Look for these guys to go off the board earlier than most experts expect them to
The 2018 NFL Draft is almost here, and as always, you can't surf the web without bumping into mock drafts written by anyone and everyone. Here's a dirty little not-so-well-kept secret about all of those mock drafts — including the ones on big sites you need to pay to read: they are never right. It's not even close.
I've highlighted four guys who most experts have being drafted much later than they'll actually be selected. I call them my "draft crashers," as they'll be the ones hearing their names called earlier than projected and making the experts look like anything but.
4 2018 NFL Draft Crashers to Watch
James Daniels, C, Iowa
Daniels was a monster at the Scouting Combine and is the most athletic prospect to come along at center in a long time. He's a safe pick as well, given the recent history of Iowa linemen excelling in the NFL. I've seen him going anywhere from the middle of the second round to the back half of the first. With center being such a key position in today's complex and dynamic offenses, don't be shocked to see Daniels taken early in the first round.
Ronald Jones II, RB, USC
The running back position is back in style! Most mocks only have one or two ball carriers being drafted in the first round. I'm leaning toward three or four hearing their names called the night of April 26. Jones (above, right) will be one of them, due to his quickness, fluid running style and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and lining up in a traditional receiver slot. He could be this year's Alvin Kamara.
Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford
Phillips (right) is easily the most athletic player at his position, and — according to what he did on the bench at the Combine — probably one of the strongest as well. He's a smart player who is rarely beaten one-on-one. He has all of the tools to be an elite pass rusher from the interior of the defensive line. I think there's a chance he sneaks into the top 15.
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
We are hearing the names of several quarterbacks leading up to the draft. One name I don't hear much is Rudolph. I have a hunch that's not an accident. There's a lot of poker and bluffing going on right now amongst the teams at the top of the draft. Rudolph is the ace up someone's sleeve. My eyes don't lie to me. When I watch Rudolph play, he's light years ahead of the other big-time quarterback prospect from Oklahoma in terms of translating his game to today's NFL. If I can see that, I know the best scouts and GMs see it. Look for Rudolph to be one of the first three quarterbacks drafted.
— Written by J.P. Scott who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on Fox Sports, Yahoo!, Bleacher Report, SBNation and SI.com. He is currently the Site Expert at SlapTheSign.com, the Notre Dame blog on the Fansided Network. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.