by Larry Parker, GBN College Football Investigative Reporter
May 15, 2017
The 2018 draft is still over 11.5 months away and much can happen between now and April of next year, but a preliminary perusal of next year’s draft class suggests that the offensive positions of strengths for next year’s draft will be Quarterback, Wide Receiver, and Offensive Tackle.
At QB, redshirt sophomore SAM DARNOLD – USC sits at the top of the heap as a possibility for the #1 overall selection, with juniors JOSH ROSEN – UCLA, JOSH ALLEN – WYOMING, and Heisman Trophy winner LAMAR JACKSON – LOUISVILLE also being #1 overall possibilities. At the same time, seniors MASON RUDOLPH – OKLAHOMA STATE and LUKE FALK – WASHINGTON STATE, along with junior JAKE BROWNING – WASHINGTON are also potential 1st round selections in my opinion, though most likely not in the equation for the #1 overall selection. The depth for the QB position is very good as well, with seniors AUSTIN ALLEN – ARKANSAS, QUINTON FLOWERS – SOUTH FLORIDA, LOGAN WOODSIDE – TOLEDO, and RILEY FERGUSON – MEMPHIS along with juniors WILTON SPEIGHT – MICHIGAN, NICK FITZGERALD – MISSISSIPPI STATE, and TANNER MANGUM – BRIGHAM YOUNG all solid pro prospects. Also, factoring in the possibility of big emergences that could result into early departures from redshirt sophomores JARRETT STIDHAM – AUBURN and STEVEN MONTEZ – COLORADO, plus the potential reward in investing a late round selection on former All-American seniors J.T. BARRETT – OHIO STATE and BAKER MAYFIELD – OKLAHOMA could make the QB position one of the strongest overall positions for 2018, depending on how many of the aforementioned underclassmen declare early entry.
At WR, juniors CALVIN RIDLEY – ALABAMA, CHRISTIAN KIRK – TEXAS A&M, and DEON CAIN – CLEMSON are the headliners of what, in my opinion, is the strongest and deepest overall position for the 2018 draft. Behind those 3 players, the 1st round is also a possibility for juniors COURTLAND SUTTON – SOUTHERN METHODIST, ANTONIO CALLAWAY – FLORIDA, and MARK ANDREWS – OKLAHOMA, who could stay at WR, or potentially be converted to the TE position in the NFL. To say the 2018 WR crop is deep is a major understatement. The junior class depth includes TRENTON IRWIN – STANFORD, HUNTER RENFROW – CLEMSON, DEONTAY BURNETT – USC, DEEBO SAMUEL – SOUTH CAROLINA, DAMARKUS LODGE – MISSISSIPPI, TREQUAN SMITH – CENTRAL FLORIDA, PARRIS CAMPBELL – OHIO STATE, QUADREE HENDERSON – PITTSBURGH, and RAY-RAY McCLOUD – CLEMSON, with redshirt sophomore VAN JEFFERSON – MISSISSIPPI being an early entry possibility, as well. The senior class depth is every bit as good as the junior class, if not better, with players such as DANTE PETTIS – WASHINGTON, ROBERT FOSTER – ALABAMA, JAMES WASHINGTON – OKLAHOMA STATE, DARREN CARRINGTON – OREGON, DAESEAN HAMILTON – PENN STATE, D.J. CHARK – LSU, ALLEN LAZARD – IOWA STATE, JANARION GRANT – RUTGERS, SIMMIE COBBS – INDIANA, JAKE WIENEKE – SOUTH DAKOTA STATE, CEDRICK WILSON – BOISE STATE, DEVONTE BOYD – UNLV, MICHAEL GALLUP – COLORADO STATE, ELDRIDGE MASSINGTON – UCLA, JESTER WEAH – PITTSBURGH, CODY THOMPSON – TOLEDO, and ANTHONY MILLER – MEMPHIS. Just on the senior class depth alone, regardless of how many underclassmen declare early entry, the WR position, in my opinion, has the best top to bottom strength out of all the different positions for the 2018 draft.
At OT, the 2018 draft crop is greatly strengthened by a strong group of returning seniors that were thought to be likely early entrants for the 2017 draft, which ultimately ended up weakening the 2017 OT crop. The big daddy of the 2018 crop, and possibility for the #1 overall selection, is junior ORLANDO BROWN – OKLAHOMA, son of the late CLEVELAND BROWNS and BALTIMORE RAVENS offensive tackle ORLANDO “ZEUS” BROWN. Other 1st round possibilities are juniors MITCH HYATT – CLEMSON and CONNOR WILLIAMS – TEXAS, as well as seniors MIKE McGLINCHEY – NOTRE DAME, MARTINAS RANKIN – MISSISSIPPI STATE, TYRELL CROSBY – OREGON, and BRADEN SMITH – AUBURN who will be transitioning this season to OT from the guard position. The depth for the 2018 crop is also very good including juniors GERON CHRISTIAN – LOUISVILLE, TREY ADAMS – WASHINGTON, and TOBY WEATHERSBY – LSU, along with seniors ZACHARY CRABTREE – OKLAHOMA STATE, IKE BOETTGER – IOWA, JAMARCO JONES – OHIO STATE, CHUKWUMA OKORAFOR – WESTERN MICHIGAN, BENTLEY SPAIN – NORTH CAROLINA, BRETT KENDRICK – TENNESSEE, ANDREW NELSON – PENN STATE, STANFORD OT’s CASEY TUCKER and DAVID BRIGHT, JAKE CAMPOS – IOWA STATE, and JOSEPH NOTEBOOM – TCU. All in all, the 2018 OT crop is a pretty deep and solid group, that should have many NFL teams excited to get them on their rosters.