This was one of the strangest and least predictable drafts I can remember. I was surprised again and again at some of the decisions teams made over draft weekend. As a result many good players slid beyond where I expected them to be drafted. For some lucky teams they were able to capitalize and get incredible value. These teams were my top five 2018 NFL Draft Winners.
2018 NFL Draft Winners
Atlanta grabbed two of my top twenty five overall prospects in this years draft. Both Calvin Ridley and Isaiah Oliver project to be good NFL starters in the near future. These two players alone make this draft a great success for the Falcons. They also got one of my big sleepers in the form of running back Ito Smith. This draft strengthens their position as they attempt to capitalize on this championship window.
The Bears had an excellent draft. First round pick Roquan Smith was my third rated overall player. His range, instincts and physicality are special traits and it won’t be long before he is the face of this defense. They also managed to snag James Daniels, the extremely athletic interior offensive lineman. After losing Josh Sitton in the offseason I expect Daniels to step right into his spot with little to no drop off. Additionally the Bears traded a future pick to get back into the second round to draft Anthony Miller who was my second ranked wide receiver in this class. These three should make a significant impact as the Bears attempt to climb out of the basement of the NFL North.
Tennessee went for quality of prospects rather than quantity. They only drafted four players, but I’d expect three of them to play a significant role. Their first two picks, Rashaan Evans and Harold Landry, will be corner stones of a defense that desperately needed linebacker help. Both will greatly improve the pass rush and make this defense very formidable. They also got the extremely athletic defensive back Dane Cruikshank. He should bring great depth and value to an already strong secondary.
After trading down with the Bills in the first round the Bucs put themselves in a great position and they capitalized. First round pick Vita Vea makes the interior of the Bucs defensive line look very strong. They also added a pair of cornerbacks in MJ Stewart and Carlton Davis who should see significant playing time in a Bucs secondary that needed an infusion of talent. Offensively, Tampa made a conscious effort to improve their abysmal running game. Both running back Ronald Jones and and offensive lineman Alex Cappa should see starting time this season. Overall, a fantastic draft for the Bucs.
Cincinnati drafted impact players early and often in this draft. Center Billy Price should be an immediate starter on offense and running back Mark Walton as well as receiver Auden Tate should make an impact as role players. On the defense side the Bengals added guys like safety Jesse Bates, defensive ends Sam Hubbard and Andrew Brown, linebacker Malik Jefferson and buckle corner Darius Phillips. I expect all of these guys to make significant contributions to the defense as the Bengals try to get over the hump of mediocrity and back to the post season.