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Bold Predictions for the 2018 NFL Draft Class

The 2018 NFL Draft has come to an end. Now that the dust has settled, let’s talk about how the first round picks will pan out.

2018’s first round picks will be graded using a scale ranging from future Hall of Famer to absolute bust. Let’s see how each team’s pick will do for them.

1. Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

Prediction: Bust

The pick that shocked the world will end up in flames. Mayfield is accurate and an electric playmaker. However, I have my concerns with him. He’s had legal issues, unsportsmanlike conduct on the field and on the sidelines, which does not bode well for the prototypical NFL quarterback. He isn’t Johnny Manziel, but he won’t be Peyton Manning, or even Joe Flacco, for that matter.

Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield.

2. New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Prediction: Pro Bowler

This is a match made in heaven. Some suggested that the Giants should have drafted a quarterback, but when’s the last time Eli Manning had a running game? The answer: since Tiki Barber. Barkley will be an electric playmaker for the Giants and the trio of Manning, Beckham and Barkley will be quite the spectacle.

New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley.

3. New York Jets: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

Prediction: Pro Bowler

The Jets must have sprinted to get that draft card in to the commissioner. Darnold fell into their lap, and he should be a nice fit in the Big Apple. Darnold has good leadership intangibles and has great QB traits. I doubt he’ll be a Hall of Famer, but he’ll make a few Pro Bowls and lead his team to some respectable playoff runs.

New York Jets QB Sam Darnold.

4. Cleveland Browns: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Prediction: Quality Starter

Many suspected that the Browns would have taken Bradley Chubb with the fourth pick, but they opted for local standout Denzel Ward. Personally, I like the move, since I’m not as high on Chubb as some are, and I like the idea of having more Ohio State players. Ward won’t be as good as his former teammate Marshon Lattimore, who won Defensive Rookie of the Year, but look for Ward to make some Pro Bowls in the future.

Cleveland Browns CB Denzel Ward.

5. Denver Broncos: Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State

Prediction: Quality Starter

Like I said before, I’m not as high on Chubb compared to others, but he’ll be a quality starter. It’ll be interesting to see who will start opposite Von Miller, since Shane Ray is still a solid starter. The Broncos will likely regret picking Chubb, since there will be players who were picked after who could make a great impact for their respective teams. However, I’m happy they didn’t select a quarterback.

Denver Broncos DE Bradley Chubb.

6. Indianapolis Colts: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

Prediction: Future Hall of Famer

The Colts may have gotten the steal of the draft. Yes, Nelson is a guard, but ask any QB who has to play Aaron Donald or Fletcher Cox and they’ll tell you that guard play is important. Andrew Luck has been a human piñata since he got into the league, and his resurgence will be attributed to the additional protection.

Indianapolis Colts G Quenton Nelson.

7. Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

Prediction: Bust

Buffalo traded up with Tampa Bay to select their quarterback of the future. Allen has a cannon of an arm, but he’s very unpolished and will need to adapt to NFL defensive schemes. His football IQ is lacking and he has to play Bill Belichick twice a year. Evidently, he’ll become a bust in Buffalo.

Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen.

8. Chicago Bears: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Prediction: Quality Starter

I’m a big fan of Smith going to the Bears. He fits Chicago’s mantra of being blue collar and tough, and he gets to join his former teammate Leonard Floyd. Smith will end up being a staple in the Bears’ defense.

Chicago Bears LB Roquan Smith.

9. San Francisco 49ers: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

Prediction: Quality Starter

San Francisco invested in Jimmy Garoppolo’s future by getting a tackle in Mike McGlinchey. Left tackle Joe Staley is old and they traded their right tackle Trent Brown to the New England Patriots. McGlinchey will start at right tackle and eventually slide over to left tackle. McGlinchey will struggle early in his career, but I see him having a Eric Fisher type career where he struggles early on, but improves as the years pass.

San Francisco 49ers OT Mike McGlinchey.

10. Arizona Cardinals: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

Prediction: Pro Bowler

The Arizona Cardinals traded with the Oakland Raiders to nab their future starting QB. Rosen is loved by some and hated by many, due to his smug behaviour. Because of this, Rosen fell to 10. The UCLA product was my favourite QB in this year’s draft, but I think his ceiling is limited. He may make a few Pro Bowls, but he won’t be a generational talent.

Arizona Cardinals QB Josh Rosen.

11. Miami Dolphins: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama

Prediction: Pro Bowler

Miami got a great player in Minkah Fitzpatrick. His outstanding work ethic and Alabama pedigree makes him a special talent. The Dolphins lack hard working, dependable players, and Fitzpatrick has the ability to be a culture changer. Because of this, he will make a few Pro Bowls in a likely successful career.

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vita Vea, DT, Washington

Prediction: Bust

I like Vea, but I don’t see him succeeding in Tampa Bay. The thought of him and Gerald McCoy in the middle of the defensive line is scary, but Vea will be marginalized by McCoy’s exceptional play. Hopefully this doesn’t happen, but I envision Vea being a bust.

13. Washington Redskins: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

Prediction: Quality Starter

I was not a fan of this pick, but Washington won’t be too disappointed by this pick. Payne gets to join former Alabama teammate Jonathan Allen in the Capital, but Payne won’t be a difference maker, even with a supporting cast. He’ll be a decent player, and that’s about it.

14. New Orleans Saints: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA

Prediction: Bust

The Saints traded a boat load to the Green Bay Packers in order to select Marcus Davenport, and it will end up not being worth it. Davenport tests well, but he doesn’t dominate his lower level competition as much as one would want. Davenport won’t end up being the dominant edge rusher opposite Cam Jordan that NOLA wants him to be.

15. Oakland Raiders: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

Prediction: Quality Starter 

Oakland shocked many draft analysts when they selected Kolton Miller. Their right tackle position hasn’t been solidified, and Donald Penn is getting closer to retirement. Miller will be a decent tackle, but Jon Gruden and Reggie McKenzie could have maximized the value of this pick more.

16. Buffalo Bills: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

Prediction: Pro Bowler

Buffalo traded up to select their next great defender in Tremaine Edmunds. His impressive tape and athletic ability will make him a Pro Bowl talent for the Bills.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Derwin James, S, Florida State

Prediction: Pro Bowler

The Chargers were the beneficiaries of James slipping to them. His instincts and playmaking ability will make him a great safety. He learned his swagger from former Florida State teammate Jalen Ramsey, and that alone will earn him a few Pro Bowls.

18. Green Bay Packers: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

Prediction: Quality Starter

The Packers nabbed one of the best corners in this year’s draft. Alexander is a physical, ball hawking corner who’s skill set can fill a void in the Packer defense. His flashy play will help him be respected around the league, but his size will hurt him from being a Pro Bowl talent.

19. Dallas Cowboys: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

Prediction: Quality Starter

The Dallas Cowboys have been solid at drafting in recent years, and Vander Esch shouldn’t disappoint. Some analysts believe he could be Brian Urlacher, which I vehemently disagree with, but he has that old school mentality. He won’t be a Pro Bowl level linebacker, but he’ll be a solid starter.

20. Detroit Lions: Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas

Prediction: Quality Starter

I’ll never understand this pick, but to be fair, I’d consider it a safe pick. It’s a reach, most definitely, but Ragnow will be a quality starter in the NFL. He didn’t warrant a first round pick, and James Daniels is the better center prospect, but Matthew Stafford should be happy that he has a quality snapper now.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Billy Price, C, Ohio State

Prediction: Quality Starter

Again, I don’t understand why these teams take average centers in the first round. Again, the Bengals and Andy Dalton will be happy to have a decent center with Price, but they could have gotten better offensive linemen at this stage of the draft. In essence, bad pick, yet still a good player.

22. Tennessee Titans: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

Prediction: Pro Bowler

The Titans’ strategy in this draft was quality over quantity. They traded up for three of their four draft picks, and it should work out for them. Rashaan Evans, their first round pick, has Pro Bowl potential and will slide right into this defense.

23. New England Patriots: Isaiah Wynn, OT, Georgia

Prediction: Quality Starter 

With Nate Solder signing with the New York Giants, the Patriots used one of their first round picks on an undersized tackle. Isaiah Wynn is a good prospect who could be a great guard, but it seems as though Bill Belichick wants to play him at tackle. His 6’2″ height is concerning for a blindside tackle, but perhaps he can make it work.

24. Carolina Panthers: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland

Prediction: Bust

I didn’t understand the D.J. Moore hype train during the late stages of the draft. He’s a solid prospect, but he’s not a first round talent, so I expect him to be a bust. Cam Newton might be able to make him a better player, but Carolina would have been better off with a Calvin Ridley or Courtland Sutton.

25. Baltimore Ravens: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina

Prediction: Quality Starter

The Maxx Williams experiment didn’t work out, so the Ravens got two of the top tight end prospects in Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews. Hurst is a volume catcher who can be a game changer, and Joe Flacco (or Lamar Jackson) will love to throw to him.

26. Atlanta Falcons: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Prediction: Quality Starter

Julio Jones’ future in Atlanta is up in the air, but if he comes back and is paired up with Calvin Ridley, the league will be put on notice. Matt Ryan should be ecstatic to get Ridley who’s an excellent compliment to Jones. I don’t see him being a Pro Bowler, but he’ll be respected around the league.

27. Seattle Seahawks: Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State

Prediction: Bust

Seattle had one of the most surprising selections of the first round in drafting Rashaad Penny. Ultimately, it’ll end up not panning out for them. Penny is an all-round back, but he doesn’t warrant a first round pick and the expectations surrounding a first round running back.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Terrell Edmunds, S, Virginia Tech

Prediction: Quality Starter

Pittsburgh surprised the football world when they picked Edmunds, but he’ll end up being a good player for them. He has good instincts and a solid work ethic, and should personify the Pittsburgh Steelers well.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida

Prediction: Bust

The Jags opted to draft another Florida product in the first round. Bryan has a lot of good physical traits, but he lacks instincts and might find himself lost in the mix in Jacksonville’s competitive defensive line.

30. Minnesota Vikings: Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida

Prediction: Future Hall of Famer

This prediction might seem bold, but I really like this fit for Hughes. Him and Xavier Rhodes will be an exciting one, and they could have a better Legion of Boom on their hands.

31. New England Patriots: Sony Michel, RB, Georgia

Prediction: Quality Starter

New England picked two Georgia products in Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel. Michel was highly productive at Georgia, even with Nick Chubb taking some of the carries. Michel is a great fit in New England, since they have a running back by committee approach.

32. Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

Prediction: Pro Bowler

Few players fit their team’s mantra quite like Lamar Jackson does to the Baltimore Ravens. His electric play will make him supersede the average Joe Flacco. Eventually, I see Jackson becoming a Pro Bowl quarterback.

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