There is an overwhelming amount of talent prepped in the pipeline for the next three years of the NFL Draft. Teams in the league that have been bottom-dwellers in recent years will be transformed as they will be first to access some of the top talent out of college in the coming years. Then again, the teams at the top will undoubtedly find a way to snag some of that collegiate talent as well. As we look forward to the extremely talented draft classes of the near future, there’s no better time to identify who’s going to at the top of everyone’s wish list.
This list takes a look at the top 15 guys who will be drafted in the next three years. Heck, some of them just graduated high school. It may seem crazy, but we see it happen all the time. The top prospect becomes a household name in college before his eventual stardom in the NFL. Sure, all that can come crumbling down due to a knee injury. But nonetheless, these are the most talented football players climbing the ranks. These are the guys who will be shaping the future of the NFL and these are the guys who will be the supposed saviors for struggling franchises. Here, we’ll predict which teams will be drafting at the top in the next three seasons and who they will pick as we project the top five picks of the next three NFL Drafts.
15 FIRST PICK IN 2018: RAMS SELECT SAM DARNOLD
This season will prove to be just too much for Jared Goff as he’s unable to transform the Rams into a winning organization. This is a tough one for young Goff, who will struggle to find a place on the field after this season. But he will still get a chance to compete for the starting job, but it will be against another No. 1 pick as the Rams are going to safely secure the top spot in the 2018 draft. By next year, Goff will be going up against Sam Darnold.
Darnold, who is 9-1 as USC’s starter, will be a no-brainer decision for the Rams. The redshirt freshman led USC to its first Rose Bowl win since 2008. He recorded 3,086 yards and 31 touchdowns with just nine interceptions. In each of his nine wins, he tossed at least two touchdowns. Darnold is part of a quarterback class that is widely considered better than the quarterback class going into the 2017 draft. And he’s going to be at the top of that group after he continues on the success he from last season, which concluded with a comeback victory over Penn State in the Rose Bowl as he tossed 453 yards and five touchdowns.
14 SECOND PICK IN 2018: BROWNS SELECT JOSH ALLEN
Josh Allen is big, athletic and scouts say that he has the tools to start as a quarterback on a NFL roster and that’s exactly what a team like Cleveland needs. Allen would have likely been a first round draft pick this year, but he decided to go back for another season in Wyoming. Good call. And it seems like the Browns decided to wait on him as they passed on a first round quarterback. Allen would have sat on the bench or been tossed into the game far too early if he were drafted this year. Allen needs one more season to mature a bit before taking his talents to the NFL.
With all the team’s struggling to find a quarterback going into the 2017 season, it’s no surprise the Browns won’t find their answer in Deshone Kizer. The Browns will again this year fail to find their quarterback and will be forced in selecting one with the second pick in 2018, but Cleveland will finally find its football savior with Allen.
13 THIRD PICK IN 2018: JETS SELECT JOSH ROSEN
The Jets are going to be the third-straight team to pick a quarterback to start the 2018 draft. Well, maybe that’s not much of a spoiler because everybody in the league knows that the Jets have failed to address their biggest need this season. At best, a seasoned backup will be the starting quarterback for the Jets this year. That bodes quite well for the Jets 2018 draft plan. The only problem is that the top quarterback available here will be Josh Rosen, who tends to get criticized for the way he speaks to the media.
In addition to that, Rosen becomes a questionable pick when you factor in injury history. A shoulder injury kept him from the field during his sophomore season. During that time UCLA went 1-5. Everyone knew Rosen was a star, the downside is that no one expected him to miss so much time. That hurt his chances to quickly shift into the NFL. He needs a season with no issues, which is likely to happen in the coming year. But after getting back on track next season, Rosen will be a lock for the first round.
12 FOURTH PICK IN 2018: DOLPHINS SELECT MIKE MCGLINCHEY
Miami have two major issues that will affect them in 2017 and these issues are going to be the reason why the Dolphins will secure a top-five draft pick. First is the fact that the team placed way too much emphasis on strengthening its defense this offseason. Sure, some additions were necessary but that didn’t mean they should have neglected the offense so much. Plus, Ryan Tanehill’s injuries will often be an issue during the season as the Dolphins offensive line, which didn’t get much attention this offseason, crumbles in front of the fragile quarterback.
That’s why the Dolphins will invest in a pick that will bore a lot of fans – an offensive lineman. Mike McGlinchey would have most likely been the best (or one of the best) offensive tackles in this year’s draft. But he decided to return to school. That leaves him up for grabs in 2018, and there will be no shortage of suiters for this star O-lineman, which is why the Dolphins will have to secure him early. McGlinchey will be the leading force changing that trend and will help turn the Jaguars into a playoff-bound team.
11 FIFTH PICK IN 2018: 49ERS SELECT JAMES WASHINGTON
It sort of hurt the 49ers missing out on one of the top few picks of this year’s draft. They’ll likely still need a quarterback, but won’t have any options this high up in the draft. So, they’ll have to secure a quarterback another way next season since none of their current options will be able to brunt the workload of a successful starting quarterback in the NFL. That’s why we have to assume that the 49ers will either trade or sign a quarterback before the draft.
That means they need a receiver, and this is the perfect spot to select the best one in the draft – James Washington. This young star wide receiver would have been a first-round draft pick this year. Barring any injuries, teams will be fighting for Washington in the first round of the 2018 draft. Everything is lining up perfectly for Washington. He’s coming off a huge season. And his quarterback, Mason Rudolph (who only tossed four interceptions last season) will be an added benefit as the duos chemistry together will likely cause a lot of touchdowns and big plays.
10 FIRST PICK IN 2019: DOLPHINS SELECT LAMAR JACKSON
This will be the second year that the Dolphins are drafting in the top-5, and they’ll be in desperate need of a franchise quarterback by this time. Of course, you’re probably wondering why Lamar Jackson isn’t going to opt for the 2018 draft, where he’s already looking at a potential high first round draft spot. But Jackson has just too many questions surrounding his professional aptitude, despite being selected as the Heisman Trophy winner (and we’ve all seen how many Heisman quarterbacks can’t make it work in the NFL). But he’s going to be the top draft pick in 2019 if he decides to grow his game as a dual-threat quarterback.
Jackson was so good last year as he tossed 3,543 yards with 30 touchdowns and just nine interception. Even better, he rushed for 1,571 yards with 21 touchdowns from the ground. Sure, that’s at Louisville, but that’ll give him a great opportunity to grow his passing game and turn into a No. 1 pick.
9 SECOND PICK IN 2019: VIKINGS SELECT SAQUAN BARKLEY
Whether it’s injury or just wanting to further his game, Saquon Barkley will be another guy staying at college for a fourth season. But it’ll warrant great rewards as he’ll be one of the top guys in one of the most talented draft classes we’ve ever seen. Barkley will be in the conversation for the Heisman Trophy by the end of next season … and the season after that. Plus, as Penn State moves forward with a new quarterback, Barkley will lead the way to the top of the Big Ten for the Nittany Lions with his awesome combination of power and speed. As a sophomore, Barkley recorded almost 2,000 yards from scrimmage with 1,496 rushing yards and 402 receiving while scoring 22 touchdowns.
Barkley led Penn State to a Big Ten Championship last season and he will lead in the NFL similar to the way Adrian Peterson led the Vikings to the playoffs in his prime. And speaking of the Vikings, they’ll be in need of a running back to match up with Sam Bradford, or whoever is leading the way in 2019. The Vikings are going to need a star running back in 2019, and Barkley will be a crucial part for a Minnesota playoff run that year.
8 THIRD PICK IN 2019: COLTS SELECT DERRIUS GUICE
This guy will be ready for the NFL next season, but he’ll be a top-3 pick if he waits until the 2019 NFL Draft. LSU had a first-round prospect from the running back position in this year’s draft with Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice is much of the same. He may not seem like the same type of talent yet, but he’ll prove to be deserving of a first round pick when he does enter the NFL Draft. Though Guice has been a backup to this point, he would have been a starter on just about every other team in the country. As for his collegiate career, Guice has filled in for Fournette on occasion and recorded 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. That was with a stunning 7.6 yards per carry. Although he’ll likely fail to match that average as a starter, Guice will awe spectators as he takes over the starting role.
He’ll carry on that success in the NFL as he gets drafted by the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts are working with Frank Gore, who will be on his way out as Guice enters the league. Plus, plugging a talent like Guice onto that type of team will make for a viable postseason threat and he could be seeing a ring within his first few seasons.
7 FOURTH PICK IN 2019: JETS SELECT CLELIN FERRELL
Clelin Ferrell won’t need a fourth year at college. He’ll be working his way into the draft conversation sometime next year as he builds on his freshman success on the national championship team as he recorded six sacks. Last year, Ferrell was arguably the best freshman defensive talent as he recorded 12.5 tackles for a loss and a team-high 24 quarterback pressures as he started 15 games last season.
This guy is going to be one of the most fierce college athletes next season and he’ll be the highest drafted defensive player in 2019 … and there’s going to be a strong argument that he should have been drafted higher. Ferrell will, without a doubt, be at the top of a lot of teams wish lists by 2019, and the Jets will be the team benefiting from his talent.
6 FIFTH PICK IN 2019: PATRIOTS SELECT DERWIN JAMES
This guy might be the most talented athlete heading into the 2018 draft, but he’ll decide to grow for one more year in college, which is why he’s a top-5 pick in 2019. Derwin James went down in September last year with a season-ending injury. But the Seminoles aren’t going far without James, who tallied 91 tackles with 9.5 for loss and 4.5 sacks in 2015. He proved to be great at stumping the run, while also proving to be scary good with the blitz, and that’s all nothing compared to his coverage downfield.
James earned redshirt sophomore status after suffering the Week 2 injury last season. So, this will be one star who will wait an extra year and won’t see the NFL Draft until 2019. But when he does, a team like New England will be looking for young talent that can take them deep into the postseason. The only thing is, James will need to stay healthy if he wants to prove any type of success in the NFL.
5 FIRST PICK IN 2020: JAGUARS SELECT NATE HERBIG
Stanford is no stranger to producing top offensive line talent ready for the NFL. Yeah, trying to identify the top five picks in 2020 is like trying to identify the date that humans will be living on Mars. There’s so many things that can happen in the next few years than will drastically change the way we see the future of the NFL. Teams that are now at the top will be at the bottom and vice versa. We’re assuming that the top picks of the previous draft classes will be position players, and by this time, the Nate Herbig will be in need of a safe/reliable offensive tackle.
That’s why Herbig gets top honors this year. He’s proven to have great talent early on in his football career and there’s no reason to think that he’s going to continue this upward track for his football future.
4 SECOND PICK IN 2020: FALCONS SELECT CHASE YOUNG
The Falcons are on a downward spiral like most teams that have lost in the Super Bowl. It’s an unfortunate fate, but teams that are so close to the ultimate success tend to falter for years and years to come. The Falcons might continue their playoff streak for another year, but they’ll be at the bottom of all teams by the 2020 NFL Draft. That’s when it will be an absolute must that the team focus on a strong defensive presence.
That’s why they’ll be taking Chase Young, a defensive end from Ohio State that will likely prove to be worthy of a transforming the defensive front of a struggling NFL organization. As long as Young stays healthy and continues the success he’s seen, there’s no doubting that he’ll be a top pick in 2020.
3 THIRD PICK IN 2020: SAINTS SELECT KELLEN MOND
The Saints are barely holding on as is. They’ve seen greatness with Drew Brees, but there’s no way in telling how long that is going to last. Sure, the aging quarterback has at least a couple more years left in him. He’s still performing at the top of his game and it doesn’t seem like that’s going to stop any time soon. But Brees has taken his fair share of hits and that’s going to force him out by the 2020 draft, making this a perfect fit for Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond.
Mond will be forced in the spotlight from the start, but Texas A&M has a history of breeding some great collegiate quarterbacks. And we all know how good the Saints have been at creating an environment that elevates a quarterbacks performance. This will be a good matchup in 2020.
2 FOURTH PICK IN 2020: EAGLES SELECT CEDARIAN LAMB
The Eagles finally have the receivers to make just about any quarterback good. With Alshon Jeffrey and Jordan Matthews, there’s no reason for Cason Wentz to struggle. But this power is actually going to work at the disadvantage to the Eagles. As Wentz has so much to work with, there will be ample opportunity to score. That will maintain his starting job for the next couple of years, but the Eagles will soon learn that they need someone new to advance through the postseason.
Cedarian Lamb will be the quarterback that the Eagles will place their hopes in. Philadelphia will need a quarterback, and Lamb will be the guy filling that opening. He’ll still have to fight out for the starting job against Wentz, but that will be beneficial to his future.
1 FIFTH PICK IN 2020: BROWNS SELECT AUSTIN KENDALL
Just like the past two decades, the Browns will be hurting for a quarterback. If you look at the number of quarterbacks that the Browns have cycled through, there’s no team that has gone through more. It’s tough to win with that type of history, which is why the Browns will, once again, be drafting at the top.
Austin Kendall hasn’t done much yet, but he’s on a team that is used to preparing stars for the NFL. Oregon always gets national attention, and that will help Kendall as he thrives over the next few years. The Browns will continue growing, but won’t truly make a successful run until they acquire a quarterback. And Kendall just might be that guy who will finally get Cleveland into the win column.