Defensive Tackle is another very deep class, from top to bottom. There’s some amazing talent in the first seven – all first and second round picks. Then there’s a handful of third and fourth round talent, but after that, a lot of names will start flying off the board.
One of the most dominant players in college football last year, is certainly in the mix for first player taken overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. Showed an excellent display of size, power, slipperiness, and speed to project as an immediate impact player at the next level.
2. Ed Oliver, Houston, 6-2/287
At one point, Ed Oliver was on everybody’s list of top five players in this draft. Then questions began to surface about his playing weight and would he be big enough to hold up at the next level. Good coaches find places for good players to succeed. Oliver has all the tool, just needs to find the right fit.
3. Dexter Lawrence, Clemson, 6-4/342
Somebody was saying that run-stuffing DT’s are a thing of the past … until the Super Bowl they said that anyway. Controlling the clock and wearing down a defense can win games. Stopping the run and getting off the field also wins games. Plenty of room for a high quality player like Lawrence in today’s game.
Like Lawrence, Simmons excels at stuffing the run and being a disruptive presence. Players with Simmons physical assets won’t stay on the board long. He might not go in the top 15, maybe not in the first round – now that he has the ACL issue. But some team will snatch him up and consider him an investment in the future.
Winner of the 2018 “Academic Heisman” (aka William Campbell Award). Can play up and down the line. Some think he’s a 3-4 defensive end, other a three-technique in a 4-3. Either way, plenty of teams will be eager to draft him.
Jones is explosive off the snap and the agility to make plays at or near the line of scrimmage. He’s not just one who pushes the linemen back and cause a disruption in the play, Jones likes to get to the quarterback.
Allen is listed as a DE in most places, however, he’s a bit of a one-trick bull-rushing pony and that doesn’t translate well at the next level. Let the NFL bulk him up a bit and put him at DT where his strength can be used to its maximize his potential — disrupting the backfield and holding up the line of scrimmage.
9. Kingsley Keke, Texas A&M, 6-3/288
Keke is one of those players who stood out over Senior Bowl week. He gets his power from his lower body and likes to pin his ears back and go forward. He’s another guy who can play up and down the line. Good coaching will add more tools to his belt as he goes along.
10. Khalen Saunders, Western Illinois, 6-0/324
Saunders was another Senior Bowl storyline. His short stature allowed him to constantly win the low-pad-level game and his strong lower body allowed him to get plenty of push. Might be best in line rotation.
With the NFL Draft only a couple of weeks away, Senior Writer Nat L. Faybian and Editor Douglas Love alternate picks in this three round mock – Version 4.0. Nat will pick first.
Nat: Will Arizona take Murray or not? That storyline has held the draft captive for months now. Logically, they have a top 10 quarterback in Rosen, they don’t need one.
Doug: And Rosen was drafted by GM Steve Keim, who was just given a four-year contract extension in February. Certainly, Keim doesn’t believe he blew that pick.
Nat: Right. On the flip side. Give the new coach the quarterback he feels he needs to win. If that’s Murray, then give Kliff Kingsbury his man — and then there’s absolutely no excuses for not winning.
Doug: So, Nat, who will the Arizona Cardinals take with the number one overall pick in the 2019 NLF Draft?
1. Arizona Cardinals: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State (Nat L. Faybian)
Bosa appears to be the most polished of the elite talent, and we’ve said that numerous times. Yet, there’s all this talk the head coaches’ relationship with Kyler Murray. But, really, when you get down to it, this was GM Steve Keim’s team before it was Kingsbury’s team. Keim has been with the Arizona Cardinals since 1993, and he’s been GM since 2013. I don’t see him throwing Rosen out the window, unless he gets a trade offer he just can’t refuse – something crazy like the Ricky Williams deal. It’s got to be big, or no deal. I think it’s a smoke screen, honestly. Rosen has a year under his belt, and he should be better in his second year; while, Bosa is a day one starter and immediately improves the defense.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky (Douglas Love)
This is a hard one. The 49ers have $22 million wrapped in up defensive linemen that were first round draft picks: DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas, and Arik Armstead. Plus they just added defensive end Dee Ford in free agency for another $14 million. That’s a $36 million dollar defensive line. The expectation is they should be able to get the job done. This team shouldn’t need to take a defensive lineman with the second overall pick. GM John Lynch could trade down. And that would make a lot of sense to me. They could move newly acquired ILB Kwan Alexander to weakside and go after a player like ILB Devin White – but that’s a reach at number two overall. Not that long ago, they made Garoppolo the highest paid QB in the NFL – although he’s only started a handful of games in the last two seasons – so, doubtful they go QB. If they stay where they are, it would seem most likely, they take the pass-rushing linebacker from Kentucky, Josh Allen.
Williams is coming off a season where he dominated. The Jets have an impressive history of taking top notch defensive linemen in the draft – Sheldon Richardson and John Abraham come to mind. Williams would make a great addition to the 2019 NY Jets.
4. Oakland Raiders: Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State (DL)
Gruden built his reputation on being a quarterback guru. The Raiders have David Carr, but Gruden inherited him. Is there a quarterback Gruden is infatuated with enough to draft at number four overall? I think they take a freak like Montez Sweat. Sweat can get after the quarterback, with enough athleticism to drop in coverage. Every team is looking for pressure off the edge, and Sweat would give the Raiders just that.
With the departure of Kwan Alexander, the Bucs need a middle linebacker. Plus with the team moving to more of a 3-4 scheme, they’re actually in need of several linebackers. White is built like a tank, runs a 4.4, and is a high character team captain kind of guy.
6. New York Giants: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri (DL)
The Giants just rewarded Eli Manning with a nice big contract extension, but he’s getting up there in age. Even if they plan to play Manning this year, they’ll need to start grooming a successor. Swirling rumor is that GM Gettleman likes Lock’s four years of experience over Haskins’ one year. Lock certainly has the stronger arm and would be a good fit in New York.
Jacksonville is in need of help along the offensive line, no secret there, they gave up 50+ sacks last year. The team signed QB Nick Foles, so, doubtful they draft one here. Taylor is the best run blocking tackle in the draft. And I think they’ll look to take the pressure off Foles by running the ball more. So, Jawaan Taylor to the Jaguars.
8. Detroit Lions: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa (DL)
The Lions need weapons. I think they could go in several directions here. D.K. Metcalf and his 4.33 speed is one option. However, a player like Hockenson has more value for this team and their needs. He can inline block, adding value to the running game. He runs clean routes, gains separation, and has easy hands – adding value to the passing game. He’ll just be involved in more plays than a wide receiver.
The Bill finished with the NFL’s number two defense last year. In 2019, they return ten of the starting eleven, the lone loss being the retirement of DT Kyle Williams. Gary would give them a player with day one talent, and the ability to keep that defensive near the top of the rankings. Christian Wilkins would also be a consideration for the Bills. They could also trade down for Dexter Lawrence, who to me looks more like a Bills kind of guy.
The Broncos picked up OT Ja’Wuan James, CB Bryce Callahan, and CB Kareem Jackson in free agency. Those were their most pressing needs. They also signed a new offensive coordinator in Rich Scangarello – a supposed quarterback guru. Then they signed Joe Flacco – who Elway praised highly. So, do they go QB here? I think they role with Flacco. However, they still need a big play wide receiver. At 6′ 3″, 228 lbs, and 4.33 speed – Metcalf can be that big play threat Denver needs to stretch the field.
The Bengals address several of their biggest needs during free agency. However, they are still in need a leader in the middle of that defense. Michigan’s Devin Bush has long been considered the second best linebacker in the class. He’ll give them speed, range, and an explosive and physical hitter.
12. Green Bay Packers: A.J. Brown, WR, Mississippi (DL)
The Packers have two picks in the first round: picks 12 and 30. The Packers are looking for help on the OL and DL, along with a wide receiver, and a tight end. With Hockenson off the board, I doubt they take Fant this high. Njoku didn’t go until 29th overall, and Fant should be in that 20’s range. But, I could see them taking Mississippi’s A.J. Brown here. Brown is an incredibly effective slot receiver that could have a 100 catch season – that doesn’t seem far fetched to me, in the right system. Speedster Marquise Brown is another option, but this might be too high for him with the medical.
With Tannehill being traded away, Miami must have felt confident in their ability to draft a starting quarterback at thirteen. Lock has the most arm strength the class, but he’s off the board. Murray has been to Miami for a private workout, so we know the interest is there. Unless, Fitz-Magic is the answer, they take a quarterback here.
Oliver is the best player on the board at this point. He’s disruptive, quick as lightning, and as strong as an ox. Atlanta loves fast, athletic, guys. The biggest question with Oliver isn’t his ability, it’s where does the team plan to use him? I think Atlanta would probably keep him inside as a 3-technique or under tackle, similar to the way the Rams use Aaron Donald.
15. Washington Redskins: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State (NLF)
The Redskins have questions about their quarterback position. They’ve had just about every possible QB candidate on their radar. Depending on how the interviews go, and which QB GM Bruce Allen feels most comfortable with as a “fit”, that’s where they’ll go. I think Duke QB Daniel Jones will have a better x/o interview, just because of his time with David Cutcliffe. However, I think Haskins has more upside, more untapped potential.
The Panthers have concerns on both sides of the line. I realize Williams isn’t the trending pick, but I think he’s the right pick at sixteen. There was some debate about his 33 5/8″ arms. Let me just say, six-time Pro Bowl tackle Joe Staley only had 33″ arms. And Washington’s Andre Dillard only has 33 1/2″ arms – so I think that issue can come to rest. Anyway, the Panthers like a balanced attack, and Williams is the most well-rounded tackle in the draft. They could also go for Clemson’s Clelin Ferrill here.
The Giants are a team that likes to snap up quality pass rushers. Ferrell is about as complete an end as there is in this draft. Quick enough to get the corner and stout enough to hold up against the run.
18. Minnesota Vikings: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State (NLF)
The Vikings are looking for some help on the offensive line. Dillard is the most pass pro ready tackle in the class. He’s got light feet and plenty of athleticism to handle the edge.
Wilkins won the “Academic Heisman” in 2018 – also known as the William V. Campbell Trophy. He shows a quick first step and is able to beat double teams. Wilkins can play anywhere on the line, adding to his value.
The Steelers have always loved a tough-as-nails defense. Savage has some amazing game speed. He trusts his eyes, understands angles, and shoots gaps like he’s launched out of a rocket. He’s at his best when he’s asked to be a downhill, attack, player, but he can cover running backs and tight ends too. Johnathan Abram might hit harder, but doesn’t have Savage’s cover skills.
The Seahawks only have four picks, so I would expect them to trade down to accumulate some extra selections. Oakland might be the most logical trade partner here. However, since we aren’t doing trades. We know that the Seahawks have shown interest in athletic defensive tackles like Rashan Gary and Mississippi State’s Jeffery Simmons. Let’s go with Simmons to Seattle with pick twenty-one.
The Ravens are looking for pass-rushing linebacker or a 3-4 rush end, which typically means a thicker bodied player with outstanding initial quickness. Ferguson didn’t workout like scouts would have hoped, but his stats tell the story. Ferguson has the third most career tackles-for-loss in NCAA history. He has an excellent understanding of momentum, balance, and angles.
Williams has the traits and physically tools teams look for in today’s cornerback. He has 4.37 speed. He’s 6′ 2″. He plays with swag – that attitude that says, “You can’t beat me.” In a passing league, teams today need at least three starting quality cornerbacks.
Too good to be true? Antonio Brown teaming up with his little cousin, Marquise Brown in Oakland? Todd McShay recently remarked that he hadn’t seen a guy with Marquise’s kind of explosiveness since DeSean Jackson came out of Cal. And we all know, Gruden loves speed.
25. Philadelphia Eagles: Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama (NLF)
The Eagles are looking at D-line and also at running back. Josh Jacobs can do everything: lining up at wild-cat, in the slot, taking the pitch, taking the hand-off, catching the swing pass, running the wheel route, and staying at home to block.
26. Indianapolis Colts: Brian Burns, DE, Florida State (DL)
Lean and lanky with long arms and a nice bend around the corner. They’ll bulk him up at bit, and he’ll be a force off the edge. He ran a 4.53 forty at the Combine, he’s got some serious speed.
27. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas): CB Rock Ya-Sin, Temple (NFL)
One of the best names in the draft, Rock Ya-Sin. And he played at Presbyterian before transferring to Temple. A guy Gruden scouted at the Senior bowl. Sticks to receivers like glue. They also might consider Johnathan Abram and Taylor Rapp here, but they might wait on a safety until the 35th pick.
DT Brandon Mebane missed significant time last year. The Chargers could use a player that would make an impact on the interior of the defensive line. Lawrence comes into the NFL looking like the second coming of Vince Wilfolk.
29. Kansas City Chiefs: Dalton Risner, OT, Kansas State (NLF)
Risner is the top senior offensive tackle in this class. He is pro ready. Doesn’t give up sacks. Plays with a combination of technique and tenacity. Takes pride in keeping his quarterback clean.
30. Green Bay (from New Orleans): Noah Fant, TE, Iowa (DL)
As I said earlier, Fant reminds me a bit of David Njoku when he came out of Miami – a very athletic tight end. Njoku ran a 4.64 forty and Fant ran a 4.58. Both would be considered big bodied wide receiver types that can play on the line or line up in the slot. Fant’s blocking improved in 2018, and he’ll continue to get better.
31. Los Angeles Rams: De’Andre Baker, CB, Georgia (NLF)
De’Andre Baker won the Thorpe Award for the best cornerback in the nation. I thought he was the best Senior corner in the draft. He’s not flashy or super fast. But he finds a way to get the job done. Might end up at nickel at the next level.
32. New England Patriots: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke (DL)
The New York Giants aren’t the only team with an aging quarterback. The Patriots have a lot of picks in this draft and can afford to use one on a future quarterback. Jones is cerebral, like Brady, and would learn much as an understudy.
A two-year team captain, Wilkins guided Clemson to a 2018 National Championship. He was one of the most recognized players in the NCAA. He was a finalist for the Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Outland Trophy, and the Lott IMPACT Trophy. He was the runner-up for both the ACC Player of the Year and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year for 2018.
Wilkins personifies the scholar-athlete ideal, having already earned his degree while twice claiming First Team All-America honors and guiding Clemson to a national championship. After graduating in December 2017 with a 3.33 GPA in communication studies, Wilkins became the first scholarship player in Clemson football history to finish school in two and a half years.
In his four years with the Tigers, Wilkins played in 55 games. He had 192 total tackles; 94 solo; and 98 assists. He had 40.5 tackles-for-loss and 16 sacks. He also had fifteen passed defended, recovered four fumbles and forced two fumbles.
Incredibly durable, Wilkins has a strong, compact, compact frame with the strength to take on double teams. He has shown incredible short area burst and can play off the edge when asked. Can pull off the line and drop back in space. His versatility only increases his stock. However, it’s his athleticism that pops off the tape. Might be best suited at the 3-technique where his quickness can be showcased.
Check out the updated Position Rankings: QB, WR, DE, DT, and more.
The Lombardi Award is awarded by the Lombardi Foundation annually to the best college football player, regardless of position, based on performance, as well as leadership, character, and resiliency.
From 1970 until 2016 the award was presented by Rotary International specifically to a lineman or linebacker.
THIS YEARS WINNER…
UGOCHUKWU AMADI, S, OREGON DUCKS
Oregon safety Ugochukwu Amadi won the Lombardi Award as the top college football player in the nation, regardless of position, based on performance, leadership, character and resiliency
Amadi began his career in Eugene, Oregon, as a cornerback, but successfully switched to safety his junior season. This past year, he became the first Power 5 player since 2015 to return two interceptions as well as a punt for a touchdown in the same season. He had 55 total tackles, 43 solo, four tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, three interceptions with two returned for touchdowns, eight pass breakups and a forced fumble.
In addition to the Lombardi, Amadi was Jim Thorpe semi-finalist, a AP PAC-12 All-Conference second team, a Coaches PAC-12 All-Conference honorable mention, a PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Week (Nov. 5) and made the Paul Hornung Award Honor Roll. The 5’10” 185 pound safety from Nashville, Tennessee, played in all 51 games from 2015-2018 and now enters the NFL draft in pursuit of a professional career.
MORE: Ugo Amadi looked to be a key player in the Redbox Bowl.
The William V. Campbell, formerly the Vincent dePaul Draddy Trophy, is a trophy awarded by the National Football Foundation that is given to the American college football player with the best combination of academics, community service, and on-field performance. It is considered by many to be the “Academic Heisman.”
The centerpiece to the NFF’s scholar-athlete program, The William V. Campbell Trophy was first awarded in 1990. It is named in honor of the late Bill Campbell, the former chairman of Intuit, former player and head coach at Columbia University and the 2004 recipient of the NFF’s Gold Medal.
THIS YEARS WINNER…
CHRISTIAN WILKINS, DEFENSIVE END, CLEMSON TIGERS
Wilkins personifies the scholar-athlete ideal, having already earned his degree while twice claiming First Team All-America honors and guiding Clemson to a national championship.
After graduating in December 2017 with a 3.33 GPA in communication studies, Wilkins became the first scholarship player in Clemson football history to finish school in two and a half years. He will graduate this December with a master’s in athletic leadership. In addition to being a three-time All-ACC Academic Team member, Wilkins has twice received First Team Academic All-District honors. He was named the ACC’s 2018 Jim Tatum Award recipient as the top senior student-athlete among the conference’s football players.
A two-year team captain, Wilkins has guided Clemson to the No. 2 ranking, a perfect 13-0 record, the 2018 ACC title and a trip to the College Football Playoff Semifinal. A finalist for the 2018 Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Outland Trophy, he has amassed 45 tackles on the season, including 13.5 tackles for loss. The 2018 First Team All-ACC defensive lineman is also a finalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy and has five sacks, one forced fumble, and two fumble recovery to his name this year. Wilkins was the runner-up for both the ACC Player of the Year and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year for 2018.
Wilkins leads a Clemson unit that tops the ACC and is tied for second in the nation in scoring defense, holding opponents to just 13.7 points per game. Clemson’s rushing defense is also atop the ACC, limiting opposing teams to 93 yards per game on the ground, which is the third best average in the nation. The Tigers rank second in the ACC and fourth in the nation in total defense, limiting offenses to 276.8 yards per game.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL’S DEFENSIVE IMPACT PLAYER OF THE YEAR
The Lott IMPACT Trophy is presented annually to the college football defensive IMPACT player of the year. IMPACT is an acronym for: Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community, and Tenacity.
THIS YEARS WINNER…
JOSH ALLEN, LB, KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Three-time Lott IMPACT Trophy Player of the Week and four-time SEC Defensive Player of the Week. Butkus, Nagurski and Bednarik Finalist. Unanimous mid-season All-American. Has 18.5 tackles for losses (11th in country), 14 sacks (2ndin country), 5 forced fumbles (leads nation), 2 fumble recoveries, 6 quarterback hurries and 84 total tackles (most on the team). Last season: All-SEC 2nd team, 65 tackles, led team with 9.5 tackles for losses and six sacks, Kentucky career leader in sacks.
“I can’t say enough good things about Josh. He is a genuinely good guy. He cares for his teammates and I’ve seen him grow since he came to school,” – Jen Smith, Kentucky beat reporter for Lexington Herald-Leader, Josh has donated time for Special Olympics and children’s cancer research program.
The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) has annually chosen a National Defensive Player of the Year since 1993.
In 1995, the FWAA named the award in honor of a legendary two-way player from the University of Minnesota, Bronislaw “Bronko” Nagurski. Nagurski dominated college football then became a star for professional football’s Chicago Bears in the 1930s. He is a charter member of both the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame.
THIS YEARS WINNER…
JOSH ALLEN, OLB, KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Kentucky senior outside linebacker Josh Allen has been named the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy awarded to the nation’s top defensive player, it was announced at Monday’s (Dec 3rd) awards banquet in Charlotte by the Charlotte Touchdown Club.
On the season, Allen has registered 84 total tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, five forced fumbles, six quarterback hurries and four pass breakups. He is tied for first nationally in forced fumbles, second nationally and first in the SEC in sacks and is tied for ninth nationally and first in the SEC in tackles for loss in helping the Wildcats to its first nine-win regular season since 1977, its first winning record in the SEC in 41 years and its first-ever Citrus Bowl bid, where Kentucky will face Penn State on Jan. 1.
The 2018 Bronko Nagurski Award finalists included: