2019 NFL Draft: Best plug and play rookies after the first round


A perfect marriage: when two parties come together and thrive. That’s the goal for every organization and prospect entering any draft. Who is the best player we can get that fills this void on our roster? What team can I get selected by that fits my skillset and gives me the best opportunity to start immediately? This is when the phrase plug-and-play applies. Productive players find a vacancy on a roster in which they can perform at a high level immediately based on situation and overall talent.

These non-first rounders find themselves in key situations to start immediately and provide their new squads with an instant impact.

OG Nate Davis, Tennessee

Even though he improved in each of his three years as the Titans’ full-time starting left guard, Quinton Spain is no longer in Nashville, which opened an opportunity for the organization to snatch Rodger Saffold from Los Angeles. Despite making moves to shore up the left guard vacancy, the Titans are still aiming to solidify the right side.

Enter Davis.

As the 82nd pick coming in the third round, General Manager Jon Robinson eyed his 2019 starting right guard when selecting the offensive lineman from Charlotte.

I see a guy that we’re going to want to come to work with every day,” Robinson said. “Spent time with him (at the NFL Scouting Combine) in Indy, spent time with him here in our facility. He was one of our visits. Just really came away impressed with him as a person and then watching him on film, thought he had a lot of the physical tools to develop into being a big player.”

The physical tools Robinson is alluding to are what helped him thrive at the Senior Bowl in January. Despite playing in the Conference USA, Davis displays Power 5 skills with plenty of pop and balance in the interior, showcasing dominating traits. Stacked up against the rest of the guards in the 2019 NFL Draft class, Davis sports the quickest feet and is able to mirror and recover with ease. The athleticism, power, and foot quickness give Davis the best chance to start at right guard when the Titans open up with Cleveland Week 1.

OL Cody Ford, Buffalo

It’s no secret that Buffalo came into the offseason reevaluating the entire offensive line unit. Though the unit averaged 124 rushing yards per game a season ago (ninth in the NFL), it flipped the script in the passing game, giving up 41 sacks across 16 games (2.5 per game). With offseason additions of a handful of veteran players, Buffalo still sought after youth in the draft,  selecting Ford with its first selection in the second round.

Shortly after the conclusion of the draft, General Manager Brandon Beane said Ford will begin his career at Buffalo with reps at right tackle. Despite right guard being a popular destination spot for Ford, he looks to battle with newcomers Ty Nsekhe and LaAdrian Waddle to lock up one of the bookend spots. The selection of Ford provided Buffalo with seven new faces to the offensive line this offseason, proving that no matter the contract, it’s an open competition at every position, which is where Ford’s versatility may be called upon.

Ford’s diversity lends itself to an offensive line that needs consistency in every facet while protecting franchise quarterback Josh Allen. Ford provides just that. Allowing pressure on only 1.6 percent of his snaps at Oklahoma, Ford fits the mold of what the organization was eyeing this offseason.

C Erik McCoy, New Orleans

New Orleans had just one pick in the first three rounds and they had to make it count. They certainly did. Tabbed as one of the safest prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft, McCoy has the tools to thrive in the interior, filling the biggest need for New Orleans this offseason. With Pro Bowl center Max Unger hanging it up after 10 seasons, the Saints added Nick Easton from Minnesota to serve as a Band-Aid until better help was found.

McCoy offers more athleticism and power on the interior compared to Easton, making it a near no-brainer for him to lock up the starting center spot.

“You see his strength on tape in each game you watch. We really had a high grade on him,” head coach Sean Payton said. “He obviously played at a high level of competition and you see the consistency, and there were just a lot of things to like.”

The Saints have built a strong core of talent across the offensive line with Terron Armstead, Andrus Peat, Ryan Ramczyk, and Larry Warford. McCoy is the missing piece who could make this unit the best in the league.

WR DK Metcalf, Seattle

Metcalf’s poor NFL Scouting Combine performance caught many spectators off guard, including the decision-makers looking to add a dynamic wide receiver in Round 1. Though it wasn’t a green room drama-filled night, the awkward waiting still took place as day two of the draft progressed.

With the last selection of the second round, Seattle stopped the bleeding and selected who could be its next WR1, especially with Doug Baldwin departing the organization.

Seattle’s current roster, outside of Metcalf, features veterans Jaron Brown, Tyler Lockett, and David Moore, along with first-year players Gary Jennings and John Ursua. It’s no secret that Metcalf has the most upside out of the group and has the best chance to be featured as Russell Wilson’s new favorite target.

RB David Montgomery, Chicago

When Chicago decided to waive one of its best value picks of all-time (Yes, it was. Think about it for a second: fifth-round pick in 2016), it knew it would target a running back early in the 2019 NFL Draft. Tarik Cohen has shown promise as a complementary back with spot starting capability, but Chicago still eyed a bell-cow runner.

Despite being selected fourth at his position, Montgomery has RB1 capabilities, which gives Chicago incredible value at 73rd overall.

“He’s just a well-rounded back,” Ryan Pace, Chicago general manager, said. “It’s everything you look for in a running back, starting with his instincts, his vision, and his ability to make people miss.”

Montgomery’s overall skillset gives Chicago something it lacked with Howard, even though Howard still provided consistent performances on a weekly basis.

OG Dalton Risner, Denver

As one of the best players left on the board entering day two, Risner did not last for long, as Denver snatched him up with the ninth pick of the second round. Risner’s versatility on the line gives the Broncos exactly what they were looking for after Billy Turner was not retained and no other offseason moves were made at the right guard spot. Though Risner started at only right tackle and center (50 total starts) throughout his career at Kansas State, his intelligence and skillset provide a plug-and-play opportunity at right guard.

“When he got drafted, I was so excited — the Broncos finally got me a left guard,” left tackle Garett Bolles said. “We talk almost every day. I know that’s the connection we need so when we do get on the field, we don’t miss a beat.”

Risner shined at the Reese’s Senior Bowl from an on-field and personal perspective, which set the stage for the high expectations he has as a rookie in Denver.

OG Dru Samia, Minnesota

Minnesota knew it had to get stronger up front entering the 2019 season and quickly addressed the need with its first selection of Garrett Bradbury at No. 18. Partnering with the Bradbury selection, Minnesota found value selecting Samia, the Oklahoma offensive guard, in the first half of the fourth round.

“Maybe one of the toughest competitors we’ve seen on tape with how he finishes,” general manager Rick Spielman said. “He has a few technical flaws to clean up. We think that is correctable with coaching.”

Minnesota signed Josh Kline to mend the tear that was looming at right guard, but by no means is Kline a lock to start at right guard, especially after Tennessee’s willingness to let him walk after a poor 2018 season. Samia’s college offensive scheme is what may keep him sidelined for the first few weeks, but his aggressive attitude and reliable pass-blocking traits make him one of the more attractive plug-and-play rookies, mostly due to the situation.

Christian Page is a scout and writer for Cover1.net. His scouting experience dates back to 2015. Christian has a background of radio along with collegiate athletic department experience and corporate marketing.