The Most Pro-Ready Prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2019

The Most Pro-Ready Prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft

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    While NFL and NCAA football games look nearly identical, there are significant differences. Terminology is different, schemes are more complex and, of course, the level of competition is much, much higher.

    This is why teams are often on the lookout early in the draft for players who are "pro-ready." While having a high ceiling is ultimately more important, there's a lot to be said for a prospect who can step in and contribute right away.

    Whether it's because a player is physically developed (as guys such as Saquon Barkley and Quenton Nelson were in 2018), versed in a pro-style system or has the football IQ and instincts to make a smooth transition, some fit this bill more than others.

    Here, you'll find a look at the 10 most pro-ready prospects in the 2019 NFL draft class. While there's no guarantee these players will be successfully early—a lot of responsibility will rest on their franchises—they are ready to contribute.


Nick Bosa, Edge, Ohio State

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    Nick Bosa has looked like a pro-ready prospect pretty much since he arrived at Ohio State. His brother, Joey Bosa, made a quick transition to the NFL, amassing 10.5 sacks in 12 games as a rookie. The younger Bosa appears to be a similar player.

    "Nick is a phenomenal worker—everything he puts in his body, his health," Arizona Cardinals linebackers coach and former Ohio State assistant Bill Davis said, per Kellan Olson of Arizona Sports. "Really everything that the kid's done has been in an effort to make his way to the NFL and follow his father and his older brother's footsteps. Relentless worker, all about football, loves the game, loves his teammates."

    At 6'4" and 263 pounds, Bosa won't be out of place against NFL linemen. Instead, he should thrive against them thanks to his athleticism, skill set and pro pedigree.

Josh Allen, LB, Kentucky

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    There's some debate about whether Bosa or Kentucky's Josh Allen is the top pass-rusher in this year's draft. In many ways, that debate feels a lot like the one that surrounded Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack in 2014. One has looked like a dominant prospect for some time; one has emerged over the past year.

    Of course, Clowney and Mack have developed into tremendous pros, and that could be the case with these two as well.

    Like Bosa, Allen has a frame (6'5", 260 lbs) that is ready for the challenges of the NFL. He has flashed the athleticism and talent needed to win against pros as well. Future NFL linemen regularly reside in the SEC, and Allen racked up 17 sacks in 2018, including 10 in eight conference games.

Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama

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    Over the years, plenty of former Alabama defenders have stepped into the NFL and made early impacts. Just last season, defensive tackle Daron Payne and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick went in the top half of Round 1 and then played at a high level.

    Defensive tackle Quinnen Williams is set to do the same, and he may be a more pro-ready prospect than Payne or Fitzpatrick.

    At 6'4" and 295 pounds, Williams certainly looks the part of an NFL interior defender. He has a rare combination of size, strength and quickness with which he has dominated the talent-heavy SEC. In 2018 alone, he amassed 71 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss and 8.0 sacks.

    Those are stats one might expect from an edge-rushing linebacker but not an interior defender.

Devin White, LB, LSU

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    After Leighton Vander Esch and Darius Leonard took the league by storm last season, NFL teams should be hungry to get their hands on a pro-ready sideline-to-sideline linebacker.

    That's exactly what LSU product Devin White is. White can do anything and everything an NFL defensive coordinator might ask of him. He's capable of rushing the passer, running down ball-carriers and covering backs and tight ends on passing downs.

    In 2018, White produced 123 tackles, 12.0 tackles for a loss, 3.0 sacks, six passes defended and three forced fumbles.

    "I've been a part of Ray Lewis," LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said, per Sam Spiegelman of Rivals. "I've been a part of Patrick Willis, and he's right there. He's one of the best I've ever been a part of as far as middle linebackers go. He's very talented, and I think he's still getting better."

T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa

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    Both of Iowa's high-profile tight ends—T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant—have the skills needed to make immediate impacts in the NFL. Hockenson, however, most projects as a rookie star.

    "Iowa's John Mackey Award winner, T.J. Hockenson, has emerged as the best in this class," Bleacher Report draft analyst Matt Miller wrote. "Hockenson has it all: He's more powerful and complete than teammate Noah Fant (while not as athletic) and is a better route-runner and more versatile than Alabama's Irv Smith Jr."

    The 6'5", 250-pound Hockenson isn't just a blocker who has to develop receiving skills. He isn't a pass-catcher who has to learn to handle in-line NFL defenders, either. He is a complete tight end who can help boost a team's passing and running games from day one.

Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama

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    Like Hockenson, Alabama running back Josh Jacobs is an underclassman who ranks well inside Miller's top 32.

    "Jacobs, who sits at No. 5 overall on my board, has a mixture of power and speed that should excite NFL general managers," Miller wrote. "He's a more powerful version of Alvin Kamara with limited wear and tear, only carrying the ball 120 times as a junior and 251 times total in college in the deep Alabama backfield."

    A more powerful version of Kamara? That may sound like hyperbole, but it isn't. On film, Jacobs flashes the same kind of quickness, fluidity and field vision that Kamara did coming out of Tennessee. Jacobs may not be quite as polished as a pass-catcher, but the 5'10", 216-pounder does have day-one starter potential.

Byron Murphy, CB, Washington

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    Former Washington cornerback Byron Murphy started for only two seasons—and missed seven games with a foot injury in 2017. On film, however, he looks like a five-year pro.

    Murphy will thrive as a cover corner because of his combination of sticky man-coverage ability, zone instincts, quickness and change-of-direction prowess. His ball skills are ridiculous, as evidenced by his 20 passes defended and seven interceptions in 20 games.

    The only knock on Murphy is that he's a bit undersized at 5'11" and 182 pounds. However, a lack of ideal size (5'11", 183 lbs) didn't stop Denzel Ward from being picked fourth overall or from becoming a day one starter. It shouldn't hinder Murphy either.

Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan

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    Defensive end Rashan Gary did it all in Michigan's pro-style defense. He rushed the passer, set the edge against the run and occupied blockers on blitzes so other players could get to the quarterback. He can fill multiple roles in a defense and should do so right away.

    At 6'5" and 283 pounds, Gary is ready to run with the pros.

    He has room to improve as an edge-rusher, however. While he should make an immediate impact because of his size, skill set and three years of experience, Gary can still expand his arsenal of pass-rush moves to become a more consistent sack artist.

    Gary's early career could mirror that of 2017 No. 3 overall pick Solomon Thomas—a quality starting end who is still growing as a pass-rusher.

Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama

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    The fact that the SEC regularly produces pro-caliber offensive linemen has already been addressed. Therefore, it shouldn't be a surprise former Alabama offensive tackle Jonah Williams is on this list. The 6'5", 301-pounder has the size, strength, hand finesse and footwork to start right away in the NFL.

    Williams also has experience playing both left and right tackle.

    The knock on Williams seems to be less-than-ideal arm length. It will remain unclear exactly what that length is until the scouting combine. As Greg Gabriel of Pro Football Weekly pointed out, though, Williams "looks to have average arm length for a tackle."

    Williams has overcome any physical limitations with technical savvy and an incredible understanding of how to use the skills he possesses. He isn't a prototypical tackle prospect in the mold of a Joe Thomas, but he should hold his own from day one.

Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State

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    This year's crop of quarterbacks doesn't feature a can't-miss prospect, but Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins is about as pro-ready as teams could ask.

    Though only a one-year starter, Haskins improved throughout the 2018 season. He has archetypal size (6'3", 218 lbs), and he's a pure pocket passer. He's also a great decision-maker who passed for 4,831 yards and 50 touchdowns with just eight interceptions in 2018. Think Sam Darnold without the baffling mistakes.

    Get Up!'s Bobby Carpenter compared Haskins to Detroit Lions starter Matthew Stafford. Whichever team drafts Haskins could be getting a day-one starter, just like the Lions did back in 2009.


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