We are less than a month from the 2018 NFL Draft kicking off at Jerry’s World in Dallas.
This is an ideal time to update my top 25 players overall and the top 10 at each position (coming soon to online and print).
With four quarterbacks in my top 25 and five in my top 40, it’s clear that position will dictate much of the early action on day one of the draft.
Here’s an updated version of my 2018 NFL Draft Big Board:
1. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn St., Jr.
There isn’t a more dynamic playmaker in this draft, on either side of the ball. Barkley has the ability to take it to the house on any carry (including kick and punt returns) and has the hands to be the primary receiver on third down.
2. Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame, Sr.
Nelson is the best offensive lineman in this draft class, by far. In fact, the real debate among scouts is whether he is better than former teammate Zack Martin, who in 2014 became the first rookie lineman to make first-team All-Pro in 57 years.
3. Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State, Sr.
Chubb has been one of the nation’s top pass rushers the past three seasons. He doesn’t overwhelm you with the athletic gifts a top five pick normally features, but his advanced technique and high-end motor mitigate any risk.
4. Minkah Fitzpatrick, FS, Alabama, Jr.
Fitzpatrick is capable of playing both safety and cornerback at a high level, causing some scouts to praise him as a bigger version of Tyrann Mathieu.
5. Sam Darnold, QB, USC, So.
He checks all the boxes of an elite prospect at the position. What’s also clear is Darnold pressed to overcompensate for a medicore-at-best offensive line, leading to a rash of turnovers during his sophomore season. He’s the front-runner for top overall pick.
6. Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA, Jr.
Rosen is outspoken — and there are durability concerns — but there are worse qualities for a quarterback to possess. He’s also the most pro-ready talent at the position in this draft class.
7. Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia, Jr.
Smith is built more like a strong safety — he’s 6-1, 225 pounds — than a linebacker. The modern NFL prefers its linebackers speedy and is willing to sacrifice size if the prospect features athleticism, physicality and football intelligence. Smith is blessed with all three.
8. Derwin James, SS, Florida St., So.
James was charged with spying on Lamar Jackson during the Seminoles matchup with the Cardinals and held his own, showcasing his elite athleticism. Few defensive backs can match his dynamic combination of speed, size, instincts and hitting ability.
9. Tremaine Edmunds, OLB, Virginia Tech, Jr.
The NFL runs in the Edmunds family. Tremaine and his brother Terrell (a safety for Virginia Tech) have both declared for the draft. Their father Ferrell made two Pro Bowl rosters over seven seasons for Seattle and Miami and their older brother Trey currently plays for New Orleans.
10. Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College, Sr.
Landry plays defensive end for the Eagles, but is athletic enough to stand up and play outside linebacker in the NFL. Like Chubb, he’s capable of being an elite pass rusher and dynamic run defender.
11. Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama, Jr.
The talent was already appreciated — he was a five-star recruit after all — but Payne was a dominant force for the Crimson Tide during the college football playoffs, earning a championship pedigree.
12. Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio St., Jr.
The Buckeyes have produced four first-rounders at cornerback the past four years. Ward is likely to make it five-for-five. Worst-case scenario, he becomes an elite slot corner at the next level.
13. Vita Vea, DT, Washington, Jr.
The 6-foot-5, 340-pound Pac-12 defensive player of the year might be the strongest prospect in the entire draft class and would have likely been a first-round selection had he left school a year ago.
14. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma, Sr.
If the Heisman winner were three or four inches taller, he’d be the undisputed top overall pick in this draft.
15. Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville, Jr.
A healthy Alexander features the speed, physicality and confidence a prototypical shutdown cornerback in the NFL possesses.
16. Derrius Guice, RB, LSU, Jr.
After rushing for 1,387 yards as Leonard Fournette’s caddy, he took his game to another level his junior year — his 276-yard performance against Ole Miss was a masterpiece. Guice runs with the rare combination of strength and agility, especially for a 220-pound back.
17. Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame, Sr.
McGlinchey is versatile — he has started double-digit games at both right and left tackle — and athletic in a massive package (6-foot-8, 315 pounds). He excels in the run game.
18. Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M, Jr.
The comparisons to Odell Beckham Jr. are apt. Kirk is an all-around pass-catcher known for his route-running and punt-return ability. He is the first Texas A&M wideout to surpass 4,500 career all-purpose yards, setting the school records for punt return touchdowns in a season (three) and career (six).
19. Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan, Sr.
Hurst has been close to un-blockable at the collegiate level. Similar to Mayfield, if Hurst were a little bigger he’d be a guaranteed top five selection. After being diagnosed with a heart condition at the combine, but being cleared to participate at the Michigan pro day, the up-coming combine medical re-check will be vital to his draft stock.
20. Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama, Jr.
Ridley features explosive speed and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better route runner in college football. A rare combination. However, an underwhelming performance at the combine has certainly had an affect on his draft expectations.
21. Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa, Jr.
Jackson was the top-graded corner in college football, according to Pro Football Focus, finishing the year with a FBS-best eight interceptions. He was at his best in the biggest games, notching three interceptions in Iowa’s shocking upset of Ohio State and two pick-sixes against Wisconsin.
22. Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego St., Sr.
Though Penny was mostly ignored by the national media — he did earn AP first-team All-American honors — he was clearly one of the best players in college football. He led the nation in all-purpose yards (2,971) and rushing yards (2,248). He scored 28 touchdowns four different ways — 23 rushing, two receiving, two returning kicks and one via punt return. A positive performance during the draft process has locked him into a second-day selection, though he probably deserves to go higher.
23. Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming, Jr.
There’s no bigger boom-or-bust pick in this draft class. He’s aced the draft process and the arm talent is off the charts, but his performance against top competition is worrisome.
24. Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU, So.
Sutton is a matchup nightmare in the red zone — he has had at least nine touchdowns for three straight seasons — and has proven physical after the catch. He’s also a willing blocker. If he can develop as a route runner, watch out.
25. Connor Williams, OT, Texas, Jr.
Williams only allowed one sack over a dominant three seasons in Austin. Despite some injury concerns, he could star at tackle or guard in the NFL.
JUST MISSED: Marcus Davenport, DE, Texas-San Antonio, Sr.; James Daniels, C, Iowa, Jr.; Leighton Vander Esch, OLB, Boise St., Jr.; Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville, Jr.; Taven Bryan, DT, Florida, Jr.; Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA, Jr.; Arden Key, DE, LSU, Jr.; Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, DE, Oklahoma, Sr.; James Washington, WR, Oklahoma St., Sr.; Ronnie Harrison, SS, Alabama, Jr.; Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis, Sr.; Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi St., Sr.
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