The 10 Biggest Wildcards in the First Round of the NFL Draft

The 10 Biggest Wildcards in the First Round of the NFL Draft


The 10 Biggest Wildcards in the First Round of the NFL Draft


We’ve entered the final two weeks before the NFL Draft. We still do not know for sure who Cleveland is taking at first overall–a function of them also possessing the 4th pick in this draft and not wanting to provide any certainty for the teams that could pick or trade into the 2nd or 3rd spots.

Last week, I took a “wisdom of the crowds” look at where several mock drafts had players going. This week, I’m going to talk about some of the key players who are divisive, and will swing how the draft will proceed.

QB Josh Allen, Wyoming

Plenty of folks believe that Allen could be the first overall pick for Cleveland. Others have him falling out of the Top 5. The draft games, I think, officially starts once Allen is off the board. If Sam Darnold is there when the Giants pick, that could change how they behave, and what happens with trades in the top ten, starting the QB rush.

QB Josh Rosen, UCLA

Josh Rosen has his own intrigue, and right now, I think it’s complete guesswork as to where he could go. Most of the mock drafts have him going in the Top 5, but it would not surprise me if there was a mini-fall in this draft, and then someone trading up to take him when it becomes feasible.

RB Derrius Guice, LSU

Saquon Barkley is going to go in the first five picks, and be the first running back taken. Then, it’s a question of when a second goes off the board. Only about half of the mock drafts have Guice going in the first round, but those that do have him going as high as the late teens to places like Baltimore, Seattle, or Detroit. Will a team needing a running back make a move for Guice?

CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville

Alexander has climbed into several mock drafts, going as high as the top 13. You’ll have Denzel Ward and Minkah Fitzpatrick that go in the first 20 picks, but it is Alexander who is the wildcard on starting a cornerback run.

QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville

Will Jackson go in the first round? There’s a split of opinion, and Jackson will be in the next wave of quarterbacks that go, along with Mason Rudolph. It makes sense for teams that want a starting quarterback to jump up into the late first round because of the fifth-year option, and I would expect plenty of intrigue on where Jackson goes in the draft.

DT Maurice Hurst, Michigan

Maurice Hurst was expected to be a first round pick. Then, he was diagnosed with a heart condition that could impact where he falls on some teams’ boards. How he’s viewed by teams will also impact the demand at the defensive tackle position in the latter half of the first round. Vita Vea will go early, and then it’s some combination of Da’Ron Payne, Hurt, and Taven Bryan. If some tackle-needy teams have Hurst off the board, then the demand for the other two could shake up some moves and trades.

QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

It should be no surprise that the QB moves are the biggest wildcard, and Mayfield is in the group that has a wide range of outcomes. There is some buzz that he could go really early, inside the Top 4. There’s also the chance he could slip down the board toward the 12th pick.

TE Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State

The South Dakota State tight end is drawing plenty of interest, and could be the first tight end off the board. Tight end is such a specialty position in the draft that you could see teams that have a need and have fallen in love with Goedert playing a game of chicken over the second half of the opening draft night.

C James Daniels, Iowa

Centers may not be sexy, but teams need a good one. And James Daniels is in about half of the mock drafts you see, picked by the late teens or early 20’s. A team targeting Daniels is going to have to decide whether they need to take him or can afford a slight trade down.

WR Courtland Sutton, SMU

It’s considered a relatively weak wide receiver class, yet there are plenty of teams that will be in the market. Dallas–who just released Dez Bryant–is certainly among them. I could see a receiver like Sutton surprising and going earlier than people expect.

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