Wonder’s Top 50 Players in the 2018 NFL Draft

Indiana v Penn State

Our draft analyst Wonder ranks his Top 50 players in the 2018 NFL Draft. He provides concise, direct, and blunt assessments of the top 50 players in this year’s draft. Each player is also given a comparison to a current or former player to give the reader a better sense of what the player can project to in the NFL. The winner at the top (50) of the draft this year is Cornerback, where 8 players are available. The loser is Offensive Tackle and Wide Receiver, which only have one combined that are worthy as a Round 1 pick. There are more T’s and WR’s in Rounds 2-4 that can be developed. Don’t overdraft those 2 positions early.

If Wonder does not know, he will tell you… his QB evals are frank and hedged, owing to the ‘hit or miss’ nature of all four major prospects. As we have blogged previously, all four major QB prospects have a flaw of some kind. One or possibly all four of them will overcome them to become franchise QBs.

Btw, for all you millenials out there, this is a phone booth.

  1. RB Saquon Barkley. Best I have seen in a long time. Does everything you need a player to do. He’s a solid 233. Catches great out of backfield. He is the best player in the draft, but that does not mean I would take him #1 because he is a RB. Comparison (running): Eric Dickerson. Comparison (passing): Roger Craig.
  2. DE Bradley Chubb. Better than Clowney, better than Garrett. Garrett was always a little bit thin. Clowney wasn’t durable. Chubb is going to be a Von Miller type for the next 10 years. No attitude, no problems. Plug and play. Can duck and roll. Has power. Can jump the inside. Can move from LDE to RDE. Can play anywhere you want to put him. I like him best at 4-3 but can be 3-4 LB outside rush too. Comparison: Von Miller.
  3. LB Roquan Smith (pictured). I like everything he does. Never comes off the field. Great ball player. Fast, chases sideline to sideline. Can be like Luke Kuechley (without the injuries hopefully). 3 down LBers are rare and he is one of them. You can play him anywhere you want to play him, inside or outside. Can actually play MLB in a 4-3 but a little undersized for that. Best as OLB in a 4-3. Comparison: Derrick Brooks.
  4. S Derwin James. Fractured foot, ok. Didn’t play great this year. I love his range, closing speed, and nastiness. I want him on my team. In today’s NFL where you need the Safety to cover the TE or even sometimes the slot WR, give me Derwin James. Can play him at FS or SS. FYI, James is not a (once in a) generational Safety like Eric Berry or Earl Thomas. But James is still going to be a terrific player. Comparison: Rodney Harrison with a little Ronnie Lott mixed in and smidge of Rod Woodson.
  5. DT Vita Vea. Strictly a Nose Tackle. Has to be in the right system. Won’t do anything but clog up the middle. Fairly impressive quickness for a guy his size. 350 lbs. Put him on your team and the other team is not going to be able to run the ball. He needs a double team in pass protection. Always needs to be accounted for. He is strong as an ox. If you single him he is going to blow up the middle and interfere with the QB. He is so much better than every other interior lineman in this draft. Comparison: a quicker version of Haloti Ngata.
  6. CB/S Minkah Fitzpatrick. Big CB, not afraid to tackle. Smart. Good good player. I expect him to start right away. Everything that Eli Apple is not. Covers well, tackles. Good hands. Understands routes, closes well. If there is a guy I want to cover a shifty guy in the slot, he’s the one. Comparison: Marshawn Lattimore.
  7. G Quenton Nelson. Everyone is going crazy about this guy. I think he is going to be really good and solid but I do not see his upside as unbelievable. Bully in a phone booth. Does not lack for confidence. Can’t wait to compete against Aaron Donald. He will play right away. Not sure he is better than Zack Martin because not as fast as him. Has the nastiness of Iupati but not the same speed. Comparison: Zack Martin.
  8. CB Denzel Ward. Very good CB. Good hips, burner. Can use a smidge more experience. Might end up being the best of every CB. A little bit small. Quickness and ball skills make him the best in the draft. You just cannot expect him to tackle. If he had another 1.5″ and 20 lbs, could be #2 overall in the draft. Problem is- does he survive the physical contact? Comparison: Poor man’s Deion Sanders.
  9. DT Da’ron Payne. Not unblockable. Can be a 4-3 DT. Like a bigger stronger Sheldon Richardson without the headache.
  10. LB Marcus Davenport. 3-4 OLB rusher. Other than Chubb, may be the best pass rusher. Could be a 4-3 DE, but would need to put on 20 lbs. Gain weight. Can’t cover. Needs to go north only. This guy will need time to develop. Not polished. Has potential. This guy in year 3 may be one of the steals of the draft. If your team needs immediate help, that is not this guy. Comparison: John Abraham.
  11. G Will Hernandez. For the first time in their life, the Giants masses are right about wanting this guy at the beginning of Round 2. Just a f’g beast. Comparison: Richie Incognito + Mike Iupati. Nasty. Attitude. Will change your OL. When he gets his hands on you, you are done. 10 years plug and play. If you can get a bookend LT, your OL will become dominant. (FYI this is a bad draft for highly rated Offensive Tackles. Do not overdraft OTackle.)
  12. QB Josh Allen. If I knew that he could adapt to the NFL for sure, he would be hands down the #1 best player overall. The ball explodes out of his arm. Great for the Northeast. Boom or bust. Peyton Manning, John Elway and Troy Aikman were all weak rookies who needed coaching and experience to mature/read the field after the snap. The critics who rip apart Allen have to reconcile that your Quarterbacks Coach has a job to bring him along. Manning and Aikman did not have half the physical skills that Allen has (Elway had those skills). Allen needs 1-2 years behind a QB and he will have the opportunity to develop into an All-Pro.
  13. T Kolton Miller. Nate Solder clone, but more athletic. I know the world is desperate for LT. I wish he had a little more nasty in him. Footwork and size. Runs well. In good condition for a guy 6’9″. Only thing he lacks is the aggression I want to see for my Offensive Line.
  14. LB Tremaine Edmunds. He will be on the field making all the plays. Won’t look spectacular but when you play against him you’ll wish he was on your team. Blazer. Great instincts, can blitz. He will go quickly. Comparison: smaller version of Ryan Shazier.
  15. CB Josh Jackson. Good solid. Can probably start Day 1 in the NFL. After Ward, he is your best cover guy. Good hips, speed and hands. Ball hawk. Not blazing but fast. Has played a lot. Nose for the ball. Comparison: Malcolm Butler.
  16. G Isaiah Wynn. Moved him inside because shorter arms. Agility, balance and power. Will step in immediately as an NFL Guard. Had surgery on labrum, so not worried about it. Comparison: Shaun O’Hara.
  17. DT Taven Bryan. I have him higher than most, I don’t care. Will take a year or two to develop. Will be a very good player. Amazing quickness for a guy that big. 3 technique in a 4-3. A combinatiion of a poor man’s Fletcher Cox and Warren Sapp.
  18. RB Sony Michel. I don’t pick RB at 18, but he is a stud. Will be better in the pros than in college. Plays bigger than his size. Strong, tough. Has that elusive quality. Shifty, makes great cuts. Runs bigger than his 215, so can run inside. Even your best RBs don’t play the whole game. So RB cannot be drafted high. (Understand the negative skew of RB). Comparison: Slower version of Alvin Kamara.
  19. DE Harold Landry. More of a 3-4 rush LBer. Versatile. Can play a lot of different places, like Vic Beasley. May be a 4-3 OLB too. Needs 15 lbs to play DE. On the field all the time and makes plays all the time. Good solid player.
  20. QB Sam Darnold. Looks the part of an NFL QB. Can move in the pocket, looks for receivers while scrambling. He is a vg prospect. I just don’t know if he is the one. I assume they will be able to teach him how to hold the ball when he is in the pocket. He fumbles a lot. I think that can be fixed. Comparison: smaller version of Drew Bledsoe.
  21. TE Mike Gesicki. I do not draft him 21 but he is the 21st best player on my board. In the right system with the right QB, he might score the most TDs in the NFL. “All he does is catch the ball and score TDs.” Can change your identity with 12 personnel. Great hands. Comparison: Greg Olsen.
  22. C James Daniels. A combination of need in the NFL and weakness of the draft. I’d rather have him than Mike McGlinchey. Will get better in the NFL. Great quickness. Has had a history of knee injuries. If his knees are ok he can play like Jason Kelce of the Eagles. He is not a big lineman. Better fit for a zone blocking team like the Broncos than a power blocking team like the Cowboys. All about the medical. If his knees check out okay, he’s the first Center. Comparison: Rodney Hudson or Tom Nalen.
  23. CB Jaire Alexander. From Louisville. Always around the ball. Fast. A little small. Ball skills and ball hawk, great. Has missed some games probably because he got run over. Can play best in the slot. But he is a liability if they run out of that formation. As he learns the NFL, will end up with a lot of interceptions. Fluid hips, great instincts. Can play man to man, but problem will be against the 6’3″ big WR. Great athlete, can overcome a lot. Comparison: faster but weaker version of Darrelle Revis.
  24. CB Isaiah Oliver. Because of size and arm length, can develop into a good starting CB. Can knock away passes. Good size. Healthy, strong. Survivor. Long arms help a ton in the end zone. Comparison: Poor man’s Jalen Ramsey.
  25. QB Baker Mayfield. Combining need and talent. Boom or bust like Russell Wilson. Brings intangibles. Has everything except the height. Upside is Drew Brees, downside is Johnny Manziel. Who knows?! With the exception of the height, has everything else you want in a QB. If he had another 3″ he would be #1 on my board.
  26. CB Carlton Davis. The WRs and Tackles lack quality at the top. A lot of good CBs though. Colleges are playing so many spread offenses that they make high school WRs into college CBs. So these kids understand what the WR is doing. 25-30 years ago, CBs weren’t good athletes. No longer the case. Becoming a prime position because of the passing NFL. Everyone has him as 3rd Round value. He can go late first or early round 2. Willing to tackle. Good size, good long enough arms. Good speed. Anyone playing Cover 2, this is your guy. Comparison: Eric Allen/Eric Wright.
  27. RB Derrius Guice. Excellent RB. Not for me in Round 1. Can do everything. Big tough guy. Will go higher than I think he should go. This whole thing with Kamara, McCaffrey and Fournette are making people rethink RB higher, but they are making a mistake. Many have Michel ranked behind Guice. They never really asked Guice to catch the ball at LSU, so that is an unknown. If he can be counted on to catch the ball, then he can be a stud like Arian Foster.
  28. T Connor Williams. Athletic. But not a classical Round 1 Tackle. Will go there. His size gives me pause. Lacks the nasty streak. Can be moved inside to Guard. Tall. If he gains 15 lbs of muscle and move him to Guard then all of a sudden he is your Guard for 10-12 years. Can’t punch out with arm length, so that’s why I do not project him at Tackle. Comparison: Inside Guard combination of Marshall Yonda or Josh Sitton.
  29. TE Hayden Hurst. Most people have him ahead of Gesicki. This guy is tough. Can catch the ball. In line blocker. Athlete, played for Pittsburgh Pirates in baseball. Has maturity. Can go down the seam. Willing blocker. Works his tail off. Comparison: Brent Jones.
  30. CB Mike Hughes. Runs and reacts to the ball very well. Not a blazer. Plays press on guys, can be a return specialist. Will make it as a starter. Fluid hips. Shifts quickly. I’d like more arm length and speed but what he has is good enough to make it. Can play slot too. Comparison: poor man’s Darrelle Revis.
  31. LB Malik Jefferson. Undersized. Athlete. Another guy who can be a poor man’s Derrick Brooks. Good hips, good speed. Can run and cover man, tackle, can blitz. If you do not have a big DL (to keep him clean in the run game), then he is not your guy. But if you want a guy who can cover the TE or RB out of the backfield, this is it. If you want a thumper, no. But has potential. And he is young, 21, so he can still develop. Can’t teach speed/instincts and he has it. Comparison: Derrick Brooks.
  32. TE Dallas Goedert. My #3 TE. Some have him #1 TE. They like that he is well rounded. He does not do anything spectacularly. Willing blocker, big, really good football player. I like Hurst’s nastiness and Gesicki’s hands more.  Comparison: Jason Witten.
  33. FS Ronnie Harrison. Good size. Good speed. Critical that he goes to the right team. If he went to Belichick at 31, he is All-Pro in 2-3 years. Good recognition skills. Has seen so much. Not a vocal leader. Not rah rah. If surrounded by the right team, will blossom. He needs structure around him. But he is a player. Smooth, covers a lot of ground, which is indespensible in today’s NFL. Has the potential. Comparison: Ed Reed without the fire.
  34. QB Josh Rosen. If it wasn’t for the injuries, he’d be a lot higher. Best pure passer in the draft. Wouldn’t surprise me if he is the best QB of the bunch. But I am not taking a QB who has had shoulder injuries and 2 concussions. Comparison: Sam Bradford.
  35. WR D.J. Chark. If you can develop him, and he gains weight, look out NFL. Blazer. Crazy vertical. Big hands. Great size. Can fill out. I’d like 15 more lbs. A faster more athletic Larry Fitzgerald. That is scary. Randy Moss’s body type. Needs time to develop. If you get him in R2 in the right system, there is no telling how good he can become. All LSU does is run the ball, so he did not see the ball. He can run and move on the football field. Frightening. Sky high potential or bust. Needs to hit the weight room.
  36. LB Rashaan Evans. Versatile, good against the run. Leader. Tough, loves to play football. Will not become Mike Singletary. But if you could draft LB David Harris for 10 years, you’d be happy, right? Can cover too. 3 down linebacker! Ideally he gets another 10 lbs. He was not a 3 year starter. He was unbelievable against Clemson and Georgia in the semis and finals. So he became their leader. Thumbs up. Comparison: David Harris.
  37. T Geron Christian. The “experts” are higher on him than I am. He just always plays. 6’5″ 300 lbs. Not a great athlete. Can pick up some more weight. Can develop into a starting LT. Can’t start immediately. Round 2 and develop means pretty good value. Comparison: Ja’Wuan James.
  38. CB Donte Jackson. Blew me away at the Combine. 4.32. Quickness, speed, athleticism that is off the charts. In today’s NFL, he covers the slot. The Amendolas and Edelmans ain’t grabbing 8 balls for 100 yards. If I am facing Odell Beckham or Tyreek Hill, this guy has the ability to cover him. He cannot cover the Mike Evans. Terrible for Cover 2. Comparison: Darrell Green.
  39. WR Christian Kirk. Texas A&M. Checks all the boxes. I am not drafting any WR in the first round in 2018. All he does is catch the ball. 5’10” 200 lbs. Catching machine. Quicker than fast. Although 4.45 is nothing to sneeze at. Catching him in open field is misery for the defense. Great instincts to break it open. Great slot WR for the option route. Comparison: Steve Smith of Carolina.
  40. LB Darius Leonard. Edge rusher. Can cover. Small school South Carolina State. Does everything well. Will be better in the pros than in college. 3 down Linebacker. Good arm length. 4.58 great speed sideline to sideline. Comparison: my hero Derrick Brooks. Weakside LBer in a 4-3. Enough instinct to be able to blitz off the edge.
  41. DT Harrison Phillips. 3-4 5 technique as DE, can also play Warren Sapp 4-3 3 technique, which is where I like him. If you can get him in Round 3, great. More room to gain weight, not that he needs it. Solid guy in a major program. Disruptive. 14 sacks for an inside Tackle. Led linemen in tackles. Valuable. I am not taking him at 34. I want Willie Hernandez there. Comparison: cheaper version of Fletcher Cox.
  42. DT Maurice Hurst. Problem at Combine, not much on him. Quick for his size. Penetrator. Fire plug. Short arms. But burst. 4-3 3 technique. Can’t play anywhere else. Will be disrputive. Boom or bust. Comparison: poor man’s Sheldon Richardson.
  43. QB Mason Rudolph. Sounds crazy. You just don’t know if he can be a QB. But he may be pretty good. Good arm. How will he adapt to the NFL? Played 4 years. Started 3 years. Hard worker. Film and weight room. May not be the alpha like Baker Mayfield. But has an NFL body. Reads defenses. Anticipates the breaks pretty well. The difference between the top 4 QBs and this QB is not that great. Can also be a solid #2 QB like a Nick Foles. Or he can also become a great player. At the least you can get a solid 2nd string QB to back up, and in today’s NFL that is very good. It would not shock me if Rudolph became a Top 15 NFL QB. A lot worse you can do in the NFL than that. Comparison: Ben Roethlisberger.
  44. DE Rasheem Green. Has the body of an Elgin Baylor in the NBA. Speed, long athletic and powerful. Must hit weight room and gain weight. Comparison: Not there yet, but aspire to Cameron Jordan. I really like this guy. I liked Everson Griffen the same way and it is the same kind of potential in terms of development. Griffen showed the desire. I have no idea if Green has the desire. This is why you need to interview him and then grab him in R3 or R4 when it all fits.
  45. LT Desmond Harrison. One of my favorite guys but could also bust. High ceiling and low floor. Went to little school. Kind of small, had drug issues. Marijuana? This guy has the body type, 6’6″ 292″ athlete. Great speed for his size. Can easily carry another 20-30 lbs. Get him in Round 3 or Round 4 and you might have a starting LT in year 2 or Year 3. Now that is value. If the drug issues scare everyone off, don’t fall asleep- take him later at the very beginning of Round 5. Comparison: D’Brickashaw Ferguson.
  46. OLB Sam Hubbard. 3-4 OLB/DE. Unbelievably productive. Needs to get stronger. Gives his all. High motor. Athleticism. Overachiever. All he needs to do is get in the weight room and he can be a 3-4 5 technique. Might even be able to play 4-3 DE. Comparison: Fred Dryer.
  47. DT Nathan Shepherd. Went to small school. Loved him at Combine. Older. Bull dog. Plays football (highest compliment). NT? 1 technique in a 4-3? Arms are short, but he is strong and tough. Can play in a phone booth. Get him in R3 or end of R3, a lot of value. Comparison: Smaller version of Tony Siragusa.
  48. RB Rashaad Penny. Fast. Depending on where he ends up, could be the 2018 version of Kareem Hunt or Alvin Kamara for the RB sweepstakes. Can run inside, can run outside, big enough with deceptive top end speed. Crazy TDs and production. Above average hands. Can be a 3 down back. Only thing that bothered me was that he only lifted 13 reps. So he needs to get stronger. Can’t just rely on his size and athleticism. If I had the choice of Barkley at 2 overall or Penny at ~91, I take Penny. Comparison: Natrone Means.
  49. WR Calvin Ridley. I do not see the separation from defenders that is making everyone cream their corn. Just another guy. Good. But not unbelievable. Not a blazer, does not have exceptional qualities that interest me. Arms not long enough, size not special enough, not anything that makes him “special” for me to be reaching that high for him. He may have a decent career, but if you look back in the rear view mirror, it will be underwhelming career for a Round 1 pick. Everything is value in the NFL. I do not value him as highly as he will be picked. Caveat emptor. Comparison: best to hope for is Jermaine Kearse.
  50. T Mike McGlinchey. This may be the worst pick in Round 1 in the 2018 Draft. Fought side by side with Quenton Nelson. Okay. Decent Tackle. But will be overdrafted. That is what these GM idiots will do because there is no one else at the position at 2018. So they make it up and find a body to prop up to the spot. Comparison: A significantly worse version of Nate Solder.

Honorable mention: Da’Shawn Hand, Nick Chubb, Lorenzo Carter…. right on the edge of Wonder’s Top 50.

This week we will also review Wonder’s Busts and Sleepers.

The Top 50 are Wonder’s best prospects. Every QB in this draft has flaws of one kind or another, leaving them all out of the Top 10. In reverse, the RBs are higher because they are terrific players but their contributions are less important so they do not get drafted as high as their ranking. The impact of RB is not as great as other positions.

All four of Wonder’s best QBs would be Top 10 prospects if ranked by need. We have discussed those flaws in previous posts. Their flaws are the reason why none of them are in his Top 10 on the above list. Yet because of the critical nature of the position, all 4 would be Top 10 for a team that has the need.

Wonder is eager to learn more about Davis Webb’s practices with the team this week. The team has a voluntary minicamp from April 24-26. This is the first opportunity for Shurmur and Gettleman to evaluate their backup. If Webb looks good, these ratings for QBs apply and clearly none should be taken. If Davis Webb does not give the decision-makers enough confidence in his ability to be the heir apparent to Manning, then a QB should be taken. If the evaluations have no consensus or confidence (and the flaws are too strong to ignore), then he believes the Giants should trade down.

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