We're headed down the final stretch toward the 2018 draft. Thursday will change lives for incoming rookie prospects and potentially brighten outlooks for all 32 teams.
As front office executives shift the final pieces on their draft boards, the reports, hype and smokescreens keep coming through the rumor mill. Some prospects come off favorably and others must overcome obstacles to push into first-round consideration.
For one linebacker, it's been one continuous pat on the back as a prospect with good measurables and high potential. What's his ceiling going into the draft period?
At the same position, another prospect could slip into Day 2 due to conditioning concerns. Will his talent overcome late questions about a neck issue?
The wide receiver group could produce a dark horse as the top pick among the pass-catchers. Without an undeniable favorite, we could see a late-rising player sneak into the top 32.
What's the latest on stock reports for hyped prospects? Before digging into the chatter, take a look at an updated first-round mock.
2018 NFL Mock Draft 1st-Round Projections
1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
2. New York Giants: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
3. New York Jets (via Indianapolis Colts): Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans): Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
5. Denver Broncos: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
*6. Buffalo Bills (from New York Jets via Indianapolis): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
8. Chicago Bears: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
9. San Francisco 49ers: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
10. Oakland Raiders: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
11. Miami Dolphins: Derwin James, S, Florida State
*12. Indianapolis Colts (from Cincinnati Bengals via Buffalo): Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
13. Washington Redskins: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
14. Green Bay Packers: Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa
15. Arizona Cardinals: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
16. Baltimore Ravens: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
18. Seattle Seahawks: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
19. Dallas Cowboys: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
20. Detroit Lions: Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
21. Cincinnati Bengals (via Buffalo Bills): James Daniels, C, Iowa
22. Buffalo Bills: Connor Williams, OL, Texas
23. New England Patriots (via Los Angeles Rams): Harold Landry, DE/LB, Boston College
24. Carolina Panthers: Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA
25. Tennessee Titans: Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
26. Atlanta Falcons: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
27. New Orleans Saints: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Justin Reid, S, Stanford
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
30. Minnesota Vikings: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
31. New England Patriots: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
*Indicates a trade projection
Stock Up: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
Taking a look at the mock drafts floating around the internet, in some cases the Tremaine Edmunds hype train has put the Virginia Tech linebacker ahead of Georgia's Roquan Smith as the top prospect at the position.
The 19-year-old has garnered serious consideration as a top-10 pick in discussion circles. The excitement about what Edmunds could become in the league makes him an intriguing player to watch during the selection process.
The Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders all have needs to varying degrees at linebacker. Though, Smith out of Georgia, should and will likely come off the board before Edmunds.
The team that chooses the Virginia Tech product will acquire a linebacker who can fill multiple spots on the back end of the front seven. He finished his junior season with 108 tackles, 16 resulting in a loss and 5.5 sacks.
Stock Down: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
In recent days, reports have emerged about Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch's neck condition. Mark Kaboly of The Athletic relayed the word from NFL Network's Mike Mayock:
ESPN's Chris Mortensen added context to the medical concerns for Vander Esch:
Early in the draft process, the Boise State product could've easily been slotted to the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 28 or the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 29. Now, it's even more inconclusive as front offices weigh his potential neck issue.
Vander Esch's fall gives rise to Alabama's Rashaan Evans who could list as the third-best inside linebacker behind Smith and Edmunds on team draft boards.
Conditioning issues aside, Vander Esch's junior film shows a defender who's been gifted with instincts as a linebacker and the ability to pull back into coverage on passing downs. He racked up 141 tackles, four sacks, five passes defensed and picked off two throws in his only year as a starter at Boise State.
Stock Up: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
As a late riser in the draft process, wideout D.J. Moore could find his way into the first round. According to MMQB's Albert Breer, multiple teams rank the Maryland product higher than Alabama's Calvin Ridley.
The wide receiver group doesn't have a consensus No. 1 prospect, which creates more room for subjectivity among teams evaluating the incoming crop. Ridley will come into the league as the most recognizable name, but he's not a lock to go first among the pass-catchers.
Moore checked in at 6'0", 210 pounds compared to Ridley's 6'0", 189 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine. The rookies will have access to state-of-the-art facilities on the professional level, but the size difference certainly makes a difference for those who may criticize the Alabama product for his stature.
In his junior campaign at Maryland, Moore caught 80 passes for 1,033 yards and eight touchdowns as the clear-cut No. 1 option in the passing attack. He also finished with 100-plus yards against tough competition, which included Texas, Northwestern and Penn State.
Moore has drawn comparisons to Minnesota Vikings wideout Stefon Diggs, who also spent three years at Maryland.