The College Football season is past its halfway point. That means my first official Big Board has been completed. It’s early; I get that. Fluctuation is bound to happen as more games are played, and more tape is watched. After all, many players featured on this list I’ve only scratched the surface on watching, and twists and turns are inevitable. However, what’s the fun in waiting until April for more draft content? Let’s get down to it.
*Not ranked due to injury or declaration uncertainty
- D.K Metcalf WR Ole Miss
- Kristian Fulton CB LSU
- Rodney Anderson RB Oklahoma
1st Round Grades-
- Quinnen Williams DL Alabama
- Ed Oliver DL Houston
- Nick Bosa EDGE Ohio St.
- Deionte Thompson S Alabama
- Jonah Williams OT Alabama
- Greedy Williams CB LSU
- Jeffery Simmons DL Mississippi St.
- Mack Wilson LB Alabama
- Jachai Polite EDGE Florida
- Brian Burns EDGE Florida St.
- Montez Sweat EDGE Mississippi St.
- Raekwon Davis DL Alabama
- N’Keal Harry WR Arizona St.
- Byron Murphy CB Washington
- Tyler Biadasz OL Wisconsin
- Kris Boyd CB Texas
- Gerald Willis DL Miami
- Elgton Jenkins OL Mississippi St.
- Noah Fant TE Iowa
- Deebo Samuel WR South Carolina
- Damien Harris RB Alabama
2nd Round Grades-
- Devin Bush LB Michigan
- Hakeem Butler WR Iowa St.
- Rashan Gary DL Michigan
- Antonio Gandy-Golden WR Liberty
- Vosean Joseph LB Florida
- Rock Ya-Sin CB Temple
- Marquise “Hollywood” Brown WR Oklahoma
- Julian Love CB Notre Dame
- Devin White LB LSU
- Jaquan Johnson FS Miami
- Khaleke Hudson LB/S Michigan
- David Montgomery RB Iowa St.
- Irv Smith Jr. TE Alabama
- Justin Herbert QB Oregon
- Easton Stick QB North Dakota St.
- Riley Ridley WR Georgia
- Deandre Baker CB Georgia
- T.J Hockenson TE Iowa
- Kelvin Harmon WR North Carolina St.
- Zack Moss RB Utah
- Yodny Cajuste OT West Virginia
- Derrick Brown DL Auburn
- Denzel Mims WR Baylor
- Myles Bryant CB Washington
- Michael Dieter OL Wisconsin
- Chase Winovich EDGE Michigan
- Elijah Holyfield RB Georgia
- Christian Wilkins DL Clemson
- Dexter Lawrence DL Clemson
*Just Missed the Cut-
-Dwayne Haskins QB Ohio St., Daniel Jones QB Duke, Trayveon Williams RB Texas A&M, Miles Sanders RB Penn St., Justice Hill RB Oklahoma St., Karan Higdon RB Michigan, A.J Brown WR Ole Miss, Collin Johnson WR Texas, Tyler Johnson WR Maryland, DaMarkus Lodge WR Ole Miss, Albert Okwuegbunam TE Missouri, Jerry Tillery DL Notre Dame, Isaiah Buggs DL Alabama, Dre’Mont Jones DL Ohio St., Dexter Lawrence DL Clemson, Christian Wilkins DL Clemson, Anfernee Jennings EDGE Alabama, Jabari Zuniga EDGE Florida, Clelin Ferrell EDGE Clemson, Joe Giles-Harris LB Duke, Derrick Baity CB Kentucky, Taylor Rapp FS Washington, Juan Thornhill S Virginia.
Higher Than Most-
I might be crazy. Just maybe. But I have high hopes for these under-the-radar prospects.
– Deebo Samuel WR South Carolina (20th)
Looking for the next Brandin Cooks? Look no further. A stocky 5’11, 210 pounder, Samuel isn’t exactly built like Cooks or quite as fast. But the traits are alarmingly similar. Kick returner, punt returner, ball carrying, receiving. Samuel can do it all. A powerful quick twitch runner, Samuel’s size shouldn’t fool you. Yes, he’s an incredible YAC player. He’s also extremely effective at the catch point and in the blocking game. Incredible burst. Advanced speed varying. Clean routes. Explosive stop/start ability. Samuel is the entire package.
His play last season was unfortunately cut short due to a broken leg, but he’s back healthy and has produced for the most part this season, albeit having to deal with Jake Bentley’s horrible quarterbacking. Size may hurt him come draft day, but this is a blue-chip prospect. Heck, his name is Deebo. How much more convincing do you need?
– Kris Boyd CB Texas (16th)
I have an affinity for fluid, playmaking corners. Boyd is no exception. An @TheJoeMarino favorite, Kris may be flying under the radar right now. He won’t be for long. The best defensive back on a Longhorn team that featured several NFL talents including Deshon Elliott this past season, Boyd is a silky smooth, 6-foot cover man that fits any scheme (those aren’t easy to find).
Ideally a man corner so he can play to his mirroring strengths, Kris isn’t the tallest. Or necessarily the fastest (expecting a high 4.4 which is still very solid). But he has a knack for the ball, uses his long arms on a routine basis, and floats on his feet. Kris has been worse in 2018 than 2017, having struggled a bit vs. USC and especially Oklahoma State. However, he’s continued to show few weaknesses in his all-around game. Do yourself a favor and watch his 2017 tape vs. Texas Tech. It was one of the best of any prospect in this class. Period.
– Antonio Gandy-Golden WR Liberty (25th)
To quote the almighty Marvel movie Guardians of the Galaxy….”Who?”. Gandy-Golden isn’t exactly Star-Lord, but his game and name for a matter of fact are still pretty darn good. A physical, “bully ball” wideout, Antonio has a massive catch radius and is the definition of a red zone threat. Similar to a vacuum cleaner sucking in errant passes, Gandy-Golden’s body contortion, acrobatic catches, and high point ability are all top in this class.
Time and time again he comes down with the ball and I’m left mouth agape. No, Gandy-Golden isn’t the fastest by any means. Nor can he separate very well right now. Oh, and he’ll get the inevitable “Small-School” card assigned to him. But this is a receiver who catches literally everything. And you can’t put a price on that. Overall, Gandy-Golden is sure to be a polarizing prospect. Nowhere on most lists at the moment, I might seem bullish on Gandy-Golden’s next level future, but I can’t help but see a version of Detroit Lions’ and former California prospect Marvin Jones. You don’t want to miss out on that.
– Elgton Jenkins OL Mississippi St. (18th)
Will Ferrell may be most people’s Anchorman. Mine happens to reside in Mississippi. An imposing 6’4, 310 pounder, Jenkins isn’t necessarily the most agile as athletes, but that’s completely fine. What Mike Mayock would call a “phone booth” mauler, Jenkins is a throwback type of lineman. Possessing that pristine “bubble but”, Elgton is a load for any defender in his way, routinely clearing out ample space for his RB’s to have success.
A stalwart in pass protection too, Jenkins best attribute is anchoring 1 on 1 vs. a defender. Unable to be driven back by a bull rush, his brute strength is top of the class, and his relatively low height (6’3) and stance contribute immensely to his leverage. When watching Martinas Rankin last year, Jenkins would show up on a routine basis, battling the SEC’s best week in and week out. This year he’s been even better, proving his worth on every snap. No, Elgton will not excel if asked to pull often or block in a zone-heavy offense, but I have high hopes for his NFL future. He’s mobile enough to get by. And with all his other immense strengths, that’s more than enough.
– Vosean Joseph LB Florida (26th)
A “jack” of all trades, Joseph is the type of prospect that can do a bit of everything. Not on my radar to begin the year, watching Vosean and teammate Jachai Polite destroy opposing SEC offenses has been one of my favorite things to watch so far this CFB season. @TampaBayTre just did a great piece highlighting his phenomenal play, but to sum it up it in a few words…Joseph is the entire package.
At his best using his special read and react ability, he’s a backfield hound, consistently making tackles for loss and mucking it up with lineman, whether it be shooting gaps or coming from nowhere on designed blitzes. Rambunctious and feisty, despite undersized, literally all Joseph does is make plays. Because of his downfield presence, he isn’t asked to cover much, but he can more than handle it. As a fast, fluid, and quick twitch linebacker, that isn’t exactly a surprise, but important to note nonetheless.
Ultimately, Vosean is as well rounded as they come, but his biggest hurdle is going to be his small stature and there’s no getting around that. Joseph is listed at a VERY generous 6’1 227 pounds, and that frame is going to be a huge concern amongst evaluators. The size of the fight in the dog is more important than the actual size of the dog though, and Joseph exemplifies that on a routine basis. Maybe you want him at Safety. Maybe you want him to gain weight, and maybe you want him in a hybrid role. But all I know is one thing–I want Vosean on my team.
– T.J Hockenson TE Iowa (39th)
If you’re looking for a highly ranked player who literally came out of nowhere, Hockenson is going to be that guy. Somehow only the 2nd best Tight End on his own team, (which speaks to the ability of starter Noah Fant), TJ is very much a projection. There’s no doubting that. His usage and stats won’t impress anyone, and he could be construed by some as a one year wonder. However, Hockenson is a versatile chess piece that has the traits to be an absolute match-up nightmare at the next level. As an absolute mauler in the run game, what separates T.J from the majority of the class is actually his blocking prowess. (Remind you of someone? Ahem, George Kittle).
Coming from a successful Iowa program, Hockenson already has a pro type feel to his game and it shows in his polish and technique. In such a deep Tight End class its that consistency and high floor that combined with his versatility makes him so intriguing. After all, he’s played some H-back, and a role in that capacity could be lethal with the right next-level coordinator. Ultimately Hockenson is a tough evaluation due to Noah Fant being Noah Fant and keeping Hockenson subdued, but this is much more of 1a and 1b type of situation than a starter and back-up one. They’re both great, and you could make the case for either over the other prospect wise. It just depends on what flavor you want.
– Rock Ya-Sin CB Temple (27th)
His name makes him worthy of an inclusion alone, but Ya-Sin’s presence on this board goes far beyond that. A rock-solid cover man (yes, pun intended), Rock is a lengthy 6-2, 190 pounds, and uses every bit of it game in and game out, fitting that “Seahawk” type of mold. At his best making plays on the ball, Ya-Sin has an advanced ability to locate and find the ball and therefore is never truly out on a play. With this and his ideal size, it makes him the perfect zone corner at the next level.
Against a quality Buffalo team earlier this season, Rock put the clamps on star receiver Anthony Johnson, and since then he’s only continued to progress. He’s a little tight hipped and can struggle with faster and more agile wideouts, but Ya-Sin can move very well for his size. Ultimately his potential is as high as nearly any corner in this class, and it’s time we start talking about Rock as the potential 1st round pick that he is.
– Easton Stick QB NDSU (36th)
Maybe the 2019 prospect that I will forever be most “attached” to, many who follow me on Twitter are well aware of my fondness towards Stick. Having done a pre-season article on his franchise level potential (can be found below), it’s no secret as to why I have him present on this board.
An efficient, mobile, uber-athletic, and highly intelligent signal-caller, Easton checks almost every box, despite playing down at the FCS level. No, he’s not Carson Wentz (though their mechanics and off platform throwing abilities are pretty darn similar), but Stick has the talent to make a name for himself in his own right.
He needs to improve pre-snap recognition, quickening his trigger, and progressing through his reads much faster, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a more balanced QB prospect in this class. I have no clue how the league will view Stick (hopefully he can make a name for himself if he attends the Senior Bowl), but I’ve loved him ever since around this time last year. And I’m STICKing (pun intended) with it.
Lower Than Most-
A recurring theme amongst my most “overrated” prospects… I like them. Just not as much as everyone else.
– Clemson’s Entire D-Line
Look. The Clemson Tigers may have a fantastic COLLEGE defensive line, but in terms of being legit NFL prospects, they simply don’t stack up, especially in such a deep defensive class. Freshman Xavier Thomas probably already is the best prospect of the group, and that isn’t exactly ideal. Let’s go one by one through each of them and prove why they just don’t cut it.
Christian Wilkins (49th)- Out of all the Tigers, Wilkins may be my favorite. And that isn’t necessarily because he’s the best one, but because I know exactly how he “wins” and how that’ll translate. A thick bowling ball of explosiveness, Wilkins is an athletic freak and quick twitch lineman. Those aren’t easy to find. Unfortunately, he’s also extremely inconsistent, struggles to fight off blocks, and is a tweener of sorts. In the end, Wilkins should have success as a rotational energizing presence at the next level, and that’s certainly worthy of a Day 2 selection, but in such a deep defensive line class he falls on my board a bit.
Dexter Lawrence (50th)- Probably the best pure prospect out of the Tigers “fearsome” Front 4, Lawrence’s stock is unfortunately hurt by the role he plays. A massive interior presence, Dexter is a behemoth of a human being and uses every bit of that mass to excel at clogging running lanes. However, that also means he offers little as a pass rusher, and he usually tends to win simply by being bigger than everyone. In the NFL that’s not going to cut it. All in all, Lawrence is likely ticketed towards a future two down, run stuffing role, and it’s hard to value that very highly, no matter how good he may be at it.
Clelin Ferrell (Unranked)- I just don’t get the hype around Ferrell man. As a crafty, uber-productive EDGE rusher, there is certainly some appeal towards him. After all, his hand usage is top in the class, and he’s about as pro-ready as they come. I can understand that. But I what I struggle to comprehend is how Clelin is worthy of a pick anywhere near where’s he’s currently being slotted.
Ferrell simply doesn’t have a calling card. For any player, especially at pass rusher, that’s an issue. Stiff as cardboard, Ferrell can’t bend, nor is he the type of explosive athlete to compensate for that elsewhere. Look at every top EDGE rusher in this class. Nick Bosa, Jachai Polite, Brian Burns. Each one has a clear next level role and at least one elite trait in their arsenals. Clelin doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still a quality player, and I do like him. But you better be drafting a special type of player with a Top 10 pick. He’s not.
Austin Bryant (Unranked)- 4 words. Austin Bryant ain’t it. ‘Nuff said.
– Josh Allen EDGE/LB Kentucky (Unranked)
Just like Clelin Ferrell before him, Allen is getting Top 10 buzz. And just like Ferrell, I simply fail to get why. A production master who has set SEC lineman on fire this season, Josh is playing as well as any player in the nation. He’s also arguably improved his stock more than any other player in the nation. That doesn’t mean, however, that he should be ranked as a consensus Top 20 prospect, which is exactly what has been happening as of late. Allen lacks proper bend. He’s non-existent against the run. His technique is porous. And he must be used in the right way to have any next level success. Those are all grave concerns, no matter how athletic and versatile he may be.
Ultimately, a role similar to what Kentucky has Josh currently in (EDGE/LB hybrid) is necessary at the next level, and teams are going to have to be creative in how they use him. If he’s asked to simply be an EDGE presence, he’s going to struggle. With elite athletic ability, coordinators will need to focus in on harnessing it instead of trying to make Josh something he’s not. This is part of the reason I believe he might even be better suited as a weakside backer compared to a pass rusher at the next level. He’s intriguing. He’s improved. And he’s productive. But the Allen hype has to slow down.
– Dwayne Haskins QB Ohio St. (Unranked)
I’ll keep the Haskins explanation pretty brief. He’s uber talented, possesses an unbelievable deep ball, and has the makeup of a potential franchise QB. In his limited playing time though, he’s shown questionable decision making and some serious red flags when pressured. It’s a weak class, so with a strong end to his season I wouldn’t exactly fault Haskins for declaring, but he’d be much better served by spending another year in Columbus.
– A.J Brown WR Ole Miss (Unranked)
In a polarizing wideout class, Brown is as hotly debated as any. Some see a blue-chip prospect. Others a “bust” in the making. I feel like I’m somewhere in that middle ground. A multi-sport athlete who excels at both baseball and football, there’s no doubting Brown’s all-around athletic ability. A natural hands-catcher, he’s also as balanced and polished as they come. Throw in his knack to settle in open spots and his fluid route-running style, and you have a pretty impressive player.
When you dig deeper, however, questions start to arise. Primarily a slot wideout, A.J isn’t comfortable on the outside and has a much more limited route tree because of this. Not exactly a burner, Brown isn’t the type of quick-twitch player you’d expect in the slot. And that’s okay, but he isn’t a “rebounding” type of physical presence either. This leaves Brown as a somewhat one-dimensional type of safety valve (Ahem Jarvis Landry). There’s certainly value in that role, but just not before many of the other impressive pass-catchers available.
– Greg Little OT Ole Miss (Unranked)
If you want to see a whole lot of frustration and inconsistency, Greg Little is the guy for you. At times he looks like a Top 5 pick. Other times he looks completely foolish. Ultimately Little’s pass protection needs serious work, and although he’s a fantastic athlete, he hasn’t mastered the ability to counter speed rushes or inside swims very effectively. He’s an immense dude with immense gifts, but he needs serious refinement. Right now there are glimpses of brilliance, especially in the run game, but until Little’s technique takes big steps, I’m going to be cautious in ranking him highly. He might be a Cam Robinson type that puts it all together using his mauling type of presence, but it’s a risk I’m currently not willing to take.
– Justin Herbert QB Oregon (35)
In all honesty, Herbert doesn’t belong on this list. After all, he’s my QB1, possesses Franchise ability, and I’d have no problems currently taking him Top 15 given the right situation. But given some people have needlessly hyped him up beyond belief, here we are. Thanks, guys. First off, let’s start with Justin’s positives. Frame, arm talent, natural accuracy, and athleticism all top the charts. Possessing the ability to throw from different trajectories and platforms, he has elite traits, and they are shown off on a consistent basis.
The big negatives though, lie with his inconsistent nature and ability under pressure. @BenjaminSolak did a great piece earlier this week on exactly that, and why Herbert is much more of a risk, then people think. All this is true. His decision making falters, his accuracy lessens, and his footwork and throwing motion turn straight up abysmal when under duress. Already raw to begin with, this doesn’t make for a very good combination and can lead to several issues within Herbert’s game.
Don’t get me wrong. Justin has made ridiculous strides this year and deserves to be the top QB in this class (assuming he even declares). But this isn’t a blue-chip player like Baker Mayfield or Josh Rosen we’re talking about. Herbert’s going to be on that Sam Darnold, risk/reward level.
Hopefully this board and it’s analysis provided you with a little bit more of an in-depth look into the 2019 class (if you glance past the bad takes). Stay tuned for “What I Would Do” Mock Draft in the not too distant future. You can follow me at @CDonScouting on Twitter if you enjoyed reading. Other 2019 prospect content (mostly Pre-Season reports) can be found below as well.
Other 2019 Prospect Content linked below: