With the college football regular season in the books and only a few weeks left in the NFL regular season, it's time to start looking ahead to who could be the some of the top picks in the 2018 NFL Draft. Teams still have to go through their full evaluations of all of these prospects so a lot can change, but many have been eyeing this year's draft class all season long. Here are the top five prospects in the Big Ten that could leave school early to enter the draft:
5) Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio State Buckeyes
The first of three Buckeyes on this list, Baker is a supreme athlete with good instincts. He's still a bit raw - that comes from not having much on-field experience - but he's somewhere in-between Ryan Shazier and Raekwon McMillan in terms of play style.
4) Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa Hawkeyes
Jackson emerged as a ball hawk for a quality Iowa defense this season, recording seven interceptions this season - including three against Ohio State. He has good size at 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, giving him the physical stature NFL teams look for. There's a chance he could sneak into the first round.
3) Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State Buckeyes
Ward has been the most consistent corner for the Buckeyes this season and was one of the most important pieces to that defense. He has the frame of an ideal NFL corner with the long arms but is still a little thin and struggles with physical wide receivers especially in press coverage. His agility and ability to accelerate quickly and break up passes is the reason why Ward will be going in the first round.
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2) Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State Buckeyes
Hubbard is a big physical defensive end for the Buckeyes and his ability to get after the quarterback is why he will be drafted in the first round. He has the size and the length scouts look for at 6"5" and 265 pounds with the speed to compliment that size. In a quarterback-driven league, there is a high demand for pass rushers who can get to the quarterback at a high rate. Hubbard still needs to improve his ability to stop the run but is good enough pass rusher to be a first-round lock.
1) Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State Nittany Lions
No surprise here, Barkley is the top running back in college football. He has the speed, agility, balance, vision, and power that leaves NFL scouts drooling and I'd be surprised if he didn't go top five in the draft. Given the success we've seen rookie running backs have over the last few years, there's a good chance he's the first non-quarterback taken.Back to the Big Ten Newsfeed