2018 NFL Mock Draft
2018 NFL Mock Draft: DraftBlaster publishes multiple 2018 NFL Mock Drafts along with NFL draft news and notes, draft prospect scouting profiles and other draft news. DraftBlaster’s and DraftGeek’s NFL mock drafts are supported with the NFL Draft Big Board and NFL Draft Prospect Rankings.
2018 NFL Mock Draft Notes
January 19th Updates: Making some important adjustments due to coaching changes and players that declared and returned. A number of teams will be making major changes with schemes on offense and defense, so working to reflect those changes.
The top 28 draft spots are now set, and we have updated our 2018 NFL Full Draft Order.
Now that the season is over, we updated the team pages to include final regular season team offensive and defensive rankings and projected estimated salary cap room for each team. We also added 2018 NFL Prospect Rankings (as noted above). As you search the player profiles, we added a “Declared” designation to those underclassman scouting profiles where the player has announced their intention of leaving college for the NFL Draft.
2018 NFL Mock Draft Key Dates
*January Key Dates: January 20: East-West Shrine Game and NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, January 27: Senior Bowl
DraftGeek’s Mock Draft – Updated January 13
DraftBlaster 2018 NFL Mock Draft Last Updated: January 18
2018 NFL Mock Draft
Round One (1-20) | Round One (21-32) | Round Two | Round Three
Team Needs: QB, CB, WR
2018 NFL Mock Draft, Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
This could very well be Josh Allen, but he needs to go through the draft process and mollify concerns over his completion percentage. Watching Wyoming games, he had a very depleted supporting cast around him, so he needs as much of the draft process as possible to show that he can be an accurate QB at the next level.
The Browns are rightfully giving Kizer plenty of playing time to make his case for being the QB of the future. If the Browns continue to lose and have the first pick, however, it would take a fairly significant uptick in play to keep the Browns from trying to trade out the number one pick or to use it to select another position. Kizer came out early for sure, and it could prove a disastrous mistake for his career long-term. Darnold, ironically, is also very young and has multiple years of eligibility left. His Rose Bowl tape of last year, along with flashes of that play in 2017, will be enough for him to be considered as the top QB in the draft. With the QB position, more than other positions, the GM’s and other decision makers view prospects very differently than scouts or draft personalities on TV. The decision makers simply look at what a player CAN do and what the perceive to be his ceiling. Scouts and draft analysts break down flaws and inconsistencies.
*Note on new GM John Dorsey: The draft history of John Dorsey for QB’s doesn’t really show a consistent pattern in QB qualities, unless you are trying to force one. What is known is that he moved up to get Patrick Mahomes last year (although he did get fired not long after that, so there is a story there somewhere), he has an exceptional reputation as a talent evaluator, he has drafted very well overall for the Chiefs, he seems to especially covet football character, and he will not be dissuaded by some off the field issues he believes are truly mistakes. Dorsey is an ex player and is a true “football guy.” Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, these are guys he is going love interviewing and talking football. Josh Rosen has a different sort of personality, and now that coaches have been fired at UCLA, a lot of people are talking about him, and right now, not a lot of that is good. It is unfair to jump to conclusions, but right now the John Dorsey hire only strengthens the Sam Darnold case, if they pick at QB with the first pick.
The Browns could very well sign Alex Smith, a player that Dorsey is very familiar with, is reliable and who provides an excellent buffer for the next QB of the franchise. That is what he had with Rodgers and Favre. The variables to consider are: 1) what is the evaluation of Kizer after the season is over, 2) does another team value Darnold, Rosen, or Allen enough to offer a trade up, and 3) what is Dorsey’s opinion of the big question mark in the draft- Mayfield? With the Browns QB situation absolutely needing to be on the right path going into next year, it is safe to say there are going to be two actions taken by Dorsey, regardless of the opinion of Kizer- a veteran QB will be signed, and a QB will be drafted.
Team Needs: LT, LB, CB, RB
2018 NFL Mock Draft, Giants: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
The reckoning that we assumed would come to the Giants GM and coach has now come and passed, so no need to delve into that mess. The mock drafts for the Giants all hinge on where Eli plays next year. If he comes back, it would be doubtful that the Giants would invest a pick this high on a QB, as they still have plenty of talent to make another run during Eli’s remaining playing days. A new GM most likely won’t make the Chief’s mistake last year of prematurely taking a QB when a high pick at another position of need can help you immediately. If Eli is with the Giants, this most likely is the top left tackle.
Team Needs: OL, LB, CB
2018 NFL Mock Draft, Colts: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
Nothing can be said about the Colts’ draft without mentioning Luck and hoping he can come back completely healthy next year. The Colts will definitely be looking to bolster the offensive line, but at this point, they also need to find elite level players, and they especially need pass rushers. If they stay in this spot, they have to go for the best available player that fits a need. Chubb is the best pass rusher in the draft, and would rejuvenate the Colts’ defense.
4. Cleveland Browns (from Houston)
Team Needs: QB, CB, WR
2018 NFL Mock Draft, Browns: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Saquon Barkley was making an argument to be the top pick of the draft earlier in the season, even though a running back hasn’t been a #1 pick since 1995 and the last time one was a #2 was 2006, but has fallen back to a more reasonable spot as the college season unfolded. This came about because of several factors, including the continued emergence of other running backs in the draft which increased supply, thus lowering demand, some decreased production later in the year, and the continued solid play of prospects at positions more valued in the draft. A super high character, pass catching, pass blocking, dynamic running back will do a lot for whatever young QB is running the offense. Hopefully, they have Thomas back next year at left tackle, and their offensive line could be a strength of the team.
Team Needs: OL, DL, QB, S, LB
2018 NFL Mock Draft, Broncos: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
The Broncos went a bridge too far with their tinkering at the QB position, and just need to settle that position once and for all and move forward. Josh Rosen is perhaps the most NFL ready to play QB in the draft, and has a big arm and lots of talent.
The post college football season is going to be an interesting one for Josh Rosen. His political statements and discussions about college football have angered a lot of people, and have been at times vulgar and hateful. He is adored by a large amount of writers that have given the same treatment to Kaepernick, and whether you agree with him or not, teams hate that stuff. Now that the UCLA coaches have been fired, there are also a lot of people talking and the word is out that he is not the best leader, treats some people very poorly, and football might not be important enough to him for him to be given the keys to an NFL franchise. At that age, it is certainly possible, even probable, to grow out of such things, but this is a top pick in the NFL that is at stake.
The truth is that any team that drafts Josh Rosen is not just drafting him, but also is taking on a sports network and many in the media that will fawn over his views. It is not dissimilar to the Kaepernick situation in that a team simply doesn’t want to be fighting a war with two fronts- one with the media that defends a player’s antics, no matter how offensive, and another with a fan base that is offended.
Team Needs: QB, WR, RB, OL
2018 NFL Mock Draft, Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
The Jets are bringing a new offense, and got rid of an offensive coordinator that performed miracles last year with very limited talent. With a new offense will come a new quarterback, and there hope will be to finally land the franchise QB that they have wanted for so long.
The comparisons that have been made with Mayfield to other legendary NFL QB’s are disingenuous at best. During the game, and reportedly at practices as well, he is a fiery competitor that teammates and coaches rally around. However, he quit on his first college program because they wouldn’t guarantee him the starting job. He didn’t just quit the team, he quit the school and then went to another high profile school, and people call him a celebrated “walk on,” when in fact, he is a “walk out.” The reason we love the story of a successful “walk on” is that it is a story of a player that persevered, worked hard and was rewarded. Mayfield simply quit on his teammates, his coaches, and his school and joined another. He could very well have been justified with his reasoning to move to another school, but even assuming that is the case, there is a way to do things, and how you do them reveals your character.
The antics after the Ohio State game, during the Kansas game, and other off field incidents (Google it) show a pattern of behavior that is (as history has shown us time and again) only going to get worse when he is given a pile of money. The hope is that he is just a very high strung kid who is immature. However, there can’t just be a quieting of incidents, there needs to be proof that a light went on his head and they he finally “gets it,” if he is going to be seen as worthy of leading an NFL franchise.
Team Needs: DE, OL, RB
2018 NFL Mock Draft, Buccaneers: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
The Bucs have been a major disappointment in 2018, but perhaps that should have been expected with so many young players at key positions. They are a very talented young team that essentially needs to “grow up.” They simply couldn’t run the ball last year and it caused cascading problems throughout the offense, and they couldn’t control the time of possession in games, causing more stress on the defense. Quenton Nelson is an offensive guard prospect that doesn’t come around too often, and can instantly boost a team’s run game.
Team Needs: WR, OG, DB
2018 NFL Mock Draft, Bears: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Trubisky was not given a lot of toys to play with, nor was given the go ahead to toss the ball around in his rookie campaign. With Nagy in place, this offense has become an urgent priority. Their offensive line looked like it could use some improvement at the start of the year, but the interior really started to perform well and became a strength.
Courtland Sutton did not play on a team that got a lot of attention this year, but he could fly up draft boards during the draft process. He may very well be the only true “X” receiver in this draft, and is a physical specimen that will shine in the next few months.
9. San Francisco 49ers * coin flip with Oakland for 9th and 10th spot
Team Needs: OL, WR, S, RB
2018 NFL Mock Draft, 49ers: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
The 49ers made the first move that really changed the 2018 NFL Draft when they traded for Garoppolo. They are in a position where they can fairly broadly go for best player available in this draft and sort out needs later throughout the draft. If they can wrap up their QB of the future long term, then a logical next step is to bolster the protection for him. McGlinchey is the safest OT in the draft.
10. Oakland Raiders * coin flip with San Francisco for 9th and 10th spot
Team Needs: OT, LB, RB, DT, CB
2018 NFL Mock Draft, Raiders: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S / CB, Alabama
Every year there is a team or two that has a huge pile of free agency money to spend to add players on everyone’s “top free agents” lists, and the fans get excited and start dreaming of championships. The problem is that just isn’t what wins Super Bowls. As much as the draft is a process of educated guesses, free agency has a similar success rate, but with much higher financial consequences. The Raiders have to get their defense to play up to its ability, and could use a piece both in the front seven and in the secondary as fresh blood. Fitzpatrick has played both corner and safety in college, but most likely will play safety at the next level.
11. Miami Dolphins
Team Needs: OG, RB, QB
2018 NFL Mock Draft, Dolphins: Derwin James, S, Florida State
The Dolphins need to hope and pray that Tannehill can come back next year healthy and stay healthy. His contract is not actually very troublesome if they decide to move on after next year, but he really needs to stay healthy. The Dolphins are mired in a bit of a mess with some poor free agent moves, and are aging quickly at several key positions. Their offensive line has taken a turn for the worse but they have some very young guys there that can still develop. On defense they are in need of some young pieces and should keep an open mind at this point in the draft to taking talent over immediate need.
Team Needs: OT, OLB, ILB, S
2018 NFL Mock Draft, Bengals: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
First and foremost, the Bengals need to fix their offensive line. They let two superb linemen leave in free agency before the 2017 season without replacements that were ascending into those roles. The Bengals have let a lot of talent walk out the door lately, and have made the mistake of promoting players just because they are young and cheap instead of actually waiting until they earn their starting role. Talent wise, they are discombobulated, without any coherent plan for bringing along young talent effectively. Connor Williams got hurt early in the year, but before that looked to be the top left tackle prospect in the draft. He hasn’t come all the way back, but has plenty of time to get back to that during the draft process.
Team Needs: QB, S, DE
2018 NFL Mock Draft, Redskins: Arden Key, DE, LSU
When the 49ers took Garoppolo, it shook up the free agency market at QB for next year. The “Cousins Domino” is going to be one of the most influential pieces to the 2018 NFL Draft. Regardless, they need to keep improving their pass rush, and an elite defensive end could make their defensive line quite formidable.
Team Needs: OG, LB, TE
2018 NFL Mock Draft, Packers: Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia
Ted Thomspon gets a lot of credit for building his team through the draft, and deservedly so. However, the last two years he has fumbled some free agency moves and his drafts have been pretty questionable. A change was made in the front office, and it seems like these previous mistakes were grinding on the coaching staff and players.
The Packers need to stabilize their offensive line and need help at linebacker. Roquan Smith is a devastating presence on the defense for Georgia, and could be the start of a rebuild for the defense.
Team Needs: QB, CB, OT, OG, TE
2018 NFL Mock Draft, Cardinals: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Now that Carson Palmer has retired, the Cardinals will need to find the QB of the future and eventually replace a legend at WR. They are taking a long look at Blaine Gabbert as the long-term answer at QB, but might also hedge that bet with a high pick at QB in this draft. Arizona suddenly is confronted with playing the most explosive offense in the league with the Rams, and adding another talented corner to the defense would go a long way with their other young, talented pieces on defense.
16. Baltimore Ravens
Team Needs: RB, OG, WR, TE
2018 NFL Mock Draft, Ravens: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
The Ravens and a WR is one of the “anchor picks” that can start off most mock drafts for 2018. This team really needs some skill position help. Where it appears that they will be drafting should set up very well for Baltimore, and they might be going RB and WR early, as well as adding an offensive lineman, which is in stark contrast to last year’s defense heavy draft.
Team Needs: RT, DL
2018 NFL Mock Draft, Chargers: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
The Chargers suffered some bad injuries early on, but have battled back throughout the year as a lot of their younger players really settled in. They might have overpaid for Okung, but that position is locked in for several years, so no use considering it here. However, they could definitely use an improvement at right tackle, and with their two very talented young guards, could put together an imposing offensive line.
18. Seattle Seahawks
Team Needs: OL, CB
2018 NFL Mock Draft, Seahawks: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Seattle needs to reinvigorate their run game, and that does not mean more from their QB. Their offensive line has been a mess for a few years now. As much as Seattle has been castigated for this issue, it is not for a lack of trying. For the amount of success as they have had in drafting guys in the secondary, they have had that much failure with drafting offensive linemen. What they probably need to do is listen to every not-clever business meeting leader and Keep It Simple Stupid. Innovation can be highly overrated, and if they can just go back to more traditional concepts with offensive line play, they should finally stabilize that unit. They don’t need to panic and overreach for offensive linemen, however, just go back to more tried and true concepts. With that being said, getting a dynamic, powerful running back would be a big step getting them back to what brought them success only a few years ago.
19. Dallas Cowboys
Team Needs: OL, DT, WR, TE
2018 NFL Mock Draft, Cowboys: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
The Cowboys’ offensive line was just not the same this year, but some of that was injuries and developing chemistry. They have enough key pieces that they don’t have to panic and address the position early in the draft. With three of their five positions locked down, they should be looking to add two offensive linemen through the draft and another in free agency and then let the competition unfold. They have found their edge guys on the defensive line, but have a big need in the middle. They also will need to find a WR and TE to replace key players at the end of their careers.
20. Detroit Lions
Team Needs: DT, DE, RB, OG
2018 NFL Mock Draft, Lions: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
If the Lions do in fact hire Matt Patricia from New England, that would mean a move to a Fairbanks-Bullough 3-4 and that would have a fairly strong effect on this draft. A’Shawn Robinson played in this exact system at Alabama, so his role would be easy to determine, but they will have different types of prospects that they are looking at. Furthermore, Ziggy Ansah learned how to play football while playing in a 3-4 and could transition back to playing more in space at OLB. In fact, he could be the Lions’ Willie McGinest, who allowed the Patriots in his day to be truly multiple, as he could switch from DE to OLB from play to play.
Bob Quinn inherited a surprisingly sparse roster when he took over as GM, but he has put together several good drafts, and for the most part has made some good free agency moves. Both lines were a mess and the linebacker core was perhaps the worst in the league. If Ziggy Ansah can be used like Willie McGinest, then perhaps they can find their very own version of Vince Wilfork in Vita Vea. Vita Vea is a defensive tackle that doesn’t come around too often. He looks the part of a traditional 2-Gap nose tackle, but has incredible athleticism, and has many of the skills of a much lighter tackle prospect.
Round One (1-20) | Round One (21-32) | Round Two | Round Three
2018 NFL Mock Draft Skill Position Notes
- How do they do in each of three major skills of being an NFL RB: running skill, passing ability, pass protection?
- Are they 220+ and considered a power back?
- “Vision” and seeing holes and good decision-making
- Ability to put foot in the dirt, make a cut and beat defenders
- After making a cut, can he accelerate quickly?
- Ability to make people miss in the open field.
- Open field “top gear” which allows them turn small runs into big plays.
- Hands and able to protect the ball.
- Experience. It is good for a RB to have enough experience to showcase their talents, but not too much where they already have absorbed a lot of hits.
- What system are they in, and if in a spread does he have to read defenses, work through progressions, make adjustments at the line of scrimmage?
- Overall build. 6′-2″+, 215lbs.+ are good starting points, but not absolute.
- Hand size. If the QB has a small build it is paramount that they have big hands like Russel Wilson. This one has a strong amount of data behind it. If you lack height as a QB, you need big hands.
- Release point for smaller QB’s. Philip Rivers has a poor release point, but he is tall. Drew Brees is short, but has a perfect release point, needed as he is not tall.
- Number of starts.
- Accuracy… this is often different at short, medium, and long passes.
- Decision making… often linked to number of interceptions, but not always.
- Can he make all the NFL throws like deep outs?
- Leadership and maturity.
- Level of competition and winning big games.
- Pocket presence, and footwork in the process. Not panicking and escaping to run too often, but ability to be a threat in read-option is a bonus.
- Wind-up. Called many things, this needs to be efficient and compact. Long, loopy wind-ups for college QB’s get instantly exposed in the NFL.
- Is he more of a vertical “go-route” “take the top off the defense” receiver, a slot guy, a “possession” receiver that is a bigger guy with sure hands, or a hybrid wr/rb type that is becoming popular.
- Speed… shiftiness and top end vertical speed are often two different things
- There are two ways a WR gets separation: physically separating through elite speed / shiftiness, and the ability to separate when having a defensive back right on him, such as with leaping ability.
- Ability to “high point” balls often referred to as “catching the ball at its highest point”… wherein he can time balls thrown to him, go up and get it over the defenders head.
- Strong hands and reliability of catching balls thrown to him.
- Able to beat press coverage at line of scrimmage.
- Willingness and toughness when going over the middle, catching balls and taking hits.
- Able to move all over the line of scrimmage, lining up in different wide receiver positions.
- Route running… very important. Able to run crisp routes and accelerate out of breaks.
- Some WR’s play in pro systems and have that advantage.
- Average Yards per catch… will be mentioned with some vertical receivers and stat will be something like % of catches over 20 yards.
- Number of touchdowns per year, indicating red zone threat.
- Number of years with productivity.
- Able to help in punt returns and kick off returns.
- Are they a true “X” receiver, which is very rare… Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones types.
- Pure blocking tight ends can be found later in the draft and don’t often get scouting profiles.
- Tight ends that are scouted get evaluated on two, two-part scales:
- Receiving Ability / Blocking Ability
- Able to line up outside / able to work inside routes
- “Catch Radius” is important… good with tall, big armed TE’s. Often refer to these guys as able to “post up” like an NBA power forward… running routes, turning around and having balls thrown to them where defenders don’t have a chance. Often offer little yards after catch, but dependable.
- “Seam Route” matchup nightmares. Some tight ends can make an NFL career out of this one skill.
- “Matchup Nightmare”… this is often used for a tight end that is basically a bit too big to be considered a WR, but still has speed. Too big to be covered by corner or safety, too quick to be covered by linebacker.
- Reliable hands.
- “H-Back” qualities… able to act as lead blocking fullback, or even ball carrier sometimes.
- Inline blocking skills… able to act as 6th offensive lineman in run game.
- Open field blocking skills.
- A “Move Tight End” is a tight end that can play both inside and outside wide receiver spots, all over offensive formations.
2018 NFL Mock Draft Other Offensive Position Notes
Left Tackle / Right Tackle:
- “Length” is key component of left tackles. Height, arm length, hand size all super important.
- Footwork is very important, important for left tackles to handle speed.
- Hand placement is needed for locking onto defenders, especially against power.
- “Good overall technique” common trait for well coached, experienced tackles.
- Left tackle prospects need to have a lot of starts at left tackle and against top competition to generally be considered elite.
- Good “bend” and able to use “leverage”?
- How did they fared against top DE prospects also in the draft?
- Right Tackles may lack length, but need to be known as good run blockers.
- “Road Grader” is exceptional run blocker.
- “Ability to get to next level”… in run game or short passing game, able to beat a blocker, and move deeper into defense to block linebackers or other defenders.
- “Versatility” – able to play guard as well.
- Many tackles in college are best suited to move inside, but could be great guards in the NFL.
- Able to defend “speed” and “power”.
- Number of sacks allowed.
- High level guard prospects normally have to have one of two qualities: Exceptional base and power- known as “mauler” or “road grader” in the run game, -or- a rare athletic freak that is versatile, able to play center or guard… sometimes even able to play any position on the line.
- Strong “base” or “Solid Anchor” good for ability to hold up against NFL pass rush.
- Hand placement and ability to “lock on” to defenders.
- Some guards are “pulling guards” but not too common in college, where they take a step back at the snap, slide down the other side of the line and become a lead blocker in the run game.
- Top guys are normally very physically gifted with big measurables. Mid round guys tend to be more typical build but often have a lot of experience and dependable.
- How many sacks did they give up?
- Did they or do they have a strong RB or overall running game behind him?
- Can they and have they played guard?
- They are taller and bigger now because of the shotgun. Worth mentioning because the smaller centers in the draft will have issues with defensive tackles and will need help from a guard to block. Big, long armed centers don’t need help to double team defenders.
- Smaller centers are perhaps best suited for zone blocking NFL teams.
- Experience is very important.
- Did they call blocking assignments? Rare in college, but does happen and is a plus.
- Any experience snapping besides in the shotgun?
- Super big, pure blocking fullbacks, have a very small chance of making it to the NFL and at very least would have to be special team stars that can play on all 4 units.
- Guys that can actually run the ball, catch the ball, and pass protect have value in the NFL.
- Most fullbacks that get early attention in the draft process simply block for the best RB prospects. Finding the fullbacks with a diverse skillset is one of the last positions to define itself in terms of who are the best players during the draft process.
2018 NFL Mock Draft Front Seven Position Notes
- Identify all guys as primarily “one gap” or “two gap” defenders. They are generally more of a one gap, penetrating guy, or a two gap, run defending guy.
- One gap skills is the single biggest booster of ranking in the draft. DT’s that get after the QB are super valuable.
- Number of sacks and Tackles for Loss
- Have multiple pass rush moves or just power?
- Long arms and able to be a two gap guy defending both gaps around him?
- Able to take on double teams allowing guys around him to make plays?
- Strength of base. Does he anchor well?
- The 3-4 nose tackle is not often clearly stated. But once a player is about 330lbs.+ it is worth mentioning he could possibly play nose in a 3-4. 350 is ideal weight there.
- Does he play hard every play and chase down plays?
- Ability to play a lot of plays and not get tired.
- A lot of DT’s in college are not asked to be one gap guys, but that is what they will be at the NFL, so sometimes have to qualify that skill without having stats like sacks to back it up.
- Very tricky thing to do is first weed out guys that are defensive ends in college that will be 3-4 OLB’s in college. We first try to identify a position, but often list both possibilities. If it is close, for example if a defensive end is a bit undersized, but moves really well in space, they very well might be an OLB in the NFL.
- Most of the scouting reports we do on DE’s are for ends that have noticeable pass rush ability. There are some that are much more adept at stopping the run than getting into the offensive backfield, but that is not as much a premium type prospect trait.
- The frame of the player is important. Looking for height and arm length. Many players are slowly growing into their build. Player could be 6-5 and only 250, but was 6-1 and 185 as a freshman. In the NFL, that player could grow even more.
- How many sacks and TFL’s?
- Can he “convert speed to power”. It is like ability to quickly build momentum to knock blockers back.
- Long arms help with ability to defend against the run.
- Have an array of pass rush moves? Some players just bull rush, but it is very important to have some other moves that they are developing such as the speed rush, rip, swim, etc.
- Have some knocked down passes?
- Does his motor run hot and cold? – This indicator most of the time carries over to the NFL, rarely fixed.
- Able to chase down ball carriers?
- Able to drop back into coverage.
- For bigger guys, it is very valuable if they can move inside to tackle on 3rd down and obvious passing downs.
- Maybe the toughest scouting reports to make, because a lot of confusion:
- Inside linebackers in 3-4 aren’t generally premium players in the draft, but there is always a couple that have exceptionally well rounded skillsets that sneak into early rounds.
- The two inside linebacker positions in a 3-4 often have fairly varied responsibilities, one being the move-forward, run stopping, gap-filling player that needs to be a strong, reliable tackler, and the other being the playmaker that has more freedom to roam.
- The inside linebackers in the draft that more often get drafted high are really going to be Middle Linebackers in a 4-3.
- If a linebacker in college is a tackling machine, is big and strong, a violent tackler that wraps up well, and they seem to be much better moving forward than back, they are probably going to be an ILB in a 3-4 at the next level.
- The star Inside Linebackers are most often playing OLB in college, and need certain skills:
- Ability to diagnose plays quickly.
- Able to call defenses, so smarts and experience.
- Chase down running backs and wide receivers.
- Move forward to defend the run.
- Drop into coverage.
- Blitzing ability.
- Able to tackle.
- Loves football…this is mentioned for this position more than any other (referring to linebackers in general).
- Do they “wrap up” tacklers.
- Often referred to as “off-ball” linebackers, just another term for a guy suited for ILB in 3-4 or middle linebacker.
- First trick is determining the position in the NFL- if possibly a defensive end. Most 4-3 DE’s are fairly long and built, but some 4-3 DE’s in certain systems are “designated pass rushers” or “pass rush specialists”, that might come in on 3rd down or any obvious passing down. That is generally a smaller, speedier defensive end that could be a liability against the run.
- Primary skills to evaluate:
- Ability to drop into coverage (including covering matchup nightmares like speedy tight ends and running backs that move into the slot to receive).
- Run stopping ability.
- Blitzing ability (or general pass rush ability).
- “Sideline to sideline” agility and range.
- Can “break down”, which is a tackling technique of stopping before you tackle someone so you don’t get beat by last second moves.
- Number of sacks / INT’s, TFL’s
- Most of the OLB’s in the scouting reports are either middle linebackers in 4-3’s or OLB’s in 3-4… the skillset is often pretty close. Guys that are destined to play strongside or weakside in a 4-3 are generally a tier below and skew strongly to either better against the run, or better in coverage.
2018 NFL Mock Draft Secondary Position Notes
- First thing to notice is size. 5′-11″+ and 195lbs.+ would be considered the bigger size that NFL teams want. Bigger size than that is worth mentioning.
- Is he probably better as zone or press cover guy? Press guys generally are bigger and stronger, but not absolute.
- Long arms are a major plus, especially with outside corners.
- Ability to “locate the ball” quickly.
- Fights for contested balls.
- Sometimes they have “wide receiver mentality” wanting the ball.
- Can stay with fast receivers down the field.
- Can press receivers at the line.
- Strong against the run is important, good tackling ability.
- “Flips Hips” well allows to stay with receivers, especially in man coverage.
- Number of INT’s is important as well as pass break ups.
- Experience is important, number of starts at corner.
- Might they be a safety at next level? And general versatility to play in various positions.
- Is he more of an outside or inside corner?
- Can they cover tight ends as well as shifty RB’s?
- Can they contribute in punt return and kick return game?
- Can they cover deep, cover shallow routes, blitz, effective against the run in the box? If they can do all, they are super safety
- Some are just “centerfielders” or “cover the centerfield” and sort of a pure free safety.
- Some are very strong or tough but not great in coverage, and are better as “in the box” safeties.
- Tackling ability and willingness to tackle are key.
- Do they “break down” before a tackle or tackle without framing up to the ball carrier.
- Experience at the position.
- Can they play corner as well?
- Do they contribute in return game?
- Number of INT’s and sacks.