We are in the heat of the NFL season and for most teams, winning games and playoff hopes are what’s on their mind. For some teams like the Giants and the Raiders though, it’s tank season. A race for the top pick in the 2019 NFL draft. That being said, it’s never to early to look ahead and start our own NFL Big Board.
This years draft is loaded with defensive talent which is highlighted by some top tier pass rushers which, according to Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, “It’s hard to find a great one.” (Yeah sure would be nice if they had one of those…) As sorry as we may feel Gruden and the Raiders shipping away Khalil Mack to Chicago, it looks like they are going to have their chance at a deep pool of defensive talent with their three first round draft picks, one of which has a good shot at being the first overall pick.
On the other side of the ball, their are some offensive players that can come into the NFL and make an immediate impact but this class is very different from last years. The 2019 QB class has all its talent stored within one or two prospects, none of which are on the level Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold or any of the five quarterbacks selected in the first round this past year.
This is an exciting draft class with some talent that has NFL scouts salivating. The high level of talent will not only run into late round-one, but also the second and third rounds. That being said… here’s my first NFL Draft Big Board of the year.
50. Devin Bush, ILB, Michigan
He may have attempted to deface the midfield logo last week in a heated rivalry game last week against Michigan State, but Devin Bush is a captain on defense and his play on the field warrants his 2017 All-Big Ten Team honor. He is a guy who can take a defense to the next level with great command over the middle of the field with superb speed from his inside linebacker position that helps him in coverage as well as blowing up outside runs and screen plays with ease.
49. Marvin Tell III, S, USC
Tell is often criticized for his lack of effort on the field, but there is no way anyone can doubt the pure talent that comes from a player like him. He excels playing both safety and up in the box and has a good presence of where he should be on the field. With with solid ability in both run and pass defense, it’s all a matter of finding the right team and fit that can bring Tell to his full potential.
48. Caleb Wilson, TE, UCLA
While he may not have the size or the speed of most NFL tight ends, Wilson is about as sure-handed as they come. Whether it’s catching deep balls over his shoulder or catching bullet passes on stick routes, he knows how to pull down balls even with defenders draped all over him. If he can continue to add muscle to his 6’5″, 225lbs frame, he can be a reliable pass catcher at the next level.
47. Nate Herbig, G, Stanford
A 6’3,” 334 lbs. body will make just about anybody capable of slowing down defenders and moving people out of the way, but Herbig pairs his massive frame with good hand placement and surprising agility and quickness. Inconsistency has proven to be an issue for him, but as he develops and gets over that hump, any NFL team would want a monster like Herbig on their offensive line.
46. Mack Wilson, ILB, Texas
Mack Wilson plays with a high motor and shows killer instincts while on the field. His physical and punishing play style make him a force at the line of scrimmage showing he is capable of making plays in the backfield. He may have trouble when going up against the bigger and stronger lineman in the NFL as he’s only 230 lbs., but he should be able to continue to get bigger and stronger as the season goes on and the NFL Draft approaches.
45. Beau Benzschawel, iOL, Wisconsin
Wisconsin is known for churning out some cream of the crop offensive lineman and Benzschawel is no exception. His strength and big body at 6’6,” 315 Ibs. is enough to dishearten defenders. He is capable of knocking guys back and blocking downfield which is valuable from the interior of the offensive line. He is sometimes a liability when it comes to holding calls, but his strength and balance are NFL-ready.
44. Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Missouri
Pretty much a 6’5″, 260 lbs. wide receiver, Okwuegbunam has got the straight line speed and sure hands to be a premier vertical threat. If he can develop his route running and his blocking especially, he’s got the perfect frame and athleticism to really be a success.
43. Te’Von Coney, ILB, Notre Dame
Coney has stepped his game up to the next level this season. A breakout star this year, who is the anchor of what has been one of the best defenses in college football, continues to flash and impress scouts. He has great size and athleticism that allows him to make plays sideline to sideline. He is never a liability when it comes to making tackles and has shown this year that he can drop back in coverage, which was a question mark after watching him last year.
42. Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
Sweat comes at you off the line of scrimmage fast. Is first step is insane and it make offensive lineman uncomfortable all game. He works hard to get off blocks and never settles. He could benefit from continuing to get stronger and maybe adding a few more pass rushing moves to his arsenal but he has some traits that you just cannot teach.
41. Will Grier, QB, West Virginia
Grier is a smaller QB, which NFL scouts have been critical about. He does not have the stature of some of the other quarterbacks in the class, but his pocket presence and ability to deliver the ball on time and on target makes him an intriguing prospect. He is able to do work inside and outside of the pocket and in a weak QB class, he will impress whatever team takes a shot on the undersized QB out of WVU.
40. Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida
Another breakout star that has burst onto the scene this year. Polite has the explosiveness and athleticism to support the high praise that NFL scouts are giving him, but I want to see him keep the consistency and production for the rest of the year. If he can do that, he will be among the best pass rushers in this year’s draft.
39. Zach Allen, 5-Tech, Boston College
Allen is an extremely strong and athletic defensive end. He was outstanding last season and put up over 100 tackles from his defensive end position which is practically unheard of. He is a great run stopper on the end and can get off blocks. Allen continually beats guys with his pure strength, but in the NFL that might not cut it and he hasn’t quite shown the ability to get around the tackle.
38. Taylor Rapp, S, Washington
Rapp impresses with his obvious intelligence and natural feel for the game. He has great awareness and is able to play nearly any role you want out of a safety. He is not the fastest guy on the field, nor the most athletic, but he is a playmaker with knowledge of the game that makes him a great player and can make his teammates better as well.
37. Brain Burns, EDGE, FSU
The tall and lengthy Brian Burns has had an outstanding junior season thus far. Through seven games, Burns has already recorded 9 sacks which gives him the most sacks in the nation amongst Power-5 teams. He gets to the quarterback in so many different ways that it can be a nightmare for blockers. Burns can get around guys with ease, but he only lines up at 231 lbs., which may be a concern at the next level. However, he will likely grow into his 6’5″ frame.
36. David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin
Here we have another Wisconsin offensive line product. Edwards is a mauler in the run game and has been key to Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor’s success. He consistently opens open running lanes and the best part about him is that he’s never satisfied until he has put the defender on the ground. The tenacity he plays with makes him an exciting offensive lineman to watch (you don’t hear that every day).
35. Dexter Lawrence, NT, Clemson
Dexter Lawrence is someone that no one wants to see lined up across from them. Coming it nearly 350 lbs., Lawrence can plow you over and stuff runs up the middle while also being able to get pressure on the quarterback up the middle. His biggest weakness is that he is very reliant on his huge size to be able to just run over smaller competition and he lacks the technique and quickness to be a consistent playmaker when stacked up against better lineman.
34. Bryce Love, RB, Stanford
While he hasn’t lived up to the expectations that he set for himself after last year’s Heisman campaign, Love is an elusive back who has elite speed and quickness. He sometimes struggles with vision and finding the right holes to bounce through, but once he reaches the second level, he can go over, through or around you. He may struggle if he doesn’t have an offensive line capable of opening holes, but if you put him behind a solid offensive line, then every time he touches the ball, there’s a chance for a big play.
33. Lavert Hill, CB, Michigan
While only weighing in at 177 lbs., Lavert Hill plays like he is the strongest guy on the field. He loves to body up receivers in press coverage and can shut receivers down outside in man coverage. He’s got great speed, quickness and natural instincts that always put him in position to make a play on the ball. Hill often gets out of position in zone coverage, but he is the best press cover corner in the draft.
32. Dalton Risner, C, Kansas State
There’s not much bad to say about this guy. He’s solid going up against bigger body guys in the pass game and can push guys around when run blocking. Risner is also one of the more agile interior lineman in this draft class which helps him in slide pass protection and being mobile blocking in the run game. He’s fundamentally sound and very productive, but he’s still got a lot of room to improve.
31. Damien Harris, RB, Alabama
Alabama running backs are often overlooked when it comes to the draft because many scouts see their production as a product of how great the Alabama offensive line is, but Damien Harris strikes me as different. While he lacks in explosiveness and big play potential, Harris never gets tackled for a loss. He is a great north-south runner and has great vision to find holes and cutback lanes. He never dances around in the backfield and you can always count on him packing up at least 4 yards on an inside run.
30. Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
There was a lot of hype surrounding Drew Lock heading into this season and he has had a hard time living up to the hype. While he has continued to improve each year, Lock has a lot to work on. His physical traits scream NFL star and he has the highest ceiling of all the QB’s in the draft. He has shown that he can make all the throws, but he needs to do it with consistency.
29. Ross Pierschbacher, G, Alabama
Another guy with the size and strength to dominate on the interior line. He’s very good at using his hands and staying in front of guys. Pierschbacher doesn’t have the athleticism of some of the other offensive lineman in the class, but he has the physical traits to dominate anyone he lines up against.
28. JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford
If you need a dependable wide out who can make every catch at every level of the field, this is your guy. Arcega-Whiteside is a big body at 6’3,” 225 Ibs. that can beat you with his physicality, but also has elite speed. He is a matchup nightmare that is already NFL ready.
27. Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
Experience playing in a scheme that utilizes all sorts of different coverages has really helped Baker to elevate his game. He is one of the most complete defensive backs in this draft. He is capable of matching up with anybody, but occasionally gets burned downfield by faster receivers.
26. Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
Murphy is very often the smallest guy on the field but, is always one of the best players on the field. He doesn’t try to play like a bigger corner and beat guys with his physicality but rather plays with speed and fluidity. Murphy is also always capable of making highlight reel plays.
25. Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State
With a quick first step, Dre’Mont Jones is able to get penetration off the line. He is very capable of getting pressure on the quarterback from the interior of the defensive lineman. He does rely on getting off blocks fast with his quick jump and if he doesn’t he often gets stuck on blocks and can get pushed around by bigger offensive lineman.
24. Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
Don’t be mistaken by his last name, Greg Little dominates the opposition with his monstrous size and great athleticism to match it. You watch the tape and you see him man-handling defenders, which scouts love to see. However, he is very reliant on his size to beat guys, so he needs to take time and develop his technique in order to take his game to the next level.
23. Raekwon Davis, 5-Tech, Alabama
Davis plays with great physicality and has very advanced technique. He never gets pushed around or overpowered, but he does not have the quickest first step off the line. He hasn’t shown consistent ability to get to the passer, but he has all of the talent and skill to develop quickly.
22. Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
Not too often that you see a interior lineman who likes to beat guys with athleticism rather than strength and power but Christian Wilkins will beat you with a wide variety of moves. He does need to continue to get stronger to be able to keep up but he could also benefit from a move outside at the next level as a 3-4 defensive end.
21. Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
Brown has track star speed and agility and is almost always a mismatch on whoever is covering him. He has good route running ability, but he does not have much room to grow as a receiver. He is very undersized and may be beat by bigger press defenders. He will always have to rely only on his speed and quickness in order to get open, but guys in the NFL like Tyreek Hill have proven that that is not a bad option.
20. Anfernee Jennings, OLB, Alabama
Jennings excels at getting around defenders in any way that he can. He has a great combination of size and speed so that he can beat guys off the edge and get to the quarterback. His block shedding ability has also proven that he can make big plays when stopping the run. He has yet to show his capabilities when dropping back in coverage, but his pass rushing talent will be coveted by NFL teams.
19. Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame
Love is an explosive defensive back that has great instincts with the ball. He loves to play a physical game and wear guys down. He measurables don’t scream NFL talent, but he his shown the ability to take receivers out of the game and shut them down. He keeps stride for stride with everyone he goes up against and loves to use his hands, but can sometimes overplay and draw penalties.
18. Trey Adams, OT, Washington
While struggling with some injuries, Adams has flashed outstanding ability to control defenders and simply frustrates guys by using his hands and big body to keep guys in front of him. He has great footwork and has great use of hands. If he can stay healthy, he has already proven he can stack up against anyone.
17. Joe Jackson, EDGE, Miami
Jackson is a gifted talent with a long, lengthy body that can pack a punch. He plays with a high motor and never gives up on a play. Jackson always puts himself in a position to make a play on every down. He has a very high ceiling and a lot of room to develop with technique and adding to his tool belt of moves.
16. Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
Fant is a very complete tight end prospect. He is a freakish athlete with the size to match it. He catches everything that is thrown in his general direction and makes his biggest plays in the clutch. The Iowa product runs solid routes, can body up defenders and easily catch balls through contact. He has got room to improve his blocking, but his ball skills are the best of any tight end in recent years.
15. Derrick Brown, 5-Tech, Auburn
Brown is very skilled at getting though blocks and disrupting things in the pocket. He has power and quickness with his powerful frame to get around anyone in his way. He plays with tenacity as he is a force on the defensive side of the ball. He needs to show that he can consistently make the flashy and explosive plays that have elevated him up the NFL Draft board.
14. Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
Simmons is the best pass-rushing defensive tackle in the draft. He explodes off the line and drives lineman backwards right off the jump. He has a strong punch to knock away arms and a variety of pass rushing moves that can give him quick access to the quarterback. With his big, strong body, he is already a threat, but also has yet to reach his full potential, especially when defending the run.
13. N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
When you combine a 6’3″ body with an incredible vertical and the ability to high point balls, you have a deep threat that can come down with the ball no matter how many defenders are on him. With Harry’s big body, he’s also tough to bring down and has shown he can break tackles.
12. Devin White, ILB, LSU
White possesses remarkable speed and athleticism from the inside linebacker position. He flies sideline to sideline and gets to the ball quick with good instincts. His speed helps him back in coverage and he also shows great potential to improve in this area. However, White sometimes gets overly aggressive with his speed and sometimes leaves openings in the defense.
11. Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
Williams continues to fly up draft boards and catch the eye of NFL scouts. He’s got violent hands and an aggressive play style that makes him the best run stopper in college football. He gets off blocks with such ease by using a wide variety of moves. He can grow as a pass rusher, but his talent as a run stopper is impossible to overlook.
10. Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
With his 6’5″ 260 lbs. frame, Ferrell checks all the boxes as a pass rusher. He attacks you up front with a fantastic first step and a variety of moves that make defenders look silly. He is also good at disengaging from blocks, recognizing run plays, and making stops in the run game. His production numbers don’t lie and if he continues doing what he does with consistency, his game will carry over to the next level.
9. AJ Brown, WR, Ole Miss
The best route running receiver in the draft also has the size, length and speed to be a go-to receiver in the NFL. Brown has an incredible catch radius and can make every catch at all three levels of the field. He lines up in the slot a lot in college right now, but his skills should translate outside as well. However, he may struggle against press coverage, which he does not see much of right now.
8. Rashan Gary, 5-Tech, Michigan
Gary is the ultimate combination of strength and quickness. He can play both inside and outside and dominate whoever is lined up across from him. He looks like a man amongst boys a lot of the time in college and there is no overlooking his pure athleticism and talent. That being said, he plays like he is better than everyone on the field (which he is), but he will need to play with more technique and precision when that is no longer the case in the NFL, and everyone is as strong and fast as he is.
7. Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky
Josh Allen has come onto the scene as one of the most dominant college football players this season. He has almost singlehandedly turned Kentucky football from the doormat of the SEC to a one-loss team with hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff. He is explosive when rushing the passer, but can also fall back in coverage better than most other linebackers in the class. He has shown elite athleticism and is really a do-it-all guy that you want to build a defense around.
6. Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
Greedy Williams has shown that he is capable of matching up against any type of receiver because of his size and speed. He mirrors guys in man coverage exceptionally well and can lock guys up often. He has shown some inconsistency in games and looks as though he can fall asleep on some plays, but overall he is a can’t-miss talent that has displayed excellent man and zone coverage.
5. Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
Jonah Williams has shown that he is already NFL ready. He is very patient and has phenomenal footwork that makes him a big body that can’t be moved. He is rarely a liability when it comes to pass protection whether it’s against big power rushers or smaller speed guys. He does not really move guys around in the run game and struggles to open holes, but every NFL team wants a guy like this defending the blindside of their precious QB.
4. Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
Thompson is an athletic playmaker who never lets anyone get past him on the field. He plays man and zone coverage better than a lot of cornerbacks. He is never afraid to cover big tight ends and is always looking to make a big play. The Alabama product is a risk-taker, which helps him to make the big interceptions and other plays, but he is also fooled with pump fakes and gets pulled out of coverage when trying to read the quarterback.
3. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
He has had his struggles throughout his career, but anyone who has watched Herbert has seen the big throws and tight window passes that he is capable of making. He plays with great poise with his tall, powerful body and works through his progressions very well. He can make some bad decisions when pressured, but he is also good at avoiding pressure with his legs and making throws on the run. Even with his inconsistency, skies is the limit for Herbert.
2. Ed Oliver, 5-Tech, Houston
Most NFL scouts are currently nailing Oliver for his lack of technique, which is a concern, but you can teach a player technique. What you can’t teach a player is what Oliver displays every game. He is stronger, faster and more instinctive than anyone who lines up on the line and he may need to start from scratch in the NFL, but on the right team, he will develop quickly.
1. Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
We have all been impressed by the incredible production from Nick Bosa’s NFL brother Joey, and it is scary to say that the better Bosa brother is yet to come to the NFL. Although he went down with an injury early in the season, Bosa is expected to make a full recovery and will be dedicating himself to preparing for the draft. He is an elite pass rusher that has an unmatched skill set when it comes to his physical traits matching with his technique and pass rush moves. He can also break off blocks and chase down speedy running backs and is always looking to make big plays in the backfield. Even with the injury concerns, Bosa is this year’s top NFL Draft prospect.