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INDIANAPOLIS — The 2019 NFL Scouting Combine has come and gone, and now we are in pro day and private workout season in preparation for the NFL Draft. The evaluation process leads all the way up to draft day, but by now we've got a pretty good idea of who the top players are.
Here, I've broken down my top five players per each position group.
- Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
- Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
- Drew Lock, Missouri
- Daniel Jones, Duke
- Will Grier, West Virginia
There's not much debate about who the top few quarterbacks are, especially regarding Murray and Haskins at the top. While Haskins is productive and more of classic pocket passer, he has only one year of starting experience at Ohio State. Meanwhile, Murray has an enormous ceiling as a playmaker, equipped with a rifle of an arm and speed to burn. However, if his playing weight is in the 190-ish range, that could make him susceptible to taking more punishment from big hits.
Lock is an enticing prospect because of his frame and undeniable arm talent. In recent memory, he reminds you a bit of Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford considering what they can do as passers, but also the inconsistent discipline and decision-making. Jones isn't going to pepper the ball all over the field, but he feels like a good fit for teams that rely heavily on the short passing game to setup downfield situations, such as the New England Patriots.
I’ll admit my No. 5 is mostly a tie. I really like Jarrett Stidham (Auburn) and Jordan Ta’amu (Ole Miss) as well as Grier but am still working through the rankings.
- Josh Jacobs, Alabama
- David Montgomery, Iowa State
- Damien Harris, Alabama
- Bryce Love, Stanford
- Miles Sanders, Penn State
Jacobs sits firmly atop my rankings as arguably the most complete, capable back. He's a strong, determined runner who possesses agility, power, vision and catches the ball seamlessly. Although he doesn’t appear to have elite speed, it doesn’t handicap him. Unfortunately, he didn’t see many opportunities as a pass protector, so that’s something he’ll need to prove although it could be something of which he's more than capable.
Both Montgomery and Harris have great builds for the position, carrying adequate power. Montgomery brings a little more agility and finesse while Harris is a cannon (although his movement skills are perfectly fine).
Unfortunately for Love, he suffered a torn ACL in the final game of Stanford's regular season, so he hasn't been 100 percent during this pre-draft process. When healthy, he and Sanders are big-play threats both on the ground and in the passing game.
- D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss
- N’Keal Harry, Arizona State
- Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, Oklahoma
- Hakeem Butler, Iowa State
- A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
I was comfortable with Metcalf as my top receiver before he showed up at the Combine looking like a Madden Create-a-Player. His blend of size, speed and strength is impossible to ignore for a player who actually puts all those attributes together to make plays. He's not just an athletic guy.
Harry and A.J. Brown are both tough players who have outstanding abilities after the catch. Harry is a taller receiver who consistently wins in jump-ball situations, and Brown could be a very productive chain mover from the slot.
Marquise Brown and Butler are two very different players. Brown is a small, explosive receiver like Tyreek Hill, T.Y. Hilton or DeSean Jackson, and Butler is huge at 6-5, 227. He is a dominant mismatch who is the type to have the ball thrown up to and while everyone watches him come down with it.
- Noah Fant, Iowa
- T.J. Hockenson, Iowa
- Irv Smith, Jr., Alabama
- Dawson Knox, Ole Miss
- Alize Mack, Notre Dame
This year has a good blend of tight ends that are effective both as blockers and pass protectors, led by Iowa's duo of Fant and Hockenson. It's a matter of picking your poison when ranking these two. Fant is a better athlete while Hockenson is a better blocker, but both do a good job in both areas.
Smith Jr. is often compared to his predecessor, former Alabama and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard. Smith is a more polished route runner while Howard was a superior overall athlete. Knox was mixed into the fray and often overshadowed among a deep group of Ole Miss pass-catchers featuring Metcalf, Brown and Damarkus Lodge. He brings his own abilities both as a receiver and blocker, however.
Mack has taken a long journey to get here, including rebounding from being declared academically ineligible in 2016. Since then, the versatile pass-catcher caught 55 balls for 526 yards and four touchdowns for an Irish offense that amplifies the run game.
- Jonah Williams, Alabama
- Jawaan Taylor, Florida
- Andre Dillard, Washington State
- Cody Ford, Oklahoma
- Max Scharping, Northern Illinois
This is a versatile group that many think could have futures as either guards or tackles, primarily Williams and Ford. Williams' measurables — particularly his arm length — has some worried about playing tackle, but it did not hinder him at 'Bama. At 6-4 and 329 pounds, Ford is huge, but moves well for a man of his size. He had a year of experience at guard and a year at tackle while at Oklahoma.
Dillard is one of the most athletic offensive linemen and best pass protectors in this draft, leaning on four years of starting experience. Taylor and Scharping are both quality tackles who do a great job of anchoring in against pass rushers as well as mirroring them to keep them out of the quarterback's hair. One thing that stuck out to me was Florida State edge defender Brian Burns' media availability at the Combine when he mentioned that the two most difficult matchups he had in 2018 were against Taylor and Scharping.
INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINE
- Garrett Bradbury, NC State
- Chris Lindstrom, Boston College
- Erik McCoy, Texas A&M
- Elgton Jenkins, Mississippi State
- Michael Deiter, Wisconsin
Bradbury is a very well-balanced center who you can plug and play right away. Both he and Lindstrom should be considered the safest interior linemen in this class. They are stout against the run, driving linemen out of their path, and don't allow pass rushers past their reach.
McCoy and Jenkins both are very sturdy with strong bases and a good ability to drive back defenders. Deiter has a ton of experience, starting all 54 of his career games between left tackle, left guard and center. He's very sharp and has a lot of tools in his belt from starting all over the place.
This entire group of five is actually extremely polished from their experience, all starting for at least three seasons in college. All of them move well despite being bigger interior linemen.
- Nick Bosa, Ohio State
- Josh Allen, Kentucky
- Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
- Rashan Gary, Michigan
- Brian Burns, Florida State
Defensive line, led by the edge rushers, is the deepest unit in the draft. You can find quality players from start to finish in this draft, and it's kicked off with a familiar name in Nick Bosa, the younger brother of 2016 first-round pick, Joey. Nick Bosa is consistently dominant, as he developed into an explosive rusher off the edge who has the bend, flexibility and strength to beat tackles. Allen has the abilities and athleticism to play either off-ball linebacker or strictly edge defender. He gets a great jump off the snap, showing good speed and short-area quickness in pursuit of the backfield.
Ferrell, Gary, Burns are all incredibly effective rushers, and they do it in different ways. Ferrell works great with his upper body to defeat blockers, which happens quite consistently considering how often he finds himself in opposing backfields. He's become more of a technician and wins with some power rather than bend off the edge. Gary is a very explosive athlete, but despite his size, he wins more with speed and athleticism than strength. Burns was a very slender, but speedy prospect before he showed up at the Combine with the added weight that people wanted to see while not losing his speed. If he can keep the weight on, then he'll be a dynamite pass rusher considering his repertoire of pass-rush moves.
INTERIOR DEFENSIVE LINE
- Quinnen Williams, Alabama
- Ed Oliver, Houston
- Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State
- Christian Wilkins, Clemson
- Charles Omenihu, Texas
Williams is an outstanding, explosive interior defensive line prospect. He has no clear red flags and is deserving of being potentially the top defensive prospect taken. Big men who can pressure from the inside are invaluable in today's NFL.
Oliver and Omenihu are a couple of athletic, high-motor defenders who can be moved around to capitalize on matchups. Oliver is a monster of a prospect. He shows an excellent blend of speed, strength and overall explosion. If he can learn to control all those things and become more disciplined then he'll be nearly unstoppable. When watching Omenihu, I see a lot of similarities between him and Colts defensive lineman Denico Autry. Both are long and lean as defensive tackles, but still have the strength and speed to occasionally play as ends.
Somewhat like Williams, Wilkins and Simmons are a couple of three-techniques that are hellacious as pass rushers but are also stout against the run. Wilkins' productivity got more consistent throughout his career which should indicate the best is ahead of him. Simmons, unfortunately, tore an ACL while preparing for draft workouts, which will likely affect his draft stock. He is considered a top-15 prospect on the field.
- Devin White, LSU
- Devin Bush, Michigan
- Mack Wilson, Alabama
- Te’Von Coney, Notre Dame
- David Long, West Virginia
This year's class of linebackers is a tough one to peg. We're used to seeing guys like Tremaine Edmunds, Reuben Foster, Myles Jack, Jaylon Smith, Roquan Smith and Leighton Vander Esch ranked near the top in recent years. Where we currently stand, it doesn't feel like this draft has that.
However, there are a couple of headliners in White and Bush. Both showed off exceptional athleticism at the Combine, basically cementing themselves as the top dogs. However, both need to work on their discipline as linebackers, as missed tackles aren't uncommon sights on film.
Wilson is somewhat similar but he doesn't have White and Bush's physical attributes. Wilson shows off good play speed to roam sideline to sideline and fits that feisty Alabama linebacker mold, but he has a lot of work to do in becoming more consistent and disciplined.
After you get past White, Bush and Wilson, almost everybody questions who the next guys up are. In fact, a popular question among draftniks on Twitter is, who is your LB4? For me, I followed up the top three with Coney and Long. Coney doesn't wow you in any one area but is a very determined player who finds himself around the ball often and is a sure tackler. Some are worried about Long's size at 5-11, 227, but he plays much bigger than that, coming downhill with attitude.
- Deandre Baker, Georgia
- Amani Oruwariye, Penn State
- Byron Murphy, Washington
- Greedy Williams, LSU
- Julian Love, Notre Dame
The trio of Baker, Murphy and Williams usually makes up many people's top corners. Baker and Williams have nice length and attack the ball while Murphy sticks to receivers and is a ball magnet.
Oruwariye also deserves to be included near the top of this group. At 6-2, 205, he has great size and length, but his ability to close in and dislodge receivers from the ball is among the best in this class. He's got plenty of experience in zone coverage like the Colts operate.
Love has the ability to cover the boundary or the slot, and he's one of the most complete corners when you consider coverage abilities inside, out and willingness to mix it up as a tackler. There are valid concerns about athleticism given his size (5-11, 195).
- Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida
- Taylor Rapp, Washington
- Johnathan Abram, Mississippi State
- Nasir Adderley, Delaware
- Deionte Thompson, Alabama
Gardner-Johnson and Rapp are both do-it-all players with plenty of smarts. They can line up all over the secondary and make plays. You can draft and find a role for them without issue. Abram is a thumping strong safety who had questions about athleticism heading into the Combine. He answered that at least to an extent by running a 4.45-second 40-yard dash.
Adderley and Thompson are more center-fielder types who make plays on the ball downfield. Adderley is a little more adept at covering out of the slot while Thompson is more likely to come downhill and lay a hit on you.