It’s that time of the year again, folks. College Football —well, football in general— is upon us. And that means we are a step closer to the 2019 NFL Draft.
At first look, the 2019 draft class looks to be very strong and deep at multiple positional groups. Wide receiver, defensive line, EDGE rusher, cornerback and running back are five positions that look loaded right now. In fact, those five positions have the most players in my Top 50.
At linebacker, I have four linebackers in my Top 50. but only one in my Top 20. The tackle position is has the most depth with some great talent at the top for the first time in a few years or so. Quarterback isn’t as strong as it has been in the past couple years as I only have three quarterbacks in my Top 50. Safety is a major downgrade from last year as my highest ranked safety is 25th overall whereas my top ranked safety at this point last year was ranked second overall. I’m not a fan of the interior offensive lineman at the moment but I do see potential in the group to possibly see a few guys rise into the first round conversation. Overall, it’s another nice looking class.
It’s now time to look at the Top ten prospects on my current big board.
The Top Ten
1. Ed Oliver, DL, Houston
Last May, I had a pretty good idea who my top player was going to be for the 2018 draft in Saquon Barkley. One year later, I’m getting that same feeling with Ed Oliver. Oliver, like Barkley, has very rare athleticism and for his position and it shows up on tape. He’s a MONSTER versus the run as he had over 38.5 tackles for loss in his last 2 seasons. Oliver is an elite pass rusher for his position as well, as he shows off a variety of skill moves like a bull rush, spin and swim, and push-pull move. If there is one player that should be compared to Aaron Donald in terms of talent, it’s Oliver.
2. Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
Like his brother, Joey, Nick Bosa looks to be a potential Top five draft pick heading into the 2018 season. As a true sophomore who rotated at defensive end with Tyquan Lewis and Sam Hubbard, Bosa racked up an impressive 8.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss. Bosa, as a prospect, isn’t as bendy as his brother but he gains a lot of ground in his first few steps. He displays a variety of moves from a club to a bull rush. His long arms can shift tackles out of their place and his hand usage is nearly on the level of his brother’s, in my opinion. If the draft was today and a team in need of a pass rusher had the number one overall, I’m taking Bosa all day.
You can't block what you can't touch. Nick Bosa shows great placement with this counter and is a misstep away from a QB hit. pic.twitter.com/ejLqADdiQ9
— Kyle Crabbs (@GrindingTheTape) June 13, 2018
3. Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
If there is one guy who has the potential to become the next Joe Thomas, it’s Bama’s Jonah Williams. On tape, Williams showcases elite size and strength to go along with amazing footwork. He gets to the second level with no problem and is great puller on power run or counter plays. Williams isn’t the best athlete but he gets the job done right. Some teams, though, may be concerned about his lack of length come winter/spring. Overall, Williams looks like the best tackle to come through the draft in a few years. Tua Tagovailoa will feel very comfortable in the pocket with Williams protecting him.
4. Andraez “Greedy” Williams, CB, LSU
There’s a reason why Andraez Williams is called Greedy Williams. As a redshirt freshman last season, Williams racked up an SEC-leading six interceptions and ten pass breakups. On tape, he’s a lockdown corner, for the most part. Williams has the size, length, and athleticism that teams crave on. He has the speed to cover speedy wideouts and can click-and-close better than any corner in this draft. But Williams, like all prospects, has his weaknesses. Jon Ledyard of The Draft Network recently wrote an article on how Williams has work to do in terms of press technique, effort, and focus, which is something I and Jon believe he can fix if he wants to be considered a downright top five pick.
5. Raekwon Davis, DL, Alabama
A guy I believe who, at the moment, has the potential to be a Top five pick is Raekwon Davis. Davis is another prospect in my Top five that wasn’t the starter for most of the season but still put up good numbers when he was on the field. At 6’6”, 303 lbs, Davis is immovable at the point of attack. He possesses insane power and violent hands that only few in this class posses. However, At the same time, he’s a raw talent with huge upside and potential. Some questions have risen about his athleticism and his ability as a pass rusher but I expect those questions to be answered versus Louisville.
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) August 2, 2018
6. N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
If you are looking for possibly the next Dez Bryant, look no further than my sixth overall ranked prospect, N’Keal Harry. Harry has elite jump ball skills that only few in the NFL have and has an amazing catch radius along with very strong hands. You can trust him to make a play in the redzone when you need him too. Harry might not have blazing speed but has great vision as a runner from being a Wildcat receiver last year. There are concerns about his ability to separate on go or vertical routes and releasing off the line of scrimmage, but there is no denying his talent.
7. Jeffery Simmons, DL, Mississippi State
The third defensive lineman in my Top ten might be a better player than my fifth overall prospect, Raekwon Davis. Jeffery Simmons is a very powerful human being. With the first-step quickness that I always look for in defensive lineman, Simmons uses his insanely powerful strength to drive offensive lineman into the quarterback. As a pass rusher, he’s much more developed than Davis in terms of having a plan of attack as a rusher. While Simmons might be better than Davis, Davis is ahead of him due to upside and potential. At the moment though, I see Simmons being a top 15 lock throughout the fall unless he has a down year.
8. Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
You wanna talk about freak athleticism? Look no further than Iowa’s Noah Fant. Fant is one of the top athletes in college football and arguably Iowa’s best player. At 6’4”, 234 lbs, he reportedly had a 42.5” vertical jump which would’ve topped everyone at the 2018 NFL Combine and would’ve been the best vertical for a tight end in the last seven years. Fant is one of the best TE prospects I’ve seen in quite a few years. He has a insane combination of size and speed and is a nightmare for opposing linebackers and safeties. As a receiver, he’s one hell of a playmaker. Fant averaged 16.5 yards per catch and of the 30 passes he caught last season, 11 of them were touchdowns! If you want, potentially, the next Vernon Davis, get you some of Noah Fant.
9. Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
Can I get this out of the way real quick? Clemson’s defensive line has only ONE legit first-round prospect and it’s this man: Clelin Ferrell. Ferrell, before announcing he’d stay one more year at Clemson, was a projected first-round pick by many for the 2018 draft. Heading into the 2018 season, Ferrell is once again a projected first round pick for the upcoming 2019 draft. Ferrell has the physical traits and athleticism you want in a pass rusher. On tape, he shows a nasty bend, a good plan of attack and a quick first step. Ferrell is also an excellent run defender with 18 tackles for loss in 2017. At the trend he’s going, Ferrell is in line for a monster redshirt junior season.
10. D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
On an Ole Miss offense featuring guys like A.J. Brown, DaMarkus Lodge, and Dawson Knox, D.K. Metcalf has shown on tape he’s the better prospect. Metcalf possesses elite traits and has amazing size (6’3”, 225 lbs) and speed. For someone his size, Metcalf is a great route runner. He shows great technique when playing corners against press coverage. Metcalf, like N’Keal Harry and NCSU’s Kelvin Harmon, is master of the jump ball in this draft class (see game-winning catch vs. Kentucky) and having some big hands can help with that. I see a lot of potential in Metcalf to be a big-time YAC receiver. He has the speed (reportedly ran a *4.3 40*) but he needs to develop the vision to be one. There a couple things, though, that I have concerns about with Metcalf. Last season he struggled to separate when breaking on his routes and his route tree was somewhat simple. Hopefully, Heach Coach Matt Luke can maybe expand and add to the route tree installed in the Ole Miss offense. Right now, Metcalf is raw in some areas but his elite traits along with his upside and potential are too hard to ignore. He’s good.
DK Metcalf destroyed Kevin Tolliver all game long last season. 6-3, 225 lb RS freshman doing this! pic.twitter.com/O7pkhqQCco
— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) August 5, 2018
The (rest of) of the Board
Now that you have seen who my Top Ten guys are, here is the rest of my Top 50 draft board!
***Note: None of these players are projected to go into the 2019 draft. These are truly preliminary. Also, remember that this is a draft board, not a mock draft. I have ranked the players below in terms of their performance and skill, not on which spot they will be drafted from.
|12||David Montgomery||RB||Iowa State|
|13||Kelvin Harmon||WR||NC State|
|14||Yodny Cajuste||T||West Virginia|
|15||Brian Lewerke||QB||Michigan State|
|18||Bryan Edwards||WR||South Carolina|
|21||Montez Sweat||EDGE||Mississippi State|
|24||Greg Little||T||Ole Miss|
|29||Ryan Finley||QB||NC State|
|30||A.J. Brown||WR||Ole Miss|
|34||Amani Oruwariye||CB||Penn State|
|35||Ryan Finley||QB||NC State|
|37||Lukas Denis||S||Boston College|
|38||Deebo Samuel||WR||South Carolina|
|43||Will Grier||QB||West Virginia|
|45||Devin Singletary||RB||Florida Atlantic|
|50||Justice Hill||RB||Oklahoma State|
The Potential Risers
In my rankings, I highlighted three players that could either rise in my Top 50 or into it all together on my next big board update.
The first player I highlighted was my QB1: Michigan State’s Brian Lewerke. Lewerke is a hell of a player on tape. He shows great ball placement and anticipation along with good accuracy and poise in the pocket. Lewerke is also very dangerous with his legs has he can take off at any time and pick up an easy 1st down. The one thing that’s keeping me from putting him in my Top 12 is his decision making. If he makes strides in that area, you can guarantee he will be in my Top 12 on my next big board update.
Lot of big time traits being shown here in another key situation by MSU QB Brian Lewerke. Exciting potential. pic.twitter.com/FtIXjtHLLt
— Kyle Crabbs (@GrindingTheTape) June 18, 2018
The second player I highlighted was Ole Miss TE Dawson Knox. The former walk-on QB has amazing size, length, and athleticism with some nice hands. With last season being his first season, he’s still learning how to be a blocker and that’s a huge part in evaluating a tight end if you are a scout from a run first team. Knox is a raw prospect at the moment, but that could change in the next month or so.
My third and final prospect I have highlighted as a potential riser is Clemson defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence. Let me make myself very clear: Dexter Lawrence is not the Top ten prospect that he is billed to be. Yes, he’s a great run defender but he’s got some work to do. The former five-star has the power to push interior offensive lineman into the lap of the quarterback but can also be pushed around sometimes. That’s not good for a 6’4”, 340 lbs defensive lineman. Granted, Lawrence was dealing with some injuries during the season so he probably wasn’t at 100%. The potential is there to be a potential Top 20-25 prospect as he has shown flashes. 2018 should be a big year for him.
My 5 Final Thoughts: The 2018 Draft
1. It’s safe to say that the Browns finally have their future in Baker Mayfield. I had said since the Rose Bowl that he or Saquon Barkley should be the first overall pick. Then three picks later, Cleveland selected the best cornerback in the draft in Denzel Ward. I can safely say that the Browns first-round deserves an A+.
2. Speaking of Saquon Barkley, wow boy did the Giants get an f’ing playmaker. If Eli Manning ends up retiring after 2018, why not have his best year passing the football with guys like OBJ, Sterling Shepherd, Evan Engram AND Saquon Barkley at his disposal? Oh, and by the way, Will Hernandez is going to be a MONSTER on that Giants OL.
3. How in the hell did Derwin James fall to the Chargers at 17? That’s just so unfair. That Chargers defense is absolutely loaded with Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, Casey Hayward and now a big-time playmaker in Derwin James. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chargers finished as a top-five defense this year. Also, speaking of safties, I had a first-round grade on former Texas and current Baltimore Ravens safety DeShon Elliott, a guy I had a first-round grade on, fell all the way to the sixth round. The Raven’s safety room just got so much deeper.
4. Panthers fans, I plead guilty to not liking Donte Jackson for most of the draft process as I thought of him as just a guy with insane speed and nothing else until I took a closer look just a few days before draft day and realized he was more than just a guy with speed. He displayed more like a typical cornerback, with great zone coverage skills and length. Now Jackson is more than likely going to be the Week one starter at CB2 opposite of James Bradberry.
This is a little bit from my pre-combine Big Board article on now-Panthers CB Donte Jackson. I was not very high heading into the combine but after taking a quick look before the draft, I bumped him up into my Top 80-100. Now Jackson looks like CB2 for the Panthers. pic.twitter.com/b6y4hFeb8G
— Jared Feinberg (@JrodDraftScout) August 15, 2018
- Jon Ledyard, I feel for you. Three months later, it still doesn’t make sense that the Steelers took Terrell Edmunds with the 28th pick when guys like Mike Hughes, Josh Jackson, and DeShon Elliott were still on the board. From what I’ve heard from Steelers training camp, though, that Edmunds might’ve actually been the right pick but we’ll just have to wait and see.
I hope you guys enjoyed my first article for the 2019 draft with plenty more to come! Make sure to give me a follow on Twitter @JrodDraftScout for everything on the NFL Draft!