Published On: Sat, Apr 14th, 2018

3 deepest positions in the 2018 NFL Draft

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The 2018 NFL Draft promises to be one of the most intriguing in recent memory, even though the overall talent doesn’t quite match up with others of the decade.

While a number of teams will address their biggest weaknesses early in the draft, others will attempt to extract the most value out of later selections. The 2018 class features a few positions with enough depth for coaches and general managers to target in case their top prospects are off the board.

Here are the three deepest positions in this year’s class:

Wide receivers


This receiver class doesn’t feature the star power fans have seen in recent years. You probably won’t find Corey Davis, Amari Cooper, or Odell Beckham Jr. here, but there’s an incredibly deep pool.

Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, SMU’s Courtland Sutton, and Maryland’s D.J. Moore are the consensus top wideout prospects, each with a shot at a first-round selection. What is notable, however, is the number of talented players potentially available on Days 2 and 3. Washington receiver Dante Pettis offers quick feet, fluid hips, and the ability to return punts at a high level. LSU’s D.J. Chark has the size and speed most teams covet with pass-catchers. Christian Kirk out of Texas A&M has been pegged as a dangerous slot weapon. Memphis’ Anthony Miller and Oklahoma State’s James Washington are coming off productive college careers, with the latter leading the NCAA in receiving yards in 2017. Both have shown the ability to consistently separate from opposing cornerbacks.

That’s just the next tier, though. Former Notre Dame Fighting Irish Equanimeous St. Brown has scouts salivating over his measurables. Daesean Hamilton is a fantastic route-runner wrapping up an illustrious career at Penn State. Colorado State’s Michael Gallup is an athletic wideout with good burst and powerful hands who didn’t get enough attention playing in the Mountain West. There are at least 10 more players worth mentioning here, so it’s easy to conclude the wide receiver position is the deepest in this year’s draft.

Cornerbacks


With dynamic passing offenses evolving in today’s NFL, cornerbacks have become incredibly important investments. Luckily, teams have a deep list of prospects to choose from in 2018.

Ohio State’s Denzel Ward, Louisville’s Jaire Alexander, Iowa’s Josh Jackson, and UCF’s Mike Hughes are squarely in first round contention, with a number of teams high on their collegiate production and coverage skills. While the above quartet is seen as the cream of the crop, there will be a number of talented corners available Friday and Saturday. Isaiah Oliver was a nuisance to college receivers at Colorado, making completions extremely difficult in the Pac-12. Auburn cornerback Carlton Davis possesses ideal measurables and ball skills that defensive coordinators covet. Former LSU Tiger Donte Jackson’s blazing speed and change-of-direction abilities make him an ideal slot defender in the pros.

On the draft’s third day, the likes of Florida’s Duke Dawson, North Carolina’s M.J. Stewart, Tennessee’s Rashaan Gaulden, and Wisconsin’s Nick Nelson (despite recently tearing his meniscus) could provide incredible value to a team’s secondary.

Interior defensive linemen


Interior defensive linemen have to be stout run defenders and efficient pass-rushers in today’s game. Fortunately for NFL teams, there are a number of draft prospects at the position adept at both.

The defensive tackle headliners are well known – Washington’s Vita Vea, Michigan’s Maurice Hurst, Alabama’s Da’Ron Payne, and Florida’s Taven Bryan – but there’s talent available after these four come off the board. Former Stanford Cardinal Harrison Phillips impressed at the combine while illustrating toughness and versatility on tape. Tim Settle from Virginia Tech offers excellent movement skills for a 330-pound nose tackle. North Carolina State has two solid pass-rushing interior linemen in this year’s class – Justin Jones and B.J. Hill. Virginia’s Andrew Brown is a big-time sleeper prospect who utilizes good burst and active hands to wreak havoc on opposing linemen.

If these names weren’t enough, a number of small school prospects may crash the draft day party as well, including Sam Houston State’s P.J. Hall, Delaware’s Bilal Nichols, and Fort Hays State’s Nathan Shepherd. All three offer impressive production and pass-rushing prowess.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)



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