Matt Miller's Scouting Notebook: WRs Are the True Enigmas of the 2019 NFL Draft

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterMarch 29, 2019

Mississippi wide receiver D.K. Metcalf (14) stretches forward as he scores on a two-yard touchdown pass reception in the second half of an NCAA college football game against UT Martin, in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. Mississippi won 45-23. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

The 2019 NFL draft class is coming into focus with under a month left. We know who the top player is (Nick Bosa), who the top pick will be (Kyler Murray) and are getting a clear picture of what the top four picks will look like (Murray, Bosa, Josh Allen, Quinnen Williams). One position that's still murky is wide receiver. This week, we're clearing it up.

As our NFL Draft 400 project gets set to roll out, with wide receivers debuting April 3, here's what we think we know and what we actually know about the receivers.

• D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown should both go first round as teammates coming out of Ole Miss.

Even if you don't like Metcalf's agility times, injuries and lack of production, teams are sold on his traits. And vice versa for Brown, who doesn't have amazing height (6'0") or speed but is a clean route-runner and productive receiver in the SEC.

• Small receivers are en vogue.

Marquise Brown (Oklahoma), Deebo Samuel (South Carolina), Parris Campbell (Ohio State) and Mecole Hardman (Georgia) are loved by NFL scouts. All four should be top-50 selections.

• Don't sleep on Arizona State's N'Keal Harry.

     

Matt York/Associated Press

There is some thought that Harry could fall to the top of Round 2, but there is a lot of love for him among scouts. His size, catch radius and big-play ability are all reasons to like his tape over big-bodied competitors like Hakeem Butler (Iowa State) or Kelvin Harmon (NC State).

    

The Scout's Report

• Could Josh Rosen be on the move already? In a trade rumored since January, the Arizona Cardinals have reportedly received an offer of a second-round pick from an unnamed team for Rosen, according to Fox Sports' Joel Klatt. The former Colorado quarterback also mentioned three teams interested in acquiring Rosen: the New England Patriots, the Los Angeles Chargers and New York Giants.

Rosen was the No. 10 overall pick in last year's NFL draft after the Cardinals traded up to get him. Why would they move on so soon? Rosen doesn't have the personality to be a backup, and new head coach Kliff Kingsbury wants Kyler Murray. 

• The Philadelphia Eagles knew they were losing quarterback Nick Foles this offseason, but most experts thought they would tag him with the franchise designation and then attempt to trade him.

That was considered, according to owner Jeffrey Lurie. Lurie told reporters they were concerned Foles would end up with the New York Giants or Washington Redskins, but once they realized he would be signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars, they were fine to let him walk without the tag.

• Andy Dalton is playing for his job, according to Fletcher Page of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Dalton, whose contract expires after the 2020 season, will not receive an extension before the season begins. The Bengals, and new head coach Zac Taylor, need to see what Dalton can do in this offense before committing to him long term. This could make the Bengals a sleeper to pick a quarterback if one slips to them in the draft.

• Ed Oliver is athletic. Very athletic.

Michael Wyke/Associated Press

At 281 pounds, he turned in a 40-yard-dash time of 4.71 to 4.75 seconds, depending on whose watch you looked at. Oliver is a rare breed at defensive tackle, which is why some NFL teams have asked him to play linebacker or defensive end. He's a lock to be a top-15 selection in the upcoming draft.

• South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel is a hot name among NFL scouts. One team official went as far as to say Samuel could hear late first-round consideration. 

• Florida's Jachai Polite went from top-15 player to potential Day 3 target after poor showings at the NFL Scouting Combine and his pro day, but multiple team scouts maintain his talent is too good to overlook late in the first round. He could be in play for the Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots.

 North Carolina State center Garrett Bradbury is seen by many in the media as a Round 1 lock, but in speaking to teams this week, several pointed out he's being overvalued because of a poor center class. Of those talked to, only one scout had a true Round 1 grade on Bradbury.

 Lonnie Johnson from Kentucky has enjoyed a fantastic predraft process and is now a possible top-50 pick after wowing scouts with his speed (4.52 seconds) in the 40 at the combine and then a scout's timed 4.45 at his pro day. He did this at 6'2" and 213 pounds, which is why teams are excited.

                                       

The Big Board

Our NFL Draft 400 series begins rolling out April 2 with running back rankings, grades, scouting reports and pro comparisons. That means the big board gets a fresh update. Here's a preview of that:

1. Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State

2. Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama

3. Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky

4. Devin White, LB, LSU

5. Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama

6. Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan

7. Ed Oliver, DL, Houston

8. T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa

9. Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama

10. Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State

11. Devin Bush, LB, Michigan

12. Jeffery Simmons, DL, Mississippi State

13. Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State

14. Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

15. Brian Burns, EDGE, FSU

16. Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida

17. Taylor Rapp, S, Washington

18. A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss

19. Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

20. Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

21. N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State

22. Garrett Bradbury, OC, NC State

23. Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson

24. Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson

25. Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State

26. Byron Murphy, CB, Washington

27. Cody Ford, OG, Oklahoma

28. Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State

29. Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple

30. Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma

31. D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss

32. Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

                                           

Parting Shots

7. Crazy Stat of the Week

6. NFL Draft Tiebreakers

The NFL has changed its tiebreaking procedure for draft order, which unfortunately means that nail-biter coin toss at the NFL Scouting Combine each spring is likely done.

Strength of schedule remains the top tiebreaker if two or more teams finish with the same record at the end of the season, but now the NFL will use head-to-head record, record in common games, strength of victory, combined ranking in points scored and points allowed, net points in all games and, finally, net touchdowns in all games.

So, basically, no more coin toss.

5. Draft Capital          

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Having the most picks doesn't always equal the most success in a draft class, but the more lottery tickets, the better the odds, right? Here are the teams with the most crack at the apple when it comes to the 2019 draft:

New England Patriots — 12 picks

New York Giants — 12 picks

Cincinnati Bengals — 11 picks

Arizona Cardinals — 10 picks

Buffalo Bills — 10 picks

Green Bay Packers — 10 picks

Pittsburgh Steelers — 10 picks

       

4. Stock up

Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Maryland safety Darnell Savage has a chance to be drafted in the top 40 this spring. He's fast, rangy and a dangerous player when the ball is in the air. With 4.36 speed, he has the ability to track the ball all over the field with great makeup speed. He also recorded a 7.03-second three-cone time, which opened a lot of eyes to his change-of-direction skills.

                  

3. Stock down

Kendall Sheffield was a big name coming into the season as a former Alabama player who transferred to Ohio State and has world-class speed. But it turns out he's not very good in coverage. Sheffield, as we cross-check rankings and scouting notes for Draft 400, is a massive faller.

As a traits-only player, Sheffield will be drafted, but it will be much later than originally expected.

                   

2. Sleeper of the week

Michigan State cornerback Justin Layne is primed to be a top-50 selection in next month's NFL draft, but he's still not getting enough love nationally. We gotta change that. 

Layne, at 6'2" and 192 pounds, has a ridiculous 80⅛" wingspan. As scouts like to say, he can tie his shoe without bending over. Layne uses that length well, but he's also explosive and fast—just check his 4.5-second 40 time at that size and 134-inch broad jump for proof.

Teams that miss out on Greedy Williams and Byron Murphy should be all over the idea of Layne in early Round 2.

                     

1. Stick to Football 

We have three new episodes this week. On Monday, Mello and Connor ripped apart my Round 1 mock in "Mock Draft Monday." Wednesday's show featured our all-sleeper teams and updates on the latest draft buzz.

On Friday, we sat down with Oklahoma's Cody Ford and drafted the top five quarterbacks from the last five years. Check out the podcast and subscribe if you haven't already. We will also post a ton of behind-the-scenes content on our Instagram page.

                                                                       

Matt Miller covers the NFL and NFL draft for Bleacher Report.

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