We aren't even done with the 2017 NFL draft yet, but it's never too early to look ahead at a 2018 NFL mock draft.
Obviously a lot will change in the next 12 months. Inevitably, many of these players will lose momentum and end up falling out of the first round. And other prospects who aren't even in the conversation right now will have a breakout season and rise dramatically this fall.
But the evaluation process for next year's draft has to start somewhere, so here is a very early mock draft featuring 32 highly touted prospects who have the potential to land in next year's first round if their development continues as expected.
|2018 NFL Mock Draft|
|1||San Francisco 49ers||Josh Allen||QB||Wyoming|
|2||Chicago Bears||Arden Key||DE||LSU|
|3||New York Jets||Sam Darnold||QB||USC|
|4||Los Angeles Rams||Orlando Brown||OT||Oklahoma|
|5||Cleveland Browns||Minkah Fitzpatrick||CB||Alabama|
|6||Jacksonville Jaguars||Sam Hubbard||DE||Ohio State|
|7||Buffalo Bills||Josh Rosen||QB||UCLA|
|8||Los Angeles Chargers||Derwin James||S||Florida State|
|9||New Orleans Saints||Christian Wilkins||DT||Clemson|
|10||Arizona Cardinals||Tarvarus McFadden||CB||Florida State|
|11||Denver Broncos||Derrius Guice||RB||LSU|
|12||Indianapolis Colts||Harold Landry||DE/LB||Boston College|
|13||Philadelphia Eagles||Saquon Barkley||RB||Penn State|
|14||Washington Redskins||Cameron Smith||LB||USC|
|15||Tennessee Titans||Derrick Nnadi||DT||Florida State|
|16||Minnesota Vikings||Connor Williams||OT||Texas|
|17||Miami Dolphins||Mitch Hyatt||OT||Clemson|
|18||Detroit Lions||Tyquan Lewis||DE||Ohio State|
|19||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Clelin Ferrell||DE||Clemson|
|20||Baltimore Ravens||Trey Adams||OT||Washington|
|21||Cleveland Browns (via HOU)||Jaire Alexander||CB||Louisville|
|22||Cincinnati Bengals||Da'Shawn Hand||DL||Alabama|
|23||Carolina Panthers||Mike McGlinchey||OT||Notre Dame|
|24||New York Giants||Bradley Chubb||DE||N.C. State|
|25||Seattle Seahawks||Ogbonnia Okoronkwo||DE/LB||Oklahoma|
|26||Buffalo Bills (via KC)||Courtland Sutton||WR||SMU|
|27||Pittsburgh Steelers||Maurice Hurst||DL||Michigan|
|28||Atlanta Falcons||Billy Price||OG||Ohio State|
|29||Oakland Raiders||Azeem Victor||LB||Washington|
|30||Green Bay Packers||Denzel Ward||CB||Ohio State|
|31||Dallas Cowboys||Christian Kirk||WR||Texas A&M|
|32||New England Patriots||Marquis Haynes||LB||Ole Miss|
Draft order based on projected order of finish
Notable Prospects for 2018
Josh Allen, Wyoming
Very few football fans have seen Josh Allen play, but you might want to seek out a Wyoming game at some point this fall.
Allen spent time in junior college before enrolling at Wyoming last year and lighting up the Mountain West. After just one year with the Cowboys Allen considered entering the 2017 draft before ultimately deciding to head back to school, according to Benjamin Allbright of 104.7 FM in Denver.
Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com recently praised Allen, calling some of his throws "jaw dropping" and predicted that he would have been in the conversation to be the first quarterback selected this year had he left school early.
There are a number of highly regarded quarterbacks eligible for the 2018 draft, so Allen will have his work cut out for him to earn the top spot, but he has the potential to continue his development and be the No. 1 overall player selected in 2018.
Arden Key, LSU
With Myles Garrett now in the NFL, the title of most explosive pass-rusher in the nation belongs to LSU's Arden Key.
Key's draft status for 2018 was up in the air earlier this offseason when Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron released a statement indicating that Key was stepping away from football for "personal reasons." But Key answered any questions about his future with a recent tweet:
According to CFB Film Room, Key has generated 87 quarterback pressures through his first two seasons at LSU. That type of production makes Key a special talent, and the type of athlete who is probably already prepared for the pro game.
Assuming he maintains that level of production and sorts out whatever personal issues he needed to away from the field, he should be considered one of the first-round locks for 2018.
Sam Darnold, USC
Last summer Sam Darnold couldn't even beat out Max Browne for the starting job at USC but after taking over early in the season, Darnold's draft stock skyrocketed.
Despite having just 10 career starts under his belt, the redshirt sophomore is already one of the most popular prospects in the 2018 and many fans, including Scott Stump of The Today Show, are ready to tank for Darnold:
Darnold lost both of his top receivers, Darreus Rogers and JuJu Smith-Schuster, and most of his offensive line, including left tackle Chad Wheeler. So a regression is possible in 2017, especially early in the season as the Trojans break in new starters at those key positions. But as long as Darnold is able to continue his development, he could be an early first-round candidate in 2018.
Josh Rosen, UCLA
UCLA's Josh Rosen rounds out the big three quarterback prospects for 2018.
Rosen suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in 2016, which raises some concerns as he enters his junior year. But he's already throwing again and has been participating in spring practices.
He'll need to prove he's fully healthy, but if he's back to form Rosen will remain in the first-round conversation.
Rosen's place in the first round has been assumed since he stepped foot on UCLA's campus and immediately won the starting job as a true freshman in 2015. In fact, during September of his freshman year ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit was already comparing him to Andrew Luck, according to Zack Rosenblatt of the Tuscon Star:
Hopefully Rosen's health is no longer an issue and he can get back on track to live up to those lofty expectations in 2017.