We’re well past the deadline for college players to declare for the Draft and into the months of ubiquitous mock drafts and fan speculation. All that awaits now is the actual event. Beginning on Friday, April 25th, the 2019 NFL Draft takes place in Nashville, Tennessee, and decides the future career trajectories of the most talented underclassmen in the country.
Kyler Murray – QB
Generating the most buzz among all the 2019 prospects, Murray has been a sure thing for the first-round pick since January, and after the March Combine, he is widely expected to be the No. 1 overall selection in the 2019 Draft. Murray started his career in college football at Texas A&M and later transferred to play for the Oklahoma Sooners. Named the 2014 Gatorade State Football Player of the Year and the 2018 Associated Press Player of the Year as well as the recipient of the 2018 Heisman Trophy, people are excited about this fresh talent entering the big leagues. Even the Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury has gushed about Murray in several interviews over the past few weeks. Arizona currently has the first pick this year, so all signs point to them snapping up Murray, with Kingsbury having previously said: “I’ve never seen him have a poor outing… I’d take him with the first pick of the Draft if I could.”
However, due to conflicting accounts from the Arizona bosses, there are some fans and outlets that believe the Cardinals displayed fervor for Murray may be a smokescreen to drive up the price of the first pick. The Cardinals have only had Josh Rosen as quarterback for a year, and after drafting him 10th overall, people aren’t entirely convinced they’ll replace him anytime soon.
Nick Bosa – Edge
The other big name in this year’s list of prospects, Nick Bosa was the first pick before Murray stole the spotlight at the March Combine. The younger son of a football dynasty, there’s little doubt that on April 25th, Nick will join his father John and elder brother Joey as a bona fide NFL first-round pick.
Bosa is the best pass rusher available in this draft season and is likely to go at least in the first three rounds, either to the 49ers, the Jets or the Raiders. His talent is recognized enough that you have sites like Oddschecker debating the likelihood that he’ll be the actual first pick on April 25th, if the Cardinals choose not to take Murray after all.
Quinnen Williams – DT
A defensive tackle for the Alabama Crimson Tide, Williams redshirted his first year but chose to relinquish his last two years of eligibility to declare for this year’s Draft. Combining ferocious power and quickness, Quinnen was the most dominant defensive player in college football last season, earning the Outland Trophy and is currently primed and ready for an outstanding professional career. It’s hard to say what team he’ll end up with, the 49ers or Raiders, but it’s almost a certainty that he’ll go in the top three rounds.
Josh Allen – Edge
Speaking of the 49ers and Raiders, both teams have looked at Kentucky’s Josh Allen as a possible first-round pick. A talented edge rusher, Allen won the Chuck Bednarik Award while playing for the Kentucky Wildcats, an award given to the top defensive player in college football. Many thought that Allen would declare for the Draft in 2018 and be a day-two pick, but he chose to return to school, and in the process, he upped his game and added some weight, making him a serious contender on the field.
Ed Oliver – DT
Long seen as a top-10 draft prospect, Houston’s defensive tackle posted some serious numbers at the NFL Combine in March, running the 40-yard dash in 4.71 seconds and the short shuttle in 4.19. He’s a little shorter than your average NFL defensive tackle at 6 ft 2 in, but he makes up for it in sheer athletic ability. Winner of the Outland Trophy, Oliver is a rare talent. However, his lack of size in relation to NFL standards leads some to believe he’s unlikely to go first overall.
Jawaan Taylor – OT
Considered one of the best linemen in the country by the NFL scouts in 2018, Taylor has the mass, length and mobility needed to be a permanent fixture in any offensive line. Most critics agree he needs a bit more development in the technical side of his game, but his improvements made over the previous season show that he has the capacity for growth. He has to be a top-10 pick.
Dwayne Haskins – QB
Recognized as one of the best QBs in this year’s Draft, with the exception of Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray, Haskins threw 50 touchdowns in his first full year as starting quarterback, with only eight interceptions, and became the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in 2018. Most guesses have him going with the Giants as sixth overall, who have expressed interest and hugely represented at his Ohio State Pro Day. Haskins has limited mobility compared to your standard starting quarterback, but he has an explosive arm, and NFL receiver Mohamed Sanu has mentored him from a young age, so he’s not going to be overlooked come April 25th.
Rashan Gary – Edge
Coupling a big frame with excessive agility, the Michigan Wolverines defensive lineman ran a 4.58 in the 40-yard dash and displayed a 38-inch vertical leap at the March Combine, which considering his 6 ft 4 in 280lb frame is off the charts. Some regard his play as a little inconsistent because while he displays all the ingredients of an NFL-standard player, he scored only 10.5 sacks over three seasons. That raised some questions, but his combined size, strength and athleticism is an attraction for coaches who will undoubtedly try to tap his enormous potential.
So, that’s some of the most outstanding prospects to watch for in the 2019 Draft. This year has shaped up to be relatively heavy on the defensive line albeit with a few talented quarterbacks in the showing. Now, this isn’t a mock draft, and the players in this list haven’t ranked because a lot of how the top-five picks turn out appears to be dependent on the Arizona Cardinals and whether they will take Kyler Murray as everyone expects them. Or whether it’s a smokescreen tactic that will force other teams to have to reevaluate their picks on the fly. What we can say with confidence is that none of these players seems likely to miss out on the first-round top-10 pick.
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