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 an Astros fan or a Cardinals 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 four picks or 12 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.
Jacksonville Jaguars – T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa (7th Overall)
There could be some disappointment from the average Jags fan about this pick, and I can’t blame them. The tight end position is one of the most difficult to develop in the NFL, but since I’ve been evaluating tight ends, T.J. Hockenson is one of the best tight ends I’ve scouted. There could be some grumblings about other needs for the Jaguars, and I’ll agree that they could look at drafting a right tackle or even go with the best defensive player on the board, but Hockenson is just too good to pass up.
Our highest-graded tight end this season, where will T.J. Hockenson end up in the NFL? pic.twitter.com/cs6wu1iu2C— PFF College (@PFF_College) March 1, 2019
Realistically, he’d be a great compliment for new quarterback Nick Foles, and he would help generate openings for Leonard Fournette (when healthy) to run through. Out of any of the tight ends, he has the most complete package and the ability to do just about everything on the field. He’s been one of my locks in the first round for quite some time, and beyond that, I think he’s a lock for the top-10. Could he slip in the draft? Anything can happen, but there’s no reason for anyone to be upset with Hockenson in Jacksonville. It’s a match made in heaven.
Tennessee Titans – Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson (19th Overall)
Going offensive line is very much on the table for the Titans, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Cody Ford and Garrett Bradbury are off the board by this point. Despite the need for help on the interior offensive line, there’s also a serious need on the interior part of the Titans’ defensive line. Finding a player to complement Jurrell Casey should be a priority.
If you need an all-around dominant interior defender, Christian Wilkins is your guy. pic.twitter.com/Xl7JurTnku— PFF College (@PFF_College) March 15, 2019
One of my favorite players in this class is Christian Wilkins, and he’d be terrific for the Titans. He has the ability to rush the passer and can still contribute in stopping the run. He’s a plug-and-play defensive tackle and has some solid burst off the snap. He’s disruptive and is really stout at 6’3″ and 315 pounds. He’s a winner and team captain, and he would complement this defensive line incredibly well. Many fans will want the other Clemson defensive lineman, Clelin Ferrell, but if I’m a Titans fan, I’m ecstatic to have Wilkins when the season opens in September.
Houston Texans – Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington (54th or 55th Overall)
More than likely, Kaleb McGary is going to play right guard at the next level. His arms are far too short to play right tackle (32 7/8″), and that leads to too much exposure of his chest. This leads his feet to get stuck in the mud or for him to struggle at re-establishing contact on the defender. Fortunately, he still has some solid technique staying square and steering defenders out of the way while clearing a path for the running back.
Kaleb McGary flattens Jalen Jelks 👀😳 pic.twitter.com/NEPmDP0mnc— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) January 13, 2019
Overall, he’s an adequate player at setting up at the second level and can operate in space. There will be some other needs for the Texans, and one of them will be addressing their secondary. However, they have to find ways to protect Deshaun Watson. Sorry, folks, Matt Kalil doesn’t really do it for me. By drafting McGary, the Texans will get an incredibly hard worker, but on top of that, he’s got a good initial punch and leg drive to push towards the second level. If you love the battles that occur in the trenches like I do, then this is the pick for you.
Indianapolis Colts – Charles Omenihu, DL, Texas (26th Overall)
It’s no secret that one of my favorite players in the 2019 NFL Draft is Charles Omenihu. He’s been a friend of the podcast and of Cover 1 in general. He’s got everything that the Colts are looking for in a defensive lineman, from the versatility he provides for a defense to his length. If you didn’t know, he’s one of the biggest defensive linemen in this class. At 6’5″ and 280 pounds, he has 36″ arms and improved his 3-cone drill time to 7.23 seconds at the Texas Pro Day, better than Rashan Gary and Clelin Ferrell.
Putting him on this Colts defense will allow them to use him in a variety of ways. Whether he’s standing up or putting his hand in the dirt, there’s no reason to believe that Omenihu makes it out of the first round. Pairing him next to Justin Houston would be terrific, and I’m fully prepared to see him play as a 5-technique, 3-technique and standing up off the edge. Last season, he had 18 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks and has already met with the coaching staff of the Colts. There seems to be mutual interest, and I’d start preparing your jerseys, Colts fans.