Projections Top 10 NFL Draft Busts

2018 T10B MOCK NFL DRAFT

Synopsis: With respect to quarterbacks, the 1983 and 1999 draft classes stand out among the rest. Of note, a record six QBs went in the 1st round of the 1983 NFL Draft. Furthermore, teams took QBs with the first three and five of the top 12 overall picks in the 1999 NFL Draft. I believe the 2018 draft class will join these others in the record books based on the fervor surrounding this year’s crop of signal callers. Specifically, I predict that teams will use the top four 2018 draft picks on quarterbacks. Let the games begin!


2018 T10B MOCK NFL DRAFT

Perhaps more than any other position, quarterback ranks as the most important in team sports. For this reason, teams seemingly lose games and/or mortgage their futures for the ability to move up and take a top-rated QB early in the draft. The quick success of players like Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Jameis Winston, and Dak Prescott (who all made the Pro Bowl as rookies) has made the pendulum swing even further. I believe the trend will peak this year with four QBs going with the first four overall picks.

BOLD PREDICTION #1: THE FIRST FOUR PICKS IN THE 2018 NFL DRAFT WILL BE USED TO SELECT QUARTERBACKS

If my prediction comes true, the 2018 draft class will become linked with the classes of 1983 and 1999. To the extent those vintages don’t stand out, the following tables should help make the connection.

1983 NFL DRAFT – 1ST ROUND QUARTERBACKS
Pick Player WCAV* Pro Bowls Passer Rating Comp % Yds TD Int
#1 John Elway* 138 9 79.9 56.9% 51,475 300 226
#7 Todd Blackledge 12 0 60.2 48.1% 5,286 29 38
#14 Jim Kelly* 103 5 84.4 60.1% 35,467 237 175
#15 Tony Eason 36 0 79.7 58.2% 11,142 61 51
#24 Ken O’Brien 72 2 80.4 58.6% 25,094 128 98
#27 Dan Marino* 145 9 86.4 59.4% 61,361 420 252

* WCAV stands for Weighted Career Approximate Value. The most elite players generally end their careers with WCAVs in excess of 100. As support, the players with asterisks after their names all have been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

1999 NFL DRAFT – 1ST ROUND QUARTERBACKS
Pick Player WCAV Pro Bowls Passer Rating Comp % Yds TD Int
#1 Tim Couch 30 0 75.1 59.8% 11,131 64 67
#2 Donovan McNabb* 107 6 85.6 59.0% 37,276 234 117
#3 Akili Smith 1 0 52.8 46.6% 2,212 5 13
#11 Daunte Culpepper 86 3 87.8 63.0% 24,153 149 106
#12 Cade McNown 7 0 67.7 54.6% 3,111 16 19

Whereas the 1983 QB Draft Class included three Hall of Famers, the 1999 QB Draft Class didn’t fare as well. The following bullet points complement the table as support that the later group ran the gamut relative to success in the league. 

  • With a WCAV above 100, Donovan McNabb proved to be a HOF-caliber superstar.
  • Daunte Culpepper received two 1st Team All Pro selections. As discussed in a previous post, Culpepper certainly benefited from his time together with all-time great wide receiver Randy Moss.
  • As the first player taken overall, Tim Couch didn’t live up to the pick. Still, he produced too much to be declared a bust.
  • Cade McNown underachieved and became a bust.
  • Akili Smith underachieved even more and became a Top 10 Bust.

Given that this post serves as my mock draft, I intend to focus on what I think will happen instead of what I believe should happen. As such, I’ll save any commentary about comparisons with the 1983 or 1999 draft class for subsequent posts.

Without further ado, I offer the specifics of my bold prediction.

2018 MOCK NFL DRAFT – TOP FOUR PICKS

Pick Player College Height Weight Arm Length Hand Size 40 Time Vertical Leap
#1 Josh Allen Wyoming 6’5″ 237 33 1/4″ 10 1/8″ 4.75 33 1/2″
#2 Sam Darnold USC 6’3″ 220 31″ 9 3/8″ 4.85 26 1/2″
#3 Josh Rosen UCLA 6’4″ 226 31 3/4″ 9 7/8″ 4.92 31″
#4 Baker Mayfield Oklahoma 6’1″ 215 30 1/4″ 9 1/4″ 4.84 29″

I fully recognize that numerous analysts have predicted the same draft order for  these quarterbacks. However, I’m not aware of any who have predicted that these QBs will go with the first four picks of the draft.

Given that the Cleveland Browns hold the 1st and 4th overall picks, my prediction sets up an equally bold 2nd prediction. 

BOLD PREDICTION #2: THERE WILL BE AT LEAST THREE MORE TRADES INVOLVING TEAMS WITH TOP 10 OVERALL PICKS

A little over a month ago, the Jets exchanged their 6th overall pick for the Colts’ 3rd overall pick. In addition to this swap of original picks, the Jets gave up their 37th and 49th overall picks this year plus a 2nd rounder next year. They effectively gave up three Day 2 picks for the right to move up three spots in the draft.

In order to evaluate trades such as this one, I developed the T10B Football Index (TFI). Specifically, TFI assigns a point value to each draft position based on the career production from players taken with that pick. The following table shows my assessment of this trade based on the TFI differential. As a point of comparison, the table also shows an evaluation of the trade based on the oft-referenced Jimmy Johnson Value Chart. 

NUMERICAL EVALUATION OF JETS/COLTS TRADE
  Jets Get Jets Give up Gain / Loss
Evaluation #3 #6 #37 #49 2R ’19 Index Equivalent Pick
TFI 95 75 47.5 42.5 40 -110 #1 overall
Jimmy Johnson Value Chart 2,200 1,600 530 410 450 -790 #21 overall

Perhaps the most telling column is the last because it provides a qualitative assessment of the trade. Based on TFI, I believe the Jets gave up picks with the aggregate production of a typical #1 overall pick. In contrast, Jimmy Johnson might argue that the trade doesn’t appear to be as lopsided with the Colts picking up the equivalent of a late 1st rounder. Either way, the Jets likely made the trade because they believe they can select a franchise quarterback who wouldn’t have been available three spots later.

Before detailing specific trades, I predict the following players will go with the 5th-10th picks in the 2018 NFL Draft.

2018 MOCK NFL DRAFT: PICKS 5-10
Pick Player College Height Weight Arm Length Hand Size 40 Time Vertical Leap
#5 Saquon Barkley Penn State 6’0″ 233 31 3/8″ 9 1/2″ 4.40 41″
#6 Bradley Chubb NC State 6’4″ 269 34″ 9 7/8″ 4.65 36″
#7 Minkah Fitzpatrick Alabama 6’1″ 201 31 1/4″ 9 3/8″ 4.46 33″
#8 Roquan Smith Georgia 6’1″ 236 32″ 10″ 4.51 N/A
#9 Tremaine Edmunds Va. Tech 6’5″ 253 34 1/2″ 9 3/8″ 4.54 N/A
#10 Quenton Nelson Notre Dame 6’5″ 329 33 3/4″ 10 3/8″ N/A 26.5″

As before, I fully recognize that the table doesn’t provide a fair assessment of the future potential of the players. Instead, it summarizes the results of the combine (a.k.a. the bathing suit portion of the evaluation). The equivalent of the interview portion of the competition (i.e. the objective analysis of each player’s strengths and weaknesses) will follow in subsequent posts.

THE TRADES

I realize that my mock draft don’t make sense based on the current draft order. Instead, I propose the following trades need to occur.

TRADE #1: BILLS MOVE UP TO 2ND OVERALL PICK
  Bills Get Bills Give up Net Impact
Evaluation #2 #69 #12 #22 #53 #56 1R ’19 Index Equivalent Pick
TFI 95 32.5 70 55 40 40 50 -127.5 #1 / Early 4th
Jimmy Johnson 2,600 245 1,200 780 370 320 720 -545 Early 2nd

Based on the previously highlighted trade, the Jets gave up a lot of future value to have the opportunity to take one of the top 3 QBs. In order to jump ahead of the Jets and secure one of the top 2 QBs, the Bills could/should be willing to sacrifice even more. Fortunately for them, they have the currency (i.e. picks) to entice the Giants to make the trade.  

TRADE #2: MIAMI MOVES UP TO 4TH OVERALL PICK
  Miami Gets Miami Gives up Net Impact
Evaluation #4 #11 #42 #73 1st R ’19 Index Equivalent Pick
TFI 95 70 47.5 32.5 63 -118 #1 / Early 5th
Jimmy Johnson 2,600 1250 480 225 1,050 -405 Mid 2nd

In the midst of their winless 0-16 season, the Browns decided to part ways with former EVP Sashi Brown. During his tenure with Cleveland, the aptly named executive showed a willingness to trade down for future value/picks. However, he effectively signed his walking papers by passing up on both Carson Wentz in 2016 and Deshaun Watson in 2017.

Despite the change in the front office, I don’t think Cleveland will be able to pass up on Miami’s offer to take the most accomplished QB in the 2018 Draft. As support, I offer the following.

2018 MOCK NFL DRAFT – TOP FOUR QUARTERBACKS
Player Yards Comp % TD Int Efficiency Rating
Baker Mayfield 4,627 70.5% 43 6      198.9
Sam Darnold 4,143 64.9% 26 13      148.1
Josh Rosen 3,756 62.6% 26 10      147.0
Josh Allen 1,812 56.3% 16 6      127.8

Before getting distracted with an analysis of hypothetical picks, I’ll wait to share my thoughts about what teams should have done at a later time. As someone who values on-field production and questions combine numbers, I don’t understand how Allen deserves consideration at a #1 overall pick. Still, I think the Browns will take him there. Why? Well . . . because they’re the Browns.

TRADE #3: 49ers MOVE UP TO 5TH OVERALL PICK
  49ers Get 49ers Give up Net Impact
Evaluation #5 #9 #59 1st R ’19 Index Equivalent Pick
TFI 95 75 42.5 50 -72.5 Mid 1st
Jimmy Johnson 1700 1350 310 765 -725 Late 1st

If the Giants or Browns keep their original picks and take RB Saquon Barkley or DE Bradley Chubb, the Broncos can keep their 5th overall pick and take QB Baker Mayfield. However, I predict that Denver will forgo the pick in favor of what San Francisco has to offer.

Specifically, 49ers GM John Lynch already won the lottery by extracting Jimmy Garoppolo from the grasp of Bill Belichick. As such, Lynch is playing with house money and should be willing to overpay for the opportunity to have Saquon join Jimmy in San Francisco’s backfield. 

TRADE #4: OAKLAND MOVES UP TO 8TH OVERALL PICK
  Oakland Gets Oakland Gives up Net Impact
Evaluation #8 #10 #41 2R ’19 Index Equivalent Pick
TFI 75 75 47.5 36 -83.5 Early 1st
Jimmy Johnson 1,400 1,300 490 360 -750 Late 1st

Due to the frenzy of teams looking to secure franchise quarterbacks, there should be numerous high caliber players at other positions. Returning to Oakland, Head Coach Jon Gruden won’t be able to control himself if OLB Roquan Smith is available with the 8th overall pick. At the same time, the Bears should be able to get future All-Pro Guard Quenton Nelson with the Raiders’ original 10th overall pick so they could be a willing trade partner.

CONCLUSION

Like many of you, I eagerly await the 2018 NFL Draft. Given my “bold” predictions, I don’t expect to predict the outcome perfectly. Still, it’ll be fun to see which ones pan out. Going forward, I’ll be equally excited to evaluate the picks and begin a countdown of which ones seem ripe for future consideration as potential Top 10 Busts. As of now, the only thing left is deciding whether to watch Kiper & Wingo on ESPN or Eisen & Mayock on Fox.

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