The 2018 NFL Draft is this week and the wait will soon be over as we all gather around and watch which new college prospects join the Dallas Cowboys. Trying to guess the draft picks is an art form as well as a science and we’ve been trying to crack the code for months. Whether it’s official 30 visits, OCC’s production/sparq charts, or our own discussions on this blog - we try to take in as much information as possible in order to construct the best board we can.
With the help of the BTB community, we have compiled a list of the top 125 draft prospects over the last couple months. We have grouped them into tiers based on draft grades that somewhat resemble the amount in each of these group from previous leaked boards we’ve gotten our hands on. Over the months, new players have shown up, disappeared, and moved up and down the board. Without further ado, here are the final rankings of the 2018 college prospects.
Let’s take a closer look at each tier.
The last two leaked boards have averaged 17 players with first round grades, but I draw a fine line at these 14.
Not much has changed with this group. A lot of fans are hoping a player like Roquan Smith or Derwin James falls within striking distance to trade up and grab him, but as you can see - they’re pretty high on our board. It’s going to take a little good fortune for them to slide far enough, and even then - who knows if the Cowboys would pull the trigger on a trade?
Vita Vea, Calvin Ridley, and Harold Landry remain the three blue-chip players that stand an outside chance at making it to 19. All three of them are great players and would be outstanding additions to the team.
There are 28 players who have second-round grades (average of last two boards = 23). There are a few more players than normal in this group, but some of that has to do with a smaller first-round group.
This group is split up into two sections, with the first group consisting of several players who will be drafted in the first round. The second group spills over into the second round. Should anyone from the purple group start falling on Day 2, it could create a good trade-up opportunity for the Cowboys in order to get one of these stronger players. The green section contain a few players we should expect to see available when pick 50 rolls around.
Even if the Cowboys don’t get a blue-chip player, the first few players from this group are pretty good. Da’Ron Payne, James Daniels, and D.J. Moore are all players I would be pleased with in the first round. Not only are they talented, but all three of them fill a need for the team.
The green group will serve as my “countdown” sheet. Players will get crossed off the board as they are selected and I will be hoping for one of them to make it to 50. This is the point in the draft that we just hope a gift falls in our lap.
There are 36 players with third-round grades which is higher than the 27 average over the last two known draft boards. It was hard to cut these guys off as there are a lot of our favorites in this group, including six different wide receivers.
If history is any evidence, the Cowboys should be able to find picks 81, 116, and even their compensatory pick 136 from their third-round group.
In 2013, they got picks 80, 114, and 151 at spots 50, 47, and 67 respectively.
In 2016, they got picks 67, 101, 135 and 189 at spots 41, 72, 77, and 71 respectively.
I strongly believe that some of the draft capital from the three picks the Cowboys have in rounds 3-4 will be used as bargaining chips to move up. There could be a lot of different things going on here. Will they package 50 and 81 to move up to get one of their top second-round graded players? Maybe they’ll package both their fourth-rounders to get back into the third? A lot will have to do with how many players at certain positions come off the board. A run on a position can create a sense of urgency to move up and grab one of the last quality players.
Josey Jewell, Tarvarus Moore, Nathan Shepard, and Braden Smith are all players I would be pleased with getting at 81.
The Cowboys have averaged 23 fourth-round graded players over the last two leaked boards. We have 22. The Cowboys have five picks after round four so they should be able to cash in on some of these players.
This group contains a lot of linebackers the team could go after should they not have one after the first two days of the draft. Darius Leonard and Fred Warner have been popular names over the last few months. It also contains running backs that, for the first time, are in consideration for the Cowboys. Nyheim Hines has been mentioned a lot as a great complementary back for Dallas. He and John Kelly show off the depth of this RB class as both are great Day 3 options. There are also four safeties in this group who would make excellent value picks this late in the draft. The Cowboys selected Xavier Woods in the sixth round last year and the same great value can happen again if they land a player like DeShon Elliott or Kyzir White after the fourth round.
Late Round Sleepers
The top 100 is done, but here at BTB, we keep going. We’ve added a bonus 25 players to the board. For starters, all the Cowboys Official 30 visitors must be included on the board so we had to make room for those players. There are some risk/reward guys. Red-flag character guys like Antonio Callaway and Desmond Harrison are this low for a reason, but they offer upside. There are a handful of development offensive linemen the team could target as they look to bolster the practice squad with picks toward the end of the draft.
Well, that’s it. The final board is complete. How do you feel about these rankings? Make sure you hang with us on draft weekend and follow along as we’ll be crossing players off our board and lining up some “best available” candidates for each round the Cowboys pick.