College and pro football are right around the corner. Let’s get ready by counting down the top 50 pro prospects for the 2018 class.
#20 Tyquan Lewis, Edge, Ohio State
Ohio State has a number of NFL prospects on defense this year. For me, Tyquan Lewis is the headliner of this list. Had Lewis decided to go pro last year, even with a deep pool of edge rushers in the 2017 class, he certainly would have had some consideration in the first round. Lewis is an absolute nightmare coming off the edge. A lot of critics had doubts that Lewis would not be able to match the production that he had during his sophomore campaign when he was able to line up on the opposite side of Joey Bosa. All Lewis did was become the Big 10 Defensive Player of the year by recording 8 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss. At 6’5 he has the ideal length that NFL teams look for to set the edge and has the footwork to explosively turn the corner.
#19 Deon Cain, WR, Clemson
It would have been fun to see what Cain could have done for one season as the primary option for a Deshaun Watson lead Clemson offense. Targets were naturally limited last year as Cain had to work behind the likes of Mike Williams, Artavis Scott, and Jordan Leggett. Cain rarely disappointed when his number was called, however, as he turned in some big plays last season. NFL scouts will love that when the lights were their brightest, the National Championship Game, Cain was a star. Cain is a deep threat that can also work underneath. There is no question that Deon will be the go-to guy this fall at Clemson but there are questions at the QB position that Watson vacates.
#18 Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Ridley didn’t quite live up to the hype coming into his sophomore season after posting 89 catches and 1,045 yards as a freshman. Ridley still had a strong year statistically that saw him catching 72 passes. When you consider how well Alabama runs the ball, that they started a true freshman QB last year, that they are usually up by about 100 points at half time, and that Ridley lined up across another NFL-level WR in Ardavious Stewart it is understandable that there was a decline in production. Ridley is a smooth route runner with soft hands. He will have another year of eligibility after this season but a little known fact of Calvin is that he is already 22 years old. Expect to see him declare for the NFL after this season.
#17 Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
Malik Jefferson didn’t have the year everyone was expecting last year. This won’t be the case this year as he will be a better fit in defensive coordinator Tom Orlando’s defense. Jefferson has excellent range and will absolutely be a guy NFL teams will keep on the field in sub-packages as he can cover. Jefferson plays with passion and fire and is a fan favorite. Jefferson’s best position in the NFL might be at a WLB in a 4-3 or an inside LB in a 3-4.
#16 Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson
A lot of Clemson players saw their 2017 and 2018 draft stocks rise after playing so well in the National Championship game against Alabama last year. I would argue that no one improved their status in that big game more than LT Mitch Hyatt . He did more than hold his own against the stars Alabama lined up across from him. Hyatt has nice size and is quick out of his stance. He is able to get to the second level and also shows power in the run game as well.
#15 Bradley Chubb, Edge, NC State
Chubb is a complete player and of of the ACC’s most under-rated stars. There is a lot to get excited about Chubb including his NFL-ready size at 6-4 and 275 pounds. Chubb pairs his length and strength with an impressive burst. There is other talent on NC State’s defensive but that won’t keep opponents from focusing on Chubb this year. Chubb posted a ridiculous 21 tackles for loss last fall and racked up an impressive 10 sacks.
#14 Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Had I published a 2018 watch list his time last year (I didn’t) Josh Rosen would have been listed number 1, no doubt about it. So what happened? Rosen missed a good chunk of the season last year with a shoulder injury. Also to be frank, when he was healthy, Rosen didn’t deliver on his lofty expectations. Don’t feel too bad for Josh as a lot of the pressure that has been put on him is self inflicted. What I am trying to say is that Rosen does not lack in confidence. He doesn’t lack in ability either. Rosen has one of the smoothest deliveries in the game. He has the size to stand tall in the pocket and isn’t afraid to step up in the pocket and take a knock when necessary. He has the mental makeup to read defenses and pick the right pass. NFL teams are going to love that he is going to play his second season in a pro-style offense which could substantially shorten his learning curve before stepping on the field on Sundays. There are a lot of questions with the talent surrounding Josh on the offensive side of the ball for UCLA.
#13 Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
I have so much respect for someone who can put millions of dollars on hold for another year so he can finish out his college career and graduate. The 2017 OT class had a lot to be left desired for and had McGlinchey declared for the draft he would have been my top prospect at the position. He will face much heavier competition this year as the OT position is not only stronger at the top but deeper as well. McGlinchey is a very well coached prospect who has excelled at both the left and right pivot positions on the line. McGlinchey is relatively light playing at 310 pounds considering he is a towering 6 foot 8. Notre Dame will play against some really good pass rushers this season (Harold Landry, Porter Gustin, Bradley Chubb, and Duke Ejiofor to name a few) so McGlinchey will have every opportunity to cement his status as a prospect that should be slotted in the top third of the first round.
#12 Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State
NFL defenses are falling in love for longer corners who can play physical at the line of scrimmage. Offenses are just getting too good creating separation on shorter passing plays via rubs and picks that there is a premium on defenders that can disrupt the timing of the routes. McFadden has the desired length for the job and is quickly becoming a CB to avoid for opponents in Tallahassee. McFadden is a ball hawk as he capitalized on opportunities by recording a nation-leading 8 interceptions last fall. McFadden is still growing as a player but his measureables and play-making ability make him impossible to ignore from early first round consideration.
#11 Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
I probably would have slotted Sutton as the 4th best WR had he entered the draft like most of us expected last year just a notch before Zay Jones. Sutton has helped bring SMU back on the map with his big play-making ability. At 6’4 and 215 pounds Sutton is the mold designed to be a number one outside WR in the NFL. Not every big WR plays big. Sutton uses his size well to get physical with defenders to get off the line. He doubles down on his height by catching the ball at its highest point making it almost impossible for smaller defensive backs to compete. Sutton has put up some big numbers over the past 2 seasons. Like all small-school players he will have doubters questioning how his game will translate to Sundays when the competition revs up.