NFL Draft 2019: Notable Predictions from Top Experts Around the Web

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2019

FILE-This Dec. 30, 2018,  file photo shows Alabama running back Josh Jacobs (8) running the ball, during the second half of the Orange Bowl NCAA college football game in Miami Gardens, Fla. Jacobs won the MVP in the SEC title game win over Georgia after rushing for 83 yards and two touchdowns. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee,File)
Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

The 2019 NFL draft runs from April 25 to April 27.

Why does that matter? Because if you look at the football calendar, it means we're close enough to the talent-grab for everyone—and their family, friends and coworkers—to have an idea about how it's going to proceed.

But in the information world, quality trumps quantity.

In other words, expert projections hold more credence than your neighbor's. (Unless, of course, your neighbor is an expert, in which case you should soak up all the expertise you can over your cold beverage of choice.)

With that in mind, let's look at some of the more notable NFL draft predictions from some of the web's top experts.

             

Bengals In The QB Market?

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Andy Dalton fans, be warned—you're not going to be crazy about this one.

In the latest mock draft from CBS Sports' Will Brinson, he has the Cincinnati Bengals spending the No. 11 pick on a Dalton replacement, Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray.

"Andy Dalton is over 30 now, so he's not going to magically become an All-Pro and he has zero dead money left on his contract," Brinson wrote. "Drafting Murray and pairing him with Zac Taylor takes the stodgy old boring Bengals and makes them COOL and potentially an immediate threat to the AFC North."

Dalton made 11 starts for the Bengals this past season before a thumb injury cut his campaign short. While he steered Cincinnati to the playoffs during his first five seasons as a starter, the Bengals haven't won a postseason game in his tenure and missed the cut each of the last three years.

Murray, a two-sport star at Oklahoma, has yet to declare whether his future is in football or baseball, though his decision to attend the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine perhaps indicates he's leaning toward the gridiron.

He's undersized for an NFL quarterback (listed at 5'10", 195 pounds) but is electric when he plays, totaling 4,361 passing yards, 1,001 rushing yards and 54 touchdowns in 2018.

         

Only Two QBs In First Round?

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The last time fewer than three quarterbacks were taken in the opening round was 2015. Even then, the signal-callers selected—Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota—respectively went Nos. 1 and 2.

ESPN's Todd McShay only pegs two passers in this year's opening round: Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins (at No. 6 to the New York Giants) and Murray (13th to the Miami Dolphins).

On Haskins, McShay noted he "shows good touch and anticipation, and could be Big Blue's quarterback of the future." With Murray, McShay touts his "electric arm and some of the best athleticism I've seen at the position in years."

While this quarterback class doesn't look great, two first-rounders is a tiny number compared to what you'll find on most other mocks.

Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, for instance, has four in his opening round: Haskins at No. 6, Murray at No. 7 (Jacksonville Jaguars), Drew Lock at No. 10 (Denver Broncos) and Daniel Jones at No. 15 (Washington).

Even without being in love with these prospects, there might be too many quarterback-needy teams drafting near the top for McShay's prediction to come true. That said, he's as plugged-in as any draft analyst, so perhaps his crystal ball will prove prescient.

               

Running Back at No. 5?

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Do you know what the New England Patriots, Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints all have in common? The three 2018-19 conference finalists roster a first-round running back: Sony Michel in New England, Mark Ingram in New Orleans and Todd Gurley in L.A.

So much for devaluing running backs in the draft, I guess.

While this isn't a popular opinion, NFL.com's Chad Reuter sees one rusher not only going in this year's opening round but landing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the fifth overall pick: Alabama's Josh Jacobs. (Reuter, for the record, expects Tampa to move back before drafting the prospect he called "Bruce Arians' new David Johnson.")

Jacobs is the most buzz-worthy back in this class, and he has rocketed up to fifth on Miller's most recent Big Board. That said, Miller precedes his rankings by dubbing it "unlikely a running back will be drafted in the top five picks."

Jacobs was never the featured back during his three years with the Crimson Tide, but he was explosive whenever he got a touch. He totaled 251 carries and 48 receptions for 2,062 scrimmage yards (6.9 per touch) and 21 touchdowns.

Miller actually sees Jacobs' light workload as a positive, labeling him "a more powerful version of Alvin Kamara with limited wear and tear."