Today is the day! The 2018 NFL Draft is finally here, one of the most exciting days of the calendar in the National Football League.
32 teams will get a glimpse at the future of their franchise, with future star players and potential Hall of Famers fulfilling their destiny and finding out where they're going to be spending the first few years of their NFL careers.
With 256 players being selected across draft weekend, things can get a little confusing. So GIVEMESPORT sat down with Sky Sports' NFL expert Neil Reynolds to learn a little more about the star players being taken tonight.
GIVEMESPORT: This is the first Draft in a while where we genuinely have no idea who is going first overall. Why is that?
NEIL REYNOLDS: This is one of the more intriguing and fascinating Drafts in years. I hope we don’t find out who’s going number one until the Commissioner walks on stage. This is a quarterback-hungry league and a lot of teams are quarterback-starved. There are 5, potentially 6, who could go in the first round and that adds to the uncertainty.
I think there’ll be a lot of trading, some teams are desperate to move up. Buffalo gave up their left tackle (Cordy Glenn) to the Bengals to move up to #12. They want to package that and move up even further - if they don’t then they just gave up the Left Tackle for nothing.
This is all against the backdrop of what’s being called the NFL’s most ambitious Draft yet with it being in Dallas, where everything is always bigger and brighter. It’s going to be a great event.
GMS: Let’s start off strong, with the quarterbacks. How do you rate them?
NR: Personally, I think my favourite is between Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold. It may not play out that way on draft night with Josh Allen in there but with Darnold you’ve got a good team leader and someone who was a drop-back passer but could also move and extend plays.
He had some turnovers that need to be cleared up, but one thing that struck me was he had his Pro Day in the rain in L.A and it was one of the better ones we’ve seen in years. Then he went back to throw for his receivers and running backs again when he didn’t have to do that and I think that’s a sign of how well he is connected with his team.
Josh Rosen, he’s polished and pro-ready. The stuff about whether or not he loves the game has been unfair on him. If he asks questions and has interests that buck the system, we’ve seen that before and it shouldn’t matter.
I think Josh Allen could go #1 because of the pure physical skills. There are dangers with that but when you can throw the ball 80 yards and, I think, he was recorded at 74.3mph throwing the football. He’s got tremendous upside. Much is being made of 56% completion percentage, but Solomon Wilcots was telling me on our preview show that Dan Marino was 57% and Brett Favre was 52% so it can work out.
Baker Mayfield is one that I really like but I worry about the size. You know I like a stat, there’s been one quarterback under 6’1 taken in the first round in the last 15 years. That was Johnny Manziel. I’ve got some concerns there. You asked for the good stuff and there it is, dropping the stats.
Lamar Jackson, well Tom Brady called him a beast. He’s exciting modern day qb. You can’t draft him purely as a drop-back quarterback, but as an exciting, athletic weapon that you can get on the field at any time and let him run. But they get hurt. That’s the drawback.
There’s five and every one of them has a plus and a minus.
GMS: Rosen and Allen to me are the most interesting prospects. With Allen - I will never understand how he ended up in this situation with his 56%. Is it just the big arm that gets him here?
NR: It’s a dangerous game to play with drafting Allen. He has dominated the pre-Draft process, from the end of his season to the Combine to now. He’s dominated with physical skill, showing off in tests and drills. But that’s not how the game is played.
Carson Wentz, Ben Roethlisberger, Tony Romo all also played at smaller schools like Allen, but they won. Successful quarterbacks from smaller schools have tended to have dominated the competition and Josh Allen hasn’t. Wyoming was a bad team but that’s a worry for me.
GMS: I saw a stat that said, despite his cannon arm, Josh Allen completed just one pass of 40+ yards in 2017. I think his career accuracy over 40 yards was 13%.
NR: Wow, you’re coming back at me with a stat. I like it. That’s interesting because he’s getting scouts drooling with the deep ball and the strongest arm in college football. He’s worked on his mechanics but he threw for 1,800 yards last year. He’s either gonna be a star or prove the analysts wrong and show that he is exactly what he showed at Wyoming. I have my concerns.
GMS: Josh Rosen is routinely called the best passer with the best mechanics and footwork. It baffled me that he’s the one sliding? Is it a case of not seeing the forest for the trees?
NR: I think he’s been really unfairly treated. If your only concerns with Rosen are he’s outspoken and aren’t sure he loves football, then you’re nitpicking. You don’t become such a polished passer without sticking in the hard graft. You can’t tell me he doesn’t love the game. The hot tub in the dorm room? So what! It doesn’t make a difference.
With Allen, we see overlooking the negatives and focusing on the positives. With Rosen, it’s the other way around. His strengths are being dismissed. It didn’t help with Jim Mora, his old college coach, saying the Browns should pick Sam Darnold. I think he’s worn down by the process and is being harshly treated.
GMS: The Bills are at #12 but will need to trade up to grab one of the top tier QBs. Who do you see as the most willing trade partner?
NR: I think the Colts are open for business at #6. But that might not be enough if Denver fall in love with someone. The Broncos may be a possibility, but there’s a very outside chance that the Browns at #4 could be an option if someone offered up the farm.
GMS: The Browns traded back last year and missed out on Deshaun Watson. Surely it becomes a point where they say, “No, these are our two top-10 picks and we’re keeping them.”
NR: They have to. I agree with that. They traded out of Watson last year and Carson Wentz the year before. Would they be the same players in the Browns system? Potentially not, I get that but Deshaun Watson was behind a bad O-Line in Houston last year and was pretty good. Cleveland have missed out on two quarterbacks who turned out to be stars so I think they have to sit on their picks this year and hopefully draft two studs.
GMS: Who do you think is the best overall player? Positional need or value be damned.
NR: There’s actually a few. I have three players ahead of any of the quarterbacks, Saquon Barkley, Bradley Chubb and Quenton Nelson - the guard out of Notre Dame. But Barkley is the best for me, I think he’s a generational running back and Sean Payton called him one of the best prospects at the position in the last 25 years.
He aced the Combine. He was stronger than Joe Thomas on the bench, faster than DeSean Jackson over 10 yards, quicker than Odell over 40, jumped higher than Julio Jones and he’s just an athletic freak. But he backs it up with on-field production.
I had him going #6 to the Colts in a mock draft but only because of the Giants picking a quarterback. If the Giants do grab him at #2 then I would be absolutely fine with that.
GMS: Quick one: If you take any player likely to go in the Top-10, who is your pick to be a bust? Josh Allen excluding, of course.
NR: Allen is the obvious one, but I do have another. Tremaine Edmunds, the linebacker out of Virginia Tech. He’s very raw. I feel old now because I remember watching his dad, Ferrell, the tight end of the Dolphins. Tremaine’s the youngest player in the Draft at 19, doesn’t turn 20 until next month. He’s got the physical tools, like an Anthony Barr, but he’s still very raw in his game.
GMS: Finally, give us a shock prediction for Thursday night?
NR: Ooh, here’s one. The New England Patriots package up their two first round draft picks PLUS one Mr Rob Gronkowski to move into the Top 5 and take...Josh Rosen.
GMS: Oh wow.
NR: You wanted a shock (laughs).
GMS: That’s it. You’ve done it. We can’t beat that.
All three days of the NFL Draft are exclusively live on Sky Sports with opening night getting underway from 12.30am on Friday, April 27 on Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Mix.
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