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NFL Draft 2018 Sneak Peek

Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
After a months-long process that has many twists and turns, the 2017 NFL Draft process has come to its inevitable conclusion. While some may have gotten the piece they need to contend for a Super Bowl, others still will have to look ahead to continue their rebuilds (ahem, Cleveland and San Francisco). Which prospects can those teams look to in 2018? We take an in-depth look at which prospects will most likely hear their name called first 12 months from now.


Sam Darnold, QB, USC
After stepping in for a 1-3 USC team that appeared to be going nowhere, Sam Darnold promptly led the Trojans to nine consecutive victories and looks to continue to guide them to their resurgence among the nation's elite. Darnold has all the tools NFL scouts love; a big, accurate arm, impressive mobility and a strong, analytical mind. With many teams still searching for their franchise quarterback next year, Darnold will make a strong push to the top of the 2018 board.

Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
He may be from a small school, but Josh Allen has all the traits to be a stud in the NFL. He has a huge arm that can make some truly impressive deep throws, and also possesses quality mobility. He has displayed poise and confidence throughout his time at Wyoming, and looks like he is only scratching the surface of what he can be as a quarterback. Many will mock the competition he plays against in the Mountain West, but that shouldn't detract from his talents.

Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Injuries and breaking in a new offensive coordinator contributed to a rough 2016 for Josh Rosen and UCLA, who fell to 4-8. Even so, many scouts still believe the former five-star recruit, once hailed as "Chosen Rosen" can be a superstar NFL quarterback. He possesses pinpoint accuracy with refined mechanics and he is never overwhelmed by any situation, as he started as true freshman with the Bruins. He'll have to get healthy and prove he can be one of the nation's elite signal-callers, and expect plenty of interest from a wide assortment of NFL teams.

Others to Watch
Luke Falk, QB, Washington State
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
Austin Allen, QB, Arkansas
J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State


Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
If not for a freak knee injury suffered in 2015-2016, Chubb may well have been selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. However, the injury altered his career path slightly and despite a solid 2016, he opted to stay one more season in Athens. The powerful rusher has proven he can absolutely shred defenses with his physical nature while still displaying excellent bounce on the outside. Some NFL teams may still have concerns over his knees, but talent-wise, Chubb should be dominant.

Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
While Penn State's explosive passing offense got plenty of attention last year, it was often Saquon Barkley's running that loosened up the defense and allowed for the Nittany Lions' big plays, and he should be even more lethal in 2017. Despite not being massive, Barkley has shown excellent variety in his rushes, going in between the tackles or breaking down defenders in the open field. He's also a freak athlete, evidenced by his blazing speed and ability to leap defenders. He has to improve as a blocker and pass-catcher to really lock him down as a first-round prospect, but his skills are already impressive.

Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Leonard Fournette just went fourth overall to Jacksonville and many consider him the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson, but could Derrius Guice end up being better? Guice put on an absolute show in 2016 when Fournette was injured, and reports out of LSU camp say that the tailback is squatting upwards of 500 pounds. He may not have the bulldozing abilities of Fournette, but with a little bit more shift to him, Guice could terrorize opposing SEC defenses all the same.

Others to Watch
Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon
Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama
Kamryn Pettway, RB, Auburn
Ronald Jones II, RB, USC

Receivers/Tight Ends

Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Since stepping on campus as a youthful freshman, Calvin Ridley has been an absolute game-changer for Alabama. He has shown incredible explosiveness, reliability and a clutch gene out of this world. After two impressive years in Tuscaloosca, expect him to be in Biletnikoff Award contention as a junior, and likely follow the trend of former Tide receivers Julio Jones and Amari Cooper and end up in the first round.

Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
He may not be a household name just yet, but NFL scouts are already very well acquainted with Courtland Sutton. The uber-athletic SMU wide out is already among the nation's most dangerous red zone threats, and scouts love his physical nature of play. At 6'3", 215 pounds Sutton has a game very similar to that of former Clemson receiver Mike Williams, who just so opened to go seventh overall to the Chargers a week ago.

Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
There are a lot of tight ends in the nation that can catch the ball, but few have the ability to break open games quite like Mike Gesicki. A relative no-name prior to 2016, the soon-to-be senior hauled in 48 receptions for 679 yards and five touchdowns, averaging over 14 yards per catch. He displayed a knack for finding open space against defenses, and even being able to make some incredible leaping catches that floored coaches, fans and scouts alike. Expect the athletic tight end to get even better in '17, and shoot up draft boards.

Others to Watch
James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
Mark Andrews, WR/TE, Oklahoma
Antonio Callaway, WR, Florida
Bryce Bobo, WR, Colorado

Offensive Linemen

Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
Despite first-round projections for the 2017 NFL Draft, Mike McGlinchey opted to stay one more season at Notre Dame, likely honing his skills and helping lead the Irish back from a disastrous 4-8 2016. At 6'7", 310 pounds, McGlinchey certainly has an NFL body, but he must continue to improve as a run blocker, where he struggled at times this past season.

Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson
After two seasons of blocking for Deshaun Watson, Hyatt should follow his former quarterback on the road to the NFL. Thrust into a large role at a very young age, Hyatt has done a remarkable job picking up on the fly and displaying impressive confidence, even as he stared down some great ACC pass rushers. Even more impressive for Hyatt is his play in this past year's Playoff, where he absolutely shut down the plethora of talented pass rushers Ohio State and Alabama had to offer.

Mason Cole, C, Michigan
He may play a center, a position not known for being selected very high in the Draft often, but Mason Cole still has a very good chance to go high up in the 2018 NFL Draft because of two things: his durability and versatility. Cole has started every single game over the past three seasons for Michigan, and he'll look to bring that to the next level. He has also displayed impressive versatility, moving from tackle to center, and there is a good chance he will move around quite a bit for the Wolverines in 2017.

Others to Watch
Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon
Tyrone Crowder, OG, Clemson
Trey Adams, OT, Washington

Defensive Linemen

Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
Even though NC State's defense wasn't terrific this past season, Bradley Chubb certainly was. The defensive recorded 10.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss in 2016, absolutely terrorizing opposing quarterbacks along the way. That tackles for loss number was the second most at NC State in a single season in their history coming only behind former No. 1 overall pick Mario Williams. Chubb's size and impressive pass rushing skills certainly remind of Williams, who has carved out quite a career for himself at the next level.

Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
Defensive tackles aren't supposed to be very athletic, but Wilkins certainly shatters that mold. Despite weighing in at well over 300 pounds, Wilkins has shown an incredible ability to get to the ball and make plays in open space. He ran one of the fastest 40s for his position in the country this past season and heck, he even caught a pass in the 2016 Playoff off a fake punt, helping give Clemson the momentum they need to win the game.

Arden Key, DE, LSU
A rangy edge rusher with an explosive first step, Key fits the bill as a future 4-3 DE or 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level. He used his explosiveness and wide frame to record 12 sacks last year, breaking the LSU single-season record, truly amazing considering the amount of talent that has passed through the defensive line over the years in Baton Rouge. After taking some time away from the game in the spring for personal reasons, expect Key to return in 2017 with the same passion and fire that made him so scary to opponents last season.

Others to Watch
Da'Shawn Hand, DE, Alabama
Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford
Byron Cowart, DE, Auburn
Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State


Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama
Alabama produces NFL-level talent at nearly every position, but it seems that they particularly emphasize inside linebacker, where a long list of studs have taken the leap from Tuscaloosca to the next level (including Rueben Foster this year). In his first significant action since arriving at Alabama, Evans recorded 52 tackles and four sacks. Expect even more damage from the hard-hitting linebacker as he inherits a starting job.

Marquis Haynes, DE/OLB, Ole Miss
Even though opponents honed in on blocking specifically for him and coming at him with double-teams, Haynes produced plenty this past season at Ole Miss and he appears to be gearing up for an NFL career. He picked up 11 tackles for loss and seven sacks this past season and his dynamic playmaking off the edge makes the Rebels so aggressive defensively. If he can grow in other parts of the game beyond being just a pass rusher, he could be a first-round selection.

Malik Jefferson, OLB, Texas
Malik Jefferson arrived at Texas with plenty of fanfare and so far we have seen bits and pieces of his vast potential, but not the complete package. With a new head coach and defensive philosophy expect the Longhorns to unleash the junior, who can inside or outside. With his instincts, tracking abilities and range, he should have a fabulous season, and give scouts plenty of highlights to drool over.

Others to Watch
Cameron Smith, ILB, USC
Azeem Victor, ILB, Washington
Micah Kiser, ILB, Virginia
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, OLB, Oklahoma

Defensive Backs

Derwin James, S, Florida State
There was perhaps no bigger blow to Florida State this past season than losing Derwin James for a long period of time, as he missed the whole second half of the season. James' range and closing speed gave the Seminoles' defense so many options because they knew they had a security blanket in back. Now healthy, expect James to have a terrific junior season and maybe fulfill a comparison that is becoming increasingly popular: Deion Sanders.

Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama
Much like linebacker, Alabama produces some really fine talent in their secondary, and it appears Minkah Fitzpatrick is next up. Fitzpatrick has been very young these past two seasons but has still found ways to make a big impact on the Alabama defense. With his versatility and smarts, it isn't unlogical to think he could play either corner, where he has the athleticism to hang with top-tier receivers, or safety, where he can come down and make plays in run support at a very high level in the NFL.

Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
Alexander first made a name for himself with a spectacular showing against Deshaun Watson and Clemson, but he struggled in the season's second half as the Louisville defense seemed to lose its ferocity and aggressiveness. Don't expect that again in '17, as the motivated Alexander should lead a hungry Cardinals' defense. The corner is quick and physical, and he has the hard-hitting abilities that make so many teams scared to throw his way.

Others to Watch
Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State
Jordan Whitehead, S, Pittsburgh
Quin Blanding, S, Virginia
Iman Marshall, CB, USC

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