2018 NFL Mock Drafts, Scouting Reports, Prospect Rankings
NFL Mock Draft: DraftBlaster publishes multiple 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.
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NFL Mock Drafts
DraftGeek’s Mock Draft – Updated: April 23
7 Round 2018 NFL Mock Draft – Updated: April 23
NFL Mock Draft Notes: Tuesday, April 24th 2018
Perhaps the biggest question mark right now is what the Ravens do with their first pick. With so many analysts trying to talk themselves into Lamar Jackson fits in the first round, with just a little logical breakdown, it appears that the Ravens and Jacksonville are the best fits. A big unknown is if he has been open to playing other roles on an offense when interviewing with certain teams. He would be a great fit as an offensive weapon on the Patriots, but they are not going to be giving him practice reps at QB and he is not at all a match to play QB in that system. If he privately has told teams he is open to playing other positions if he is at least given a chance each year to compete for the QB job, his draft stock will be much higher.
As a QB, there are two logical fits: the Ravens and the Jaguars. With the Ravens, we have pointed out a number of signs he might go there (you can read about it at that pick). The Jaguars seems like a strong match for Jackson. The team is stacked, and the starting QB is wildly inconsistent, but mostly ineffective. When he has been effective, it has been with a passing game plan that Jackson could execute with no problem. Furthermore, the combination of Fournette and Lamar Jackson would drive defenses crazy. However, he is not going to be running the ball 18 times a game like he did last year at Louisville. That number needs to get to around 7-8 at the most, and he needs to work on his passing fundamentals so that defenses will be forced to account for a pass or run on any given play. If he can achieve that balance, he can be effective as a QB.
Now have the 5th QB in the first round. Could there be a 6th?
Updated the draft order. Have the most recent updates done for the New England / Rams trade. Updates to the draft made daily as more research is done.
Coming down to the final month of the draft and mock drafts are being published all over the place. Interesting to see a lot of interior offensive linemen creeping into the first round. Although we believe that the power run game is going to continue to make a comeback, this draft contains a lot of excellent guards, and we believe that teams will wait until rounds 2 and 3 to address that need.
We are continuing to make changes daily, based on free agency moves and just updating the draft based on prospect rankings.
Teams that might take a QB in the first round of the NFL Draft: Cleveland Browns, New York Giants,
Denver Broncos, New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, Washington Redskins, Baltimore Ravens
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2018 NFL Draft Prospects
Prospect Rankings and Scouting Profiles:
A much deeper class than in 2017 with several elite, potential franchise QB prospects at the top of the draft. An intriguing second tier of QB’s that will undoubtedly produce a surprise success story in a year or two.
Following an exceptional running back class last year, 2018’s running back class could be even better. The rebirth of the 220 lbs. + power back with speed is especially enticing.
Not a great class of wide receivers, especially considering the low “hit” rate on first round wide receiver picks in recent years. Teams may be inclined to wait until mid to later rounds to pick up receivers and may find many values there.
Last year was one of the best tight end classes ever, at least as far as athletic potential. This year’s crop is not nearly as good, but the 2nd to 5th rounds could yield some dynamic prospects.
An improved left tackle class over last year for sure. The previous draft was known for being a poor draft for blindside protectors, but was actually fairly good for right tackles. This year’s draft will yield potential left tackles all the way into the 3rd round.
Perhaps the best area of this draft is the interior of the offensive line. Perhaps the best prospect in the draft is a guard, and there are highly graded prospects through the early and mid rounds, with quality players available through every round.
A deep class, perhaps in part because the spread systems played in college doesn’t necessarily change the center position as much as it does tackles. Add to that the increased use of the shotgun in the NFL, and centers are coming in better prepared than other offensive line positions.
Several elite prospects, then a lack of depth in middle rounds, but some very intriguing sleeper picks that played at smaller schools. With several teams switching defensive schemes, these prospects could be in very high demand.
Not always a high round pick, the 3-4 tackle needs to be tall and very big. With many 3-4 teams putting an emphasis on being multiple, the true nose tackle in this scheme isn’t in demand as it once was. However, a few teams converting to a 3-4, and few already in that system, desperately need one.
There are only 2-3 “elite” defensive ends with top 50 grades, but that won’t matter. Teams covet the true rush end, and many prospects in this draft at this position will get over-drafted.
The hardest position to evaluated in the draft, with questions on how prospects in cover, rush, tackle, etc., slowly being revealed throughout the draft process, particularly at the combine.
With major differences in desired traits between the two ILB positions within a 3-4, and the Mike in a 4-3, these prospects vary greatly in value based on team fits. However, two attributes have been particularly good indicators of draft value in recent years: teams seem to like height and production (INT’s, pass break ups, etc.)
Perhaps there is no bigger need in the league now than with cornerbacks. One dimensional guys are getting picked on in the league, so teams are looking for corners that can play in multiple spots and that can cover on the outside, can cover tight ends and receivers, and that can blitz and help in the run game.
Last year produced a great collection of safety prospects, but the jury is still out on this class. It use to be that a team generally had 2 guys, a strong and weak safety. Nowadays, many teams are using a Cover 3 or Big Nickel as essentially their base defense.
This moniker is basically a queue of under the radar prospects that are deemed “sleepers” until enough people talk about them and then they get moved into the realm of the normal prospect. This year seems to be chalk full of them, probably because there are many more eyes and ears out there, constantly unearthing these gems earlier and earlier in the draft process.
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.
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.
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.
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.