An Early Look at Scouts' Top 10 Players in the 2019 NFL Draft
There might not be college football on your television every Saturday, but that doesn't mean NFL scouts aren't hitting the road to learn about the top players for the 2019 draft. They're building profiles, researching backgrounds and character and talking to college coaches about top players.
We took that information to give it to you in an early look at the top 10 players in the 2019 draft class.
10. Clelin Ferrell, Edge-Rusher, Clemson
Scout's Quote: "I liked [Shaq] Lawson and [Kevin Dodd] when they were coming out, but this one is on a different level. Strength, length, burst, instincts. He has it all."
Clelin Ferrell would have been considered a first-round talent had he declared for the 2018 draft. Instead, he decided to return to Clemson, where he'll round out a defensive line with unfair talent across the board. With Ferrell anchoring one edge, Austin Bryant on the other and Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins on the interior, the Tigers line might be unstoppable.
Offensive lines will have to focus on someone, which could mean plenty of one-on-one looks for the No. 10 player in the class to wreak havoc.
9. Greg Little, Offensive Tackle, Ole Miss
Scout's Quote: "He's a big, mean, nasty SOB who probably projects best to the right side. But he's better than any of the guys from the 2018 draft."
Greg Little is a mean blocker with the finishing mentality to be great in the running game. The 6'6", 325-pound junior will also be only 21 years old when the 2019 draft rolls around, which points to his potential.
Even if he's viewed as a right tackle, there's this: The San Francisco 49ers just used the No. 9 overall pick on right tackle Mike McGlinchey. The position has more value now than in years past because of the number of teams running talented pass-rushers off the right side of the line.
Ole Miss is in a state of flux, but Little and teammate A.J. Brown will give fans something to cheer for.
8. Trey Adams, Offensive Tackle, Washington
Scout's Quote: "He's Taylor Lewan all over again. People will overthink it and wonder if he's a left or right [tackle], but just draft him and don't worry about the left side for five years."
Trey Adams is a dominant presence on the offensive line for Chris Petersen's powerhouse program at Washington. Scouts will flock to the Pacific Northwest to watch a left tackle with prototypical size (6'8", 331 lbs), excellent length and the tape to show he can handle a pro-style passing set.
When compared with the top tackles in the 2018 draft—McGlinchey and Kolton Miller—Adams shows better athleticism than McGlinchey to handle the left side and better technique and power than Miller. It will depend on team needs in the draft order, but Adams looks like a lock top-10 selection.
7. A.J. Brown, Wide Receiver, Ole Miss
Scout's Quote: "I think he would have been the top wide receiver in this year's class if he could have declared. The biggest question is can he produce against top cornerbacks?"
Brown is an early favorite for my draft crush in the 2019 class. He's a big (6'1", 225 lbs) wide receiver with explosive ability when he has the ball in his hands. But he has to show up against the LSUs of the SEC. Last year, he was limited to just four catches in that matchup; and this year, he'll be without quarterback Shea Patterson (who is now at Michigan).
Brown's ability to separate with size or speed makes him a different prospect than former Ole Miss standout Laquon Treadwell—who has struggled to get away from NFL coverage. Brown's 2017 tape showed a player with a better skill set to create space in the pro game.
6. Devin White, Linebacker, LSU
Scout's Quote: "He might be the most athletic player in the entire class. I've heard stories about his battles with Leonard Fournette, and they're on a similar level athletically."
Devin White was a high school standout at running back and linebacker, so he brings an understanding of offenses to his spot at linebacker. He flows to the ball with natural athleticism and agility but also packs a punch with a 6'1", 240-pound frame.
White needs to clean up some false steps you can see on tape and better recognize routes in the passing game, but it's easy to look at him as a player on par with Roquan Smith or Tremaine Edmunds.
It's not out of the question for White to have a junior season that puts him in the conversation as a pre-injury Myles Jack- or Jaylon Smith-type prospect.
5. Justin Herbert, Quarterback, Oregon
Scout's Quote: "I don't love any of the quarterbacks this year—let's get that out of the way first—but he does have the best delivery and accuracy of the ones we've looked at so far."
Opinions vary on the 2019 quarterback class, but there seems to be a general agreement from the scouts and decision-makers I've spoken to that next year's crop is a step below what the 2018 class presented with Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen and Lamar Jackson.
Herbert has all the tools, but he needs to continue putting them together on the field. His potential is no doubt high, but with just one year of starts under his belt, there's still time for development.
From what I've seen, Herbert looks a lot like Jared Goff did heading into his final season at Cal. Goff, of course, was the No. 1 pick in the 2016 class. Herbert has that potential.
4. Jonah Williams, Offensive Tackle, Alabama
Scout's Quote: "He's everything we want in a tackle. He's smart, athletic, tough and experienced. I don't know what the question marks are."
There might not be question marks when it comes to Jonah Williams. He started at right tackle from the get-go in Tuscaloosa and in doing so looked like a better NFL prospect than his teammate and left tackle Cam Robinson despite being a true freshman. After moving to the left side in his sophomore season, Williams continued to display the tools to be a No. 1 overall pick.
It will depend on team needs, but Williams could be in the conversation for the top selection. The NFL hasn't seen a tackle prospect like this since the Ronnie Stanley-Laremy Tunsil draft of 2016.
3. Rashan Gary, Defensive Tackle, Michigan
Scout's Quote: "In any other class, this dude is talked about as the hands-down best player. It's just a really good draft class."
Rashan Gary is a ridiculously good No. 3 overall player. He is athletic, is talented at multiple positions and has lived up to the hype placed on him since he was coming out of high school in New Jersey. For Michigan, he'll be the defensive key, but that also means offenses will focus on him with Maurice Hurst in the NFL.
The biggest question with Gary is where he'll play in the pros. At 6'5" and 281 pounds, he looks like a natural fit as a 5-technique, but his athleticism might allow him to stand up and play as an edge defender depending on the scheme. Some teams will love that versatility, while others will knock it as a lack of a true fit. Those that do value Gary's variety of tools will see a player with top-five pick potential.
2. Ed Oliver, Defensive Tackle, Houston
Scout's Quote: "Put the pen down. He's easy. Kid's a great athlete, great person, great teammate. He'll go top five."
It is easy with Ed Oliver, the top defensive tackle who has already declared his intention to leave Houston after this season for the NFL. Oliver is a 6'3", 290-pound clone of Aaron Donald with elite quickness off the ball and excellent understanding of timing, leverage and hand usage. He's ready right now as a 3-technique.
Oliver might be the most hyped player in college football, but he's earned that attention. It'll be up to the Cougars defensive staff to scheme him some looks because he'll be double-teamed on virtually every down.
With Oliver, it won't be about stats in 2018 but about enjoying his athleticism and impact before he becomes a top-five selection.
1. Nick Bosa, Edge-Rusher, Ohio State
Scout's Quote: "I love Nick Bosa. I wasn't 100 percent sure on Joey coming out (stupid me), but I won't make that mistake twice. He's the real deal. Excellent instincts and feel for the quarterback as a young rusher."
You don't make the same mistake twice in the NFL and keep your job, so scouts often look for sure things. Nick Bosa is that sure thing.
The Ohio State defensive end has all the tools to be the No. 1 pick in the draft and make an instant impact as a pass-rusher in any scheme, front or fit. He's smart, athletic, tough and has the family history of special talents. Look at what big brother Joey is doing with the Los Angeles Chargers, and it's easy to see how Nick will impact NFL games. It's a no-brainer as long as he can stay healthy.