The Top Four Defenders In The 2018 NFL Draft
For all we’ve heard about the top quarterbacks and running backs in the 2018 NFL Draft, there are four genuine blue-chip players who could be selected among the top 10 picks, and become Pro Bowl players very early on in their career. Let’s take a quick look at those guys, and get a better understanding of their unique skillsets:
Bradley Chubb, Defensive End, North Carolina State — Bradley Chubb has the perfect size, strength, and instincts to be a disruptive edge rusher in the NFL, whether he puts his hand down or stands up. He’s got a very good burst off the line of scrimmage, and is very proficient using his hands when attacking linemen. Against the run, he uses that sophisticated hand fighting to get off blockers as well. Most importantly, he’s a high-motor guy, giving you everything he has until the whistle blows. Coupled with the fact that he has all the natural gifts you’d want to see in a defensive line product whom you’re counting on to be a double-digit sack artist at the professional level.
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Defensive Back, Alabama — Simply put, Minkah Fitzpatrick is a world-class athlete with a preternatural ability to play the defensive back position. He was the one player that the usually-stoic Nick Saban would absolutely gush about, when given the chance. Fitzpatrick will be the ultimate chess piece for creative defensive coordinators who want to utilize him in a variety of matchups: either as a free safety, slot cornerback, nickel linebacker, or blitz specialist. Most importantly, he’ll bring off-the-charts intangibles to whatever team he’s playing for this Fall.
Tremaine Edwards, Linebacker, Virginia Tech — Tremaine Edmunds’ combination of size, speed, and athleticism makes him a freak the likes of which we haven’t seen from the linebacker position in quite some time. In an era when we’re starting to see linebackers get smaller, Edmunds tips the scales at almost 250lbs, yet can run from sideline to sideline with any linebacker that’s 20lbs lighter than him. He plays the position like you’d want from a linebacker as well: like a heat-seeking missile looking to obliterate anyone with the football. If his future employer wants, he’s also plenty capable of lining up as an edge rusher and going after the quarterback. His upside is off the charts.
Roquan Smith, Linebacker, Georgia — For any defensive coordinator who hesitates at the fact that linebacker Roquan Smith is under 240lbs, tell them to 1) go back and watch the tape of Smith dominating opposing offenses, and 2) explain why Smith will struggle when we’ve seen linebackers like Telvin Smith, Deion Jones, and Kwon Alexander make the Pro Bowl last year, despite all weighing under 240lbs themselves. Smith will be the perfect weakside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme at the pro level, given his ability to chase anyone with the ball from sideline to sideline, and sift through the trash to attack opposing players. Just as importantly, with his straight-line speed, he brings the element of being able to cover running backs and tight ends in one-on-one coverage. He’s a tremendous football player, regardless of what the measurement charts might say about him.
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