The 2018 National Football League Draft has been over a few weeks and that has allowed the hype over the first round picks to die a little. Now, maybe, we can look at each of the 32 players selected on Day 1 and determine what level of contribution they will make with the teams that selected them.
Let’s face the facts: all 32 will not contribute to the teams that picked them right away. In fact, several, I am sure, will never contribute to the teams that picked them. And some, a few at best, will become good players for other teams in a couple of years.
I will take each draft pick in order and give you my opinion of their promise and skill levels much in the same way the Bleacher Report website did in a recent article. But, before I begin, I want to go a bit out of order to give you my opinion of how I would rank the Top and Bottom players in this draft and maybe even why.
First, the absolute worst selection made in the 2018 first round came when the Cleveland Browns selected Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma with its first pick. I know Mayfield was a good college quarterback, but at the professional level, I view him as the second coming of Johnny Manziel. He is just too short to play this position. He is under 6-1 for goodness sakes. Yes, he can scramble – which he will have to do behind the offensive line of the Browns – and he is accurate with his throws. He is a playmaker and can produce high numbers in passing yardage and touchdowns. But, given his attitude at times in college when he had no money, he could fall apart quickly if there is no immediate success when he steps on the field. He will not step on the field a lot since Tyrod Taylor will be the Browns’ starter this fall. Mayfield will have a contribution level that is considered low this upcoming season.
Now, the best pick in the first round was by the New York Giants when they selected Penn State’s Saquon Barkley. Barkley is 6-0, 233 pounds and runs a 4.4 40-yard dash. That is size and speed at the running back position for the Giants and it will fit in with their plans immediately. He produced 2,329 combined yards last season for the Nittany Lions. He also had 23 touchdowns. I can see Barkley rolling up over 1,000 yards for the Giants next season along with a dozen or more touchdowns. He may possibly be the Offensive Rookie of the Year in the NFL. His contribution level will be high.
The first two picks in the 2018 NFL Draft were made by the Cleveland Browns and the New York Giants. See my opinion of those two picks above.
The New York Jets drafted Sam Darnold with the third pick in the draft. The former USC quarterback threw for over 4,000 yards and 26 touchdowns, but also tossed 13 interceptions and fumbled 11 times, losing eight of them. But, he has good size for an NFL quarterback at 6-3, 221 pounds. Look for him to contribute at the medium level.
With the fourth pick in the draft, Cleveland picked Denzel Ward, a cornerback from Ohio State. The Browns needed defensive players who could step right in to help. They got one in Ward. Look for his contribution level to be high.
North Carolina State’s Bradley Chubb was picked at No. 5 in the first round by the Denver Broncos. This big and fast defensive end made 23 tackles for losses and 10 sacks last season. Denver needs someone to pressure the opposing quarterback. They have him in Chubb. He will start on the opposite side from Von Miller. His contribution level will be high.
The Indianapolis Colts selected Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson and will move him to center to protect Andrew Luck. He is a guy that will be a high contributor.
The best quarterback selected in the first round was not at No. 1, No. 3 or No. 7 – which is where the Buffalo Bills picked Josh Allen of Wyoming. He is tall – 6-5 – and has bulk – 237 pounds – but, he is not a ready-made starter. He will not beat out former Cincinnati back-up A.J. McCarron for the starting role. His contribution level will be low.
Perhaps the second-best pick of the first round went to the Chicago Bears when they selected Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith. He has a high energy motor with 85 tackles of which 14 were for losses and 6.5 were sacks in his 2017 season for the Bulldogs. His high energy motor in the middle of the Bears defense will translate to a contribution level of high, very high.
At the ninth spot in the first round, San Francisco picked Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey. He will make a medium level of contribution to the 49ers.
Okay, finally, a quarterback that may be the best of the lot in 2018 was selected at No. 10 by the Arizona Cardinals – Josh Rosen of UCLA. Even with Arizona picking up Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon in free agency, Rosen was an easy pick for the Cardinals and they expect him to challenge for the starting job against Bradford. If Rosen is not the starter in Week 1, he will be there in Week 2. He has the tools, size and brains for this position. How he lasted to No. 10 is amazing. His contribution level will be high.
The Miami Dolphins picked Alabama safety/cornerback/nickel back/all-purpose back Minkah Fitzpatrick with the 11th pick in the draft. Now, it is time to settle on a spot for the Mr. Do-It-All. The Dolphins plan to use him at safety where his contribution level will be high.
Tampa Bay selected Washington defensive end Vita Vea at No. 12. Most think he will be a medium contributor. I say high. Da’ron Payne, a huge defensive tackle from Alabama, was picked by the Washington Redskins at No. 13. He will be another high contributor. New Orleans needed an edge-rusher and they got it in Texas-San Antonio’s defensive end Marcus Davenport. His contribution to the Saints will be high. At No. 15, the Oakland Raiders picked UCLA offensive tackle Kolton Miller. He will be a high contributor. And at No. 16, the Buffalo Bills picked Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. This guy is 6-5, weighs 253 pounds and has 4.54 speed. He made 108 tackles last season. There is no doubt he will be considered for Defensive Rookie of the Year and may possibly be the winner with his high level of contribution.
Well, that is all for this week. Next week, I will give you my opinion of the contribution levels of the rest of the 2018 NFL Draft’s first rounders.
Mark Clark is a local sports writer for
The Citizen of East