As the 2017 NFL regular season comes to a close, teams that did not qualify for postseason play will now shift their attention toward the upcoming draft process. The NFL Combine is fast approaching, and the next crop of rookie players are finishing up their collegiate careers. Though the draft itself is always impossible to accurately predict, diagnosing potential talent holds a more simplified formula. Coaches and scouts are always quick to ask if a player passes the ‘eye’ test. Sorting through professional prospects isn’t easy, and assembling a team’s draft board can get confusing and tedious leading up to the draft.
2018 NFL Draft Forecast
This year’s version of the NFL Draft holds some interesting dynamics leading up to the combine. Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield is just one of four or potentially five signal callers that could be selected in the first round of the draft. Still in contention and fighting for a national championship in the College Football Playoff combined with winning the coveted Heisman Trophy both bode well for his improved draft stock. However, his diminutive stature could hamper expectations for some professional teams. Other quarterbacks like UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, and USC’s Sam Darnold (if he chooses to forego his senior year) all hold a more prototypical body type and makeup to be a NFL quarterback.
While 2017 was a forgettable season for the Cleveland Browns, the team now heads into the off-season holding two picks in the top five of the draft. They have been known to trade down and hoard future draft picks to their name, but this year may be different. More than likely the Browns will take another stab at a potential franchise quarterback with the first selection. Moreover, a lot of rumors have begun to heat up that Cleveland would entertain the idea of selecting running back sensation Saquon Barkley out of Penn State with the fifth pick. The kid is just a freak athlete with gobs of upside and talent galore as a true three-down back in the NFL. Still, there is no guarantee that Barkley would still be available with the fifth pick because we have seen running backs go in the top four or five selections in recent years. All the running backs that have been high draft picks recently have been exceptional players so far in their young careers, including Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott, and Leonard Fournette.
In summary, the beginning of the draft process is an exciting time for football fans, college and professional alike. For bad NFL teams it brings hope into the forefront. For teams that barely missed the playoffs, it brings the dream that this is the year the front office gets it right by drafting the right players to get the team over the hump and into the postseason next year. After all, several NFL teams seem to be only missing one or two pieces. In a league full of parity from season to season, that is all it takes.