Ranking the Top 50 Prospects Ready to Compete at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystFebruary 25, 2019

Ranking the Top 50 Prospects Ready to Compete at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine

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    The NFL combine is a brutal experience for participants, and it's intentionally designed to test an individual's mettle in an attempt to show which prospects rise to the occasion in a highly competitive setting. 

    The telecast provides only a portion of the players' daunting week. They're often sleep-deprived and not operating at peak performance by the time they reach Lucas Oil Stadium's turf to test in front of the entire NFL and millions watching at home. 

    Keeping this in mind, earlier evaluations based on film study are vitally important so evaluators don't get swayed too much by workouts. Thus, a pre-combine look at the top 50 overall prospects serves as a guideline so the entire process doesn't veer off course based on non-football-specific activities. 

    Alabama's Deionte Thompson, Colorado State's Preston Williams, Louisiana Tech's Jaylon Ferguson, Mississippi State's Jeffery Simmons and Oklahoma's Marquise Brown are excluded because of injuries and/or having their combine invites rescinded.

    The combine is a part of the process. Its results are added to the final formula, but the following names will still be in the mix as top options as long as nothing disastrous occurs in Indianapolis. 


No. 50-41

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    50. EDGE Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion
    NFL teams don't care where pass-rushers come from as long as they fire off the ball, dip the shoulder, bend the edge and flatten toward quarterbacks. Ximines improved each season and finished his senior campaign with a career-high 12 sacks in 2018. 

    49. WR N'Keal Harry, Arizona State
    Harry is a physical, downfield threat who wins with tremendous body control. The 6'4", 216-pound target is not a burner and lacks an extra gear yet still managed 32 plays of 20 or more yards last season, per Pro Football Focus

    48. CB Joejuan Williams, Vanderbilt
    Few corners present Williams' combination of size (6'3", 208 pounds) and fluidity. Williams is an ideal system fit for defenses that prefer long and physical defensive backs to jam and reroute wide receivers. 

    47. TE Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M
    The early entrant added to an already loaded tight end class, but Sternberger is a downfield threat unlike any other. According to agent Mike McCartney, the Kansas transfer is only the second tight end in the last 10 years to average 17.3 or more yards per reception and accumulate 10 touchdowns in a season. 

    46. OG Michael Deiter, Wisconsin
    Reliability and consistency are two important aspects of offensive line play. Deiter made a program-record 54 starts for the Badgers. The experienced blocker can be projected to multiple positions since he started at center, guard and left tackle. 

    45. WR Parris Campbell, Ohio State
    Campbell is exceptional on two fronts: He's an outstanding athlete with blazing speed, and the receiver produces. The 6'1", 208-pound target set an Ohio State single-season record with 90 receptions during his senior campaign. 

    44. DT Dexter Lawrence, Clemson
    Few prospects are as big and talented as Lawrence. However, two things are working against the 350-pound defensive tackle. One, he doesn't consistently collapse the pocket as a pass-rusher. Two, his injury history and recent suspension are concerning. 

    43. LB Mack Wilson, Alabama
    Wilson is made for a pass-happy league in need of athletic linebackers. Wilson shows excellent range and a comfort level working in space. He's not the most consistent run defender, though. 

    42. C Garrett Bradbury, North Carolina State
    There tend to be two kinds of centers. Bradbury represents the perfect fit for a heavy zone-blocking scheme. The consensus All-American moves well laterally with the skill set to reach any defender. 

    41. C Elgton Jenkins, Mississippi State
    Jenkins falls on the other side of the spectrum as an ideal blocker for a power-blocking scheme. The 310-pound pivot gets good run fits, stays square and drives defenders off the ball. He also anchors well in pass protection. 

No. 40-31

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    40. DB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida
    Scheme-flexibility is vital in today's game. Gardner-Johnson is a hybrid cornerback/safety. The 6'0", 208-pound defensive back covers the slot, plays the deep third and is a presence near the line of scrimmage. He left Florida with nine interceptions, 12 pass breakups and 15.5 tackles for loss. 

    39. S Nasir Adderley, Delaware
    The cornerback-turned-safety is a triple threat. The 6'0", 195-pound defender retained his ball skills from playing outside and led the Blue Hens each of the last two seasons in interceptions. The defensive back isn't afraid to throw his body around to create collisions, either. He's a returner as well. 

    38. DT Dre'Mont Jones, Ohio State
    The first-team All-Big Ten performer is a sub-300-pound 3-technique best suited for a system that allows its defensive linemen to get vertical and create disruption in the backfield. Jones will blow up plays, but he'll also struggle at the point of attack. 

    37. WR A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
    Brown left Ole Miss as the program's all-time leader with 2,984 receiving yards and 12 100-yard games. His production isn't in question. Whether he can consistently separate against press coverage and has enough speed to go vertical at the NFL level is in question. 

    36. CB Rock Ya-Sin, Temple
    There isn't a more competitive prospect in this year's class. Ya-Sin transferred from Division II Presbyterian to Temple as a senior and excelled at a higher level of play. He's physical and battles on every down. 

    35. QB Daniel Jones, Duke
    Jones is a well-groomed, albeit developing, passer with the potential to hear his named called in the first round due to positional value. The Senior Bowl MVP has the size (6'5", 220 pounds) and athleticism franchises prefer, but he must speed up his entire process from recognition to release. 

    34. CB Trayvon Mullen, Clemson
    Mullen saved his best for last with six tackles, a sack, an interception and a forced fumble during an unforgettable national championship game performance. Mullen displays inconsistent technique and route recognition, but he could be dynamic if it all comes together. 

    33. LB Devin Bush, Michigan
    Linebackers under 6'0" struggle to crack the first round even if their play warrants consideration. Bush is an instinctive and productive defender who runs well, but he can be overaggressive and overwhelmed at the point of attack. 

    32. WR Hakeem Butler, Iowa State
    Butler is a towering target and outstanding downfield threat. The 6'6" target relies on his size and ball-tracking ability to come down with contested throws. According to RotoViz's Travis May, 35 percent of Butler's catches went for 25 yards or more. 

    31. TE Irv Smith Jr., Alabama
    Smith's growth potential is exciting. The 20-year-old tight end is raw in certain areas like blocking and route running, yet the 241-pound target still broke Alabama single-season records by a tight end with 710 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. 

No. 30-21

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    30. S Johnathan Abram, Mississippi State
    Abram will be typecast as a strong safety even though his skill set extends beyond traditional traits. Yes, Abram is a vicious hitter and tone-setter. He's also a capable defender working in space and as a nickel corner. The JUCO transfer is the complete package and the class' top safety prospect.  

    29. OT Yodny Cajuste, West Virginia
    Projectable traits play a large role in the evaluation process. At 6'5" and 308 pounds with long arms, Cajuste is a ready-made left tackle. His nimble feet and movement skills make him a potential first-round pick despite some inconsistency in technique. 

    28. QB Drew Lock, Missouri
    Lock decided to return to school after setting an SEC record with 44 touchdowns passes. The extra season allowed him to become more efficient despite that he saw an overall drop in production. Lock is at his best when pushing the ball downfield and making tight-window throws. 

    27. TE Noah Fant, Iowa
    Fant is a mismatch in the making. The 6'5", 241-pound target is an exceptional athlete with awesome short-area quickness. However, the 21-year-old tight end is far from a polished prospect and struggles when asked to be physical. 

    26. RB Josh Jacobs, Alabama
    The class' top running back prospect wasn't even a full-time starter during his collegiate career. That would be concerning for other positions. For Jacobs, less wear on the tires makes him even more enticing after he showed a combination of downhill ferocity, lateral agility and capability as a receiver. 

    25. EDGE Brian Burns, Florida State
    Burns can be viewed through two lenses. First, he's the most naturally fluid and advanced pass-rusher in this year's class. Second, his lack of bulk is concerning. Florida State listed the early entrant at 235 pounds. A pass-rusher is worth his weight in gold, but he needs to set the edge as well. 

    24. RT Dalton Risner, Kansas State
    An argument will commence whether Risner should start at right tackle or play inside at center or guard. He can be an immediate starter at all three positions. The four-year starter is a sound technician with a nasty disposition. 

    23. OG Cody Ford, Oklahoma
    Like Risner, Ford is a potential attitude-changing addition. The 338-pound blocker, who started at guard and right tackle, punishes defenders in the running game. Plus, Ford moves better than expected for a man his size, which allows him to hold up against edge-rushers. 

    22. DT Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame
    A 6'7", 305-pound defensive tackle is supposed to be an immovable object, not one of the class' best pass-rushers. According to Pro Football Focus, Tillery tied for first among interior defenders in pass-rushing grade and had 48 total pressures. 

    21. WR D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss
    Metcalf is the class' closest thing to a dominant wide receiver. The 6'4", 230-pound target is a true downfield threat when working outside the numbers, but he suffered a neck injury that required surgery last season and needs to show elite top-end speed and fluidity during predraft workouts. 

No. 20-11

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    20. EDGE Jachai Polite, Florida
    Polite is a compact ball of energy and explosion. The 6'2", 242-pound pass-rusher won't be considered a fit for every system. But any team that takes him off its board is shortsighted since his speed, natural leverage and relentless pursuit will make him difficult to contain in any scheme. 

    19. EDGE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
    If an organization prefers long, lean and bendy edge-rushers, Sweat is their guy. The 6'6", 252-pound defender with 35⅝-inch arms, per Optimum Scouting, collected 22 sacks during his two seasons at Mississippi State. Although, Sweat still needs to work on generating more power through his lanky frame. 

    18. LT Andre Dillard, Washington State
    Dillard is the class' most patient and well-rounded pass-blocker. The 6'5", 310-pound lineman might not be the most physically gifted left tackle, but he can step in from day one as a starter and not have a coaching staff worried about its quarterback getting blasted. 

    17. CB Byron Murphy, Washington
    Concerns over size limitations will hound each of the top three cornerback prospects. Murphy told SiriusXM NFL radio hosts Alex Marvez and Kirk Morrison he's now up to 188 pounds. Otherwise, the first-team All-Pac 12 performer displays good route recognition, ball skills and physical play despite his lack of bulk. 

    16. CB Deandre Baker, Georgia
    A lot of factors play into a cornerback's evaluation, but coverage skill remains the most important. Baker's slight frame (5'11" and 185 pounds) will have a negative effect on his draft status, but the reigning Thorpe Award winner can turn and stick with any wide receiver. 

    15. LT Greg Little, Ole Miss
    The good far outweighs the bad regarding Little. The 21-year-old blocker is a natural athlete with the flexibility and movement skills to excel. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed only 10 pressures last season. As the 6'6", 325-pound blocker matures, improved functional strength and technique could turn him into a dominant blindside protector.

    14. CB Greedy Williams, LSU
    A dividing line exists in Williams' evaluation. Purely from a coverage perspective, he's a potential top-10 pick because of a fluid lower body to mirror receivers and plenty of length at 6'3" and 184 pounds. But the 21-year-old defensive back is not a sudden athlete, nor the most physical. 

    13. EDGE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
    Clemson won two national championships in three years due, in part, to a stacked defensive front. Ferrell was the most productive of the bunch with 50 tackles for loss and 27 sacks during that stretch. The 2018 Ted Hendricks Award recipient wins with his initial burst, even though his lateral agility is lacking. 

    12. DT Rashan Gary, Michigan
    Physically, Gary is everything a team wants in a defensive lineman. He's 6'5" and 287 pounds with an explosive first step and the strength to hold the point of attack as a base end or 3-technique. Teams must reconcile his relative lack of production despite his immense talent. 

    11. DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson
    Wilkins is big (6'4", 315 pounds), strong, athletic, relentless, versatile, a team leader and highly intelligent as the reigning William V. Campbell Trophy winner. What's not to like about his game? His arms may be shorter than ideal and he can get caught in the wash of double-teams. That's about it. 

10. RT Jawaan Taylor, Florida

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    Editor's Note: Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, Taylor is dealing with an injury that may prevent him from participating in specific drills. 

    The value of right tackles increases with each passing year because of the league's growing emphasis on pass blocking and the fact that some of the league's best defenders rush off the strong side. 

    A year ago, the San Francisco 49ers chose Mike McGlinchey with the ninth overall pick. He started all 16 games at right tackle. Florida's Jawaan Taylor has a chance to follow in McGlinchey's footsteps. 

    The 21-year-old early entrant blossomed last season and became a dominant blocker. 

    At 6'5" and 328 pounds, Taylor physically overwhelms smaller edge defenders. The right tackle manhandles opponents and constantly works to finish blocks thanks to a combination of impressive size, strong hands and exceptional playing strength. 

    More importantly, the 35-game starter showed marked improved as a pass-blocker during his final season on campus. He handled highly regarded and athletic pass-rushers by staying square, working to establish better angles and not being fooled by initial pass-rushing moves. 

    As a result of losing nearly 50 pounds to earn a scholarship, Taylor moves exceptionally well for a man his size. He gets to the second level and works in space to bury smaller defenders. 

    A right tackle designation no longer devalues an offensive lineman. As a result, Taylor has top-10 potential. 

9. TE T.J. Hockenson, Iowa

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    Complete tight ends are rare.

    An emphasis has been placed on creating mismatches in the passing game, and many prospects develop into oversized wide receivers. A tight end who can be a productive target and a competent blocker might be football's version of a unicorn. 

    Strap a horn to T.J. Hockenson's forehead, because he represents the mythical creature. 

    The 2018 John Mackey Award winner led the Iowa Hawkeyes with 760 receiving yards. Like many other successful tight ends, Hockenson has a basketball background. The Hawkeyes recruited the two-sport star knowing he was a work in progress.

    "Freaky athlete. I thought he would go back, but I'm glad he didn't," an NFL pro personnel director told NFL.com's Lance Zierlein

    At 6'5" and 250 pounds, Hockenson has always been a dynamic receiver and deep threat down the seam. But he worked diligently to become a good in-line blocker. By the time the redshirt sophomore declared for the draft, multiple bone-crushing blocks of his could be found on social media. 

    Hockenson comes out of the same system that developed the NFL's latest breakout star, George Kittle. The 21-year-old prospect is further along at the same point in their careers, though. 

8. LB Devin White, LSU

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    Only three-down, off-the-ball linebackers are worthy of first-round draft status. If a second-level defender isn't comfortable working in space or can't contribute to pressure packages, he's not of much use. 

    Options capable of producing in both areas are considered elite prospects. LSU's Devin White affects all three phases of the game.

    The Butkus Award winner led the Tigers with 256 total tackles and 26 tackles for loss over the last two seasons. The linebacker tied for the team lead in 2018 with 13 quarterback pressures (sacks plus quarterback hits). Furthermore, the 6'1", 240-pound defender has impressive range and defended 12 passes.  

    "I want to be the best," White said, per the New Orleans Advocate's Brooks Kubena. "I genuinely mean that when I say I want to be the best. I look at the guys who came before me—Patrick Willis, Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Brian Urlacher—I look at those guys and say I want to be better than them. I want my name mentioned with them." 

    For White to reach that status, his recognition and discipline must improve. But he has the complete physical skill set to become one of the NFL's top linebacker. 

7. DT Ed Oliver, Houston

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    Houston's Ed Oliver is a defensive tackle. He shouldn't be considered anything else despite his size. 

    The 6'3", 292-pound Oliver is a game-changer, not only with his play but how the position should be viewed. 

    Two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald can't be replicated, but he shows that traditional defensive tackles are relics. Bigger, more physical space-eaters aren't necessary. The game is trending toward lighter, more athletic penetrating interior defenders. Bulk doesn't automatically equate to power. 

    Oliver is an outstanding run defender after primarily playing nose tackle. In three seasons, the three-time first-team All-American accumulated a staggering 117 defensive stops, per Pro Football FocusAccording to The Athletic's Bruce Feldman, Oliver power-cleans 385 pounds, squats 650 and benches 405. 

    The 2017 Outland Trophy winner has the strength to hold up against double-teams, but his lateral agility and linebacker-like movement skills make him lethal. Oliver's mobility projects as a dynamic 3-technique who consistently shoots gaps and creates disruption. 

    A lighter-than-expected version of Oliver might show up at the combine but shouldn't sway anyone's evaluation of him as an elite defensive tackle prospect. 

6. QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State

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    Dwayne Haskins is the best quarterback prospect ever produced by one of college football's premier pipeline programs. In one year as a starter, the Ohio State product set Big Ten Conference single-season records with 4,831 passing yards and 50 passing touchdowns. 

    Haskins fits traditional standards NFL franchises prefer at the game's most important position. He's 6'3", 220 pounds and the best natural thrower in the class. A whiplike arm action allows him to complete any throw. The Heisman Trophy finalist also showed subtle pocket movement and the ability to extend plays. 

    "Haskins has the most upside of the top quarterbacks," an NFL scout told NJ Advance Media's Matt Lombardo

    The 21-year-old signal-caller's maturation as a passer can be seen from the start of the 2018 campaign through its end. A couple concerning areas did emerge, particularly pre- and post-snap reads and reaction to pressure packages. Haskins has no problem throwing off-platform, but he can be flustered working in a muddied pocket. Also, his processing speed must continue to improve. 

    Even so, Haskins is the most willing and efficient downfield passer in the class. He led major college football with 14 touchdown passes of 20 or more yards and ranked second with a 111.8 quarterback rating on deep passes during college football's regular season, per Pro Football Focus

5. QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma

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    Judge Kyler Murray by his size at your own peril. 

    The reigning Heisman Trophy winner is an exceptional athlete and outstanding passer. Yes, Murray is 5'10" and somewhere between 195 and 205 pounds. Those numbers don't matter nearly as much as the quantifiable and transferrable traits he presents. 

    "The athleticism, the combination of the speed, the quickness, the feel for the game, and then also having a very accurate and twitchy arm—I mean, it's a rare skill set," Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley told The MMQB's Albert Breer. "I don't know that I've watched anybody play the game that has a skill set like this guy. I don't think there's ever been one."

    Murray's predecessor, Baker Mayfield, put together the two most efficient seasons in FBS history before leaving Oklahoma. Murray topped Mayfield's numbers with a 199.2 quarterback rating. 

    The narrative he's more athlete than passer will come into play. The fact that Murray is blazing fast and capable of extending plays shouldn't take away from the fact that he was also the most effective pocket passer in major college football last season, according to Pro Football Focus

    Adjustments will be made to build an offense around Murray, but, like Mayfield last year, a lack of size is the only reason anyone wouldn't consider him a potential franchise quarterback and possible No. 1 overall pick. 

4. EDGE Josh Allen, Kentucky

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    No prospect experienced a greater rise up draft boards than Kentucky's Josh Allen. The reason is simple: He added good weight, especially to his lower body, which allowed the outside linebacker to become a well-rounded defender. 

    Allen entered Kentucky as a 210-pound freshman. He started the 2018 season as a 252-pound wrecking ball. 

    "I feel more comfortable," Allen said before his senior campaign, per Kentucky Sports' Jennifer Smith. "I feel like I can play at my weight now. I got bigger, got stronger, got faster. … I can set harder edges and be able to pass rush a little bit more."

    The defender underestimated his effectiveness. Allen more than doubled his previous year's production with 17 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss.

    Allen even retained his fluidity despite the added bulk. The first-team All-American's value is derived from his ability to rush the passer, but he can drop into space and cover tight ends if needed. 

    The 2018 SEC Defensive Player of the Year didn't just physically mature; the edge defender benefitted from Brad White's addition to the Wildcats coaching staff. White, who spent six seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, placed an emphasis on technique, and Allen became a more nuanced pass-rusher.  

    A 2-star recruit developed into a defensive centerpiece through hard work and patience. 

3. LT Jonah Williams, Alabama

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    Consistent repeatable technique makes great offensive linemen. Yet, specific physical tools tend to overshadow the nuances of playing the position during the predraft process. 

    NFL teams want 6'7", 310-plus-pound offensive tackles with 35-inch arms. If a player doesn't fulfill those physical requirements, he is often projected to another position. 

    Meet Alabama's Jonah Williams, college football's most consistent and fundamentally sound blocker. He's listed at 6'5" and 301 pounds and lacks ideal length. So, the automatic reaction is switching Williams from tackle to guard even though he's started and dominated SEC competition at right and left tackle for the past three seasons. 

    As long as prospects reach certain physical thresholds, a position switch isn't automatically in their best interests, especially if they have the potential to be an outstanding performer at a premium spot. 

    Williams is a smooth operator. He displays a flexible lower body and fluid movement skills in his pass set to set the edge and the lower-body strength to anchor. Most importantly, he's patient and rarely flustered, and every pass set is nearly identical. 

    The consensus All-American's impeccable technique extends into the running game where he plays with good pad level, a flat back, brings his hips after contract and drives through blocks. 

    Reliability is far more important to an offensive lineman than raw potential.

2. DT Quinnen Williams, Alabama

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    Alabama's Quinnen Williams developed into an unstoppable force of nature as a redshirt sophomore.

    In the search of a starting position among a loaded defensive line, Williams bulked up to 305 pounds prior to the 2018 campaign to take over nose tackle duties. At the time, no one knew what was about to be unleashed upon college football. 

    A different Williams emerged as the most devastating interior defender since Ndamukong Suh. 

    "Right now, I feel like I'm a way better player now than I was coming into this process," Williams said, per NBC Sports Bay Area's Scott Bair. "I lost a lot of body fat. I'm toned up, stronger and quicker because I'm leaner. I'm focused on body mass, and getting that Aaron Donald body."

    The eventual Outland Trophy winner retained his quickness, but the added bulk improved his functional strength to go along with outstanding pad level and technique. Williams regularly slipped double-teams or simply threw offensive linemen off their blocks. 

    Williams led all interior defenders (by a wide margin) with 52 stops last season, per Pro Football Focus. He made 20 tackles for loss or no gain. His 26 combined sacks and quarterback hits led his position group as well. 

    A defensive tackle can't simply be a run defender anymore. NFL teams want more from the position. Williams is perfectly suited for today's game. 

1. EDGE Nick Bosa, Ohio State

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    Imagine how talented an individual must be to miss most of his final year on campus and never lose his status as the top prospect in the following year's NFL draft. 

    Nick Bosa is well-positioned to go wire to wire as the No. 1 over prospect despite suffering a core muscle injury that required season-ending surgery in September. 

    "I remember sitting in Coach [Larry] Johnson's office after finding out that I'd need bilateral abdominal surgery," Bosa wrote for the Player's Tribune. "And man, we just started getting tears in our eyes … because we knew what that type of surgery could mean."

    The defensive end's recent injury history is significant. But his father stated Bosa is now "100 percent healthy and ready to go," per NBC Sports' Matt Maiocco

    A healthy Bosa is a force. The 6'4", 263-pound defender is overwhelming at the point of attack, shows the flexibility to dip and flatten toward the quarterback and may be the most polished edge defender to enter the NFL ranks since Chris Long in 2008 (drafted second overall by the Rams). Bosa led major college football in 2017 with a 27.9 pass-rushing win percentage, according to Pro Football Focus

    A true difference-maker at a premium position will always hold great value as long as franchises can reconcile any previous issues.