2019 NFL Mock Draft: Breaking Down Post-Week 10 Predictions

Ryan McCrystal@@ryan_mccrystalFeatured ColumnistNovember 12, 2018

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - OCTOBER 6:  Quinnen Williams #92 of the Alabama Crimson Tide rushes the quarterback during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Razorback Stadium on October 6, 2018 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  The Crimson Tide defeated the Razorbacks 65-31.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys pulled off a surprising 27-20 upset of the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night to remain in the playoff hunt. One of the key contributors was linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, a rookie out of Boise State who's taking on a bigger role in Sean Lee's absence. He racked up 13 tackles and added an interception. 

Every year a few rookies step up and help carry teams to the postseason, and Vander Esch is emerging as one of those impacts first-year stars. 

So who could be next year's Vander Esch?

In a draft class loaded with elite defensive prospects, there are plenty of options. Here's a look at how the 2019 draft could play out, followed by a look at a couple of draft storylines. 

The draft order is accurate through Sunday night, via tankathon.com


1. Oakland Raiders: Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State

2. New York Giants: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

3. San Francisco 49ers: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

4. Arizona Cardinals: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama

5. New York Jets: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama

6. Buffalo Bills: Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson

7. Detroit Lions: Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky

8. Denver Broncos: Devin White, LB, LSU

9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama 

10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ed Oliver, DL, Houston

11. Cleveland Browns: N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State

12. Indianapolis Colts: Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida

13. Oakland Raiders (from DAL): Byron Murphy, CB, Washington

14. Seattle Seahawks: Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington

15. Atlanta Falcons: David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin

16. Philadelphia Eagles: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

17. Baltimore Ravens: Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State

18. Miami Dolphins: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia

19. Green Bay Packers: Zach Allen, DE, Boston College

20. Tennessee Titans: Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan

22. Minnesota Vikings: Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame

23. Houston Texans: Dre'Mont Jones, DL, Ohio State

24. Washington Redskins: Kelvin Harmon, WR, N.C. State

25. Oakland Raiders (from CHI): Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State

26. Carolina Panthers: Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama

27. New England Patriots: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

28. Los Angeles Chargers: Collin Johnson, WR, Texas

29. Pittsburgh Steelers: Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama

30. Green Bay Packers (from NO): Te'Von Coney, LB, Notre Dame

31. Los Angeles Rams: Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State

32. Kansas City Chiefs: Derrick Baity, CB, Kentucky


Alabama Dominating the Draft

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 04:  Quinnen Williams #92 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts after a sack against the LSU Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 4, 2017 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Alabama is in the middle of one of the most dominant college football seasons in the history of the sport, so it should come as no surprise that Nick Saban will be sending a slew of players to the NFL next season. 

This mock draft scenario includes five members of the Crimson Tide, including three in the top 10. 

Assuming he turns pro, Alabama's top defensive prospect will likely be Quinnen Williams, a redshirt-sophomore interior defensive lineman. Williams spent the 2017 season buried on the depth chart behind Da'Shawn Hand, Daron Payne and others, but he has quickly established himself as one of the best all-around players in the college game this fall. 

Alabama has produced four first-round picks in each of the previous two drafts and could surpass that number this season. 

The record for first-round selections from one school is six, set by Miami in 2004. Alabama will have a chance to tie or break that record in 2019 if each of its eligible prospects turns pro. In addition to the five players included in this mock draft, defensive linemen Raekwon Davis and Isaiah Buggs, running back Damien Harris and linebacker Anfernee Jennings could also compete for spots in the first round. 


Tight Ends Making a Comeback?

Over the past 10 drafts, only eight tight ends have heard their names called in the first round, and only two came off the board within the top 20 picks (Eric Ebron in 2014 and O.J. Howard in 2017). 

That trend could change this year, however, as the 2019 class appears to be one of the strongest in recent history. 

Iowa's Noah Fant is a strong candidate to be the first tight end off the board. He hasn't put up huge numbers at Iowa, partially due to his limited role in the offense, which Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz tried to defend this past week:

Chad Leistikow @ChadLeistikow

Kirk Ferentz on Noah Fant's usage: “We try to feature our guys that are doing the best, whether it’s T.J., Noah, our receivers. We’re calling the game as we call the game.” Later: “We’re playing the best guys that we feel are best for the situation that’s given.”

Despite Iowa's inability to take full advantage of his skill set, Fant's size (6'5", 241 pounds) and athleticism clearly translates to the NFL. 

Alabama's Irv Smith Jr., whose father and uncle both played tight end in the NFL, could join Fant in the first round. 

The tight end doesn't often play a significant role in the Alabama offense, but Smith has forced his way into the mix and has already racked up over 500 yards and six touchdowns. Since Saban took over at Alabama in 2007, O.J. Howard's 602 yards in 2015 are the most by a Tide tight end—a number Smith should easily eclipse this season.

Missouri's Albert Okwuegbunam, Stanford's Kaden Smith and UCLA's Caleb Wilson should also be high draft picks at the position and could potentially sneak into the late first round for a team in need of help at the position, such as the Pittsburgh Steelers or New England Patriots.