Best prospect at each position in the 2018 NFL Draft
The long-awaited 2018 NFL Draft is April 26-28, and by now, you’ve heard all the buzz surrounding the potential first-round picks and beyond. However, do you know which player projects as the best prospect at each individual position? If not, we have you covered.
Here are the top prospects in the draft at each position.
Quarterback: Sam Darnold, USC
Darnold is set to be a top five pick in the draft, though there are rumors that Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen will go ahead of him. A team will be lucky to have Darnold, who showed great accuracy and vision in two seasons on the field at USC, completing nearly 65 percent of his passes and averaging 8.5 yards per pass attempt.
Running back: Saquon Barkley, Penn State
The consensus top running back in a strong draft class for the position, Barkley starred in three seasons at Penn State. He finished his career with more than 5,000 yards from scrimmage and 51 touchdowns, rushing for 5.7 yards per carry. He could go as high as the second overall pick to the Giants, if not first.
Wide receiver: Calvin Ridley, Alabama
An outstanding route runner, Ridley had 224 receptions in three seasons at Alabama. He was never able to match his 89 receptions from his freshman season over the last two years but still nearly reached 1,000 yards receiving last season. Ridley will almost certainly be drafted in the first round.
Tight end: Hayden Hurst, South Carolina
A former professional baseball player, Hurst made the transition to become an elite tight end. He will be 25 by the start of his rookie season but shows the ability to contribute immediately as both a receiver and blocker, also serving as team captain of the Gamecocks.
Offensive tackle: Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
McGlinchey was a consensus All-American last season at Notre Dame and certainly has the profile of an NFL left tackle at 6-8, 309 pounds. He could go as high as the top 10 in the draft.
Offensive guard: Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame
McGlinchey’s college teammate was also a consensus All-American last season and has shown elite pass- and run-blocking ability at 6-5, 325 pounds. He could go in the top five picks after an excellent combine.
Center: Billy Price, Ohio State
The winner of the Rimington Trophy for the country’s top center, Price was the leader of the Ohio State offensive line last season. He served as both a guard and center for the Buckeyes and should be ready for the start of the season after tearing his pec during the NFL Combine.
Defensive tackle: Vita Vea, Washington
They don’t get much bigger than Vea, who measured in at 6-4, 347 pounds at the NFL Combine. He was an elite run stuffer at Washington with 43 tackles, along with 3.5 sacks, last season, winning the 2017 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Defensive end: Bradley Chubb, NC State
Chubb raised his stock perhaps as high as the top five picks in the draft with a fantastic senior season at NC State. He had 10 sacks and 72 tackles, showing elite ability as both as pass rusher and run stopper.
Middle linebacker: Rashaan Evans, Alabama
Evans stood out in an elite Alabama defense last season, finishing with 74 tackles and six sacks. He contributed in all four seasons at Bama and is projected to go in the first round.
Outside linebacker: Roquan Smith, Georgia
Smith was everywhere for the Georgia defense last season, finishing with 137 tackles and 6.5 sacks. He was honored as the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, as well as the Dick Butkus Award winner for the country’s most outstanding college linebacker. Smith could have his name called among the top 10 picks in the draft.
Cornerback: Denzel Ward, Ohio State
A consensus All-American in his junior season at Ohio State, Ward finished the year with two interceptions and 15 passes defensed. After an incredible combine showing, he will almost certainly be the first cornerback called at the draft.
Safety: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
Fitzpatrick shows the versatility to play either safety or corner and was one of the leaders of the Crimson Tide defense over the last three seasons. He finished his collegiate career with nine interceptions, returning four for touchdowns. Last year’s winner of the Jim Thorpe Award for the country’s most outstanding defensive back, Fitzpatrick could go in the top 10 of the draft.
Kicker: Daniel Carlson, Auburn
When Auburn needed a big kick over the last four seasons, Carlson was usually able to deliver. He made all 198 of his extra point attempts during his career and more than 80 percent of his field goals.
Punter: Michael Dickson, Texas
Dickson is likely to be drafted after two straight outstanding seasons at Texas. The Ray Guy Award winner for the country’s top punter, Dickson averaged 47.4 yards per punt in each of the last two seasons.
Returner: Mike Hughes, UCF
Hughes could go late in the first round both for his ability as a cornerback and returner. He was UCF’s secret weapon last year, returning two kickoffs and one punt for touchdowns while averaging 31.8 yards per kickoff and 16.6 yards per punt return.
Seth Trachtman is a fantasy sports expert and diehard Kansas City Chiefs fan still hoping for a Super Bowl win during his lifetime. He doesn’t often Tweet, but when he does, you can find him on Twitter @sethroto.