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NFL Mock Draft 2019: Projections for Most Underrated 1st-Round Prospects

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistApril 10, 2019

LSU cornerback Andraez
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

The underrated prospects often come back to haunt NFL teams in hindsight—besides the team that drafted them, of course. 

Think back to last year, when Derwin James inexplicably fell to the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 17 before having an elite debut season. Or Darius Leonard with the Indianapolis Colts at No. 36 in the second round, who did much of the same.

This won't be any different in the 2019 NFL draft, where the emphasis on defensive players is causing some players on the other side of the ball to fall into underrated territory.

Here's a look at how the first round might play out and some of those prospects who could be looked back upon in the same light as James and Leonard this time a year from now. 

       

2019 NFL Mock Draft

1. Arizona Cardinals: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State

2. San Francisco 49ers: Josh Allen, DE/OLB, Kentucky

3. New York Jets: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama

4. Oakland Raiders: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State

6. New York Giants: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss

8. Detroit Lions: Brian Burns, DE, Florida State

9. Buffalo Bills: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama

10. Denver Broncos: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

11. Cincinnati Bengals: Devin White, LB, LSU

12. Green Bay Packers: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

13. Miami Dolphins: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida

14. Atlanta Falcons: Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan

15. Washington Redskins: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

16. Carolina Panthers: N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State

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

18. Minnesota Vikings: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa

19. Tennessee Titans: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington

21. Seattle Seahawks: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama

22. Baltimore Ravens: A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss

23. Houston Texans: Garrett Bradbury, OL, NC State

24. Oakland Raiders (via Chicago Bears): Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

25. Philadelphia Eagles: Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama

26. Indianapolis Colts: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma

27. Oakland Raiders (via Dallas Cowboys): Daniel Jones, QB, Duke

28. Los Angeles Chargers: Cody Ford, G, Oklahoma

29. Kansas City Chiefs: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

30. Green Bay Packers (via New Orleans Saints): Devin Bush, LB, Michigan

31. Los Angeles Rams: Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware

32. New England Patriots: Jace Sternberger, TE, Texas A&M

       

9. Buffalo Bills: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

It is always interesting to see how offensive linemen can go underrated in the grand scheme of things while teams focus on flashy items like quarterbacks and pass rushers. 

Yet protecting those quarterbacks is just as important as anything else—ask the Colts after having Andrew Luck on the field last season consistently, or the Carolina Panthers with the uncertainty around Cam Newton this offseason. 

This is what makes a prospect like Jonah Williams out of Alabama so interesting. He was hyped as a top-15 tackle before the combine, then he measured 33⅝" on arm length, which was used to point out he might be better on the interior. 

But that's not such a bad thing—Williams did it all well on the edge in the SEC and would likely have a smooth transition inside: 

PFF Draft @PFF_College

Whether run blocking or pass blocking, Jonah Williams didn't care: he did IT ALL extremely well. https://t.co/czDRMgMNrf

For a team like the Buffalo Bills, Williams might be the best player on the board by the time their pick rolls around and a bit of an unknown in terms of his best pro position won't stop them from making the move. 

Offensive line has been an emphasis for the Bills this offseason, with additions like Jon Feliciano, Mitch Morse, Ty Nsekhe and Spencer Long in an effort to create competition. 

Williams would add another layer of protection and win a starting gig at almost any spot, which is the best way to approach the situation when it comes to protecting a potential franchise passer like Josh Allen.

       

24. Oakland Raiders (via Chicago Bears): Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Even in a defensive-heavy class, a defender can fall into the underrated realm. 

It seems like secondary players have taken a seat on the backburner, which, given the context of the disruptors in this class, makes a bit of sense. 

But the team that gets LSU's Greedy Williams at a better value than expected will come away thrilled. 

Williams is a big corner at 6'2" and 185 pounds who blazed a 4.37-second time in the 40-yard dash at the combine.

He's a man-coverage prospect in a big way, and like Williams above, he put up superb production in college to match the numbers—also at the highest level of play in the SEC: 

PFF Draft @PFF_College

Who allowed the lowest catch rate in the SEC? That would be Greedy! https://t.co/P2eVOrjUlw

A team with a trio of first-round picks like Oakland might be most comfortable grabbing Williams out of a slight fall and tossing him on the field as a rookie. 

Those Raiders couldn't generate much of a pass rush last year after trading Khalil Mack, yet they figure to hit that area earlier.

Lamarcus Joyner, a new free-agent addition, could use a high-upside running mate like Williams next to him in the defensive backfield. 

       

25. Philadelphia Eagles: Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Running back always seems to be devalued at this point unless a rare prospect like Saquon Barkley is on the board.

This year isn't an exception, as no prospect comes close to Barkley. But that doesn't mean there isn't a talent worthy of the first round outright, which seems to be the overarching story for Alabama's Josh Jacobs.

Jacobs is a 5'10", 220-pound back who never got workhorse status with the Crimson Tide last year—which explains his only going for 640 yards and 11 touchdowns on a 5.3 per-carry average ("only," right?). It also meant a lack of a chance to display his ability as a receiver. 

But the skill as a receiver is certainly there for those who look close enough: 

Sigmund Bloom @SigmundBloom

"Best receiver: Josh Jacobs, Alabama" How many times is one of the most powerful backs in the draft also the best receiver? I won't the knock the team that takes Jacobs in the first. He has a rare intersection of skills/traits and NFL offenses are evolving to harvest that value https://t.co/3e2zUZ3VFi

A team like the Philadelphia Eagles might have a hard time ignoring the value near the end of the round. 

Those Eagles went to great lengths to get some new talent in the struggling backfield, striking up a trade for Jordan Howard with the Chicago Bears. But Howard's arrival doesn't guarantee the team is done—he's a lackluster receiver who could only average 3.7 yards per carry last year on 250 attempts. 

Jacobs would represent an upgrade on the rest of the depth chart and form a solid one-two punch with Howard, which is something the Eagles could use in the hopes of both diversifying the offense and minimizing the risk to Carson Wentz now that Nick Foles isn't around to come in and take over. 

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