Oh man, I can’t wait for this list to backfire in about eight months.
But, in all seriousness, I have really enjoyed diving into the prospect pool of the 2019 NFL Draft more than I have for any other class during a summer scouting look. There are a lot of guys to get excited about overall, and I’ve even identified some of “my guys” that I seem to be higher on than most as we enter into the most glorious time of the year — football season.
With that, here is my initial top 50 players for the 2019 NFL Draft. This list will surely change plenty over the coming months, but these are the names I think you need to know — of the guys I’ve been able to watch so far — as prospects approach what could potentially be their final audition for the next step towards their NFL dreams.
50. David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin
I like Edwards, but I don’t love him. I think he shows sound technique, but I also feel like he struggled to mirror defenders and stay in front of them. If he struggles at that in college, how will he fare in the NFL? He’s a decent right tackle, but I have my reservations.
49. Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford
Smith only caught 23 passes last year, but five of them were touchdowns and a handful of those were very impressive. He’s a 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end who can play on the line and off. It was a small sample size of success last year, but he caught my eye more than a few times.
48. Dre’Mont Jones, EDGE, Ohio State
Jones is an interesting study. Amongst a stacked Ohio State defensive line over the last few years, Jones has a counter not many interior defensive linemen have: speed. Jones is great at changing direction and giving interior offensive linemen fits moving laterally. But, what he boasts in speed he can sometimes lack in size and strength, and he has a tendency to get bullied once offensive linemen get a hold of him. Unique, but needs the right D-Line to compliment.
47. Matt Colburn II, RB, Wake Forest
Colburn is one of “my guys” it seems in the early draft process. He’s had an interesting journey in college football, first committing to play at Louisville, then having his scholarship offer pulled, then losing the job at Wake only to re-gain it because he was clearly the best back they had. At 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, he has a little Doug Martin to him.
46. Jalen Jelks, EDGE, Oregon
Jelks doesn’t get much love being the big, tall, athletic edge guy who plays in the Pac-12. However, his 15 tackles-for-loss and seven sacks last season officially put him on our radar. He’s a huge edge player at 6-foot-6. An improved year could have the early rounds in the draft calling his name.
45. Kendall Joseph, LB, Clemson
Clemson’s defensive line gets all the headlines, but there’s a player behind them that I seem to like more than most. Kendall Joseph is a smart, athletic linebacker who will do just fine in the NFL. I don’t see him being a first round player, but a solid Day 2 guy nonetheless.
44. Michael Jackson, CB, Miami
Jackson has the size and the length to play outside corner at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, and though he’s smooth, he’s not as explosive of an athlete as the guys higher on this list — or at least, that’s what it seemed like last year. If he shows even more confidence and some hidden athleticism this year, the NFL will covet him.
43. Taylor Rapp, S, Washington
Rapp had some very nice highlights over the last two years at Washington. He’s played single-high roles and he’s come up big in tackling near the line of scrimmage. I peg him to be more of a strong safety type just because I don’t think he’s quite the athlete you need in the NFL as a true free safety. But he’s a good, smart player on the back end.
42. Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
Brown was quarterback Baker Mayfield’s main deep threat wide out last season, but I think he showed more than just straight-line speed on nine routes. I think he has the ability to be a true mismatch weapon with his speed both vertically and laterally as a 5-foot-10, 170-pound slot receiver.
41. Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State
Hill is an interesting evaluation to me. With already over 2,500 rushing yards in two season at OSU, there isn’t much left for him to “prove”. He’s a smaller, shifty back at 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, but he has nice balance through contact too. Question is, can he be a between-the-tackles guy at all in the NFL?
40. Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
Noah Fant is getting Top 20 love from some of the other scouts on this site, and maybe I’m overthinking things, but I’m just not as pumped about him. He’s a great pass catcher, no doubt. But I’m not sold on him as a complete blocker, and if you’re just a receiving tight end and you’re not as athletic as David Njoku or Evan Engram, you won’t be a first round guy, to me. I think Fant is a Day 2 guy right now. We’ll see how much more well-rounded his game gets in 2018.
39. Will Grier, QB, WVU
Ah, Will Grier, my prodigal son. As a Florida alumnus, it was rough watching the talented Grier move on from Florida years ago, but he’s done well for himself. Grier has a big arm and a desire to make the big plays with it. His decision making can be spotty, at times, but he’ll put up big numbers once again in Dana Holgorsen’s offense in his final season.
38. Anthony Ratliff-Williams, WR, UNC
I seem to be the only one at The Draft Network this high on UNC’s go-to playmaker Anthony Ratliff-Williams. I think he’s a receiver who can play inside and out with size, speed and natural athletic ability. I’m expecting big things from him this year. He had one of the highest yards-per-catch averages in the nation last season.
37. Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
I’m not a big believer in the hype of Clemson’s defensive line right now, but Wilkins is still one of those guys who I can definitely see playing in the NFL for awhile. I don’t think he’s the athlete or earth-mover on the inside to make him a Day 1 pick, but he’ll be a solid Day 2 selection for any team.
36. Myles Bryant, CB, Washington
At just 5-foot-8, 180 pounds, Bryant is a perfect player for today’s NFL that emphasizes nickel formations. His long speed and short area quickness make him an ideal slot defender, and those guys without a doubt have a chance to get drafted relatively high.
35. Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
Lock is a big wild card for me. The arm speaks for itself. I’ve seen him hit guys nearly 70 yards down the field in stride. But the slow feet, the odd pocket presence, the one-read offense that he was in last year and the 54 percent completion percentage all scares me. That’s a lot that has to change for the next level. He still needs a much-improved year in those areas.
34. Scott Frantz, OT, Kansas State
Simply put: this guy is strong. Frantz will throw punches at you with his hands and anchor down with his feet to make himself a wall on the left side in the way of defenders and the quarterback. He sometimes has an issue recovering if he doesn’t get that first good contact on a defender, but overall I think he’s a very solid left tackle.
33. Rashard Lawrence, IDL, LSU
Lawrence has some of the fastest hands in the west — the SEC West, that is. When you combine his quick, strong hand movement with his 6-foot-3, 300-pound frame, you’re talking about an ideal 3-tech interior defensive lineman.
32. Robert Landers, IDL, Ohio State
Landers, like his teammate Dre’Mont Jones, is interesting. Landers has the build of a nose tackle, but he has the skills of a 3-tech defensive tackle. He’s great off the snap, and can really disrupt a pocket early. But he sometimes struggles to anchor, where you would hope nose tackles do not. How Ohio State plays him could be telling, but any athletic big man is worth a look.
31. Tyler Biadasz, IOL, Wisconsin
This interior offensive line class isn’t shaping up to be anything like the one we just scouted for the previous draft season, but Wisconsin’s Tyler Biadasz seems to be the best of the bunch. He’s an athletic center who can move very well for his size. He’s a consistent blocker, but he’s just not what I would call a “bully”. Limited strength might hurt his stock, but he’s still shaping up to be one of the best interior guys in the class.
30. Devin Bush Jr., LB, Michigan
I’m a big fan of Devin Bush. I think he shows good instincts for the linebacker position. I also think that, where he isn’t as 0-to-60 in acceleration as some might like, his straight line speed and speed to the sideline is adequate once he gets going. Perhaps a tad limited, but I still like what he brings to the table.
29. Brian Lewerke, QB, Michigan State
I really wanted to like Lewerke more than this. I really did. He throws with touch and anticipation so well. He just wasn’t consistent enough with it — and that gives me uneasy Connor Cook flashbacks. With improved accuracy and consistency, though, Lewerke could be a first round quarterback.
28. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
One quarterback right after the other. I have Herbert slightly ahead of Lewerke because the consistency issues I have with Herbert are slightly less fatal as a prospect. I think Hebert is a little more in control of his mental mistakes and missed throws. It’s tight race between those two for QB2, but it also shows I’m not too bullish on any of these quarterbacks at this point.
27. Trey Adams, OT, Washington
I think Adams is a solid left tackle prospect with a big body to go along with good talent. I just wish he had more of mean streak to him. In the run game he doesn’t seem to be an eraser or a finisher. He’s a finesse left tackle, which is still plenty useful in the NFL at his size of 6-foot-7, 330 pounds.
26. N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
N’Keal Harry is a determined outside wide receiver. He reminds me a lot of Dez Bryant. I don’t think he has the top-end athleticism of Bryant, but the will he has to go up and get a ball — even snatch it away from defenders — is Dez-like, I think. That’s an outside receiver skill that will always be coveted.