Cooper Neill/Associated Press
The call came in on an otherwise quiet Wednesday morning from a longtime NFL scout. “What have you heard about this kid?” he asked. “Who’s on your list from this school? Did you hear about this kid’s problems?” It was a routine check-in with one of the scouts who have plenty of time to kill while driving from one college to another throughout the season.
But then he said something that stuck: “Man, this class is frustrating. Isn’t it?”
And really, it is kind of frustrating.
The 2019 class will leave us all wanting more. Those of us in the media would love for star quarterbacks, game-breaking running backs and superstar wide receivers to dominate the rankings—because those positions bring in readers, listeners and viewers.
NFL teams would also prefer a few quarterbacks and left tackles, and much better depth at the skill positions. It’s those marquee spots—quarterback, left tackle, pass-rusher and cornerback—you can build a franchise around.
“It’s a class with a lot of defensive tackles and cornerbacks, and that’s not going to get anybody excited. There’s no Baker [Mayfield] or Lamar Jackson out there,” said another area scout when asked for his thoughts on this group.
To be fair, it’s a very good class of defensive tackles, as the position has four players on my updated Big Board (found below). Among those are a rare athlete in Ed Oliver (Houston) and war daddys like Raekwon Davis (Alabama) and Dre’Mont Jones (Ohio State) as super-solid prospects.
But does watching a group of defensive tackles get readers excited? Not like when Mayfield planted a flag on Ohio State’s field or antagonized the Kansas sideline. Especially when the best tackle in the class, Oliver, still hasn’t posted a sack all season, as opposing offenses have devoted two or three players to him every down.
One general manager put a stamp on this class when he told me: “You know, this isn’t the year for superstars, and it’s not a great draft class, but there are a lot of starters in the trenches and some very good DBs. For our team, that’s great.”
The 2019 draft won’t help teams that are looking to overhaul their offense, and it won’t generate record-breaking clicks for websites, but it just might be the year your franchise gets an Aaron Donald- or Joey Bosa-type prospect.
What else is happening this week?
- NFL draft prospect stock watch
- Rumors from around the NFL and NCAA
- Stick to Football podcast Tailgate Tour details
- Parting shots
—Keep an eye on Clemson cornerback Trayvon Mullen. The 6’2″, 190-pound Mullen has turned heads every week this season and has the tools of a top-20 pick. On the field, teams love his size and length, as it’s mixed with what looks like top-tier speed. It won’t be a surprise if Mullen overtakes LSU’s Greedy Williams as the top corner for some teams.
—Speaking of Clemson, the love for its defensive line is centered more in the college landscape than the NFL. One scout I spoke to this week felt defensive tackle Christian Wilkins hurt himself by returning to school and is a middle-round pick.
—The cornerback class could be loaded, and a big part of that will be Ohio State’s Damon Arnette. As with Mullen, teams love his size (6’0″, 195 lbs) and toughness at the line of scrimmage. Agents and scouts are already lining up to watch Arnette and feel he’s a first-round talent.
—Karl Joseph was a first-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft, but there are rumors that the Oakland Raiders want to ship him out of town. A director of player personnel who’s familiar with his team’s trade talks said: “The Raiders think he’s a bust. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him moved.”
—Another former first-rounder rumored to be on the trade block is Miami’s DeVante Parker.
Lynne Sladky/Associated Press
Two teams came up often as potential landing spots: the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers. Both are in need of help at wide receiver and both can afford to take a flier on the talented but oft-injured Parker.
—Mississippi State’s Jeffery Simmons is one of the country’s most dominant players, but a video that surfaced in 2016 before he played in college that allegedly shows him striking a woman had scouts concerned. Conversations this week led me to believe that a number of teams will still value Simmons as a Round 1 talent. Multiple evaluators confirmed first-round grades for him, and one said Simmons is a top-10 player without the video.
Stock Up: Mississippi State Edge-Rusher Montez Sweat
With another Big Board update comes another move up for Montez Sweat. The Mississippi State pass-rusher has the length (6’6″, 245 lbs) and burst to make teams salivate over the possibility of his coming off the edge in space. Sweat, like Marcus Davenport last year, is a tremendous athlete who rushes the quarterback. He’s good enough to be a top-15 pick if he can stay healthy.
Stock Up: Kentucky Linebacker Josh Allen
Josh Allen, the Kentucky linebacker, could shoot up boards like Josh Allen the Wyoming quarterback did. He’s highly athletic and has the ability to stop the run, play in coverage or rush the quarterback. This year, the Wildcats are using him a lot as a pass-rusher, and he’s producing to the tune of six sacks in just six games. To put that into perspective, he only had seven in 13 contests in both 2016 and 2017.
Stock Down: West Virginia Quarterback Will Grier
Brad Tollefson/Associated Press
Three red-zone interceptions last week put a spotlight on Will Grier’s issues as a passer. Too often, when top target David Sills V isn’t available, Grier forces it. When he does that, he makes big plays at times, but as seen against Kansas, there are too many missed passes, too. Grier looks like a middle-rounder.
Stock Up: Notre Dame Cornerback Julian Love
Notre Dame has shocked many with an undefeated start. Defensive tackle Jerry Tillery has been highlighted here before as a major reason for that, but cornerback Julian Love is holding his own. Love, a 5’11”, 193-pound junior, has one pick on the year but already has 11 passes defensed. He’s the type of all-around corner who could immediately benefit a team like the Kansas City Chiefs or New England Patriots.
It’s updated Big Board time. Here’s my most recent top 32:
1. Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
2. Ed Oliver, DL, Houston
3. Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
4. Devin White, LB, LSU
5. Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
6. Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
7. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
8. Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson
9. Raekwon Davis, DL, Alabama
10. Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan
11. Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
12. Dre’Mont Jones, DL, Ohio State
13. Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
14. Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
15. David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin
16. Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
17. D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
18. Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida
19. Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
20. Josh Allen, LB, Kentucky
21. Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State
22. Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
23. A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
24. N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
25. Jeffery Simmons, DL, Mississippi State
26. Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
27. Jerry Tillery, DL, Notre Dame
28. Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
29. Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
30. Kendall Sheffield, CB, Ohio State
31. Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama
32. Dexter Lawrence, DL, Clemson
5. As NFL teams look for more defensive speed to combat the spread offenses we’re seeing, expect smaller linebackers with elite speed who can also hold up on the outside in the run game to get a draft boost. Two players who stand out in this class are Michigan’s Devin Bush and Texas Tech’s Dakota Allen.
Paul Sancya/Associated Press
Bush, listed at 5’11” and 233 pounds, lives all over the field for the Wolverines. He’ll have a big test this weekend against the Wisconsin offensive line and run game. If he shows scouts he can be a three-down player, his stock could hit Round 1.
Allen was dismissed from Texas Tech after an arrest for burglary and theft (all charges were dropped), but he rebounded on Last Chance U at East Mississippi Community College. Now, back at Tech, the 6’1″, 235-pounder is looking like a top-50 pick and the type of linebacker perfectly suited to excel in nickel packages.
4. Game balls for Week 6 of college football:
- Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State: 33-of-44, 455 yards, 6 TD, 2 INT
- Gardner Minshew, QB, Washington State: 30-of-40, 430 yards, 5 TD
- Alex Barnes, RB, Kansas State: 22 carries, 250 yards, 3 TD
- Jalen Hurd, WR, Baylor: 11 catches, 135 yards
- Brian Burns, DE, FSU: 4 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 FF
3. Here are the college games you’ll want to scout this weekend:
- No. 2 Georgia at No. 13 LSU
- No. 7 Washington at No. 17 Oregon
- Michigan State at No. 8 Penn State
- No. 15 Wisconsin at No. 12 Michigan
- Missouri at No. 1 Alabama
2. The Stick to Football Tailgate Tour rolls down to LSU for a huge matchup between the Tigers and Georgia Bulldogs this weekend. If you’re in the Baton Rouge area and want to check it out, details are on our Twitter page.
1. Stick to Football jumps into a way-too-early mock draft on the Wednesday show before doing an All-Time LSU/Georgia draft Friday. Check it out 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.