Welcome to the third ever TDN Mailbag! Every Friday I’ll be taking questions from our elite fans about the NFL, NFL Draft and college football landscape, looking to provide you with the type of insight you desire into all three realms.
How is this 2019 off ball linebacker class looking? Outside of Devin White and Mack Wilson are there any studs?
— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) September 27, 2018
Answer: I really don’t think there are. Right now those look like the two best, and Paddy Fisher has really fallen off for me. Plus, there’s no way he’s declaring as a redshirt sophomore. The best bets for quality linebackers after Devin White and Mack Wilson are probably two-down types, but testing will reveal some athletes who should move up the board.
Outside of the teams that are 0-3, who is one team that has truly disappointed with their season thus far?
— Cole Thompson (@MrColeThompson) September 28, 2018
Answer: Man, so many teams. Patriots, Steelers, Vikings and Falcons stand out. Pittsburgh and New England’s windows are probably closing, but the AFC is bad enough they might be ok this season. Atlanta has just been decimated by injuries on defense. Vikings should prob be 1-3 if not for the officiating disaster against Green Bay.
Where does Miles Sanders rank among draft eligible RBs right now?
— Dan Saxton (@Dan_Saxton) September 27, 2018
Answer: He’s in my top 10! I’ve gotta take a closer look at him, but right now his combination of power and vision are definitely enticing. And they’ll use him as a receiver too, which is huge. This running back class is wide open, and if he has success against Ohio State, his stock will take off.
Will we have another first round Josh Allen in the 2019 draft?
— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) September 27, 2018
Answer: If you would have asked this last year, I would have laughed. Kentucky edge defender Josh Allen didn’t impress me at all in his 2017 tape, but he’s been markedly better this season. First round is still really rich, but he looks good in pads and will probably test well, which will pique the NFL’s interest. His rush plan is pretty raw still, although learning to get his hips and feet turned to the pocket to corner is a big step in the right direction.
How many 1st round quality CB’s will there be?
— Clint Layng (@layng26) September 28, 2018
Answer: There is only one I would bet on right now, and that’s Greedy Williams. Deandre Baker has to test better than I expect he will to make it, and Levonta Taylor is too small, too limited by his size on tape.
Two guys with shots to move up boards considerably: Penn State’s Amani Oruwariye and Washington’s Byron Murphy. Players always emerge as the season progresses, but I’m not currently high on the 2019 cornerback class.
Will Chase Winovich be a first rounder?
— Tyler Hernley (@hernleyt) September 28, 2018
Answer: Winovich is a good player, a hustling technician who plays with a consistent violence. Having said that, the athletic traits aren’t there for a high draft selection. He’s likely a mid-round pick who will be a backup/rotational player in the NFL.
How are the OL from the last draft doing? Is Connor Williams suffering growing pains or he isn’t as good as Dallas hoped?
— Rafael Vieira (@rafabassvieira) September 27, 2018
Answer: Not many have seen the field just yet, but early on it looks like Will Hernandez and Mike McGlinchey are playing solid enough. It is pretty rare for a rookie offensive lineman to enter the league and play well right away. I think they face the deepest and most talented position group in the league in opposing defensive lines.
As for Williams, he looked rough in the preseason and in Week 1, but he seemed to settle in against the Giants pretty well. Granted, they aren’t as threatening a pass rush group on the inside, so we’ll see how he does against the Eagles and Redskins, two teams in the division with much more dynamic interior presences.
What are some of the strongest positions in the upcoming draft?
— Matt (@PeckinsMatt) September 27, 2018
Answer: Interior defensive line and edge defender appear to be loaded, both in top-end talent and in depth. I think wide receiver and tight end will end up very similar. Running back is super weak, and interior offensive line and cornerback look to be about the same. Linebacker and safety might be top heavy. I think we still have a lot to learn about the tackle class. Quarterback is deep but not many top-tier guys depending on who declares.
Are you sold on Drew Lock at the next level?? He hasn’t shown the ability to produce in any big games… despite him being considered top 2-3 QBs in upcoming draft. Love the measurables just don’t see it against elite competition
— Arlance Jenkins (@JenkinsAj) September 27, 2018
Answer: I’m not. I want to be, but I don’t think he handles pressure or progressions well enough from the pocket. He doesn’t have a great feel for pocket movement, and his ball placement is spotty, largely due to inconsistent mechanics. Lock isn’t a bad prospect, but I think Dane Brugler’s Derek Carr comp is probably best case scenario for him.
Who do you the Steelers should draft in the first if they end up in the 15-22 range position
— G (@sportssadness) September 27, 2018
Answer: Cornerback, linebacker and edge defender are the three biggest needs on the roster. Nothing else is even close. If there is a cornerback worth taking there, that’s probably the direction they go. Otherwise, Mack Wilson is the player that makes the most sense for them.
With Bud Dupree still sporting one more year on his contract, I don’t think they’ll prioritize the edge defender spot early on, even though they should. If I were a betting man, I would think corner would be the primary focus, followed by linebacker.