The 2018 NFL draft is still 50 weeks away, but that didn’t stop Mel Kiper Jr. from laying out his first Big Board.
The longtime ESPN NFL draft analyst released his top 25 players in the 2018 class. Not surprisingly, a handful of B1G players made the cut.
Saquon Barkley led way way while Maurice Hurst, Jerome Baker and Sam Hubbard were also listed. All four of those players appeared in various early mock drafts from national publications, though Hurst was the only senior of the bunch.
Here was what Kiper wrote about each of the B1G players he put in his early top 25:
6. Saquon Barkley, Penn State RB — “Barkley is a lights-out athlete, a traditional running back with a great lower body and quick feet who shows tremendous balance. He rushed for 1,496 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns last season and had 1,076 rushing yards as a freshman. Barkley (5-11, 215) also has 48 career catches, so he’ll help in the passing game. He plays extremely hard, too.”
21. Maurice Hurst, Michigan DT — “The Wolverines had a senior-laden defensive line in 2016, and so Hurst wasn’t a starter. But he stood out as a rotational player who could split double teams and get into the backfield. Hurst (6-2, 277) had 4.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss.”
23. Jerome Baker, Ohio State LB — “The 6-1, 215-pound Baker fits today’s NFL, where size doesn’t matter as much as it used to. He’s not a traditional linebacker, but he’s fast, can cover pass-catchers, rush the passer and is always in the middle of the action. Baker had 3.5 sacks, two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and 9.5 tackles for loss last season.”
25. Sam Hubbard, Ohio State DE — “Hubbard isn’t a pass-rusher on the same talent level as former Buckeye Joey Bosa, but he’s consistently solid and reliable. At 6-5, 265, he stands out on a super-talented Ohio State defense. Hubbard had 3.5 sacks and 8.0 tackles for loss in 2016 after posting 6.5 sacks, 8.0 tackles for loss and an interception the season before. Along with Tyquan Lewis and Nick Bosa, Ohio State has a talented defensive line.”