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|
* 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|
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|
|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″|
|#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.
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|
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|
|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|
|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.
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.