Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Nick Bosa.
- The 2019 NFL Draft begins on April 25 and will be held in Nashville, TN.
- Matthew Freedman breaks down the defensive line class and analyzes which lineman is likely to be drafted first.
Each day, I publish 1-2 pieces on props I like. See my master list of 2019 prop bets for more information.
The 2019 NFL draft class is loaded along the defensive line. Absolutely loaded. Five of the first 10 players selected in the draft could be defensive linemen.
Of the cohort, three in particular stand out: Edge defenders Joey Bosa and Josh Allen and defensive tackle Quinnen Williams.
The draft is rapidly approaching, and for the first time ever it will be held in Nashville, TN.
Here’s the seven-round schedule.
- Thursday, April 25: Round 1
- Friday, April 26: Rounds 2-3
- Saturday, April 27: Rounds 4-7
In this piece, I look at which defensive lineman is likeliest to be the first selected in the 2019 NFL draft.
2019 NFL Draft: First Defensive Lineman to Be Selected
- Nick Bosa: -200
- Quinnen Williams: +300
- Josh Allen: +500
- Ed Oliver: +1600
- Montez Sweat: +4000
- Brian Burns: +5000
- Rashan Gary: +5000
- Clelin Ferrell: +8000
- Christian Wilkins: +8000
- Dexter Lawrence: +20000
- Jeffrey Simmons: +20000
- Charles Omenihu: +20000
- Jachai Polite: +20000
Of the 13 players listed, only three warrant sustained consideration.
I’ve surveyed the most recent mock drafts of 20 respected analysts. In all but two of them, Bosa, Williams and Allen are all top-five selections.
Entering the 2018 college season, defensive tackle Ed Oliver was in the running for the No. 1 overall pick, but his draft stock has since dropped. He could still be chosen in the top 10, but he’s now highly unlikely to be the first defensive lineman chosen.
This prop is likely to come down to the elite triumvirate of Bosa, Williams and Allen.
2019 NFL Draft: Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams & Josh Allen
Since Bosa and Allen are both edge defenders, it’s natural to compare them — which is a quick exercise: In all 20 mocks, Bosa is the higher-drafted player. The latest he goes off the board is pick No. 3, which is the earliest Allen is selected.
If a team is going to draft an edge defender, there’s probably greater than a 95% chance that he’ll be Bosa.
As for Bosa vs. Williams, that’s a little less straightforward. Over the past 10 years, only twice has a tackle been the first defensive lineman off the board.
- 2010: Ndamukong Suh, No. 2 overall pick
- 2012: Dontari Poe, No. 11 overall pick
What do 2010 and 2012 have in common? No edge prospect was selected in the top 12 picks. Historically, a defensive tackle goes off the board first only if a class has a severe dearth of talent at edge.
But this class is loaded at the position. There might be as many as four edge defenders drafted in the top 10 this year.
It’s not as if Williams has no chance to be drafted before Bosa. Williams led the nation with his 96.0 overall Pro Football Focus grade in 2018. He also led all linemen in defensive stops and quarterback pressures.
And in some of the mocks surveyed, Williams is in fact selected ahead of Bosa. But the mocks still overwhelmingly favor Bosa.
- Mean: Bosa – 2.05 | Williams – 3.75
- Median: Bosa – 2 | Williams – 4
- Mode: Bosa – 2 | Williams – 4
- Times Selected First: Bosa – 17 | Williams – 3
- Range: Bosa – 1 to 3 | Williams – 1 to 8
At -200, Bosa has a 66.7% implied probability to go off the board as the first defensive lineman, but I think his true odds are closer to 80%.
I’d bet on Bosa all the way down to -300.
The Pick: Bosa (-200)
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