Best 2019 NFL Draft Prospects Nobody Is Talking About
We've spent 10 months talking about Ohio State's Nick Bosa, Houston's Ed Oliver and the rest of the 2019 draft class. So much so that you've probably memorized details about their height, weight, 40 time and college production.
But what about the under-the-radar stars in this year's draft class? You know, the players who go on to become George Kittle and Darius Leonard?
This list of 10 standouts that aren't getting enough love from the draft community is your cheat sheet for who to root for outside of the first round come draft week.
Garrett Bradbury, Center, NC State
You may have heard of Garrett Bradbury thanks to a very good showing at the NFL Scouting Combine, but are you ready for the possibility that he will be drafted in the first round?
The free-agent center crop isn't good, and the selection is average throughout the draft class. That could lead to Bradbury—who has Round 1 talent—being selected in the first 32 picks. Teams like the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams are great fits for his athletic style of play if they can fill needs on defense in free agency.
Tyree Jackson, Quarterback, Buffalo
Oklahoma's Kyler Murray, Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins, Missouri's Drew Lock and Duke's Daniel Jones get all the talk at the quarterback position, but after they're drafted in the top 15 picks of the first round, where will teams who need a quarterback turn?
Buffalo's Tyree Jackson could be the answer. At 6'7" and 249 pounds, he turned in a blistering 4.59-second run in the 40-yard dash. He also has the strongest arm in the 2019 class, with excellent velocity while playing from the pocket or on the move.
Jackson probably can't rise enough to reach the first round, but don't be surprised if he's the fifth quarterback off the board on draft weekend.
Sean Bunting, Cornerback, Central Michigan
Can a player ranked in the top 40 overall be underrated? Well, that's the case for Central Michigan cornerback Sean Bunting.
A two-year starter, Bunting has a toughness to his game that scouts and coaches will love. He's also fast enough with 4.42 speed at 6'0" and 195 pounds to turn and run with the best of the NFL's receivers. As far as schemes go, Bunting has proven he can play in man coverage and is smooth enough to sink into zones. He's also big, tough and physical at the line in press situations.
Bunting probably won't sneak into the first round, but he's a legit starting cornerback option early in Round 2.
Zach Allen, Defensive Lineman, Boston College
Zach Allen was at one point considered a potential first-round player, but his senior season didn't bring the production many expected, and his average testing times as a defensive line/edge tweener put him into a bit of a draft fall.
That doesn't mean Allen can't or won't be a longtime NFL starter. The Boston College product is an excellent versatile option on the defensive line given his experience playing both end and tackle for the Eagles.
Teams looking for a high-character, high-effort defender with versatile traits will like Allen's game in the middle rounds of the draft.
Trayveon Williams, Running Back, Texas A&M
The best running back in the 2019 draft class is Alabama's Josh Jacobs, but the best third-down back is Texas A&M runner Trayveon Williams—bar none.
Williams doesn't have great size at 5'8" and 206 pounds, but he's a flawless receiver out of the backfield and a brave pass protector, and he has the juice to make plays outside the tackle box as a runner. In his first season under a pro-style offense with Jimbo Fisher as head coach, he also rushed for 1,760 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Williams will likely be a Day 3 selection, but he's the type of back who could thrive if given a chance to be a do-it-all player in a rotation.
Christian Miller, Edge-Rusher, Alabama
How could an Alabama defender be under the radar?
Christian Miller missed time in his junior season with a biceps injury and then missed the national title game with a pulled hamstring. He has struggled to stay on the field, but when out there for Alabama, he was an impact pass-rusher and linebacker.
There is a little bit of physical development still needed with Miller, but if teams can convince themselves he's able to stay healthy, he could be a huge addition as a situational pass-rusher early on.
Terrill Hanks, Linebacker, New Mexico State
One of my absolute favorite players in the 2019 draft class is New Mexico State linebacker Terrill Hanks. As the NFL continues to evolve, more teams need rangy linebackers who can cover, rush the quarterback and stop the run. That's Hanks, even if his 40-yard dash time did little to inspire at 4.98 seconds.
Take away the stopwatch and watch the tape, and Hanks is hard to miss. He tallied 101 tackles in 2018 despite missing three games to an ankle injury and added nine tackles for a loss and an interception as well.
Hanks isn't an early-round pick, but he's a classic mid-rounder who can come in and have a big impact from the middle of the field.
Tytus Howard, Offensive Tackle, Alabama State
My scouting notes on Tytus Howard mention that he looks and plays like Saints tackle Terron Armstead. That's good news for any team that gets his services on Day 2 of the draft. So why haven't you heard of him?
Howard is a small-school star from Alabama State, but he showed at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine that he has the athleticism to hang with the top pass-rushers in the nation. As an agile, fluid left tackle prospect, he's risen above bigger names like Ole Miss' Greg Little and Kansas State's Dalton Risner on my board.
As the league gets more athletic offensively and adapts to more spread schemes, offensive tackles like Howard who can play on a wider island and also get upfield and out of the blocks in the run game should become the trend. There are some holes in his game, which is why he's not a lock to go in the first round, but as a small-school prospect, there is a lot of potential here.
Saquan Hampton, Safety, Rutgers
Teams that want a tough, smart, athletic safety should be all over Saquan Hampton on Day 2.
The Rutgers star wowed at the combine with a 4.48-second run in the 40-yard dash at 6'1" and 206 pounds. That, matched with excellent play on a terrible defense, is a reason Hampton should be recognized as one of the better safeties in this loaded class.
The biggest knock on Hampton, and what might ultimately keep him lower on boards, are the injuries suffered in both shoulders in his sophomore and junior seasons at Rutgers. If his medicals are clean, he's a top-60 player.
Trevon Wesco, Tight End, West Virginia
Trevon Wesco will most likely be drafted outside the top 150 picks, but he has the skill set to be a 10-year starter in the NFL.
The Senior Bowl asked Wesco to come in and play a mixture of fullback and tight end, so he lined up all over the offense and dominated with toughness, instincts and excellent hands that saw him catching nearly everything that came his way from unfamiliar quarterbacks.
Wesco is a name to remember on Day 3 as teams start to look for versatile tight ends who can impact the game from a number of positions.