While there’s still plenty of time for evaluation before the 2018 draft gets underway in April, it would be a “surprise” if Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield isn’t selected in the first round, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. Mayfield, this year’s Heisman winner, completed 71% of his passes this season for 4,340 yards, 41 touchdowns, and five interceptions. Per Breer, there are character questions about Mayfield, and his height (6’1″) could also present concerns. But Todd McShay of ESPN.com placed Mayfield in the first round of his first 2018 mock draft, and new Browns general manager John Dorsey — who will certainly be in the quarterback market next year — recently sang Mayfield’s praises.
Here’s more on next year’s NFL draft, all courtesy of Breer:
- Mayfield may be a locked-in first round, but last year’s Heisman — Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson — isn’t likely to be selected on Day 1, reports Breer. Some evaluators have openly wondered if Jackson will play wide receiver in the NFL, but he simply may need time to develop at the next level. Indeed, Breer says there are still questions about Jackson’s “instincts and anticipation,” as well as those who believe Jackson is “more thrower than passer.” Jackson has topped 3,400 yards passing and 1,400 yards rushing in each of the past two seasons.
- While the 2018 running back class may not compare to that of 2017 (which included Alvin Kamara, Leonard Fournette, Kareem Hunt, and many others), Penn State’s Saquon Barkley is still viewed as an elite prospect, per Breer. While Barkley faded down the stretch, one AFC executive tells Breer “to the people that matter, nothing’s changed” in regards to Barkley’s draft stock. Barkley posted at least 1,000 yards in each of his three seasons as a Nittany Lion, and scored 34 touchdowns over the past two years.
- Running backs might not be plentiful in 2018, but next year’s class is loaded with offensive line talent. Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey, plus Texas’ Connor Williams, are all potential top-15 picks, per Breer. That’s quite a contrast to 2017, when only two offensive lineman were selected in the first round (with Garett Bolles being the first off the board at No. 20).
- Although Courtland Sutton (SMU) perhaps isn’t as well-known as Alabama’s Calvin Ridley or Oklahoma State’s James Washington, he has a chance to become the first wide receiver selected, according to Breer. Sutton, who is expected to stand 6’4″, 230 pounds at the combine, could even be a top-10 pick. From 2016-17, Sutton averaged 68 receptions, 1,132 yards, and 11 touchdowns.
- Analysts believe Mayfield, North Carolina State edge rusher Bradley Chubb, and Michigan defensive lineman Maurice Hurst all helped their draft stock by staying in school for an extra season, says Breer. What does one evaluator like about Chubb, who has posted 10 sacks in consecutive seasons? “Everything.”