Every year the NFL Draft finds a way to surprise me. I’d like to think I have a good handle of how the first round will play out, but every year, usually towards the end of the first round, teams make head-scratching selections that I could never see coming.
In 2018, the Seahawks made Rashaad Penny the second running back drafted. He was a player I didn’t think would be off the board until the third round at the earliest. The Steelers added to the madness when they reached for Virginia Tech safety Terrell Edmunds with the very next pick.
In last year’s draft, the Texans drafted Alabama State’s Tytus Howard with the No. 23 pick, a move that shocked many people. The Seahawks attempted to one-up themselves from the year before by reaching for another prospect I had a day two grade on, TCU’s L.J. Collier. So with the anticipation of surprise, I came up with five prospects that I may not view as Day 1 picks, but ones that NFL GMs may be higher on.
1. Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame
No one in this tight end class earned a first round grade from me. However, that doesn’t mean this tight end class doesn’t have potential NFL starters and high-impact players.
Cole Kmet is at the top of my list. Kmet’s a great receiver, and has some of the best hands out of anyone in the class. That being said, he isn’t the most explosive athlete and is still developing as a blocker. He reminds me of Jason Witten a bit, and that upside could intrigue some teams to take a chance on him in the first round.
Potential Fits: Dallas Cowboys (Pick 17), Jacksonville Jaguars (Pick 20), New England Patriots (Pick 23), Green Bay Packers (Pick 30)
2. Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia
Wilson is a prospect who’s starting to pick up some steam as a top-50 pick and even making a push for the first round. As a matter of fact, he’s the person on this list I think is most likely to break into the first round. Wilson could be a plug-and-play right tackle for many teams in the backend of this draft and could be the sixth tackle off the board when it’s all said and done.
Potential Fits: Minnesota Vikings (Pick 25), Miami Dolphins (Pick 26), Seattle Seahawks (Pick 27), Tennessee Titans (Pick 29)
3. Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech
Jordyn Brooks is a quick linebacker who some may view as a downhill thumper. He is an effective tackler, especially in the run game and uses his speed to shoot gaps and disrupt the pocket. However, Brooks is a liability in coverage and is not the most instinctive linebacker in this class. But with a weak linebacker class, Brooks could get a hard look from some linebacker-needy teams in the first round.
Potential Fits: New Orleans Saints (Pick 24), Miami Dolphins (Pick 26), Baltimore Ravens (Pick 28), Green Bay Packers (Pick 30)
4. Marlon Davidson, DE, Auburn
Some people think he’s an edge rusher, others view him as a defensive tackle. I think Marlon Davidson is ideally a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme or a 3-tech in a 4-3.
While he’s got a strong frame and a good motor, Davidson is tight in the hips and plays a bit stiff, demonstrating that he isn’t as athletic as some of the other defensive lineman in the class.
He also lined up at linebacker a lot for Auburn and didn’t put out first round film in my opinion. However, his upside on the defensive line is worth it for a team picking towards the end of the first round.
Potential Fits: New England Patriots (Pick 23), Miami Dolphins (Pick 26), Tennessee Titans (Pick 29), San Francisco 49ers (Pick 31)
5. Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn
I expect Jeff Okudah, C.J. Henderson and Jeff Gladney to be first round picks. After that, I’m not sure how many other corners could hear their names called in the first round.
Though he’s not my fourth-ranked corner, Auburn’s Noah Igbinoghene could be a surprise first round pick for a team in the backend of the first round looking to upgrade their secondary.
An explosive prospect who excels in zone coverage, Igbinoghene is a raw athlete who is still developing at the position, but should he get in the right system with the proper coaching, he can develop into a number one corner for an NFL team.
Potential Fits: Minnesota Vikings (Pick 25), Seattle Seahawks (Pick 27), San Francisco 49ers (Pick 31), Kansas City Chiefs (Pick 32)