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Late for Work 4/24: Ranking Positions of 2018 Draft Class From Strongest to Weakest


Ranking Positions of 2018 Draft Class From Strongest to Weakest

We're just two days away from the 2018 NFL Draft, so let's take a look at which positions have the most and least depth to offer this weekend.

To help us do so, Inside The Pylon’s Jeff Feyerer dug into Big Boards from various publications around the web to see how many players from each position were ranked in the top 50. I also added a "best value" section to show where a cluster of players are projected to be selected, based off NFL Draft Scout’s value chart. Finally, I added a quote from a draftnik to give an overall characterization of each group.

Here we go …

1 (tied) QuarterbacksTop prospects: Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson
Best value: First round (5 players projected to be selected)

Quote: "There's something for everyone in this class, with some traditional pocket passers (Rosen, Darnold, Mason] Rudolph, Allen) mixed in with some wild-card guys who challenge the mold (Jackson, Mayfield), but have tons of upside. There's a sizable drop-off after those six names, but they're enough to carry the group.” – [The Draft Wire’s Luke Easterling

1 (tied) Edge DefendersTop prospects: Bradley Chubb, Marcus Davenport, Harold Landry, Lorenzo Carter, Rasheem Green* *Best value: First two rounds (8-10)
Quote: "A Myles Garrett-caliber prospect isn't available in 2018. Premium pass-rushers are rare. However, one comes close in the current class, with a few more intriguing options later in the process. North Carolina State's Bradley Chubb is in the conversation as the No. 1. … Basically, the entire position is comprised of underdeveloped prospects with plenty of potential, or productive pass rushers whose ceilings aren't quite as high." – Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski

3 (tied) CornerbackTop prospects: Denzel Ward, Jaire Alexander, Mike Hughes, Isaiah Oliver, Donte Jackson, Josh Jackson
Best value: First two rounds (8-10)

Quote: "Jackson has the size, physical tools and athleticism NFL teams want in a first-round corner, while Ward makes up for his lack of size with fantastic instincts, ball skills and technique. Still, neither is a top-10 lock, leaving this class without a true can't-miss prospect at the top. The overall depth of the class is solid, but many of the best prospects are under six feet tall, which could keep teams from investing early picks unless they're certain they can play on the outside. It's a good year to need a nickel guy in the middle rounds, though." – Easterling

3 (tied) LinebackerTop prospects: Roquan Smith, Tremaine Edmunds, Rashaan Evans, Leighton Vander Esch, Uchenna Nwosu
Best value: Third round (5-7)

Quote: "There are top prospects of every size, shape and skill set in this year's linebacker class. Smith proved how dominant he can be during the Bulldogs' playoff run, while Edmunds' rare combination of size and speed (while being just 19 years old) gives him as much upside as any prospect in this draft. … [Shaquem] Griffin is more than just a feel-good story, too." – Easterling

3 (tied) Running backTop prospects: Saquon Barkley, Sony Michel, Derrius Guice, Nick Chubb, Ronald Jones II, Rashaad Penny
Best value: Second round (5-7)

Quote: "[This] crop will help define the entire class since Penn State's Saquon Barkley is considered the No. 1 overall talent by many.  Guice, Jones and Michel each have first-round potential. At worst, those specific backs are expected to come off the board early in the second frame." – Sobleski

6) Interior offensive lineTop prospects: Quenton Nelson, James Daniels, Billy Price, Will Hernandez, Isaiah Wynn, Frank Ragnow
Best value: First round (4) and sixth round (4-6)

Quote: "It helps to have arguably the best overall player in the entire draft, but this group's strength goes beyond the dominant Nelson. Hernandez, Wynn and Price could all end up sneaking into the first round." – Easterling

7) Defensive lineTop prospects: Vita Vea, Da'Ron Payne, Taven Bryan, Nathan Shepherd, Harrison Phillips, Derrick Nnadi
Best value: Third and fourth rounds (5-7)

Quote: "If you're in need of a massive defender to anchor your front line, you're in luck with this year's group." – Easterling

8) Offensive tackleTop prospects: Mike McGlinchey, Kolton Miller, Connor Williams, Tyrell Crosby, Orlando Brown
est value: Second and third rounds (6-7)
Quote: "Last year's tackle class was atrocious, but this year's group is much stronger, both at the top and in terms of overall depth." – Easterling

8 (tied) Wide receiverTop prospects: DJ Moore, Calvin Ridley, Courtland Sutton, Christian Kirk, James Washington
Best value: Second and third rounds (8-12)

Quote: "This class is stocked with talented prospects of every size, shape and skill set, many of whom are ready to make an immediate and sizable impact at the next level. There should be tons of value in the middle rounds for teams who are patient." – Easterling

10) SafetyTop prospects: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Derwin James, Ronnie Harrison, Justin Reid, Jessie Bates III
Best value: Third and fourth rounds (6-7)

Quote: "Whether you need a ball-hawking center-fielder, an in-the-box thumper, or a well-rounded blend of both, this group will check any box in any round." – Easterling11) Tight endTop prospects: Hayden Hurst, Mike Gesicki, Dallas Goedert, Mark Andrews, Chris Herndon, Ian Thomas
Best value: Second round (3-5) or fifth round (3-5)

Quote: "There's a logjam at the top of this class, with as many as five prospects having a strong case to make as the best of the group. Andrews and Goedert have the best shot at sneaking into the back end of the first round, but they make more sense as Day 2 picks. Thomas has tons of athleticism and upside, but is still fairly raw. Hurst, a former draft pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates, is one of the more intriguing guys in this group." – Easterling

Lil Scrappy Willie Snead's Biggest Impact Could Come on Third Downs

The New Orleans Saints reportedly informed restricted free-agent wide receiver Willie Snead that they won’t match the signed offer sheet from the Ravens, but it may not become official until the 5 p.m. Wednesday deadline.

Until then, Snead is itching to get to Baltimore.

Lil' Scrappy?

I like it. Let's get that going once he arrives on campus.

"By holding off on a deal until Friday's deadline for restricted free agents to sign contract tenders, the Ravens bought themselves some time to explore other receiving options and left the Saints in a precarious position," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec. "Maybe the Saints wouldn't have matched the Ravens' two-year, $7 million deal, with an additional $3.4 million in incentives, for Snead anyway."

The Ravens may have also held off in order to buy time to explore other options such as Dez Bryant, Eric Decker and others. In the end, they went with Snead, who could greatly help the Ravens extend more drives, an area they struggled with last year.

"Where Snead will make his biggest impact is on critical situations," wrote ESPN. "From 2015 to 2016, Snead ranked fifth among wide receivers with 50 catches on third downs. Only Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham Jr. and Demaryius Thomas produced more.

"Extending drives has been an ongoing problem for Baltimore. Since winning the Super Bowl, the Ravens have been the seventh-worst offense on third downs, converting 37.1 percent of the time."

Julio Jones Simultaneously Scared Falcons Fans and Excited Ravens Fans, But He's Not Leaving Atlanta

Twitter nearly melted down after Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones made his Twitter account private, unfollowed everyone from the Falcons organization and deleted all Falcons pictures from his Instagram account except his profile pic.

Baltimore wishes some sort of miracle happened and one of the best receivers in league magically joined the Ravens.

That's not going to happen, however.

Local radio host John Michaels reached out to see what was happening, and reported that Jones was just doing a social media scrub to start fresh.

Ravens Trading Back Would Be on Momentous 10-Year Anniversary

As speculation continues to swirl about the Ravens trading back from their 16th-overall pick, ESPN points out that 10 years ago they made such a move and it worked out really, really well for the franchise.

In the 2008 NFL Draft, the Ravens moved back (and then up again) to select quarterback Joe Flacco. Five years later, he raised the Lombardi Trophy as the Super Bowl MVP.

"Trading back in the first round makes plenty of sense for the Baltimore Ravens," the website wrote. "It would also come on the 10-year anniversary of perhaps the shrewdest draft-day move in franchise history. A decade ago, Baltimore worked the first round to near perfection.

" … Baltimore needs another wide receiver and a pass-catching tight end, but taking either one might be considered a reach in the middle of the first round. If the Ravens slide down to the bottom 10 picks of the first round, they can get better value for a wide receiver like Maryland's D.J. Moore or a pass-catching tight end like South Carolina's Hayden Hurst, as well as pick up a third-round pick."

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