Feb
25
2021

2018 NFL Draft: Studs And Duds

256 players were selected in the 2018 NFL Draft. Only 19 have not played a snap. Eight players have reached All-Pro status, and 20 have become Pro Bowlers. Let’s check out the studs and duds from each round of the draft.

1st Round Stud: Quenton Nelson, Guard, Indianapolis Colts (P6)

Some players take time to get adjusted to the NFL. Nelson, on the other hand, walked into the NFL and immediately started playing at an elite level. In his three seasons, he has three All-Pro nods and three Pro Bowl selections. He accounts for 43 percent of the first round’s All-Pro bids, and he is as close to a lock for the Hall of Fame that a three-year player can be. Nelson is a stud, and he should continue to accumulate All-Pros and Pro Bowls for the Colts.

Honorable Mentions: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Lamar Jackson

Now divisional rivals, Fitzpatrick and Jackson have blossomed into stars over the last two seasons. Fitzpatrick has a pair of All-Pro nods while Jackson was MVP and an All-Pro in 2019. Derwin James would have been included here as he is an All-Pro in his own right, but he has played just five games over the last two seasons. If he returns to his high-caliber play in 2021, he would be included in a future edition of this article, but for now, it boils down to the AFC North pair.

1st Round Dud: Josh Rosen, Quarterback, Arizona Cardinals (P10)

Ouch. Most quarterback picks can be explained by a lack of game time, but Rosen made 16 starts across two seasons with the Cardinals and Dolphins. He replied with a passer rating in the 60s and seasonal QBRs of 24.1 in 2018 and 19.7 in 2019. Rosen has time to turn it around, but it seems highly unlikely. He was a colossal whiff as most of the first round has provided game time at the minimum for their teams.

Dishonorable Mentions: Isaiah Wynn, Rashaad Penny, Mike Hughes

Wynn, Penny, and Hughes have been competent NFL players, but they have only combined to play 69 out of an available 144 games. All three have missed chunks of seasons to injury with Wynn missing his entire rookie season. The players sandwiched between Penny and Hughes, Terrell Edmunds and Taven Bryan, may be worse players, but they have combined to miss just one game in three seasons. Would their teams have preferred more production? Sure, but being able to trot out an average NFL player for hundreds of snaps a season is preferable to scrambling for injury replacements left and right.

2nd Round Stud: Darius Leonard, Linebacker, Indianapolis Colts (P36)

The Colts strike gold yet again with Leonard. Leonard has a pair of All-Pro nods and Pro Bowl appearances, joining fellow Colt Nelson and Fitzpatrick as those to get to those milestones so far. Similar to Nelson, Leonard opened his career with stellar play, earning an All-Pro nod. The only knock on Leonard so far is his six missed games, but 42 games of elite linebacker play is valuable in its own right. Similar to Nelson, Leonard opened his career with stellar play, earning an All-Pro nod. In his time with the Colts, Leonard has flashed as a coverage linebacker, run-stopper, and occasionally as a blitzer. He is one of the most well-rounded linebackers in the NFL, and Colts hit a home run here.

Honorable Mentions: Nick Chubb, Jessie Bates, Carlton Davis

Chubb has the accolades (two Pro Bowl nods), but Bates and Davis have been defensive stalwarts. Bates deserved to be a Pro Bowler and All-Pro in 2020, but the media snubbed him. Davis proved his worth through the playoffs, helping the Buccaneers to the Lombardi trophy. Chubb and Bates are legitimate superstars while Davis should continue his rise in 2021. DJ Chark and Courtland Sutton, both 2019 Pro Bowlers, deserve some love here, but Chark underwhelmed in 2020, and Sutton played one game. Moving forward, they should move closer to the honorable mention category, but for now, they are stuck on the outside.

2nd Round Dud: Derrius Guice, Running Back, Washington Football Team (P59)

Guice is an exceptionally talented running back, but he failed to get out of his way. He has more law enforcement confrontations than NFL games played. In his five games, he did produce, averaging nearly six yards per carry, but the five games is too much to overcome in terms of being a dud. Guice ranks 21st in rushing yards from his class with a player from each round passing him. If Guice stayed out of his way, he would likely be a starting-caliber back in the modern NFL, but he has failed at Rule Zero of being an NFL player: be available.

Dishonorable Mentions: Austin Corbett, Dante Pettis, Breeland Speaks

Corbett had a solid 2020 season with the Rams, so he is on his way out of this category. Pettis and Speaks have missed significant time with Speaks not playing since 2018. All three of the group have played some decent, NFL-caliber football, but none of them are currently on the team that drafted them. There is time to revive their careers, but Pettis and Speaks, both on the Giants at the time of writing, need to get on the field. Corbett, to his credit, has played much better with Los Angeles, but as the top pick of the second round, he has higher expectations to reach than any of his fellow second-rounders.

3rd Round Stud: Fred Warner, Linebacker, San Francisco 49ers (P70)

Warner beats out the offensive trio of honorable mentions based on his ridiculous 2020 season, Picked by many to be a breakout player in 2020, Warner cashed in, making the All-Pro roster. Warner blossomed as a do-it-all linebacker, but he excelled in coverage. He earned a 91.1 PFF coverage grade and an overall 88.6 grade in 2020. He had two solid seasons as a starter, including helping the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2019, but he is a superstar now. San Francisco should have the middle of the field locked down for the better part of the 2020s.

Honorable Mentions: Michael Gallup, Orlando Brown, Mark Andrews

Brown is a two-time Pro Bowler, once at each tackle spot. Andrews made the Pro Bowl in 2019. Gallup has yet to make a Pro Bowl, but he has been a steady producer in a loaded Dallas receiver room. Brown is the most valuable of the three players, but Gallup and Andrews are two great weapons for their quarterbacks. Beyond these three, Jerome Baker, Derrick Nnadi, and Tre’Quan Smith have been solid NFL players.

3rd Round Dud: Chad Thomas, EDGE, Cleveland Browns (P67)

Thomas is the only member of the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft to not play in 2020. He has just 20 NFL games under his belt. On the bright side, his musical career is going better than his NFL career.

Dishonorable Mentions: Mason Rudolph

Rudolph has provided the fewest number of games played of any third-round pick. When he was forced in as Pittsburgh’s starting quarterback, Rudolph had a few solid starts, but he undermined a mediocre first six starts with a four-interception game in Cleveland. Rudolph does not appear to be the future in Pittsburgh, so he slides in as the dishonorable selection.

4th Round Stud: Jordan Whitehead, Safety, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (P117)

The easy studs and duds are beginning to thin out now. Whitehead, a starting safety for the Super Bowl LV-winning Buccaneers, gets the nod here as he proved to be a valuable asset to a championship-winning team. Whitehead plays fourth (or sometimes fifth) fiddle in the Tampa Bay secondary, but he is a good player.

Honorable Mention: Nyheim Hines, Chase Edmunds

Hines and Edmunds have been cast into backup running back roles in their respective cities. Both are productive as runners and receivers, but blue-chip prospects (Jonathan Taylor and Kenyan Drake) them down the totem pole. While talented backs, they may never get a chance to shine as the star.

4th Round Dud: Rick Leonard, Tackle, New Orleans Saints (P127)

Leonard is the earliest draft pick in the 2018 NFL draft to never play an NFL game.

Dishonorable Mentions: Kyle Lauletta, Jaleel Scott

Lauletta has played in two NFL games, completing zero passes out of five attempts. Scott played in four games, catching a pair of passes. Other fourth-rounders have been ineffective in the NFL, but Lauletta and Scott are particular whiffs. The Giants spent their No.6 pick in 2019 on a quarterback, and the Ravens have been searching to find a quality receiver on draft day since picking Scott.

5th Round Stud: Wyatt Teller, Guard, Buffalo Bills (P166)

Teller came out of obscurity to be the best guard in the NFL in 2020. Had this list been made before the season, Teller would be nowhere near the list, but here he is a centerpiece. Teller was a devastating run blocker, and he had enough competent pass-blocking snaps to keep Baker Mayfield upright. The future is bright.

Honorable Mention: Michael Dickson

The Aussie has been an exceptional punter for three seasons in Seattle. He was a 2018 All-Pro, and he has two of the top 35 yards-per-punt seasons in NFL history. Punters are people, too.

5th Round Dud: Cole Madison, Guard, Green Bay Packers (P138)

The top pick of the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Madison has not played a game in the NFL.

Dishonorable Mentions: Jordan Lasley, Mike White

Lasley and White are the only other fifth-rounders from the 2018 NFL Draft to not play in an NFL game.

6th Round Stud: Foyesade Oluokun, Safety, Atlanta Falcons (P200)

Originally listed as a safety, Oluokun broke out as a linebacker in 2020. He stuffed the stat sheet with two interceptions, four pass deflections, four forced fumbles, three sacks, and over 100 tackles. He made the most of his nearly 900 defensive snaps in 2020.

Honorable Mentions: Folorunso Fatukasi, DeShon Elliott, Russell Gage

Fatukasi, Elliott, and Gage are overshadowed by their teammates (namely Quinnen Williams, former Raven Earl Thomas, and Julio Jones/Calvin Ridley), but they are all solid pros. Fatukasi is one of the better run-stuffing interior linemen in the NFL. Elliott is a do-it-all safety in Baltimore, and Gage is a good No.3 wide receiver with a rocket arm if Matt Ryan gets tired.

6th Round Dud: Christian Sam, Linebacker, New England Patriots (P178)

Sam is the earliest sixth-round pick from the 2018 NFL Draft to not play in an NFL game.

Dishonorable Mentions: Christian Campbell, Dylan Cantrell, Tanner Lee, Azeem Victor

Campbell, Cantrell, Lee, and Victor have never played in the NFL.

7th Round Stud: Jason Sanders, Kicker, Miami Dolphins (P229)

Sanders edged out Justin Tucker for the 2020 All-Pro spot for kickers. Sanders has hit 90% of his kicks twice in three seasons, and he has made 98% of his extra points. He should be kicking footballs for the Dolphins for the next decade or more.

Honorable Mentions: Richie James, Logan Cooke

James has been an exciting returner for the 49ers, scoring a kick return touchdown in 2018. He has secured 38 passes for 689 yards and a trio of touchdowns on offense as well. Cooke has been a solid punter for the Jaguars, peaking at an average of 47.7 yards per punt in 2020, sixth-best in the league.

7th Round Dud: Jermaine Kelly, Cornerback, Houston Texans (P222)

Kelly has yet to play an NFL game. He was not the first seventh-round pick to be in this group, but he was a cornerback selection by the Texans. Houston has had an offensively bad secondary for the last few years, and Kelly was a whiff.

Dishonorable Mentions: Danny Etling, Alex McGough

Etling and McGough were the first two picks of the 2018 NFL Draft’s seventh round. Neither has played an NFL game. In fairness to them, though, New England and Seattle did not need a quarterback to compete with Tom Brady or Russell Wilson.

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