There are several factors that determine whether an NFL prospect goes highly in the draft. Obviously, on-field production and sound game tape should be at the top of the list. Physical potential will shoot a player up draft boards, too, as will strong interviews and individual workouts.
Sometimes, though, it's all about peaking at the right time.
Just look at last year's draft class. Despite coming off a Heisman-winning campaign, Baker Mayfield didn't even start to enter the conversation about the top quarterback in the class until the time between the scouting combine and the draft itself. The talent was there all along, but it was the buzz that Mayfield was able to generate leading up to the draft that really brought him into the conversation.
Which prospects are creating the biggest buzz with just over a month until the 2019 draft? We'll examine some here, along with an updated full first-round mock.
2019 NFL Mock Draft Round 1
1. Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
2. San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
3. New York Jets: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
4. Oakland Raiders: Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
6. New York Giants: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Mississippi
8. Detroit Lions: Rashan Gary, Edge, Michigan
9. Buffalo Bills: Montez Sweat, Edge, Mississippi State
10. Denver Broncos: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
11. Cincinnati Bengals: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
12. Green Bay Packers: Devin White, LB, LSU
13. Miami Dolphins: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
14. Atlanta Falcons: Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
15. Washington Redskins: N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
16. Carolina Panthers: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
17. New York Giants (from Cleveland): Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia
18. Minnesota Vikings: Jonah Williams, OL, Alabama
19. Tennessee Titans: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
21. Seattle Seahawks: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
22. Baltimore Ravens: Brian Burns, Edge, Florida State
23. Houston Texans: Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma
24. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago): Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
25. Philadelphia Eagles: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
26. Indianapolis Colts: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
27. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas): Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
28. Los Angeles Chargers: Dre'Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State
29. Kansas City Chiefs: Jachai Polite, Edge, Florida
30. Green Bay Packers (from New Orleans): Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
31. Los Angeles Rams: Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware
32. New England Patriots: Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama
Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
Oklahoma's Kyler Murray has been trending as a potential No. 1 pick for some time, and when he measured in at just above 5'10" at the scouting combine, he seemed to cement himself as a top-10 pick.
Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins, on the other hand, could still be the top quarterback in this class but has flown under the radar a bit since the combine. A 6'3" pocket passer who tossed 50 touchdowns in 2018 just doesn't generate much buzz in today's draft world, I suppose.
Well, a strong performance at Ohio State's pro day has put Haskins back into the draft spotlight.
"It was excellent," New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur said, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. "We obviously have spent a lot of time evaluating him, and this is one piece of it. We got the chance to work with him on the board and take him to dinner, and he certainly is an accomplished and impressive young man."
The Giants, who have long feigned a certain amount of disinterest in Haskins, aren't able to hide their intrigue anymore. According to Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, the Giants have done more work on Haskins than any other team.
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According to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, the Washington Redskins are also in on Haskins pretty strongly. This could lead to one of these two rivals trading up inside the top five in order to secure him.
Whether Haskins is the first or second quarterback off the board, it's looking increasingly likely that he'll be a top-five selection.
Montez Sweat, Edge, Mississippi State
If you take the time to watch some of Montez Sweat's game tape at Mississippi State from 2018, it's easy to understand why he's a coveted prospect. He has a combination of size, quickness and athleticism that is hard to ignore, even when 21 other players are on the field.
However, Sweat really started to see his stock rise during Senior Bowl Week, when he was able to showcase his skill set for NFL decision-makers up-close in practices.
"If you had him as a late first-rounder, you need to go back and reassess your grade for him," NFL Media's Lance Zierlein wrote of Sweat during Senior Bowl Week. "I projected him for the late teens in Round 1 coming into this week, but that might be too low for him."
Then, Sweat went out and ran a ridiculous 4.41-second 40-yard dash at the combine while weighing in at 260 pounds. There should be no shortage of teams intrigued by that size-speed combination.
But, during the combine, tests revealed that Sweat has a minor heart condition. While you're likely to hear this mentioned leading up to the draft and even during the draft broadcast, it doesn't appear to be an issue.
In fact, Sweat won't even be required to undergo a medical recheck—which is standard procedure for any serious medical condition—according to NFL Media's Gil Brandt:
The buzz Sweat has generated will almost certainly make him a top-10 pick.
Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
Missouri quarterback Drew Lock continues to be viewed as the third quarterback in this draft along with Murray and Haskins. In terms of talent and potential, he's right there with them, but he just hasn't been as buzz-worthy throughout the draft process.
Much of this can be blamed on Lock's decision to return to school for his senior season. He was electric during the 2017 season, throwing for 3,964 yards and 44 touchdowns. However, the sports world is always looking for the next story, and a very good 2018 campaign—3,498 yards, 28 touchdowns, just eight interceptions—went largely unnoticed in the shadow of Haskins' and Murray's race for the Heisman.
At Missouri's pro day, though, Lock reminded folks just what kind of arm strength and athleticism he possesses.
Was it a perfect performance? No, but as NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah noted, it did showcase the kind of potential that NFL teams drool over:
Lock has drawn comparisons to budding NFL superstar Patrick Mahomes—though, to be fair, ESPN's Todd McShay only referred to him as a "poor man's Patrick Mahomes."
While such comparisons aren't really fair, they do bring to mind the fact that Mahomes was kind of a forgotten man in 2017. The debate then raged over whether Deshaun Watson or Mitchell Trubisky was the top prospect.
Lock's pro day likely cemented his status as a top-three quarterback in this draft, and he could easily end up a top-10 selection.