Rd. 1, Pk. 2
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
I don't mind the Giants not selecting a quarterback. Why do so if they really don't like any of them, which is what the scuttlebutt happens to be? Not trading down, however, seems like it would be a big mistake, as New York would be able to secure an impressive haul for this pick. I have a Broncos-Giants potential NFL Draft trade posted via the link, for example.
The other part of the rumors regarding this selection is that the Giants will take Saquon Barkley. Perhaps this is a ruse by the front office to get the Browns to trade up from No. 4 to 2, and if so, general manager David Gettleman deserves a ton of credit. However, Gettleman's picks have been telegraphed through the media in the past; everyone knew the Panthers were going to take Christian McCaffrey last year.
If Gettleman was willing to take a runner who can't shoulder a complete workload like McCaffrey at No. 8 overall, he'll certainly be open to take Barkley with the second-overall choice.
*** OTHER 2018 NFL DRAFT POSSIBILITIES: ***
1. Sam Darnold, QB - Everything Gettleman has said during the pre-draft process indicates that he won't select a quarterback, but perhaps he's just a masterful liar. The owners sound like they're pushing for a quarterback.
2. Bradley Chubb, DE - David Gettleman has a history of not trading in the draft, so it seems like the only other option is Chubb.
Rd. 1, Pk. 32
Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
The Eagles are very likely to trade down. I mentioned that the Seahawks don't pick again after the first round until No. 120. The Eagles won't be on the clock following this choice until No. 130!
Philadelphia's trade-down target might just be Sony Michel. Running back is a need, as Jay Ajayi, an impending free agent in 2019, has durability concerns. Plus, Michel seems like he'd complement Ajayi extremely well in 2018. The Eagles would be able to use Michel as their third-down back right away, as they value his pass-protection ability.
*** OTHER 2018 NFL DRAFT POSSIBILITIES: ***
1. Derrius Guice, RB - If the Eagles stay put, Guice could be their target.
2. Mike Gesicki, TE - Another trade-down option for the Eagles, who need to replace Brent Celek.
Rd. 2, Pk. 6
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
As mentioned in the first round, the Buccaneers really need to make sure Jameis Winston plays better in 2018. Part of that will require finding a better running back to replace Doug Martin, who was recently cut. I could see Tampa trading up into the 27-32 range for Derrius Guice.
If Leonard Fournette is available, I think the Jaguars will take him in a heartbeat. If Fournette doesn't get here, I think the Jaguars might go with Alabama tight end O.J. Howard or Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen. Fournette is a no-brainer if he gets to Jacksonville.
In 2016, Fournette averaged 6.5 yards per carry for 843 yards with eight touchdowns. He recorded 15 receptions for 146 yards as well. Fournette set a school record with 284 yards on 16 carries against Ole Miss. The junior played well in 2016, but his ankle injury seemed to be holding back some of the speed and explosion he displayed as a sophomore.
Fournette (6-0, 240) has a serious burst to go along with a powerful build. He is a downhill physical runner who also is a threat to break off long touchdown runs. While obviously big and powerful, Fournette also has some wiggle to him with an elusive running style that makes him really hard to tackle.
Fournette was a superstar in 2015, overwhelming nearly every defense he took on. The sophomore averaged 6.5 yards per carry over the year for 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also caught 19 passes for 253 yards.
There were a lot of comparisons made of Fournette to Adrian Peterson when the former signed with LSU, and he validated the hype as a sophomore with his running style being very similar to Peterson's. Fournette didn't disappoint in 2014 either, setting the LSU record for yards from a freshman. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry for 1,034 yards with 10 touchdowns.
Rd. 1, Pk. 1
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
It would make sense for the Panthers to give up one of their second-rounders to move up for Leonard Fournette. He could be phenomenal for Carolina and would match up well against some of the undersized defensive lines in the NFC South. If the Panthers don't move up for Fournette, I could see them taking McCaffrey given his running ability, great football character, and what he would bring to their passing attack.
In 2016, McCaffrey averaged 6.3 yards per carry for 1,603 yards and 13 touchdowns. He totaled 37 receptions for 310 yards and three touchdowns through the air, too. McCaffrey also was a dangerous punt returner.
In my opinion, McCaffrey should have won the 2015 Heisman Trophy because he carried Stanford all season. McCaffrey was a home-run hitter and a threat to rip off a huge gain every time he touched the ball. McCaffrey has a tremendous burst to break into the open field with vision, cutting ability and elusiveness. In 2015, he averaged six yards per carry for 2,019 yards with eight touchdowns. As a receiver, he had 45 catches for 645 yards and five scores.
McCaffrey (5-11, 202) looks undersized, but he still should be a first or second-rounder. Teams love his work ethic and pushing his teammates to be better.
Rd. 1, Pk. 1
Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
After the signing of DeSean Jackson, I think it is unlikely that John Ross is headed for Tampa Bay. I think this pick will then come down to Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey, O.J. Howard or Corey Davis. Via sources, I know the Bucs like all of those players. I think Howard and one of the running backs will be gone, which usually leaves Davis and a running back to consider. Running back is a bigger need on the roster given the Doug Martin situation, and there is depth at wide receiver on Day 2 for the Bucs to land an outside No. 2 receiver to platoon with Mike Evans and Jackson. There are lots of rumors of Dalvin Cook sliding. I've reached out to teams and gotten mixed feedback on that possibility. However if he slides, I don't think the Bucs would pass on him after speaking with Tampa Bay sources.
In 2016, Cook averaged 6.0 yards per carry for 1,765 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also had 33 receptions for 488 yards. Cook (5-10, 210) is well-built and has the speed to slash through a defense; however, he has some strange ball-security issues. Cook also has some power to him, but he seems to use it selectively as he runs out of bounds often and is consistently looking to bounce runs to the outside. In the passing game, Cook is a tremendous receiver out of the backfield and will be a weapon there. He reminds me of Marshall Faulk at times.
Teams do have some off-the-field concerns about Cook. They say he isn't a bad kid, but worry about his associates. He escaped some legal issues last year, and teams say that Cook has an entourage of gang-bangers that could put Cook in the wrong place at the wrong time.
With Jameis Winston in the NFL, Cook carried the Florida State offense in 2015. He averaged 7.4 yards per carry on his way to 1,691 yards and 19 touchdowns. The sophomore also had 24 receptions for 244 yards and a score. As a true freshman in 2014, Cook averaged 5.9 yards per carry for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns. He caught 22 passes for 203 yards, too.
Rd. 1, Pk. 1
Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
I liked Walt's pick in his trades mock of Jabrill Peppers. It makes tons of sense for Green Bay to get Peppers, but I'm not sure they would in light of his diluted-drug-test issue from the combine. I've heard that Green Bay loves Mixon and has done a ton of research into him in the leadup to the draft. The Packers could use a feature back and have the strong locker room, along with a small-town environment, to keep Mixon focused.
Mixon is an electric runner with excellent speed and the ability to rip off a long run on any carry. He became Oklahoma's featured runner as a redshirt sophomore with an average of seven yards per carry (168 carries) for 1,183 yards with eight touchdowns while sharing carries with Samaje Perine. Mixon also was a receiving weapon with 32 receptions for 449 yards with five touchdowns.
Sources have said that they think Mixon is a serious talent with three-down starting potential in the NFL. Some teams, however, already have ruled him out because of the incident from 2014 in which he punched a woman after she declined Mixon's advances. After video of the incident was released two years later, Mixon issued a tearful apology. Some teams have already removed him from their draft boards because of the character concerns.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee
The Eagles grab a feature running back who is a great fit for Doug Pederson.
Kamara is a super-hot prospect in scouting circles and is going to keep rising throughout the leadup to the 2017 NFL Draft. Some sources say they wouldn't be surprised if Kamara ends up getting Thursday night consideration in the middle to back half of the first round because he is such a versatile, explosive play-maker.
The 5-foot-10, 214-pounder has a strong build with impressive speed. He is a dynamic receiver out of the backfield who also gives defenses a lot of problems running routes from the slot. Kamara has soft hands and is a superb route-runner. He also is a dangerous weapon on special teams with returning kicks. In my opinion, Kamara is a lot like Jamaal Charles; a comparison sources have agreed with.
In 2016, Kamara averaged 5.8 yards per carry for 596 yards and nine scores. He also took 40 receptions for 392 yards and four scores, plus was a threat as a punt returner. In 2015, Kamara averaged 6.5 yards per carry for 698 yards with seven touchdowns. He showed his skills in the passing game with 34 receptions for 291 yards with three scores.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo
The Vikings grab a long-term starting running back.
Hunt averaged 5.6 yards per carry in 2016 for 1,475 yards with 10 touchdowns. He also made 41 receptions for 403 yards and a touchdown. Hunt (5-10, 208) was excellent at the Senior Bowl, using his speed to slash through the defense. He was very impressive as a receiver out of the backfield, too. Hunt doesn't have the size to be an every-down back in the NFL, but he could be a dangerous weapon as a complementary back and be an asset in passing situations.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
D'Onta Foreman, RB, Texas
The Colts could use a running back to eventually replace Frank Gore.
Foreman was a beast in 2016, rolling over defenders while averaging 6.3 yards per carry for 2,028 yards with 15 touchdowns. He wasn't much of a receiver with seven receptions for 75 yards, but Foreman is a load as a runner who can run over the opposition. The 6-foot, 233-pounder is a power back for the NFL, and sources have said that Foreman really impressed them in 2016.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Marlon Mack, RB, South Florida
The Broncos could use more backfield talent.
Mack (5-11, 213) ran well for the Bulls in 2016. He averaged 7.1 yards per carry on the year for 1,187 yards with 15 touchdowns, plus snatched 28 receptions for 227 yards. 2016 was Mack's third straight 1,000-yard season. He had 1,381 yards as a sophomore and 1,041 yards as a freshman. The junior is a sleeper back who could be a nice role player in the NFL.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Jeremy McNichols, RB, Boise State
The Raiders were able to add Marshawn Lynch, but he isn't a long-term answer. Oakland could use a mid-round pick on one of the many excellent values at running back.
McNichols (5-9, 214) doesn't have great size, but he was a tough runner for Boise State in 2016. The junior averaged 5.4 yards per carry for 1,709 yards with 23 touchdowns. He also had 37 receptions for 474 yards with four touchdowns. As a sophomore, McNichols averaged 5.6 yards per carry for 1,337 yards with 20 touchdowns. He had 51 catches for 460 yards with six scores. McNichols could at least be a back for the passing game in the NFL.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Brian Hill, RB, Wyoming
The Chiefs grab some running back talent and have shown interest in Hill.
Hill (6-1, 219) is a thick running back who produced a lot of yards and points in 2016. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry for 1,860 yards with 22 touchdowns alongside eight catches for 67 yards. As a sophomore, Hill produced with an average of 5.8 yards per carry for 1,631 yards with six touchdowns. He had his best receiving season that year with 20 receptions for 132 yards. Hill projects as first- and second-down back in the NFL.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma
Given the age and injury history of Matt Forte, the Jets could use another running back.
Perine (5-11, 233) averaged 5.4 yards per carry in 2016 for 1,060 yards with 12 touchdowns. He had 10 receptions for 106 yards as well. Perine is a physical, tough runner who was banged up in his final season and also split the workload with Joe Mixon. In 2015, Perine averaged 6.0 yards per carry in 2015 for 1,349 yards with 16 touchdowns.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
Wayne Gallman, RB, Clemson
The 49ers could take some running back depth with Carlos Hyde entering a contract year.
In 2016, Gallman averaged 5.1 yards per carry for 1,087 yards with 16 touchdowns. He tacked on 17 receptions for 113 yards as well. Gallman was the workhorse of the Clemson offense in 2015, averaging 5.4 yards per carry for 1,527 yards with 13 touchdowns. He also caught 21 passes for 213 yards with a score.
Gallman (6-0, 215) has impressive feet with the ability to be elusive in the open field. He also possesses tremendous lateral quickness to dodge tacklers and a burst to accelerate running North-South. Gallman is a quick runner who could stand to add some weight for the next level.
Gallman already has some power to him to pound the ball for some tough yards and finish off runs. It would be good to see him improve his knee bend and pad level. He is a taller back, and as a result, he can run a little upright at times. That could lead to issues with injuries and ball security.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
Corey Clement, RB, Wisconsin
Ameer Abdullah has been a disappointment thus far for the Lions. Even if he turns it on in Year 3, Detroit could use a power runner to pair with him.
Clement averaged 4.4 yards per carry in 2016 for 1,375 yards with 15 touchdowns. He had 12 receptions for 132 yards as well. Clement (5-10, 221) had a respectable showing at the Senior Bowl as he was a physical downhill runner.
Rd. 5, Pk. 5
Jamaal Williams, RB, Brigham Young
The Redskins grab some running back depth.
Rd. 5, Pk. 5
De'Veon Smith, RB, Michigan
The Colts could use multiple running back upgrades. Smith is a good fit and will help protect Andrew Luck.
Rd. 5, Pk. 5
James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh
The Steelers grab a backup running back.
Rd. 5, Pk. 5
Matt Dayes, RB, N.C. State
The Browns haven't taken running back depth yet, and it would make sense to grab a tailback on Day 3.
Rd. 6, Pk. 6
Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State
The Redskins could use some running back depth given Matt Jones' durability issues.
Rd. 6, Pk. 6
Joe Williams, RB, Utah
The Bucs grab a backup speed running back.
Rd. 6, Pk. 6
Joe Yearby, RB, Miami
The Giants could use a speed back to pair with a more physical runner.
Rd. 7, Pk. 7
Dalton Crossan, RB, New Hampshire
The 49ers get some backfield depth and hosted Crossan on a visit.
I think Cleveland has made a lot of wise decisions in the trades, and with the players and coaches that the team have added this offseason. Landing the best player in the 2018 NFL Draft with the fourth-overall pick would be the cherry on top to an excellent offseason for the Browns. Hiring John Dorsey, Alonzo Highsmith, and Eliot Wolf to run this franchise were wise moves by the Haslams. <br> <br>
Barkley is the best player in the 2018 NFL Draft, regardless of position. He is an elite running back prospect in the same mold of Leonard Fournette and Todd Gurley, and better than Ezekiel Elliott. All three of those backs turned their teams from picking in the top 10 to playing in the postseason within the first three years of their careers, if not as rookies. Thus, I think Barkley could help turn the Browns into a playoff competitor as soon as this fall. <br> <br>
The 6-foot, 233-pounder has devastating first-step quickness to hit the hole and accelerate downfield. Along with great speed, Barkley has tremendous balance, vision, cutting ability, elusiveness and power. He also is a receiving threat who presents mismatch problems for a defense in the passing attack, and is a good blocker. In the NFL, Barkley should be a devastating play-maker and three-down starter. He also put on a tremendous show at the combine, displaying amazing speed in the 40-yard dash along with explosion in the jumps, strength in the bench press, and solid interviews. <br> <br>
Barkley averaged 5.9 yards per carry in 2017 for 1,271 yards with 18 touchdowns. The junior made 54 catches for 632 yards and three touchdowns as a receiver. Barkley averaged 5.5 yards per carry in 2016 for 1,496 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also made 28 catches for 402 yards and four touchdowns as a receiver. Barkley was very impressive as a freshman in 2015 when he averaged 5.9 yards per carry for 1,076 yards with seven touchdowns. He also caught 20 passes for 161 yards and a score. Barkley was very impressive, running for 194 yards on 26 carries against an Ohio State defense loaded with NFL talent.
Another running back? Yes, for a number of reasons. First, Jerry Richardson and Marty Hurney are running the Panthers, and that tandem used two first-round picks on running backs over a 3-year span with Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. Stewart is aging and declining, while Christian McCaffrey is averaging 2.9 yards per carry and has some limitations running the ball between the tackles in the NFL. He's a receiving back for the pro game. Additionally, McCaffrey was a pick by former general manager Dave Gettleman. Here's a bell-cow back to pair with McCaffrey. <br> <br>
Chubb is averaging 6.2 yards per carry in 2017 for 867 yards with nine touchdowns. He also has two receptions for 20 yards. He averaged 5.0 yards per carry last season on his way to 1,130 yards with eight touchdowns. He had five receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown as well. In 2016, Chubb didn't quite have the speed and explosion that he had before his 2015 knee injury. Considering it was only about a year since he was hurt, that was understandable. <br> <br>
Prior to his season-ending knee injury in 2015, Chubb had picked up where he left off as a freshman. The sophomore averaged 8.1 yards per carry for 747 yards and seven touchdowns in his shortened 2015 season. In 2014 while splitting time with Todd Gurley, Chubb averaged 7.1 yards per carry for 1,547 yards with 14 touchdowns. He also caught 18 receptions for 213 yards and two scores. <br> <br>
Chubb is akin to a human bowling ball, rolling over tacklers and and being a physical force in the SEC. The 5-foot-10, 220-pounder is a powerful runner who also has the quickness to rip off yards in chunks. He also is an explosive track competitor.
Despite bringing in the aging LeGarrette Blount, the Lions have to improve their rushing attack to get some balance for their offense. Additionally, Detroit has no assurances that the top second-round backs will get to its choice in Round 2. Michel could quickly transform the Lions' offense and has true three-down potential. <br> <br>
The 5-foot-11, 214-pound Michel averaged 7.9 yards per carry in 2017 for 1,227 yards with 16 touchdowns. Michel has a ton of fans in the scouting community and was receiving second-day grades during the fall before his tremendous finish to the season that put him in contention to be a first-round pick. One general manager told me he thinks Michel could go late in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Aside from being a quick back capable of ripping off long runs, Michel showed well in the passing game as a receiver and blocker during his collegiate career. Michel has starting potential for the NFL with speed, strength and versatility. He also enters the pros with less wear-and-tear after splitting carries with a variety of backs at Georgia. <br> <br>
Michel played well in 2016 while serving as the backup to Nick Chubb. On the season, Michel took 152 carries for 840 yards - a 5.3-yard average - and four touchdowns. He also had 22 receptions for 149 yards.
The Patriots have dangled Dion Lewis as trade bait, so they clearly are ready to move on from him. James White and Mike Gillislee are rotational backs, so New England selects a dynamic runner to help Tom Brady. <br> <br>
I had Love in my 2019 NFL Mock Draft because he is a first-year starter, but I hear he's likely to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft instead. Team sources say that Love is better than other smaller backs who have gone in the first round, like David Wilson or Jahvid Best. They think that Love is more on a par with Chris Johnson coming out of East Carolina, except Love isn't as straight-line fast as Johnson, but possesses more elusiveness and moves in the open field. <br> <br>
While Love is extremely fast, he is a tougher running back than one would think given his size. He has excellent balance and is able to pick up yards after contact. Scouts have told me that they rate Love higher than Christian McCaffrey for the ability to run between the tackles in the NFL. Love has great vision that, combined with his speed, make him deadly. One college director told me, "If the other nine guys do their job for a few seconds, this guy is gone." <br> <br>
In 2017, Love is averaging 9.6 yards per carry for 1,456 yards with 12 touchdowns. He has four receptions for 19 yards as well. Sources say Love has more receiving potential for the NFL than the numbers illustrate.
<i> 2017 NFL Mock Draft Pick (as of 1/30): Quincy Wilson, CB </i>
The Ravens need a feature runner for their offense. <br> <br>
Scarbrough emerged as a potentially devastating workhorse running back at the end of the 2016 season. He averaged 6.5 yards per carry for 812 yards with 11 touchdowns. The 6-foot-2, 228-pounder is similar to Derrick Henry with the size to run over defenders and a surprising burst to break off long runs for a big back. <br> <br>
<u> <i> Pick change; previously T.J. Watt, LB </i> </u>