What are some of the most commonly talked about topics about the 2018 NFL Draft? Daniel and Harun address some of the top headlines as we inch closer to draft night:
Why are teams so high on Josh Allen? – Daniel
Josh Allen is a physical specimen and there is no argument about that. The issue with Allen is that his mental processing, pocket presence, and accuracy is not good right now. When Mel Kiper and others talk about drafting Allen on projection, this is not entirely accurate. Team’s take projection and upside well into account when scouting prospects, but especially at the quarterback position, current NFL readiness is also a significant factor. Allen checks off every box in the upside category, but is very lacking in the current readiness department. This leads to a lot of the confusion between the draft community and Allen’s draft stock.
Why the Baker Mayfield-Johnny Manziel comparisons don’t make sense. – Harun
One of the hot topics throughout this draft cycle are comparisons between Baker Mayfield and Johnny Manziel. The Manziel-Mayfield comparisons start with:
- Operated in a spread offense in college
- Off-field issues of some sort
And the comparison just about stops there. Manziel had a pattern of erratic behavior and even arrived drunk to a December 2015 Browns practice. Mayfield’s only “incident” that took place was a one time thing (resisting arrest, intoxication, disorderly conduct) is well renowned for his leadership skills. He has NFL-caliber arm strength, anticipation, and accuracy to all levels of the field the Manziel lacked. Johnny Football was quite a bit reliant on receivers, in particular Mike Evans, to bail him out on bad decisions. He had a tendency to take off out of the pocket once his first read was blanketed and struggled to play within structure. Mayfield isn’t at all similar in this regard. He’s able to play at a high level in the pocket and is much better at scanning the field looking for open targets. So while the basis for comparison between the two is present in some ways, the necessary skills they possess (or in Manziel’s case, lack) in translating to the NFL couldn’t be more different.
Is Lamar Jackson’s decision to not hire an agent hurting him? – Daniel
Any answer to this question in uncertain given that I am not on the staff of an NFL team, but if I had to guess, I would have to guess no. This should not at all affect Jackson’s ability communicate with teams and as there is very little room for negotiation in rookie contracts, it is unlikely to hurt him from that standpoint. My best guess would be that these reports are coming from two places: 1. Jackson actively avoiding teams scouting him as a non-quarterback prospect (if such teams exist) and 2. People in the media helping their agent friends which there have been proven connections with.
Is this is a bad receiving class? – Daniel
This receiving class is an intriguing one in that it doesn’t have any top tier prospects, leading to frequent remarks calling this a bad class. This class is not bad in my opinion because what it lacks in top talent it makes up for in depth and variety. There are all types of receivers in this class from the sure-handed Christian Kirk to the explosive yac DJ Moore, to the polished vet Calvin Ridley to the undersized beast Anthony Miller to the prototypical Equanimeous St. Brown. All these and more bring their own unique twists to the position and have major strengths and weaknesses, but in all likelihood with the sheer number of talented guys, there will be some good receivers from this class.
To take a running back in the first round or not to take a running back in the first round? – Daniel
This is a question that frequently gets draft analysts into philosophical debates on the running back position. The true answer isn’t very simple at all. Running backs are heavily reliant on their offensive line for success, but a bad running back behind a great line can only do so much. A lot of this depends on a team’s individual situation in determining the value a running back can bring to their team relative to other prospects. A Saquon Barkley for example provides a tremendous value for the Browns and would be worth one of their top 5 picks. Barkley can provide running and receiving value and be the Brown’s young quarterback’s best friend. The Browns have the offensive line for Barkley to be successful running the ball as well. Barkley might not be worth taking for the Colts at 6 for example with a bad offensive line.
The EDGE rusher class – Harun
The top of the edge rusher class has been dominated by talk of nearly consensus #1 EDGE Bradley Chubb and what he can do at the next level. However, the dominant Combine showing of Harold Landry put him back into the conversation as the draft’s premier pass rushing talent. His tape in 2016 was arguably better than the film any other EDGE as he showed innate technique and ability to win around the edge with burst and bend. The same could be said for Arden Key, who also put up big sack numbers last season. He displayed a tremendous explosion and pass rushing skills in 2016 and was much improved as a run defender this past season. His absence from the LSU team over the offseason is obviously a red flag, as are some of the injuries he’s suffered over the course of the year. But he could still go late in the first round if teams believe they can get it together with Key and get him to play well at a more consistent rate. Marcus Davenport emerged out of nowhere late in 2017 as a potential top 10 pick and has some of the highest upside of any prospect in this draft class. He’s very lengthy, powerful, and athletic but has an incredibly basic approach as a pass rusher. Davenport should go in the 1st round with his skill set with the hopes of being molded into the star he’s capable of being. And rounding out the top guys, former #1 recruit Josh Sweat is all of a sudden viewed as a potential late 1st round pick, after lighting up the Combine with an electric 40 yard dash, looking fluid on field drills, and came away with clean medicals. His tape is also quite impressive, and I think he’s arguably the best player at the position in the draft.
After the first few guys, including sleepers Duke Ejiofor and Hercules Mata’afa, the EDGE talent drops off significantly with players like Sam Hubbard, Jeff Holland, and Chad Thomas.
Overall impressions on the class – Daniel
For me this class is a great class, but there is a bit of a gap in talent between my top 3 prospects in Lamar Jackson, Quenton Nelson, and Saquon Barkley and the rest of the class. This works out fine with the draft thought because since the quarterback class is so strong, quarterbacks flying off the board in the top 10-15 will allow for teams to not have to reach on lesser talents in that range. This class also has incredible depth at nearly every position aside from EDGE and also has pretty good top talent at all the positions. Some teams may want to maneuver around the draft to maximize their pick value to fill their team needs.
Most underrated players
-Daniel: Jessie Bates III, Derrius Guice, Duke Ejiofor, Lamar Jackson, Harold Landry, Anthony Miller, Dante Pettis, Equanimeous St. Brown, Will Hernandez, Cam Serigne
–Harun: Deontay Burnett, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Jessie Bates III, Dante Pettis, Duke Ejiofor, Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, Breeland Speaks, Duke Dawson Jr., Frank Ginda
Most overrated players
-Daniel: Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Bradley Chubb, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Denzel Ward, DJ Moore, Marcus Davenport, Justin Reid, Sony Michel
-Harun: Josh Allen, Bradley Chubb, Marcus Davenport, Rashaad Penny, Denzel Ward, Taven Bryan, Hayden Hurst, Maurice Hurst Jr.