Press Box Perspective: An Early NFL Draft Preview

By Seth Rivello

The NFL season is nowhere near over, but that never stops NFL draft talk. The draft changes a player’s life in the blink of an eye. If you get picked in the first round, you’ll sign for millions and if you crash and burn at the combine, you’ll most likely drop deep into one of the seven rounds.

The NFL Combine begins on Feb. 27. As of now, you can only judge players on what they’ve done in their college careers. Once they enter the combine and go through drills, players can escalate or fall hard.

Right now, there are a handful of quarterbacks who can end up being picked in the first round, and one possibly first overall.

The Cleveland Browns hold the first overall pick at the moment and if they base this draft off the past drafts the organization will probably take a QB. DeShone Kizer doubled his touchdowns by throwing 22 interceptions this season, something the Browns will look into deeply.

A possible replacement who would fit well could be Sam Darnold out of The University of Southern California. He’s a big boy at 6’4”, 220 pounds with a huge arm. Darnold played two seasons at US. He tossed 57 touchdowns, added 22 interceptions and has shown to be a gunslinger and a great comparison to Tony Romo. Pair him with Josh Gordon and a healthy Corey Coleman, and Cleveland has a top offense.

The Denver Broncos hold the fifth pick and at the moment are looking for a quarterback. It needs an arm to get Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas the ball. Josh Rosen, Josh Allen and Mason Rudolph will most likely be on the board, but I think they’ll go a different direction.

Baker Mayfield from The University of Oklahoma may be slightly undersized, but so is New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees. With four years of college QB under his belt, Mayfield threw for 131 touchdowns to 30 interceptions including 21 rushing touchdowns. Mayfield is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and wants to prove himself at the next level.

Denver still has an elite defense so all Mayfield has to do is be a game manager. Tim Tebow won games as a game manager in Denver. Alex Smith continues to produce in Kansas City as a game manager. Mayfield may be 6’1” but he is a winner and a fierce competitor. He can make Denver a division winner again.

The 2018 draft carries a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball which has been getting most of the talk but it is also filled with defensive talent.

Roquan Smith is a hard hitting linebacker coming from The University of Georgia. This past season he totaled 137 tackles, 14.5 of those being for a loss of yards, and 6.5 sacks. He could find himself in a Miami Dolphins jersey taking over at middle linebacker for the aging Lawrence Timmons.

There are also guys like Minkah Fitzpatrick from Alabama who could possibly go as high as number three overall to the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts have lacked in the secondary for years besides the sometimes active Vontae Davis. Malik Hooker over the top, Fitzpatrick on one side and Davis on the other can make for the start of something special. The Colts need help on defense if they want to regain domination of the AFC South.