It is once again time for our weekly check in on the (likely) top prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft.
There has been some shifting in the ranking, plus a new addition to the Top - 10, after a chaotic weekend that saw a pair of potential play-off teams go down and an absolutely insane Bedlam game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Not to mention the New York Giants taking another step closer to a top five selection in April’s draft. The 1-7 Giants would have the third overall pick if the draft were held today.
Without further ado, let’s get to the list
1 - Saquon Barkley (RB, Penn State)
I am not yet ready to knock Barkley off the top of my list, even though he is coming off a pair of disappointing offensive performances. Let’s not over-analyze things yet: He is still an elite talent and a generational prospect.
2 - Baker Mayfield (QB, Oklahoma)
His performance in the Bedlam game was simply amazing.
Mayfield made the most difficult throws look almost routine and practically willed his team to victory after the Oklahoma State defense figured out left tackle Orlando Brown Jr.
Mayfield doesn’t fit the NFL’s archetype for a quarterback, but he has the tools and quite a few skills that translate. There is still a ton of “process” left, but doing what you are supposed to do when you are supposed to do it is important. Despite a ill-timed turnovers and sacks resulting from holding out for the big play (sounds familiar, right?), but he put up absolutely insane numbers against a defense he was supposed to shred. And most importantly, he won the game, which is what a hyper-competitive winner is supposed to do. Expect to hear plenty of “Drew Brees” and “Russell Wilson” comparisons in the coming months
3 - Minkah Fitzpatrick (CB, Alabama)
No change here, but Fitzpatrick did go down against LSU with a hamstring injury. As of this writing, the severity hasn’t been determined — though he was able to leave the field under his own power. Fitzpatrick is generally considered the top cornerback in the draft and that is a “cornerstone” position, and his versatility to play safety (well) only increases his value. If his injury lingers it might drop him down the list, though.
4 - Bradley Chubb (DE, North Carolina State)
Chubb is simply a wrecking ball. He isn’t the athletic specimen that Myles Garrett or Jadeveon Clowney are, but he is a really good football player. He has a feel for the game and a knack for creating havoc behind the line of scrimmage.
Oh, and I’m giving him bonus points for this:
5 - Quenton Nelson (OG, Notre Dame)
Nelson rises up the rankings after Notre Dame ran over Wake Forest to the tune of 380 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Running back Josh Adams left the game with a concussion, but that didn’t stop Nelson (and Mike McGlinchey) from dominating up front. Nelson is an elite prospect at guard with upside as a pass protector and a run blocker.
6 - Christian Wilkins (DT, Clemson)
No change for Wilkins. He had a solid game against NC State, and should be the kind of disruptive interior defender NFL teams are hungry for.
7 - Derwin James (S, Florida State)
No change for James either. After his sophomore season was lost to injury, teams will want to be sure of his durability, and playing heavily in a 95 snap defensive effort against Syracuse will surely help. James also nabbed his first interception of the season, though after the game he was quick to mention the two he missed.
8 - Harold Landry (EDGE, Boston College)
Landry slides down the list a bit as other players have good weekends while he deals with an ankle injury. Once he is healthy he could find himself rising back up the rankings. The decision between he, Chubb, and LSU’s Arden Key could well come down to what teams are drafting when.
9 - Joshua Jackson (CB, Iowa)
A new player added to the list.
Joshua Jackson has been a name that has floated around the fringes of the draft conversation, but he thrust himself into the spotlight with his performance against Ohio State this weekend. Listed at t 6’1,” 192 pounds, he has the look of an NFL defensive back, and with 15 passes defensed and 5 interceptions (three off OSU’s J.T. Barrett, including the one below) he definitely has the ball skills.
The NFL Scouting Combine will help to determine whether or not he has the raw athleticism to be a first round corner, but his production is undeniable and deserves to be highlighted here.
10 - Bryce Love (RB, Stanford)
Love is coming off, by far, his worst game of the season against Washington State, but that isn’t (yet) enough to knock him off this list. He is still a great pure runner who has spent the season gashing defenses on the ground. He doesn’t offer what Barkley does in the air or as a returner, but he is dangerous with the ball in his hands.