"Safe" is a relative term in the NFL draft world. A player's success is so dependent on his health, team situation, and ability to mature in a professional setting that there is no such thing as a sure thing.
However, I consider the following 10 players the safest in the 2018 draft because they possess a high ceiling (Pro Bowl-caliber), and more importantly, they also have high floors. Coaches know they're going to get a solid (if not spectacular) performance out of them on a weekly basis
You might notice that there are no QBs on this list. There are several QBs in this draft that could become longtime starters, and as many as 6 could be selected within the top 50 picks. But the pressure put upon those QBs -- especially as early-round selections – to perform right away is such that I do not consider them to be safe picks.
The players below are ranked in order of how safe I think they are, with No. 1 as the safest prospect.
10. Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State
Best team fits:New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles
Analysis: I don't know when Rankin will be drafted, but he probably won't go as high as he should. He's not flashy. However, if a team is looking for a solid, strong tackle who is difficult to beat, this guy is it. Rankin is quick enough to cut off rushers outside and adjust to inside moves. He also is willing to participate in the run game, often hitting two defenders on the way to clearing lanes. An all-around talent who brings his lunch pail to work, Rankin will be a safe choice at an important position.
9. Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis
Best team fits:Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, Washington Redskins
Analysis: Miller is not the tallest, biggest, or fastest receiver in the class. But I'll tell you what he's going to do -- go get the ball, and then make a play after the reception. We're seeing the value of big-play but not big-sized receivers throughout the league in guys like Antonio Brown, Adam Thielen, Brandin Cooks, and Golden Tate. Miller has a good chance to be next in that line, even if his lack of size keeps him out of Round 1.
8. Justin Reid, S, Stanford
Best team fits:Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers
Analysis: Not nearly enough has been enough said about Reid's talent. Stanford head coach David Shaw called him one of the best safeties in the country, and I'm not sure he's wrong. He's a smart, physical player who appears to have the athleticism to handle coverage duties. To me, he's a safe pick for teams needing a defensive leader. The depth of this class might prevent him from beating out Minkah Fitzpatrick and Derwin James to land a top-20 draft spot, but many people did not expect his brother, Eric, to be picked as early as he was (18th) in the 2013 draft by the 49ers.
7. Isaiah Wynn, OG/OT, Georgia
Best team fits:Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans
Analysis: Wynn was one of the best lineman in the country in 2017, playing an effective left tackle despite measuring under 6-foot-3. He possesses the wingspan of a taller player, however, and has the foot quickness and strength to hold up well outside. His NFL position is more likely to be left guard, but I think most teams would love to have an insurance policy like Wynn on their roster in case their blind-side protector goes down to injury. Dion Dawkins was considered a potential first-round pick last year but went 63rd overall. Wynn could end up being selected in that area as a guard, but he'll be a longtime starter with valued versatility.
6. Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford
Best team fits:Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills
Analysis: Phillips, a nose tackle, led the Cardinal with 98 tackles in 2017, including 17 for loss. That's ridiculous. That's Ndamukong Suh-type production from the middle. He won't be picked as high as Suh was because Phillips is not a physically dominant player. But he is smart, and gives consistent effort on every play, fighting through double teams and tracking down ball carriers. Think Buffalo Bills longtime nose tackle Kyle Williams.
5. Josey Jewell, ILB, Iowa
Best team fits:Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots
Analysis: I am very interested in how Jewell performs in testing next month at the NFL Scouting Combine. I'm guessing most rate him average athletically, but I think he'll surprise with his agility. Teams know he's an impressive football player who will patrol the middle of a defense for quite a few years. Showing off better-than-expected athleticism in Indianapolis will move him from a safe prospect to a must-have prospect.
4. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Best team fits:Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, New York Giants
Analysis: The wear and tear associated with the position might make some teams shy away from taking a running back early in the first round, and also explains why he's not higher on the list. Studying the success of top-10 picks in recent history, however, shows that top-10 picks at other positions (especially quarterbacks, defensive linemen and wide receivers) are just about as likely to fall prey to injuries or ineffectiveness. Barkley's vision and burst in the open field combined with his receiving and blocking skills make him worthy of building an offense around. He will be the top talent on many teams' boards going into the draft.
3. Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State
Best team fits:Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Analysis: Chubb is long and strong. He'll chase quarterbacks. He'll track down running backs. And he's athletic enough to move in space if his new team wants him to play some coverage. Chubb is a top-five pick all day, and should have a great NFL career.
2. Billy Price, C/OG, Ohio State
Best team fits:Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions
Analysis: Price is a plug-and-play interior lineman. He has a chance to be the head honcho of an offensive line for a decade. He's proven himself able to play center or guard, but I think a team will want him making the calls from the pivot unless it already has a veteran at that spot.
1. Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
Best team fits:Denver Broncos, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Analysis: Not since the 1970s has a guard had a legitimate claim to be the No. 1 overall pick. This year's quarterback class will prevent Nelson from making it happen, and some teams will have RB Saquon Barkley as their top prospect (rightfully). But Nelson is as close to the top of the heap as any guard has been since Hall of Famer John Hannah destroyed New England's opponents for 13 seasons. Whichever team selects Nelson in the top 10 will watch him become a perennial Pro Bowler as a nasty and athletic leader on the line.