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Daniel’s NFL Draft Notebook: Early Look at This Year’s Class

General Thoughts

This class appears to be another great class. The class of 2017 was incredibly deep, but it only had a few elite talents and lacked a top level QB and OT. This class seems to be almost the complete opposite. The class of ’18 appears to be loaded with top level talent, with significantly less depth and is very strong at QB and OT. This class will be defined by superstars.

Early Thoughts on the Top Prospects

Arden Key (EDGE) LSU: Arden Key may end up being the best player in this draft. He has freakish athleticism, great length, and solid coverage skills. Key’s biggest questions will be his love for the game, after taking a break from football, and his low weight. I have no questions about Key’s love for the game because his effort on the field is phenomenal. You can tell that he loves making plays and won’t give up. Key will have to put on some more weight, but I think he projects more as a 3-4 OLB so he wouldn’t have to put on crazy weight.

Harold Landry (EDGE) Boston College: Harold Landry has may not be quite the freak athlete that Key is, but he has great bend on the edge and still displays outstanding athleticism. I believe that Landry projects as a 4-3 DE in the NFL and he, like Key, will also need to put on some weight. The Boston College star needs some polish, but has everything teams want in a 4-3 DE prospect.

Derwin James (FS) Florida State: Derwin James could end up being the best of Jamal Adams and Malik Hooker combined, with a little less leadership and a little more size. The Florida State stud has incredible athleticism and size at 6’3″, 212. I saw a jaw-dropping play on film where he literally throws a Florida tackle into the air, which is one of many amazingly athletic plays that James has made. He seems to have all parts of being a safety figured out, from ball-hawking to hard hitting. James impressed as a freshman with a knack for making splash plays. James hasn’t produced much film yet, after being injured as a sophomore, but his potential is out of this world.

Tarvarus McFadden (CB) Florida State: Tarvarus McFadden looks to be a fantastic corner prospect. He has prototypical length at 6’2″ and shows good movement and coverage skills. McFadden could be yet another stud DB prospect from FSU.

Jaire Alexander (CB) Louisville: Jaire Alexander shows good coverage skills and has a nose for the ball on the outside. Watch his film against Clemson last year to see the kind of impact that he can have on a game. His biggest question is his sub-par length (5’11”), but as you will see in the next prospect, there are plenty of NFL receivers his size that he can match up with.

Courtland Sutton (WR) SMU: Courtland Sutton has good size with decent hands and catch radius. That is where my praise for him ends. Sutton has frankly atrocious route-running and seems to lack major explosiveness. He often struggled to create separation, even against the weak competition he faced at SMU. Certain major-media scouts have already dubbed Sutton the next big thing at receiver. While he certainly is big (6’4″, 219lbs), he lacks the polish and explosiveness for me to consider him a top receiving prospect.

Christian Kirk (WR) Texas A&M: Christian Kirk looks like a really good receiving prospect. Kirk has great speed and YAC ability. He lacks what many consider to be WR1 size, but many smaller NFL receivers have broken that mold. Kirk’s biggest question for me is his route-running, as he runs some nice routes, but he runs each route one way from what I have seen, and route creativity is huge in creating separation at the next level.

Saquon Barkley (HB) Penn State: Saquon Barkley looks like a stud RB in the making at Penn State. He shows good athleticism as well as nice polish. Barkley appears to be a complete back with few flaws in his game.

Derrius Guice (HB) LSU: Derrius Guice may give Barkley a run for his money at RB1 this year. Guice shows great burst with good power. He also shows impressive vision. If he can prove to be clearly the better runner or expand his game he can challenge Barkley for the top running back spot in April.

Connor Williams (OT) Texas: Connor Williams has had incredible production at the college level. He looks like a top-notch tackle prospect with polish and strength. The only major question about Williams is his sub-par length. Williams may struggle against longer, more athletic competition at the next level.

Sam Darnold (QB) USC: Sam Darnold has been hyped as the next Andrew Luck, but he has his flaws. Darnold has a bad throwing motion, and has some other questions on the field. Darnold is a very good prospect, but temper your enthusiasm for now.

Josh Allen (QB) Wyoming: Josh Allen has been pushed by many major-media scouts as not only the top QB in this class, but also as the top overall prospect. This is absurd. Allen has prototypical size and great arm strength but posted an atrocious completion rating of 56% last season against the bad competition he faced at Wyoming. Josh Allen has good potential but is nowhere near this year’s top prospect as it stands.

Lamar Jackson (QB) Louisville: Jackson has already been written off as an athletic QB who needs to switch to receiver. This is a huge mistake because Jackson has shown traits at QB that the other “top QB prospects” haven’t. Jackson has shown great ability to read the field and has all the arm talent in the world (look up “Lamar Jackson throws football 100 yards”). These valuable traits combined with his freakish running ability make Jackson a great NFL prospect. His biggest flaw is what I call “Cam Newton Syndrome” in that he has bad throwing mechanics and sometimes doesn’t turn his cannon of an arm down a notch.

Biggest Takeaways so far

This class is loaded with studs, but the mainstream sports media isn’t picking the right ones to push. Get excited about this year’s class, but make sure that you choose the right prospects to get excited about.

 

Image credit to fayobserver.com

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