Much has been said about the quality of talent present in the defensive line. With prospects like Quinnen Williams and Ed Oliver in the interior and prospects like Nick Bosa rushing the passer, this class has the potential to rank among the best classes ever for overall defesive talent.
This year’s class also has exciting players on the offensive side of the ball. D.K. Metcalf leads a loaded wide receiver class. Although the talent at the QB and HB positions collectively aren’t as deep, there are still guys with intriguing skill sets that can develop into stars.
Here is our ranking in overall strength of each position in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Each position will include our top 10 highest ranked players. A brief description for each player will be provided to justify their ranking. To make things simpler, we separated the EDGE position by putting 4-3 Defensive ends into the DE position and 3-4 outside linebackers into the LB position.
The process is not an exact science, but here are the rankings for this year’s draft starting at quarterback.
1. Kyler Murray Oklahoma
Murray is one of our Primetime Players for this year’s class. If you want to see our breakdown on Murray’s game, check out this link (https://draftcore.net/2019/03/20/kyler-murrays-quick-throwing-motion-and-game-changing-mobility-will-make-him-a-star/ ).
Murray shocked a lot of people when he declared for the NFL Draft and passed on a potential baseball career with the Oakland Athletics.
In the 14 games he started in 2018, he posted massive numbers. He completed 69 percent of his passes while averaging 11.6 yards per attempt with 42 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also rushed for over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns, which has many excited about the possibilities at the next level. Combining his big arm with his athleticism could prove to be a lethal combination.
His 5’10” height is a legitimate concern. Each position, including quarterback, has a certain prototype that typically indicates success in the NFL. Most quarterbacks are above 6 feet tall and weigh at least 220 pounds.
Murray does not fit that prototype but Murray is not your prototypical quarterback. The unique talent that he possess is something special. Murray is a good thrower, the stats show that. Murray is a dynamic runner, the highlights show that too. The height did not hinder his ability to make plays at Oklahoma and it shouldn’t in the NFL.
Wherever Murray ends up going, that team will be receiving a special talent that will develop into a cornerstone for their franchise.
2.Dwayne Haskins Ohio State
Like Murray, the sample size for Haskins was limited to one season as the starting quarterback but he made that one season count.
The former Buckeye completed 70 percent of his throws and threw for 4,831 yards and 50 touchdowns with just nine interceptions. He rushed for four touchdowns, but he’s nothing more than a short-yardage guy who can plunge it in from the one-yard line due to his big frame.
Haskins has the highest floor out of all of the quarterbacks. He fits the “prototype” with his big frame, strong arm, and his strength in the pocket. Haskins will have to deal with pressure better in the NFL if he wants to take the next step.
He will need a year to sit and learn from a veteran. The Giants or the Broncos would be an ideal landing sport for Haskins.
3. Will Grier West Virginia
Will Grier will surprise a lot of people. There are a lot of reasons to like Grier’s game. At West Virginia, he displayed pinpoint accuracy and threw the ball with great anticipation to help get his wide receivers open.
The leadership ingrained in Grier was best showed in the 42-41 comeback win against Texas. Grier lead the Mountaineers in a two-minute drill to steal a win from the Longhorns. Grier passed for 346 yards and three touchdowns on the road in a hostile environment.
Grier has a little Baker Mayfield in his game which will definitely intrigue some teams.
4. Drew Lock Missouri
Lock has all of the physical gifts. The 6’4″ frame, the strong arm, and a 3-year resume as a starting quarterback in the SEC.
So what’s missing?
The knock on Lock is his decision making and his accuracy. He often threw the ball into tight windows because he believed in his arm strength which lead to some avoidable interceptions. He also put his receivers in bad positions too often, as they’d catch the ball on a crossing route and get hammered as soon as the ball hits their hands. He needs to be more aware of where defenders are on the field.
The talent is there, but Lock needs to to fix some of his problems in order to develop into a dependable starter in the NFL. Like Haskins, a year or two on the sidelines could do him wonders. The Redskins or Chargers would be an excellant team for Lock to take the time necessary to fix his flaws.
5. Daniel Jones Duke
Daniel Jones seems to be the most widely disputed quarterback in this year’s draft. Some have Jones ranked as high as their 2nd best quarterback, mentioning his pocket awareness and polished footwork, while critics say Jones lacks an NFL arm and have him outside of their top 5 altogether.
There are some things to like about the former Blue Devil. Jones is a student of famous quarterback guru David Cutcliffe who has worked with both Mannings during his coaching career. The footwork and the pocket awareness are both defining traits an NFL quarterback need to have.
Despite these necessary traits, there is not a ton of room for Jones to get better. The lack of arm strength will hinder him into getting to that next level. Jones projects to be a high end backup or a limited starting quarterback in the NFL.
6. Gardner Minshew Washington State
Gardner Minshew has one of the most interesting stories of any of the quarterback prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft. He threw for 11,222 career passing yards and 105 touchdowns in an Air Raid offense in high school. He spent one fall at Northwest Mississippi Community College, winning the Junior College National Championship while throwing for 421 yards and five touchdowns in the title game. He then transitioned to East Carolina and had 3,487 yards, 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on 506 attempts. He didn’t look much like a future NFL QB at that point.
Then he transferred again to Washington State and thrived under Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense. Minshew completed 70 percent of his throws, and threw for nearly 4,800 yards with 38 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions. Minshew has some impressive throws on tape and minimized mistakes.
With the direction the NFL is currently heading, more teams are implementing Air Raid concepts. Minshew ran the system since high school, and it would not be surprising to see him selected earlier than many are expecting him to go.
7. Brett Rypien Boise State
Rypien was a 4-year starter at Boise State. The Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Year threw for 3,705 yards and 30 touchdowns this past season.
The issue with Rypien is his small frame and lack of mobility when the pocket collapses. When there is pressure in his face, Rypien has the tendency to panic and make a mistake.
Overall, a front office will have to overlook these shortcomings and focus on what he can do on the field to trust him as a rookie starter. Though it’s not ideal, it’s possible. His arm strength, accuracy and maturity could vault him into a starting role for a team without a clear-cut answer at quarterback.
8. Ryan Finley NC State
Finley is probably the best Pro-Style quarterback in this year’s class. He is familiar with taking snaps under center and the footwork that goes along with it. Finley’s passing stats in yards, touchdowns, and completion percentage improved each year as a 3-year starter at NC State.
Finley projects to be nothing more than a game manager at the next level with limited upside. Could he carve out a starting role for two or three years? Sure. But having Finley as your backup quarterback would be an ideal situation for a team that runs a traditional Pro-Style offense.
9. Jarrett Stidham Auburn
There was a lot of hype entering the 2018 season for Stidham. Some draft experts projected Stidham to be an early round selection in addition to being viewed as one of the top quarterbacks in the class.
Stidham transferred to Auburn after one season at Baylor. His 2017 season as the starter was solid: passing for just under 3,200 yards, 18 touchdowns, and completed 67 percent of his throws.
Stidham looked to build off of these numbers this past season, but his numbers dropped off a little. His completion percentage dropped to 60 percent and his yards dropped to 2,794.
At times, Stidham looked the part of a potential franchise quarterback who showed a lot of promise. But more often than not, Stidham would throw some questionable passes that lost some games for a talented Auburn team.
It’s hard to fully trust Stidham to be a consistent quarterback in the NFL, but there are some positive traits that could intrigue a team enough to invest in him.
10. Tyree Jackson Buffalo
There are not a lot of quarterbacks that look like Tyree Jackson. With a 6’7″ and 250 pound frame, and the ability to run a 4.59 40-yard dash, Jackson is quite possibly the most physically gifted quarterbackp prospect since Cam Newton or RG3 coming out of college.
Jackson possesses a strong and live arm, but he’ll need a lot of work to take advantage of its upside in the NFL. His film is littered with fastballs that consistently miss their target, and for an arm as strong as his, his deep passes often fall short of the intended receiver. He has a tendency to force long balls into coverage, too. He’s wildly inconsistent.
His production at Buffalo is evidence of this major passing concern. He completed only 55.3 percent of his passes in 2018.
Jackson is a long term project that could pay off big time for a team willing to take the time necessary to fix his flaws. The question is whether or not teams are willing to take that time to invest in Jackson because he is nowhere near ready to be depended on as a starter.
1. Miles Sanders Penn State
Sanders is one of our Primetime Players and our top ranked running back in this year’s draft. Sanders had to wait his turn behind Saquon Barkley throughout his career at Penn State, only logging 56 total carries before his junior year as the starter. That time on the sideline allowed for Sanders to learn from Saquon and it showed on film.
Sanders ran for 1,274 yards and 9 touchdowns during his only season as the starter for Penn State. At the combine, Sanders showed how good of an athlete he is. He ran a 4.49 40-yard dash and a fantastic 6.89 3-cone drill. He also looked incredibly smooth in the field drills.
The reason Saquon was such a dynamic running back in both college and now in the NFL other than his athletic traits is his footwork. The jumpcuts, the jukes, the spin moves– Saquon does this effortlessly.
Now Sanders is not at Saquon’s level in his footwork, but you can see the effect Saquon had on him. Sanders got better as the season went on. His 200 yard, 3 touchdown performance against Illinois is the game to watch if you want to get the full scope of what Sanders is capable of. If Saquon was not at Penn State, Sanders would have multiple seasons of quality production under his belt and the athletic profile of a consensus top running back for most draft classes.
This would be a case where one year of production should not discourage the perception of who Sanders is as a prospect. We have not seen the best of Miles Sanders yet.
2. Darrell Henderson Memphis
Here is Draft Core’s formula for scouting non-power 5 conference players
- Production is a must.
- Workout metrics must closely mirror prospects from power 5 conferences
- Must possess some unique ability that will make that player succeed in the NFL.
Henderson meets these requirements and is firmly entrenched at the number 2 spot. Henderson ran an absurd 8.9 yards per carry this past season with 1,909 yards rushing and 22 touchdowns.
At the combine, Henderson ran a 4.49 40-yard dash and picked up 22 reps on the bench press. Henderson was average to above average in all of the drills that he participated in. He proved his worth among other power five conference players.
The two traits that should get NFL front offices excited about Henderson is his vision and home run ability. Once Henderson found an open lane to run through, Henderson was gone. A zone-run scheme that will provide lanes for Henderson to run through would be his best scenario in the NFL.
3. Josh Jacobs Alabama
Jacobs is a lot of people’s top running back in this draft and it is easy to see why. The physical nature of his runs wore down his opponents and Jacobs broke a lot of tackles.
Jacobs was apart of a committee at Alabama, sharing carries with Damien Harris and Najee Harris. Even though Jacobs never ran for more than 640 yards in a season, he produced some jaw-dropping plays that flashed his potential in the NFL.
It’s never an easy task to bring Jacobs to the ground. He knows how to get downhill in a hurry, he tilts his shoulders, lowers his hips, and wastes very little time in the process. He’s strong, has plenty of power and not afraid to lower his shoulder into a linebacker. He also has this stutter-step move he does in the open-field, where he plants his foot in the ground and bursts forward, creating a difficult combination for the defender, who needs to be aggressive in their pursuit of Jacobs.
Jacobs projects as a modern power running back with some instances of speed built into his game. He could be a workhorse back or be the part of a committee similar to when he was at Alabama.
4. Bryce Love Stanford
After the trio of Sanders-Henderson-Jacobs, there is a significant drop off in the talent at running back in this year’s class.
We are choosing to be optimistic in evaluationing Love. If you were to watch just his junior year, the former Heisman candidate would be a surefire first round pick. What a difference a year can make.
Love’s production this past season went down considerably and to make matters worse, he tore his ACL in his final regular season game at Stanford. The question is are we getting junior year Bryce Love or are we getting senior year Bryce Love?
Junior year Bryce Love averaged 8.1 yards per carry and ran for 2,118 yards and 19 touchdowns. His speed and burst are special. It remains to be seen whether or not the ACL injury will affect his explosiveness going forward.
Love has the potential to be a great complimentary piece at the NFL level, but a lot of questions have to be answered first. We’ve seen both the good and the bad with Love so whoever selects the former Stanford standout is choosing to inherit a boom or bust player.
5. David Montgomery Iowa State
Montgomery is not a workout warrior, as he’s not someone who’ll blow your doors off with his speed. He’s more of the power-type running back who’s going to fight for his yardage with his combination of vision and effort.
His offensive line at Iowa State was below average at best, so Montgomery constantly dealt with traffic in the backfield. More often than not, Montgomery was able to break the first tackle and make the best out of his situation.
If Montgomery got selected by a team with an average offensive line at best, he has the ability to be a workhorse back at the next level similar to Jacobs. The lack of athleticism holds him back as a prospect.
6. Justice Hill Oklahoma State
It’s going to be difficult to describe Hill as nothing more than a change-of-pace running back knowing that he weighed in less than 200 pounds at the Combine, though that’s not to say he can’t be a very good one. He destroyed the athletic portion of the Combine, finishing with the fastest 40-time, highest vertical jump, and longest broad jump. Athletically, he couldn’t be any better.
His usage at Oklahoma State suggests he can be more than a change-of-pace back, as he totaled 681 touches in 36 career games as a Cowboy. That’s 18.9 touches per game and quite a bit of wear-and-tear on his smaller frame. He did score at least one touchdown in 20 of his final 24 games at Oklahoma State, so he can perform on the goal-line, too? Was it all a product of the offense and will it translate to the NFL?
The NFL is a big step from the Big 12. Hill is best served as complementary piece due to his small frame, but his explosiveness is reminescent of Reggie Bush.
7. Trayveon Williams Texas A&M
Williams has three seasons as the starting running back at Texas A&M under his belt. Similar to Justice Hill, Williams has the mileage of 600 carries and 66 catches, but a traditionaly smaller frame for a workhouse running back.
It’s worth noting he only missed one game at Texas A&M. He finished his tenure there very strong, racking up at least 107 rushing yards in each of the last five games while scoring 11 touchdowns in that span. The 1,760 rushing yards ranked third in the nation while his 18 rushing touchdowns ranked fifth. You aren’t going to stay away from him because of his college production, that much is certain.
There is a lot to like with Williams and he will be a solid dependable option for whoever decides to select him.
8. Damien Harris Alabama
Harris was under the spotlight for a long time while playing at Alabama. There is nothing exciting about Harris athletically, but he always seemed to get the job done and was relied on more over more athletic options such as Josh Jacobs and Najee Harris.
Harris is a physical, no-nonsense runner and has solid vision. Saban went with Harris in the critical moments and that is worth noting. Still, NFL and college are two different worlds and what worked in college may or may not work in the NFL.
Harris is dependable, teams will like that, but there is nothing really that sticks out on the flim that suggests that he can develop into anything more than he already is now.
9. Darwin Thompson Utah State
Thompson was one of our Sleeper Spotlights and here is a link to our post about him. (https://draftcore.net/2019/03/23/darwin-thompson-is-the-next-tarik-cohen/ ).
At his only season at Utah State, Thompson was almost always the best player on the field. In 13 games as an Aggie, he totaled just under 1,400 scrimmage yards and averaged 7.9 yards per touch. Thompson is electrifying and possesses a unique combination of speed and power, and is dangerous catching the ball out of the backfield.
After being a combine snub, Thompson needed a fantastic pro day and he did just that. Thompson showed off his explosive leaping ability by soaring 39 inches in the vertical jump and 10 feet, 6 inches in the broad jump. Those marks would have ranked third and fifth, respectively, among running backs at the combine.
Thompson also recorded 28 reps on the bench press which would have been the second best combine score for running backs. Keep in mind, Thompson is just 5’8″ and 200 pounds.
Thompson’s skillset reminds me of Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen and he certainly can have a similar impact for the team that picks him.
10. Devin Singletary Florida Atlantic
Singletary appeared in our “5 Offensive Skill Players Teams Should Avoid” (https://draftcore.net/2019/04/10/5-offensive-skill-players-teams-should-avoid/ ) and that may lead to a misconception of his overall talent.
If you look around other scouting websites, you’ll see Singletary in a lot of top 5’s at the running back position. If you evaluate him just off of production alone, Singletary warrants the high praise, but as an undersized running back, Singletary needed to test well and he failed to do so.
Singletary is 5’7″ 203 pounds. A guy at that frame needs to check all of the boxes in terms of athleticism or else it will be hard to produce at a consistent rate in the NFL. His 40-time is bad (4.66), his 3-cone is bad (7.32), and his close to 600 career carries at FAU is concern, especially with his small stature.
There are some flashy plays on film, but the lack of athleticism is hard to look past.
1. D.K. Metcalf Ole Miss
Metcalf is going to be something special. The former Ole Miss wide receiver is one of our Primetime Players in this year’s draft (https://draftcore.net/2019/03/25/dk-metcalf-is-not-a-one-trick-pony-and-is-a-generational-prospect/ ).
The 3-cone drill at the combine was an initial concern. After looking through film and his drills at the combine, Metcalf showed that he was more than capable of running most of the route tree even though that’s not necessarily his strong suit.
Metcalf should not be utilized as a possession receiver, that’s not his skill set. Instead, teams should call plays tailored to Metcalf’s unique talent as a vertical threat and call plays similarly to the way the Lions did with Calvin Johnson or with how the Buccaneers use Mike Evans.
If teams utilize him this way, Metcalf will produce monster numbers.
2. N’Keal Harry Arizona State
Out of all the wide receivers in this year’s class, Harry has the highest floor of the group. He has the ideal size for the position, standing at 6’2″ and 225 pounds, and the production to feel confident in his game.
Harry posted back-to-back 1,000 seasons at Arizona State and played in 37 out of the possible 38 games he could play in. He’s a natural catcher that doesn’t have to labor through the process or think too much. He’s also one of the better contested-catch receivers in the draft.
In terms of sure things in this draft, Harry is about as close as they come.
3. A.J. Brown Ole Miss
Brown often got overlooked by Metcalf during this process, but he ended up being the more productive wide receiver at Ole Miss. This past season, Brown snagged 85 passes for 1,320 yards and 6 touchdowns.
At the combine, Brown silenced the critics with a 4.49 40-yard dash time and a 37-inch vertical jump. His skills are best suited as a tall slot receiver with the ability to get open in the short and immediate game.
Like Harry, Brown has little bust potential and has the traits to develop into a dependable option for his future quarterback.
4. Parris Campbell Ohio State
There is a lot to like with Parris Campbell. The former Buckeye is a fantastic athlete: running a 4.31 40-yard dash and a 40-inch vertical jump.
Campbell made his living earning yards after the catch. Ohio State constantly threw it to Campbell on screen and drag routes and used his speed in the open field. He is also versitile, as he was seen lined up on the outside and in the slot. He can also be used on end-around runs much like how the Giants used Odell when he was in New York.
Campbell has the traits to be successful in almost any type of offense or situation you put him in. Want to use him for screens and drag routes like he was used at Ohio State? Go ahead. If you want to use him to take the top off opposing defenses? Campbell has the speed and route runnng to develop into a vertical threat.
Because of his versatility he showed while he was at Ohio State, it won’t really matter where Campbell ends up because he is capable filling a variety of different roles.
5. Marquise Brown Oklahoma
Marquise “Hollywood” Brown lived up to his nickname more often than not at Oklahoma. Brown also has the NFL bloodlines being cousins with Antonio Brown.
The game changing speed he displayed is reminiscent of Tyreek Hill and that kind of potential can definitely be achieved. His abilitiy to turn a short 5-yard slant into an 80-yard touchdown is an ability that not many players possess.
What concerns me is his small stature. Brown is only 166 pounds which could prove to be problematic in terms of his long term durability in the NFL. Even Tyreek Hill is 185 pounds, almost 20 pounds heavier than him. Brown already missed the combine due to foot surgery after this past season which hopefully isn’t a sign of things to come.
When healthy, Brown is the kind of athlete that could be a headache for an NFL defense to gameplan against.
6. Andy Isabella UMass
This draft is loaded with small, shifty slot guys that can beat defenses over the top. Add Andy Isabella to that list.
This past season at UMass, Isabella caught 102 balls for 1,698 yards and 13 touchdowns. He lined up everywhere ranging from the slot, outside, and even took snaps in the backfield. NFL offensive coordinators are going to have a field day trying to put the ball in Isabella’s hands.
His combine performance matched his physical gifts he showed on the field. He showed exceptional speed with a 4.31 40-yard dash time in addition to his 6.95 3-cone time. Despite only being 5’9″, Isabella jumped a 36.5 inch vertical which was better than much taller wide receivers such as Hakeem Butler and Kelvin Harmon.
Isabella can also field kickoffs and punts as well. Overall, his game compares favorably to Tyler Lockett due to the many things Isabella can do. He is going to be an dangerous weapon in the NFL.
7. Deebo Samuel South Carolina
With a nickname like Deebo, there has to be a level of anger with the way Samuel plays the game. At South Carolina, he became known for his violent stiff arms and initiating contact rather than avoiding it.
Samuel is an above-average athlete for his position in spite of his more “stocky” frame. For more insight into his speed, Samuel ran a 4.48 in the 40-yard dash.
Additionally, he’s generally praised for his route running and versatility. His smaller size didn’t hold him back from playing on the outside in college, though it could become a more significant barrier in the NFL.
The only red flags surrounding Samuel are related to his injury history. In his freshman year, hamstring injuries contributed to Samuel seeing time in only five games. Hamstring injuries were again a problem his sophomore year. A broken fibula during his junior year limited Samuel to time in only three games. His breakout senior season was in no small part thanks to it being his only fully healthy one.
Samuel already has the ability to enter the league and be a team’s number two wide receiver. There is very little bust potential if Samuel can stay healthy.
8. Hakeem Butler Iowa State
Hakeem Butler is a tough player to evaluate.
The Iowa State wide receiver stands 6’6″ and weighs in at around 225 pounds with athletic traits that would make most NFL scouts drool. The highlight plays of him jumping over defenders to make unbelieveable catches are certainly eye catching. The height, the frame, the measureables, there is a lot to like regarding to the type of player Butler could be in the NFL.
So why is he only the 8th best wide receiver in this class? Unfortunately, we’ve seen this narrative before. Butler does not have a lot of player comparisons at the next level and could fall into the bucket of past tall wide receivers that peaked in college. Names such as Kelvin Benjamin, Josh Doctson, Devante Parker, Doriel Green-Beckham– all of these guys proved to be enigmatic wide receivers once they got to the NFL. The reason these guys stand out on tape is because they are jumping over underdeveloped defensive backs at the collegiate level. Once these guys get to the NFL, where the defensive backs are bigger, stronger, faster and smarter, they often don’t have the footwork and the proper technique to last in the league.
In this current NFL, where route running and versatility is at a premium, Butler just isn’t there yet. Could he be Brandon Marshall? Sure, that is his best possible outcome, but it is difficult to say with absolute confidence that he will be successful in the NFL. He is very raw at this stage of his development.
9. Kelvin Harmon NC State
There were a lot of wide receivers who popped off the page athletically at the Combine, but Harmon wasn’t one of them. In fact, his measurables were among the worst in several categories, lowering him down draft boards significantly. It’s not too surprising to those who studied his film, as he wasn’t much of a separator, but more of a contested catch player who was trusted in a lot of one-on-one situations.
Despite the lack of ideal measurables, Harmon proved time and time again to be dependable at NC State. Harmon had two consecutive 1,000 yard seasons and bailed out Ryan Finley on multiple occasions. If you are a fan of Harmon, the poor combine did not affect your perception of who Harmon is as a prospect.
Harmon’s ceiling is a dependable number two wide receiver in the NFL.
1o. Dillon Mitchell Oregon
Mitchell is an ascending talent who was productive in his junior season at Oregon. He has good size and agility, and is improving as a route runner. This gives him the ceiling of a WR2 at the next level, especially with youth on his side. He could have an immediate role in the underneath and screen game in the NFL, as a way to showcase his slippery running and contact balance.
However, Mitchell is a ways off before being refined enough to fill a starter’s role. His route running technique needs to improve, as well as his ball skills. All of these traits have flashed on film, so they are undoubtedly within his arsenal, now they just need to come with consistency.
1. T.J. Hockenson Iowa
This past season was supposed to be the year of Noah Fant at Iowa. With the athletic gifts that Fant owns, how does a player like that have snaps taken away from a redshirt sophomore?
The amount of skill needed to supplant Fant is immense and T.J. Hockenson possess that level of talent. He is everything that you want out of a modern day tight end with the ability to block and be equally as effective in the receiving game. Hockenson’s all around game makes him a much safer prospect in comparison to Fant.
Hockenson could end up being a surprise top 10 draft pick, going to either the Jaguars, Lions, or Broncos.
2. Noah Fant Iowa
Much has been said about who Fant is as an athlete. He finished in the top 3 for tight ends in all but one drill at the combine. There are very few tight ends that are capable of turning a screen route into a 70-yard touchdown like he did against Purdue this season.
It’s hard not to get excited for Fant’s potential in the NFL. If he lands in a high powered offense like the Green Bay Packers or the New England Patriots, Fant could produce some absurd stats.
Fant needs to improve as a blocker if he wants to play on all three downs on a consistent basis. That will improve over time.
3. Irv Smith Jr. Alabama
Smith has an excellent blend of size, athleticism, ball skills and toughness. Like Fant, Smith Jr. is more viewed as a receiving threat and is not particularly known for his blocking. This past year, he had a breakout campaign and totaled 44 receptions for 710 yards and 7 touchdown receptions.
Smith Jr. is not at the level of the two Iowa tight ends, but he could prove to be a nice option in the second round for teams that don’t want to invest a first round pick into the tight end position.
4. Jace Sternberger Texas A&M
Sternberger is exactly what the team should covet at tight end, a seam-stretching receiver with hands and a polished route runner at the tight end position. He’s a serviceable blocker with some upside there, but Sternberger will do his damage as a receiving option.
Sternberger could be a solid option in round 3 of this year’s draft.
5. Dawson Knox Ole Miss
Knox is a tough prospect to evaluate.
What exactly are we supposed to do with 39 career catches? Not much. Dawson Knox is a highly talented tight end with size, speed and natural hands, but was hardly ever utilized in Ole Miss’ unique offense, so there are a lot of things we just don’t know about who he is as a player.
Knox has all of the traits to develop into a number one tight end, we just don’t know what all he is capable of. The former Ole Miss tight end is truly dependant on what team selects him and how much they are willing to utilize him.
6. Caleb Wilson UCLA
Caleb Wilson was one of Josh Rosen’s favorite options when Rosen was at UCLA. Earning just under 500 yards receiving in 2017, Rosen often went to Wilson as his security blanket when the play broke down.
In 2018, you would think with Rosen gone Wilson’s production would drop a little, but they actually improved with Chip Kelly taking over at UCLA. With a 60/965/4 line his junior year, Wilson improved his release and was able to find the soft spot in opposing defenses to get himself open. He isn’t the greatest athlete you’ll find at tight end, but Wilson is an incredibly smart player which will make him stick on a team.
Caleb Wilson can be a solid backup tight end, and is good enough to fill in for a team if their starting tight end goes down with an injury.
7. Josh Oliver San Jose State
Oliver was recruited to San Jose State as a defensive end before he made the switch to tight end once he arrived on campus. As a result, it took the full four years to fully learn the position and the investment paid off during his senior year.
This past season, Oliver lead all tight ends in the Mountain West in receptions, catching 56 passes for 709 yards and 4 touchdowns. Oliver displayed his 4.63 speed at the combine so he checks the box as an intriguing athlete at tight end.
You can tell on film that he is still learning the position. There were times where he looked uncertain on a route or a blocking assignment. A year or two on the sidelines could prove to be beneficial for Oliver’s development before the takes meaningful snaps in the NFL.
8. Dax Raymond Utah State
Raymond sufferd a broken hand injury this past season which made it difficult to evaluate. It was hard to tell when he dropped a ball on film or at the combine if it was because of the injury or if it was because of a lack of concentration.
Regardless, Raymond did his damage in the middle of the field. He doesn’t have elite athleticism, but he’s a smooth mover who has little issue breaking off from his routes. There isn’t anything particularly exciting about the former Aggie, but he does have a season where he caught 41 receptions which is a good mark to reach as a tight end.
9. Kahale Warring San Diego State
This is the third straight tight end from the Mountain West Conference. Warring has a unique background. In addition to football, Warring also was on San Diego State’s water polo and basketball team so the athleticism is there.
Warring’s use was limited but he showed flashes of his potential when he was targeted in the passing game. The Aztecs adopt a heavy run offensive scheme. In the past, the offense has produced guys like Rashaad Penny and Donnel Pumphrey who both were 2,000 yard rushers in college.
Warring could prove to be a late round steal and develop into a breakout candidate once he gets to the NFL.
10. Foster Moreau LSU
With the lack of blocking tight ends in this year’s class, Moreau could end up being selected earlier than people think. Moreau was used sparingly in the passing game as he was used more as an in-line blocker or as a blocker out of the backfield.
The interesting thing about Moreau is that he tested out as an above average athlete at the NFL Combine. The former LSU tiger ran a 4.66 and finished in the 80th percentile in all major drills for tight ends. Could it be possible that LSU underutilized Moreau or is there something else that evaluators are missing?
It is hard to answer that question since he never earned more than 278 yards in a season. The athletic traits are there with his ability as a blocker well established on film. The team that drafts Moreau might not discover the full scope of his capabilities until he puts the pads on in training camp.
1. Andre Dillard Washington State
Dillard possesses immense athletic ability for someone with his height and frame. He has easy feet and quick reactions on the edge, mirroring defenders effectively after the snap. Once Dillard is engaged, he does a good job of keeping the defenders at arms-length.
At 6’5″ and only 306 lbs, Dillard has ample space to fill out his frame and add significant lower-body strength. The added weight will help him deal with the bull rush that gives him a hard time every now and then.
Playing in Mike Leach’s Air Raid system, Dillard logged in an FBS high 722 passing snaps in 2018 and is by far the best pass blocker in the draft. The former Cougar is still coming along as a run blocker, but some help with his stance and coaching at the level will help him in his development. Dillard is by far the best pass protector in the draft.
2. Jawaan Taylor Florida
Taylor has excellent height and a strong build for an NFL right tackle. Standing at 6’5″, 340 pounds, the former Gaitor is a monster of a man.
He does an excellent job of mirroring defenders, and gets a powerful first hand punch to sustain his blocks. Taylor has very good to excellent balance and bend. The one thing he needs to improve on his footwork but even that has improved over his career.
Taylor is as solid as they come and should be selected in the top 10 or at pick 11 to Cincinnati.
3. Jonah Williams Alabama
Jonah Williams is a technically refined offensive tackle who projects most favorably into a physical offensive front. Williams’ pass protection skills would be best utilized in quicker passing schemes to protect his lack of length from being exposed on deeper pass sets, but that’s no reason to dismiss his skills as an offensive tackle and move inside to guard. Should be a rookie starter at the NFL level and provide quality play on the outside by the end of his first year.
Williams could be selected in the top 10, but will likely be picked in the 11-20 range.
4. Chris Lindstrom Boston College
Lindstrom has played both guard and tackle across his four years as a starter for Boston College, but he projects best inside at offensive guard in the NFL. Lindstrom is a consistent performer across the board and there are very few concerns when it comes to projecting him to a starting role in the NFL. His commitment to playing with great technique, football IQ, mobility and play strength should make him a quality starter for years to come. There is so much to like about his consistency and how reliable he is in getting his job done. Lindstrom is one of the cleanest evals in the class.
He has the talent to be selected in the first round, but most mock drafts have him in the early second round. This may be a case where the NFL views him higher than members of the media.
5. Cody Ford Oklahoma
There is much debate on what position Ford will play in the NFL. He played tackle at Oklahoma, but some view Ford as guard.
Ford should be utilized as a powerful run blocking tackle. His pass blocking technique needs some work done, but there is a lot to like about his big athletic frame. Perhaps will use Ford as both a guard and a tackle depending the overall health of the line. Teams could view his “tweener” status has an advantage.
6. Yodney Cajuste West Virginia
While there are some technical improvements needed, Cajuste has the makings of a standout blindside offensive tackle in the NFL. His power, mobility and length are all plus traits that serve as a strong foundation for him to develop. While his skill set is optimized in a gap/power run scheme, he isn’t limited to that role exclusively.
By the end of his rookie contract, Cajuste should develop into a reliable starter and be trusted to protect a team’s franchise quarterback.
7. Garrett Bradbury NC State
Bradbury can play any of the three interior line positions, but he primarily lined up at center at NC State.
Regardless if he plays center of one of the guard positions, Bradbury’s range as a blocker will be major asset to him and his NFL offense. The only hurdle that scouts have pointed out is that NC State runs pretty much a 100 percent zone blocking scheme so there may be a slight adjustment period depending on the team that selects him.
Overall, there isn’t a lot of glaring weaknesses in Bradbury’s game. He is a “good, not great” prospect.
8. Erik McCoy Texas A&M
A 38-game starter for the Aggies, McCoy started all but two of those at center where his best fit at the next level comes. His blend of functional strength and mobility make him a fit for either a zone or gap blocking run scheme. The biggest concern with McCoy moving forward is developing more hand technique to help him overcome issues with him getting out reached.
McCoy has the potential to start early in his career and anchor the center position in the league for a long time.
9. Dalton Risner Kansas State
At some point during his time at Kansas State, Risner has played all five positions on the line: not too many prospects can say that.
Risner started his career at center before making the permanent switch to tackle for the last three years of his career. There were times where Risner filled in at guard when there was an injury on the offensive line.
Risner is one of the most versatile prospect in not just the offensive line, but in the entire draft. He will start early in his career based on that fact alone.
10. Elgton Jenkins Mississippi State
Jenkins spent time at both right and left tackle along with guard before finding a home at the center position in 2017 and becoming an effective two-year starter. There’s a lot to like about Jenkins in terms of his functional power, football intelligence and body control. With that said, he has severe inconsistencies with his hand usage that must be cleaned up for him to not be exposed at the next level.
Jenkins could prove to be a solid pick in the late second round or early third round.
Interior Defensive Line
1. Quinnen Williams Alabama
Williams was declared the best player in the draft in one of our Primetime Player posts (https://draftcore.net/2019/04/02/alabama-dt-quinnen-williams-is-the-best-prospect-in-the-draft/
What’s not like to like with Quinnen Williams? He adds so much to a defensive unit other than his pass rushing ability from the defensive tackle position. He is an elite run defender, he can line up anywhere on the line, he is smart, he is a leader, and he is the closest thing you can get to a perfect defesnive tackle prospect.
His floor alone is Gerald McCoy with the ceiling of Aaron Donald. Whatever team drafts Williams is already adding a pro bowl defensive tackle to their defense.
2. Ed Oliver Houston
Defensive tackle prospects like Ed Oliver don’t come around all too often. If Quinnen Williams was not in this class, Oliver would easily be the best at his position.
Oliver is explosive, and he is one of the most athletic players to come out of college at any position in the last five years, not just defensive linemen, and he will provide steady production for any team that decides to draft him.
If Oliver is somehow selected outside of the top 10 like some mock drafts suggest, then this entire scouting process is broken.
3. Dexter Lawerence Clemson
Dexter Lawerence is a very rare commodity in today’s NFL: the three-down nose tackle. Not only can he anchor down and use his massive 340-pound frame to absorb double teams and dominate against the run, he also is a very effective pass rusher as well.
Oh and he also ran a 5.05 and benched 36 reps at the combine. Only red flag with Lawrence is a failed drug test before this past College Football Playoffs.
4. Christian Wilkins Clemson
In most drafts, Wilkins would not fall out of the top 10 or 15, but with how deep this class is at defensive tackle, some team might get an incredible value.
Wilkins best trait was not allowing opposing offensive linemen to get hands on him. On film more often than not, he showed an uncanny ability to slip through blocks and lineman could not get a hand on him.
The technique Wilkins displayed was top notch and combine that with his athleticism makes Wilkins have one of the highest floors in the draft.
5. Jerry Tillery Notre Dame
Before he went down with a labrum injury this past season, Tillery began the 2018 season on a tear with 7 sacks in 5 weeks. His production stalled after the injury as he decided to play through it after being out for a couple of weeks.
Tillery is an incredible talent, standing at 6’6″ and 295 pounds. On top of the impressive measurables, the 4.93 40-yard dash time is freakish. There is legitimate concern of whether or not Tillery can stay healthy after the injury, but that was the only blemish on his medical history and he will be back at full strength after a full offseason of rest.
6. Jeffrey Simmons Mississippi State
If it weren’t for injuries and off the field concerns, Simmons would be ranked much higher in these rankings.
Simmons is the prototypical 3-technique in today’s NFL and was very disruptive against the SEC opponents during his career at Mississippi State. Standing at 6’4″ and 330 pounds, Simmons was very strong at the point of attack and his instincts guided him towards whomever he was trying to tackle. If a team is willing to wait out his torn ACL and has the right culture in place, Simmons could prove to be a viable option in the late first round.
7. Dre’Mont Jones Ohio State
Dre’Mont Jones projects as a rush specialist at the next level.
Jones’ first step quickness and hand counters are elite skills that will lend themselves favorably to an impact role. That said, it’s difficult to forecast an every down role for Jones, given his issues in defending the run.
Not a one size fits all type of prospect and will require a specific vision.
8. Gereld Willis III Miami (FL)
Ideal 3 Technique in a 4-3, with elite hand technique.
Willis is explosive and penetrates into the backfield using primarily excellent upper body moves, but has a powerful base and a decent bull rush as well. Above average athletic traits will allow him to at the very least carve out a rotational role at the next level.
9. Charles Omenihu Texas
Charles Omenihu projects favorably as a base 4-3 defensive end in an even front. Omenihu has the needed length, power and hand pop to be a stout run defender and modest pass rusher in a starting role, however his hand usage needs to show improvement in accuracy and violence if he is to maximize his tight angled reps against blockers on the edge.
10. Daniel Wise Kansas
Wise is an aggressive gap penetrator with good burst and active hands. There is some fine-tuning required to deploy his attack more effectively and more strength is needed, but Wise can serve as a wrecking ball at the next level He has the upside to crack the rotation early in his career and command a fair percentage of the reps as he develops.
1. Nick Bosa Ohio State
He looks and plays exactly like his brother Joey. They have similar athletic profiles and use similar moves to get to the quarterback. They even have similar weaknesses. Both Bosas struggle against big offensive tackles with long arms. Even though they share the same weaknesses, they also share the same strengths which means we can expect similar production similar production to his brother Joey.
Like Joey, Nick is about as bust proof as a you can get. Will he ever be an elite, defensive player of the year type player? probably not. But he will go to many pro bowls and be a solid producer for an NFL defense for 10+ years. That in itself is what makes Bosa so valuable. He will be a consistent sack producing pass rusher which will always have value.
2. Montez Sweat Mississippi State
Montez Sweat has established himself as a solid passing rushing threat in the SEC. He has a chance to hear his name called early in the 2019 NFL Draft. Sweat uses his combination of length and quickness to generate pressure. He features a long and lean frame with excellent arm length. The 4.41 40-yard dash he ran at the combine was slower than just 9 offensive players.
There are concerns with his health, as a heart condition was discovered at the combine. This condition is the same condition that made former Michigan, now current Oakland Raider defensive tackle Maurice Hurst fall to the fifth round. Despite the discovery, Sweat still performed at the combine indicating that the condition may not be as serious as it could have been.
Sweat has the talent to be a top 15 pick even with the heart condition. Teams like the Dolphins or Falcons would be good fits for Sweat.
3. Clelin Ferrell Clemson
Ferrell is a well-rounded defensive end prospect. He is solid, but not prolific, pass rusher while being dependable defending the run. With Wilkins and Lawerence on the same defensive line at Clemsom, it is easy to overlook Ferrell.
He is great at adjusting to his opponent. One game he would bull rush smaller linemen in one game, and use his hands to get get around larger linemen in a different one. There is a noteworthy play in the National Championship against Alabama where Ferrell got past fellow draft prospect Jonah Williams to make a big sack on third down.
Ferrell is one of those prospects that is good at all lot of different things, but not great or elite.
4. Rashan Gary Michigan
The biggest “boom or bust” prospect in this year’s draft is Michigan’s Rashan Gary. The case could be made that Gary is the most athletic player in this year’s draft. At 6’4″, 277 pounds, Gary ran a 4.58 40-time and a 38 inch vertical.
The problem is that these traits weren’t shown in his tape while he was at Michigan. Gary reminds me of Robert Nkemdiche when he was coming out of Ole Miss. The jury is still out on Nkemdiche as he has struggled to stay healthy.
The range of outcomes for Gary is concerning. He could either be a hall of famer when he retires or just a rotational pass rusher.
5. Ben Banogu TCU
If you attempt to compare Ben Banogu to a current NFL player based on his measureables alone, Khalil Mack is the closest comparison. Here are result from the combines of both players.
Height and Weight: 6’3″ and 250 pounds
40 time: 4.62
Vertical: 40 inches
Broad Jump: 134 inches
Bench Press: 23 reps
Height and Weight: 6’3″ and 251 pounds
40 time: 4.65
Vertical: 40 inches
Broad Jump: 128 inches
Bench Press: 23 re ps
After evaluating film, Banogu was not the dominating presence that Mack was in college, but he certainly showed flashes. He logged in a 10 tackle performnace with 4 of those being for loss, while sacking the quarterback once against Baylor. He was a mainstay in the backfield against the Bears and recked havoc.
Banogu needs to add more moves and use his hands better if he wants to perform up to Mack’s level. But the measureables, and the flashes on film are an encouraging sign. Based on his resume, Banogu is worth taking in the first round.
6. L.J. Collier TCU
TCU had quite the tandem at defesnsive end with both Ben Banogu and L.J. Collier.
With limited starting experience, Collier got better and better throughout the 2018 CFB season and capitalized with a strong week at the 2019 Senior Bowl. Showing budding confidence and aggressiveness at the snap, Collier has adequate first step burst and prototypical length.
Look for Collier to be a base end or power player along the line of scrimmage in the NFL.
7. Zach Allen Boston College
Zach Allen is an old school defensive end coming out of Boston College.
Although he is limited athletically, Allen was one of college football’s most productive defensive players, totaling 16.5 sacks during his career. There’s nothing that will blow you away watching film of Allen, but he got the job done more often than not.
Allen can play anywhere on a 4-3 defensive line and the versatility will intrigue some teams.
8. Anthony Nelson Iowa
Anthony Nelson has some terrific tools at his disposal to become a heck of a football player.
He’s not there yet.
Nelson is too carefree with his approach, often having a difficult time shaking off blocks from more aggressive linemen. Nelson needs some fine tuning at the next level if he wants to be relied on consistently. There are traits an NFL defensive coordinator can work with, but overall Nelson needs time to develop.
9. Maxx Crosby Eastern Michigan
Crosby compiled some exciting production and tested very well at the NFL Scouting Combine. While his raw tools are present on film and there is plenty of developmental appeal, Crosby needs considerable work in learning to use his traits to win at the NFL level.
Crosby is a long, athletic and high-effort player but his lack of flexibility does present restrictions. If a team can be patient, Crosby certainly has the makeup of a prospect that can evolve into something, but it’s going to take some time.
As a potential day 3 pick, Crosby could end up being one of the gems of the class.
10. Joe Jackson Miami (FL)
A gifted athlete, Jacksondepended on his natural athletic ability during his college career. He has excellent length and superb balance that allows him to gain leverage on the edge. As a run defender, he anchors surprisingly well, and has a lot of upside if he can learn to use his feet better.
Jackson needs to use his hands better and develop an arsenal of moves to get to the quarterback or else he will be nothing more than a rotational piece.
1. Josh Allen Kentucky
Allen is an ideal 3-4 outside linebacker with his ability to rush the passer and drop into coverage. In the pass rush, the first thing that stands out about him is that he is a dangerous edge rusher with natural feel and a nose for the quarterback. Allen is very fast off the edge with a quick first-step and serious speed to run the loop around the corner. He has a nice ability to bend and quick feet to cut around blockers. Offensive tackles can really struggle to get their hands on him and lock him up.
The only way Allen is not selected in the top 5 is if teams try to trade up to select a franchise quarterback.
2. Devin White LSU
White was the best linebacker in all of college football. The only reason Allen is above White is Allen’s ability to play both 4-3 DE and 3-4 OLB. This past season, White totaled 123 tackles with 12 for a loss, six passes broken up, three sacks and three forced fumbles.
White is the complete package. In addition to his athletic gifts, he also displayed impressive insticnts that lead him to making a big play in the backfield. He can defend the run, make plays in pass coverage, and be the leader of a defense.
The Raiders or Buccaneers make a ton of sense as possible landing spots for White.
3. Devin Bush Michigan
With the NFL becoming a passing-driven league, pro teams need linebackers who are fast athletes and capable of contributing to pass coverage. Bush is that kind of linebacker, and he gave perfect proof with a stellar NFL Scouting Combine highlighted by a 4.43-second time in the 40-yard dash. Bush has a skill set that is coveted throughout the NFL.
As a run defender, White is best served playing the weakside linebacker and using his speed to chase down ball carriers. Due to his small frame, Bush is best served in a pursuit role.
Bush will prove to be a solid contributor for whoever selects him.
4. Brian Burns Florida State
Burns projects to be an athletic pass-rushing 3-4 OLB. His skill set could make him a double digit sack producer in the NFL.
At Florida State, Burns showed great reaction time to the snap of the football, and often made the first move when he engaged with blockers. Another skill of Burns is his ability to bend and blow past linemen attempting to block him.
In the NFL, Burns will have to gain some weight so he can develop into a three down option.
5. Germaine Pratt NC State
Pratt is a converted safety that has played both the inside and outside linebacker at NC State. So he is versatile and knows various parts of a defense. He has excellent lateral quickness, but his one year of starting experience could be considered a problem.
He did have a strong 2018 season, though — 10.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, three pass breakups, seven quarterback hurries, and two forced fumbles. Pratt could sneak into the second round of the draft.
6. Mack Wilson Alabama
Wilson last season had two interceptions and five pass breakups, plus five tackles for loss for the Crimson Tide. While he was a strength in coverage, Wilson often got sucked into blocks and had a difficult time shedding them. It won’t get any easier going up against NFL blockers so it’s a flaw that needs to be addressed.
The third round would be a good place for Wilson to be selected at, but he most likely will be picked in the second round.
7. Chase Winovich Michigan
Winnovich definitely benefitted from having Gary on the opposite side of the line. While the attention was given towards Gary, Winnovich rarely was double teamed and he was able to take advantage of it.
During his junior year, he earned 79 tackles with 18.5 TFL and 8 sacks starting 13 games for the Wolverines. He is capable of playing both 3-4 OLB and 4-3 DE so versatility is a strength for Winnovich.
He doesn’t have the traits to be a star, but Winnovich can develop into a reliable starter for many years in the NFL.
8. Vosean Joseph Florida
Vosean Joseph is a smaller linebacker standing at 6’1″ and 230 pounds. He projects best as a weak-side linebacker in the NFL.
Joseph collected 93 tackles with 4 sacks this past season. Playing in the SEC, Joseph had to take down some talented running backs including Josh Jacobs and Damien Harris from Alabama and Trayveon Williams from Texas A&M.
Against power backs like Jacobs, Joseph’s small frame showed as he needed another teammate to bring him down. But when the running back was smaller, Joseph’s athleticism aided him to make some special plays in the run game.
Joseph isn’t ready to come in right away and start, but spending a year on the sidelines to bulk up and improve his block shedding technique will help his progression at the next level.
9. Bobby Okereke Stanford
Bobby Okereke has two years of solid production under his belt at Stanford. With 88 tackles in 2017, and 94 tackles in 2018, Okereke proved to be a staple on Stanford’s defense.
He is incredibly smart and his instincts often lead him to where the play will occur. In addition to his instincts, Okereke’s 34 and a half inch arms also deflected passes and aided him in getting off blocks.
Where Okereke struggles is missed tackles due to his inability to change direction. He struggled against shifty backs that knew how to juke out defenders. This is a flaw that can be coached, but it could take some time. He absolutely needs to be on the field in pass coverage so teams will value that aspect of Okereke’s game.
Okereke enters the NFL as a dominant special teams ace with the potential to play on third downs to help in pass coverage.
10. Dakota Allen Texas Tech
Dakota Allen appeared on the show “Last Chance U”, a show featuring a community college by the name of East Mississippi Community College which documents the college’s efforts to bring in players with troubled pasts.
Allen was charged with burglary which could have ended his chances of playing football forever. After a standout season at EMCC, Allen transfered to Texas Tech and put in three productive years as one of the best linebackers in the Big 12.
With everything Allen went through, all of his work will pay off as he is expected to go in the 4th or 5th round.
1. Greedy Williams LSU
Greedy Williams lived up to his name at LSU, picking off opposing quarterbacks 8 times in two years as the startering cornerback.
Standing at 6’3″, the former All-American has the height to cover Mike Evans and the 4.37 speed to keep up with Tyreek Hill. His performance against Ole Miss where he shadowed D.K. Metcalf and held him to just 3 catches and 37 yards.
Greedy is a top 15 talent and should be the first corner taken off the board.
2. Byron Murphy Washington
Byron Murphy is the best zone cornerback in the draft. Murphy is an athletic ball-hawking corner who makes life extremely hard on wide receivers. However, he lacks the ideal height to play on the outside.
In addition to his coverage abilities, Murphy is an aggressive and great tackler. On film, there wern’t many, if any at all, where Murphy whiffed at a tackle. He does a good job getting low and placing his full strength into a tackle and avioids arm tackling altogether.
If Murphy was two inches taller and 10 pounds heavier, he would be a serious contender to Greedy’s number one ranking.
3. DeAndre Baker Georgia
Deandre Baker improved every year in college, culminating with a dominant senior season. His blend of ball skills, press technique, route anticipation skills and awareness combined with modest fluidity and long speed make him best served to function as a press/zone corner.
Baker is an extreme competitor which shows up in how he tackles, battles at the catch point and plays off contact. Given his limitations in off-man coverage, Baker is a scheme-specific prospect but represents top-end ability for a team in search of what he does well.
Baker could sneak into the first round, but he may slip into the second round.
4. Trayvon Mullen Clemson
Mullen capped his Clemson career with Defensive MVP honors in the Tigers’ National Championship win over Alabama. Mullen’s best fit at the next level comes as an outside corner, used in press coverage where his size, physicality, play strength and recovery speed are properly utilized.
With that said, there are notable concerns with his footwork and lack of fluidity that present challenges for him in off-man coverage. Sometimes on film, Mullen would get his feet tangled on a double move. Mullen also has the tendency to guess the receiver’s route and give up a big play as a result.
Mullen may need a year to fix these issues, but the talent and the playmaking ability is all ready there when he enters the league.
5. Isaiah Johnson Houston
Johnson came to Houston a wide receiver, where he played earlier in his career, but made the switch to cornerback in 2017 and started 15 games for the Cougars. Still relatively new to the position, Johnson has some high level flashes in a variety of techniques including press, off-man and zone. With that said, improving his coverage instincts and route recognition skills is critical for his development.
His growth has been impressive to date and his physical traits are exceptional. Johnson has starting upside in Year Two/Three with continued development. His rookie year is better spent as a rotational piece as he learns the position.
6. Amani Oruwariye Penn State
Amani Oruwariye is very raw with some desirable traits.
Due to his frame, athleticism and fixable technique, Oruwariye may have the highest ceiling among cornerbacks in the NFL Draft. Even at his floor, he’s a versatile coverage man with adeptness in both man and zone. His natural ball skills and size make him a dangerous threat to make plays at any time. While he isn’t a guaranteed first-round selection, he should make noise as an option in the second round. When all is said and done, he could become the top cornerback from the class.
7. JoeJuan Williams Vanderbilt
Williams is a big, long and physical corner.
The former Vanderbilt standout was at his best when he was jamming wide receivers at the line of scrimmage. Williams does have some restrictions in man coverage and isn’t a candidate to carry routes vertically without help behind him. A move to safety is something worth discussing with Williams, but he has starter upside as an outside corner in the right scheme.
Williams is slotted to go in the second or third round.
8. Lonnie Johnson Kentucky
Lonnie Johnson’s made a name for himself at the Senior Bowl. He backed up his standout performance with an above average showing at the combine.
On film, Johnson struggled in press coverage. His skills are best suited in zone coverage where he can use his impressive ball skills and reaction time to make plays similar to the ones he made at Kentucky. Johnson may have to start his career on special teams to help develop his man coverage ability.
9. Justin Layne Michigan State
Justin Layne is a developmental project that could pay off big time for a team willing to invest in him.
Coming out of high school, Layne was a highly recruited wide receiver. He made the transition during his freshman year. At times, he looks like a wide receiver instead of a corner covering someone. However, Layne is disruptive early in routes and at the catch point. Layne should be an eventual starter with a fairly high ceiling as he continues to learn the nuances of the cornerback position.
10. Rock Ya-Sin Temple
The former Temple Owl has been receiving some first round hype. He has the potential to develop into a lockdown man defender on the outside.
So what’s the problem? Ya-Sin has a detrimental habit of holding wide receivers beyond five yards. He wasn’t always called on it, but it is something he needs to fix if he wants to stay on the field.
Ya-Sin has a shot to be a strong no. 2 outside cornerback in a press-man scheme at the next level. His effort and intensity will impress coaches, especially given how he defends the run, but he needs to iron out the holding problem.
1. Jonathan Abram Mississippi State
Jonathan Abram is a human missile as he struck fear into anyone that dared to throw the ball into the vicinity of him.
It wasn’t just the big hits that make Abram an intriguing safety prospect; it was the instincts that got him there. While in coverage, Abram is exceptional at reading the quarterback’s eyes and figuring out the play as it is developing. Does he occasionally miss and give up a big play? Sometimes, but more often than not he is able to diagnose the play and make the correct read.
Mississippi State would also use Abram to rush the quarterback, as he earned nine sacks in 2018. With the NFL being more mindful in player safety, Abram’s aggressive style of play may need to be regulated a little, but Abram has distinguished himself as the best safety in this class.
2. Nasir Adderley Deleware
The toughest thing about Adderley’s evaluation was finding a weakness, as he is a top-notch athlete with exceptional short-area quickness and fluidity, while also possessing the ability to open up and cover ground with speed and range as a single-high safety. He’s incredibly physical, bringing the fight to everyone on the field without sacrificing technique or responsibility.
The only blemish is his level of competition at Delaware. Will the jump to the NFL be to big of a jump, or will he continue the dominance he showed in college? One things certain, Adderley is an exciting prospect.
3. Chauncey Garner-Thompson Florida
This is a fantastic class for aggressive safeties.
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson projects as a true game changing defender at the NFL level. Gardner-Johnson has been featured in the nickel and as pressure safety, both areas that he can play at a high level. With elite short area explosiveness and aggressiveness, Gardner-Johnson creates a ton of splash plays by driving forward and playing in attack mode.
Gardner-Johnson is certainly worthy of a first round selection, but may fall to the second round due to teams prioritizing other positions.
4. Amani Hooker Iowa
Amani Hooker is the best cover safety in this year’s class. He won’t make the big hit on a ball carrier, but he will prove to be a headache for quarterbacks that throw his way.
In coverage, Hooker always seemed to be in the right place at the time. It was rare to see him bite on a double move and blow a coverage assignment.
Hooker’s style of play mirrors Kevin Byard of the Titans.
5. Darnell Savage Maryland
For four years as a starter at Maryland, Darnell Savage played like a… wait for it… a full blown savage
Savage features a versatile skill set with an outstanding athletic profile. Not only is Savage a physical defender in pursuit and when tackling, but he’s sticky in coverage with excellent ball skills. He takes precise angles to the football, has outstanding range and is a clean processor overall. Savage profiles as an eventual starter that is maximized defending split zone while providing a tone-setting presence to the secondary.
The former Terrapin is getting hyped as a late first rounder; Savage should be more of a mid second round pick.
6. Deionte Thompson Alabama
Deionte Thompson is not worth a first round pick. Some mocks have him picked as high as 20th overall to Pittsburgh and it would be a mistake.
Thompson is not a bad player, but he is not worth the draft capital of a 1st, maybe even 2nd round pick. For every good play he had on tape, Thompson somehow managed to match it with a boneheaded play. Far too often, Thompson would miss tackles because he ran right by them with his head down.
NFL teams should not invest in an inconsistent player like Thompson, especially early in the draft. Could he maybe be worth the risk in the third round? Potentially, but there are some signficant issues to iron out.
7. Juan Thornhill Virginia
A three-year starter for the Cavs, Thornhill has experience at both safety and corner but spent his final season at Virginia as safety where he best projects to the next level.
Thornhill excels in coverage from a variety of techniques. He has a natural feel in zone for coverage spacing and working into throwing windows while also effective in man coverage where his length and physicality will serve him well working against tight ends and bigger slots.
There are some matchups in the slot, mainly against quicker receivers, that could be problematic for Thornhill in man coverage but he has the physical traits to lineup with flexed tight ends and big-bodied possession receivers.
Thornhill is a fairly versatile safety that has the upside to start early in his NFL career.
8. Taylor Rapp Washington
Taylor Rapp is a bit of a throwback, he has terrific skills in run support and it’s easy to fall in love with his motor and splash plays in pursuit. But in coverage, Rapp is a liability.
Rapp is a good enough athlete to be worth developing as a big nickel/tight end-slaying option, but I think his ceiling and role are decently limited, which will impact how highly he’ll be valued in the draft.
9. Ugochukwu Amadi Oregon
Ugochukwu Amati is one of our Sleeper Spotlights in this year’s class. You can read the post here: https://draftcore.net/2019/04/08/get-used-to-saying-ugochukwu-amadis-name/
The former Duck had a decorated career at Oregon, playing in all 51 games from 2015-18. As a senior, Ugo was a Jim Thorpe finalist and won the Lombardi Award which is given to the best player in college football regardless of position.
During his four year career, he racked up 165 total tackles, 8 INTs with two of those being returned for a touchdown, and also got 3 sacks. Ugo did some damage on special teams, returning 14 punts for the Ducks.
Ugo is undersized at 5’10”, but has made a ton of plays throughout his collegiate career. Oregon moved him all around and lined him up at safety and at nickel cornerback. This versatility will definitely intrigue some NFL teams.
With as deep as this safety class is, Ugo could prove to be a sneaky Day 3 pick.
10. Marvin Tell USC
A three-year starter for USC, Tell has the physical upside to fill a variety of roles.
With that said, his passive tendencies playing forward and lack of coverage instincts present notable restrictions. Embracing the physical components of the position and quicker responses in zone coverage are critical to his development. Tell will need to prove himself on special teams and provide depth as he becomes a more complete safety.