2019 NFL Mock Draft: Latest 1st-Round Projections for Boom-or-Bust Prospects

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2019

Mississippi wide receiver D.K. Metcalf (14) gestures before a play during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Louisiana Monroe in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)
Thomas Graning/Associated Press

Every NFL draft prospect carries some level of risk. No matter how skilled a player appears to be, there's no guarantee he'll be successful at the NFL level until he's actually done so.

However, some players carry more risk than others, especially those with a limited resume and/or an unconventional skill set. Scouting prospects is an inexact science, but there are certain traits that suggest a player can make the transition from college to pro football—and the more you see those traits on film, the safer a prospect appears to be.

Of course, risky prospects often carry the most upside. Just look at a player with a limited resume like Alvin Kamara or a player with less-than-ideal size like Russell Wilson for confirmation. Both were risks, and both have developed into legitimate NFL stars.

Below, you'll find a look at some of this year's biggest risk-reward prospects. First, though, an updated Round 1 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: Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia

17. New York Giants (from Cleveland): Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State

18. Minnesota Vikings: Jonah Williams, OL, Alabama

19. Tennessee Titans: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Brian Burns, Edge, Florida State

21. Seattle Seahawks: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama

22. Baltimore Ravens: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan

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

        

D.K. Metcalf, WR, Mississippi

There might not be a bigger boom-or-bust prospect in this draft class than Mississippi wideout D.K. Metcalf.

The 21-year-old had a limited amount of production in college—just 67 receptions in three seasons—and suffered a season-ending neck injury. However, he also has a combination of size, speed and strength that NFL teams drool over.

At the combine, Metcalf ran the 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds at 6'3" and 228 pounds. He also put up an impressive 27 reps on the 225-pound bench press.

However, there's a concern with the player that appeared at the combine—a 7.38-second three-cone time.

Running in a straight line quickly is one thing, but elite receivers are able to change direction on a dime and move fluidly in and out of breaks. That isn't a trait Metcalf showed at the combine.

For now, his draft stock should remain high. However, more disappointing drills at Mississippi's pro day—scheduled for Friday—could push him down draft boards.

        

Jaylon Ferguson, Edge, Louisiana Tech

Butch Dill/Associated Press

Though he isn't found in this mock, Louisiana Tech pass-rusher Jaylon Ferguson is considered a potential first-round pick. NFL Media's Bucky Brooks, for example, recently mocked him 21st overall to the Seattle Seahawks. 

It's easy to see why teams would be interested in the 23-year-old—he's the NCAA's all-time sack leader with 45.

However, Ferguson carries the risk of being a small-school prospect. With a little polish, he might develop into one of the league's best pass-rushers. However, there's also the chance that the jump from FBS play to the NFL will be too overwhelming.

These concerns weren't alleviated by an average-at-best pro-day performance:

The reality is Ferguson may not be quick and nimble enough to even be an edge-rusher at the NFL level.

"I don't know if he's for sure a first-rounder," one scout said of Ferguson, per Cory Diaz of the Monroe News-Star. "Depends on scheme, whether you have him rush the outside or project him getting bigger and move him inside."

Right now, Ferguson's stock is down from where it was a few weeks ago. However, it only takes one team to believe in him in order to make him a first-round selection.

         

Devin Bush, LB, Michigan

Darron Cummings/Associated Press

If you just watch Michigan linebacker Devin Bush's game tape, you'll see a player who looks like NFL material. He's fast (4.43 40), physical, flies around the field and can thump ball-carriers with the best of them.

The risk with the 20-year-old, though, is his less-than-ideal length. Though he weighed in at the combine at a solid 234 pounds, he's also just 5'11". He could struggle to cover taller pass-catchers at the NFL level and also struggle to disengage from blockers.

"There will be NFL defenses who pass on Bush due to his lack of size," NFL Media's Lance Zierlein wrote of Bush. "...He will miss some tackles and get engulfed by blockers at other times, but his play strength and ability to run and cover are extremely valuable in today's game."

Bush's draft stock is going to vary widely from team to team, and his landing spot could well determine how successful he is as a pro.

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