With the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine in the rearview and the draft on the horizon, here's an updated look at my top five prospects at each position.
The 2019 quarterback class hasn't generated the buzz of the last year's star-studded group, but there are indeed franchise-quarterback candidates and future starters available. Haskins is a five-star player with the arm talent, IQ and pocket-passing skills to set the NFL world on fire. Despite only one year of starting experience at Ohio State, the Heisman Trophy finalist flashes the maturity to be a QB1 from Day 1. Murray is an electric playmaker with A+ arm talent and athleticism. He dazzles as a runner, but is quite adept delivering darts from the pocket. If teams can get comfortable with his sub-standard physical dimensions (5-foot-10, 207 pounds), they could fall in love with the Russell Wilson-like playmaker from Oklahoma. Lock is an ultra-talented passer with a high-level basketball background that's shaped his athleticism and movement skills. He capably makes every throw in the book to any area of the field, but needs to learn how to play as a "manager" to flourish in the league. Jones checks off most of the boxes as a QB1: He's a big, athletic playmaker with a high IQ and nimble feet. Although Jones doesn't possess the arm talent of the aforementioned signal-callers, he spins the ball fine and has a feel for connecting the dots as a passer. Finley lacks high-end arm talent, as well, but is a consistent passer with outstanding accuracy and touch as a dink-and-dunk specialist. The N.C. State product could thrive in a quick-rhythm offense that features explosive playmakers on the perimeter.
The running back position is back en vogue after a series of rookie rushers provided major returns in recent seasons. The 2019 class lacks bona fide star power, but there are plenty of potential starters dotting this list. Jacobs is the leader of the pack, as a dynamic runner with Alvin Kamara-like explosiveness. Despite the Alabama product's limited resume, NFL scouts are smitten with his potential as a shifty runner with a running style that delicately mixes power with finesse. Harris isn't flashy, but he's a dependable workhorse capable of grinding out the tough yards between the tackles. He lacks elite traits in any area, but his solid game is intriguing for a team in need of an RB2. Singletary displays impressive stop-start quickness and wiggle as an inside runner. Although he lacks the top-end speed to take it the distance, Singletary flashes just enough pop to be a dangerous playmaker with the ball in his hands. Montgomery is a solid multi-purpose back with a blue-collar running style and soft hands. Scouts fret over his heavy workload as a collegian, but his polished skills could make him a Day 1 starter for a number of teams. Sanders flew under the radar early in the pre-draft process, but a strong performance at the NFL Scouting Combine has created a buzz about his potential as an RB1. With 1,200-plus rushing yards last season and an impressive collection of game tape, Sanders is surging up the charts.
This group's loaded with big-bodied pass catchers possessing spectacular ball skills. That said, Marquise Brown is a bit of an outlier, as a slender playmaker with home run potential. The 5-9, 166-pounder is a DeSean Jackson-like deep threat with speed to burn. Metcalf created quite the buzz in Indianapolis with his spectacular 40 time (4.33), but the 6-3, 228-pounder is a really a straight-line playmaker ideally suited to produce explosive plays on vertical routes. Despite his limitations as a route runner, the Ole Miss product has blue-chip potential as a designated big-play threat on the perimeter. A.J. Brown is a rugged pass catcher with outstanding hands and ball skills. He routinely plucks the ball off the heads of defenders on vertical routes down the boundary. Questions about his speed might depress his draft stock somewhat, but the Ole Miss standout looks like a natural WR1 with the size and strength to dominate smallish corners. Harry's strong performance at the combine silenced the naysayers questioning his speed. The 6-foot-2, 228-pounder possesses an Allen Robinson-like game that could make him a WR1 in some systems. Campbell is a catch-and-run specialist with exceptional stop-start quickness and playmaking potential. He could blossom into a high-end utility player in an offense that fully maximizes his versatility as a receiver/runner/returner.
More and more teams are turning to the "Y" position (traditional inline tight end) to create mismatches in the passing game. The 2019 draft class features a number of "Y" tight ends, but scouts could also find a difference maker at the "H" position (pass-catching, moveable tight end). Hockenson is a throwback player with the size, strength and power to overwhelm defenders in the running game while also dazzling as a pass catcher down the seams. He is a traditional tight end prospect who evokes images of Mark Bavaro in his prime. Fant is an explosive athlete with the size and length to create mismatches on the perimeter. The 6-4, 245-pounder plays like a jumbo wide receiver, but needs to show a little more nastiness in the running game as a blocker to be a "Y" in most offenses. Smith is a flex tight end with the size, speed and athleticism to create mismatches on the perimeter. Defensive coordinators could have a tough time finding a capable defender to match up with him on the perimeter. Sternberger has the most impressive resume in this group, as a vertical playmaker who averaged 17.3 yards per catch and scored 10 touchdowns last season. He is an ideal flex tight end with the potential to torment opponents as a polished route runner from the slot or out wide. Wilson is more than a workout warrior. The UCLA standout is a threat between the hashes as a seam runner and post-up specialist in the middle of the field.
The offensive tackle position remains one of the marquee spots on the roster, with the league being so pass-happy these days. This group offers a lot of options at the top of the board, with playing-style preferences likely changing the pecking order in draft rooms around the league. Taylor is a people-mover with excellent strength, power and athleticism. He is capable of climbing to the second level on combo blocks and uses that same athleticism to snuff out pass rushers on the edge. Dillard is arguably the best pass protector in the class, with quick feet and a refined game. He neutralizes pass rushers with a variety of quick-set maneuvers and kick-slide techniques that are advanced for this stage of his career. Although he needs some work as a run blocker, Dillard's strengths in pass protection could vault him up the charts. Williams is a technician with the combination of balance, body control and hand skills to emerge as a perennial Pro Bowler on the edge. He moves defenders off the ball in the running game while also flashing the athleticism and strength to build a wall around the quarterback in pass protection. Ford's versatility and toughness could make him a value pick as a swing-tackle prospect or as an offensive guard in some systems. McGary is a blue-collar edge blocker with the length to shut down elite rushers attacking off the corner.
Interior blockers are frequently treated like second-class citizens in the draft process, but Quenton Nelson's substantial impact in Indianapolis has teams looking for dominant interior blockers in the 2019 class. Bradbury is the belle of the ball as a high-IQ player with outstanding blocking skills. The N.C. State star displays excellent movement skills climbing to the second level, but also flashes enough pop to move defenders off the ball. As an excellent communicator, he makes all of the checks and adjustments at the line. McCoy's combination of strength, power, balance and body control separates him from many others at the position. He can hold his ground and anchor against power players while also displaying enough athleticism to climb to the second level. Lindstrom is a "hard hat and lunch pail" type with a rock-solid game and rugged demeanor. He is arguably one of the most athletic linemen in the draft, exhibiting outstanding quickness and lateral movement skills.
Disruptive defensive tackles are coveted at a premium in the league, and this draft class is stocked with interior defenders boasting outstanding run-stopping skills and pass-rushing ability. Williams is the crown jewel of the class as a big, athletic DT with a non-stop motor and a nasty streak. He overwhelms blockers at the point of attack with his explosive quickness and power. Wilkins is arguably the most versatile defensive lineman in the draft, possessing a set of skills that enable him to align anywhere from nose tackle to defensive end in a 4-3 defense. With his versatility and athleticism at 300-plus pounds, the Clemson standout should soar up the charts when defensive coaches begin to ponder the possibilities. Simmons' recent ACL tear clearly diminishes his draft stock, but astute coaches will keep his disruptive game in mind and focus on how he could impact a unit when he returns from his injury. Oliver's first-step quickness and overall explosiveness make him a disruptive force at the point of attack. Injuries impacted his production in 2018, but a peek at his 2017 film reveals a destructive player with outstanding pass-rush skills as an interior defender.
This draft class features a number of quarterback hunters with the right combination of athleticism, strength and skill to become double-digit-sack producers early in their respective careers. Bosa is ahead of the game as a refined rusher with a diverse repertoire of moves. The Ohio State star can win with finesse or power while exhibiting exceptional hand-to-hand combat skills on the way to the quarterback. Allen is a cheetah off the edge with outstanding first-step quickness and an explosive closing burst. He can turn the corner on dip-and-rip maneuvers that showcase his exceptional balance and body control. Gary is a freak athlete with enough versatility to play inside or outside on the line. Although he's a better athlete than player at this point, the Michigan standout is a top-five talent with Pro Bowl potential. Sweat continues to rise up the charts as he checks off boxes as a dynamic player with polished pass-rush skills and A-level athleticism. With his length and non-stop motor, he could blossom into an annual 10-sack guy off the edge. Ferrell is an explosive edge rusher with cat-like quickness off the snap. He is a bit of a straight-line rusher, but his energy and effort make up for his inability to consistently turn the corner while pursuing the quarterback.
As the NFL becomes more of a passing league, inside linebackers must be able to hit, run and cover to stay on the field. The incoming class offers a handful of athletic playmakers with the speed, quickness and versatility to occupy key roles in the middle of the field. White is an A+ athlete with exceptional instincts and awareness. He flows to the ball quickly as a sideline-to-sideline pursuer, exhibiting a non-stop motor and relentless competitive spirit. With the LSU standout also looking like a heat-seeking missile on blitzes, coaches and scouts could view him as the No. 1 overall player in the draft by the end of the process. Bush is a little undersized, but he's a terrific playmaker as a sideline-to-sideline chaser. He displays outstanding instincts and awareness, and flashes an electric closing burst getting to the ball. The Michigan product is a natural leader with an alpha-dog persona that shows in his play. Scouts are split on Wilson's potential as an inside linebacker. Despite having a solid resume, questions persist about his playmaking and leadership skills. Tauaefa has flown under the radar for most of the season, but he's a tackling machine with outstanding instincts and awareness.
The cornerback position is still held in high regard by team builders across the NFL, due to the impact of a shutdown corner on the roster. Now, the 2019 draft doesn't necessarily present a high-end lockdown guy, but there are plenty of prospects with Day 1-starter potential. Williams is a long, rangy press corner with outstanding ball skills. He is at his best challenging receivers at the line, but displays enough awareness to play effectively in zone coverage. Speed might be a question, but his natural instincts and playmaking ability should make him a solid starter in any system. Murphy is a feisty cover corner with a well-rounded game. He's capable of playing nose-to-nose in man coverage or sitting back and reading route concepts as a zone defender. With the Washington star also showing solid tackling skills on the perimeter, a late rise up the charts is possible before draft day. Ya-Sin is a blue-collar player on the island with a combination of toughness, technique and tackling ability that makes an ideal fit in any defense. Plus, he brings some versatility as a potential slot defender in sub-packages. Baker is a natural playmaker with the IQ and ball skills to flourish in a zone-based system. He lacks the speed and explosiveness to thrive as a CB1 in a man-heavy scheme. Mullen is a junkyard dog on the island with an aggressive game that's ideally suited for teams employing a lot of press coverage. He consistently knocks receivers around at the line and maintains good positioning throughout the route. As a solid tackler with a bit of a nasty streak, Mullen is the kind of player most defensive coordinators covet on the perimeter.
This group is well-stocked with high-IQ playmakers bringing instincts and ball skills. Abram is a heavy hitter with a knack for getting to the ball. He is an enforcer between the hashes, but exhibits the requisite ball skills and instincts to play in the deep middle, as well. With Abram also flashing blitzing ability and run-stopping skills as a box defender, he is an intriguing puzzle piece to add to a defense. Adderley is a natural ballhawk with cornerback-like cover skills. He can check wide receivers and tight ends in the slot or man the deep middle as a pure center fielder in a single-high-safety defense. Although his size is a bit of a concern in run defense, the Delaware star shows enough courage and toughness to be a dependable player in the box. Rapp is a high-IQ deep defender with excellent anticipation, awareness and instincts. He has a knack for getting around the football, which leads to a number of interceptions and deflections in the middle of the field. Thompson has been a productive player for the Crimson Tide, but questions about his speed and overall athleticism ding his draft stock.