A record haul of underclassmen significantly boosted the talent available to NFL teams in the 2019 draft, with scouts especially excited about bumper crops along the defensive line and defensive backfield, as well as pass-catchers and offensive tackles on the offensive side of the ball.
The focus, as always, will be on the quarterbacks but this year’s class pales in comparison to a 2018 crop that saw five passers earn first round selections – the most this century. The cupboard is even more bare at running back and traditional off-ball linebacker with just one player at each position listed below.
The Big Board is not a mock draft. No attention is paid to team needs. This is simply my personal ranking of the top 50 NFL prospects available for the 2019 NFL Draft.
1. Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State, 6-4, 270, 4.76, junior
2017: 34 tackles, 16 TFL, 8.5 sacks, 1 FF, 2 PD
2018: 14 tackles, 6 TFL for loss, 4 sacks, 1 Fumble recovery, TD (three games)
One shouldn't blame Big Ten tackles or NFL scouts for confusing Nick with his older brother Joey as prior to suffering a core muscular injury that ultimately required surgery and ended his college career, Bosa lived up to his billing as one of the elite players in the country. While perhaps slightly shorter than Joey, Nick offers a similar blend of power, technique, functional athleticism and instincts, making him arguably the safest NFL prospect in the country and a good bet to at least match his older brother’s No. three overall selection two years ago.
2. Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama, 6-3, 295, 4.96, redshirt sophomore
2017: 20 tackles, 6.5 TFL, two sacks
2018: 71 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks, zero forced fumbles, one pass defensed (15 games)
Simply put, Williams was the most dominant player in college football in 2019, exhibiting a combination of raw power and quickness that I haven’t seen from an interior defensive lineman since then-Nebraska star Ndamukong Suh went No. 2 overall (to Detroit) nearly a decade ago. Only the fact that he was held in check against Oklahoma – suggesting that he may struggle to duplicate his dominance against the pass-happy teams in the NFL – keeps Williams out of the top spot.
3. Ed Oliver, DT, Houston, 6-2, 275, 4.82, junior
2017: 73 tackles, 16.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 2 FF
2018: 54 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, one forced fumble two passes defensed (eight games)
While a sideline incident with then-Houston head coach Major Applewhite raised some concerns about Oliver's maturity, there is no denying his talent. His ability to penetrate from the interior makes him a difference-maker against the pass and run, alike - a rarity among interior defensive linemen. Marginal sack statistics (13.5 in 32 games) can be explained by the fact that the undersized Oliver was asked to play nose guard with the Cougars, a role that required his taking on multiple blockers. Ignoring the statistics and instead focusing on the traits, Oliver reminds me of two-time reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald when he too faced questions about his fit at the next level after dominating at Pitt.
4. Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson, 6-4, 260, 4.78, redshirt junior
2017: 66 tackles, 18 TFL, 9.5 sacks, 2 FF, 1 PD
2018: 55 tackles, 20 tackle for loss, 11.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, one TD (15 games)
Bosa, Williams and Oliver have earned most of the buzz (and for good reason), but Ferrell is essentially 1D on my board as the best combination of size, athleticism and consistency. The three-year starter was the most productive player on the country's best defensive line the past two seasons, Though he's only 21 (and won't turn 22 until May), Ferrell already shows impressive strength, ripping free from pass blockers and re-setting the line of scrimmage in the run game to go along with the burst and bend to take the edge.
5. Andraez "Greedy" Williams, CB, LSU, 6-1, 182, 4.50, redshirt soph.
2017: 38 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 10 PD, 6 INTs
2018: 33 tackles, two interceptions, nine pass breakups (11 games)
No program in the country has a more impressive track record when it comes to producing NFL defensive backs than LSU and insiders there suggest that Williams may be the best out of Baton Rouge since Patrick Peterson. I wish Williams was more physical but he offers exceptional length, agility (especially for his size) and ball-skills and has dominated elite competition the past two seasons.
6. Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan, 6-4, 281, 4.67, junior
2017: 58 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 1 FF
2018: 38 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks (nine games)
Gary signed with Michigan as one of the most highly regarded preps in the entire country and lived up to his billing, standing out on a defense loaded with future NFL draft picks since his true freshman season. While perhaps lacking the elite burst and bend off the edge of this year's top pass rushers, Gary can effectively harass the quarterback because of his prototypical blend of size, strength, awareness and refined technique - traits which allow Michigan to slide him up and down the defensive line.
7. Byron Murphy, CB, Washington, 5-11, 192, 4.45, redshirt sophomore
2017: 16 tackles, 3 TFL,10 PD, 1 INT (six games)
2018: 58 tackles, four for loss, 13 pass breakups, four interceptions (14 games)
Boasting an almost unfair combination of agility, ball-skills and physicality that compares favorably to top-drafted cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Denzel Ward the past two years, Murphy ranks as one of the elite prospects of the 2019 draft despite the fact that he reportedly earned just a second round grade from the NFL Advisory Committee. Agile, physical and possessing terrific ball-skills, himself, Murphy has a better chance at becoming the first defensive back off the board than slipping out of the top 32 picks.
8. Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama, 6-5, 301, 5.02, junior
2017: 2.5 sacks allowed in 831 snaps
2018: Zero sacks allowed, helped team average 522 total yards per game (15 games)
Alabama's ability to control the line of scrimmage is the single "biggest" factor in the Crimson Tide's remarkable success since Saban took over the helm. Like his predecessor, Cam Robinson (now the Jaguars' starting left tackle), Williams possesses the blend of length, strength and light feet to remain a blindside protector in the NFL. While not quite as large as Robinson, Williams is a smoother athlete and does not come with the off-field concerns which pushed Robinson just outside of the first round two years ago.
9. Josh Allen, DE/OLB, Kentucky, 6-4, 258, 4.59, senior
2017: 66 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks
2018: 88 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 17 sacks, five forced fumbles (13 games)
Too often overshadowed over his career by the "other" dominant defensive linemen in the SEC, Allen emerged as one of the elite players regardless of position in the power conference as a senior, taking home the conference's Defensive MVP Award, as well as the Bronko Nagurski, Outland Trophy and Lott IMPACT as the nation's top defender. Long and slippery with explosive closing speed, Allen is a threat to wreak havoc on every snap and offers intriguing schematic and positional versatility, ranking as my top overall senior prospect.
10. Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson, 6-3, 300, 5.04, senior
2017: 60 tackles, 9 TFL, 5 sacks, 4 PD
2018: 51 tackles, 14.0 tackle for loss, 5.5 sacks, two passes defensed, one forced fumble (15 games)
Checking in just behind Allen among top seniors, is Wilkins, who in terms of his production, versatility and leadership, Wilkins might just be the most unique player in the 2019 draft. He is a proven difference-maker regardless of where has Clemson lined him up the past three seasons, showing shocking agility and energy (on and off the field) for a man of his size and seeing time at defensive tackle, defensive end and even fullback. Not surprisingly, Clemson coaches rave about Wilkins' selflessness and leadership as he was credited with convincing some of his most gifted former teammates to return this season, helping the Tigers capture their second national title in three seasons. While Wilkins’ initial quickness is his most impressive trait, I'm also intrigued by his awareness, as his 15 career passes defensed is a very high number for a 300 pounder and provide statistical evidence of the awareness and hustle that shows up on tape.
11. Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State, 6-2, 220, 4.59, redshirt soph.
2017: 40 of 57 (70.2%), 565 yards, four TDs, one interception
2018: 373 of 533 (70.0%) 4,853 yards, 50 TDs, eight INTs (14 games)
Haskins only started one season at Ohio State but what a year it was, guiding the Buckeyes to a whipping of rival Michigan and a Rose Bowl championship to send Urban Meyer off in style. Unlike most quarterbacks who starred under Meyer, Haskins is a classic drop-back passer. He shows good accuracy to all levels of the field, plenty of arm strength and poise in pressure situations – which is the single biggest factor why he checks in as my top-rated quarterback for the 2019 NFL draft.
12. Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State, 6-3, 301, 4.98, junior
2017: 60 tackles, 12 TFL, 5 sacks, 2 FF, 1 INT
2018: 63 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, two sacks, four passes defensed, one forced fumble (13 games)
An easy mover with grown-man strength, Simmons would compete for top billing among defensive linemen in most drafts and the fact that he falls just outside of the top 10 is a reflection of this year's extraordinary talent at the position, as well as the fact that he does come with significant enough off-field concerns that he was not invited to the NFL Combine. While that fact is troubling, Simmons has earned positive reviews from Mississippi State coaches and his talent is obvious, comparing favorably to former MSU star interior defensive linemen Fletcher Cox (Philadelphia) and Chris Jones (Kansas City), who have since emerged as two of the best in the NFL.
13. Deionte Thompson, FS, Alabama, 6-1, 193, 4.45, redshirt junior
2017: 25 tackles, 1.0 TFL. 1 INT
2018: 78 tackles, 3.5 for loss, six PBUs, three forced fumbles, two INTs (14 games)
The Alabama pipeline to the NFL is going strong as ever with Thompson, who emerged as one of the elite prospects in all of college football in 2018. Thompson possesses all of the traits scouts look for in a modern day safety, including the range to cover sideline to sideline, the ball-skills to punish quarterbacks who challenge them and reliable open-field tackling.
14. Montez Sweat, DE/OLB, Mississippi State, 6-6, 252, 4.78, senior
2017: 48 tackles, 15.5 TFL, 10.5 sacks
2018: 53 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, one forced fumble (13 games)
With his rare length and massive 84.5” wingspan, Sweat casts an imposing shadow off the edge, terrorizing quarterbacks in the SEC and Big Ten, alike, over his career. Teams will want to investigate what led to Sweat's transfer from Michigan State, which might be why he opted to compete at the Senior Bowl despite a dominant career in which 23.5 of his 30.5 career tackles for loss went for sacks. He was my top-rated prospect entering the week of practice in Mobile and only confirmed his top 15 standing with his performance there.
15. Devin White, ILB, LSU, 6-0, 240, 4.64, junior
2017: 133 tackles, 13.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 1 INT
2018: 123 tackles, 12 for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles, six passes defensed (12 games)
White rivaled top 10 pick Roquan Smith (Chicago) as the top linebacker in the country last season and, not surprisingly, took the mantle as the Butkus Award winner in 2018. A battering ram with impressive closing speed and excellent strength to wrestle ball-carriers to the ground, White worked hard to prove that he is a full-service linebacker, recording a career-high six passes defensed in 2018. He struggled with leaving early for the NFL, waiting until the deadline to announce his plans and penning a long, emotional letter to the LSU faithful, showing the passion and competitiveness that will make him an NFL star.
16. D.K. Metcalf, WR, Mississippi, 6-3, 230, 4.55 (est.), redshirt sophomore
2017: 39 catches, 646 yards (16.6), seven touchdowns
2018: 26 catches, 569 yards (21.9), five touchdowns (seven games)
In terms of upside, Metcalf is the most intriguing receiver in the 2019 NFL draft, boasting a prototypical combination of size, speed and leaping ability to project as a legitimate No. 1 target at the next level. Teams have gambled and lost big on injury-prone receivers in the first round in recent years and, unfortunately, Metcalf comes with medical concerns of his own, including the neck surgery which limited him to just seven games in 2018. Potentially easing concerns about his durability is the fact that Metcalf has rich NFL bloodlines with his grandfather (Terry), father (Terrence) and uncle (Eric) all enjoying long NFL careers. When healthy, Metcalf flashes Josh Gordon-like ability to take over games.
17. Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia, 5-11, 180, 4.49, redshirt junior
2017: 44 tackles, 1 TFL, 9 PD, 3 INTs
2018: 40 tackles, two tackles for loss, two interceptions, nine passes defensed (12 games)
Georgia's front seven earned much of the credit on defense for the Bulldogs' SEC crown a season ago but Baker got his due in 2018, taking home the Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back in part due to his instincts, physicality and penchant for making big plays against top opponents. Baker isn't the biggest or fastest but the third-year starter has been forged by fire, showing the mental and physical toughness to succeed in coverage and run support in the NFL.
18. T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa, 6-4, 250, 4.77, redshirt sophomore
2017: 24 catches, 320 yards (13.3), three touchdowns (10 games)
2018: 49 catches, 760 yards (15.5), six touchdowns, one rush, four yards, one touchdown (13 games)
Statistic-based analysts probably will not be as high on Hockenson as I am but that is because he and fellow Iowa pass-catcher Noah Fant split production in 2018 with neither generating the kind of numbers to earn lavish praise. Hockenson, in fact, opted to leave two years early for the NFL with just nine career touchdowns. His frame, soft hands and stellar blocking, however, suggest that he could follow in the footsteps of another former Iowa tight end – George Kittle – in saving his best play for the pro level.
19. Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma, 5-10, 195, 4.42, redshirt junior
2017: 18 of 21 (85.7%), 359 yards, three TDs, zero interceptions (seven games)
2018: 260 of 377 (69%), 4,361 yards, 42 touchdowns, seven interceptions (14 games)
It is hard to discuss Murray and not venture into hyperbole. What he has already accomplished – winning the Heisman Trophy in his only season as a starting quarterback and being selected No. 9 overall in the 2018 Major League Baseball – already suggest that he is among the world’s best all-around athletes. Projecting him to the NFL as a franchise passer is more difficult, especially given his size. But make no mistake, besides a combination of elusiveness and speed similar to what Lamar Jackson offered a year ago, Murray also flashes rare accuracy.
20. Greg Little, OT, Mississippi, 6-5, 325, 5.23, junior
2017: Started 12/12 at LT, Second Team SEC
2018: Four sacks allowed, helping team average 510 yards per game (12 games)
Little is anything but at a rock-solid 6-5, 325 pounds and possesses all of the other traits scouts are looking for in a potential left tackle -- including light feet, balance, long arms and core strength. He is considerably less polished than Alabama's Williams (8th on my board), but that isn't surprising given that he has just two seasons as a full-time starter. While still a work in progress, Little's bulk gives his future NFL team the option to slide him inside early in his career to help him acclimate, just as the Miami Dolphins did with his predecessor, Laremy Tunsil.
21. Dexter Lawrence, NG, Clemson, 6-3, 340, 5.27, junior
2017: 33 tackles, 2.5 TFL, two sacks, 1 FF
2018: 36 tackles, seven tackle for loss, 1.5 sacks, three passes broken up (13 games)
Given how the quick passing game has taken over the NFL, traditional run-stuffers like Lawrence do not hold the same value they once did. The NFL remains a big man's game, however, and few boast Lawrence's combination of size, power and athleticism. If there are no other skeletons in his closet, I do not anticipate Lawrence's draft stock being significantly affected by his surprising and well-documented positive test for a performance-enhancing substance (Ostarine) which got him suspended for Clemson's title run.
22. Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama, 5-09, 216, 4.49, junior
2017: 46 attempts for 284 yards (6.2 ypc average), one TD; 14 catches for 168 yards, two TDs
2018: 120 attempts for 640 yards (5.3 ypc average), 11 TDs; 20 catches for 247 yards, three TDs
An explosive, powerful back with a wicked jump-cut and terrific burst, Jacobs is the only runner to crack my top 32 Big Board, earning this distinction despite the fact that he served as a backup virtually his entire college career. Jacobs epitomizes the expression “running angry,” seemingly seeking out contact. He enters the NFL with just 299 combined touches over his career, suggesting that there is plenty of tread left on his tires despite leaving some prints on the chests of would-be tacklers the past three seasons.
23. Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware, 6-0, 195, 4.50, senior
2017: 78 tackles, eight eight passes broken up, five interceptions (11 games)
2018: 87 tackles, seven passes broken up, five interceptions, one forced fumble (12 games)
Having scouted the Senior Bowl since 2001, I’ve learned patience when evaluating so-called small school prospects until getting a chance to evaluate them against elite competition. Often, non-FBS prospects struggle early with the jump in talent with some of the best showing signs of acclimating as the week goes on. It is rare that a small school prospect shines the way Adderley did this winter on the big stage, showcasing the range, instincts and ball-skills to project as an immediate starter at free safety, living up to the standard set forth by his cousin, Herb Adderley, a Hall of Fame cornerback for the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys in the 1960s.
24. N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State, 6-3, 216. 4.52, junior
2017: 82 catches, 1,142 yards (13.9), 8 TDs
2018: 73 catches, 1,088 yards (14.9), nine TDs (12 games)
Harry was a dominant force from the moment he joined the Sun Devils, beating up on smaller cornerbacks with his exciting blend of size, body control and sticky hands. Perhaps due to how he was used early in his career, Harry developed a reputation as more of a possession receiver than a true, all-around No. 1 type. In 2018, however, Harry showed improved agility to make defenders miss in tight quarters, including on a dazzling punt return against Southern California that showed off his underrated agility and speed.
25. Taylor Rapp, SS, Washington, 6-0, 212, 4.59, junior
2017: 59 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 FF
2018: 58 tackles, five tackles for loss, four sacks, three fumble recoveries, two interceptions (13 games)
Given all of its physical and mental requirements, safety is one of the most difficult positions to evaluate. Rapp, however, excels in two areas absolutely critical to success in the NFL at this position: producing turnovers and tackling in the open field. In a draft blessed with a lot of talented of defensive backs, Rapp might offer the highest floor.
26. Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida, 6-5, 330, 5.35, junior
2017: Started 11 of 11 games (first nine at right tackle, last two at left tackle)
2018: Three sacks allowed, helped the Gators average 426.7 yards per game (13 games)
Teams looking for a dominant run blocking right tackle will certainly be intrigued by the massive Taylor, a three-year starter with experience playing both sides. Taylor is surprisingly light on his feet for his size and uses his long arms to push rushers out wide. And in the running game, he’s a monster, simply bulldozing opponents, at times, to create easy rushing lanes.
27. Jerry Tillery, DL, Notre Dame, 6-6, 305, 5.02, senior
2017: 56 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks
2018: 28 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks (11 games)
As physically imposing as it gets in a dominant class for defensive linemen, this long-armed Louisiana native wins with a combination of size, power and tenacity similar to former Notre Dame (and current Pittsburgh Steelers) standout Stephon Tuitt. Tillery was invited to the Senior Bowl but was unable to participate there due to injury. As long as he’s given a clean bill of health at the Combine, Tillery’s incredible size and power is certain to draw the interest of traditional 4-3 and 3-4 disciples, alike.
28. A.J. Brown, WR, Mississippi, 6-1, 225, 4.50, junior
2017: 75 catches, 1,252 yards (16.7), 11 TDs
2018: 85 catches, 1,320 yards (15.5), six TDs (12 games)
While speed is the trait most look for at wide receiver, I'm also a big believer in competitiveness, which has helped some NFL receivers who perhaps didn't run so well for the stop-watch still enjoy plenty of success in the NFL. This is where Brown (like Keenan Allen and Anquan Boldin before him) excels, using his frame and physicality to badger smaller cornerbacks to get open or when generating yards after the catch.
29. Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State, 6-5, 305, 5.10, senior
2017: Started 12 of 12 games (all at right tackle) with just three QB pressures, zero sacks allowed.
2018: Started 12 of 12 games (all at right tackle) with just two QB pressures, zero sacks allowed.
Along with Adderley (ranked 23rd) no player on my top 32 board boosted his stock more at the Senior Bowl than Risner, who may well have been the most consistent performer in Mobile this year. Quick and alert enough to project as a starting interior lineman should his future NFL team need it, Risner starred at right tackle in Mobile, schooling the best edge rushers the game had to offer (including Sweat) with a combination of length (34 ¼” arms), agility, strength, technique and sheer intensity that suggests he is capable of a long and established NFL career.
30. Drew Lock, QB, Missouri, 6-4, 223, 4.89, senior
2017: 242 of 419 (57.8%), 3,964 yards, 44 TDs, 13 INTs
2018: 275 of 437 (62.9%), 3,498 yards, 28 TDs, eight INTs (13 games)
Lock set an SEC-record with 44 passing touchdowns (against 13 interceptions) as a junior and some panicked when his scoring strikes slipped as a senior (28), despite the fact that his interceptions also dropped to just eight. When he feels comfortable in the pocket, Lock's accuracy and competitive fire is undeniable, though his play can get frenetic when he's taken some hits. It is a skill-set that reminds me a bit of current Oakland Raiders' standout Derek Carr, keeping Lock as my top-rated senior quarterback all year long.
31. Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma, 6-3, 338, 5.30, redshirt junior
2017: Started four of 12 games after starting first three games (all at LG) in 2016 prior to breaking leg
2018: Started 14 of 14 games (all at right tackle), allowing six pressures and no sacks
Ford started all 14 games at right tackle for the Sooners, pairing with fellow top 64 talent Dru Samia at guard to give the Sooners arguably the best right side in college football. Scouts are eager to see how Ford measures up as his below-average listed height suggests he might be best served moving back inside to guard, where he started in 2016-17. Regardless of where NFL teams feel he fits best for them, Ford’s rare combination of agility and power deserve first round consideration.
32. Amani Hooker, S, Iowa, 5-11, 210, 4.58, junior
2017: 56 tackles, two passes defensed, two interceptions, one touchdown (11 games)
2018: 65 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack, seven passes defensed, four interceptions (13 games)
One could make an argument for Duke quarterback Daniel Jones or even fellow Hawkeyes stars Fant or Anthony Nelson for this spot and it is quite possible they earn first round selections in the 2019 draft. Frankly, they were not as consistent in 2019 as Hooker, who emerged from the shadows to earn Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year accolades, showing not only the ball-skills that have helped his former teammates Desmond King and Josh Jackson succeed in the NFL but breath-taking closing speed as a slashing open-field tackler, as well.
Best of the Rest
Noah Fant, TE, Iowa, 6-4, 241, 4.60
Daniel Jones, QB, Duke, 6-5, 220, 4.68
Joe Jackson, DE, Miami, 6-5, 265, 4.83
Charles Omenihu, DE, Texas, 6-6, 274, 4.86
Jachai Polite, OLB/DE, Florida, 6-2, 242, 4.62
Devin Bush, OLB, Michigan, 5-11, 233, 4.67
Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State, 6-2, 286, 4.96
Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma, 5-10, 168, 4.34
Brian Burns, OLB/DE, Florida State, 6-4, 240, 4.65
Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington, 6-7, 321, 5.27
Amani Oruwariye, CB, Penn State, 6-2, 204, 4.55
Mack Wilson, ILB, Alabama, 6-1, 239, 4.73
Lonnie Johnson, Jr., CB, Kentucky, 6-2, 210, 4.55
Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State, 6-0, 208, 4.39
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, DB, Florida, 6-0, 203, 4.55
Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State, 6-5, 310, 5.10
Kendall Sheffield, CB, Ohio State, 5-11, 190, 4.35
Trysten Hill, DT, Central Florida, 6-1, 315, 5.10