The 2018 NFL Draft takes place April 26-28. ESPN and the NFL Network will provide coverage with the first round airing Thursday, April 26, followed by the subsequent rounds in the days that follow. The draft, which now takes place in a different city every year, will be at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
As soon as the clock ran out on Super Bowl LII in February, the attention immediately turned to the draft. These days nearly every sports media outlet has an expert or two that puts together a mock draft. They may be interesting, and in some cases pinpoint a particular team’s need, but at the end of the day, the NFL Draft is hard to predict.
Think back to 2016 when the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles both made trades to move into the 1 and 2 positions where they respectively took quarterbacks Jared Goff and Carson Wentz. Many thought Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa would be the top pick, and he might have been, if Tennessee and Cleveland hadn’t traded with the Rams and Eagles.
Bosa fell to No. 3 and was taken by the San Diego Chargers. Then, the Cowboys did the unheard of and drafted running back Ezekiel Elliott, also of Ohio State, with the fourth overall pick. Many draft experts underestimated Elliott and the Cowboys’ need at that position. All four of those picks, along with cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who was picked fifth by the Jacksonville Jaguars, have since been elected to Pro Bowl, and all but the Chargers have been in the playoffs in the past two seasons.
So what’s going to happen this year? A big part of that answer lies with the Cleveland Browns and what they decide to do with the first and fourth overall picks. In a quarterback-heavy draft, they’ll likely end up with one of the projected top passers like UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, USC’s Sam Darnold or Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. Perhaps they’ll pull a Dallas and grab Penn State running back Saquon Barkley with the first pick, and take a quarterback fourth. Or, they could even trade away one or both picks. The unknown is what makes an off-field event like the draft interesting.
One thing’s for sure and that is the top players will be drafted, but there’s always one or two that fall below those expectations. Mayfield’s maturity is a viable concern for any NFL team. Some feel Rosen is the best of the quarterbacks, but his durability has been questioned, as has Darnold’s experience. Time will tell if another year in college would’ve benefited him.
For NFL fans anticipating the draft, the wait is almost over.