Welcome to 6-Pack Thursday! If you are familiar with my previous work at NDT Scouting, you know what to expect with this column. If not, consider this my weekly brain dump on six football-related things that involve the NFL, College Football or NFL Draft.
As you have already experienced on Monday with Studs and Duds from Kyle Crabbs, Draft Class Heroes courtesy of Jon Ledyard on Tuesday and 5-Play Prospect by Trevor Sikkema on Wednesday, we have a signature weekly column on each day of the week from one our staff members in addition to our other daily content. Connor Rogers will debut his column on Friday.
But today is my day.
I’ve spent all summer watching college prospects in anticipation of TDN launching with no outlet outside of social media to share my takes. That’s an odd feeling after years of producing 10 plus pieces of content on a weekly basis including podcasting and written work. Needless to say, I am ready to spew out what’s been brewing on my mind.
The NFL Draft is a 365-day-a-year conversation for us at TDN – as it should be. To cover the hundreds of prospects and the draft process, along with the needs and understanding of all 32 teams, it requires a strong daily workload on a year-round basis from a committed team to do it well. We have that at TDN.
I wanted to take this initial 6-Pack Thursday column and discuss some of the impressions I have from taking an early look at the potential 2019 class. While none of these takes are hard-line stances given an entire season and draft process that still needs to play out, it should give you an understanding of the state of the 2019 Draft class entering the season.
Let’s crack this thing open.
QB Class is… interesting
The early takes on the 2019 quarterback class are all over the place. One year after we saw five quarterbacks selected in the first round, a defining season lies ahead for the potential prospects currently in the conversation as potential first rounders.
The most common names tossed around as potential first rounders are Jarrett Stidham, Justin Herbert, Drew Lock and Brian Lewerke but each has a strong case as to why they should not be valued that high. For Stidham it’s mental processing. Herbert has mechanical issues to clean up in addition to handling pressure better. Lock needs to improve his accuracy and working his progressions with consistency. Lewerke must become a better decision maker.
I just threw out nine names. Over the last five drafts, an average of 12 quarterbacks have been selected in each year with 3.2 of them in the first round. There are bound to be a few prospects that emerge from the group as legitimate first round talents with an entire season ahead for them to prove it. And that’s not to mention the possibility of a name that’s not on anyone’s radar that could burst onto the scene.
The season will define the top quarterbacks but it may not be as underwhelming as it’s perceived early on.
Wide Receiver class is stacked
With so many young quarterbacks currently in the NFL, surrounding them with weapons is a must and the early indications of the 2019 crop are extremely favorable. The TDN staff recently compiled a top 200 consensus Big Board among the staff (to be released soon) and ten of the top 60 prospects in our rankings are wide receivers.
The group is headlined by D.K. Metcalf and Kelvin Harmon who offer top half of the first round traits while Deebo Samuel, Ahmmon Richards and A.J. Brown have bright NFL futures and have top 50 upside with a host of others in the conversation.
The NFL is a passing league and having weapons to make plays in the passing game is essential. It appears to be a good draft to stock up.
There are some overrated defensive lineman
The discussion on overrated prospects is usually in Jon Ledyard’s wheelhouse but there is some hype surrounding a few of the defensive tackle prospects entering 2018 that needs to chill. And while the trio of players I am about to mention have upside that could lead to a breakout 2018 season, I have major concerns with them considering where I’ve usually seen them mocked or ranked.
Clemson’s Dexter Lawrence headlines the overrated prospects that I evaluated over the summer. Commonly slotted in the top five of those way-too-early mocks, Lawrence doesn’t have the mobility or pass rushing upside of such a high selection. And for a man of his size, there are too many occasions where he is worked out of his gap in the run game.
I understand Ohio State’s Dre’Mont Jones has good burst and the ability to get into the backfield with quickness but he must get considerably stronger. Pop on his tape and you will see him regularly getting blasted at the point of attack. Developing far greater play strength is a must for Jones’ current billing to become a reality.
Auburn’s Derrick Brown was a consensus five-star recruit with terrific size, athletic ability and flashy hand technique but is significantly underdeveloped when it comes to vision, mental processing and functional strength.
Not the safety class of 2017 or 2018
With the likes of Jamal Adams, Malik Hooker, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Derwin James entering the NFL over the last two drafts, we have been spoiled when it comes to top safety prospects. All four of those dudes are versatile playmakers that should be superstars for years to come.
My early sampling of the 2019 class doesn’t reveal any safety prospects near the caliber of the aforementioned players. Deionte Thompson, Jaquan Johnson and Taylor Rapp are intriguing but are far from Adams, Hooker, Fitzpatrick or James’ level.
We need prospects to emerge at safety as it’s arguably the weakest position group
Most of my film work over the summer has been concentrated on the ACC given my responsibilities for TDN. With that said, I’m not prepared to talk sleepers in other conferences but I do have a strong grasp on the depth of the talent in the ACC. Here are some names that stood out: (click the name for my player profile)
- Matt Colburn, RB, Wake Forest – A compact and competitive runner with good burst, balance and vision.
- Phil Haynes, G, Wake Forest – A four-year starter with outstanding power and technique.
- Ricky Walker, DT, Virginia Tech – An athletic and disruptive interior penetrator with upside as a pass rusher and run defender.
- Germaine Pratt, LB, NC State – A converted safety with considerable upside in coverage and space with appealing physical traits.
- Essang Bassey, CB, Wake Forest – A slot corner with quick feet, outstanding ball skills and fluid hips.
- Tyree St. Louis, OT, Miami – Flashes immense physical upside and power in as he shifts from right to left tackle amid a streak of 21 consecutive starts.
- Olimade Zaccheaus, WR, Virginia – Makes plays in a variety of ways with his dynamic ability with the ball in his hands.
I’m currently #TeamOliver
Who are you taking right now? #NFLDraft
— Joe Marino (@TheJoeMarino) May 19, 2018
WELP! This will be an interesting debate throughout the course of the season and draft process.
Both Oliver and Bosa are exceptional prospects that project as high first round picks in any year. And while you can’t go wrong with either of these elite talents, not taking a side is boring and just not what we do as NFL Draft Analysts.
Give me Oliver.
Oliver is a rare and special talent. His athletic ability and burst is special. His hand usage and power overwhelm opponents. His range and motor is otherworldly. His flexibility and agility don’t make sense for his size.
Oliver has the upside to be the face of an NFL defense and become one of the top defensive playmakers in the NFL. If I am the GM of an NFL team with the No. 1 overall pick and the Draft is today then I’m turning in the card for Oliver.