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The NFL Draft is right around the corner, and we’ve got no time to waste. Here are my takes on some of the important storylines surrounding this year’s draft, as well as my predictions for the first 10 picks. To get us started off, these are my quarterback rankings:
1. Josh Rosen
This is not a very popular choice, but I’m sticking to it. Most experts’ opinions of Josh Rosen read something like this: “He’s the best passer in this draft, but…” That’s my reasoning here. He is the best passer in the draft, and he can make absolutely any throw with near pinpoint accuracy. He’s been criticized for being outspoken and giving some coaches a hard time, so I wouldn’t recommend pairing him with an overly defensive-minded head coach. If he puts on a little bit of weight and gets decent protection in the pocket, he’s golden.
NFL Comps: Floor- Sam Bradford, Mid- Alex Smith, Ceiling- Aaron Rodgers
2. Sam Darnold
Many people have Darnold as their number one, and I can see why. He’s a great leader, shows high character, has a sturdy frame, can make any throw, etc. My problem lies with his turnovers. Darnold threw 13 picks and fumbled seven times in 2017, and there were instances where I saw him play down to the level of his competition. His offensive line at USC wasn’t great by any means, but there’s no guarantee he’ll get a good one in the NFL. I think Darnold will be good, but the turnovers can be a major problem.
NFL Comps: Floor- Byron Leftwich, Mid- Jameis Winston, Ceiling- Carson Wentz
3. Baker Mayfield
Mayfield posted the best college stats of any quarterback in the nation last year, but it’s important to remember that he played in the Big 12. The numbers may lie just a little bit, but there’s no denying that he’s still a very polished and accurate passer. There are some light character and scheme fit concerns, but I think he could absolutely kill it in an RPO-heavy offense similar to the one the Eagles ran last year. I considered ranking him higher than Sam Darnold, but I like Darnold’s build more.
NFL Comps: Floor- Colt McCoy, Mid- Nick Foles, Ceiling: Alex Smith
4. Lamar Jackson
I have major concerns with Jackson’s accuracy, but goddamn is he explosive. Whoever drafts Jackson needs to understand that the sub-60% completion figures he put up at Louisville are not going to get much better in the NFL. He simply cannot read the entire field as well as the three quarterbacks I have above him, but he could do very well in an offense that only makes him read one side of the field. Also, they can’t try to bottle up his athleticism. You’ve got to let him fly.
NFL Comps: Floor- Dennis Dixon, Mid- 2002 Michael Vick, Ceiling: 2010 Michael Vick
5. Josh Allen
If Allen goes first overall to the Browns, the severe bout of maniacal laughter I have just might cause a stroke. Allen had a pretty decent 2016 season, and he arguably has the best frame and arm of any quarterback in the draft. All he had to do in 2017 was put up equal or better numbers and he would be golden. He didn’t, but he still inexplicably shot up to the top of draft boards. Josh Allen may be able to throw a pigskin a quarter mile, but he’s got major accuracy issues and doesn’t grasp the nuances of the game the way Rosen and Darnold do.
NFL Comps: Floor- Jamarcus Russell, Mid- Tom Savage, Ceiling- Jay Cutler
Now, am I expecting six quarterbacks to go in the first round, as predicted by some analysts? No. God, no. That would imply the selection of Mason Rudolph, Riley Ferguson, or another lower-tier prospect in the first round. We’ve seen some insane reaches over the years (Christian Ponder, E.J. Manuel) but I’m not expecting something like that this year. My prediction is that five will go on day one. Three in the top six selections, then two more in the 10-22 range. As for my sleeper quarterback in this draft, I’ve got my eye on one guy in particular:
The Washington State signal caller had some less-than-spectacular showings in his final season of college ball, but he still enjoyed a great career in Pullman. Falk has above-average arm strength and is very accurate, but just needs to tighten up his footwork and get used to lining up under center in order to be an NFL starter. I’ve got a late 1st-early 2nd round grade on him, and I believe he’s a quality backup at the very least.
My Picks To Bust
Josh Allen- QB, Wyoming: Like I said above, I don’t believe Allen has the accuracy required to be an NFL quarterback. I think he’s a slightly better version of Tom Savage.
Dallas Goedert- TE, South Dakota State: I’ve seen this guy in the first round in a lot of mock drafts, and I’m not sure why. To me, he seems like a B- player in all phases of his game. He could be decent, but picking him in the first round doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.
Calvin Ridley- WR, Alabama: I fully expect Calvin Ridley to be taken somewhere around picks 20-30, and what teams will get is an explosive #2 wideout. He reminds me a lot of Eric Decker, and while Decker has had some success in his career, he’s not exactly what you want with an early pick.
And now, here are my predictions for the first 10 picks of the 2018 NFL Draft.
1. Cleveland Browns- Sam Darnold QB, USC
I think this whole Josh Allen to Cleveland talk is a smokescreen designed to artificially inflate his value and scare teams into trading up for fear of missing out on a quarterback. I would say that Rosen could go here, but his frame is a bit less ideal for the shitty weather conditions Cleveland is known for.
2. New York Giants- Josh Rosen QB, UCLA
New York continues their rebuild by selecting the best quarterback in the 2018 class. If you look at their offseason moves, it becomes apparent that they’ve allowed their interior offensive line to weaken while signing Nate Solder to protect the blindside of their quarterback. This really seems like it’s a move that was made to welcome in a new passer. I believe they’ll let Rosen sit for a year unless Eli Manning struggles mightily.
3. New York Jets- Baker Mayfield QB, Oklahoma
The Jets also nab a quarterback with their first pick. Their offense has been a complete mess since Ryan Fitzpatrick put up the best season of any Jets quarterback in history in 2015 (fucking lol). Gang Green has plenty of other roster holes, but the quarterback position is something that must be addressed immediately.
4. Cleveland Browns- Bradley Chubb EDGE, NC State
I believe Buffalo will try to trade up to this spot to leapfrog Denver and grab a quarterback, but Cleveland will be asking a bit too much. Cleveland will instead get the best pass rusher in the draft, and they’ll be able to pair him up with the dangerous Myles Garrett.
5. Denver Broncos- Denzel Ward CB, Ohio State
The Broncos get a fast, physical corner to man the secondary with Chris Harris and Bradley Roby, and he’ll start immediately. There will be at least some consideration for Josh Allen here, but John Elway and co. don’t want to miss on another big, inaccurate first-round quarterback.
6. Indianapolis Colts- Saquon Barkley RB, Penn State
The Colts will listen to some tempting offers to trade back with the likes of Arizona and Miami, but they’ll end up staying put and grabbing the shifty, explosive runner out of Penn State. Andrew Luck will finally have a great runner in the backfield, which should take a little bit of pressure off of him.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Minkah Fitzpatrick FS, Alabama
Tampa Bay whiffed on drafting safety Mark Barron in this very spot six years ago, but Fitzpatrick just might be the best defender in this whole draft. He’s not as good as Jalen Ramsey, but he’s close and the Buccaneers will be glad to have him.
8. Chicago Bears- Quenton Nelson G, Notre Dame
Quenton Nelson is the best offensive line prospect I’ve seen in years, and he’ll immediately help Chicago’s interior line get back to its dominant 2016 form. This move does a lot of good for the two most important pieces of the Bear offense, Mitchell Trubisky and Jordan Howard.
9. San Francisco 49ers- Tremaine Edmunds OLB, Virginia Tech
No receivers in this draft are worth being taken in the top ten, so San Francisco opts to bolster their defense with smart and athletic linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. His combination of size, speed, and lateral quickness will leave a lot of opposing runners wondering how they just got their shit wrecked four yards deep in the backfield.
10. TRADE Arizona trades up with Oakland to move from 15 to 10.
Arizona gets: Round 1 Pick 10
Oakland gets: Round 1 Pick 15, Round 2 Pick 47, Arizona’s 2019 2nd Round Pick, DE Robert Nkemdiche
Oakland could opt to go for Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith here, but I believe they’ll instead trade back and land the best corner available at 15 overall.
Arizona Cardinals- Josh Allen QB, Wyoming
The Bills will try to move up here to select Allen, but Arizona proves to be more desperate. This is despite their recent acquisitions of Bears legend Mike Glennon and injury report legend Sam Bradford. The Cardinals get a quarterback with the arm strength of Carson Palmer and the accuracy of a rabid chipmunk with a nail gun.
What do you guys think? Am I onto something, or am I out of my gourd? Let me know in the comments..
Image via Wikimedia Commons