Fried’s Pre-Combine 2019 NFL Draft Big Board 1.0
With the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine less than a week away, let’s take a look at the top 32 players currently in the 2019 NFL Draft heading into Indianapolis.
The 2019 NFL Draft is fast approaching and the New York Jets will be keeping a close eye on the class of prospects as they look to rebuild their roster from the bottom up.
Successful teams build their rosters through the NFL Draft. A quick glance at some of the league’s top teams will tell a tale of roster construction through homegrown talent, something the Jets have only recently started to do better at.
Simply put, the NFL Draft is the single, most advantageous way to build an NFL team. The road to the draft takes a detour this week as the top prospects from around the country will take a trip to Indianapolis, Indiana to participate in the annual NFL Scouting Combine.
This year’s cast features many soon-to-be NFL stars who will be competing in a variety of athletic drills to see who possesses the most natural talent. While the Combine can be misleading at times and it certainly isn’t the best judge of a prospect’s skill set, it can be helpful to see specific athletic traits from prospects that you may not have known they had.
With that, let’s take a look at the top 32 players on my draft board ahead of the NFL Scouting Combine.
No. 32 – No. 29
32. LB Mack Wilson, Oklahoma – Wilson sneaks into the back half of this big board based on his athletic potential. The Oklahoma product started just 17 games in college and is rough around the edges, but his lateral quickness and coverage ability make him a potential star at the next level if he could refine his game.
31. OT Andre Dillard, Washington State – Dillard is a prototypical pass blocking left tackle prospect who still needs a bit of development but could be a very good starter protecting the blindside in the future. His run blocking is a major flaw in his game as is his hand placement but he has the upside of a franchise-caliber left tackle.
30. WR Kelvin Harmon, NC State – A classic high-floor prospect who projects as a very reliable No. 2 receiving option at the next level. He is a polished route-runner who can make contested catches and box out defenders with his large frame. Harmon lacks the speed and burst to be a true No. 1 receiver in the NFL but he should be a mainstay in the league for a long time.
29. S Taylor Rapp, Washington – Rapp projects as an excellent throwback box safety at the next level with underrated coverage ability to boot. There may not be a prospect in this class who hits harder from the safety position. Rapp is better than he is given credit for with his coverage ability on opposing tight ends but lacks the athleticism and range to be counted on in a deep zone.
Next: No. 28 - No. 25
No. 28 – No. 25
28. WR N’Keal Harry, Arizona State – Harry is one of the many receivers who will look to establish himself as WR1 in this year’s class at the Combine. The Arizona State product is a walking mass of muscle who physically dominates opposing defensive backs. His contested catch ability and yards after catch traits make him appealing but he will need to run well in Indianapolis to solidify his top-20 status.
27. S Deionte Thompson, Alabama – At one point this season, Thompson was considered a top-five talent in this class, but inconsistent play during his junior season has dropped his stock. Thompson has the range and athleticism needed to be an incredible single-high free safety in the NFL but he needs to become a more disciplined player and not try for the big play on every snap.
26. LB Devin Bush, Michigan – At 5-foot-11 and just 222 pounds, Bush is a player who would have never made it in the NFL as a linebacker just a few years ago. The Michigan product struggles with block shedding but possesses ample athleticism to help him shoot gaps and cover opposing tight ends and running backs.
25. EDGE Brian Burns, Florida State – Burns was an incredibly productive pass rusher while at FSU and looking at his tape it’s easy to see why. He may be the most refined edge rusher in this year’s class combining impressive bend with sharp pass rush moves. Burns’ run defense is a concern as is his slight frame but he should have no problem being a very effective pass rusher at the next level.
Next: No. 24- No. 21
No. 24 – No. 21
24. TE Noah Fant, Iowa – Fant is the matchup-nightmare at the tight end position that teams are in search of in today’s NFL. He combines incredible athleticism with reliable hands making him the ultimate offensive playmaker. In all honesty, Fant is much more of a wide receiver/tight end hybrid than a true tight end but he can be a great piece for any offense in need of a dynamic x-factor.
23. S Nasir Adderley, Delaware – Adderley is proof that the first rounds of the NFL Draft aren’t exclusively for players from high-profile programs. The Delaware product is a true all-around prospect at the safety position possessing fantastic range out of the single-high position with the ability to come down and defend the run as well. Some will have concerns over his level of competition but traits are traits. As such, Adderley is the top safety on my board.
22. CB Byron Murphy, Washington – Murphy is a feisty, high-motor player whose game should transition very well to the NFL. His ball skills and lockdown coverage ability give him top-tier potential with the opportunity to shine in a primarily zone coverage scheme. Murphy’s press coverage is a slight weakness but he’s still good enough in that area to play on the boundary for most teams.
21. CB Deandre Baker, Georgia – Contrary to Murphy, Baker excels in press coverage using his physicality to overwhelm opposing receivers in ways very few defensive backs do nowadays. His man coverage ability is top-notch but there are some concerns about his play speed. The Combine should be a major test for Baker who could become a top-20 pick with an impressive showing.
Next: No. 20 - No. 17
No. 20 – No. 17
20. QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma – Murray excels as a playmaker with the ability to extend plays with his quick feet and elite athleticism. His arm is on par with the best in this class but he will undoubtedly be a polarizing prospect because of his size. Murray must work to refine his game and become a better overall passer working through his progressions and making the correct reads. But if you’re looking for excitement and potential, Murray is your guy.
19. EDGE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State – Sweat projects as a high-floor prospect who will win with his length and power, excelling as a 4-3 defensive end. His lack of overall athleticism and bend limit his potential as a pass rusher at the next level but his pass rush technique and variety of moves make him a safe bet to be a plug-and-play starter right away.
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18. OG/OT Cody Ford, Oklahoma – Perhaps the most physically gifted offensive lineman in this year’s class, Ford has the perfect blend of speed and power to be a top-flight guard or tackle at the next level. The Oklahoma product did start just one year with the Sooners but his athletic traits give him elite upside as either a right tackle or guard in the NFL.
17. OT Jawaan Taylor, Florida – Taylor is a complete prospect who projects well as a plug-and-play right tackle for whichever team drafts him. His combination of core strength and length make him a well-rounded prospect with very few real concerns. Taylor could use a little improvement in his hand usage but there’s no glaring hole in his game.
Next: No. 16 - No. 13
No. 16 – No. 13
16. DL Christian Wilkins, Clemson – A four-year starter and multi-time national champion, Wilkins is a high-effort player who will make his presence felt up front. A true 3-technique defensive tackle, Wilkins would fit nicely in a 4-3 defense where he could use his excellent penetration skills to his advantage.
15. DL/EDGE Rashan Gary, Michigan – Gary is a high-upside, high-risk player who enrolled in Michigan as the No. 1 ranked high school recruit. He was never able to live up to the lofty expectations as his production lacked significantly but if he could harness his athleticism and natural talent, Gary could be a Pro Bowl-caliber player in the NFL.
14. WR D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss – In a class full of receivers who project more as No. 2 receiving options, Metcalf brings true No. 1 potential with the traits to be a dominant receiver at the next level. His size and speed combo are incredible and his field-stretching ability compliments his catch and run abilities nicely. If Metcalf runs a sub-4.45 40-yard dash at the Combine, expect him to be off the board within the first 15 picks.
13. QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State – In a very weak quarterback class, Haskins is the No. 1 rated signal-caller on my board. Although he has his faults, his short-to-intermediate accuracy will carry him as he learns the nuances of the position in the NFL. Haskins must work on developing a better deep ball to match his plus arm strength and become less hesitant with his decision making. Too often he opts to check down when his arm talent can carry him more than he allows it to. Still, at just 21-years-old, there’s a lot to like here.
Next: No. 12 - No. 9
No. 12 – No. 9
12. EDGE Jachai Polite, Florida – Polite may be the twitchiest athlete at the edge position in this draft class with the ability to dip and bend around even the best offensive tackles in the country. His speed around the edge is something to behold but he must refine the other areas of his game before he could be relied upon as a starter. Polite’s play strength is subpar and his run defense has often been criticized. Still, you’re not going to find an edge that could bend as well as him in this class.
11. CB Greedy Williams, LSU – Williams is a frustratingly talented football player who has the highest ceiling in this cornerback class but doesn’t appear to have the drive to reach his full potential. His length, speed, and ball skills make him an elite prospect but his shoddy run defense and lackluster motor could rub some teams the wrong way. The potential is there for him to be a shutdown corner at the next level, but it will be up to him and the team that selects him to reach said potential.
10. DL Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State – An ACL tear will undoubtedly drop his draft stock and may even push him out of the first round but make no mistake about it, Simmons is a top-10 talent in this draft class. Simmons was a tackle for loss machine at Mississippi State racking up 30 over his final two seasons with his excellent burst and penetration ability. Any team that takes him will need to overlook a 2016 assault incident and his recent injury, but they may just land a top talent in the process.
9. OT Jonah Williams, Alabama – The technically sound Williams is a refined tackle prospect whose footwork is the best out of any offensive lineman in this year’s class. While his tape looks good, his lack of length is a legitimate concern some teams will have as many have suggested he move inside to guard. Williams may not have the traits to be a franchise left tackle, but he has a high-floor and should at least be a very good guard if he isn’t able to make it as a tackle in the NFL.
Next: No. 8 - No. 5
No. 8 – No. 5
8. TE T.J. Hockenson, Iowa – Hockenson is about as complete of a prospect at the tight end position as you will find. He combines new-school athleticism with old-school smashmouth blocking ability making him a versatile player who will thrive in any offense. He isn’t elite at anything but he is very good-to-great at basically everything. Hockenson should be a top-20 lock despite the lack of value at his position.
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7. DL Ed Oliver, Houston – Oliver has long been regarded as one of college football’s top prospects and while his stock may have fallen a bit, he’s still a top-10 player on my board. His initial burst and penetrating ability are on par with any player in this class which makes up for his lack of size. Many will question his smaller stature but in a league trending towards smaller defensive linemen, Oliver doesn’t stick out quite as much as he would have a few years ago.
6. RB Josh Jacobs, Alabama – In a weaker running back class than usual, Jacobs stands out as the clear-cut RB1. The Alabama product is a complete prospect offering an incredible blend of power, balance, and agility to be a true bell-cow back at the next level. With very little college carries, Jacobs enters the NFL relatively fresh and should be an instant-impact contributor for whatever team lands him.
5. EDGE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson – Ferrell is a complete 4-3 defensive end prospect who uses his excellent technique and hand placement to win as a pass rusher and run defender. He isn’t the most incredible athlete and he doesn’t project as a 10+ sack guy every year, but Ferrell is a very high floor prospect who should start from day one as an all-around very good player.
Next: No. 4 - No. 1
No. 4 – No. 1
4. LB Devin White, LSU – White is this year’s athletic freak at the linebacker position but he grades out much better than some of the other unrefined players at the position in recent years. Apart from his elite range and athleticism, White has shown vast improvement in his ability to process plays and remain disciplined making his floor much higher than others. His ceiling is as a top-three linebacker and I’d bank on him continuing to improve at the NFL level.
3. EDGE Josh Allen, Kentucky – Allen is one of the fastest risers in this year’s draft class having shot up boards after a breakout senior season. The 2018 SEC Defensive Player of the Year is an elite athlete who dominated in the most competitive conference in the country. Allen’s stellar burst and bend make him a potential double-digit sack producer at the next level if he can develop a bit more play strength. His athleticism is great, but I’d like to see him rely less on his traits and develop more as a pass rusher before I start calling him an elite prospect.
2. DL Quinnen Williams, Alabama – There are two elite prospects in this year’s class and Williams is the first of them. The Alabama product excels at essentially everything possessing a rare blend of power, speed, and technique that makes him an all-around elite talent. Despite being just a one-year starter, Williams should slot in immediately in any NFL defensive line and before long should become a household name in the league.
1. EDGE Nick Bosa, Ohio State – Williams was the first elite prospect, Bosa is the second. The Ohio State product is a complete prospect that ticks all the boxes. His incredible pass rush technique pairs well with his excellent athleticism and fantastic play strength making him the total package. Although he projects more as a 4-3 defensive end, Bosa has the skillset to play anywhere from a standup 3-4 outside linebacker to an interior 3-technique defensive tackle. He is THE player in this draft class and should go first overall if the league doesn’t overthink the selection.