2018 NFL Draft Board: Top 100 Offensive Prospects
Following up last week’s breakdown of the top defensive players, here are HawkTalk’s Top 100 Offensive Prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft.
For those who missed the position rankings on defense: 2018 NFL Draft Board: Top 100 Defensive Prospects. And here are some general notes for this Top 100 post on offense:
– The 2018 draft class is shallower on offense than defense. While there is plenty of early round talent on both sides of the ball, the pool will dry up by day-3 on offense. The 100th ranked offensive player should go off the board much later than the 100th ranked defensive prospect.
– This should come as no surprise then: there are significant “cliffs” at some of the offensive positions. QB, RB, OG and C are all very strong at the top (Rounds 1-3), but the talent drops off precipitously thereafter.
– It’s fair to think those loaded positions will cause some top prospects to fall a bit. However, the tier-gaps between day-2 and day-3 mean teams must hit those positions early to fill needs.
– WR, TE and OT are comparatively weak, especially in the premium rounds of the draft. OT is weak throughout for the 2nd consecutive year, though WR and TE have some quality options sprinkled throughout the draft.
|1)||Sam Darnold||Top 5|
|2)||Baker Mayfield||Top 15|
|3)||Josh Rosen||Top 15|
Quick note – the QB grades above do not equal where I think they should be drafted. Obviously QB’s get a big bump for their positional value – a 1st-round QB often goes top-15 or even top-5 in the draft…
I first became fascinated with Sam Darnold after he lead USC to victory vs. the Washington Huskies’ dominant defense in 2016. What he accomplished that year as a redshirt freshman was incredible, putting him on the fast track to NFL stardom. Unfortunately, he took a step back this past year with alarming ball security and generally inconsistent play. My top-5 grade for him includes a small leap-of-faith as a result. I still believe in him over all the other top-QB’s in this stacked class, as he possesses all the tools and intangibles you want in a franchise QB. There’s still plenty of room for development for the 20-year-old. My comparisons for Darnold are Tony Romo and Brett Favre, though he has similarities to a current NFL star as well:
Parallels between Sam Darnold & Russell Wilson:
– Elongated release, but ball still comes out quick with zip.
– Evade the rush well, throw from all angles & make magic outside pocket.
– Shaky pass pro in 2017. Forced to perform under constant pressure.
– Incredibly clutch.
— James Thomas (@JamesThomasHT) April 17, 2018
I wish I had the stones to grade Baker Mayfield as a top-5 talent, because I love his game. However, he has three risk-factors that can’t be completely ignored: 1) The poor track record of Big-12 spread-system QB’s, 2) Height, and 3) Maturity level… Josh Rosen is the easiest on-field projection of the 2018 QB’s, given his natural/repeatable mechanics, poise and efficient movement within structure. He’s on the Jared Goff – Matt Ryan spectrum, which is a great floor/ceiling combo. Injury concerns are primarily why he may not follow in their footsteps as a top-3 draft pick… Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen are not for the faint of heart, but for different reasons. Allen fits defines the prototype with his elite combo of size, arm strength & athleticism. However, his inefficient production both with (2016) and without (2017) NFL talent around him is a big red flag. How much does his impeccable pre-draft process really mean? To NFL teams – quite a lot obviously, as he seems to be neck & neck with Darnold for QB1… Jackson was extraordinarily productive on the other hand, winning the 2016 Heisman and improving last year. He might scare some OC’s, but a creative offensive mind can make him a one-of-a-kind weapon in the NFL…
Top Day-3 QB Prospects: Luke Falk, Nic Shimonek, Kurt Benkert, Riley Ferguson, J.T. Barrett, Logan Woodside
Seahawks QB Targets: Lauletta, Barrett, Woodside, Kyle Allen, Alex McGough
A lot was made of John Schneider attending Josh Allen’s Pro Day, though I think it was much ado about nothing. The chances Seattle moves on from Russell Wilson anytime soon are slim-to-none… Instead, they’ve met with cheaper options who fit the undersized/athletic profile: Alex McGough and Kyle Allen. It’s possible neither are drafted… J.T. Barrett and Logan Woodside are the late round options they may have interest in… Kyle Lauletta would be the perfect developmental backup QB. Unfortunately, the Seahawks likely have too many needs and too little draft capital to pay his R2-3 price tag…
|1)||Saquon Barkley||Top 5|
|2)||Ronald Jones II||R1|
I’ve loved this RB class ever since I first evaluated it last summer/fall. Enough to make this bold prediction months in advance: “Since 2008, there have not been more than 8 running backs selected in the top three rounds of the NFL draft. Despite the de-valuation of the RB position in the NFL, that stands to change next year.” It looks like that will come to fruition even though guys like Damien Harris & Bryce Love returned to school.
Where to start with Saquon Barkley? He’s on another level compared to the other recent high RB draft picks (Gurley, Elliott, Fournett). I see him as the Calvin Johnson of RB prospects – possessing a combination of skills & athleticism unmatched by anyone in the NFL. He’s the best blocker and easily the best receiving weapon at RB this year, and has sky-high upside as a runner… I’ve had a post mapped out on Ronald Jones for a while now, and just haven’t gotten around to posting it. He’s electric with the ball in his hands. The Jamaal Charles comparison that gets thrown around is valid, though he needs to improve in the pass game. Durability is my only real concern with him, highlighted by a troublesome hammy during the pre-draft process.
Top Day-3 RB Prospects: Josh Adams, Nyheim Hines, Jaylen Samuels, Bo Scarbrough, Mark Walton, Ryan Nall, Jordan Wilkins, Boston Scott, Chase Edmonds, Kalen Ballage, Akrum Wadley, Ito Smith
Seahawks RB Targets: Chubb, Jones, Johnson, Guice, Michel, Freeman, Penny, Kelly, Adams, Scarbrough, Samuels, Nall, Wilkins, Scott, Edmonds, Ballage, Wadley, Smith, Trenton Cannon
This RB class is basically divided into two clusters of prospects, with a big cliff coming soon after the 2nd round:
Almost done updating 2018 RB evaluations – Class is loaded with 8 backs in the top 75 overall prospects, and some nice depth to pick from on Day-3.
But there’s a big gap/cliff somewhere in the middle. Want more than a complimentary RB2/RB3? Strike before Day-2 is done.
— James Thomas (@JamesThomasHT) April 14, 2018
Given the lip service Carroll’s paid to improving the running game, Seattle’s been surprisingly quiet at the top of that cliff. They’ve reportedly only met with Derrius Guice amongst the early-round options, which I’m sure was to evaluate his character in person… I still think most, if not all the day-2 RB’s are in play. Nick Chubb best fits Seattle’s RB profile, yet guys like Guice, Kerryon Johnson, Ronald Jones and Sony Michel are all top options… Royce Freeman and Rashaad Penny both make some sense later on day-2 as well…
The Seahawks’ real pre-draft focus seems to be on the mid-late round complimentary backs. They’ve met with Kalen Ballage, Ryan Nall, Ito Smith, Akrum Wadley, Chase Edmonds, and Trenton Cannon… I’m not a fan of Ballage, but he stands out as perhaps the top Seahawks draft candidate at RB this year… Those who follow me on Twitter know I like two other late-round gems for Seattle as well: Jordan Wilkins and Boston Scott…
|6)||Equanimeous St. Brown||R2-3|
Looking for a legit #1 WR? This ain’t the year for that. Hell, even projected starters on the outside are tough to find in this class. There is plenty of depth throughout the draft however, especially at slot receiver.
I see the appeal with Calvin Ridley. He’s fast, runs very smooth & smart routes, and produced in a mediocre passing offense. Yet I can’t get on board with him in the first round. He’s a little skinny, a bit over-aged, isn’t explosive, and offers less contested catch ability than perhaps all his peers listed above. None of those traits by themselves is damning, but taken together – it’s just too much for me… Be wary of paying SEC-tax this year with guys like Ridley, Christian Kirk and D.J. Chark… I prefer Courtland Sutton and D.J. Moore, who offer differing but highly intriguing skillsets in the late-R1 / early-R2 area…
Top Day-3 WR Prospects: Tre’Quan Smith, Keke Coutee, J’Mon Moore, Deontay Burnett, Jaleel Scott, Marcell Ateman, Allen Lazard, Korey Robertson, Daurice Fountain, Simmie Cobbs
Seahawks WR Targets: The Seahawks may pick a receiver at some point during the draft, but it’s unclear who exactly they’d target. Both Carroll and Schneider attended a workout including Christian Kirk, but would they spend a 2nd round pick on another slot WR? (Doug Baldwin’s primary position). QB Kyle Allen & RB Kalen Ballage were also at that workout, and are far more likely targets than Kirk… If they were to go after a WR with a high pick, D.J. Moore is more in their wheelhouse. He’s like a more explosive Golden Tate, and Seattle attended his Pro Day… The Seahawks also met with Dante Pettis at UW’s Pro Day AND his secondary workout in April…
I still believe Seattle would benefit from adding a larger downfield/redzone threat with contested catch ability. Perhaps they addressed that already by drafting Amar Darboh and signing Jaron Brown. However, they’ve lost a lot in that regard with the departures of Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham… Here are some that stand out to me: Sutton, Equanimeous St. Brown, D.J. Chark, Tre’Quan Smith, Allen Lazard, J’Mon Moore, Jaleel Scott, Justin Watson, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and top-30 visit Keith Kirkwood… Like I said, it’s tough to pinpoint exactly who the Seahawks are targeting at WR…
The 2018 TE class doesn’t measure up to last year’s group, but it does have a crown jewel at the top. Dallas Goedert is the complete package – size, athleticism, ball skills, blocking – he has it all. He wins at all levels of the field, and can be used from any alignment. That’s exactly what NFL teams look for in a matchup nightmare TE. And he’s very much in that vein, comparing to the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz. I believe Goedert is a borderline top-15 prospect in this draft… I covered this TE class in detail a couple months ago: 2018 Tight Ends – Top 15 prospects + Seahawks notes.
Top Day-3 TE Prospects: Troy Fumagalli, Dalton Schultz, Christopher Herndon, Tyler Conklin, Will Dissly, Durham Smythe, Jordan Akins
Seahawks TE Targets: Goedert, Gesicki, Dissly, Schultz, Conklin, Herndon, Thomas, Ryan Izzo
Seattle put Goedert through a workout and hosted him for a top-30 visit. I’ve said for months that he’s a dark horse 1st round candidate, and it may not be so farfetched after all. He’s the best passing game weapon they could add, and can make a difference as a blocker in the running game…
The Seahawks have a 3-cone threshold for TE prospects, just like the arm length threshold at CB. Every PCJS Tight End draft pick & relevant UDFA has posted a 3-cone time faster than 7.10, which is very quick. Will Dissly is the best blocker in the draft and ran a 7.07. He also very similar physically to former Seahawks TE Zach Miller… Dalton Schultz isn’t too far behind as a blocker, while Christopher Herndon & Tyler Conklin stand out as other day-3 options…
Yikes. This makes two straight years of thin OT classes, so expect some reaches at the premium position… Mike McGlinchey is the most baffling evaluation for me among 1st round prospects. One scout could say he’s the most consistently great Tackle in this class and another the most polarizing, and somehow, they’d both be right. Last I checked on him in September, he struggled mightily in protection vs. Georgia’s Lorenzo Carter & Co. Then he proceeded to perform exceptionally vs. a who’s who of talented edge defenders the rest of the way. His mix of stunning run-game dominance and (occasionally) decisive losses in pass pro makes it tough to nail down a grade. Ultimately, his package of size, athleticism, seamless LT/RT-versatility, skill and readiness warrants a mid-1st round pick as OT1…
Connor Williams was right alongside Quenton Nelson on draft boards a year ago, before struggling through injuries & inconsistency in 2017. I covered him in detail while mocking him to the Seahawks a few weeks ago: HawkTalk’s 2018 NFL Mock Draft 1.0… Kolton Miller is a legit 1st round option, and not just because the need for OT’s will drive up prices. His athletic profile is off the charts, and it shows whether run-blocking on the move or pass pass-protecting in space. However, his pad level is naturally high at 6’9, and he’ll need to add strength/bulk throughout his frame (while tightening up his overall technique) to compensate…
Top Day-3 OT Prospects: Geron Christian, Will Richardson, Brandon Parker, Martinas Rankin
Seahawks OT Targets: Williams, Miller
Seattle met with Miller at his Pro Day, plus he has the special physical profile they prefer in R1. Not sure they’d target a pure OT that early however… Williams seamlessly fits Seattle’ Guard profile, making him one of the best options available for their 1st draft pick… The Seahawks haven’t shown much (if any) interest in any others who project at Tackle, which isn’t surprising. The left side is set with Duane Brown backed up by George Fant. And they likely feel comfortable at RT, with German Ifedi, Ethan Pocic & D.J. Fluker all having experience there…
|1)||Quenton Nelson||Top 5||LG|
I’ve never seen an interior offensive line class so stacked with top-end talent. Quenton Nelson deservedly gets the most hype, but he’s just the tip of the iceberg… Connor Williams and Isaiah Wynn are ideally suited for a Tackle-to-Guard transition, and have Zach Martin-like potential. They may also get a shot at LT given their success at the college level… I expect yet another LG – big Will Hernandez – to come off the board in the 1st round. There’s little doubt he’ll be an effective blocker from day-1 in the NFL, and he probably has more upside than given credit for… James Daniels is only 20 years old, which is unheard of for Center prospects. He’s so smooth and athletic though, and was often dominant for Iowa. He may be the best Center since Alex Mack… Braden Smith doesn’t make it look as pretty as Wynn or Daniels do, but he’s just as effective. The 1st team All-American is an explosive run blocker with the pass pro chops to excel as an NFL rookie. He’s severely underrated, and would be an absolute steal at his current projected range (R2-3)… Frank Ragnow is reportedly rising up draft boards, which may come at the expense of Billy Price. Both are superb Center prospects who have the versatility to play Guard as well…
Top Day-3 iOL Prospects: Skyler Phillips, Dejon Allen, Scott Quessenberry, Alex Cappa, Colby Gossett, Cole Madison, Patrick Morris
Seahawks iOL Targets: Wynn, Hernandez, Smith, Ragnow, Price, Teller, Corbett, Madison, Phillips, Allen
While this Guard/Center class is loaded, there will be a huge-drop off after the 2nd or 3rd round. I think my top-10 above can all start as rookies, with many of them making an instant impact. However, that’s it. No others appear ready for live snaps yet…
It’d be a mistake to assume the Seahawks are done on the OL after signing D.J. Fluker In fact, Fluker’s small $300k signing bonus indicates he’s far from guaranteed to even make the roster. He was merely brought in to provide depth, experience and competition on the right side of the line, which were all severely lacking before…
OG is one of Seattle’s top draft needs, and the stars are aligned for an early pick. They’ve met with Will Hernandez, Billy Price and Austin Corbett during the pre-draft process… Hernandez, Connor Williams and Isaiah Wynn are all 1st-round possibilities who would immediately upgrade the line at LG. I like both Price and Corbett, though I feel the latter is a tad overrated in R2… Frank Ragnow and especially Braden Smith are underrated and possess the explosive lower body athleticism Seattle prefers. If the Seahawks are comfortable moving Ethan Pocic to LG, those guys would be steals in the 2nd round at RG… Wyatt Teller also fits the profile, and he had a fantastic career at Virginia Tech. I’m a big fan of his, and he’s been a R3 staple of my Seahawks mock drafts that skip OG in the top 2 rounds…