrafted Defensive Free Agent: Dewey Jarvis (Atlanta Falcons)

Biggest Disappointment: Ronald Jones (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

The All-Sleeper Rookie Team:

QB: Mike White (Dallas Cowboys)

RB: Kalen Ballage (Miami Dolphins), Mark Walton (Cincinnati Bengals)

WR:  DaeSean Hamilton (Denver Broncos), Justin Watson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Richie James (San Francisco 49ers)

TE: Jordan Akins (Houston Texans)

OL: Will Richardson (Jacksonville Jaguars), Matt Pryor (Philadelphia Eagles), Mason Cole (Arizona Cardinals), Alex Cappa (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Korey Cunningham (Arizona Cardinals)

DL: Julian Taylor (San Francisco 49ers), Derrick Nnadi (Kansas City Chiefs), John Franklin-Myer (Los Angeles Rams)

LB: Jerome Baker (Miami Dolphins), JaWhaun Bentley (New England Patriots), Leon Jacobs (Jacksonville Jaguars)

CB: Tremon Smith (Kansas City Chiefs), Nick Nelson (Oakland Raiders), Parry Nickerson (New York Jets)

S: Rashaan Gaulden (Carolina Panthers), Dane Cruikshank (Tennessee Titans)

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