I've been in the scouting business for almost 20 years, and I can't tell you how hard it is to properly match a prospect's talents with the best scheme or system for their style of play. That's why drafting has been called an inexact science -- the pieces of the puzzle must fit together perfectly, or the prospect will never live up to expectations.
On the flip side, a perfect marriage between prospect and system can lead to Rookie of the Year awards, Pro Bowl berths and All-Pro selections from the jump. Most importantly, the proper union can help a franchise rise to contender status, with the player emerging as a foundational piece to a championship run.
With that in mind, I decided to review the 2019 NFL Draft and offer up my list of the 10 best fits from draft weekend. Here's my list:
Drafted 15th overall (Round 1) out of Ohio State.Redskins owner Daniel Snyder resisted the temptation to mortgage the farm to grab his QB1 in the top 10. He was rewarded for his patience when Haskins inexplicably fell to him in the middle of the first round, giving the team a classic drop-back passer with outstanding arm talent and an array of throws reminiscent of an MLB pitcher (relying on touch, timing and anticipation) that will test the speed, discipline and reaction skills of opposing defenses. Although it might take him a year or so to settle in as the QB1, Haskins gives the Redskins a long-term answer at the position.
Drafted 35th overall (Round 2) out of Florida. The Jaguars are intent on returning to their run-heavy roots with Taylor coming onboard as an edge blocker. The Florida standout is unquestionably the best run-blocking offensive tackle in the class, and his rugged style perfectly suits the team's "maul-and-mash" scheme.
Drafted 10th overall (Round 1) out of Michigan.Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert have been searching for a sideline-to-sideline playmaker at linebacker since Ryan Shazier's unfortunate spinal injuryderailed his career in 2017. Bush possesses spectacular athleticism and playmaking ability as a run-stopper -- and he's an explosive pass rusher with a knack for getting home on blitzes. With the 5-foot-11, 234-pound linebacker also displaying defensive back-like cover skills in space, the Steelers might've grabbed the ultimate weapon at the position.
Drafted 61st overall (Round 2) out of Washington.So Rapp isn't a workout warrior. It is still undeniable that he is one of the best football players in the 2019 NFL Draft, based on his performance and production between the lines. As a versatile defender with outstanding instincts, awareness and ball skills, Rapp is an impact player with the capacity to create turnovers between the hashes or near the line of scrimmage as a box-area defender with explosive blitzing skills. If he can pick up a few tips from new Rams teammate (and two-time All-Pro safety) Eric Weddle, he could quickly become an all-star performer.
Drafted 73rd overall (Round 3) out of Iowa State. Coach Matt Nagy upgraded the Bears' RB1 position when he snagged Montgomery with a third-round pick. The Iowa State standout is a crafty three-down back with outstanding balance, body control and stop-start quickness. Additionally, Montgomery displays exceptional route-running ability and receiving skills out of the backfield, which makes him a dangerous weapon in a Bears offense that's designed to get the ball into the hands of playmakers in space.
Drafted 46th overall (Round 2) out of LSU. Concerns about Williams' toughness and tackling fueled his draft-day slide into the second round, but the LSU standout could make the skeptics pay with his play in coordinator Steve Wilks' Browns defense. The 6-2, 185-pound ballhawk has the length, athleticism and instincts to be a premier cover corner in the league. If he shows a willingness to get his nose dirty on the perimeter, Williams could emerge as a top-five player at his position in an aggressive scheme that will allow him to be a "see ball, get ball" defender on the island.
Drafted 67th overall (Round 3) out of Baylor. Niners coach Kyle Shanahan will have all kinds of fun scheming up plays for a 6-5, 226-pound athlete with high-end running back and wide receiver skills. Hurd's versatility could make him a matchup nightmare for defenses as he bounces from out wide to the slot to the backfield as an "offensive weapon" for the 49ers. With the big-bodied pass catcher also pegged for a little tight end work, NFC West opponents had better have a plan for dealing with the 49ers' new Swiss Army knife.
Drafted 25th overall (Round 1) out of Oklahoma. The Ravens' radical philosophical change to an option-based offense means a lot of one-on-one coverage on the outside for pass catchers. Measuring 5-9, 166-pounds with speed reported in the sub-4.4-second range, Brown is a game-breaker who has DeSean Jackson-like playmaking ability with the ball in his hands. He could average 20-plus yards per catch as a rookie expected to emerge as Lamar Jackson's No. 1 target in the passing game, particularly on deep throws coming off play-action.
Drafted 21st overall (Round 1) out of Maryland.Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has an intriguing chess piece at his disposal with Savage. The Maryland standout is a dynamic safety with the capacity to align at free safety, strong safety or nickel corner in a base or nickel defense. There are a number of high-powered offenses potentially residing in the NFC North, and the addition of Savage enables the Packers to better match up with some of the slot receivers, tight ends and running backs within the division. Better yet, he gives Green Bay a chance to dictate the terms to the offense with his versatility and overall explosiveness.
Drafted 58th overall (Round 2) out of Central Florida. The marriage between Hill and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is a match made in heaven, based on the defensive tackle's non-stop motor and relentless approach. The 6-3, 308-pounder plays like his hair is on fire on every play, and he promised the grizzled coach that he would bring that same effort to Dallas when he signed a "work ethic contract" prior to the draft. Considering Marinelli's track record with hard-working defensive linemen and Hill's natural talents, the Cowboys might've added an unheralded difference maker to their frontline.