NFL Draft

Top 10 edge rushers in the 2019 NFL Draft:

We have done all the interior guys and the offensive tackles now, so we are moving on to the edge rushers. Once again, I differentiate between interior defensive linemen – meaning anything from true nose tackle to 5-tech defensive end – and edge rusher. This class includes defensive ends and outside linebackers, whether those are the spots they played in college or where I project them fit at the next level. I already mentioned this with the inside guys – With how hybrid defensive schemes are today and how little teams actually line up in base sets, the fit of these prospects is not necessarily as important. What counts is primarily if you can rush the passer, then if you can set the edge in the run game and finally if you can stand up and drop into coverage. Of the course the more you can do for your team, the better, and the draft boards will vary depending on the scheme of teams, but not all of these areas are equally important.

I already marveled at the talent on the interior D-line, but this class of edge rushers is even better and deeper. I could easily see up to eight of these guys be selected in the first round and the top two will probably end up being among my three highest-graded prospects. What I really like about this group is the versatility, not necessarily when it comes to scheme fits, but rather their overall style of play. You have technically sound players or raw athletic freaks, finesse speed rushers and frenetic power guys. Whatever your flavor is, there is someone for you to find – as long as you have the draft capital.

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NFL Draft

Top 10 offensive tackles in the 2019 NFL Draft:

Now that we’ve completed the interior portion of the offensive line, it is time to look at the guys on the edges. When it comes to offensive tackles, maybe more than at any other position, size is definitely a skill. While you don’t have to be exact prototype size and weight, there are thresholds when it comes to height and length that all successful players at the position seem to reach. Until a few years ago, people acted like your left tackle is far more important than the one on your right side. However, once defenses started putting their top pass rushers against those formerly less talented right tackles, the NFL learned that both those spots have to filled with quality players if you want to survive in this league.

This class of offensive tackles is falsely labelled as a poor one in my opinion. It more so due to the fact that four of the top five guys are better suited to play on the right side. I think there is one prospect that should absolutely be a top ten pick and at least four more that I could easily see going in the first round. After that there are a lot of different opinions, but no matter how you turn it, twelve of them should end up being top 100 prospects. I will refer a lot to these guys’ performances at the Senior Bowl, because with offensive linemen the one-on-ones against quality competitions are the most indicative drills when it comes to their pass pro abilities.

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NFL Draft

Top 10 interior defensive linemen in the 2019 NFL Draft:

Having talked about the top interior offensive linemen on Tuesday, we move back to the defensive side of the ball with their direct opponents. Unlike many mainstream pages I am not differentiating between outside linebackers, defensive ends and defensive tackles, because the job descriptions don’t match a lot of times. A base D-end in a 3-4 has completely different responsibilities than one in a 4-3 who is primarily an edge pass rusher and those are way more similar to actual outside backers that line up on the edge than actual stand-up backers. Therefore you will find my rankings on edge rushers here next week and this edition includes all interior D-linemen, meaning anything from head-up on the offensive tackle to true nose tackles lining up across center.

I don’t remember the last time we had such a talented group at the top. Three of them will probably be selected in the top 20 and up to nine of them could be top 50 overall prospects, with one being so talented that he might go in the first round despite possibly not being available at all for the 2019 season. For me, I don’t consider current injuries in my positional rankings. You will find their impact on my big board once I’m done with every position. Most of these guys project as upfield penetrators, who will be asked to play one gap and create problems for opposing offenses, even if their schemes or teams’ needs didn’t allow them to do that at the collegiate level. With the amount of sub-packages and hybrid defenses, true fits aren’t as important as long as you can be a disruptive player and help out your team. I will refer to many of them as “3-techniques”, meaning they line up on the outside shoulder of the guard and only play that B-gap in base sets.

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NFL Draft

Top 10 interior offensive linemen in the 2019 NFL Draft:

After talking about the best running backs and linebackers available last week, we move into the trenches in our positional draft rankings. For this edition, I combined offensive guards and centers because the necessary skill-sets are very similar and many of these prospects played both positions during their collegiate careers. While their value might differ depending on offensive scheme, I like to evaluate them as one group.

There are definitely no generational-type prospects like Quenton Nelson on this list, who I had as my number two overall player, but this group has about a dozen quality names. As the league moves more towards wide-open offenses that throw the ball out of shotgun and try to get it out quickly on a multitude of screens, mobility and pass-protecting are becoming more important, but there is still a lot of value of what interior offensive linemen can do for you in the run game. Obviously each team will evaluate these prospects according to their scheme, but for the purpose of this list, I am looking for complete players, who will help my offense move the ball.

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NFL Draft

Top 10 linebackers in the 2019 NFL Draft:

We started our positional rankings on Tuesday with the running backs and the way we are going to do this is alternate between offense and defense with kind of the direct matchups in one week (so tackles vs. edge rushers, wide receivers vs. cornerbacks, etc.). So that leads us to the linebackers in this edition and the opinions about this group seem to be all over the place.

While I do believe there is a clear order of one, two and three, after that there is a lot of disagreement. I think there are two clear first-rounders and another guy, who might sneak up somewhere in the later picks, but my number four prospect possible won’t even hear his called before day three when I look at many of these rankings out there. Two that are frequently among the top five or so didn’t even make my list at all. I am looking for fast, athletic linebackers who fit the modern game, while also being able to defend the downhill run game, as I could see a trend of more power football being played in the near future.

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