Believe it or not, we’re less than a month away from the 2019 NFL Draft. Time flies when you’re having fun, or in my case, grinding tape and evaluating prospects. I’ll grind away on what I think a player can do, and inevitably, he won’t go to the team that makes sense to me. But that’s what makes this fun!
More often than not, something that all of us evaluators like to do is run through a mock draft. Those are always fun, but they can get repetitive. How many times can we really run through Kyler Murray or Quinnen Williams as the top pick of the 2019 NFL Draft? It’s exhausting at times, so I’ve thought of a new idea. What I’ll do is similar to a mock draft, but it expands through the entire 2019 NFL Draft.
This idea stems from opening day in baseball. Whether you’re a Rockies fan or a Mariners fan, it doesn’t matter, there are players on your favorite baseball team that you may or may not want on the roster. When we get to football season, the same thing is going to happen.
It doesn’t matter if your team has five picks or 10 in the 2019 NFL Draft. There is one player that can help contribute for years to come. More often than not, it happens. But who are they? They’re not always the team’s first-round pick. It varies, and in this exercise, I want to provide one player that your team NEEDS by the time we get to kickoff for the regular season.
Cincinnati Bengals – Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State (11th Overall)
One of the quieter teams through the entire draft process has been the Bengals. They’ve cut ties with linebacker Vontaze Burfict and finally let go of their longtime head coach, Marvin Lewis. With a new regime installed, there’s no guarantee that Andy Dalton is the longterm plan at quarterback — nor should he be.
The Bengals haven’t said they’re going to commit to Dalton beyond this season. Rather, they’re going to let the 2019 season do the talking and go from there. Regardless of what happens, the Bengals should strongly consider Dwayne Haskins for their future at quarterback. If there’s any quarterback that seems destined to slip down some draft boards, it looks to be Haskins. This could change if the Raiders or Giants have him as their top overall player, but for now, he seems to be lost in the shuffle.
Dwayne Haskins making pre-snap adjustments— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) February 16, 2019
Parris Campbell smooth post-snap pic.twitter.com/lCyhQiapql
It’s hard to imagine that my top-ranked quarterback could fall down draft boards, but Deshaun Watson fell to 12th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, and he was the top quarterback. Last season, Josh Rosen was my top quarterback and he fell to the 10th pick. There certainly seems to be a trend. Haskins is a really good fit for new head coach Zac Taylor, and Taylor would allow Haskins to transition to the league nicely with a combination of RPOs and play-action concepts that helped him succeed for the Buckeyes. I really like the decision making that Haskins has shown, and I think he can make just about every throw on the field. He’s the ideal pocket passer; he won’t beat defenses with his legs, but he will with his decision making and accuracy. If he’s drafted by the Bengals, their future gets a whole lot brighter.
Cleveland Browns – Jonathan Abram, S, Mississippi State (49th Overall)
Not having a first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft isn’t ideal, but having Odell Beckham Jr. is well worth the pick. Though they have a stacked offense, the Browns’ defense has some flaws, starting with their secondary. They need help at the safety position, and they could be in a position with the 49th overall pick to select just about any of them. In consideration will be Taylor Rapp, Amani Hooker, Deionte Thompson, and Juan Thornhill. Another player that I think could be there is Jonathan Abram from Mississippi State.
On film, the first thing that stands out his aggressiveness and his ability to help in run support. He possesses the versatility to play in a variety of spots. From covering out of the slot, playing in the box, or being a single high safety, he can do just about anything. Does he do any one thing better than the other? Playing in the box seems to be his strongest asset, and he’ll flash his range from time to time. Overall, I thought Abram looked stiff with his hips and was late in his play recognition, but overall, he’d be a really good fit for the Browns’ defense. All signs are pointing to a defensive back, and more than likely it’ll be safety with the 49th pick of the draft. If it’s Jonathan Abram, it could pay off from the start.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Greedy Williams, CB, LSU, (20th Overall)
The Steelers have shown interest in two Michigan players, Devin Bush and Chase Winovich. Both of them make a ton of sense, and if they’re available with the 20th pick, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear Roger Goodell say their names. Personally, I don’t see Bush being there, and I think 20th overall is a little too rich for Winovich. However, grabbing Greedy Williams at this spot is ideal. The Steelers always seem to make questionable decisions when it comes to their secondary, but they can make it right by selecting Greedy.
Where will Greedy make his home in the NFL? pic.twitter.com/bAvhlHI3qr— PFF College (@PFF_College) March 13, 2019
More than likely, he’s a day one starter and has some serious potential. Right now, I don’t believe the hype of him being a top-ten pick, but I’ve been wrong before. On my board, he’s closer to the 20-25 range and would make the most sense for two teams: Seattle and Pittsburgh. The Steelers could select him and instantly play him on the outside. He can help in man coverage or in zone and should be able to produce right away. Eventually, the production could lead to him being one of the best cornerbacks in the game.
There are some technical flaws in his game where he gets a bit flat-footed in his backpedal or too grabby down the field, but realistically, he looks like a fluid athlete (4.37 seconds in the 40-yard dash), uses good play recognition and burst to close on the football, and has the ideal length (6’2″) to match number one receivers. This has the makings of a really solid pick on the opening night of the draft and could lead to immediate success on Pittsburgh’s opening day.
Baltimore Ravens – Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State (22nd Overall)
How could you not get excited about this? The Ravens don’t have a number one receiver, and all the signs point to them taking one. They moved on from John Brown and Michael Crabtree. Outside of Willie Snead and some tight ends, there’s not a lot for Lamar Jackson to throw at. That would change with the selection of Hakeem Butler in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Compare Hakeem Butler to whoever you want. Here's a clip of him taking long strides, looking like he's basically jogging while defensive backs are absolutely lost. He then comes back to an under thrown pass and brings it down for a TD. Butler is athletic and talented as hell pic.twitter.com/YcKENqc7M9— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) December 29, 2018
In this draft, I only view two receivers to be destined as true number one receivers and they are D.K. Metcalf and Hakeem Butler. They both have terrific upside, and I think they have the potential to match the production of players like DeAndre Hopkins and Julio Jones. As for Butler, he has such an incredible story. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland and moved to Texas after his mother passed away with breast cancer. It would be terrific to see any team draft him in the first round, but the Baltimore Ravens would just be fitting. To go back to his hometown and play for the Ravens would truly be something special.
On top of that, he’s got terrific length for the position, with his frame at 6’5″ and 227 pounds. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds and shows it with his long strides after the catch. His hands have been questioned, but I truly believe issues with drops stemmed from poor quarterback play. He can help attack defenses in all three areas of the field and should have no issues high-pointing the football. Not only will the development of Butler be special, but it’ll also help Lamar Jackson. This would be a home run pick for the Ravens.