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ESPN already has one name at the top of their 2018 NFL Draft board Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02: Cornerback John Reid #29 of the Penn State Nittany Lions chases quarterback Sam Darnold #14 of the USC Trojans during the 2017 Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 2, 2017 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

No, the hype train isn’t starting here; it’s already at full speed.

The 2017 NFL Draft passed by last week, and naturally, ESPN is already getting started on ranking prospects for the 2018 version of the Draft. On Thursday, ESPN’s Todd McShay shared that he already had one name at the top of his 2018 Draft board: USC quarterback Sam Darnold.

Related: NFL execs and insiders are already predicting the most unlikely name as the top pick in the 2018 Draft

As a redshirt freshman, Darnold emerged last season after USC started 1-3 on the year. Darnold, who was inserted as the starter, then led the Trojans to nine straight victories, including a win over No. 5 Penn State in the Rose Bowl to close the season. Thanks to Darnold’s rise, USC is now near the top of most preseason polls heading into the 2017 season.

Darnold has already been described as a “rare” quarterback by NFL scouts, and his availability in the 2018 Draft may have affected the decision of teams who wanted a quarterback; why take a risk on a guy like Deshone Kizer, Mitchell Trubisky, or Pat Mahomes if Darnold is going to be up for grabs next year?

In his freshman season, Darnold threw for 3,086 yards and 31 touchdowns against just nine picks in 10 starts. He is one of college football’s leading Heisman candidates for the 2017 season.

Bo was born in Atlanta, GA, and has always been a savvy sports follower. He attended Georgia Tech and has previously worked with ESPN TrueHoop, HawksHoop, and the Georgia Tech Newsroom. He covers national college football for FanBuzz.
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