The tight end position has undergone a renaissance of the sort in the modern day NFL. Back in the early days, the tight end was just an extra blocker on the end of the line. Now, they are often times asked to do more receiving then actual blocking.
Last years tight end class featured two first-round picks both of which finished draft season as top 10 overall prospects on my board. Outside of Noah Fant and TJ Hockenson, the rest of the 2019 class was considered to be deep and versatile. Sadly, after previewing the 2020 tight end class I am less than impressed. Don’t let that get your hopes down though because we still have the entire 2019 college football season before we can be certain about this classes talent level.
Let’s jump into in my preseason tight end rankings for the 2020 draft class. As always if you have any comments or questions hit me up on Twitter @DanteCollinelli.
Brycen Hopkins, Fifth Year Senior, Purdue
This is by far the hottest take so far in my “prospect preview series”. Hopkins is a relatively unknown prospect with very little recognition outside of the dire hard draft community. I was skeptical of Hopkins at first, but man he won me over with his fluidity and well-rounded game. Most of the tight ends in this class are much more receiver types than blocking types, and Hopkins was by far the smoothest of them all. His ability to flip his hips quickly and snap off routes separates him from the pack. Hopkins is able to do damage after the catch because it usually takes a couple of defenders to bring him down. My only concern with Hopkins is his usage in the Purdue offense. Most of his catches and targets are designed by the offense rather than him uncovering against man coverage. There is a play in the thread below that shows Hopkins getting open against man coverage, so I have some hope for him to improve in that category this year. If he continues to expand his game and gets some more production this season Hopkins could become a household name once the draft rolls around.
Remember when I mentioned that most tight ends in this class are more receivers than blockers? Yea so, Calcaterra is basically just a big wide receiver in the Oklahoma offense. He lines up in the slot and on the outside making him a true mismatch weapon for the Sooners. He’s got way to much speed and athleticism for linebackers to hang with him and he’s big enough to give a lot of safeties problems. Calcaterra has exceptional ball skills which are displayed nicely on the thread below. He wins at the catch point while using his body to box out smaller receivers. It is always good to see a big guy who knows he is big and how to use it. I know the NFL is moving toward tight ends who are purely receivers, but some teams will get turned off by Calcaterra’s inability to be an effective blocker. It wouldn’t surprise me if some teams or draft analyst end up grading him as a wide receiver. I’ll end on a positive note though, Calcaterra is much quicker and fluid than I expected which points to a high ceiling as a route runner.
Grant Calcaterra (Oklahoma, TE) thread: Calcaterra is basically a big wide receiver in the Oklahoma offense. pic.twitter.com/3VxgGY7xq5
Mr. Parkinson is massive! He is 6’7 and he uses every bit of that frame for the Stanford Cardinal. Parkinson is an elite redzone threat with his ability to box out defenders and bully them at the catch point. I was expecting Parkinson to be a stiff player because if his massive size, but yet again, I was wrong. Parkinson moves quite well for someone who is 6’7 both vertically and horizontally. Like Calcaterra, Parkinson is essentially just a gigantic extra wide receiver for the Cardinal offering very little as a blocker. Parkinson has yet to be the “starting” tight end for Stanford so it will be interesting to see how he handles being a volume pass-catcher this season. Parkinson does a great job working the seams and sidelines with go routes and fades, but I would love to see his route tree expand a little bit this season. Again, because Parkinson lacks true blocking ability that may turn some teams off from him. Parkinson screams potential, and I can’t wait to see what he does in 2019.
Okay so of all the tight ends that made my top five Bryant is by far the purest receiver. Occasionally you will see Parkinson or Calcaterra attempt to stay in and block but Bryant is 100% a receiver. He’s got an excellent athletic profile especially if you classify him as a tight end as Washington does. I would highly recommend going to YouTube and watching his highlight videos because there are some truly fantastic acrobatic catches on there. He’s a matchup nightmare and a legit threat after the catch. Not to beat a dead horse, but again tight ends who can’t block won’t be every team’s cup of tea. Another concern with Bryant is his availability on game days. Bryant has been banged up throughout his career and Washington has him listed at 6’2 and 240 which is smalllllllllll for a tight end. Teams usually like to inflate numbers so that means he may even be shorter and skinnier than what they have him listed. Bryant is due for a breakout season and will have better quarterback play with Jacob Eason becoming the starter instead of Jake Browning. He strikes me as the type of player who wows teams at the combine and shoots up draft boards late in the process.
Micthell Wilcox, Senior, South Florida
I’m very familiar with Mitchell Wilcox as a draft prospect already despite it being so early in the process. He’s a player I got to scout live last season when South Florida visited Temple, and I watched some tape on him for last years draft because there were some rumblings he would declare with the 2019 class. Number one thing that sticks out with Wilcox is his mindset. This man hustles and puts effort into every play whether he is blocking or running routes. He’s one of the toughest prospects I have scouted so far. He works the middle of the field with no fear of taking big hits from safeties and linebackers alike. I saw him haul in some truly impressive catches while getting hammered over the middle. Wilcox is the only tight end on this list who I think has a chance to be a combo tight end. That means he can block and be a receiver. He’s not a great blocker by any stretch of the imagination but there are some good reps on his tape as both a run blocker and pass blocker. Wilcox doesn’t project as a great athlete which why he falls down to number 5 for me. He doesn’t appear to be explosive or very quick on tape which limits his upside a bit. Wilcox is a solid tight end prospect with a somewhat well-rounded game that I think is worth keeping an eye on.
Wide receiver is one of my favorite positions to watch because of how diverse and nuanced the position is right now. There are many diverse types of receivers with different strengths and weaknesses. Smaller receivers are typically better with quickness and route running, but can’t high point the ball. Bigger receivers have trouble with route running but have great straight line speed and can high point the ball. There are a million variations with plenty of exceptions to those rules and that’s what makes this so fun. The nuance of the position lies with route running which has become one of the biggest predictors of success in the NFL. A receiver who knows when to make a well-timed head fake or stutter step can be extremely valuable.
The 2020 receiver class is something out of a dream because of the abundance of talent. Last years class was okay but didn’t have the “top-10” potential as this one does. In fact, I think the top two players on this list have a chance to finish the preseason in my top 10 overall players. The class is so deep that I had trouble separating all the players from 3-9 and then had trouble with 9-15. Everyone is so talented this year that I can already tell rankings are going to stress me out when April rolls around.
I don’t do official grades this time of year because so much will change over the upcoming season and draft process. Using some inference powers, however, I can say that at least all of my top 10 receivers would get consideration in my top 50 overall players. Meaning that none of them would get anything lower than a third-round grade for me. I can also say that my entire top-5 would get at least close to a first-round grade. For reference, I had just one first-round grade on a receiver last year (DK Metcalf).
Jerry Juedy, Junior, Alabama
I have so many good things to say about Jerry Juedy I don’t even know where to start. He just makes everything on the football field look so easy and smooth despite going against tough competition in the SEC. His route running at all three levels of the field is great which combined with elite speed and quickness makes him a mismatch nightmare. He makes acrobatic catches pointing to superior athletic ability and strong reliable hands. He’s a hassle to bring down after the catch due to pretty juke moves and good spatial awareness. He does a good job with his releases at the line of scrimmage giving him instant separation. The only question mark with Juedy is how effective he is at the catch point. He’s not that big and typically when he is downfield he is already 15 yards behind the defense, so he doesn’t get a lot of “high pointing” opportunities. However, Juedy does have great body control allowing him to make diving and jumping catches so some of the traits are present for him to be successful in that area. Juedy is making an early push for my top overall player in the class.
Ceedee Lamb stood out to me a lot last season when scouting Kyler Murray, and I was not disappointed when I got to his tape this summer. For a smaller receiver, Lamb’s ability to win at the catch point and downfield is truly incredible. He makes acrobatic catches going over bigger cornerbacks all the time. When it comes to route running Lamb displays good vertical burst and lateral quickness allowing him to create separation. He showed some nuance in his route running by using head fakes and stutter steps to throw defensive backs off of their timing. Like Juedy, Lamb’s athletism jumps off the page with all the leaping and diving catches he’s able to make. In the thread below you’ll see the one-handed catch he made against UCLA. If that catch doesn’t convince you of his athletic traits then I don’t know what will. Lamb is in the conversation for WR 1 and a top-10 player on my preseason board.
This is where things started to get difficult for me because I considered about six other players for this spot. I ended up going with Shenault due to his versatility as a player and his sheer production on the field. Shenault basically made up all of the Buffalo’s total yardage through their first five games last season, and when he got hurt Colorado went a huge losing streak. Shenault lines up all over the formation including the X position, in the slot, as a running back, and even as an H-Back. Shenualt is one of the most effective receivers in the country with the ball in his hands. He’s got great moves in the open field and has the power to push piles and an extra couple of yards. He’s got great hands which allows him to make plenty of catches outside of his body giving him a huge catch radius. His ability to track the ball down the field makes him a legit deep threat to go along with his prowess on shorter routes. I would love to see Shenault stay healthy and do some more traditional receiver things in the 2019 season, but his versatility and athletic profile are super intriguing.
Laviska Shenault (Colorado,WR) thread: Shenault has strong hands capable of making catches outside his frame. pic.twitter.com/g9vv5zPJcX
I don’t think you can be more of a Tylan Wallace fan than I am right now. Wallace blew me away after watching his film this week. Wallace is known as a premier deep threat at Oklahoma State, and he definitely lived up to his title. Wallace does a great job of tracking the ball down the field and has the body control/athleticism to make difficult catches on poorly thrown balls. He’s a smaller player but he was able to win a considerable number of jump balls at the catch point. Wallace has plenty of downhill speed to run straight by most defensive backs. Plus he’s a good deep route runner, so he checks every box you would have for a deep threat. The question I had with Wallace is how effective would he be in the shorter areas of the field? Well, I was happy to see that Wallace deserves more credit for his short to intermediate route running. He’s got fluid hips and quick feet which makes for an easy projection heading into the NFL. My issues with Wallace are centered mostly around his limited route tree and occasional concentration drop. If he can iron some things out and expand his game a little more then Wallace could remain in the top five come April.
Colin Johnson, Senior, Texas
Johnson is the first senior to make my top 5, however, he is the third receiver from the Big 12 conference to be on the list. Johnson stands out immediately when you but on his tape because of his massive 6’6 size. He does all the things well you would expect from someone his size like winning at the catch point, winning in jump ball situations, and winning in the red zone. While that is great and all the really intriguing part of Johnson’s game is how smooth he moves for someone of his size. He doesn’t appear to be stiff in the hips and looks like he has enough deep speed to be effective downfield in the NFL. Not only that, but he makes a lot of very difficult catches away from his body that point to an advanced athletic profile. My biggest concern with Johnson is that he is a bit of a one trick pony. His one trick is really great, but I would like to see him do a little more than just run go routes and fade routes. I say this because I think Johnson is capable of doing more not because I think he can’t.
Scouting and ranking running backs is something that I struggle with almost every draft season. There is a huge debate about whether or not the position is even valuable anymore. If you ask some of the people who focus only on the analytics they will tell you that running ball is futile unless you score a touchdown every time. I don’t agree with those numbers or theories because I think a good running game makes everything easier on offense and that’s valuable to me.
Not only do I have to deal with the question “How valuable are running backs in today’s NFL?”, but I also must ask the question “Which style of running back is most valuable in today’s NFL?”. That is where I start to fight with myself while making rankings which is why this article is slightly late. It’s a lot like picking ice cream because there are so many different “flavors” of running backs. You have pure speed backs, receiving backs, one-cut backs, and power backs. You have shifty backs, stiff backs, and a lot of players who are somewhere in between. Figuring out which style a running back is and if it’s valuable or not is a long process.
The 2020 class is filled with high upside talent at the running back position after what I would consider to be a down year in 2019. I scouted 13 players for this summer preview and have 4 left over that I either didn’t get to or didn’t find enough tape on to feel good about ranking them. Full disclosure, I generally like all 13 running backs that I have ranked, so if you feel like your favorite guy is too far down the list just remember I don’t think they are bad. It’s a stacked class so some talented backs are further down the list.
As always if you have any comments or suggestions on some players I am missing feel free to hit me up on Twitter @DanteCollinelli.
D’andre Swift, Junior, Georgia
During last season’s SEC championship game I tweeted out that I wish Swift was draft eligible for 2019 because he would have been RB 1 for me. Well, that was before I put Swift’s tape under the microscope and oh boy I was impressed when I finally did. The two best words to describe Swift are dynamic and versatile. His ability to make people miss in the open field and in tight quarters is intoxicating to watch. He’s versatile as a runner because he poesses quickness, power, and long speed all bundled together. Swift will use them all on runs sometimes and it just makes you think “What can’t this guy do?. His ability to be a legit receiver out of the backfield adds another layer to his versatility. I struggled to find things that I think Swift is “bad” at. Is he better at some things than others? Yes. Does he have any glaring weaknesses though? I honestly don’t think that he does. Remember how I was talking about ice cream earlier? Well, Swift is if all the flavors were combined and it still tasted good. He’s truly a unique player, and I can’t wait to watch him more this season.
Etienne is known for his world-class long speed that he used it to burn defenders during the entire 2018 season. People, the young man can scoot! Etienne might end up being the fastest running back that I’ve scouted in my young career. He breaks down the angles of would-be tacklers so easily and it’s a pleasure to watch. In scouting, we talk about running backs having a “third gear” which refers to there max speed. Etienne is one of the few guys who has a “fourth gear” that he can get to. What makes his speed so effective is the great acceleration he has when hitting the hole. In short, it doesn’t take him very long to hit that “fourth gear” he’s so blessed with. Etienne surprised me with how good his contact balance is and how often he would break tackles in the weeds of the defense. He played with more power and urgency than some of the bigger running backs in this class. My only real complaints with Etienne are that he doesn’t have great usage in the passing game, and I wish he had a little more “shake” in his game. Etienne is a true homerun hitter which is where the NFL is trending at the running back position.
It feels like I’ve been watching Jonathan Taylor forever at the University of Wisconsin, but he’s just a junior. Taylor has spent the last two seasons making up about 85% of Wisconsin’s offense since they are allergic to good quarterback play. Taylor’s best trait is the way he blends both speed and power. Taylor does a great a job hammering away at the defense picking up 5-7 yards every play by running between the tackles. What surprised me was how many times he used his long speed to break away from defenders and create long touchdown runs. I was worried that Taylor would be a little one-dimensional, however, I could not have been more wrong. He even showed that he could run out of the shotgun later in the season when they switched quarterbacks (See Miami game). The two things I worry about with Taylor is milage and strength of his offensive line. Taylor is used as a workhorse for Wisconsin, so it’s hard not to wonder if he has used up some of his prime years already. Wisconsin’s offense line produces NFL talent every single season, and on tape, you can see them making Taylor’s job quite easy. The question for Taylor will be: Can he create for himself when things breakdown?
Vaughn was an unknown to me heading into this scouting series. Despite seeing some things on Twitter about him, I was in the dark for the most part. Vaughn’s ability to break big-time runs jumped out to me right away. I encourage you to go watch his performance against Baylor in last years bowl game. He broke a couple of long touchdowns in that game all of which showed his amazing burst and long speed. Vaughn displayed some pretty nice contact balance allowing him to pick up a lot of extra yards after initial contact. He did a great job staying patient allowing his blockers to set up in front of him too. Vaughn carries enough shake in his game to make people miss in the open field, but he prefers to run them over most of the time. Vaughn is one of the few senior running backs in this class with some national media attention, so he’s got a unique opportunity to make himself the best running back of the senior class. However, he needs to get more involved in the passing game and be a little more decisive at the mesh point before he can claim that crown.
Zach Moss, Senior, Utah
Moss is the other senior running back who has an early chance to be the best of the 4-year players. Like Vaughn, Moss wasn’t on my radar until I started working on this summer scouting series. I love running backs who hit the hole hard and Moss does that all the time so he quickly moved up my rankings. I thought his speed at the second level was great and pointed to him being a homerun hitter. If you haven’t noticed, that has been a common theme with all of these running backs so far. Moss posses solid contact balance and always fell forward for extra yardage which is another trait that I love to see in my running backs. One of the most frustrating things about Moss’s tape is that Utah lined him up as a wide receiver often but never threw him the ball. He would line up wide and in the slot only to be used as a decoy or as a blocker. When given a chance he looked natural catching the ball, but I need to see more of it. I have some questions about his vision as well. He can sometimes just miss holes entirely or just not wait long enough for them to open up. If Moss can make his vision more consistent and continue to be explosive he will shoot up boards during draft season when everyone catches on.
Number 6: AJ Dillion, Junior, Boston College
Number 7: JK Dobbins, Junior, Ohio State
Number 8: Anthony Mcfarland, RS Sophomore, Maryland
Number 9: Reggie Corbin, Junior, Illinois
Number 10: Najee Harris, Junior, Alabama
Number 11: Eno Benjamin, Junior, Arizona State
Number 12: Cam Akers, Junior, Florida State
Number 13: Kylin Hill, Junior, Mississippi State
Players I still have to watch/ need more tape on
Number 1: JJ Taylor, RS Junior, Arizona
Number 2: Darryton Evans, Junior, Appalachian State
I remember sitting down to write my prospect preview for quarterbacks last year and having a bad taste in my mouth. Last years class was bad, especially, when you consider that Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins were not on people’s radar until the middle of the college football season. This years class, however, is much better with some established talents along with quarterbacks I’m excited to see make big improvements in their play this season. I’ll break down my top 5 quarterbacks from the film I’ve watched so far and then give you the rest of my list after that. I watched 15 quarterbacks in total so far, but still have some I will get to before the season starts.
For each of my top 5 quarterbacks, I’ll include a brief explanation of what they do well and what they need to improve on this season. I will also link a Twitter thread that I posted with some game film explaining some of their better plays from last season. Also, remember these are preseason rankings a lot will change by the time I start actually grading these players. Let’s get the ball rolling with number one, shall we?
Tua Tagovailoa, Junior, Alabama
Tua burst onto the scene when he saved the Alabama season two years ago by leading a second-half comeback against the Georgia Bulldogs in the National Championship game. Since then, the draft community has billed him as a future number one pick with lots of potential. The tape that I watched was very impressive and might be worthy of the top overall pick. Tua’s ability to throw with touch to all three levels of the field jumps out right away. He anticipates well and throws before his receivers make their breaks. He does a great job using pump fakes to move safeties off of his eventual target. My favorite trait, however, is his movement while inside the pocket. He does a masterful job of stepping up and sliding left or right to avoid pressure in order to make accurate throws. My biggest concern right now with Tua is centered around his health. He was banged up during the end of the season and had a minor procedure done on his ankle. If Tua can stay healthy and improve with processing coverages it will be hard to argue against him as QB 1 next April.
Tua Tagovailoa is very good, a thread: This throw is simple but important for a future NFL quarterback. pic.twitter.com/0pyAeyViVS
Last year, Justin Herbert entered the season as my QB 1 and remained there until he chose to go back to school for his senior year. He gets unseated by Tua here, but I think the gap between them is much closer than people think. Herbert is a big athletic quarterback who throws a beautiful ball. Herbert looks like he has above-average arm strength that lets him work in the middle of the field effectively. He works the quick game well by being on time with the football and taking what the defense gives him. Herbert is great when asked to throw on the run keeping his accuracy and velocity despite being off platform. My biggest concern with Herbert is centered around how much the Oregon offense inflates his stats. This isn’t uncommon for college quarterbacks, but the Oregon offense does give him a lot of easy completions that won’t be there in the NFL. If Herbert continues to improve in the mental areas of the game (and gets some receivers who can catch) he has a chance to compete for the number one quarterback spot in the 2020 class.
If you are heavily involved in draft Twitter then you know that Jake Fromm is not exactly loved by the community. I understand the concerns that some people have with Fromm, but I think he does way more things well than he does poorly. Fromm works the quick game exceptionally well working on time with his receivers and has good ball placement. Fromm is a master of the back shoulder throw consistently throwing it with timing and accuracy to all levels of the field. Fromm, typically, does a good job with reading defenses and attacking his one v one matchups which is a trait that few college quarterbacks have. The complaints against Fromm I feel like can be summarized into one category “he plays it way too safe by checking down all the time”. I agree with that complaint and would love to see him stretch the field more while being more accurate with his deep ball. Saying Fromm is bad because he plays it safe at times is just a bad take though. I think the real issue is that he has some unfair expectations placed on him. People are expecting him to be more dynamic than he is because he forced two other 5-star quarterbacks to transfer out of Georgia. Fromm is a super solid option at quarterback and has a whole year to show he is more dynamic as a passer so let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Costello caught my eye last season when I was watching tape on former Stanford receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside. After doing my film study on him earlier this week I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. Costello works the seams and the middle of the field very well because of good arm strength and good ball placement. I mention this trait because some college quarterbacks can be totally averse to using the middle of the field. Like Fromm, Costello throws a lot of nice back shoulder throws, especially in the red zone. He knew the strengths of his receivers and tight ends, and he always gave them a chance to go up and make a play on the ball. I liked that he took advantage of soft coverage a lot allowing his receivers to just eat up easy yards. Costello struggles at times with his accuracy when he has to move off of platform. If he’s allowed to stand in and make throws he is fine but when asked to move he can struggle. He has a tendency to throw off his back foot at times which needs to be cleaned up this season. One last thing about Costello, I would like to see him throw with way more touch in 2020 its missing from his tape. If Costello can clean up those things then I think you have a quarterback prospect who makes NFL throws and has improved every year. That is really all you can ask for at this point in the draft process.
I tend to be pretty skeptical of small school quarterbacks with big-time arms, so Jordan Love was pretty far down my watch list. Clearly, he surprised and impressed quite a bit to make into my top 5. The first thing that jumped out to me was Love’s arm strength to all levels of the field. He’s got an absolute cannon and can rip it with the best of them. He surprised me by showing off some touch throws, which I highlighted in my mini film breakdown on Twitter. Love also has excellent movement skills which allows him to scramble forward for yards and create easy throwing lanes for himself. I liked that Utah State, despite running a very simple offense, gave Love some freedom to audible at the line last year. The problems with Love are typical of quarterbacks with a lot of arm strength. He can be erratic at times and will overthrow receivers leading to easy interceptions. Utah State’s offense gives him a lot of easy looks with screen and swing passes, so that’s another concern for me as well. If Love can take a jump in the mental part of the game and improve his accuracy then we might be looking at a first-round quarterback in April.
Jordan Love (Utah State, QB) thread: I was skeptical of Love at first but throws like this won me over. pic.twitter.com/RWZxzYTyVS
I’ve been a Miami Dolphins fan the entirety of my 19-year life. I was born in 1999 which happens to be the last season that Dan Marino played in the NFL. Since then the best quarterback the Miami Dolphins have had was Chad Pennington, who lead them to their last division title in 2008. I say all this because I know what it feels like to be missing a franchise quarterback as much as anyone. The NFL runs on the back of quarterback play if you don’t have a good one you are doing everything in your power to get one. Every summer, I think it’s a fun exercise to see which teams will be jostling for quarterbacks during the next NFL draft.
Something that I have noticed is how the bar for quarterback play has been raised in recent years by the younger QBs. Jared Goff and Carson Wentz were drafted in 2016 and both have been instrumental in getting their teams to a Super Bowl. Patrick Mahomes started one season, in which, he won MVP and lead the Chiefs to the AFC Championship game. Mitchell Trubisky and Deshaun Watson both won their respective divisions in 2018. Baker Mayfield didn’t even play a full season and still broke the rookie touchdown record. NFL franchises are seeing this early success for quarterbacks and it’s becoming easier for them to move on from guys who are just okay and invest in the draft.
Last year’s quarterback class was widely regarded by the scouting community in both the NFL and on Twitter to be a weak one. 2020, on the other hand, has been lauded as a much better class. The class is headlined by Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama), Justin Herbert (Oregon), Jake Fromm (Georgia), and Jacob Eason (Washington). There are some intriguing players like KJ Costello (Stanford), Nate Stanley (Iowa), Jordan Love (Utah State), and Brian Lewerke (Mich. State) that make up the depth of the class. I don’t want to draw any conclusions this early in the draft cycle, but I’m way more excited about this year’s class.
I broke the article down into three categories: Old but Gold, Honorable Mentions, and Immediate Replacement Needed. The Old but Gold category is for teams with aging quarterbacks that are still at the top of their game but need replacement plans. Honorable Mentions is for QBs who I think could be replaced but probably won’t be. The Immediate Replacement category is for players who I think are in immediate danger of being replaced if they don’t improve a lot this season.
I’m gonna have a stat line for each quarterback starting in 2015 up until the present. This will just allow for some context about the quarterbacks recent success because that’s all teams care about.
Lastly, I did not consider teams who drafted quarterbacks high in the 2018 or 2019 class for this list. The excluded teams include New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Arizona Cardinals, and Denver Broncos.
Disclaimer: The Miami Dolphins are betting on Josh Rosen to be the guy, and he might not be, so they could be in the QB race by the end of the season.
Old But Gold
These are the teams who need to find a replacement plan for their aging star quarterback before they end up retiring. I won’t spend a lot of time explaining these because they are fairly obvious.
New England Patriots and Tom Brady
Tom Brady is 41 years old at the moment and has not slowed down one bit picking up another Super Bowl in 2018. The Patriots have been drafting mid-round quarterbacks for a couple of years now. Jimmy Garoppolo was a second-round pick who was traded to San Francisco for a second-round pick. Jacoby Brissett was a third-round pick and traded to the Colts after having success for the Patriots the year of Brady’s suspension. They drafted Jarrett Stidham in the fourth-round this year, so they know the end is near. I’m not sure Stidham is the answer, so the Patriots might be wanna be aware of the 2020 class.
New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees
The Saints actually have more of a plan than some teams for their aging star quarterback. The Saints were able to retain Teddy Bridgewater as a backup this off-season despite reports saying he would sign with Miami. Bridgewater is a former first-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings and had success there before getting hurt and missing two years of football. I like Bridgewater a good bit, but you can’t ignore his injury history and lack of actual game reps recently. The Saints need to keep an eye on the 2020 quarterback class to cover themselves for the future.
LA Chargers and Phillip Rivers
Phillip Rivers is one of my favorite people and players in the NFL today, however, he is 37 years old. Unlike the Patriots, the Chargers have not invested in young quarterbacks over the years with premium picks. They signed Tyrod Taylor this off-season but let’s be real here he isn’t the future of the team. Behind him are Cardale Jones and Easton Stick who are two players taken on day three of the draft. Both players actually carried UDFA grades on my board during their respective draft year. The Chargers should keep an eye on the 2020 class as they look to set themselves up for life without Philip Rivers.
Pittsburgh Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger
The Steelers are a weird situation compared to the rest of the teams in this category. I actually like some of the mid-round quarterbacks they have invested in recently. Mason Rudolph and Josh Dobbs were two players I liked as developmental prospects. Dobbs looks good in the pre-season every year, but he’s spent most of his time as QB 3 since being drafted. Rudolph has not gotten any buzz or rave reviews from anyone so far in his career. The Steelers made things more interesting by signing Big Ben to a new contract extension this off-season. I just think Pittsburgh needs to keep an open mind when looking at the 2020 quarterback class.
These guys might be in trouble, but I think they are safe for now.
Detroit Lions and Matt Stafford
Stat line 2015-2018: 106 touchdowns, 44 interceptions, 16,812 passing yards, and 66.1 completion percentage
It pains me more than you know to put Matt Stafford on this list. The fact that he has made the Lions somewhat relevant is a more impressive feat than I think a lot of people realize. Stafford hasn’t missed a start since 2010 and owns pretty much every single Lion’s passing record. The sad truth, however, is Stafford is 0-3 all-time in the postseason and hasn’t been there since 2016. It is not crazy to think that if the Lions underperform again this season that HC Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn could be fired. The new staff might look at Stafford as a valuable trade piece to rebuild this team and get their own guy at quarterback. I wouldn’t replace Stafford, but the NFL we live in today includes crazy trades and hunger for younger better quarterbacks.
Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott
Stat Line 2016-2018: 67 touchdowns, 25 interceptions, 10,876 passing yards, and 66.1 completion percentage
I know Prescott has one less year to work with than most of the other QBs on this list but his numbers aren’t impressive either way. The numbers that Prescott can hang his hat on is his 32-16 overall record and 1-2 playoff record. Prescott’s one playoff win actually puts him ahead of a lot of starting quarterbacks making it a positive stat. The Cowboys could definitely upgrade from Dak in the draft if they really wanted to. With that said, Prescott is a winner and fits the Cowboys offense perfectly. Dallas has been discussing a contract extension with Prescott during the summer, so it would surprise me to see them move on from him in the near future. Although, if he has a bad season this year there will be some internal conversations about it trust me.
Immediate Replacement Needed
These are the quarterback who could be on their last leg heading into the 2019 season.
Cincinnati Bengals and Andy Dalton
Stat Line 2015-2018: 89 touchdowns, 38 interceptions, 13,342 passing yards, and 62.95 completion percentage
What happened to Andy Dalton and the Bengals? Dalton led the Bengals to the playoffs in four straight seasons from 2011-2014 with some impressive passing numbers to go with. Well here’s the problem, the Bengals haven’t been back to the playoffs since 2014, and they lost in the first round of the playoffs all four years they made it. That makes Dalton 0-4 in the playoffs to go along with a five-year drought. Dalton’s numbers aren’t anything to get excited about either especially while he’s struggled to stay on the field at times. The Bengals brought in QB whisper Zac Taylor this season as their new head coach which led to some rumors they would draft a quarterback in 2019. If Dalton doesn’t have a career year this year than he is most likely a goner.
Oakland Raiders and Derek Carr
Stat Line 2015-2018: 101 touchdowns, 42 interceptions, 15,469 passing yards, and 64.12 completion percentage
Carr actually has some pretty good numbers when compared to the rest of the quarterbacks I’ll have on this list. He even showed some signs of life at the end of the 2018 season in Jon Gruden’s offense. There are a couple of things that worry me about claiming Carr as the future of the Raiders. First, Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock are an unpredictable brain trust right now having just come together. Second, it was rumored during the entire 2019 draft process the Raiders coveted Kyler Murray (specifically Gruden) which isn’t a great sign for Carr. Lastly, and most importantly, Carr’s performance hasn’t been consistently good. He’s been to the playoffs just once since being drafted in 2014 and wasn’t even healthy to play in the game that year. I will say this though, Carr has his best supportive cast since coming into the league. If he doesn’t have a great year with this group of pass catchers than look for the Raiders to invest in the 2020 QB class.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jameis Winston
Stat Line 2015-2018: 88 touchdowns, 58 interceptions, 14,628 passing yards, and 61.6 completion percentage
The first thing that jumped off the page to me was the sheer number of interceptions that Winston has thrown since coming into the league. Especially, when you consider he’s missed time with both injury and suspension. Speaking of suspensions, Winston has served more of those than he has made playoff appearances. He’s has had trouble off the field since his college days, so I guess it shouldn’t surprise me. On the field, Winston hasn’t been much better leading Tampa to just one winning season which was a 9-7 season in 2016. Winston will have an opportunity to work with one of the best QB coaches in the league this season in Bruce Arians. If Arians can’t fix Winston then Tampa will have to look at the 2020 quarterback class to grab a new franchise passer.
Tennessee Titans and Marcus Mariota
Stat Line 2015-2018: 69 touchdowns, 42 interceptions, 12,004 passing yards, and 63.2 completion percentage
Full disclosure, 2015 was my first year “covering” the draft and, I was super high on Mariota coming out of Oregon. His rookie season was impressive and he’s lead the Titans to the playoffs twice with a 1-2 overall record. The problem for Mariota has been a lack of production coupled with a lot of injuries. The Titans were in the thick of the AFC playoff race this season but had to rely on backup QB Blaine Gabbert to win a week 17 game against the streaking Colts. Mariota’s lack of production is honestly astounding. 69 touchdowns in four seasons breaks down to a little over 17 touchdowns a season. For reference, Ryan Fitzpatrick started seven games for Tampa Bay in 2018 and threw 17 touchdowns. Not only does Mariota need to stay on the field in 2019, but he also has to become more of a dynamic passer if he wants to keep his job heading into the 2020 draft.
This is my favorite article that I get to write at the end of every draft season. It’s what the last 9 months have been building towards grading every team’s draft class. My grading system is simple; I look at what needs you had and if you addressed them with a good player. I consider where each player was drafted and decide if I think it was a reach or a steal. Reaches are bad and steals are good. Last, I consider how each team used the premium picks. Did they take advantage of their higher selections? Or did they waste them?
Teams who didn’t have a lot of picks were graded on a slight curve because they had less to work with. However, if they squandered those picks then it really hurt their grade. The grades are from F to A because no draft is perfect and no draft class has zero good players. Without all of that out of the way let’s get started.
RD 1 Pick 1: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
RD 2 Pick 1: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
RD 2 Pick 30: Andy Isabella, WR, UMass
RD 3 Pick 1: Zach Allen, Edge/IOL, Boston College
RD 4 Pick 1: Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State
RD 5 Pick 1: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
RD 6 Pick 1: Keeshaun Johnson, WR, Fresno State
RD 6 Pick 6: Lamont Gillard, IOL, Georgia
RD 7 Pick 34: Joshua Miles, OT, Morgan State
RD 7 Pick 35: Micheal Dogbe, DT, Temple
RD 7 Pick 40: Caleb Wilson, TE, UCLA
The Arizona Cardinals had a laundry list of needs coming into the NFL draft and they acquired the needed picks to fill those needs. Has far as value picks go; I love the selections of Byron Murphy, Deionte Thompson, and Micheal Dogbe. All of those players fell too far and fill a need for the Cardinals. The Murray pick is a tough one to grade because he doesn’t fill a need and Arizona butchered the process of trading Josh Rosen. With that said, Murray is a dynamic playmaker, a perfect fit for Kfliff Kingsbury’s offense, and a potential franchise quarterback. I think the Cardinals reached for both Zach Allen and Andy Isabella but they are good players. The Cardinals did a good job to address a lot of needs with quality players making it good class overall.
RD 1 Pick 14: Chris Lindstrom, IOL, Guard
RD 1 Pick 31: Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington
RD 4 Pick 9: Kendall Sheffield, CB, Ohio State
RD 4 Pick 33: John Chomsky, Edge, Charleston
RD 5 Pick 14: Quandree Wilson, RB, Pittsburgh
RD 5 Pick 34: Jordan Miller, CB, Washington
RD 6 Pick 30: Marcus Green, WR, UL Monroe
The Falcons didn’t have a lot of needs outside of the offensive line which they addressed right away with their first two picks. Chris Lindstrom at 14 is a great pick despite being a small reach because he’s a scheme fit and instant starter. The Falcons traded back into the first round in order to pick Kaleb McGary which was a gross reach. McGary was the 85th overall player on my board and he needs a lot of work as a pass blocker. Their 4th round selection of Kendall Sheffield is a real head-scratcher to me. His tape at Ohio State was less than ideal and he suffered an injury at the combine. He’s gonna need a couple of years to develop before you can think about throwing him into the game. The rest of their picks, outside of Wilson, were not bad selections but they won’t see the field this year. Falcons addressed needs with premium picks but picked the wrong players in a couple of spots.
RD 1 Pick 22: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
RD 3 Pick 21: Jaylon Ferguson, Edge, LA Tech
RD 3 Pick 29: Myles Boykin, WR, Notre Dame
RD 4 Pick 11: Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State
RD 4 Pick 25: Iman Marshall, S, USC
RD 5 Pick 22: Dylon Mack, DT, Texas A@M
RD 6 Pick 24: Trace Mcsorley, QB, Penn State
I had a really tough time narrowing down this grade because I like the Marquise Brown pick a lot. It was one of the few picks I predicted in my mock draft because of how perfect the fit is. Ferguson is a bit of a reach but he fits the mold of a Ravens player so I understand the pick. Myles Boykin has some fans out there but I’m not one of them. He’s got a long way to go in the world of route running. Justice Hill is the perfect complimentary back to the newly acquired Mark Ingram. Dylon Mack is a great value pick in the 5th round but Iman Marshall is a reach in the 4th. In total, I think the Ravens picked a lot of “their type” who will have defined roles early in their careers.
RD 1 Pick 9: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
RD 2 Pick 14: Cody Ford, OG, Oklahoma
RD 3 Pick 10: Devin Singletary, RB, FAU
RD 3 Pick 32: Dawson Knox, TE, Ole Miss
RD 5 Pick 19: Vosean Joseph, LB, Florida
RD 6 Pick 8: Jaquan Johnson, S, Miami
RD 7 Pick 11: Darryl Johnson, Edge, North Carolina A@T
RD 7 Pick 14: Tommy Swenny, TE, Boston College
Man, this is the second year in a row that I’m a big fan of the Buffalo draft class. Their first four picks are players that I love and three of them fill a big need on the roster. Ed Oliver is a blue chip player that should improve the Bills defense by a large margin. Ford might be there best offensive linemen from day one. Knox and Sweeny work off of each other perfectly to make one great tight end if that makes sense. The Bills helped Josh Allen and helped their defense with Ed Oliver and Jaquan Johnson, who was a steal in the sixth round. Doesn’t get much better than that when it comes to a draft class.
RD 1 Pick 16: Brian Burns, Edge, Florida State
RD 2 Pick 5: Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
RD 3 Pick 36: Will Grier, QB, West Virginia
RD 4 Pick 13: Christian Miller, Edge, Alabama
RD 5 Pick 16: Jordan Scarlett, RB, Florida
RD 6 Pick 39: Dennis Daley, OT, South Carolina
RD 7 Pick 23: Terry Godwin, WR, Georgia
The only bad pick in this entire draft class is the selection of Greg Little in the second round. Although he fills a need I think he’s a long way away from being technically sound enough to start. Brian Burns was a top 5 player, for me, in this draft class and the Panthers got him at 16 so it’s a great value. Christian Miller is one of the better edge rushers in the class when he is healthy. Terry Godwin and Jordan Scarlett are good positional players who could contribute early. Dennis Daley is a great tackle prospect to keep around while he develops. The idea of Christian Miller and Brain Burns turning the edge for the Panthers next year makes this draft class a good one.
RD 3 Pick 9: David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State
RD 4 Pick 24: Riley Ridley, WR, Georgia
RD 6 Pick 32: Duke Shelley, CB, Kansas State
RD 7 Pick 8: Kerrith Whyte Jr, Florida Atlantic
RD 7 Pick 24: Stephan Denmark, Valdosta State, CB
You have to grade on a curve for the Bears since they only had a total of five picks in the draft. David Montgomery is a three-down running back and someone with the perfect running style to play on the Bears. Riley Ridley is an interesting player to keep an eye on because he can win with route running but is limited with speed. The last three picks of the class don’t have much consequence but I’m sure they will have an opportunity to make the roster come training camp. Montgomery should be an impact player right away and Ridley has the tools to carve out a role for himself. Two potential contributors is a win with only five total picks starting in the third round.
RD 1 Pick 11: Jonah Williams, IOL/OT, Alabama
RD 2 Pick 20: Drew Sample, TE, Washington
RD 3 Pick 8: Germaine Pratt, LB, NC State
RD 4 Pick 2: Ryan Finley, QB, NC State
RD 4 Pick 23: Renell Wren, DT, Arizona State
RD 4 Pick 34: Mike Jordan, IOL, Ohio State
RD 6 Pick 9: Trayveon Williams, RB, Texas A@M
RD 6 Pick 37: Deshaun Davis, LB, Auburn
RD 6 Pick 38: Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma
RD 7 Pick 6: Jordan Brown, CB, North Dakota State
The Bengals shocked me because I thought they would make a lot of flashy picks to go along with their new flashy head coach. Well, they threw that in my face by picking Jonah Williams and Drew Sample in the first two rounds. Williams can fill any one of their needs on the offensive line. Sample is a good all-around tight end who can pitch into both the running and passing game, despite being a reach. Pratt helps out a weak linebacking core but is also a reach while Ryan Finley doesn’t fill a need at all. Renell Wren and Trayveon Williams are two players that I like and I like the value the Bengals got them at. If Rodney Anderson can get healthy then he is a name to keep an eye on. The Bengals made some reaches but they got a lot of quality players in positions of need.
RD 2 Pick 14: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
RD 3 Pick 16: Sione Takitaki, LB, BYU
RD 4 Pick 17: Sheldrick Redwine, S, Miami
RD 5 Pick 17: Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama
RD 5 Pick 32: Drew Seibert, PK, Oklahoma
RD 6 Pick 16: Drew Forbes, OT, Southeastern Missouri State
RD 7 Pick 7: Donnie Lewis Jr, Tulane, CB
If you couldn’t tell the Brown realized that they needed a lot more depth on the defense making only one offensive pick. Greedy is an absolute steal in the second round and will fit perfectly next to Denzel Ward. Sione Takitaki is a pretty big reach in the third round his athletic ability limits him in the middle of the defense. Mack Wilson is one of the best value picks in the entire class. Him dropping this far makes me think there is something we don’t know in regards to his character. I’m not a big fan of Sheldrick Redwine or taking a placekicker in any round not the seventh so that brings the grade down. The Browns got steals in Williams and Wilson but reached in other parts of the draft.
RD 2 Pick 26: Trysten Hill, DT, UCF
RD 3 Pick 26: Connor Mcgovern, IOL, Penn State
RD 4 Pick 26: Tony Pollard, RB, Memphis
RD 5 Pick 20: Mike Jackson Jr, CB, Miami
RD 5 Pick 27: Joe Jackson, Edge, Miami
RD 7 Pick 4: Mike Weber, RB, Ohio State
RD 7 Pick 24: Jalen Jelks, Edge, Oregon
The Cowboys were without a first round pick due to the Amari Cooper trade with Oakland, however, they still found good value in the middle rounds. Trysten Hill has one of the hottest motors in the class and fills a need. Mcgovern is technically raw but provides good depth up front. The Jackson’s from Miami provides the Cowboys with even more depth on the defensive end with two guys who can add some value right away. Pollard was a huge reach for me and I don’t think he’s a scheme fit for what Dallas typically does on offense. Weber and Jelks are two players that I like but it is hard to see them making the team with so many players in front of them. Dallas did a good job of adding depth to a roster without having a first-round pick.
RD 1 Pick 20: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
RD 2 Pick 9: Dalton Risner, IOL/OT, Kansas State
RD 2 Pick 10: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
RD 3 Pick 7: Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State
RD 5 Pick 18: Justin Hollins, Edge, Oregon
RD 6 Pick 14: Juwaan Winfree, WR, Colorado
I make fun of John Elway a lot but this is the second straight year that I like his draft class a lot. The trade back to get an elite weapon like Noah Fant is fantastic for Joe Flacco. Dalton Risner could fill a couple of needs on the offensive line. Drew Lock was widely projected to be a first-round quarterback and Denver got him in the second round. Dre’Mont Jones will add even more pass rush to the team’s already solid defensive line. Hollins is a good run defender and could be used as a rotational piece while Winfree is a good player to keep around while he develops. The Broncos got three potential starters and future franchise quarterback while trading back which is impressive amounts of value.
RD 1 Pick 8: TJ Hockenson, TE, Iowa
RD 2 Pick 11: Jahlani Tavai, LB, Hawaii
RD 3 Pick 17: Will Harris, S, Boston College
RD 4 Pick 15: Austin Bryant, Edge, Clemson
RD 5 Pick 8: Amani Oruwaryie, CB, Penn State
RD 6 Pick 11: Travis Fulgham, WR, Old Dominion
RD 7 Pick 10: Issac Nauta, TE, Georiga
RD 7 Pick 15: PJ Johnson, DT, Arizona
When looking at this draft class I realized that I only liked two of the picks made in Hockenson and Oruwaryie. Oruwaryie is another player who I’m not sure why he fell so far but he’s a good cover corner. TJ Hockenson was a top 5 player for me and the Lions got him eight so it’s a great value. Tavai and Harris are both gross reaches for players that are limited in their role with some serious physical limitations. I didn’t like Austin Bryant’s tape at Clemson, so he’s also a reach in the 4th round. Issac Nauta can be a good blocker but TJ Hockenson is like the best version of Nauta so it’s a redundant pick. The Lions needed a lot of talent in a lot of places but I fear they didn’t do enough in this draft to compete in the NFC North.
Green Bay Packers
RD 1 Pick 12: Rashan Gary, Edge, Michigan
RD 1 Pick 21: Darnell Savage, S, Maryland
RD 2 Pick 12: Elgton Jenkins, IOL, Mississippi State
RD 3 Pick 11: Jace Sternberger, TE, Texas A@M
RD 5 Pick 12: Kingsley Keke, DT, Texas A@M
RD 6 Pick 12: Ka’ der Hollarman, CB, Toledo
RD 6 Pick 21: Dexter Williams, RB, Notre Dame
RD 7 Pick 12: Ty Summers, LB, TCU
This was another tough draft class to grade because I love what they did on day two but I thought they reached in the first round. With Gary, the Packers are really betting on upside and that he can stay healthy. Savage fills a dire need and is a true ball hawk but he needs to develop more mentally. I love the selection of Elgton Jenkins who should come in and be a starter from day one. Sternberger adds a legit passing threat down the seam which compliments what the Packers like to do. As for their day three picks, I don’t see anyone who pops out as a good value or player that I love. The Packers reached a bit in the first round, but either way, they ended up with four contributors with their first four picks.
RD 1 Pick 23: Tytus Howard, OT, Alabama State
RD 2 Pick 22: Lonnie Johnson, CB, Kentucky
RD 2 Pick 23: Max Scarping, OT, NIU
RD 3 Pick 22: Kahale Warring, TE, SDSU
RD 5 Pick 23: Charles Omenihu, DT, Texas
RD 6 Pick 22: Xavier Crawford, CB, Central Michigan
RD 7 Pick 6: Cullen Gillaspa, RB, Texas A@M
I joked that the Texans were trying to intentionally kill Deshaun Watson while still making the playoffs. They made an effort to fix the offensive line with their first two picks, but I feel like they reached for both players. I like Howard’s upside but I’m not sure he is ready for an immediate impact. Scarping is super raw and physically limited; I think he thrived against poor competition in college. I wasn’t a big Lonnie Johnson fan either and he was responsible for way too many big plays in college. Warring is a good value in the third round and might be the best tight end on the roster right away. Charles Omenihu is a player that I had in the second round so it is a heist for the Texans in the fifth round. I like that the Texans used premium picks on offensive linemen but I fear they took the wrong players.
RD 2 Pick 2: Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple
RD 2 Pick 17: Ben Banogu, Edge, TCU
RD 2 Pick 27: Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State
RD 3 Pick 25: Bobby Okereke, LB, Stanford
RD 4 Pick 17: Kahri Willis, S, Michigan State
RD 5 Pick 6: Marvin Tell, S, USC
RD 5 Pick 26: RJ Speed, LB, Tarleton State
RD 6 Pick 26: Gerri Green, Mississippi State, LB
RD 7 Pick 26: Jackson Barton, OT, Utah
RD 7 Pick 32: Javon Patterson, IOL, Ole Miss
I feel like the Colts traded back about 100 times but somehow still ended up with a decent group of players. You guys know that I love Rock Ya-Sin and I think he could start next season. Bangou was my favorite pass rusher from TCU (cough, cough, Seattle) and will add some needed speed off the edge. If you follow my work, you know that I don’t like Parris Campbell much but he adds some much-needed speed on the outside. After that is where the Colts start to lose me. Willis, Tell, and Speed are three players that do nothing for me and seem like reaches. Tell had some of the worst tape I had ever seen from a safety prospect. So while I like some of the players the Colts drafted I’m not sure they added a lot of impact players in year one.
RD 1 Pick 7: Josh Allen, Edge, Kentucky
RD 2 Pick 3: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
RD 3 Pick 5: Josh Oliver, TE, San Jose State
RD 3 Pick 35: Quincy Williams, S, Murray State
RD 5 Pick 2: Ryquell Armstead, RB, Temple
RD 6 Pick 5: Gardner Minshew, QB, Washington State
RD 7 Pick 21: Dontavious Russel, DT, Auburn
The Jaguars were given a gift when Josh Allen fell all the way down to pick 7 for them. Allen will make the rich even richer when it comes to the defensive line. Taylor is a steal in the second round and fills a gigantic need. Josh Oliver is a great pass catching option that helps out a horrible TE depth chart. Quincy Williams is the only pick that I don’t like in this draft class because its the biggest reach by any team. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller said on the stick to football podcast about Williams, “He was so bad at football I didn’t even rank him.” Armstead can supply some relief for Leonard Fournette which hopefully keeps him healthier. Jaguars didn’t get a lot of picks to work with but they made the most of them.
Kansas City Chiefs
RD 2 Pick 29: Mecole Hardman, WR, Georgia
RD 2 Pick 31: Juan Thornhill, S, Virginia
RD 3 Pick 20: Khalen Saunders, DT, Western Illinois
RD 6 Pick 20: Rashad Felton, CB, South Carolina
RD 6 Pick 41: Darwin Thompson, RB, Utah State
RD 7 Pick 2: Nick Allegretti, IOL, Illinois
The Chiefs are another team without a first round pick that I thought did a really nice job filling needs. If there was anyone in this draft class who has the skillset to replace Tyreek Hill it would be Mecole Hardman. Juan Thornhill is a matchup safety who should be able to mask some of the holes on defense with the Honey Badger. Khalen Saunders is one of my favorite players from this draft class and should fit nicely next to Chris Jones. The picks they made on day three will have an uphill battle to make the roster but watch out for Darwin Thompson to have a good preseason.
RD 1 Pick 28: Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame
RD 2 Pick 28: Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware
RD 3 Pick 27: Trey Pipkins, OT, Sioux Falls
RD 4 Pick 28: Drue Tranquill, LB, Notre Dame
RD 5 Pick 28: Easton Stick, QB, NDSU
RD 6 Pick 27: Emeke Egbule, LB, Houston
RD 7 Pick 28: Cortez Broughton, DT, Cincinnati
I thought the Chargers might surprise some people and take a lot of skill position players to retool the offense but they went the opposite route and I like it. Tillery fills a need up front but he’ll have to improve as a run defender. Adderley is by far the teams best pick and is the perfect safety to play next to Derwin James. Drue Tranquill and Emeke Egbule are two late round linebackers that I like. However, the Chargers reached on two players from the Dakota’s in Easton Stick and Trey Pipkins. Neither had a draftable grade on my board coming into the week so the Chargers could have done better in those spots.
RD 2 Pick 29: Taylor Rapp, S, Washington
RD 3 Pick 6: Darnell Henderson, RB, Memphis
RD 3 Pick 33: Bobby Evans, OT, Oklahoma
RD 4 Pick 32: Greg Gaines, DT, Washington
RD 5 Pick 31: David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin
RD 7 Pick 29: Nick Scott, S, Penn State
RD 7 Pick 37: Dakota Allen, LB, Texas Tech
I feel like the Rams traded back a lot in this draft class for a team that needs a lot more help than people realize. Trading back for Taylor Rapp was a fantastic move. He fills a big need and will bring a different mentality to a defense that needs it. Henderson should get some touches right away behind Todd Gurley. Bobby Evans and David Edwards are good tackle prospects to keep around as developmental guys for when Andrew Whitworth decides to hang it up. Greg Gaines in the fourth round is a massive reach because his skill set of a pure run defender can be found way later in the draft. I like Dakota Allen a little bit more than most so I would wager he makes the team. For the Rams, this class lacks first-year production a little bit but I like that they have an eye for the future.
RD 1 Pick 13: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
RD 3 Pick 14: Micheal Dieter, IOL/OT, Wisconsin
RD 5 Pick 13: Andrew Van Ginkel, LB, Wisconsin
RD 6 Pick 29: Isaiah Prince, OT, Ohio State
RD 7 Pick 19: Charle Cox, FB, Auburn
RD 7 Pick 20: Myles Gaskin, RB, Washington
Grade (with Rosen): C+
Grade (W/O Rosen): C-
This was a difficult grade for me because I struggled on if I should give the Dolphins credit for the Josh Rosen trade and the trade with the Saints that netted them a 2nd round pick next year. Ultimately, I chose to do both because it felt like the fair thing to do. Moving onto the players that they drafted, I love Wilkins and Dieter both are great values and should be starters from day one. After that, the Dolphins lose me completely with their next four picks. Van Ginkel doesn’t really fill a need and isn’t good (UDFA grade for me). Prince can’t pass block to save his life so not sure what they are doing there. Gaskin is a fine player but we have bigger fish to fry than backup running back. Cox should see the field as a fullback but did we really need to draft him? The biggest problem I have is that this team didn’t address the need of pass rusher. Dolphins have a crap ton of holes still and only made 6 picks.
RD 1 Pick 19: Garrett Bradbury, IOL, NC State
RD 2 Pick 18: Irv Smith Jr, TE, Alabama
RD 3 Pick 38: Alexander Mattison, RB, Bosie State
RD 4 Pick 12: Dru Samia, IOL, Oklahoma
RD 5 Pick 24: Cameron Smith, LB, USC
RD 6 Pick 17: Armon Watts, DT, Arkansas
RD 6 Pick 18: Marcus Epps, S, Wyoming
RD 6 Pick 20: Oli Udoh, OT, Elon
RD 7 Pick 3: Kris Boyd, CB, Texas
RD 7 Pick 25: Dillion Mitchell, WR, Oregon
RD 7 Pick 33: Olabisi Johnson, WR, Colorado State
RD 7 Pick 36: Austin Cutting, LS, Air Force
The Minnesota Vikings blew this draft out of the park if you ask me. Garrett Bradbury and Dru Samia are two perfect scheme fits that will fill the biggest need on the roster. Bradbury was a top 10 player in this class, for me, so getting him at 19 is great. Alexander Mattison is someone I didn’t get a chance to watch when grading running backs but when I was watching Brett Rypien he popped out to me. Irv Snith Jr should be the replacement for Kyle Rudolph whenever he decides to hang it up. For their day three picks, I think that Armon Watts and Dillion Mitchell are great values and should make the team. Minnesota didn’t really make any gross reaches and got 4 players who could contribute this season.
New England Patriots
RD 1 Pick 32: N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
RD 2 Pick 13: Joejuan Williams, CB, Vanderbilt
RD 3 Pick 13: Chase Winovich, Edge, Michigan
RD 3 Pick 23: Damien Harris, RB, Alabama
RD 3 Pick 27: Yodney Cajuste, OT, West Virginia
RD 4 Pick 16: Hjayle Froholdt, IOL, Arkansas
RD 4 Pick 31: Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn
RD 5 Pick 21: Byran Cowart, DT, Maryland
RD 5 Pick 25: Jake Bailey, P, Stanford
RD 7 Pick 38: Ken Webster, CB, Ole Miss
Here we have the yearly tradition of giving the Patriots a good draft grade despite it breaking my heart. Harry is a uber athletic outside receiver who will perfectly next to all those short slot guys the Patriots already have. Chase Winovich is one of the bigger steals of the entire draft and should put up between 8 and 10 sacks most seasons. Damien Harris plus Sonny Micheal makes for a great running back combo. New England’s tackles aren’t getting any younger and when healthy, Yodney Cajuste is a starter on most teams. Jarrett Stidham as a lot of tools to work with while being in a perfect spot behind Brady. The only pick I really have a problem with is Joejuan Williams. I wasn’t a fan of his tape even though I have heard he will be moved to safety in order to mask his weaknesses. Patriots should be on top of the AFC East again this year.
New Orleans Saints
RD 2 Pick 13: Erick McCoy, IOL, Texas A@M
RD 4 Pick 3: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, Florida
RD 6 Pick 9: Saquan Hampton, S, Rutgers
RD 7 Pick 17: Alize Mack, TE, Notre Dame
RD 7 Pick 30: Kaden Ellis, LB, Idaho
I feel like the Saints do this every season where have almost no draft picks and still come out with good players. Erick McCoy is a plug and play starter at center which fills their biggest need. Gardner-Johnson is a steal in the fourth round and should see reps as a slot corner from day one. Alize Mack is a stupid underrated tight end who I’m praying makes the roster because his blend of athletic ability and size is great. The other two picks are misses in my eyes, which is the only thing keeping this class from being an A.
New York Giants
RD 1 Pick 6: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
RD 1 Pick 17: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
RD 1 Pick 30: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
RD 3 Pick 31: Oshane Ximines, Edge, Old Dominion
RD 4 Pick 6: Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame
RD 5 Pick 5: Ryan Connley, LB, Wisconsin
RD 5 Pick 33: Darius Slayton, WR, Auburn
RD 6 Pick 7: Cory Ballentine, CB, Washburn
RD 7 Pick 18: George Asafo-Adjei, S, Kentucky
RD 7 Pick 31: Chris Slayton, DT, Syracuse
Yep, I bet you all saw this one coming. The Giants get my first D and one of my lower overall grades this year. I don’t dislike all of the players picked, but I feel as though the Giants wasted premium picks. Obviously, Daniel Jones is a huge reach but he’s been beaten up in the media enough so I won’t pile on here. Dexter Lawrence is good in his defined role of a run stopper I’m just not sure that role is worth a first-round pick. I actually like the selections of Baker, Ximines, and Love so the Giants get points back there for addressing the secondary and edge. From there, none of the picks really do anything for me. I like Ballentine but he was the third cornerback taken which feels like overkill. The direction of the Giants not only confuses me but scares me.
New York Jets
RD 1 Pick 3: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
RD 3 Pick 4: Jacahi Polite, Edge, Florida
RD 3 Pick 28: Chuma Edoga, OT, USC
RD 4 Pick 19: Trevon Wesco, TE, West Virginia
RD 5 Pick 19: Blake Cashman, LB, Minnesota
RD 6 Pick 23: Blessaun Austin, CB, Rutgers
The Jets didn’t have a lot to work with after trading up for Sam Darnold last season but I liked what they did. Williams doesn’t fill a need but he was by far the best player on the board at number 3. Polite has some character concerns but his tape is round one worthy while filling the Jets biggest need. Edoga is a small reach in the third round but I like that he won’t be forced to play right away. Trevon Wesco is the perfect partner for Chris Herndon as a blocker with decent hands. The value of getting Cashman in the fifth round is great especially when he was the fourth best linebacker in this class, according to me. Their 6th round pick feels like a waste to me but it’s not a high pick so I didn’t take off a lot of points.
RD 1 Pick 4: Clein Ferrell, Edge, Clemson
RD 1 Pick 24: Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
RD 1 Pick 27: Jonathan Abram, S, Mississippi State
RD 2 Pick 8: Trayveon Mullen, CB, Clemson
RD 4 Pick 4: Maxx Crosby, Edge, Eastern Michigan
RD 4 Pick 27: Isaiah Johnson, CB, Houston
RD 4 Pick 35: Foster Moreau, TE, LSU
RD 5 Pick 11: Hunter Renfrow, WR, Clemson
RD 7 Pick 16: Quinton Bell, S, Edge, Praire View
So, Mike Mayocks’ first draft as a GM is a pretty good one if you’re asking me. I think he reached on all three of his first round picks but I like the players and they fill needs. Ferrell, Jacobs, and Abram are all good tough players so its hard to knock them. Mullen fills a huge need on the outside and is a scheme fit. Foster Moreau and Hunter Renfrow are both good players who could make an impact this season. I’m not a huge fan of Crosby and Johnson but they could be developed for down the road. Overall, the Raiders did a much better job this season than last season while being under extra pressure.
RD 1 Pick 22: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
RD 2 Pick 21: Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State
RD 2 Pick 25: JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford
RD 4 Pick 36: Shareef Miller, Edge, Penn State
RD 5 Pick 29: Clayton Thorson, QB, Northwestern
For a second straight season, the Eagles have limited draft picks but also have limited needs. This year, I think they did a much better job addressing those needs. Dillard is in a perfect spot to sit for one season and then become the heir to Jason Peters’ throne. I don’t think the Eagles could have found a better scheme fit than Miles Sanders at the running back position. Arcega-Whiteside is one of my favorite players in the entire class and is a great value in the second round. Miller and Thorson are two players I’m not that fond of, but they were lower round picks so it’s okay. The Eagles are gonna be a playoff team next season with a healthy Carson Wentz.
RD 1 Pick 10: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
RD 3 Pick 2: Deiontae Johnson, WR, Toledo
RD 3 Pick 19: Justin Layne, CB, Michigan State
RD 4 Pick 20: Bennie Snell, RB, Kentucky
RD 5 Pick 3: Zach Gentry, TE, Michigan
RD 6 Pick 2: Sutton Smith, Edge, NIU
RD 6 Pick 19: Isaiah Buggs, DT, Alabama
RD 6 Pick 34: Ulysses Gilbert, LB, Akron
RD 7 Pick 5: Derwin Gray, IOL, Maryland
The Steelers made an amazing trade up in order to select Devin Bush out of Michigan. He fills the team biggest need while giving them someone with an attitude that has been missing from Pittsburgh for a little bit now. Justin Layne is a perfect scheme fit as a long, athletic, and press corner. Bennie Snell is a player that I really like and I hope he gets some carries in his first season. Johnson is a big reach for me in the third round but the Steelers are known for developing receivers so maybe it’ll work out. Their day three picks are either high upside or low floor. The Steelers addressed their biggest needs with good players which makes for a B+ grade.
RD 1 Pick 29: LJ Collier, Edge, TCU
RD 2 Pick 15: Marquise Blair, S, Utah
RD 2 Pick 32: DK Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
RD 3 Pick 24: Cody Barton, LB, Wisconsin
RD 4 Pick 18: Gary Jennings, WR, West Virginia
RD 4 Pick 20: Philip Haynes, IOL, Wake Forrest
RD 4 Pick 30: Ugochukwu Amadi, S, Oregon
RD 5 Pick 4: Ben Burr-Kirven, LB, Washington
RD 6 Pick 31: Travis Homer, RB, Miami
RD 6 Pick 36; Demarcus Christmas, DT, Florida State
RD 7 Pick 22: Jon Ursa, WR, Hawaii
This draft class is so many levels of confusing to me. The Seahawks traded Frank Clark and ended up with LJ Collier who I had graded in the fifth round. Marquise Blair is super raw as a safety prospect and they also drafted Amadi (from Oregon) who plays the same position. It’s going to be a crowded safety room in Seattle this season. I like the value they got for DK Metcalf at the end of round two which saves them from an F. Burr-Kirven didn’t have a draftable grade on my board so that’s another reach in the 5th round. Gary Jennings isn’t someone I think can play right away and neither is Travis Homer. This draft class just feels too cute to me from a team that had plenty of holes to address.
San Francisco 49ers
RD 1 Pick 2: Nick Bosa, Edge, Ohio State
RD 2 Pick 4: Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina
RD 3 Pick 3: Jalen Hurd, WR, Baylor
RD 4 Pick 8: Mitch Wishnowsky, P, Utah
RD 5 Pick 10: Dre Greenlaw, Edge, Arkansas
RD 6 Pick 3: Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford
RD 6 Pick 10: Justin Skule, OT, Vanderbilt
RD 6 Pick 25: Tim Harris, CB, Virginia
I love the 49ers two first picks of Nick Bosa and Deebo Samuel with both filling premium needs and being scheme fits. Bosa should make the 49ers defensive line one to be feared in a division with Russell Wilson, Jared Golf, and Kyler Murray. Samuel should come in and be productive in year one with his versatility. After that, the 49ers lose me with, especially the next two picks. Hurd is a huge reach in the third round and I’ll never say taking a punter before the seventh round is a good pick. The rest of the day three picks are going to have a tough time making the roster with the depth in front of them. I feel like the 49ers wasted too many picks in this class trying to be cute.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
RD 1 Pick 5: Devin White, LB, LSU
RD 2 Pick 7: Sean Bunting, CB, Central Michigan
RD 3 Pick 30: Jamel Dean, CB, Auburn
RD 3 Pick 35: Mike Edwards, S, Kentucky
RD 4 Pick 5: Anthony Nelson, Edge, Iowa
RD 5 Pick 7: Matt Gay, PK, Utah
RD 6 Pick 35: Scott Miller, S, Penn State
RD 7 Pick 1: Terry Beckner, DT, Missouri
Tampa Bay is another team that started out strong but didn’t stick the landing on day three. Devin White is the perfect player for Tampa Bay to select in the top five. He fills a huge need at linebacker and his fierce attitude will give the Buccaneers an edge that they have been missing. Sean Bunting is a good pick on day two that could come in and challenge for a starting job from day one. Tampa then doubled down in the secondary with Jamel Dean and Mike Edwards which is where things start to fall apart. Last year, Tampa took Carlton Davis and MJ Stewart in the middle rounds. So now they have one of the most crowded cornerback rooms in all of football. Also, I don’t know what is with the Buccaneers always picking kickers but it makes no sense. Scott Miller and Terry Beckner most likely won’t make the roster, however, Anothny Nelson is a great pick in round four. If Tampa can’t fix the secondary with all these guys then I don’t know if they ever will.
RD 1 Pick 19: Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
RD 2 Pick 19: AJ Brown, WR, Ole Miss
RD 3 Pick 18: Nate Davis, IOL, UNC-Charlotte
RD 4 Pick 14: Amani Hooker, S, Iowa
RD 5 Pick 30: Deandre Walker, Edge, Georgia
RD 6 Pick 15: David Long, LB, West Virginia
I wrote in my final mock draft that the Titans had a very important season coming up with trying to decide if Marcus Mariota is a franchise quarterback. I think this draft class covers a lot of needs while getting Maroita some help. Simmons may have to redshirt his first season but the thought of him paired with Jurrell Casey and Harold Landry is intoxicating. AJ Brown is the best receiver on the team and will give Maroita a reliable underneath target. Davis and Hooker are two players that I really like and could make an impact early on. Walker and Long are steals that late in the draft despite them having to climb the depth chart. It is simple really: The Titans didn’t draft any bad players they just might have to fight there way onto the field.
RD 1 Pick 15: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
RD 1 Pick 26: Montez Sweat, Edge, Mississippi State
RD 3 Pick 12: Terry Mclaurin, WR, Ohio State
RD 4 Pick 10: Byrce Love, RB, Stanford
RD 4 Pick 29: Wes Martin, IOL, Indiana
RD 5 Pick 15: Ross Pierschbacher, IOL, Alabama
RD 5 Pick 35: Cole Holcomb, LB, North Carolina
RD 6 Pick 33: Kelvin Harmon, WR, NC State
RD 7 Pick 13: Jimmy Moreland, CB, James Madison
RD 7 Pick 39: Jordan Brailford, Edge, Oklahoma State
This is by far the most surprising grade I had to give out this season especially after Dan Synder was reported to be taking over the draft from his GM. Well, Dan Synder, I still don’t like you but man this class is good. They got the best quarterback in the class at number 15 let that sink in for a second. Then, they traded back into the first round to take Montez Sweat who fills a need and would have been a top 10 pick if healthy. Terry Mclaurin was teammates with Haskins in college so their connection is already strong. Not a fan of the Bryce Love and Wes Martin picks because they are reaches. Perschbacher and Moreland are steals that should have gone earlier and will add depth to this team with starting potential. Kelvin Harmon in the sixth round is a heist on par with Ocean’s 11. He was my number three receiver in the entire class, and I know he ran slow but he wasn’t that slow. Harmon wins with his body and at the catch point, so I expect him to make an impact this season. Washington killed this draft and will be a team to keep an eye on this season.
The first round of the NFL draft is one of the most exciting days of the entire year, and is a culmination of hundreds of hours of work for a lot of people who work in the industry. I have graded every single pick of the first round for your viewing pleasure. I tried to keep the explanations short and sweet covering everything from value, need, and overall skill set of the player. The grades are between A+ and F- (Yes, that’s a thing when Dave Gettleman is picking players) but it is important to remember that these are knee jerk reactions. Things will change when teams make more picks to fill their other holes on the roster.
On Sunday, I’ll have another article out grading every team’s full draft class so keep an eye out for that. As always direct all of your hate and questions to @DanteCollinelli on twitter I’m always down to talk football.
RD 1 Pick 1: Arizona Cardinals
Selection: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
To the surprise of nobody, Murray goes number 1 overall to the Cardinals. Murray fits Kingsbury’s scheme to perfection and will give the Cardinals one of the most exciting players in the entire league. Murray wasn’t my QB 1 and I’m worried about how prepared he is to make NFL level throws on a consistent basis. Murray will be one of the most interesting players to watch this upcoming season. I’m not worried about Murray’s weight or height at the next level at all. I think he does a good job of protecting himself when running down the field.
RD 1 Pick 2: San Francisco 49ers
Selection: Nick Bosa, Edge, Ohio State
Nick Bosa is the unquestioned best player in this entire draft class. His football IQ, technique, speed, and power make for an elite edge rushing prospect that fills the 49ers biggest need. Bosa will join Deforrest Buckner and Eric Armstead on the 49ers defensive line, making for an elite pass rush combination. Bosa does have some injury concerns throughout his career so it’s something to keep an eye on going forward.
RD 1 Pick 3: New York Jets
Selection: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
The Jets took advantage of the Cardinals’ selection of Kyler Murray, allowing them to take the second best player in the draft at pick 3. While he doesn’t fill a need on the team, Williams provides the Jets with an elite interior pass rusher that isn’t currently on the roster. Williams is one of the youngest players in the draft and will only get better from this point going forward. He can play in any scheme so the Jets will find a way to get him on the field for the majority of their snaps.
RD 1 Pick 4: Oakland Raiders
Selection: Clelin Ferrell, Edge, Clemson
The Raiders make the first surprise pick of the draft by selecting Ferrell at number 4 overall. Ferrell is a high floor player with refined hand technique and power in his base. He fills the Raiders biggest need after trading away Khalil Mack last season. However, this is a reach to be selecting a player like Ferrell with Devin White, Ed Oliver, and Josh Allen still on the board. Ferrell will be a productive player for the Raiders for years to come, but his low ceiling will keep him from being a true elite talent.
RD 1 Pick 5: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Selection: Devin White, LB, LSU
Tampa Bay fills their biggest need after the Raiders make a surprising pick at number 4. White is the fastest linebacker I’ve ever scouted and will bring a new element of speed and tenacity to the Buccaneers defense. He’s an elite playmaker and will cause multiple turnovers a season. His mindset is contagious to the people around him, making everyone on the field meaner and better. This is as good as it gets for Tampa Bay.
RD 1 Pick 6: New York Giants
Selection: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
The Giants’ selection of Daniel Jones is one of the biggest reaches for a quarterback in recent memory. Jones has a great football pedigree and has a lot of similarities to Giants’ current quarterback Eli Manning which is probably why they took him. Jones is limited as a passer down the field and doesn’t have the needed football IQ to succeed early in the league, so I think he will sit behind Eli Manning for at least one season. Jones has a long way to go before he can be a quality starting quarterback at the next level. Even then I think he lacks the ceiling to be anything more than Ryan Tannehill.
RD 1 Pick 7: Jacksonville Jaguars
Selection: Josh Allen, Edge, Kentucky
Josh Allen doesn’t fill a need for the Jaguars right away, but he is arguably the best player left on the board due to the Giants and Raiders making reaches. Allen improved mightily in his senior season with his hands and overall technique. He’s a pure speed rushed off the edge with great movement skills in space, allowing him to play in coverage, as well as rush the passer. The Jaguars now have one of the fiercest pass rushes in the entire league.
RD 1 Pick 8: Detroit Lions
Selection: TJ Hockenson, TE, Iowa
TJ Hockenson is the best tight end that I have scouted in the last 3 years. He is a proficient pass catcher and an extremely good blocker in the run game. His versatility will give the Lions a dynamic chess piece that they can move around the formation. Hockenson will give quarterback Matthew Stafford a reliable target in the middle of the field and in the redzone. Hockenson will also make it easier for the Lions to run the football because of his blocking prowess.
RD 1 Pick 9: Buffalo Bills
Selection: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
The Bills get a gift at number 9 with Ed Oliver falling down the board. Buffalo fills one of their biggest needs with one of the elite players of the draft. Oliver fits the Bills’ scheme perfectly and will provide them with a great penetrator and run stopper. Oliver may be undersized, but his speed, quickness, and power make up for his lack of size in spades. Oliver should be used better in Buffalo than he was at Houston, which should make him more productive in the NFL.
The Steelers trade up 10 spots with the Denver Broncos in order to fill the biggest need on their team with the selection of Devin Bush. Bush is a fast, hard-hitting linebacker, who will change the tone of the Steelers defense for years to come. The Steelers only gave up pick number 52 in order to move up for this selection, which is a good value. Bush should be a productive first-year starter in the middle of the Steelers’ defense.
RD 1 Pick 11: Cincinnati Bengals
Selection: Jonah Williams, OT/IOL, Alabama
Jonah Williams is the most versatile offensive lineman in this draft class. He can play all 5 starting positions on the offensive line, including left tackle. He is a people mover in the run game and a smooth pass protector. He instantly upgrades the Bengals’ porous offensive line from last season. Some fans might’ve wanted a quarterback to be the pick here, but Williams fills a need at a good value.
RD 1 Pick 12: Green Bay Packers
Selection: Rashan Gary, Edge, Michigan
The Green Bay Packers take a huge risk by selecting Rashan Gary at pick 12. Gary lacked production at Michigan, despite having an elite athletic profile. Gary was misused at Michigan by playing out on the edge and could be better used on the interior of the defensive line. Green Bay spent a lot of money on the edge position in free agency so Gary wasn’t a need this early in the first round. The Packers will have to bet on his athletic upside and that his best football is in front of him. Gary also had plenty of injuries throughout his career that kept him off the field often at Michigan.
RD 1 Pick 13: Miami Dolphins
Selection: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
The Miami Dolphins have a barren defensive line with little to no talent. Christian Wilkins adds a high character and high-quality player to that group. He is an impressive penetrator in the passing game and stout run defender. Wilkins fits the prototype that the Dolphins’ general manager Chris Grier talked about all offseason. Wilkins will be a productive player for a long time and give the Dolphins some needed punch on the defensive side of the football.
RD 1 Pick 14: Atlanta Falcons
Selection: Chris Lindstrom, IOL, Boston College
The Falcons make a surprise pick by reaching for Chris Lindstrom here at number 14. While Lindstrom is a good guard prospect, the Falcons passed on bigger needs and better players. Lindstrom will provide them with a steady presence up front for the next 10-12 years. Lindstrom will have to prove that he can be a consistent pass blocker at the next level to reach his ceiling because he wasn’t tasked with doing that often at Boston College.
RD 1 Pick 15: Washington Redskins
Selection: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
The Redskins get my number 1 overall quarterback without having to trade up into the top 10. Haskins should come in and be the day 1 starter for the Redskins in 2019. He will excel in their short passing heavy offense with his short to intermediate accuracy. Haskins is still a very young player and has tremendous upside. His football IQ will allow him to have a productive rookie season. The Redskins would be wise to surround him with some more weapons with their other picks.
RD 1 Pick 16: Carolina Panthers
Selection: Brian Burns, Edge, Florida State
Brian Burns might be the best pure pass rusher in the draft class. He possesses elite speed and the ability to bend the edge quicker than anyone else. He fills arguably the biggest need for the Panthers early in round 1. He will need to put on a little bit of weight on his frame in order to be more effective against the run at the NFL level. His immediate impact should help the Panthers compete in a pass-heavy division with Drew Brees, Jamies Winston, and Matt Ryan.
RD 1 Pick 17: New York Giants
Selection: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
Lawrence is a huge reach at number 17 for the Giants. He doesn’t fill one of their bigger needs and isn’t a top 20 player in this class. His role as a pure run-stopping player is no longer highly valued in the NFL. The Giants passed on way better players in a position where they need a lot of talent to compete this season. Lawrence will serve his role well, however, his role is not of high value anymore. Dave Gettlemen traded Damion Harrison last season for a fifth-round pick and then took essentially the same player with the 17th pick in the draft. I just don’t understand this team at all.
RD 1 Pick 18: Minnesota Vikings
Selection: Garrett Bradbury, IOL, NC State
Bradbury is the best IOL in this draft class. He is a smooth mover in the run game and is able to get to the second level with ease. He has great hand placement and always plays with leverage. The Vikings desperately needed help on the offensive line in order to protect Kirk Cousins moving forward. Bradbury was a top 10 player for me in this class, so it’s a great value for the Vikings at 18.
RD 1 Pick 19: Tennessee Titans
Selection: Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
Jeffery Simmons has a long and complicated route to the NFL. He has character concerns in his past, stemming from a video of him striking a woman during a fight. He then proceeded to have a great career at Mississippi State. Simmons would have been a top 5 pick in this class if it was not for his character concerns and injury concerns. Simmons tore his ACL during the pre-draft process, which aided in his fall down the board. There is no question that Simmons is talented, but he will have to prove that he is a changed person from his high school days in order to be successful at the NFL level.
Denver passes on a quarterback again at number 20 by taking tight end, Noah Fant. Fant is a dynamic pass-catching threat from multiple spots on the field and he is one of the most athletically gifted tight ends in recent memory. He will give Denver a real speed threat down the middle of the field for aging quarterback Joe Flacco. Fant will have to work on his hands and route running to reach his ceiling, however, all the tools of a pro-bowl tight end are present.
RD 1 Pick 21: Green Bay Packers
Selection: Darnell Savage Jr., S, Maryland
Savage has experienced a huge draft rise since January when he attended the senior bowl and impressed a lot of scouts. Savage gives the Packers a playmaking safety for a team that desperately needs more turnovers this season. Savage is a hard-hitting player in the run game that will add a mean streak to the Packers’ defense. Savage is a bit of a reach here in the first round, but he still fills the Packers’ biggest need.
RD 1 Pick 22: Philadelphia Eagles (via Baltimore Ravens)
Selection: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
The Eagles surprised everyone by trading up for Dillard with the Baltimore Ravens. The Eagles needed to find a replacement for Jason Peters at left tackle, so I see why they did it. Dillard is a fluid athlete with a strong pass set and plenty of experience pass protecting from college. In the running game, he doesn’t get good leverage and will get pushed back way too easily. Ideally, he will sit his first season in Philadelphia and be given a chance to mentally develop and bulk up his frame, making him more effective in the running game. The Eagles needed to get in front of the Houston Texans in order to make this pick because trust me they would have taken Dillard at 23.
RD 1 Pick 23: Houston Texans
Selection: Tytus Howard, OT, Alabama State
The Houston Texans desperately needed to find protection for Deshawn Watson this season. Howard is a smooth mover with long arms that allow him to stay in front of most pass rushers. He comes from a small school and will need considerable technical refinement before making an impact at the NFL level. Houston passed on a much better player in Jawaan Taylor at right tackle for a developmental pick at the same position. Howard has the tools to be successful but a long way to go before he hits his ceiling.
RD 1 Pick 24: Oakland Raiders
Selection: Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
This was one of the most obvious picks of this draft class after Marshawn Lynch left the team this offseason. Jacobs is one of the most physical runners in recent memory and upgrades a sad Raiders running back depth chart. He will give the Raiders a runner with attitude while being able to add value in the passing game. Jacobs has limited tread on his tires because of limited carries in college. This pick fits like a glove for the Raiders here at the end of the first round.
RD 1 Pick 25: Baltimore Ravens (Via Philadelphia Eagles)
Selection: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
Marquise Brown is an elite speed threat down the field and in short areas. His ability to take a short pass all the way to the house will give a new dynamic threat to the Ravens offense. His ability to create separation will give Lamar Jackson an easy target to hit at all three levels of the field. Brown has a foot injury to deal with right now but should be ready for the regular season, according to all reports. This is a small reach for the Ravens, but I understand why they felt the need to make this pick here.
RD 1 Pick 26: Washington Redskins (Via Indianoplis Colts)
Selection: Montez Sweat, Edge, Mississippi State
Montez Sweat was a consensus top 10 pick for most of the pre-draft process, especially after his record-breaking combine. Problems popped up when his medicals came back that he had a heart condition. That took him off some teams board, however, Washington gets great value trading back into the first round to select him. He fills a position of need and if healthy could be an instant impact starter. Sweat is a great run defender and pure power rusher which results in some impressive reps against lighter competition.
RD 1 Pick 27: Oakland Raiders
Selection: Jonathan Abram, S, Mississippi State
Jonathan Abram is one of the hardest hitting players in the entire draft class. He was even thrown out of a game for hitting in his own teammate once. Jon Gruden loves physical players and that’s what they get with Abram. The Raiders didn’t have a lot of talent at the safety position, so he fills a need as well. I don’t love Abram’s ability in coverage so he will have to make a living stopping the run in the box at the next level. I love Abram’s physical mentality. However, I think Oakland would have been better served to take a free safety or cornerback at this spot.
RD 1 Pick 28: LA Chargers
Selection: Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame
The LA Chargers played their last game against the New England Patriots where they got gashed up the middle of the defense by the running game. Tillery is a player who needs to be more consistent but when he’s on he’s really on. His quickness and pass rush moves are easy to see on tape and should translate well to the next level. Defensive tackle was a big need for the Chargers even though I would consider Tillery a reach here. If the Chargers can get Tillery to put all of his traits together this pick could be a real steal.
RD 1 Pick 29: Seattle Seahawks
Selection: LJ Collier, Edge, TCU
The Seahawks opened up a huge hole on their defensive line by trading away Frank Clark to the Kansas City Chiefs. Collier is a huge reach here for an edge rusher who isn’t a great athlete and didn’t produce that much in the Big 12. Ideally, you would like to see him sit a year so he can learn some pass rush moves but he will likely be thrust into the starting lineup too soon. Collier does provide some power and run defending prowess which I’m sure the Seahawks value. I just don’t see the upside of tacking Collier here instead of taking someone like Jawaan Taylor to protect Russell Wilson.
RD 1 Pick 30: New York Giants (Via Seattle Seahawks)
Selection: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
Baker has had quite the fall since the start of the college football season but the Giants clearly bought into his outstanding tape here at pick 30. Baker is a physical man to man corner and has plus ball skills. His footwork and transitions are fantastic allowing him to stick with defenders down the field. The Giants needed a lot of help in the secondary so not only is Baker a good value, but he fills a position of need. This is by far their best pick of the night and you could still argue its a small reach.
RD 1 Pick 31: Atlanta Falcons (Via LA Rams)
Selection: Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington
This pick shocked me quite a bit as we have another team to pass on Jawaan Taylor here in the first round. McGary is a mauler in the run game and very physical down the field when hitting linebackers. The Falcons needed a new right tackle badly, but again, I just think McGray could have been had in the second or third round. McGary has a long way to go as a pass protector, however, he has the needed movement skills to improve in that area over time.
RD 1 Pick 32: New England Patriots
Selection: N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
It pains me to say this but I love this pick for the Patriots. N’keal Harry has been my number one or two ranked wide receiver since the summer. His ability to make plays after the catch and at the catch point is truly impressive. New England has been looking for an “X” wide receiver for quite a while now and Harry fits that mold perfectly. He will play perfectly off the all the small slot receivers already present in New England.
We are in the endgame now. The draft is just hours away so it is the perfect time for me to make my final predictions for the first four rounds of the draft. Making mock drafts is not something that I love because one trade can blow the entire mock draft apart. I was thinking about doing trades in this mock but that just makes things way too complicated. Plus, there probably won’t be more than three trades in the first round.
This mock is going to be predictive of what I think will happen not what I would do. Some players that have been falling recently because of injuries are Montez Sweat and Rashan Gary. Also, Seattle shook up the draft be acquiring the 29th pick from Kansas City which changes things pretty drastically.
As always if you have any questions or comments hit me up on twitter @DanteCollinelli. Let me know what you think of your teams haul; I love talking ball on the internet.
Number 1: Arizona Cardinals
Selection: Kyler Murray, QB/ Oklahoma
There has been some talk this past week that Murray won’t go number one overall on Thursday. All of the people that I trust in this business say that nothing has changed and that Murray will be the first overall selection. Murray would come in and replace last years first round pick Josh Rosen and be a perfect fit for new head coach Kliff Kingsbury offense. Murray isn’t my QB 1 but he does possess a lot of elite traits to be a franchise changing player at the next level. I am secretly hoping this pick isn’t Murray because that makes things way more fun.
Number 2: San Francisco 49ers
Selection: Nick Bosa, Edge/ Ohio State
This might be the obvious pick in the entire draft for a number of reasons. The first one being that Bosa is the best player available and fills the 49ers biggest need by far. I know the 49ers have invested a lot on first-round defensive linemen, but they haven’t hit yet on a dominant edge rusher. Bosa is one of the most technically polished players to come out of the draft in the last number of years. Bosa is going to be a productive player in any scheme the 49ers cook up for this season.
Number 3: New York Jets
Selection: Quinnen Williams, DT/ Alabama
I considered three different players in this spot but I can’t see the Jets passing on a talent like Williams. The Jets are where the draft truly starts in my eyes because not only do they have a lot of options if they stay at pick three, but they are also a prime trade up partner. The Jets have a lot of needs, and while Williams doesn’t check one of those boxes, he’s an elite talent that will make the team instantly better. If I was doing trades then I would predict one here so I’ll give a few teams to keep an eye on Washington, Giants, Cincinnati, and the Raiders are all options.
Number 4: Oakland Raiders
Selection: Devin White, LB/ LSU
The Raiders are one of the toughest teams to get a handle on because they have been linked to just about every player in the top 10. The buzz right now is that they like Dwayne Haskins, however, I ain’t buying that right now. I believe that the Raiders will take either Devin White or Quinnin Williams depending on who the Jets take. White comes into Oakland and gives them their best linebacker in at least the last five years. He’s one of the fastest players in the class including all the skill positions, so he brings a different dynamic than their current set of linebackers.
Number 5: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Selection: Josh Allen, Edge/ Kentucky
Allen was widely viewed as a top three pick for most of the season so the Buccaneers get a good value here. I think Tampa would prefer to have either Devin White or Quinnin Williams here but Allen is an elite prospect at a position of need. Pairing him with Jason Pierre-Paul would make for a dynamic pass rush that Tampa hasn’t had in a long time. Head coach Bruce Arians said in a press conference that Tampa wouldn’t trade down because there are five elite prospects that can be at pick 5. Allen is one of those players if you ask me.
Number 6: New York Giants
Selection: Dwayne Haskins, QB/ Ohio State
The Giants are yet another team that is very difficult to get a handle on just hours before the draft. Hell, Gettleman said “We didn’t sign Odell Beckham to trade him” and then proceed to trade him. The noise coming out of the Giants have been that they are sticking with Eli Manning next season but I am not buying it. Haskins fits the Giants offense perfectly under head coach Pat Shurmur. Despite what Gettleman says Manning isn’t good anymore and the Giants need to find his replacement quickly. This isn’t a joke but I considered about seven different players in this spot. In the end, I sided with the pick I didn’t think the Giants would make because they always do the opposite of what I think.
Number 7: Jacksonville Jaguars
Selection: TJ Hockenson, TE, Iowa
This pick just makes too much sense for me to pass up here. Tight ends typically don’t get taken this high but Hockenson is one of the best tight end prospects in recent years. The plan in Jacksonville is to surround Nick Foles with the same things that made him successful in Philadelphia. The Eagles strong tight end play was a big part of that success and Jacksonville’s tight end depth chart is sad. Hockenson is one of the best blockers in this class and is a plus athlete making him the perfect scheme fit for the Jaguars ground and pound attack.
Number 8: Detroit Lions
Selection: Ed Oliver, DT/ Houston
Oliver would join an already crowded defensive front in Detroit but his value is too good to pass up here. Detroit is a tough team to draft for because they addressed a number of needs in free agency and Bob Quinn (their GM) has made some weird picks over the years. Olive fits the type for the trench dominant team they are trying to become under head coach Matt Patricia. Oliver can play in multiple schemes and play pretty much every position along the line. Detroit will find some way to get him on the field.
Number 9: Buffalo Bills
Selection: Jonah Williams, OT/IOL/ Alabama
The Bills have invested a lot of money into their offensive line in free agency, but yet, they still have holes to fill. Williams can play any of the five starting spots along the line which would give Buffalo an opportunity to have their five best players on the field at all times. He fits the new Buffalo model which is a high character player from a big name school in the first round. If you are gonna draft Josh Allen to play quarterback then your top priority needs to be making sure he can stand upright in the pocket at all times. Jonah Williams gives you the best versatility among the available options.
Number 10: Denver Broncos
Selection: Devin Bush, LB/ Michigan
Throughout the entire draft process, I have firmly believed that Denver would be all over Drew Lock. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve become less confident in that because I think Elway believes in Joe Flacco. Devin Bush fills a huge need in the middle of the defense and helps the team win now. He gets sideline to sideline very quickly and will bring a mean streak to a defense that has to deal with Patrick Mahomes, Philip Rivers, and Derrick Carr twice a year.
Number 11: Cincinnati Bengals
Selection: Drew Lock, QB/ Missouri
Some people have Drew Lock falling way farther than this, but I just can’t see the NFL letting a prototype QB like Lock fall too far. The Bengals brought in former Sean McVay assistant Zac Taylor who is known to be a “quarterback whisperer”. You’re trying to tell me that he is gonna stick with Andy Dalton and not invest in Lock’s upside? I really believe the Bengals will end up with either Haskins or Lock via trade up or having one fall down the board to them. If Lock and is Haskins is gone then I expect Devin Bush to be the pick here.
Number 12: Green Bay Packers
Selection: Brian Burns, Edge/ Florida State
Look, I know the Packers have spent a lot of money on the edge rusher position in free agency which means they might not think its a need come tonight. I think there are two reasons that might make them consider Burns here at 12. First, all of the edge players on the current roster are power rushers. Burns would provide a much-needed infusion of speed to their pass rush. Second, you can never have enough good pass rushers in a day where quarterbacks are the focal point of the league. Burns might see some limited reps as he tries to bulk up his small frame but he helps this team now and in the future.
Number 13: Miami Dolphins
Selection: Jawaan Taylor, OT/ Florida
This would be a dream selection for me as a Dolphins fan at 13 if the board fell this way. It’s common knowledge that the Dolphins want to trade back into the first round but I just don’t see any partners that aren’t Seattle or Houston. If the Dolphins stay here they have to address the loss of Juwaan James in free agency to the Denver Broncos. Taylor has great pass sets and is powerful in the running game. He’s the prototype right tackle that Brian Flores will love. Miami has a long list of needs and needs to check off the premium ones early.
Number 14: Atlanta Falcons
Selection: Christian Wilkins, DT/ Clemson
Here are some things I know about the Atlanta Falcons current group of decision makers. They love defensive linemen, they love high character players, and they have a need at the interior D-line spot. Christian Wilkins fits all of that criteria and is a fantastic player to go with it. I considered Montez Sweat here but the Falcons like Vic Beasley more than draft twitter does. Grady Jarrett is on the franchise tag so not only is the spot next to him open but his spot could be open next season. Wilkins fills a need now and into the future giving the Falcons great value here at 14.
Number 15: Washington Redskins
Selection: Daniel Jones, QB/ Duke
I am convinced that Washington will come away with one of the top three quarterbacks via trade or if one falls to them. There is no way they will go into camp with just Case Keenum and Colt McCoy at quarterback right? I know Daniel Jones is the punchline of a lot of jokes in the draft community but the reality is that the NFL likes him more than we do on Twitter. Jones would fit nicely into Jay Gruden’s offensive scheme comprised of mostly short passes. There is a chance Jones goes at six and Haskins (or Lock if Haskins goes at 11) is the pick here but Washington needs a new signal caller.
Number 16: Carolina Panthers
Selection: Montez Sweat, Edge/ Mississippi State
Sweat took a mini slide because there have been some teams who have failed his medicals. The Panthers can strike at that opportunity by getting a consensus top 10 pick at pick 16 that also fills their biggest need. The Panthers have gotten no pass rush the past couple of seasons and Sweat should provide immediate impact as power rusher off the edge. His work in the run game is fantastic as well so he should be a three-down player at the next level giving the Panthers even more value here. It’s a small risk but one worth taking for a team with one of the worst pass rushes in the league.
Number 17: New York Giants
Selection: DK Metcalf, WR/ Ole Miss
The Giants traded Odell Beckham Jr for this pick so taking his “replacement” here makes a lot of sense. The Giants are currently rolling with Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate at receiver. Those players aren’t bad but they practically serve the same purpose. Metcalf would give them a legit threat down the field and in jump ball situations. The new Giants offense core now has Haskins, Metcalf, Barkley, Ingram, Shephard, and Tate. That’s not a bad group of mostly young players to work with moving forward.
Number 18: Minnesota Vikings
Selection: Cody Ford, OT/IOL/ Oklahoma
The Vikings have needs at both the guard spot and at offensive tackle. Cody Ford projects as a guard at the next level but his tape at right tackle is pretty good so he could fill either role for the Vikings. Minnesota has a lot of money tied up in Kurt Cousins so getting him cheap reliable protection has to be a priority for them in this draft. Ford is a great run blocker so it will make sense with the Vikings spending the offseason telling anyone that will listen that they want to run the ball more in 2019.
Number 19: Tennessee Titans
Selection: Garrett Bradbury, IOL/ NC State
This might be the most pivotal year in recent Titans memory when it’s all said and done. It’s time to decide if Marcus Mariota is a franchise quarterback or not. That can be hard to do when he’s hurt all the time, so protecting him needs to be high on the Titans list for the offseason. Bradbury is a fantastic zone scheme player and one of the best space movers in the IOL class. The Titans would have to shuffle around their current offensive line a bit to fit Bradbury in but he would make them better instantly.
Number 20: Pittsburgh Steelers
Selection: Rock Ya-Sin, CB/ Temple
Some of you may look at this pick and call me a homer for taking a reach on a player from Temple in the first round. I don’t have Ya-Sin rated this high on my personal board (he’s number 39) so it’s not me banging the table for him. What kind of players, specifically corners, do the Steelers love? Man to man physical press corners who are long and somewhat athletic. Ya-Sin checks all of those boxes in spades. There is a chance that after Artie Burns the Steelers move away from that prototype and take a more unconventional route here. I’m betting on history when it comes to this pick.
Number 21: Seattle Seahawks
Selection: Clelin Ferrell, Edge/ Clemson
The Seahawks shook up the entire draft when they traded Frank Clark to the Kansas City Chiefs for pick 29, on Tuesday. That left a gaping hole at the edge position for the Seahawks which needs to be filled right away. Ferrell is a high floor and high character player who can come in and give you 7-12 sacks every year. He’s got the toughness that Seattle loves in their players as well as the high football IQ they typically value. Don’t be shocked if they package 21 and 29 to move up in the first round. In a draft without trades, Ferrell makes a lot of sense for them here.
Number 22: Baltimore Ravens
Selection: Marquise Brown, WR/ Oklahoma
At first glance, this probably looks like a questionable pick for a Ravens team working with Lamar Jackson at quarterback. Brown dominated using shallow crossing routes in college which is where Lamar Jackson is most accurate. It’s easy to say that you need big receivers when dealing with an inaccurate quarterback but guys who can get open easily and track the ball down the field can be valuable. Brown also adds an element to the Ravens offense that is different from there ground and pound style. People whom I trust have said Brown will go somewhere in round one, and I believe them.
Number 23: Houston Texans
Selection: Andre Dillard, OT/ Washington State
The Texans had an interesting plan this past season which was “let’s try to kill Deshaun Watson and still make the playoffs”. Surprisingly, they pulled it off perfectly Deshaun Watson was the most sacked quarterback in the league and they made the playoffs. Houston would be wise not to repeat this formula for next season. Dillard is the best pass blocker in the draft class and his elite movement skills would pair perfectly with a mobile quarterback like Watson. This is a perfect value and fit for the Texans if they don’t move up.
Number 24: Oakland Raiders
Selection: Noah Fant, TE/ Iowa
Not gonna lie, I had a really hard time fitting Noah Fant into the first round of this mock draft. I had him at two different spots before settling on him here to the Raiders. Oakland desperately needs offensive weapons outside of the receiver position. Fant can be an elite pass-catching chess piece that Gruden can move around the formation as he pleases. With Fant, the Raiders would be giving Derrick Carr a supporting cast including Fant, Antonio Brown, and Tyrell Williams. That is one explosive group of pass catchers moving forward. If Carr isn’t the guy at quarterback then it will be easy to see after this season.
Number 25: Philadelphia Eagles
Selection: Rashan Gary, DT/Edge/ Michigan
I know this might be an unpopular pick for Eagles fans but it’s the most “Eagles” pick I could think of. Gary is a long, athletic, and versatile defensive linemen. Tell me that isn’t something the Eagles would value. Gary was considered a top 10 talent coming into the season but didn’t produce well at Michigan and was banged up with injuries which lead to his fall. The Eagles are getting older upfront so Gary gives them a young high upside option on both the edge and the interior.
Number 26: Indianapolis Colts
Selection: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S/ Florida
The Colts took a huge jump last season because of the performance of their rookie class which included to All-Pro selections. Gardner-Johnson brings a high level of versatility to one of the teams weaker units. The Colts have Maliek Hooker roaming the field as a free safety already but need someone who can match up with skill position players. Gardner-Johnson provides that with his ability to play in the slot and handle some tight ends on the outside. Johnson will give the Colts even more range on the backend with his speed and body control in the air. Chris Ballard has a proven track record of success as a GM and Gardner-Johnson would continue that trend.
Number 27: Oakland Raiders
Selection: Josh Jacobs, RB/ Alabama
This is probably the most obvious pick to make in any 2019 mock draft so I won’t spend a lot of time on it. The Raiders have no running backs on the roster right now with the departure of Marshawn Lynch. Jacobs is about as close to Marshawn Lynch as you are going to get in this draft class. With this pick and my selection of Noah Fant at 24, the Raiders suddenly have one of the better offenses in football. Jacobs is tone setter as a running back which I’m sure Jon Gruden will love.
Number 28: LA Chargers
Selection: Hakeem Butler, WR/ Iowa State
Full disclosure, I don’t like Hakeem Butler much at all he’s got a third round grade on my board. The NFL is much higher on Butler than I am so he’s gonna go here to the Chargers. Butler would be the replacement for Tyrell Williams who went to the Raiders. Butler is a contested catch machine and has some really impressive flash plays down the field. The Charges are in a win-now mode so adding more weapons will be on the table in every round of the draft, especially, when the best tackle prospects are off the board.
Number 29: Seattle Seahawks
Selection: Greedy Williams, CB/ LSU
Look, I have no idea where Greddy Williams is gonna go tonight but I think either of the Seattle picks is a good spot. Williams is a perfect fit for the Seahawks scheme as a long-press man corner. The only knock on Williams is that is effort is less than ideal in both the running game and the passing game at times. Where the corners come off the board will be one of the more interesting parts of the first night.
Number 30: Green Bay Packers
Selection: Nasir Adderley, S/ Delaware
At number 12, I took Brain Burns for the Packers which was more of a luxury pick than a need. Adderley fills a need and is a good value here at pick 30. Adderley would add a playmaker on the backend of the Packers defense that needs to create more turnovers in 2019. He can also add value as a punt and kick returner which could lead to a couple of splash plays throughout the season. It may scare some people that Adderley comes from Delaware but he’s got all the athletic traits to compete with the big boys.
Number 31: LA Rams
Selection: Byron Murphy, CB/ Washington
In my opinion, Byron Murphy is the best corner in this draft class so him falling to the Rams is a huge break for them. The reason Murphy falls this far is that he’s a smaller zone corner which doesn’t fit a lot of team’s schemes. The Rams schemes are a little more versatile, so I think they would be more open to Murphy. The Rams struggled to defend the pass last season and their current corners aren’t getting any younger. Murphy would be the steal of the draft if he were to fall this far.
Number 32: New England Patriots
Selection: AJ Brown, WR/ Ole Miss
If the Patriots make this pick I’ll be shocked because I think they will either move up or out of the first round. They have 12 picks in this draft class which means they will at least move some of their picks. Brown strikes me as the perfect Patriots receiver given that he can play in both the slot and on the outside. Brown is a great route runner and has reliable hands which are two things almost every Patriots receiver have. New England is a true wild card this year because of their surplus of picks, long list of needs, and there factoring in their normal philosophy.
Number 33: Arizona Cardinals: Dalton Risner, IOL/OT, Kansas State
Number 34: Indianapolis Colts: Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame
Number 35: Oakland Raiders: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
Number 36: San Francisco 49ers: N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
Number 37: New York Giants: Chase Winovich, Edge, Michigan
Number 38: Jacksonville Jaguars: Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
Number 39: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Lonnie Johnson Jr, CB, Kentucky
Number 40: Buffalo Bills: Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
Number 41: Denver Broncos: Erick McCoy, IOL, Texas A@M
Number 42: Cincinnati Bengals: Chris Lindstrom, IOL, Boston College
Number 43: Detroit Lions: Amani Oruwariye, CB, Penn State
Number 44: Green Bay Packers: Irv Smith Jr, TE, Alabama
Number 45: Atlanta Falcons: Justin Layne, CB, Michigan State
Number 46: Washington Redskins: Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State
Number 47: Carolina Panthers: Jonathan Abram, S, Mississippi State
Number 48: Miami Dolphins: Charles Omenihu, DT/ Edge, Texas
Number 49: Cleveland Browns: Taylor Rapp, S, Washington
Number 50: Minnesota Vikings: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
Number 51: Tennessee Titans: Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina
Number 52: Pittsburgh Steelers: Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama
Number 53: Philadelphia Eagles: Juan Thornhill, S, Virginia
Number 54: Houston Texans: Elgton Jenkins, IOL, Mississippi State
Number 55: Houston Texans: Sean Bunting, CB, Central Michigan
Number 56: New England Patriots: LJ Collier, Edge, TCU
Number 57: Philadelphia Eagles: Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia
Number 58: Dallas Cowboys: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
Number 59: Indianapolis Colts: Kelvin Harmon, WR, NC State
Number 60: LA Chargers: Tytus Howard, OT, Alabama State
Number 61: Kansas City Chiefs: Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame
Number 62: New Orleans Saints: Emmanuel Hall, WR, Missouri
Number 63: Kansas City Chiefs: Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State
Number 64: New England Patriots: Dawson Knox, TE, Ole Miss
Number 65: Arizona Cardinals: Michael Dieter, IOL/OT, Wisconsin
Number 66: Pittsburgh Steelers: Terry Mclaurin, WR, Ohio State
Number 67: San Francisco 49ers: Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson
Number 68: New York Jets: Ben Bagnou, Edge, TCU
Number 69: Jacksonville Jaguars: Jachai Polite, Edge, Florida
Number 70: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Darnell Savage, S, Maryland
Number 71: Denver Broncos: Jace Sternberger, TE, Texas A@M
Number 72: Cincinnati Bengals: Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington
Number 73: New England Patriots: Khalen Saunders, DT, Western Illinois
Number 74: Buffalo Bills: Christian Miller, Edge, Alabama
Number 75: Green Bay Packers: Andy Isabella, WR, UMass
Number 76: Washington Redskins: Dru Samia, IOL, Oklahoma
Number 77: Carolina Panthers: David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin
Number 78: Miami Dolphins: David Long, CB, Michigan
Number 79: Atlanta Falcons: Jaylon Ferguson, Edge, LA Tech
Number 80: Cleveland Browns: Dre’Mont Jones, IDL, Ohio State
Number 81: Minnesota Vikings: JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford
Number 82: Tennessee Titans: Zach Allen, Edge, Boston College
Number 83: Pittsburgh Steelers: Dax Raymond, TE, Utah State
Number 84: Kansas City Chiefs: Amani Hooker, S, Iowa
Number 85: Baltimore Ravens: Blake Cashman, LB, Minnesota
Number 86: Houston Texans: Renell Wren, DT, Arizona State
Number 87: Chicago Bears: Joejuan Williams, CB, Vanderbilt
Number 88: Detroit Lions: Kahale Warring, TE, SDSU
Number 89: Indianapolis Colts: Isaiah Johnson, CB, Houston
Number 90: Dallas Cowboys: Riley Ridley, WR, Georgia
Number 91: LA Chargers: Jamel Dean, CB, Auburn
Number 92: Seattle Seahawks: Ben Powers, IOL, Oklahoma
Number 93: New York Jets: Connor McGovern, IOL, Penn State
Number 94: LA Rams: Darnell Henderson, RB, Memphis
Number 95: New York Giants: Drue Tranquill, LB, Notre Dame
Number 96: Washington Redskins: D’andre Walker, Edge, Georgia
Number 97: New England Patriots: Will Grier, QB, West Virginia
Number 98: Jacksonville Jaguars: Tyree Jackson, QB, Buffalo
Number 99: LA Rams: Vosean Joseph, LB, Florida
Number 100: Carolina Panthers: Mecole Hardman, WR, Georgia
Number 101: New England Patriots: Bobby Okereke, LB, Stanford
Number 102: Baltimore Ravens: Oshane Ximines, Edge, Old Dominion
Number 103: Arizona Cardinals: Trysten Hill, DT, UCF
Number 104: San Francisco 49ers: Jaquan Johnson, S, Miami
Number 105: New York Jets: Bobby Evans, OT, Oklahoma
Number 106: Oakland Raiders: Maxx Crosby, Edge, Eastern Michigan
Number 107: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State
Number 108: New York Giants: Dennis Daley, OT, South Carolina
Number 109: Jacksonville Jaguars: Damien Harris, RB, Alabama
Number 110: Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Giles-Harris, LB, Duke
Number 111: Detroit Lions: Anthony Nelson, Edge, Iowa
Number 112: Buffalo Bills: Myles Boykin, WR, Notre Dame
Number 113: Baltimore Ravens: Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma
Number 114: Green Bay Packers: Sione Takitaki, LB, BYU
Number 115: Carolina Panthers: Gerald Willis, DT, Miami
Number 116: Miami Dolphins: Daniel Wise, DT, Kansas
Number 117: Atlanta Falcons: Chuma Edoga, OT, USC
Number 118: Green Bay Packers: Max Scharping, OT, Northern Illinois
Number 119: Cleveland Browns: Mike Jackson, CB, Miami
Number 120: Minnesota Vikings: Josh Oliver, TE, San Jose State
Number 121: Tennessee Titans: Dylan Mack, DT, Texas A@M
Number 122: Pittsburgh Steelers: Marquise Blair, S, Utah
Number 123: Baltimore Ravens: Antoine Wesley, WR, Texas A@M
Number 124: Seattle Seahawks: Dillon Mitchell, WR, Oregon
Number 125: Denver Broncos: Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn
Number 126: Chicago Bears: Ugochukwu Amadi, S, Oregon
Number 127: Philadelphia Eagles: Devin Singletary, RB, FAU
Number 128: Dallas Cowboys: Alize Mack, TE, Notre Dame
Number 129: Indianapolis Colts: Joe Jackson, Edge, Miami
Number 130: LA Chargers: Dontavius Russell, DT, Auburn
Number 131: Buffalo Bills: Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma
Number 132: New York Giants: Beau Benzschawel, IOL, Wisconsin
Number 133: LA Rams: Nate Davis, IOL, UNC-Charlotte
Number 134: New England Patriots: Cory Ballentine, CB, Washburn
Number 135: Indianapolis Colts: Damarkus Lodge, WR, Ole Miss
Number 136: Dallas Cowboys: Kingsley Keke, IDL, Texas A@M
Number 137: Atlanta Falcons: Trayveon Williams, RB, Texas A@M
Number 138: Philadelphia Eagles: Ross Pierschbacher, IOL, Alabama
We are now in the final days before the 2019 NFL draft. The night that I’ve spent hundreds of hours preparing for since June of 2018. During that time, I have amassed 260 scouting reports which hopefully you’ve all gotten a chance to read at this point. This Big Board will cover my top 200 players which is essentially everyone who I think can get drafted. That means cutting out all of my seventh round, UDFA, and some sixth round grades.
Just so you understand how I ranked these players I will outline how I ranked them. They are ranked according to there number grade which is calculated by own personal grading formula. I don’t calculate for things like position value, character issues where I don’t have a good source, and medicals where I don’t have a good source. In the case of a tie, players were broken up by simply which player I think will be more successful at the next level. Athletic testing is factored into my number grade so I didn’t want that to be the tiebreaker. Basically, all this means is that I don’t care if Kyler Murray plays quarterback he’s not a first round GRADE even though I think he’ll be the first overall pick in the draft.
One last disclaimer before we get started on the board. I don’t have 32 round one grades because not everyone who gets picked in the first round is successful. I see people on twitter hassling draft people as to why they only have 20 first round grades. In the draft community, that is a pretty standard number for a given year. Not every player in the first round will perform up to their draft slot, so we don’t have 32 players who should be drafted in the first round.
As always any questions on my rankings or about any player that I didn’t rank hit me up on twitter @DanteCollinelli.
Welcome, to the tenth, and final, of my official draft reports for the 2019 NFL draft. I will be going position by position giving a full report and grade on every player that I have scouted this season. Obviously, I can’t scout every single prospect in the entire country since I am a one man army and a full-time college student. I’ve tried to get at least 20 done at each position, so I think I’ve covered a pretty good chunk of the players who will be drafted. Each article will start with the worst and get to the best, so if you want to skip down to some of the better prospects you can do that.
Each profile will have some biographic data including name, school, year, height, weight, and “Red Flags”. It will also include a numerical value between 1 and 10 that will dictate there placement in the rankings. The number is calculated based on my own personal grading formula for draft prospects. The profile will have a “round grade” that is based on a scale that I will put at the end of this introduction. Round grades are not a prediction of where a player will get drafted, but where I think they should be drafted. Last but not least, the profiles will include a small paragraph on my overall thoughts on the prospect and some explanation on their NFL outlook. I’ll try to explain some of each players strengths and weaknesses as well.
As always you can hit me up on twitter (@DanteCollinelli) if you want to discuss my rankings further. I love talking ball with people so please let me know what you think.
Fourth round: 6.14-4.85
Fifth round: 4.84-3.55
Sixth round: 3.54- 2.25
Seventh round: 2.24- .095
Number 23: Marvin Tell, USC
Height/Weight: 6’2 and 195
Round Grade: UDFA
Number Grade: 0.50
Red Flags: Worst effort I have ever seen from a player.
I the red flag that I have down for Tell basically covers everything you need to know about him as a football player. I try to refrain from just bashing players in these scouting reports, but Tell was a special kind of bad. He takes horrible angles in the open field and at the line of scrimmage which leads to a lot of missed tackles. Not only does his tackling suck, but he doesn’t do well in coverage either. He lacks the football IQ to be effective in zone coverage and the technique to be considered a man to man option. Tell doesn’t have good long speed or short area burst so his ability to cover ground as a safety is compromised. Tell can fill his gaps in the run game fairly well but his inability to tackle hurts his productivity. Tell isn’t an NFL player if you ask me.
Number 22: Andrew Wingard, Wyoming
Height/Weight: 5’11 and 209
Round Grade: UDFA
Number Grade: 0.80
Red Flags: None
Wingard does his best work in the box as a run defender because he’s a great reader of the backfield. He reacts quickly to shoot gaps in the run game, and despite his size, he does a decent job wrapping up. He’s got enough burst to be effective in zone coverage when he’s able to make more shallow drops. Wingard doesn’t meet any of the NFL thresholds as an athlete and may struggle to compete at the next level. He really struggles to change direction which shows up when pass defending a lot. If he gets moved off of his spot in coverage he lacks the ability to recover. I actually think that Wingard would be better served to play linebacker in the NFL rather than safety. Even with that, he’s still gonna have to fight to prove he can compete athletically at the next level.
Number 21: Mike Bell, Fresno State
Class: RS Junior
Height/Weight: 6’2 and 202
Round Grade: 7
Number Grade: 1.46
Red Flags: None
I was pretty high on Bell coming into the NFL combine back in April. He had a legit chance to land inside my top 10 safeties based off his tape. Clearly, something went very wrong between then and now. Bell ran a 4.83 forty-yard dash at the combine which landed him in the 2nd percentile all time. That is a new level of slow for a safety prospect, and typically, safeties do a lot of running for a defense. Bell does have some appealing traits at the catch point like good ball skills and plenty of length to disrupt receivers. His work in the run game is pretty good too as he will always fit his gap and make the tackle. Again, Bell running a 4.83 is just unacceptable for an NFL safety. If he gets drafted I’ll be shocked but all it takes is one team.
Number 20: Jojo Mcintosh, Washington
Class: RS Senior
Height/Weight: 6’0 and 219
Round Grade: 7
Number Grade: 1.82
Red Flags: None
Mcintosh is the second of two draft-eligible safties from Washington University this year. Clearly, he is the less valuable of the two when it comes to the draft. Mcintosh has the length that you want in your safety for him to be an effective tackler and coverage player. Mcintosh, however, only checks one of those boxes. His work in the run game is pretty solid especially when he can come downhill and lay the boom on ball carriers. His work in coverage is one of the worst in the class. He doesn’t have the acceleration to succeed when asked to close on the ball in zone coverage. His man coverage technique leaves a lot to be desired due to poor footwork and poor transitions. Mcintosh can provide some value as a hard-hitting box safety but not much else.
Number 19: D’Cota Dixon, Wisconsin
Class: RS Senior
Height/Weight: 5’10 and 200
Round Grade: 7
Number Grade: 2.17
Red Flags: None
Man, Dixon plays with a lot of heart on the backend for Wisconsin but is lack of traits makes it hard to project him to the next level. I actually think that Dixon could be a valuable special teams player for a team. His speed is good enough to qualify for the NFL and his tackling form should be taught in classrooms. He doesn’t have a lot of ball skills to make plays on the backend and his athletic ability will lead to him getting out jumped at the catch point most times. He didn’t do a great job with seeing routes developing in front of him and then driving down on them to make a play. Like I said earlier, Dixon can contribute on special teams but won’t give you much in the terms of playing safety.
Number 18: Delvin Randall, Temple
Height/Weight: 5’11 and 210
Round Grade: 6
Number Grade: 2.62
Red Flags: None
Randall is the last Temple player that I got to watch this season which makes this a difficult report to write. I wanted to be higher on Randall because I know how good a leader he is in the Temple locker room, but his play on the field left a lot to be desired. Randall has some of the best ball skills in the class and made some impressive interceptions throughout his career. Randall is a good tackler out in space as he always gets squared up to his target before making contact. Randall struggled mightily as a run defender at times which was weird to me because it wasn’t something I noticed during the season. He was too late to fill his gaps way too often for my liking. He was the culprit of a couple of long runs given up this season by the Owls. I was at Randall’s pro-day and he didn’t meet any of the athletic testing thresholds for an NFL safety. He wasn’t too far off but I worry about him competing at the next level.
Number 17: Ugochukwu Amadi, Oregon
Height/Weight: 5’9 and 200
Round Grade: 6
Number Grade: 3.14
Red Flags: None
I’ve been told by other people on draft twitter that I am way too low on Amadi, but he’s just too raw for me to rank him higher. It easy to see how fluid of an athlete he is out in space and in coverage. He did a good job closing on the ball when asked to play in zone coverage which made for some tight throwing windows down the field. I saw some encouraging reps when asked to play press man coverage which included patient feet combined with a strong first punch. I have some legit questions about Amadi’s long speed because he gets beat over the top way too often. His tackling isn’t great which is a big concern for a player that played a lot of their snaps inside the box. Amadi has some good traits but they don’t match up with the style he played while in college and that transition won’t be easy for him.
Number 16: Mike Edwards, Kentucky
Height/Weight: 5’11 and 200
Round Grade: 6
Number Grade: 3.42
Red Flags: None
Edwards is another guy with some fans on draft twitter but, clearly, I am not one of them. Edwards has enough range to survive as a cover two safety at the next level and does a good job playing in shallow zones. Frequently, he would do a good job of playing through the hands of the receivers in order to dislodge the ball. His tackling and effort in the run game are up to NFL standards but could benefit from trusting his keys a tad more. On tape, Edwards doesn’t look like a great athlete by any stretch of the imagination. His quickness is just a tad below what I like to see which robbed him of making a couple of plays. His long speed isn’t good enough for him to be a single high safety at the next level either. Edwards can be a decent safety in a cover two scheme that allows him to roam the shorter areas of the field at times.
Number 15: Marquise Blair, Utah
Height/Weight: 6’2 and 195
Round Grade: 6
Number Grade: 3.78
Red Flags: None
Blair has the needed speed and acceleration to be an effective zone safety at the next level. He didn’t allow a lot of plays over the top and was able to close down some throwing windows in front of him. Blair has a couple of highlight plays in the run game where he comes flying in like a missile to make a tackle. His mentality is one that will change the temperature of an defense in the way Jamal Adams does for the Jets. Blair was never tested in man coverage, so I have no idea if he can be a matchup option. His footwork and transitions can be sloppy at times which will lead to him being late to break up passes. Occasionally, he will come in a little too hot in the run game which leads to some missed tackles. Blair has some intriguing positives to his game but has a long way to go mentally before he can make an impact on the field.
Number 14: Sheldrick Redwine, Miami
Height/Weight: 6’1 and 195
Round Grade: 5
Number Grade: 3.87
Red Flags: None
Redwine was able to chase down tackles from all parts of the field leading to some highlight level open field hits. His speed also always him to have pretty good range over the top with some potential to be a single high safety at the next level. Redwine is a fluid athlete in space so he does well to redirect himself in zone coverage. Redwine’s problem is mostly around consistency in all aspects of the game. He has the speed and quickness to close on the ball but rarely makes the play. When he does drop back into a single high look, he plays way deeper than most safeties do. That is, typically, done to mask weaknesses in coverage, but Redwine runs a 4.40 40-yard dash which means he doesn’t need to be that deep. If Redwine can round out all the parts of his game he can be an effective single high safety at the next level.
Number 13: Lukas Dennis, Boston College
Height/Weight: 5’11 and 185
Round Grade: 5
Number Grade: 4.05
Red Flags: None
My first exposure to Dennis was against Temple when he was thrown out of the game for targeting. That was the biggest hit of Dennis’ career because he wasn’t a fan of contact from what I saw. He would shy away from blockers in the running game and get outmuscled at the catch point in the passing game. Dennis does do a good job at the catch point when there isn’t a lot of contact to be had. He has great movement skills in the open field which makes him a great player in zone coverage. With Dennis’ different skill sets it is tough to say what his role will be at the next level but in a league which focuses so much on passing he certainly has a place to be a starter.
Number 12: Evan Worthington, Colorado
Height/Weight: 6’2 and 205
Round Grade: 5
Number Grade: 4.41
Red Flags: Suspended from the team in 2018.
Worthington has the needed combination of long speed and short area quickness to be a single high safety at the next level. He did a decent job covering tight ends in man to man coverage which makes him even more versatile. His work in the run game is admirable because of his size and length giving him a natural advantage when tackling. He flashed some pretty impressive plays on the ball while in the air which points to some great body control. Worthington has some pretty bad off the field issues which lead to him getting suspended off the team. Any team who takes him would take a huge risk because of those character concerns. I would take a flyer on Worthington in the fifth round.
Number 11: Will Harris, Boston College
Height/Weight:6’2 and 210
Round Grade: 4
Number Grade: 5.21
Red Flags: None
Will Harris is the second Boston College safety to make my list this season. Harris is the faster and more athletic of the two players. He ran in the 4.40’s at the combine and it will show up on tape with all the ground he covers. Harris did a good job in man coverage, especially in the slot, because of his physical hand usage at the line of scrimmage. Harris’ is a tricky player to project because despite having great open filed skills he has almost no ball production in his four years at BC. His tackling isn’t great either because he doesn’t come to balance when coming downhill to make a stop enough. Harris’ blend of speed and athletic ability will be enticing for some teams but he’ll need to be more productive with his skills at the next level.
Number 10: Jaquan Johnson, Miami
Height/Weight: 5’11 and 190
Round Grade: 4
Number Grade: 5.49
Red Flags: None
Johnson is a player who I was super excited about coming into the season and was at the top of my safety rankings for a good chunk of the season. I don’t wanna say he disappointed me, but he didn’t develop like I hoped he would this season. I’ll start with the good, Johnson has solid quickness and long speed which allows him to close gaps well and keep receivers in front of him. As a run defender, Johnson showed admirable tackling and the football IQ to fill the correct gaps. My biggest worry with Johnson is that he doesn’t do a good enough job identifying routes breaking in front of him. He’s just too late to make a play on the ball, and even when he does get there on time his ball skills aren’t very good. Johnson has plenty of skills to work with as a mid-round player but needs mental development at the next level.
Number 9: Malik Gant, Marshall
Class: RS Junior
Height/Weight: 6’3 and 194
Round Grade: 4
Number Grade: 5.76
Red Flags: None
So, Gant is my official sleeper pick for the safety class this season. One of my friends tipped me off to him, and I was really impressed with what I saw. He covers enough ground with his long speed to get by at the next level. He is a physical force on the field in both the passing and rushing games. In the passing game, he will use his body to dislodge the ball from receivers at the catch point. In the running game, he will come downhill and just lay out the ball carrier even if he’s the smaller player. His reps in man coverage were surprisingly really good, especially against NCST, where he matched up with Jacobi Myers a lot in the slot. He showed off the ability to mirror receivers footwork which is rare for a safety. Gant’s faults come when talking about some of his athletic traits. He lacked ball production at Marshall because he didn’t have the quickness or flexibility to get to the ball on time a lot. I have questions about his change of direction skills because of his stiff hips. Gant should get a chance to compete for a starting strong safety job in 2019.
Number 8: Amani Hooker, Iowa
Height/Weight: 6’0 and 210
Round Grade: 3
Number Grade: 6.53
Red Flags: None
I really like this safety class a lot, and these next eight players are ones that would be in consideration no matter where I was picking in their graded rounds. Hooker does a great job in zone spacing to close on the football with quickness and change directions with fluid hips in the open field. I love his football IQ when he can just sit over the top of routes and attack downhill when routes break in front of him. Hooker has some impressive ball skills and is a true ball hawk on the back end. Hooker does a number of limitations that prevent him from being higher on this list. His long speed really limits his range and to a certain extent his ability to be a ball hawk. He doesn’t have a lot of experience in man coverage situations, so I think he’s only going to be effective in deep zone schemes. Hooker might be way higher on certain teams board’s depending on their scheme. For those teams, Hooker may be a day one starter.
Number 7: Johnathan Abram, Mississippi State
Height/Weight: 5’11 and 205
Round Grade: 3
Number Grade: 6.57
Red Flags: None
Okay, before you yell at me for having Abram so low in my rankings I want you to hear me out. I love the player and what he brings to the team as far as his leadership, mentality, and run defense is concerned. Abram is one of the hardest hitters in the entire class and has plenty of highlight reel tackles on his tape. He fills his run gaps well and is a better run defender then half the linebackers in this class. Abram has the hyper-physical mentality that can change the temperature of an entire team, and I value that. The problem is that Abram just isn’t a great pass defender. He lacks the long speed and short area quickness to break up passes and keep things in front of him. Abram can almost get too wild at times which leads to him missing tackles in the running game and him playing the body instead of the ball in the passing game. Abram could be a first round pick for a team looking for a strong safety to change the dynamic of their defense. With that said, I can’t rank him any higher than this because his coverage was sub-par at best and that’s half of playing safety.
Number 6: Darnell Savage, Maryland
Height/Weight: 5’11 and 191
Round Grade: 2
Number Grade: 7.55
Red Flags: None
Savage is one of the rare players in this class that has enough range to be a single high safety at the next level. His short area quickness combined with anticipation skills allowed him to make a lot of plays on the ball at Maryland. Savage is another player who hits hard in the run game when coming downhill from his safety perch. Savage looked like a free mover in space with great change of direction skills aided by fluid hips. His biggest weakness is by far his tendency to get overaggressive at times. In the running game, he will come in too hot and miss a tackle. In the passing game, he will overplay his zone and leave easy throwing windows which lead to some big plays. If Savage can learn how to dial himself back and be more under control he can be a lot like Eddie Jackson has been for the Chicago Bears. Savage is one of the few players who can play as a single high free safety.
Number 5: Juan Thornhill, Virginia
Height/Weight: 6’1 and 195
Round Grade: 2
Number Grade: 7.55
Red Flags: None
Isn’t that crazy? It took almost 250 reports to get a tie in the same position group but we have our first one here between Thornhill and Savage. The reason that I have Thornhill higher is that he has a more proven track record than Savage. Thornhill does a great job sitting down in shallow zones to erase throwing lanes. Thornhill’s best trait is anticipating where the ball is gonna go before it gets there. His ability to identify routes breaking in front of him and the ability to make a play on the ball is impressive. Thornhill has some good reps playing slot corner in both man and zone looks to be a useful matchup piece at the next level. Thornhill can struggle to get in and out of his transitions at times so his use in the slot may be limited. He can be a sloppy tackler at times aiming too high on his target and getting run over. Thornhill’s value is as a matchup player in a zone-heavy scheme where he can make plays on the ball.
Number 4: Deionte Thompson, Alabama
Class: RS Junior
Height/Weight: 6’1 and 194
Round Grade: 2
Number Grade: 7.57
Red Flags: None
Yes, that’s right we almost had a three-way tie in the middle of the top 10 rankings. Thompson finished just ahead of Thornhill and Savage because he’s the best free safety in this class which is the more valuable position. Thompson has elite range and is a true ball hawk capable of getting to all part of the field. He’s got great body control and ball skills while in the air allowing him to come down with a lot of interceptions at Alabama. Teams are looking for true playmakers on the backend and Thompson is one. My worry with Thompson is that he’s got one of the thinnest frames I have ever seen. Safety is, typically, a hard-hitting position and Thompson doesn’t the body or play style for that part of the game. Obviously, for the same reasons, Thompson is a liability in the running game. He just isn’t built to come downhill and bang with the big boys. Thompson will provide a team with a playmaking free safety, however, he will need a strong safety partner to help in the running game.
Number 3: Taylor Rapp, Washington
Height/Weight: 6’0 and 212
Round Grade: 2
Number Grade: 8.18
Red Flags: None
Taylor Rapp was my favorite player to watch this past season despite not being my top overall safety. Rapp has the best downhill skills of any player in this draft class when it comes down to it. He lays the boom on anybody coming through the middle of the defense and is the best tackler in this class. He always comes to balance before contact and drives through the lower half of the ball carrier. When Rapp was able to play over the top in zone coverage you could see him use his anticipation to make plays on routes breaking in front of him. Rapp’s ball skills are good enough to make some plays at the next level he just needs to arrive on the ball a little quicker at times. Rapp is another guy who will change the temperature of a defense Jamal Adams style. The concerns with Rapp are about his long speed for the most part. It is reported that he ran in the 4.70’s at his pro-day which is less than ideal, to say the least. On tape, I didn’t think Rapp was a burner but he didn’t look that slow to me either. With Rapp, I think it comes down to trusting the tape and putting him in a place to use his best skills often.
Number 2: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida
Height/Weight: 5’11 and 207
Round Grade: 2
Number Grade: 8.40
Red Flags: None
Gardner-Johnson is a player who improved a lot from his sophomore to junior season which is something I love. Gardner-Johnson is a fluid mover in space who transitions quickly to collapse on routes breaking in front of him. He has plenty of long speed and quickness to get sideline to sideline adding to his overall range. He does a good job picking up the ball when it leaves the quarterback’s hand and tracking it down the field. His biggest asset is his ability to essentially play every position in the secondary. He’s got some great reps as a slot corner and could cover tight ends if they were flexed out wide. Gardner-Johnson’s problem is being able to tackle consistently. He missed a lot of tackles his sophomore season, however, he improved a little bit this past season so I have some hope for him moving forward. The NFL is quickly moving toward matchup based defense and Gardner-Johnson could be a great chess piece for teams to move around depending on the week.
Number 1: Nasir Adderley, Delaware
Height/Weight: 5’11 and 205
Round Grade: 1
Number Grade: 8.77
Red Flags: None
That’s right not only is Nasir Adderley my only safety with a first round grade but he comes from a non-FBS school. Adderley has all the tools to be a true single high safety at the next level including long speed, quickness, and range. His athletic ability shows up on tape when high pointing the ball and when returning kicks for the Blue Hens. Some of his interceptions are highlight reel level that showcases his amazing body control. In the running game, he does a good job coming downhill to lay big hits on ball carriers. Adderley has loose hips that allow him to unhinge quickly and get vertical down the field. He has the physical tools to be a matchup cornerback against bigger tight ends and bigger slot receivers. With that said, he’s got a lot of technical work to do when it comes to man coverage. Sometimes he can get tunnel vision in zone coverage which leads to him over pursuing on plays. Adderley is a top-notch athlete who is an elite playmaker on the backend of the defense. Don’t overlook him just because he went to Delaware.