Freedman’s 2019 NFL Mock Draft: How the Combine Impacted Round 1

Freedman’s 2019 NFL Mock Draft: How the Combine Impacted Round 1 article feature image

USA Today Sports. Pictured: Joey Bosa, Kyler Murray, D.K. Metcalf

  • With the combine completed, it's time to update The Action Network Round 1 Mock Draft.
  • Matthew Freedman breaks down each Day 1 pick and has quarterback Kyler Murray as his top overall pick.

Now that we have combine data on prospects, I’m updating my Round 1 mock draft for the 2019 NFL Draft.

This mock draft is primarily predictive but also a tad prescriptive. We’ve taken our best shot at anticipating which players teams will draft based on their various needs, but we also know that not all teams construct rosters in an optimal manner.

Team needs are also likely to change based on free-agent moves over the next week.

While the first round of the draft is likely to see several trades, we haven’t built any trades into this mock. Given that we’re still nearly two months away, trades are just too uncertain and difficult to project accurately.

I’ll regularly update my first-round mock throughout the offseason as we get a more defined sense of the rookie class and team needs.

2019 NFL Mock Draft, Round 1

1. Arizona Cardinals

Kyler Murray (Oklahoma), Quarterback

  • Height: 5’10” | Weight: 207 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22 | Class: Redshirt Junior

Combine performance: Did not participate in on-field workouts

Murray was one of my combine winners thanks to his verified size, and he fits the offensive system of new head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who before he was hired said that he thought Murray was worthy of the first overall pick.

The Heisman Trophy winner led the nation with his 13.0 adjusted yards per pass attempt last season, and Baker Mayfield’s rookie success shows that an undersized spread-system quarterback from Oklahoma can play in the NFL.

It’s not ideal for the Cardinals to select quarterbacks in the first round two years in a row, but they should be able to offload Josh Rosen, who did little in 2018 (albeit in poor circumstances) to suggest that he’s superior to Murray.

Teams without a viable quarterback struggle in the NFL. The Cardinals hope they’ve found their guy in Murray.

I expect him to be a top-two pick.

2. San Francisco 49ers

Nick Bosa (Ohio State), Edge

  • Height: 6’4″ | Weight: 266 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22 | Class: Junior

The 49ers have needs all over the roster, and just a month ago Bosa was the frontrunner for the No. 1 pick at -200 odds. He’s a pro-ready prospect with the athleticism and skill set to be an All-Pro pass-rusher within a few seasons.

I’m yet to see a respected draftnik mock him outside of the top two.

3. New York Jets

Quinnen Williams (Alabama), Defensive Tackle

  • Height: 6’3″ | Weight: 303 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22 | Class: Redshirt Sophomore

Williams is highly unlikely to be selected No. 1 overall, but he’s the top player in the class, and the Jets have needs on the defensive line.

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.

He can anchor against the run with his size, and he can get to the passer with his athleticism. The Jets are fortunate to land Williams, who could be an interior force on the defense for a decade.

4. Oakland Raiders

Josh Allen (Kentucky), Edge

  • Height: 6’5″ | Weight: 262 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22 | Class: Senior

Another year, another guy named “Josh Allen” selected near the top of the draft.

Allen put up great numbers in 2018 with 17 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss, and he flashed good athleticism at the combine. In almost every mock draft I’ve seen, the Bednarik Award and Nagurski Trophy winner is a top-four selection.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Montez Sweat (Mississippi State), Edge

  • Height: 6’6″ | Weight: 260 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 23 | Class: Redshirt Senior

This is the first pick on the board where there’s a lot of uncertainty: The Bucs have so many needs, especially on defense, and there’s no clear-cut best player on the board. I could see them going with a cornerback or maybe even linebacker, but pass-rusher seems most likely given the talent at the position.

New head coach Bruce Arians loves speed, and no edge player is faster than Sweat, who exhibited truly difference-making athleticism at the combine.

A top high school tight end, Sweat transitioned to defense at Michigan State before transferring to Copiah-Lincoln Community College and eventually Mississippi State, where he put up 17.5 sacks in two seasons.

A two-time All-SEC first-teamer, Sweat likely locked up a top-10 selection with his combine performance.

6. New York Giants

Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State), Quarterback

  • Height: 6’3″ | Weight: 231 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22 | Class: Redshirt Sophomore

The Giants need a quarterback, and Haskins led the nation with 50 touchdowns last season. He has only 14 starts over the past three years, which gives him an unfortunate Mark Sanchez-Mitchell Trubisky type of vibe, but he can sit on the bench as a rookie and learn from Eli Manning.

In a year with little top-end talent at the sport’s most important position, Haskins is a top-10 player.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars

Andre Dillard (Washington State), Offensive Tackle

  • Height: 6’5″ | Weight: 315 pounds
  • Class: Redshirt Senior

The Jaguars are widely expected to sign quarterback Nick Foles in free agency to replace Blake Bortles as the starter, and they need a left tackle to protect him. Dillard should be more than up to the task.

#Wazzu LT Andre Dillard:

* Top SPARQ among all OLs in Indy

* Top pass-pro OT in nation per @PFF_College in 2018

* Zero holding penalties as senior per @SportsInfo_SIS

* 41 straight starts; no injury history

* OL guru @LanceZierlein: immediate starter with Pro Bowl potential

— Evan Silva (@evansilva) March 5, 2019

Dillard flashed elite athleticism at the combine, and he has ample experience as a blindside protector with three years starting in Wazzou’s pass-heavy offense.

With his physical ability and pass-blocking chops, Dillard is justified as the No. 1 tackle off the board.

8. Detroit Lions

Rashan Gary (Michigan), Edge/Defensive Tackle

  • Height: 6’4″ | Weight: 277 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22 | Class: Junior

Gary underwhelmed in his three years at Michigan, and there are questions about whether he’ll be best as a pure edge rusher, a 3-4 defensive end or a 4-3 tackle. But he was the No. 1 player in the 2016 recruiting class, and he’s an elite athlete at a position where athleticism is predictive of NFL success.

With Gary, the Lions will have a versatile player to line up all across multiple types of fronts for head coach Matt Patricia’s unit, and the team is expected to let defensive end Ezekiel Ansah walk in free agency.

A boom-or-bust prospect, Gary is a top-eight pick in most mock drafts, and he provides Patricia with the type of player he likes at a position of need. That Gary is a Michigan product is just an added bonus.

9. Buffalo Bills

D.K. Metcalf (Mississippi), Wide Receiver

  • Height: 6’3″ | Weight: 228 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22 | Class: Redshirt Sophomore

The draft community is divided on Metcalf: He’s big, fast, explosive and he comes from a family of NFL veterans, but he has limited stop-start agility, struggled to stay healthy and never had a true breakout campaign.

But the Bills are no longer looking to trade for Antonio Brown and desperately need a playmaking receiver, and Metcalf was on pace for a 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown season in 2018 before a neck injury cut his year short.

With his size, downfield skills and catch radius, Metcalf has the potential to make the most of quarterback Josh Allen’s arm strength and to mitigate his inaccuracy issues.

What the Bills hoped Kelvin Benjamin would be when they traded for him in 2017, Metcalf actually could be. He has the most upside of any receiver in the class.

10. Denver Broncos

Drew Lock (Missouri), Quarterback

  • Height: 6’4″ | Weight: 228 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 23 | Class: Senior

I don’t think the Broncos should draft Lock in the first round. I’d rather see them draft an offensive lineman. But they’re reportedly enamored with him, and quarterback Joe Flacco is unlikely to be anything more than a stopgap. Plus general manager John Elway has a history of drafting project quarterbacks far sooner than he should.

I view Lock as a Day 2 quarterback, but his first-round hype is growing.

A four-year starter, Lock never seemed to put it all together in college. As a junior, he had a respectable 10.2 adjusted yard per attempt (average yards per attempt), but he completed only 57.8% of his passes. As a senior, he completed more of his passes (62.9%), but he still wasn’t especially accurate, and he was far less efficient (8.5 AY/A).

Throughout his career, he’s been plagued by inconsistency, but at the combine he reportedly flashed a strong arm and faster-than-expected speed, as a junior he led the nation with 44 touchdowns passing and as a recruit he was an Elite 11 participant.

Lock is the quintessential non-analytics pick, and Elway is an old-school guy who will place more value on what his eye sees than what the numbers say.

11. Cincinnati Bengals

Jawaan Taylor (Florida), Offensive Tackle

  • Height: 6’5″ | Weight: 312 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22 | Class: Junior

I still have Alabama tackle Jonah Williams as the higher-ranked player, but Taylor is increasingly going off the board ahead of Williams in mocks, and some teams reportedly view him as the No. 1 overall tackle in the class even though he played mostly on the right side in college.

Taylor skipped most of the measurement drills at the combine because of a hamstring injury, but he did participate in the on-field workout and was praised by former offensive lineman Joe Thomas.

The Bengals need help along the offensive line, and Taylor is a three-year SEC starter. He has some blindside potential but should start immediately regardless of which position he plays. Besides, with pass-rushers increasingly lining up all over the formation, the distinction between left and right tackles is less important than it used to be.

I’m yet to see Taylor mocked outside of the top 12.

12. Green Bay Packers

Devin White (Louisiana State), Linebacker

  • Height: 6′ | Weight: 237 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 21 | Class: Junior

White is a top-10 prospect, and he could easily go as high as No. 5, but he could also slip a little if some teams target the upside of boom-or-bust prospects early in the draft. I still don’t see him getting past the Packers at No. 12, where he’s an absolute gift.

He impressed at the combine with his speed, and his playmaking ability on defense is unquestioned. He’s a complete player who is capable of rushing the passer, stopping the run and defending running backs and tight ends in pass coverage.

Winner of the 2018 Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker, White has the potential to be a decade-long stalwart in the middle of a defense.

13. Miami Dolphins

Brian Burns (Florida State), Edge

  • Height: 6’5″ | Weight: 249 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 21 | Class: Junior

The Dolphins need to replace free agents Cameron Wake and William Hayes, and Burns is a high-upside prospect with youth and elite athleticism.

A five-star recruit, Burns broke out as an 18-year-old freshman in 2016, leading all first-year players with his 9.5 sacks. He had 13.5 tackles for loss in 2017, and last year he progressed with 15.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks and ranked third in the nation with 67 quarterback pressures (per Pro Football Focus).

With his strong combine, Burns has probably pushed himself into the top 20.

14. Atlanta Falcons

Ed Oliver (Houston), Defensive Tackle

  • Height: 6’2″ | Weight: 287 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22 | Class: Junior

Oliver’s draft stock has dropped a little over the past year, but at the combine he definitively answered the questions about his size and future position: Oliver has the body to play as an NFL defensive tackle, where he’ll be a force as a rusher and run stopper.

A former five-star recruit who opted to play for his hometown college instead of a Power Five program, Oliver was an  immediate impact player as a freshman, putting together a first-team All-American campaign that made him a national name.

As a sophomore he somehow improved and won the Outland Trophy as the country’s best offensive or defensive lineman. But as a junior he suffered a knee injury and played just eight games. Still, he was fantastic in his final season, finishing with an overall PFF grade of 92.7.

It’s hard to imagine Oliver falling past the Falcons, who need help along the defensive line and have historically sought high-upside players in the draft.

Almost every mock I’ve seen has Oliver in the top 15.

15. Washington Redskins

Greedy Williams (Louisiana State), Cornerback

  • Height: 6’2″ | Weight: 185 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22 | Class: Redshirt Sophomore

With his speed and ability, Williams is probably a top-10 prospect. But because of the early run on quarterbacks and widespread prioritization of positional need, Williams could slip to the Redskins, who were exposed last year in pass defense.

Across from veteran Josh Norman, the rookie could stabilize the secondary in short order. Greedy has the name, swag and skillz to develop into a shutdown corner. Hailing from CBU, Williams is a typical LSU press-coverage player. Last year, he held quarterbacks to a 58.1 passer rating on targets in his coverage.

I can see Williams going as early as No. 5 and as late as No. 24, but he’s a surefire first-rounder.

16. Carolina Panthers

Jonah Williams (Alabama), Offensive Tackle

  • Height: 6’4″ | Weight: 302 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22 | Class: Junior

There’s nothing special about Williams’ athleticism, but he’s a strong player who shouldn’t fall out of the top of half of Round 1.

The Panthers have failed to protect quarterback Cam Newton adequately ever since losing left tackle Michael Oher in 2016, and Williams played as a three-year starter for one of the best teams in college football.

A versatile player, Williams has been talked about as a potential guard, where he would likely dominate. But he played on the outside in college, first on the right side as a freshman and then on the left in his two final seasons. If for some reason he doesn’t work out as a tackle, he probably will still be able to contribute on the interior.

But I see him as an NFL tackle: Despite facing strong SEC edge rushers, he didn’t allow a sack last year.

17. Cleveland Browns

Cody Ford (Oklahoma), Offensive Tackle

  • Height: 6’4″ | Weight: 329 pounds
  • Class: Redshirt Junior

Opinions are split on Ford, who was outstanding at right tackle in 2018 but is regarded by some draftniks as a guard, where he played early in his college career.

Regardless, the Browns need help on the offensive line, and Ford is a versatile player who can plug in wherever needed.

Even with his positional uncertainty, Ford is a top-20 pick in most mock drafts.

18. Minnesota Vikings

Dalton Risner (Kansas State), Offensive Tackle

  • Height: 6’5″ | Weight: 312 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 24 | Class: Redshirt Senior

The Vikings need significant offensive line help, and Risner is an NFL-ready lineman whose seemingly non-elite ceiling is likely outweighed by his high floor.

A four-year starter with experience at center and right tackle, Risner might be dependable enough to play on the blind side: He allowed just one sack in his entire college career.

Last year, he was PFF’s No. 2 offensive lineman with an 89.9 overall grade, and he had an elite 93.2 pass-blocking grade.

Most draftniks consider Risner a first-rounder, and in the majority of mocks an offensive lineman is slotted to the Vikings with this pick.

19. Tennessee Titans

Clelin Ferrell (Clemson), Edge

  • Height: 6’4″ | Weight: 264 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22 | Class: Redshirt Junior

With 11.5 sacks last year, Ferrell won the 2018 Hendricks Award as the top defensive end in the nation, and he’ll help the Titans replace outside linebackers Brian Orakpo (retirement) and Derrick Morgan (free agency).

Ferrell didn’t flash as much at the combine as some of the other edge rushers did, but he was a three-year starter for a two-time national champion and is expected to be a rock-solid professional.

Ferrell is an unanimous first-rounder in every mock draft I’ve seen.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers

Devin Bush (Michigan), Linebacker

  • Height: 5’11” | Weight: 234 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 21 | Class: Junior

Although White has garnered attention as the top off-ball linebacker in the class, Bush might be just as good. He’s a little smaller, but he’s young, explosive and strong against the run, in coverage and as a blitzer.

In Bush, the Steelers find their long-term replacement to inside linebacker Ryan Shazier (neck), whom they have missed dearly since his 2017 injury.

Bush is a no-doubt first-rounder, and he’s slated to the Steelers in more than half of the mock drafts I’ve seen: This pick just makes so much sense. I’d be surprised if he makes it outside of the top 20.

21. Seattle Seahawks

Christian Wilkins (Clemson), Defensive Tackle

  • Height: 6’3″ | Weight: 315 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 24 | Class: Graduate Student

The Seahawks could use more of an inside presence to complement edge rusher Frank Clark, and Wilkins is a force. He was incredibly disruptive in 2018, recording 46 quarterback pressures and 39 defensive stops and racking up a 93.0 PFF grade, the third-highest mark for any college player.

Capable of rushing the passer on the interior and honoring his responsibilities in the run game, Wilkins will be a strong contributor in head coach Pete Carroll’s aggressive defense.

Wilkins is a locked-in first-rounder.

22. Baltimore Ravens

A.J. Brown (Mississippi), Wide Receiver

  • Height: 6′ | Weight: 226 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22 | Class: Junior

The Ravens released Michael Crabtree in February, and they’re not expected to re-sign free agent John Brown: They need a wide receiver.

Brown isn’t a universal first-rounder in mock drafts, but he should be. Big-and-athletic SEC receivers with back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns don’t come around too often.

He has the size and skills to line up out wide and in the slot, and he dominated in his two final seasons, averaging 111.8 yards receiving per game over that span.

Metcalf is the Ole Miss receiver everyone is raving about, but Brown is almost his rival as an athlete. And unlike Metcalf, Brown actually produced against elite competition in a consistent basis.

23. Houston Texans

Byron Murphy (Washington), Cornerback

  • Height: 5’11” | Weight: 190 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 21 | Class: Redshirt Sophomore

At the combine Murphy exhibited subpar athleticism for a small corner, but everyone has raved about his technique and footwork in the on-field drills. Most big-name analysts actually consider him a combine winner despite his slow 40-yard dash.

The Texans need help at corner, and Murphy is in play to be the No. 2 player at the position after Williams: He led the position last year with his 91.9 PFF grade, holding quarterbacks to a 54.4 passer rating when targeting him.

Murphy is a late first-rounder in almost every mock draft.

24. Oakland Raiders

Parris Campbell (Ohio State), Wide Receiver

  • Height: 6’0″ | Weight: 205 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 23 | Class: Redshirt Senior

The Raiders need a wide receiver after trading Amari Cooper last year, and Campbell showed elite speed and agility at the combine. He also reportedly ran good routes in the on-field workouts, catapulting himself into Round 1 consideration.

With 1,063 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns, Campbell was coach Urban Meyer’s first 1,000-10 receiver since Paris Warren at Utah in 2004. As it just so happens, when Raiders head coach Jon Gruden was with the Buccaneers, he drafted Warren into the league.

25. Philadelphia Eagles

Deandre Baker (Georgia), Cornerback

  • Height: 5’11” | Weight: 193 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 23 | Class: Senior

Like Murray, Baker didn’t flash great athleticism at the combine, but scouts came away impressed with his on-field workout, and he could certainly provide an immediate boost to a secondary that was riddled with injuries in 2018.

A first-team All-American and the Thorpe Award winner as the nation’s best defensive back, Baker is versatile enough to play in man and zone coverages, and he held quarterbacks to just a 40.2 passer rating last year (per PFF).

For his two final college seasons, Baker allowed zero touchdowns in his coverage.

26. Indianapolis Colts

N’Keal Harry (Arizona State), Wide Receiver

  • Height: 6’2″ | Weight: 228 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22 | Class: Junior

This season, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton will turn 30: The Colts need to find a supplementary receiver for the short term and maybe even someone to replace him in the long term. Harry fits the bill.

A former five-star recruit, Harry displayed excellent strength and size-adjusted speed at the combine, and he enters the league with consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons and 26 career touchdowns as a receiver, rusher and punt returner.

In my pre-combine rookie dynasty rankings, Harry was the No. 1 player on my board, and I still value him highly. He has good size, makes contested catches and accumulates yards after the catch: He’s basically a bigger, faster version of what Michael Crabtree was as a prospect.

27. Oakland Raiders

T.J. Hockenson (Iowa), Tight End

  • Height: 6’5″ | Weight: 251 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22 | Class: Redshirt Sophomore

Tight end Jared Cook led the Raiders last year in receiving, but he’s a free agent and unlikely to return. And given Cook’s 46.5 PFF pass-blocking grade, Hockenson might actually be an upgrade.

Winner of the 2018 Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end, Hockenson has Rob Gronkowski-esque potential as a mismatch weapon in the blocking and receiving game. Entering the NFL from the same institution that produced George Kittle, C.J. Fiedorowicz, Tony Moeaki, Scott Chandler and Dallas Clark, the young tight end will be a solid professional right away.

Over the past 12 years, only 10 tight ends have been selected in Round 1, but the position is strong in this class, and Hockenson is a locked-in first-rounder in every mock draft I’ve seen.

Given his two-way skill set, Hock could realistically be selected as early as No. 8.

28. Los Angeles Chargers

Dexter Lawrence  (Clemson), Defensive Tackle

  • Height: 6’4″ | Weight: 342 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22 | Class: Junior

The Chargers suffered last year without defensive tackle Corey Liuget (quad), and nose tackle Brandon Mebane is a free agent. They have a significant need on the interior of their defensive line.

A coveted five-star recruit, Lawrence broke out immediately as a freshman with seven sacks and has the size to impose his will against the run. And he flashed elite athleticism at the combine for a prospect of his size.

He was suspended for his two final college games because of a positive performance-enhancing drug test, and he failed as a sophomore and junior to match his first-year production, but he still has the physical attributes and skills teams crave, and he has the versatility to play in the middle of a 4-3 or 3-4 front.

An interior presence on the Chargers defense will make edge rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram even more difficult for offensive lines to stop, and Lawrence is a low-end first-rounder in many mocks.

29. Kansas City Chiefs

Deionte Thompson  (Alabama), Safety

  • Height: 6’1″ | Weight: 195 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22 | Class: Redshirt Junior

Combine performance: Did not participate in on-field workouts

The race to be the first safety selected will likely come down to Thompson, Nasir Adderley and Taylor Rapp, but I’m still giving the edge to Thompson for now because of his versatility.

Safety Eric Berry (heel) hasn’t been healthy for almost two full seasons, and he’ll turn 31 at the end of the 2019 season. Thompson will be his short-term partner at the position and long-term replacement.

A four-star recruit, Thompson was an all-around playmaker in 2018, playing as a free safety, strong safety and slot corner based on matchup. He ranked fifth in the nation last year with his 89.3 PFF coverage grade.

He’s not a universal first-rounder, but I could see the first-team All-American sneaking into Day 1, especially if he performs well at his pro day.

30. Green Bay Packers

Noah Fant (Iowa), Tight End

  • Height: 6’4″ | Weight: 249 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22 | Class: Junior

The Packers need a long-term replacement to Jimmy Graham, who will turn 33 in November, and Fant is an NFL-ready receiving tight end similar to those on new Packers head coach Matt LaFleur’s previous teams (Owen Daniels, Jordan Reed, Austin Hooper, Gerald Everett and Delanie Walker).

Despite sharing the field with Hockenson, the supremely athletic Fant led his team with 11 and seven touchdowns receiving over the past two seasons.

Fant doesn’t have Hockenson’s strength as a blocker, and he dropped 11 of 80 catchable passes in his two final seasons (per PFF). But he has a real chance to be drafted ahead of Hockenson and could be the more productive NFL player.

31. Los Angeles Rams

Garrett Bradbury (North Carolina State), Center

  • Height: 6’3″ | Weight: 306 pounds
  • Class: Redshirt Senior

The Rams declined John Sullivan’s 2019 option, so they are clearly in the market for a center. A first-team All-American and Rimington Trophy winner as the best center in college football, Bradbury fits a big need and provides great value.

A vaunted tight end recruit, Bradbury moved to the offensive line in 2015, playing one season at left guard before finishing his college career with two years at center. With his interior versatility, Bradbury offers the Rams great flexibility, which could come in handy, as left guard Rodger Saffold is a free agent. At one position or another, Bradbury will be an immediate starter as an inside lineman.

Exhibiting elite athleticism at the combine, Bradbury is a strong pass protector and capable run blocker. His addition should benefit both phases of the head coach Sean McVay’s offense.

While Day 1 centers are relatively rare, Bradbury has All-Pro potential and is regularly mocked as a first-rounder.

32. New England Patriots

Irv Smith Jr. (Alabama), Tight End

  • Height: 6’2″ | Weight: 242 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 21 | Class: Junior

With his athletic profile, age and production, Smith is comparable as a prospect to former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, and he could be a strong complement and eventual successor to Rob Gronkowski.

Even with his small size, Smith is a strong run blocker, and he has the versatility to block or catch passes out wide, in the slot, in line and even out of the backfield.

Last year, Smith set the Alabama single-season touchdown record for the position with seven, and he led all tight ends in the nation with 2.56 yards per route (per PFF).

The NFL history of tight ends to play as 21-year-old rookies is very strong: They often go on to have multiple seasons of high-end production. Smith is something of a steal at the bottom of Round 1.

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10 Potential Round 1 Players 

  • DT Jeffery Simmons (Mississippi State): Former five-star recruit recovering from a February ACL tear.
  • DT Jerry Tillery (Notre Dame): Athletic interior presence with strong pass-rushing skills and adequate run-stopping ability.
  • RB Josh Jacobs (Alabama): Round 1-caliber player at a position with ample supply and diminishing demand.
  • S Nasir Adderley (Delaware): Small-school prospect with lingering questions about athleticism and level of competition.
  • S Taylor Rapp (Washington): All-around defensive back without any elite qualities.
  • WR Kelvin Harmon (North Carolina State): Big-bodied receiver competing for draft position against other wideouts with superior athleticism.
  • WR Marquise Brown (Oklahoma): Diminutive speedster with a lingering foot injury and unconfirmed athleticism.
  • QB Daniel Jones (Duke): Toolsy pocket passer with uninspiring production.
  • OT Greg Little (Mississippi): Five-star two-year SEC starter with subpar Orlando Brown-esque athleticism.
  • Edge Jachai Polite (Florida): 21-year-old upside pass rusher coming off a disappointing combine.

Matthew Freedman is the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs. He has a dog and sometimes a British accent. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he’s known only as The Labyrinthian.

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