This is new territory for me. In year’s past, I had one and only one set of rankings – my final big board. But after an entire summer spent scouting the nation, I proudly present my preseason top 50.
With an entire season to play, this Board is likely to change significantly. But like my Mock Draft 1.0, it’s a good starting point in learning who I believe the top prospects in 2019 class are.
Something to keep in mind with how I assembled this Board is that it gives the benefit of the doubt in projecting growth. There are some young players with limited experience that slot fairly high on this Board because I believe they can evolve based on traits but are far from finished products.
50. Tyree St. Louis, OT, Miami
St. Louis offers a blend of size, length and mobility while taking terrific pass set angles to frame rushers on an island that makes him an exciting pass blocker. He needs some technical work to maximize his play strength as a run blocker, but St. Louis could find himself a riser with a successful transition to left tackle in 2018.
49. Juan Thornhill, S, Virginia
Moving from corner to safety in his senior season, Thornhill is set to fill the role previously played by Quin Blanding that led to playmaking productivity. Thornhill is long and physical with sharp processing skills that translate well to playing forward as a safety.
48. Chris Lindstrom, OL, Boston College
A four-year starter for the BC’s highly prolific rushing attacks, Lindstrom is a powerful people-mover with a nasty mean streak. His anchor is powerful and his experience working at tackle should lend itself favorably as an interior pass protector. This is your Day 2 plug and play starter offensive line type prospect.
47. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford
Arcega-Whiteside is a power-forward type receiver that illustrates physicality, ball skills and body control to win at the catch point. He isn’t a burner but he dominates in the air with his alpha mentality. His long strides eat up turf and he is a nuanced route runner that knows how to sell his breaks and get open.
46. Damien Harris, RB, Alabama
Harris is a no-nonsense runner that sees the field cleanly, hits gaps as the open and runs with balance and physicality. He doesn’t wow with elusive traits but Harris is a natural runner that is capable of shouldering the load as a bell cow back.
45. Ricky Walker, DT, Virginia Tech
Walker doesn’t get the same hype as other ACC defensive tackles but he’s an excellent prospect in his own right. Walker is an explosive interior penetrator that showcases excellent play strength, hand technique and a hot motor. He racked up 41 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in 2017 which was his first as a full-time starter. A big year is in store for this talented Hokie.
44. Anfernee Jennings, EDGE, Alabama
Jennings isn’t overly explosive but his play strength and hand usage translate nicely to the NFL. A powerful edge-setter against the run, Jennings showcases a variety of counters to shed blocks and make plays near the line of scrimmage. If Jennings can drop some weight and become more sudden, it would make him a riser.
43. Zach Allen, DL, Boston College
Allen is a powerful dude at the point of attack while showcasing violent and aggressive hand usage. While I don’t envision him consistently winning around the edge in the NFL due his lack of flexibility, he can be moved around to achieve favorable rush angles. He’d be a great option for a team that is multiple with the fronts it runs.
42. Trey Adams, OT, Washington
Adams is a massive blocker that mirrors surprisingly well in pass pro that combines with his length to make it difficult for rushers to get around him. He has enough power in the run game although his height makes it a challenge for him to maintain leverage and he isn’t quite the people-move expected for his frame. Adams suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2017 so proving he can regain his form is critical.
41. Paddy Fisher, LB, Northwestern
Fisher had an outstanding season in 2017 as a redshirt freshman and could easily climb these rankings. Fisher has sharp processing skills, an unrelenting motor and a physical approach to the game. Fisher will need to become more consistent working off contact and finishing, but he plays the position like a rabid dog.
40. Anthony Nelson, DE, Iowa
Nelson is a long, heavy-handed edge defender that lacks bend but knows how to soften rush angles to apply heat on the quarterback. He offers an array of counters and executes with urgency. He should be a quality NFL defensive lineman with little risk.
39. Amani Oruwariye, CB, Penn State
Oruwariye offers exciting ball skills, length and physicality that should make him a quality press and zone option in the NFL. With that said, I want to see him more consistent jamming at the line of scrimmage and I have questions about his athletic ability. Entering 2018 as his first in a starting role, Oruwariye could be a riser.
38. Ben Banogu, EDGE, TCU
Banagu offers a balanced skill set. He has burst, bend and length to win as a pass rusher and fits the run well while showcasing the ability to shed blocks. I think he translates wonderfully to a stand up 3-4 OLB role. If he can develop more counters, Banagu has first round upside.
37. Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia
Cajuste checks all the boxes required in terms of traits needed to win as a pass blocker in the NFL. He’s long, athletic and fleet of foot with a strong anchor. He frames rushers well and knows how to keep them at the end of his reach. More power would be nice in the run game, but he is a great fit for zone schemes.
36. Michael Jackson, CB, Miami
Jackson is a physical corner who excels at the line of scrimmage in press and has upside in zone. He isn’t the most fluid or athletic so he’s a matchup-specific player in man coverage but he competes like an alpha at the catch point and as a tackler.
35. Devin White, LB, LSU
White is an urgent, rangy and physical linebacker that plays like his hair is on fire. He does have some mental processing and block shedding improvements that are needed, but he has considerable upside in a pursuit-style role and the athletic ability to win in space and coverage.
34. Ahmmon Richards, WR, Miami
A big play threat, Richards has average nearly 20 yards per catch across his first two seasons. His ability to generate vertical push and track the football make him an exciting deep threat. With that said, he does need to become a more consistent finisher and showcase more physicality/technique in his release/the contact window.
33. A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
Brown is a physical receiver that does well to win at the catch point with an alpha mentality and challenge tacklers after the catch with power and elusiveness. He profiles nicely as a short-to-intermediate threat but his vertical receiving upside is minimal.
32. Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
Lawrence played hurt in 2017 which clearly impacted his ability to get off the ball and be explosive. Instead, he looked like a soft 340-pounder that lacked mobility. If Lawrence can find his 2016 form and build off that, he has a chance to ascend but that needs to be proven.
31. Rashard Lawrence, DT, LSU
A five-star recruit, Lawrence’s flashes are exciting. He is stout at the point of attack and plays with violent hands. With that said, he still hasn’t put it all together as an impact defender which I believe stems from inconsistent processing skills and modest burst. 2018 could be a breakout year for Lawrence.
30. Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State
Risner is as consistent and technically refined as they come. He is always square, fits his hands and secures his base while executing his assignments. He offers experience, position flexibility and should immediately become a quality NFL starter.
29. Dawson Knox, TE, Ole Miss
Part of the best arsenal of pass catchers in the nation, Knox hasn’t had high level production yet, but his high level traits are apparent. He’s an explosive mover who showcases the ability to win at all levels of the field and dominate at the catch point. He’s raw but his highs are eye-popping. I expect him to be a household name by the end of the season.
28. Jaquan Johnson, S, Miami
Johnson isn’t the biggest safety but he plays with tremendous urgency and fills the role of an enforcer playing forward. He flashes in man coverage and excels in split zones but needs to fine-tune his processing skills. He led the Canes in both tackles and interceptions in 2017.
27. N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
Harry is a massive receiver that excels down the field with his outstanding ball tacking skills and ability to elevate for the ball. His wingspan and body control are impressive but he can stand to be more assertive with his size and physicality in the contact window.
26. Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina
Samuel missed almost all of last season but his polish and playmaking upside is evident. He is a nuanced route runner that knows how to separate from coverage while also able to win above-the-rim in contested situations. His hands and ball skills are top notch while he’s also prolific after the catch.
25. Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
Fant is a strong pass-catching tight end that has playmaking upside at every level of the field. In 2017, Fant averaged 16.5 yards per catch with 11 of his 20 receptions resulting in touchdowns. He has work to do as a blocker, but the effort is there.