The run on quarterbacks in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft and the general depth of this year’s class means there is a wealth of talent still available to kick off Friday’s second round.
The top five players still available:
5. James Daniels, C, Iowa: Widely regarded as the best center in this class, Daniels watched Ohio State’s Billy Price go No. 21 to Cincinnati. He seemed a likely choice when the Ravens traded back into the first round to close the night with the 32nd pick — but Baltimore pulled one of the stunners of the evening with the selection of 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.
Daniels’ vertical leap and broad jump both ranked in the top 10 of offensive linemen at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. Working against Daniels is his injury history with some knee issues, but he’s also just 20 years old and shows a sky-high football IQ.
Throughout the evaluation process, Daniels hasn’t given many reasons to think he won’t be able to succeed at the NFL level, with his clean mechanics, athleticism and intelligence, though he will probably need to continue adding strength to his frame.
4. Derrius Guice, RB, LSU: Many believed Guice would be the second running back off the board behind Saquon Barkley, and very likely in the first round. Three backs were selected, but Guice was passed over for Rashaad Penny (Seahawks) and Sony Michel (Patriots).
Guice lacks the true breakaway gear of some of the other backs in this draft. And while he breaks a slew of tackles, he also takes on too much contact rather than eluding it. If Guice is able to stay healthy in the NFL with his physical style, he could quickly emerge as a Pro Bowl back.
3. Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa: Jackson was the second-rated corner by Field Level Media, but he had seen his stock drop a bit leading up to the draft. The converted wide receiver has sticky mitts, but he was a one-year starter.
His lanky frame will present him with issues covering smaller, quicker receivers if he’s asked to cover in the slot, and his relative inexperience hurt him at times in run containment. But when NFL scouts are comparing you to Hall of Fame defensive back Rod Woodson, one of the best DBs in NFL history, you’re going to be in demand.
2. Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College: Landry’s name was regularly among the “best available” names mentioned throughout the second half of the first round. A one-trick pony who suffered a drop-off in production last year in part due to injuries, Landry may prove to be the best pass rusher to come out of this draf, according to many scouts. The question is whether he has the desire to stick his nose into the run game.
He is late to shed blocks and make plays in the hole. His lackluster senior season will weigh on the minds of some evaluators, but as his combine performance showed, Landry is an explosive pass rusher in the same mold as Von Miller.
1. Will Hernandez, G, UTEP: At No. 17 overall, Hernandez is the top-rated player still left on FLM’s draft board, and he is a flat-out mauler in the run game.
Sporting the throwback neck roll, Hernandez looks like an old-school blocker and competes with the smash-mouth style reminiscent of the past. With his thick, wide frame, he is able to comfortably carry 340 pounds without sacrificing his foot quickness. While he is coordinated in his shuffle, Hernandez’s calling card will always be his upper-body power — displayed in his 37-rep bench press session at the Scouting Combine — using heavy hands and a violent punch to win the point of attack.
Hernandez will allow his aggressive nature to get the best of him, finding himself hunched at the waist. But he is a physical mauler who will block through the echo of the whistle, and with a dash of patience, he has the skills to be a Pro Bowl guard in the NFL.
–Derek Harper, Field Level Media