With pro days in the books and the 2019 NFL Draft on tap at the end of this month (April 25-27 in Nashville, Tennessee), here's an updated look at my top five prospects at each position.
The 2019 quarterback class hasn't generated the buzz of last year's group, but there are a number of franchise QB 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 ablaze. Despite only one year of starting experience, the Ohio State standout 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 at 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 "game manager" to be an elite starter 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 the Duke product 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, but is a consistent passer with outstanding accuracy and touch as a dink-and-dunk specialist. The N.C. State star could thrive in a quick-rhythm offense that features explosive playmakers on the perimeter.
The running back position is back en vogue after a few young runners stepped into the spotlight as first-year starters. 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. 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. 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 production and performance are 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, he flashes just enough pop to be a dangerous playmaker with the ball in his hands. Sanders has flown under the radar for most of 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 and an impressive collection of game tape, Sanders is surging up the charts.
The 2019 wide receiver class is loaded with big-bodied pass catchers boasting spectacular ball skills. Marquise Brown is a bit of an outlier, as a slender playmaker with home run potential. The 5-10, 160-pounder is a DeSean Jackson-like deep threat with speed to burn. 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 stock, 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 6-2, 228-pound pass catcher is a physical receiver with an Allen Robinson-like game that could make him a WR1 in some systems. Metcalf is an athletic freak ideally suited to play as a vertical threat in the NFL. He has "wow" speed and acceleration, but lacks polish as a route runner. The big-bodied speed demon could dazzle as a Josh Gordon-like playmaker on the perimeter down the road. Samuel 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. 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. Knox's stock has been on the rise, as he's dazzled as a "workout warrior" during the pre-draft process. The Ole Miss tight end didn't score a touchdown in 2018, but his average of 18.9 yards per catch reflects his potential as a deep-middle threat in the NFL.
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. Little is a five-star talent with the size and athleticism to be a Pro Bowl-caliber edge blocker, but he needs to display more effort and desire to shed the "underachiever" label that's attached to his name.
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 standout displays fantastic 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. Jenkins is a rock-solid interior player with a polished technical game and a no-nonsense on-field demeanor. 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 interior defender with a non-stop motor and a nasty streak. He overwhelms blockers at the point of attack with his explosive quickness and power. 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. Wilkins is arguably the most versatile defensive lineman in the draft, offering 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 could soar up the charts when defensive coaches begin to ponder the possibilities. Lawrence is more than a run-stopping defensive tackle with exceptional size, strength and power. The Clemson nose tackle flashes enough athleticism to be an effective interior rusher capable of aligning over the center or guard in a 3-4 or 4-3 front. The ACL tear Simmons suffered in February 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.
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. Pratt is a converted defensive back (spent his first two college seasons at safety) with the speed, quickness and athleticism to create impact plays as a sideline-to-sideline rover. The N.C. State product is a dynamic blitzer with solid skills in pass coverage.
Dropped out: Josiah Tauaefa, UTSA (previously No. 5).
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. 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. 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. If Williams displayed better toughness and tackling ability on tape, he would be a lock at the No. 1 corner on the board. Ya-Sin is a blue-collar player on the island with a combination of toughness, technique and tackling ability that makes him a great 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. Johnson is the prototypical long, rangy cover corner most defensive coordinators covet. He is capable of snuffing out elite receivers as an aggressive press-man corner, but also displays the athleticism, footwork and instincts to make plays on the ball in zone. As a solid tackler and crafty blitzer, Johnson could be a late riser who garners Day 1 consideration.
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. 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. Savage could be the hidden gem of the group as an A-plus athlete with outstanding speed, quickness and range. He not only displays numbers-to-numbers range as a deep defender, but he's an aggressive run stopper with an enforcer's mentality near the box. 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. Gardner-Johnson is a high-end slot defender with outstanding instincts, awareness and playmaking ability. He excels at making "bang-bang" hits on the perimeter, particularly when he's sitting in zone coverage on heavy passing downs. With Gardner-Johnson also showcasing natural pass-rush skills on a handful of blitzes, he could be the missing link for a couple of teams searching for a difference maker at the nickelback position.