NFL Mock Draft 2018: Projections for Round 1, Analysis for Underrated Prospects | Bleacher Report


KNOXVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 18:  John Kelly #4 of the Tennessee Volunteers dives for a first down against the LSU Tigers at Neyland Stadium on November 18, 2017 in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Each year, the NFL draft focuses on a certain number of players, taking attention away from players who won’t be taken on Day 1. It makes sense that this is the case, however, as the best players are chosen in the first round, while players who have potential but are unfinished products fall to the later rounds.

But each draft class features a number of sleeper picks—players who have been overlooked and not scouted properly. Teams love finding diamonds in the rough on Days 2 and 3 of the draft, and this year’s draft class features some gems that can be found after the first round.

But before we get into a few of the draft’s most underrated prospects, here’s a look at my updated mock draft just a handful of days away from this Thursday’s NFL draft:

     

2018 NFL Mock Draft

1. Cleveland Browns: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

2. New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

3. New York Jets (via Indianapolis Colts): Sam Darnold, QB, USC

4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans): Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

5. Denver Broncos: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

6. Indianapolis Colts (via New York Jets): Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama

8. Chicago Bears: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

9. San Francisco 49ers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

10. Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

11. Miami Dolphins: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

12. Buffalo Bills (via Cincinnati Bengals): Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

13. Washington Redskins: Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State

14. Green Bay Packers: Vita Vea, DT, Washington

15. Arizona Cardinals: Derwin James, S, Florida State

16. Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

18. Seattle Seahawks: Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia

19. Dallas Cowboys: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

20. Detroit Lions: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College

21. Cincinnati Bengals (via Buffalo Bills): Will Hernandez, G, UTEP

22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs): Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

23. New England Patriots (via Los Angeles Rams): Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA

24. Carolina Panthers: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida

25. Tennessee Titans: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

26. Atlanta Falcons: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

27. New Orleans Saints: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, LB, Oklahoma

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland

30. Minnesota Vikings: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

31. New England Patriots: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

     

Underrated Prospects to Watch

Jalyn Holmes, LB/DE, Ohio State

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 04:  Ohio State defensive lineman Jalyn Holmes (DL36) during the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March , 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Jalyn Holmes hasn’t been getting the love from NFL scouts, being pegged as a Day 2 selection on most draft boards. But over the past few days, people are beginning to take notice of Holmes’ ability to disrupt plays and break the pocket, whether that shows up on the stat sheet or not.

During his tenure at Ohio State, Holmes recorded 85 total tackles (including 15 tackles for loss), five sacks and three forced fumbles.

While those pass-rushing numbers don’t replicate those of recent Ohio State greats such as Joey Bosa, the numbers don’t tell the full story.

In fact, NFL.com’s Chad Reuter has recently praised Holmes’ ability to move across the defensive line and make plays even if that means changing positions in the NFL.

Per NFL.com:

“Holmes played outside for the Buckeyes, but I think his NFL future is in a three-man front, where he’d fit as a five-technique. He has the strength to play man-up if asked, but can also win off the edge of a tackle’s pads when needed. In sub packages, his quickness will help bring interior pressure, as well. I expect him to be a starter in the near future.”

Holmes has a place in the NFL, the only question is where he will make plays on Sundays: At linebacker or defensive end?

     

John Kelly, RB, Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 18:  John Kelly #4 of the Tennessee Volunteers runs with the ball against the LSU Tigers at Neyland Stadium on November 18, 2017 in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Last season, the talk of the rookie class centered on the breakout performance of Alvin Kamara for the New Orleans Saints. A running back out of Tennessee, Kamara set the football world on fire with his ability to run in space, make defenders miss and catch the ball at the next level.

In case you haven’t heard, Tennessee has another tailback with similar traits as Kamara in this year’s draft class, and his name is John Kelly.

To be fair, Kelly doesn’t have that next-level explosiveness that made Kamara so difficult for defenders to get ahold of, but he is fundamentally sound.

While undersized at 5’9″, Kelly produces every time he gets quality time on the field. In 2016, playing second fiddle at running back, Kelly racked up 630 rushing yards on 6.4 yards per carry with five touchdowns.

In a bigger role in 2017, Kelly rushed for 778 yards on 4.1 yards per carry with nine touchdowns while recording 299 receiving yards on 37 receptions.

Kelly will fall in this year’s draft because of his size, but don’t be surprised to see Kelly tear it up during the preseason come this fall.

     

DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Penn State

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 30:  Wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton #5 of the Penn State Nittany Lions celebrates after catching a 24 yard touchdown reception against the Washington Huskies during the second half of the Playstation Fiesta Bowl at University of Ph

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: DaeSean Hamilton is a force at the wide receiver position and is wrongly being overlooked because of a lack of jaw-dropping numbers over the past couple of seasons.

As a freshman for Penn State back in 2014, Hamilton was exceptional, recording 899 yards on 82 receptions with a couple of scores. Those numbers dropped off over his next three seasons, including a senior year where he caught 53 passes for 857 yards and nine touchdowns.

Hamilton played on an offense centered around running back Saquon Barkley that didn’t have a strong passing game. The fact that he was able to put up those types of numbers over the course of his senior year in that offense is remarkable, and Hamilton knows that.

He even went on NFL Network this past week to explain why he thinks his name belongs in the conversation as one of the draft’s most dynamic playmakers.

Hamilton won’t be a Day 1 selection, but his name will be called this weekend.





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