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5 Takeaways from Draft Expert Daniel Jeremiah's Initial Top-50 Big Board

The NFL Network draft analyst recently announced his updated top-50 prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft.

On Tuesday, NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) ranked his top 50 prospects eligible for selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. As the next few months progress, Jeremiah will continue to update these rankings as the NFL hopefuls go through the Senior Bowl, NFL Combine and their pro days leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft on the weekend of April 26-28.

Here are five takeaways from his first round of pre-draft evaluations .

1. As is, Jeremiah has Saquon Barkley as his top player in this year's draft. The versatile running back from Penn State rushed for 3,843 yards and 43 touchdowns in his three-year career. During his time in College Station, Penn., he showed off his overall abilities as a football player. Barkley demonstrated his skills as a receiver out of the backfield hauling in 102 passes for 1,195 yards and eight touchdowns also returning 18 kickoffs for 500 yards and two touchdowns. The do-it-all back also has a passing touchdown to add to his résumé.

"Barkley is one of the most dynamic running backs to enter the NFL in the last decade," Jeremiah said. "He's built like a brick house, with an extremely thick/muscular lower body."


A hot topic among the draft evaluators is how the top quarterbacks stack up. This draft class is loaded with top-tier quarterback talent. Jeremiah has five quarterbacks in his top-50 with USC signal caller Sam Darnold claiming the top spot at No. 6 overall.

"Darnold is a very nifty athlete, capable of escaping free rushers and creating explosive plays downfield," Jeremiah explained. "He's also a very competitive runner who fights for extra yards. Overall, Darnold has some areas to clean up, but I love his size, competitiveness and ability to make plays on and off schedule."

Darnold's Pac-12 rival, UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen is listed right behind him at No. 7. The two Senior Bowl quarterbacks, 2017 Heisman Trophy Winner Baker Mayfield from Oklahoma and Wyoming's Josh Allen sit at No. 13 and No. 14, respectively. Rounding out the quarterbacks on Jeremiah's top-50, 2016 Heisman Trophy Winner Lamar Jackson from Louisville landed at No. 43.
3. Players to Know:

DE Marcus Davenport, UTSA (No. 10): Davenport is a name to monitor over the next few months. He was measured at 6-feet-5 and 7/8 inches tall and 259 pounds at the Senior Bowl on Tuesday and is a guy people are excited to watch against Power 5 conference competition. Coming from University of Texas San Antonio he was able to dominate Conference USA. His 22 sacks, 38 tackles for loss and 21 quarterback hurries over his Roadrunner career are all school records. He was named first-team All-Conference-USA and the Conference's Defensive Player of the Year.

"Davenport is a raw edge rusher with outstanding size, length and explosiveness," Jeremiah said. "Overall, Davenport isn't a finished product, but I'm bullish on his future because of his rare size, athleticism and effort."

LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State (No. 40): Vander Esch went from playing 8-man football in high school to winning Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year this past season as the junior leader of the Boise State Broncos defense. Of his 176 total tackles, 129 came in 2017.

"Vander Esch is a long, instinctive and fast inside linebacker. Against the run, he's quick to key/read and aggressively shoot gaps," Jeremiah discussed.

TE Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State (No. 47): A consensus FCS All-American, Goedert was a matchup nightmare in the FCS. He left South Dakota State finishing third in career receptions (198), fourth in career receiving yards (2,988) and fifth in career receiving touchdowns (21).

"Goedert has ideal size, ball skills and toughness for the position," said Jeremiah. "He understands how to keep defenders on his back and has strong reliable hands."4.

Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley is the highest ranked wideout on the big board at No. 22. Behind him are Texas A&M standout Christian Kirk at No. 29, red zone target Cortland Sutton from SMU at No. 45 and Washington's Dante Pettis at No. 46. While this receiver group doesn't seem to be as top heavy as last year's class, the depth is still there.

According to Jeremiah, "Ridley is a lean, explosive receiver who lined up both outside and in the slot for Alabama. He uses a variety of releases to escape press coverage and gets up to top speed in a hurry."

And of Kirk: "Kirk reminds me a lot of Golden Tate coming out of Notre Dame, and I believe he can have similar success."

On Sutton: "Sutton is a big, physical wideout. He has an enormous catch radius and his ability to high point the ball is special."

Lastly, Jeremiah expressed this about Pettis: "Pettis is a polished wideout prospect with exceptional skills/production as a punt returner. He should emerge as a solid No. 2 wideout and a Pro Bowl punt returner."

5. All of the Power 5 conferences are featured in the Big Board. The SEC leads the way with 17 players, followed by Pac-12 with eight players, the ACC and Big 10 are tied with seven players and the Big 12 has three players represented in the Top-50.

Alabama has the most players from a school with five: S Minkah Fitzpatrick (No. 5), WR Calvin Ridley (No. 22), DT Da'Ron Payne (No. 24), LB Rashaan Evans (No. 27) and S Ronnie Harrison (No. 38).

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