It’s been nearly a month since the Philadelphia Eagles won Super Bowl LII, and the start of the college football season is another six long months ahead. Fortunately there are two things to hold us over during the spring- the Blue-White Game on April 21, followed by the 2018 NFL Draft, beginning on April 26.
This year’s draft is loaded with intrigue for Penn State fans. Not only will Saquon Barkley be one of the first players off the board, Marcus Allen and Mike Gesicki are likely to go in the first three rounds, with plenty of other fan favorites such as DaeSean Hamilton and Jason Cabinda likely finding their NFL homes. Below are some of the more intriguing draft odds surrounding the departing Nittany Lions, as provided by mytopsportsbooks.com.
What are the odds Saquon Barkley is taken first overall? 32/1
Many of the notable draft experts believe that Saquon Barkley is the most talented player available in this year’s draft. For anyone who has followed Barkley’s career at Penn State during the past three years, that comes as no surprise. However, the top rated prospect seldom goes first overall, and there are a couple factors working against Barkley. Most notably, the running back position is not typically one to go high in the draft (although those attitudes are shifting after the recent success of high draft picks Ezekiel Elliot and Leonard Fournette) since many teams use a running back-by-committee approach, plus the wear and tear can result in a short career. Additionally, the Cleveland Browns once again hold the #1 pick, and it seems almost a certainty they will use it on a quarterback even though there is no consensus pick this year. The Browns have been without a franchise quarterback for nearly a quarter-century, and they will be taking another swing at finding the right guy.
What are the odds Saquon Barkley ISN’T the first running back selected? 12/1
It would be a complete shock if another running back is selected ahead of Barkley, but stranger things have happened in previous drafts. Georgia’s Sony Michel and LSU’s Derrius Guice could hear their names called in the first round, but it’s difficult to imagine any team taking one of them with Barkley still on the board.
What are the odds Saquon Barkley is drafted in the top 3 overall picks? 4/5
The odds are high for Barkley to be taken in the top three, but it’s also easy to see a scenario where he falls beyond that. The Browns seem certain to take a quarterback first overall. The Giants may do the same at #2, considering Eli Manning is 37 and nearing retirement. The Colts will be picking at #3, and even if Andrew Luck is able to recover from his injury sooner than later, many mock drafts have them taking NC State defensive end Nick Chubb, who is considered the best pass rusher in the draft by a mile.
What are the odds Saquon Barkley is drafted in the top 5? 1/3
If Barkley slips out of the top three, he will definitely go in the top five, correct? Most likely, but there are still scenarios where he slips further. The Browns pick again at #4 and have needs at every position, so they could reasonably go in any direction. The Broncos hold the #5 pick, and while they could benefit from a running back of Barkley’s stature, will be looking to bolster their offensive line and possibly seeking a franchise quarterback should they not land anyone in free agency prior to the draft.
What are the odds Saquon Barkley slips out of the top 10 draft picks? 49/1
This seems highly unlikely. The lowest I have seen Barkley go in any mock draft is at #9 to the 49ers, and even that seems improbable.
What are the odds safety Marcus Allen is selected in the first round? 90/1
Allen is ranked as the fourth-best safety in this year’s draft, and will be a huge get for one team both in his production on the field and attitude in the locker room. However, his coverage skills are still in need of some development, meaning he is more likely to hear his name called in day two in rounds two or three. Safeties Minkah Fitzpatrick and Derwin James are sure-fire first round picks, and Alabama’s Ronnie Harrison may also be picked prior to Allen. There have been some mock drafts that have the Steelers snatching up Allen at #28, so it may just happen as Pittsburgh is one team who have proven time and time again they can evaluate draft picks much better than the “experts.”
What are the odds that Mike Gesicki is the first tight end selected? 100/1
Gesicki will instantly add value to any offense thanks to his ability to create mismatches, enormous catch radius and ability to make acrobatic catches seem routine. However, his abilities as a blocker could make him a one-dimensional tight end in the NFL. Walter Camp has Gesicki ranked as the #4 tight end prospect, but a complete lack of consensus with tight end rankings at most outlets signal that the draft order will be completely unpredictable. This may be worth a longshot wager.
What are the odds DaeSean Hamilton is drafted in the first three rounds? 5/2
At the end of his junior year, Hamilton seemed to be someone who just wasn’t good enough to make it in the NFL. By the time his senior season was complete, it was obvious that Hamilton had what it takes to succeed for a long stint in the NFL. Hamilton has turned heads as one of the most buzzed-about players during his “tryouts” at the Shrine Game and Senior Bowl, and should continue to climb draft boards with a solid performance at the Combine.
What is the over/under for total Penn State players drafted? 5.5
Penn State could easily get the over if six of eight players who were invited to the Combine end up being drafted. Saquon Barkley, Mike Gesicki, Marcus Allen and DaeSean Hamilton are sure things. Jason Cabinda seems to be a safe bet, as well as Christian Campbell and probably Grant Haley. Troy Apke is the other former Nittany Lion who will appear at the Combine, with Brendan Mahon, Saeed Blacknall, Curtis Cothram and Parker Cothren each hoping to gain notice of gaining the attention of scouts without a Combine invite.