Between mock drafts, rumors, smokescreens, TV analyst debates and social media reports, there is now so much 2018 NFL Draft information out there that it can be hard to decipher just how the event might play out. We already know that every draft has its fair share of surprises, but here's my attempt to cut through some of the fog so we can decipher what to expect once teams are officially on the clock Thursday night.
These are 10 believable things amid so much chatter.
1) Baker Mayfield won't have a long draft wait. Is the Oklahoma QB going first to the Browns? I wouldn't be shocked if that happens, as Browns GM John Dorsey has stated that accuracy and winning games is important to him -- Mayfield gets check marks in both categories. However, if he's not the choice at No. 1, most of the teams I've spoken to expect him to go No. 3 overall to the Jets.
2) Denzel Ward could fall a little. Teams are trying to figure out where Saquon Barkley, Bradley Chubb, Quenton Nelson and Ward will go if there is a run on quarterbacks early in the draft. Many teams see Ward as the player from that group who's most likely to fall. The Ohio State CB could slip out of the top 10.
3) An OT will go earlier than many expect. Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey is the player I expect to be picked earlier than I'm seeing him projected to go in most mock drafts. Everyone concedes that this is a poor class of offensive tackles, but unlike last year, I don't see teams sitting still and waiting to take one later in the first round.
4) There will be a race for linebackers. There are four legitimate first-round linebackers in this draft (excluding edge-rushing linebackers): Tremaine Edmunds, Roquan Smith, Rashaan Evans, and Leighton Vander Esch. However, it gets really dicey after the top four. Teams understand that if they have a need for a second-level stalwart, they will need to pull the trigger inside the first round, which means there could be a trade-up (or two) to secure one of the top four guys.
5) Justin Reid jumps and Ronnie Harrison falls. For a while, it seemed as though Harrison might be the third safety off the board after Minkah Fitzpatrick and Derwin James, but the front-runner for that spot is Stanford's Reid after an outstanding NFL Scouting Combine and great team interviews.
6) Arden Key drops. The LSU edge rusher has been one of the more buzzed-about prospects for the last couple of years, but his stock took a hit during the 2017 season due to weight gain (ballooned to 280 pounds last season), lack of production and off-the-field concerns. His stock continued to take on water with a sub-par pro-day workout. Some teams believe he'll fall to Day 3 of the draft (Rounds 4-7) due to all of the concerns.
7) Wait for wideouts. Is Calvin Ridley a true WR1? Can D.J. Moore climb the board? Is Courtland Sutton making a move into the top receiver spot? Regardless of the answers, teams I've spoken with seem more than willing to wait for a wide receiver this year. It wouldn't shock me to see only one wideout go in the first round, and not until the last several picks of the round.
8) Three fast risers. We hear about "risers" all the time, but some of those guys have more heat on them than others. Arkansas C Frank Ragnow, Nevada OL Austin Corbett and Georgia edge Lorenzo Carter are flying up the board. Don't be shocked if one of those players sneaks into the back end of the first round, with Ragnow potentially passing both Billy Price and James Daniels as the top center off the board.
9) Trades inside the top 10. I am expecting to see a couple of swaps inside the top 10 on Thursday. Now, some teams could surprise me with a trade no one's talking about right now, but I see the Broncos ultimately trading the fifth overall pick if Josh Allen is still on the board when they're on the clock. While I've heard John Elway really likes Allen, I don't know that he'll be able to pass up the trade offer that might be coming his way if that scenario plays out.
10) Patriots staying put? Much has been made of the Patriots having two first-round picks and the possibility of Bill Belichick moving up for a quarterback. Instead, I expect the Patriots to sit tight and use those picks to rebuild other areas of the team, before targeting a quarterback on Day 2 (Rounds 2-3).