Tag Archives: NFL

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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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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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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Top 10 running backs in the 2019 NFL Draft:

We have come to the point for me to reveal my positional rankings for the upcoming NFL draft. I will put out my top ten (plus) with two positional groups coming every week leading up to April 25th, with my top 100 big board and only mock draft finishing up the process. This week I am starting with the running backs and linebackers.

While there is no generational running back prospect such as Saquon Barkley in this class, I think overall these skill positions are very deep this year. You will see something similar with the wide receivers, where there is no consensus number one guy, but plenty of prospects NFL front offices will try to get their hands on. When it comes to the RBs, I think one young man has crystallized himself as the cream of the crop, but my rankings look a lot different compared to others after that. Obviously these boards will alter depending on scheme fits and personal preferences, but for me I am looking for an all-around back with vision, appropriate footwork, natural running style, versatility and the ability to create more than what is actually there.

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Who stood out at the 2019 NFL combine:

Every year there are prospects who boost their draft stock with amazing performances at the NFL scouting combine and then there are those who really hurt themselves with slow times in the fourty, a lack of explosiveness in the leaping events or bad on-field drills. With that being said, the combine is just a small part of the evaluation and most of the information can be found on tape. However, there are some things you see in Indianapolis that make you go back to the film and re-evaluate certain areas of these guys’ games, whether that may be stiffness in their hips, a lack of speed preventing defensive backs to survive full-time on the outside or heavy feet in the drills. Of course, these can also be positive, but for the most part it is just a confirmation of what you have already seen if nothing particularly stands out. The prospects I chose for this article are the ones who I wasn’t completely sure on where I would rank them among their position or on the big board, but really solidified or even improved their draft status.

Overall I think the linebackers and defensive linemen are the groups that really stood out on day three, which was to be expected to some degree but still was highly impressive, considering how they were able to move with the weight they carried. I was discouraged by some of the cornerbacks and there was only one quarterback who really left his mark in Indy in my opinion. Although there were a few performances that made me drop guys a few spots, I thought most of them helped themselves. So while there was nobody who completely threw off my board, I thought these young guys really shined over the weekend:

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Free agency fits for the top ten teams in terms of cap space:

With the NFL Scouting Combine less than a week away and more than a month of intense draft coverage ahead – not even counting the following analyses and undrafted free agent work – I decided to at least put together one piece about free agency. To do so I took the top ten teams in terms of cap space for 2019 according to spotrac.com and found one player I think would fit well with them. This can be due to personal connections, scheme fit or simply a combination of need at the position and the money to spend. While it is often times about all the small moves a team makes over the course of the offseason and how a team builds depth (also through the draft), I thought it would be fun to put together some pairings that I believe would make sense. I did not include likely franchise tag candidates such as DeMarcus Lawrence, Jadeveon Clowney and Nick Foles – who the Eagles will look to trade once they have secured his rights. With that being said, I still think we have a strong class of edge rushers and there are three safeties who were among the very best at the position just two years ago. On the other hand, there are no big fish at quarterback out there, assuming Foles will be tagged, such as Kirk Cousins last offseason, and I will tell you to look for your team to draft a receiver out of college, because outside of one veteran pass-catcher these guys on the market will all be overpaid. So here are some of the fits I found when looking at who is available and where these ten teams could use some help.

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