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2019 NFL Draft Rankings: The top prospects in the NFL Draft

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NCAA Football: Ohio State at Texas Christian Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

39. Amani Oruwariye CB Penn State - At 6’2” 205 with sub 4.5 speed, Oruwariye is a valuable big corner who looks comfortable in zone and man coverage. He’s a player who can smoothly flip his hips and run with a receiver downfield, and he’s a physical defender who will drive through the receiver to play the ball on underneath routes. He logged 7 INTs and 18 PBUs over the last two seasons. Oruwariye also has experience covering kicks, so he’ll contribute early on special teams at the very least.

38. Byron Murphy CB Washington - Perhaps my favorite corner on tape alone, Murphy produced and impressive 6 INTs and 20 PBUs in 20 games over the last two seasons. It’s difficult to match that production. He has terrific quickness and change of direction and can hang with just about any receiver underneath. Murphy’s weaknesses are his size and length. He had to bulk up for the combine to get to 190 pounds, and he’s only 5’11” with 30” arms. And while some might assume that Murphy’s pedestrian mid-4.5 40 time was due to the added weight; I’ve seen plays on tape where he has to play catch-up down the field. One such play, against Oregon last season, Murphy recovered to break up a pass in the end zone. But if Ducks QB Justin Herbert hadn’t underthrown that football, it would have been 6 for the offense. Bottom line, Murphy is a good player, but will be at his best covering in the slot where he can play to his strengths.

37. Lonnie Johnson CB Kentucky - Unlike Murphy, Johnson doesn’t have a lot of on-ball production. He registered just 1 pick and 9 PBUs in two seasons at Kentucky. But Johnson is a rare 6’2” corner with long arms and sub-4.5 speed. He’s a patient defender, which allows him to better recognize the route and adjust accordingly, and he looks comfortable in man and zone coverage. Johnson requires some projection because the ball wasn’t thrown his way as often as others in the class, but I believe he has the tools to be a productive NFL corner.

36. T.J. Hockenson TE Iowa - Hockenson is all but guaranteed to be drafted much earlier than 36th overall, and while he’s a very athletic tight end coming off an impressive season (49 REC 760 YDS 7 TD), it’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that someone like Daniel Jeremiah considers him the 4th best player in the entire class. Hockenson has neither the speed of a Travis Kelce or Jimmy Graham, nor the size of Rob Gronkowski. I’m hard-pressed to think of another tight end who’d command the lofty draft status Hockenson is getting, and by the way, not one of the All-Pro players I just mentioned was even selected in the first round. But that won’t deter the draft media, who treats video of Hockenson blocking like a form of erotica, and who thinks a Zach Ertz comparison is Hock’s floor. It probably sounds like I’m down on him, but I obviously think he’s worth an early Day Two pick. I just don’t think he is the best tight end prospect from Iowa this year, and the hype has me a little dizzy.

35. Garrett Bradbury C North Carolina State - Bradbury is just a boring, three-year college starter who’s strong as an ox and doesn’t make mistakes. He’s a former tight end recruit who converted to line, and that athleticism showed up in perhaps the best combine performance of any O-line prospect this year. The only drawbacks to Bradbury are his age (turns 24 in June) and the fact that he’s probably limited to center because of his relatively small stature. Regardless, he’s a plug-and-play starter.

34. Miles Boykin WR Notre Dame - One of my favorite split end prospects in the class, Boykin drifted below the radar until blowing the doors off of Lucas Oil Stadium with a freakish combine workout. He has strong hands, good body control, and awareness along the sidelines. It’s fairly clear now that his college production suffered at the hands of a weak passing attack at Notre Dame. I don’t think Boykin will he drafted as early as I have him ranked, but he’s a player I expect will provide excellent value down the line.

33. Dexter Lawrence DL Clemson - 340-pound men with long arms, and freakish strength and speed are hard to come by and seeing that Vita Vea and Danny Shelton have been drafted in the top 15 in recent years, I wouldn’t think Lawrence will be available for long on Thursday night. The Clemson product is a wrecking ball who commanded constant double teams and still managed to collapse the pocket against the pass and cave in his side of the line of scrimmage vs the run. Lawrence played on a stacked Clemson D-line, so he became more of a facilitator this past season, but his 6.5 sacks as a freshman show his production potential. These big guys can’t play the heaviest volume of stats and maintain their effectiveness, so that curbs his value for me a bit, but I think he’ll be drafted in that 15-20 range Thursday night.

32. Jachai Polite DE Florida - Perhaps no prospect has been as heavily criticized as Polite this draft season. The Florida pass rusher added weight for the combine, but then pulled his hamstring 10 days before his trip to Indianapolis and has clearly been suffering through that ill-times injury ever since. For that reason, I simply don’t trust his combine and pro day numbers. The player who racked up 11 sacks and forced 6 fumbles for the Gators this past season does not run a 5.00-second 40-yard dash. I refuse to believe it. Polite’s stock has suffered, no doubt, but someone will take a chance on him Friday night and wind up with a very good player.

31. Jamel Dean CB Auburn - Dean is one of the fastest players in the draft, and at 6’1” and over 200 pounds, he provides a physical presence in man coverage at corner. He most reminds me of Bears CB Prince Amukamara, who has come into his own after a slow start to his career, but I also see some Jalen Ramsey-level feistiness in Dean. The major question mark for the Auburn product is health. Dean had suffered three knee injuries: an ACL/meniscus tear in 2013, a re-injury to the meniscus in 2014, and a season-ending injury in 2016. He’s remained intact each of the last two seasons, but his legs are a ticking time bomb. I wanted to give him a first-round grade, but the risk pushes him down to Day Two.

30. Marquise Brown WR Oklahoma - Brown has missed the pre-draft workout process while recovering from a Lisfranc injury suffered late in the season. Prior to the injury, Hollywood was one of the most dynamic receivers in college football. In two seasons for the Sooners, Brown caught 132 passes, averaged 18.3 yards per catch, and scored 17 TDs. At 5’9” 166, he’s tiny by NFL standards, but I believe a healthy Brown runs in the low 4.4-high 4.3 range. I’ll buy the Desean Jackson high-end comparisons. By all accounts he’s recovering well from his injury, and I think he’s simply too fast and too productive to fail.

29. Deebo Samuel WR South Carolina - Like many top prospects in this year’s draft class, Samuel battled injuries throughout his college career. He missed significant time with a hamstring issue in 2015 and missed all but three games in 2017 with a broken leg. Prior to the injury two years ago, Samuel was on his way to a breakout season. He had scored 6 TDs in the first three games of the year. Once the leg healed, Samuel carried that momentum into 2018 when he set career-highs with 62 catches for 882 yards and 12 scores in 12 games. Samuel is a skilled route runner and fiery competitor, with the potential to excel at flanker in the pros. He reminds me of Pierre Garçon. And Samuel adds value on special teams, which is always a good way for a young player to get his feet wet in the NFL.

28. Darrell Henderson RB Memphis - The top running back in the class, Henderson’s 8.9 yards per carry last season were the most by an FBS player with 200-or-more carries since at least 1956. It was the second consecutive season he posted an 8.9 YPC. Henderson is a home run hitter, with 4.4 speed, who gained 20-or-more yards on 12.3% of his career rushing attempts. He averaged 15.5 yards per catch on 19 receptions last season and caught 63 passes during his career. And he scored 45 touchdowns in 37 college games. He even has experience returning kicks. There’s some skepticism surrounding Henderson’s competition level and small stature, but I couldn’t ask for a Group of Five player to more thoroughly dominate his opponents, and he’s a solidly-built 5’8” 208 pounds - similar in size to former Jaguars star Maurice Jones-Drew. There’s precedent for success here.

27. Johnathan Abram S Mississippi State

26. Darnell Savage Jr. S Maryland - Savage and Abram are almost a coin flip for me, and the remind me of former Ohio State safeties Donte Whitner and Mike Doss, respectively. Savage has the edge in coverage, though Abram made strides in 2018. Abram is a nasty dog, and heavy hitter for a guy his size. These guys are fast and tough, and I love the way both play the game. Either or both could find their way into the late first round.

25. Jonah Williams G Alabama

24. Dalton Risner G Kansas State

23. Chris Lindstrom G Boston College - Of my three favorite interior O-line prospects, only Lindstrom played guard fill time in college. Williams was a guy who’s tape at left tackle for Alabama lulled me to sleep with his consistent efficiency. Despite athletic limitations, Williams was rarely beaten one-on-one, but he did have some trouble with a very talented Clemson defensive line. A move inside to closer quarters will mitigate a change-of-direction shortcomings. Risner is a wrestler-type scrapper with good feet, but his overall makeup suggests that he too would be best-suited to move inside. As a guard he draws a Kevin Zeitler comparison with his height/weight/athletic testing. Risner tuners 24 in July and is the oldest of the three. Lindstrom is the best athlete of these three prospects, which may broaden his appeal.

22. A.J. Brown WR Ole Miss - Coming into the year I had doubts that Brown could be more than just a big, slot receiver, but he followed a season in which he posted a career-best 85 catches for 1320 yards with a terrific showing at the scouting combine. The Ole Miss standout ran a 4.49 40 at 226 pounds and went on to demonstrate above average explosiveness and change of direction in the other drills. He’s always been a threat to pick up yards after the catch, but now I’m confident that Brown can line up at flanker or slot and create mismatches across the formation with his unique frame.

21. Clelin Ferrell DE Clemson - Ferrell has a prototypical build for a defensive end and produced career-highs in sacks (11.5), TFLs (20), and forced fumbles (3). He makes up for average athleticism for the position with strength, effort and technical skill. Ferrell uses a full range of pass rush moves and has performed well on the biggest stages of college football. His testing was limited by a turf toe injury, so that will be something to monitor going forward.

1st-2nd Round

20. Jerry Tillery DL Notre Dame - Some see Tillery as a boom-or-bust player, with half of his sacks this season coming in one game against Stanford. I see it as a ceiling of Tillery’s full potential, with the understanding that he has dealt with a shoulder injury for some time now. He not only toughed through part of the season, but also performed at an elite level during the scouting combine. He even gutted out 23 reps of 225 pounds on the bench. He’s since had surgery to repair his bum shoulder, and it’s unclear how much, if any, he will have to sit out next season. But Tillery has the athleticism to play 5-Tech, 3-Tech and defensive end in a 4-man front, and that type of versatility and potential makes him worth a late 1st round pick for me.

19. Christian Wilkins DL Clemson - Known as a tone-setter and the heart of a championship Clemson defense, Wilkins combines some of the power of line-mate Dexter Lawrence with the technique of defensive end Clelin Ferrell to make himself a disruptive presence up against the run and the pass. He has above average speed and lateral agility for the position and knows how to create havoc in a number of ways. Wilkins racked up 40.5 tackles for loss in 55 games for the Tigers and produced 16 sacks and 15 PBUs. He’s one of these prospects who’s been good for so long that draftniks seemed bored with him, but he never stopped playing at a high level.

18. Noah Fant TE Iowa - A large swatch of the draft community was in love with Fant last summer but has since dumped him for his teammate T.J. Hockenson. I’m sticking with Fant as the top tight end in the draft however, and this is despite some unflattering metrics from Pro Football Focus. He scored 11 touchdowns in 2017, and 7 last seasons, and averaged nearly 14 yards per catch for his career. Fant is an elite athlete in terms of speed, explosiveness and agility, which puts him on the spectrum of Jimmy Graham, Vernon Davis and Jared Cook. There’s clearly a range of outcomes here, but none suggest a total bust, and most teams won’t have a prayer trying to cover these guys with a linebacker. I think it’s important to temper expectations for a rookie tight end - there’s often a steep learning curve - but Fant is as good a prospect as I’ve seen at the position in recent years.

17. Andre Dillard OT Washington State - I’m not 100% sold that Dillard will remain at left tackle in the pros, but I’d certainly try him there initially. He’s a four-year college starter, and an elite athlete who’s the best hope for this class to produce an All-Pro tackle. From a height/weight/athletic testing standpoint he compares favorably to Titans tackle Tylor Lewan, and though I view Lewan as a decidedly nastier SOB, I think the arrow is pointing toward Dillard being successful. At worst, I think he will settle in as a starting-caliber left guard.

16. Parris Campbell WR Ohio State - There’s a misperception that Campbell cannot run routes other that screens and shallow crossers, and that he played the Hybrid (slot) role in Urban Meyer’s offense because the Buckeyes needed to manufacture touches for him to be successful. In reality, Campbell is a player who worked very hard during his college years to develop as a receiver and did so to the point that receivers’ coach (and former NFL WR) Brian Hartline has praised Campbell for his route running. During draft season, Campbell has impressed scouts with his hands and deep ball tracking - both question marks early in his development - and he’s obviously dazzled with elite athleticism. Campbell’s 4.31 40 was among the fastest at the scouting combine, and I’m certain he could have played the role of an outside receiver last season. But I’m also quite sure no other receiver on the team could have broken games open from the Hybrid like Campbell did.

15. Brian Burns DE Florida State - Burns is an explosive athlete and frenetic mover who tries to with speed, quick hands and inside/outside spin moves. He plays with his head up and eyes in the backfield, and if he’s close, he’ll swipe at the ball or get his hands up into the passing lane. In addition to 23 sack in 33 games, Burns also forced 7 fumbles and batted 7 passes. He’s pure, disruptive energy. If anything gives me pause it’s that Burns played at 235 pounds - and sometimes got smothered in the run game - but showed up at 250 for the combine. Is that sustainable? It’s shades of Vic Beasley, which is my comparison for Burns for better or worse. Do I get 2016 Vic or the other version? We’ll see. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice...I’m a little nervous.

14. Jeffery Simmons DL Mississippi State - In years past I’ve excluded injured players from my rankings, stubbornly insisting on having athletic testing data. This year that was not going to be fun, with too many top 100 players battling various injuries. Simmons suffered an ACL tear in training, and there’s a real chance he misses the entire 2019 season. But pre-injury he was a legitimate top 5 player, and (barring reservations about his off-field history) might have contended to be the first D-lineman drafted. On tape, Simmons reminds me of Chiefs lineman and former Bulldog Chris Jones, but again I don’t have all the info I’d have liked. Regardless, I’d start thinking about drafting Simmons about midway through Round 1.

1st Round

13. Devin Bush Jr. LB Michigan - Bush is an undersized linebacker who stays on his toes with his head up, ready to fly to the ball. My issue is, gets a little overzealous and takes himself out of position. But Bush has tremendous speed to make up for false steps, and to cover receivers across the middle of the field. He’s not afraid to take on blockers, but because he’s on the small side, he’s better off trying to use his quickness to avoid them. Bush’s closest prospect comparisons are former Lions LB Ernie Sims, and injured Steelers LB Ryan Shazier, and I like the latter better given Bush’s coverage and blitzing success.

12. Kyler Murray QB Oklahoma - Murray’s draft season has flipped a tableful of old school QB scouting narratives. Until a few months ago, he was ticketed for pro baseball. (“Does he love football enough??”) Then Murray declared for the NFL, and the scouting world held its collective breath to see if he’d measure at least 5’10”, literally lowering the bar on traditional QB height thresholds. Murray also packed on weight to get as close to Russell Wilson’s pre-draft size as possible, then skipped all athletic testing at the combine and his pro day. Murray is a guy who reportedly played closer to 185-190 pounds. Is he still as elusive at 207, or is he planning on shedding as soon as all of this is over?

So, questions remain, some more material than others, but draft media has mostly scoffed at all of it, acting like Murray’s status as the top passer in the class is a no-brainer. I can’t remember anything like it, and frankly I vacillate between finding it all frustrating and refreshing. On one hand, Murray is an impressive prospect, strong-armed, with a quick release, and a threat to run for a TD from anywhere on the field (no, I’m not concerned about the added weight). He converted a class-high 53.8% of third down passes, and 51.4% of 3rd and longs (7+ yards) and had the second-best red zone touchdown percentage, touchdown-to-interception ratio, and career completion percentage. But on the other hand, just last year Baker Mayfield needed to clear 6’ tall, and it was very concerning that Josh Rosen had interests outside of football. I feel like Murray has escaped similar scrutiny, and that’s weird to me. Maybe scouting is finally evolving. If so, how many short QBs has the NFL cheated us out of? Anyway, the analyst in me is glad Murray is getting a fair shot, and I hope he paves the way for other deserving shorties. And I guess I can fall back onto Daniel Jones hype to get my fill of head-scratching old school QB scouting takes.

11. D.K. Metcalf WR Ole Miss - Metcalf is a receiver in a defensive end’s body and lived up to enormous fanfare by running a 4.33 40 at 230 pounds. He achieved legendary status until a couple hours later when his short shuttle and three come times surfaced and turned him into an overrated stiff. I’m not one to dismiss the value of numbers - the images in this article should serve as proof - but I found the deep concern over Metcalf’s agility drills to be a bit overdramatic. For a huge WR who wins with explosiveness and speed, I’m not expecting Metcalf to change directions on a dime. He uses powerful releases and breakaway speed to get open down the sidelines, and on posts and slants I just need enough separation to get him the ball out in front. He’s either going to run away or run over the DB at that point. Fancy footwork isn’t a requirement. If anything, I’d be worried that the stiffness associated with subpar shuttle times could lead to injury down the road. Like so many prospects in this class, that’s a legitimate concern with Metcalf, who missed half of 2018 with a neck injury, and most of 2016 with a bum foot. For what it’s worth, Metcalf’s pro day shuttle times were a slight improvement.

10. Montez Sweat DE Mississippi State - Apparently Sweat may tumble on draft day because of an enlarged heart. This was revealed at the combine medical check but was not considered worrisome enough to keep Sweat from testing and running an eye-popping 4.41 at 260 pounds. I can’t say I thought he ran that well, but I was always impressed with Sweat’s hand usage, length, strength and closing ability. In two seasons for the Bulldogs, the Michigan State transfer produced 22.5 sacks in 26 games. If his health checks out, he’s a player I’d be comfortable with in the first round of any draft class.

9. Josh Allen DE Kentucky - Allen isn’t a player I had pegged as a first rounder heading into the year, then he posted a dominant 17-sack season in which he also forced 5 fumbles and broke up 4 passes. I like the way he uses his length and hands to free himself up, and while he’s not the most flexible guy, he’s still able to win consistently on an outside pass rush. Allen works hard and plays the run well, disrupts the QB, and forces turnovers. Despite my preseason reservations, I’ve come around to believing that the way he won in college will translate to Sundays.

8. Greedy Williams CB LSU - Williams picked off 8 passes and broke up 19 more in 24 games over the last two seasons, but some analysts felt like he stagnated in 2018. While Williams interception number dipped from 6 to 2 as a sophomore last season, he still largely shut down opposing receivers, including D.K. Metcalf, who caught just 2 passes on 7 targets against Williams when the two faced off. The 6’2” corner could stand to beef up, but his length, speed and ball skills are valuable commodities. He reminds me of Lions CB Darius Slay, and I’m very comfortable naming Williams the top prospect at his position this year.

7. Rashan Gary DE Michigan - For some reason, a large swath of analysts wants the 277-pound Gary to bulk up and play inside, despite the fact that an explosive 6’4” pass rusher with 34” arms and 4.6 speed is a rarer specimen. The concern is that Gary hasn’t produced like the elite athlete he is. I believe that’s more related to the scheme he played in and the shoulder injury that kept him off the field for a time last season, and that apparently still may require surgery. That means that Gary may miss a chunk, or all of 2019, so with his status up in the air, he may experience a precipitous slide Thursday, and maybe even into Friday. It’s unfortunate this couldn’t have been resolved sooner. Still, in this class I would take a chance of Gary, who has similar height/weight/athleticism to former Chief and current Colt Justin Houston.

Top 10

6. Devin White LB LSU - I don’t love the idea of drafting a linebacker in the top 10, but White is a hair-on-fire tone setter who can step in and lead a defense immediately. For my money he’s a better prospect than 2018 first rounder Roquan Smith, drafted 8th overall by the Bears. White plays with incredible natural instincts and throwback ferocity, but he’s a modern athlete with elite closing speed. He can blitz, cover and play the run. I like White better each time I watch him, and I can certainly see why NFL teams in the top 10 like the Raiders and Bucs will have a hard time resisting him. Even if it’s not the best value.

5. N’Keal Harry WR Arizona State - Harry caught 58 passes for 659 yards as an 18-year old in 2016 and followed that with back-to-back 1000-yard seasons. In 2018 he set career-highs with 14.9 yards per catch and 11 total TDs. Then, at the combine this draft season, a 230-pound Harry ran a 4.53 and touched 38.5” in the vertical, erasing all doubts about his overall athleticism. Harry can line up and win at X, flanker or in the slot, and while top 5 overall may seem like a lofty rank, I place him on the Brandon Marshall/Dez Bryant spectrum in terms of comparisons. I don’t throw that kind of praise around lightly.

4. Dwayne Haskins QB Ohio State - I’ve been convinced of Haskins’ status as a top 5-10 overall pick since early in his lone season as a starter, as I witnessed him elevate 4th and 5th-year receivers to levels they hadn’t previously been able to reach. Save for about 6 shaky quarters of football during the middle of the season, as Urban Meyer attempted to square-peg-round-hole Haskins into zone read looks, the redshirt sophomore QB torched opposing defenses and obliterated school and conference passing records.

Situationally, Haskins had the highest 3rd down and 3rd-and-long completion percentage in the class, and 3rd best conversion percentage on 3rd downs and 3rd-and-long. For all of the angst about Haskins reaction to pressure, he had the fourth lowest sack rate, and the top TD-to-INT ratio in the class. It may not always be pretty, but Haskins is usually damn careful with the football.

And he’s poised. He stepped onto the field cold as a redshirt freshman after J.T. Barrett was injured and finished a 2017 win over Michigan. He brought the Buckeyes back from a two-score deficit with 8 minutes left in a primetime road game at Penn State. Haskins sliced up the three best statistical defenses he faced this season. I’ve seen him buy time in the pocket, I’ve seen him escape pressure to avoid sacks and even scramble for sizable gains. I’ve even seen him run for 3 TDs in a game. Haskins isn’t Murray as an athlete, but he’s not Bernie Kosar either.

And experience? In December draftniks said Haskins HAD to declare because his stock would never be hotter. Those weren’t bad takes, but now it seems many have cold feet. Not I. Haskins is the best passer in the class, and I compare him to Philip Rivers from a size, athleticism and delivery standpoint. Hopefully he carves out a similar, or better pro career.

3. Quinnen Williams DL Alabama - I don’t think Williams is Aaron Donald, or even the best D-lineman in the class, but 3rd overall is nothing to sneeze at. He’s as explosive as I could expect from a 300-pound athlete, and he’s just lengthy enough to move all around the line of scrimmage to attack from different angles. Williams is equally impressive defending the run and the pass and is a plug-and-play starter in any scheme.

2. Ed Oliver DL Houston - If I’m looking for an Aaron Donald type, Oliver is closer than Quinnen Williams. But Oliver never produced as a college pass rusher the way Donald did, so Geno Atkins is probably a fairer facsimile to what Oliver can become. It’s rather frustrating to watch Houston’s defense over the last two seasons and wonder what might have been if Oliver had committed his talents to another school. He was a 5-star beast among future graduate assistants, so I’m forced to do some projecting. Which brings me back to Atkins, and explosive, undersized 3-Tech prospect who logged 11 sacks in college, but has 71 career sacks (39 over the last four seasons) as a pro. That’s the guy I think Oliver can become in the right defensive coordinator’s hands.

1. Nick Bosa DE Ohio State - Bosa entered his junior season as the top overall prospect, and then collected 4 sacks in 2+ games before a core injury ended his college career. The fear is that young Bosa is injury prone - he also tore his ACL as a high school senior - but the two surgeries are completely unrelated. Plus, Bosa would have been capable of returning this season had he been playing in meaningful games or earning a salary for his troubles. Bosa is very similar to his brother Joey in terms of size, athleticism and technical approach. It’s almost like pass rushing prowess runs in the family. If I had one pick to spend, I’d spend it on Bosa and wouldn’t look back.