The approaching NFL Combine means we are starting to see more position rankings for the 2018 NFL Draft. Sports Illustrated’s NFL staff (previously known as MMQB, but since merged back into SI) put together their first top 50 prospect list.
It is not surprising that Penn State running back Saquon Barkley leads the way, but the rankings do provide a chance to consider just who might slip to the San Francisco 49ers when they pick at No. 9 or 10. Most notably would be the quarterback rankings. USC’s Sam Darnold is the first to show up in the rankings, at No. 6. He is followed by UCLA’s Josh Rosen at No. 9, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield at No. 18, Wyoming’s Josh Allen at No. 20, and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson at No. 30.
Here is the the draft order leading up to the 49ers and Oakland Raiders at No. 9/10. I’ve included a link to James Brady’s run-down of each team’s needs heading into the offseason.
1. Cleveland Browns — Team needs
2. New York Giants — Team needs
3. Indianapolis Colts — Team needs
4. Cleveland Browns — Team needs
5. Denver Broncos — Team needs
6. New York Jets — Team needs
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Team needs
8. Chicago Bears — Team needs
Free agency could have a significant impact on some of these teams. Most notably, the Broncos have been regularly connected to Kirk Cousins. If they sign him, they would no longer need a quarterback. But prior to free agency answers, the Browns, Giants, Broncos, and Jets all could find themselves looking for a quarterback in the top six picks. Additionally, a trade up by another team could get a quarterback going in one of these slots.
There is a decent chance three or four quarterbacks go in the first eight picks of the draft. Barring the 49ers trading out, that will leave some quality talent available. Here is MMQB’s top ten players heading into the NFL Combine:
1. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
2. Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
3. Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
4. Bradley Chubb, Edge, N.C. State
5. Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
6. Sam Darnold, QB USC
7. Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
8. Derwin James, S, Florida State
9. Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
10. Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
If we see three quarterbacks go before the 49ers, whether they’re at eight or nine, some serious impact talent is going to be there. The non-quarterbacks on this list will not go in this order, and there seems to be a decent chance several of these players could be there. And of course, there will be some disagreement over how these players are ranked. But, there will be some strong talent sitting there