We’ve got mail! Friday mornings at The Draft Network are one of my favorite times of the week, as we wrap up an awesome week of content with some terrific questions from our readers, while also getting prepared for an exciting slate of college football this weekend.
This week I tackle my doubts about the AAF and the XFL succeeding, Brett Rypien’s draft stock, where to value Tyree Jackson and Anthony Johnson, three receivers for the 49ers, first round options for the Bills, my top 5 WR, TE and Edge prospects in the class and SO much more.
Are you interested at all in the AAF or the XFL?
— Josiah Jones (@kajosiahwhat) November 30, 2018
Like all start-up football leagues, my expectations for both the AAF and the XFL are extremely low. There is simply no way to launch a football league without investing loads of money, something the XFL lost a ton of in its one season of existence last time around.
What’s different this time? Less off-field and entertainment elements and more reliance on the players and sport to sell themselves. Not that I liked the XFL the way it was before, but good luck with that. When your plan is to let your talent attract fans to attend or watch your games, yet that same “talent” was one of the major criticisms of your league last time around (Bob Costas called it “mediocre high school football”), it’s a bold strategy to say the least.
As for my interest, it will be limited. I don’t have time to invest much in either league, nor do I believe there is much reason to do so when the probability of both leagues folding is high. Until they do though, I’ll enjoy the AAF’s San Diego Fleet for as long as possible. Those uniforms are amazing!
Might Brett Rypien end up being a top 3 QB come April? I’m slowly starting to think so.
— Andrew Aziz (@AndrewAzizSB) November 30, 2018
On my board? Yes, it is possible if Haskins and Herbert return to school. Right now I have Rypien fifth, although I haven’t done formal evaluations for any of the quarterbacks yet. Even if he is third, it’s unlikely that spot will receive a high grade from me, given that I don’t think any quarterback in the class will earn a Round 1 grade on my board.
Given the NFL’s lack of interest, I would expect to see Rypien draft on day three, and would be very shocked if he is the third quarterback off the board.
On a scale of 1-10 how much fun do you have watching Taysom Hill?
— Kyle Crabbs (@GrindingTheTape) November 30, 2018
Let me be clear on this, ANY play that either takes the NFL MVP and relegates him to decoy duty, or puts him on the sideline, needs to be thrown into the fiery depths of hell. When you do so for a quarterback who can’t throw the ball? I don’t know man. Ain’t for me.
Which class is deeper: the WR or CB class?
— Jarrodhuff (@JarrodHuff5) November 30, 2018
The WR class for sure, if the underclassmen I expect to declare do so. Cornerback class has a chance to be strong, but is also heavily dependent on underclassmen and not nearly as deep even at its peak.
Small school prospects from Buffalo Tyree Jackson and Anthony Johnson where is there draft stock at in your opinion? Who can help themselves the most through the process?
— Andrew Harbaugh 🐊 (@DHH_Mandrew) November 30, 2018
I get a ton of questions about these two. I don’t think either are great prospects, but I am looking forward to seeing Anthony Johnson in Mobile (hopefully), as I attempt to get a better feel for his athleticism. His Combine performance will be critical as well.
Tyree Jackson needs a complete overhaul of his mechanics, has a super elongated release, is erratic in his pocket movements and can make some very ill-advised decision. If he declares as expected, I believe he’s on line for graduate which would make the Shrine Game a logical destination for him.
Both players are likely day 3 prospects, unless Johnson tests well. I currently have a late Round 3 grade on Johnson, which will move up or down depending on his Combine.
Given that Kyle Shanahan has proven he’s a good schemer & play caller name 3 wr’s that should be available in 2nd round for Sf given that they still need a game changer at that position.
— phillip (@PhillipPhipps) November 30, 2018
It is almost impossible to predict where most of these wide receivers will come off the board because athleticism is the biggest question mark for many of them, but I could see Riley Ridley lasting that long given his lack of high-end production at Georgia (through no fault of his own). His situation and skill set remind me of Michael Thomas.
N’Keal Harry and Kelvin Harmon, if neither run particularly fast, both could land in the early second round range as well. Harry is better after the catch, while Harmon is one of the best contested catch receivers in college football.
(1) Best CB for the @buffalobills if Greedy is gone?
(2) If Bills pick around 12-16 and Greedy and Jonah Williams are gone, who would you take?
(3) Any chance Riley Ridley drops to mid-third round? If not, likely third round WR for Buffalo?
— Eric Hutchins (@emhutchins) November 30, 2018
Obviously my answer will likely change a lot over the coming months, but right now I think Byron Murphy is your answer to 1 and 2. Certainly not the only option in 12-16 range that makes sense for Buffalo, but I think the pick would be perfect for their defense. A lot will depend on what happens in free agency.
I will be floored if Ridley is still on the board in Round 3. He’s a top 50 lock.
Who is the best edge prospect after Bosa?
— #Niners34Raiders3 (@GUEROMEXICAN831) November 30, 2018
His weigh-in will be important, but right now Brian Burns is my EDGE2, and I do believe he will declare for this upcoming draft. His production and tape this season were off the charts good, showing a combination of speed and bend that is typically very successful in the NFL.
Kentucky’s Josh Allen, Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell and Florida’s Jachai Polite are all bunched closely together right after Burns on my board, before a big drop-off to the next edge defender. Combine testing and final formal evaluations will likely separate the four given how close they are.
We’ve heard a lot about the depth and overall talent at the TE position in this draft. Who’s your top 5 TE’s right now and where do you think they will end up being drafted? Does the depth make some of them fall in the draft?
— Davis Smith (@Steelers_Gold) November 30, 2018
My top five tight ends right now are Dawson Knox, Noah Fant, T.J. Hockenson, Kaden Smith and Irv Smith. I also like Jace Sternberger and Isaac Nauta a good bit, while being lower on Albert Okwuegbunam and Caleb Wilson than many others.
Every single one of those tight ends is an underclassman however, and none have declared for the draft yet. My guess is that you see first round interest in the Iowa duo, while Knox, Kaden Smith and Sternberger get attention beginning in Round 2. Irv Smith is totally a preference type of pick, he’s like a big wide receiver who still gives you something as a blocker, but probably isn’t a preferable in-line guy for any NFL team.
How are your top 5 WRs in the upcoming draft?
— 🇱🇨 Stewart 🇺🇸 (@SoLockedIn) November 30, 2018
Right now, it’s D.K. Metcalf, Riley Ridley, Deebo Samuel (seeing him come alive in November moved him back up for me), N’Keal Harry and Kelvin Harmon. DaMarkus Lodge and Marquise Brown likely the next two on the board. That order is fluid as the formal grading process is just getting started. If everyone declares, I might have 12-15 receivers in my top 100.
Which offensive player in the 2019 draft has the best chance to become the cornerstone of a franchise?
— Chris Groh (@KitGroh) November 30, 2018
What a tough question. The quarterbacks are totally dependent on landing spot and development, so I can’t say them. The running back class is bad. Jonah Williams will likely be my highest-ranked offensive player in the class, so either he, Metcalf or Ridley, to answer your question. A couple of the tight ends have shots to be real difference-makers in the NFL too. Lastly, I need to see more of Marquise Brown, because his skill set looked amazing against West Virginia, my first extended look at him.