By: Andrew Nason
The 2017 Draft has come and gone, and now training camps are starting up, and we’ll get to see how the 2017 draft class will impact the league. With that said, it’s time to take a rough look ahead to next year’s draft, and try to get a sense of who the top guys are right now.
SPOILER: This class has some really talented quarterbacks, and a lot of them!
1. New York Jets: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Gifted with ideal size, amazing arm strength, and great mobility, the former passed over high school prospect had a chance to be the top signal caller taken in the 2017 draft. He now enters the 2018 draft season as the top guy, and the target of the tanking Jets. If you're like the majority of NFL fans and have never heard of him until recently, check out his highlights, and believe the hype.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Derwin James, DB, Florida State
Bold Prediction! Kirk Cousins ends up as the 49ers next starting quarterback. With that being said, San Fran takes the top defensive back in the class to sure up their secondary in James, who looks like a slightly saner Kam Chancellor. Fun fact, he benches 450… Wow.
3. Chicago Bears: Arden Key, OLB, LSU
The Bears need talent, so putting the best pass rusher in the draft opposite Leonard Floyd will give the Bears a pass rush that NFC North QB’s will fear for years to come.
4.Los Angeles Rams: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
The Rams invested a lot when they drafted Jared Goff last year, and after getting him a few weapons in the 2017 draft, they’ll look to invest in his protection by selecting Williams, one of the best pass blocking and most athletic tackles in college football.
5. Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Deshone Kizer has impressed in camp and may be the quarterback of the future Cleveland has been searching so long for, so they’ll look to make life easier for him by adding a dynamic runner in Barkley.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Unless Blake Bortles makes serious strides this season, Jacksonville will be looking for a new signal caller, and while Darnold has been rumored to be planning on returning to school after this season, being a top 10 selection may be too good to pass up.
7. Buffalo Bills: Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson
The ultra-athletic Wilkins will give the Bills great depth behind an aging Kyle Williams and a dominant defensive line. They could be looking at a quarterback here, but Wilkins is to talented to pass up.
8. Baltimore Ravens: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Baltimore boosts its run game with Leonard Fournette’s former backup Guice, an animal in the weight room and on the field.
9. Detroit Lions: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
Adding defensive back depth and a wideout for Matthew Stafford should be the Lions top priorities in this draft, and as Fitzpatrick is one of the most talented, hybrid backs in the nation, he’s the pick. He may remind you of another former SEC defensive stud, Tyran Mathieu.
10. Philadelphia Eagles: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
Much like the Rams wanting to protect their young, franchise quarterback, the Eagles will look to do the same for Carson Wentz. McGlinchey could have been the top tackle in last year’s draft class had he declared, but instead he stayed in school to develop, and it should pay off big time for him.
11. Washington Redskins: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
My earlier prediction was Kirk Cousins would end up in San Francisco, and that means Washington will be looking for their quarterback of the future. Rosen is the most fundamentally sound signal caller in this class and would fit well in Jay Gruden’s system.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
Speaking of teams in need of quarterbacks, the Vikings had a potential franchise QB in Teddy Bridgewater, but with his career in jeopardy because of a freak knee injury suffered last off season, they may want to invest in going in a new direction. With Sam Bradford there at the moment, they can develop the gun-slinging Rudolph until he’s ready to take over.
13. Cincinnati Bengals: Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson
The last few offensive linemen the Bengals have selected high haven’t panned out yet, so they’ll look to try again to give Andy Dalton better protection with the selection of Hyatt.
14. Los Angeles Chargers: Orlando Franklin, OT, Oklahoma
Russell Okung was a good signing for the Chargers this off season despite under performing in Denver, but they still need to get younger and get more depth at the tackle positions going forward.
15. Carolina Panthers: Tavarus McFadden, CB, Florida State
Adding a ball-hawking corner to a sub-par secondary is just what Carolina needs after adding dynamic play makers to the offensive side of the ball in the 2017 draft.
16. Indianapolis Colts: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
The Colts made a big splash on defense by drafting free safety Malik Hooker this year, and will now look to sure up the middle of their defense with Jefferson, a high energy, pass rushing linebacker.
17. New Orleans Saints: Da’Shawn Hand, DL, Alabama
Offensively, New Orleans is still one of the most explosive in football, but defensively, they need to continue to build around young studs. Hand will give them a disruptive lineman to build around for years to come.
18. Arizona Cardinals: Luke Falk, QB, Washington State
It was surprising to see Arizona pass on a potential quarterback of the future, although they may have tried to get Patrick Mahomes and simply missed out. Falk is one of the most accurate passers in the college game, and could develop into a solid starter in Bruce Arians system once Carson Palmer retires.
19. Denver Broncos: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Paxton Lynch may or may not win the starting quarterback job in Denver this season, but he still is the quarterback of the future. Giving him a young, big play receiver would be very helpful in his development, and adds depth to an aging receiving core.
20. Miami Dolphins: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Devante Parker could breakout this season, but if he doesn’t, a physically gifted specimen like Sutton would be just want Ryan Tannehill needs to help the Fins take the next step toward doing damage in the playoffs.
21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vita Vea, DL, Washington
Gerald McCoy is still playing at a very high level, but adding a young stud to play alongside him would be very beneficial to the up and coming Bucs.
22. Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City): Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn
Tyrod Taylor almost got cut this past off season, and it doesn’t appear that Cardale Jones is the heir to the job either, so the Bills will grab Stidham, the former Baylor stud who became the most sought after, transfer quarterback in recent memory.
23. New York Giants: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
Protecting Eli Manning will be crucial for the G-Men as they try to make a few more playoff pushes with him under center.
24. Tennessee Titans: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
The upward trending Titans could, and in my opinion, should, be a playoff team this season. They improved the offense with Corey Davis and other additions this off season, and should look to improve their secondary going forward.
25. Cleveland Browns (from Houston Texans): Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
After focusing a lot on defense in last year’s draft, the Browns will look to add more offensive weapons next year. Kirk playing opposite Corey Coleman would give the Browns a dangerous receiving core going forward.
26. Pittsburgh Steelers: Marcus Allen, S, Penn State
Secondary help has been a need in Pittsburgh for a while now, and they’ll get a stud in Allen. Offensive tackle or a quarterback of the future could also be possibilities with this pick.
27. Seattle Seahawks: Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State
Seattle has been needing more stability at the tackle position for years, and luckily this year’s tackle class is light years ahead of last year’s poor class. Rankin could be a plug-in starter as a rookie.
28. Green Bay Packers: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
With Jordan Howard and Dalvin Cook in the division, adding a run stopping defensive end would be a wise decision for the Packers defense, which continues to get younger and younger.
29. Oakland Raiders: Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio State
The Raiders defense’s weakest point is its linebacking core, which is young and unproven. Baker is a speedy linebacker, playing much like current Steelers linebacker and former Buckeye Ryan Shazier.
30. Dallas Cowboys: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Ward didn’t play much last year, sitting behind first round picks Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t as good as them. His elite ball skills and speed will be a huge upgrade for a very thin Cowboys secondary.
31. Atlanta Falcons: Deon Cain, WR, Clemson
Give the league MVP Matt Ryan a gifted boundary pass catcher opposite Julio Jones… that’s a nightmare for every defensive coordinator in the league.
32. New England Patriots: Sam Hubbard, OLB, Ohio State
Hubbard was recruited as a safety, moved to defensive end, and now will be moved to more of a linebacker role. So basically, he’s versatile, and that’s what Matt Patricia would love to have more of on his defense.