By Jared Stanger
Two games in to the Seahawks’ 2018 season and we already find ourselves deeply frustrated with how the team has looked. So many players are gone or injured, the team has no identity, the coaching seems very troubling, and both games have ended in loss.
The silver lining for someone that enjoys the draft as much as I do is that I find more people already looking ahead, and talking about the 2019 draft. For the first time in a long time; Seattle is currently in position to draft in the top 10 overall (technically the top 7 as of the loss on MNF).
So let’s take a look at some first round possibilities through the quarter-pole of the college season.
DE Nick Bosa – 6’4″/263lbs, Ohio State
The younger brother of Joey was off to a great start in 2018 before suffering a groin injury partway through week three: 14 tackles, 6.0 TFL, 4.0 sacks, 1 hurry, 1 forced fumble. This is a player with fantastic skillset and the upside to make it to 1.1 overall.
DT Dre’Mont Jones – 6’3″/286lbs, Ohio State
There’s a few really talented collective defensive lines in college football this year. At least three come to mind with multiple potential first round picks: Clemson, Mississippi State, and Ohio State. Clemson has the most players, but I’m not sure that Ohio State doesn’t have the best players.
Dre’Mont has shown the best interior passrush of the class: 11 tackles, 4.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 1 hurry, 1 INT.
DE Clelin Ferrell – 6’4″/265lbs, Clemson
Another of the most highly-touted edge players before the season; Ferrell is also producing to expectations: 12 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 5.0 sacks (#1 in the country), 3 hurries, 1 forced fumble.
We’ll come back around to some of the other Clemson DL later.
DE Montez Sweat = 6’6″/244lbs, Mississippi State
Touted and producing at a decent rate (11 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 2 hurries); Sweat is not a guy that I love much on tape. It really seems like there are huge gaps between his splash plays.
DT Jeffery Simmons – 6’4″/300lbs, Mississippi State
Of the Hail State DL; I actually find Simmons the bigger talent. 11 tackles, 5.5 TFL, and 1 hurry. He’s a really impressive athlete for a 300-pounder. The big question for Simmons is how the NFL will process the filmed and well-publicized incident from his youth hitting a woman.
DT Ed Oliver – 6’3″/292lbs, Houston
Oliver is an absolute freakshow of an athlete. I’ve heard people compare him to Aaron Donald, which infuriates me. Donald could rush the passer. Oliver would be more accurately compared to Sheldon Richardson. Sheldon was drafted #13 overall and it seems more and more that Oliver is trending down from a top 3 pick to that range. Also, and I have no way to explain this, I have a bad vibe about Oliver’s longterm ability to stay healthy.
DB Deionte Thompson – 6’2″/196lbs, Alabama
The first DB on my list; Thompson is playing primarily free safety for Bama and he’s got the range for it, but with his size and ball skills I wonder about him playing CB. 15 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 2 INT, 3 PBU.
WR AJ Brown – 6’1″/230lbs, Ole Miss
Ole Miss has this trio of Clydesdales at WR and it will be fun to track which one ends up the higher pick. Damarkus Lodge is a Senior and the lesser-productive of the three, Brown is a Junior and leading the team in receiving, but redshirt sophomore DK Metcalf at 6’4″/230lbs and long might be the most interesting. We’ll take a look at a play from each of Brown and Metcalf:
DT Christian Wilkins – 6’4″/310lbs, Clemson
Another freaky athletic big man.
OT Jonah Williams – 6’5″/301lbs, Alabama
Of the offensive tackles I’ve watched this year; Jonah has consistently been the best. His pass pro has been light and nimble, and his runblocking has been strong. He mirrors passrushers brilliantly, he squares up linebackers on the second level, he knocks tackles back off the ball on down-blocks…it’s a super well-rounded game.
WR N’Keal Harry – 6’4″/213lbs, Arizona State
A huge target that can make plays downfield and break tackles on short screens. Harry is top 20 in FBS in receiving and could be top 20 in the draft.
QB Will Grier – 6’2″/223lbs, West Virginia
I’m not sure he passes all of my QB checklist, but Grier has certainly been the best QB on the field to start the year. Not only is he completing over 75% of his passes, but he’s doing it with deep balls and an impressive 12.7 YPA. Also 9 TD to 1 INT through two games. Grier has a very good arm, exceptional ball placement, and is a nice point guard.
DE Jalen Jelks – 6’6″/245lbs, Oregon
After too much misuse as a DT in 2017 under Taggart; Jelks has been allowed to play more DE this year with new coach Cristobal. And his production has ticked up as a result. 20 tackles, 4.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 hurry, 1 PBU.
DE Brian Burns – 6’5″/235lbs, Florida State
Burns is a really fun player with a ton of upside. Electric getoff, but an undersized upper body. It will be interesting to see where he falls on the Von Miller, Vic Beasley, Bruce Irvin spectrum. This year: 11 tackles, 5.0 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 1 hurry, 1 PBU. All rates are up through his first three games this year.
WR Emanuel Hall – 6’3″/195lbs, Missouri
I was interested in Hall in preseason and he has not disappointed. The speedster has erupted to the tune of 18×430 yards (*2nd in the country), 23.89 YPC (*13th in the country), and 3 TD. With any 40 time in the 4.3’s; Hall could easily put himself into the late-1st round.
CB Amani Oruwariye – 6’1″/203lbs, Penn State
Great size, great intangibles, and great production. Oruwariye is top 10 nationally in pass defenses and INT.
DT Jerry Tillery – 6’7″/305lbs, Notre Dame
A terrific athlete coming out of highschool as an OL; Tillery is on pace to obliterate his personal-best in season sacks after opening with 3.0 through three games.
CB Greedy Williams – 6’3″/184lbs, LSU
Although he’s a little slight, Greedy is one of the better press corners in football. You’d like to see him build up to at least 190lbs, but otherwise a very good player. Ability to locate the ball in the air is an underappreciated skill from a CB, and Greedy shows he can do it here:
CB Derrick Baity – 6’3″/188lbs, Kentucky
The last of my big corners that I’ve spotted so far in 2018. Baity doesn’t have a first round projection on most boards that I’ve seen. He’s my pet project. I just love his technique and patience. The production hasn’t been there, but with a CB sometimes that can be an indication that he’s playing so well he isn’t being targeted.
I haven’t counted to see if I’ve got 32 names to this piece. That’s not really important at this point. Big boards and mock drafts aren’t gonna be very accurate this early. The important thing is to get a sense of the greater element(s) of this draft. I haven’t done a thorough film sesh on the QB class, and inevitably there will be more QB’s drafted in the 1st. I don’t have any RB in the 1st this year, but I think that is actually plausible. I also didn’t end up with any LB in the 1st. That will likely change as I watch more of guys like Devin White and Te’von Coney.