Keeping track of 300+ prospects simultaneously during the college football season isn’t easy. As a result, we as analysts at times are chasing our tails trying to see enough of everyone to stay in the know. But now? With the regular season finished, we can confidently address the class. What better time than now to address the latest 2019 NFL Draft risers and fallers?
Each month I try to update my positional rankings here at the Draft Network. Here are three risers…and three fallers from my efforts to get fully caught up with the eligible talent for this upcoming NFL Draft.
Riser – CB Byron Murphy (CB#1)
Oh, my goodness. Byron Murphy is one of the most explosive prospects I’ve been able to study in this point in the season. His short area quickness, foot speed and route recognition skills are elite.
At this juncture, I consider Murphy to be the #1 eligible cornerback prospect for 2019. Go back to his games against Washington State and Penn State from last season and then watch him against Oregon, Utah and Stanford this season. He’s an absolute joy to watch, particularly in zone coverage when he’s able to squat and key the quarterback in the backfield.
LSU’s Greedy Williams is currently the top cornerback prospect to have declared for the 2019 NFL Draft, but in my eyes he’s keeping the seat warm for Murphy, should the redshirt sophomore decide he wants to join in on the fun.
Faller – QB Drew Lock (QB#7)
For the first time in his college career, Drew Lock has completed over 60% of his passes this season. But let this be your annual reminder that the box score lies to you. Lock has thrown 8 interceptions this season, which is also a career low…but…again…the box score lies to you.
He’s been frozen under pressure this season, a disappointing development for a passer with the kind of big time arm that can make your mouth water.
Lock will have his advocates, but I will not be one of them. He’s got the unteachable physical tools, but I’m terrified at what we’re getting from a poise, composure and decision making perspective.
Riser – WR Hollywood Brown (WR#5)
Wow. When I watched Hollywood tear through the Mountaineer secondary in person just a few weeks ago, I was completely sold. No, his encore performance against Texas wasn’t the kind of dominating performance that he’d shown before, but that’s okay.
Brown’s pure speed is a legitimate weapon, especially when considering that he’s capable of using it in change of direction situations. Brown runs a number of really pretty routes and he tracks the ball vertically as well.
Brown isn’t a player without warts, but his elite speed and vertical receiving skills will make him a coveted weapon when his time comes to make the leap.
Faller – DL Jerry Tillery (Not Ranked)
Tillery was a riser in the early portions of the season, but the more I watched the more I came back down to earth on his game. I like Tillery. I think he’d be a fine pick on the back half of Day 2…perhaps a bit earlier depending on the scheme in question.
But Tillery is very up and down on film…fittingly just like his pad level. Tillery makes second effort splash plays and has shown the ability to play through contact in stretches, but he’s not overly nimble and his initial counters of blocks leave something to be desired.
Add in Tillery’s variance vs. his first three seasons with the Irish? There’s more questions than answers here for me to be on board with a top-25 selection.
Riser – LB Devin Bush (LB#4)
I can’t help but tip my cap to Bush, who has answered the questions I had entering the season regarding his ability to read his keys and how he attacks blocks. Bush has been notably better at both this season.
Bush has embraced his physical explosiveness as a weapon to stun blockers. He’s never going to be the type to throw his hands and extend/press guys off his frame. But that’s okay, given his elite speed to scrape overtop of challenges.
Bush has been one of the leaders of a top shelf defense (excluding their performance against Ohio State, of course). And a little birdie told me that more than one team considers Bush to be a “special” player. Bush is tailor made for today’s NFL game, played in space.
Faller – EDGE Montez Sweat (EDGE#7)
It’s not that I dislike Sweat, who I still have scored as a top-5o caliber prospect. But entering the season, Sweat was openly considered a top 3-4 EDGE eligible for 2019. Thanks to the emergence of Jachai Polite and the advancement of Josh Allen? That’s a hard sell for me.
Instead, Sweat projects as a quality edge defender with an explosive first step. But he’s lacking in the bend and cornering skills to make him a potent pass rusher. And in a loaded EDGE class, that’s a recipe for a slide down the rankings.
Sweat will be a player I’m closely monitoring for his athletic testing at the NFL Combine. He’ll have a chance to make some of that money back if he shows he’s got athletic potential moving laterally.