In this year’s NFL Draft, the focus has mainly been on the defense. With many people projecting over 20 defensive players flying off the board in the first round. But this class has quietly turned into an exciting draft for skill players. Only one of them has made headlines recently, Kyler Murray. The main reason he has made those headlines is because he is a decent baseball player as well as being the Heisman winner.
I’ll talk about his story and talent later. With the spotlight solely on him, it has let many talented players hide in the shadows. While their names may not be known now, they have enough talent to make a name for themselves early on in their career. To shine some light on this group of players, I will highlight my favorite ten that are projected to go early in the draft. While some may slip down into the second or third round, they still have immense talent.
QB – Ohio State – 6’3 – 220 lb
The Good – Haskins has ideal size for an NFL quarterback. Standing at six feet and three inches, he will easily be able to see over the lineman and with this size comes durability. Durability is a trait that is extremely important in the grueling NFL season. He also has a cannon. His arm strength is the main reason why many people are projecting him to be the first quarterback off the board.
The Bad – Haskins isn’t the most accurate quarterback in the world. His arm strength can almost be too much when trying to throw deep touch passes. These inaccurate passes were mainly in his off games, but it still needs to be noted that his consistency was an issue. For a possible top ten draft pick you would expect more consistency.
NFL Comparison – My comparison for Haskins would be Kirk Cousins, they are both 6’ 3”, they both have off and on games. They also both have immense arm talent and they came out of the Big Ten conference. However, I think his ceiling can be someone like Ben Roethlisberger, with enough development and time, I can see him being the type of field general that Roethlisberger has been throughout his career.
Recap – Overall, he has more upside than any other quarterback in this draft, but with this upside comes a bit of a risk. Whoever picks him needs to be sure they know which quarterback he’s going to be, the one who shredded Michigan’s defense, or the one who couldn’t lead the comeback versus Purdue.
QB – Oklahoma – 5’10 – 195 lb
The Good – Murray is insanely athletic for a quarterback. He is arguably the most explosive runner in this position since Michael Vick. To compliment his speed, he has a gun slinger mentality. With this mentality he isn’t afraid to take a shot on every down, and his arm has the power to get it there. He also won the Heisman last year, which just helps prove his talent.
The Bad – Well, the obvious answer to this is simple, his size. Standing at five feet and ten inches, people question his ability to see over the lineman at the next level. Also, weighing in at 195 pounds soaking wet is concerning for some teams. A quarterback at hat size brings up a multitude of injury concerns. To add on to these concerns, he struggled against his toughest test this year, Alabama. They found a way to contain him for most of the first half, that performance did not help his draft stock at all.
NFL Comparison – In the league right now, there is only one quarterback to really compare him to, Lamar Jackson. Both great runners, they also are both used to running a spread offense. I think Murray’s ceiling is Michael Vick, again both great runners. But Vick was also a very good passer. If Murray can get a team to develop a playbook for him, he can get close to that ceiling,
Recap – Overall, he can be great quarterback in this league, but again there are a lot of risks in taking him early in the draft. Especially since there is still a chance that he ends up putting on an Oakland A’s jersey by the end of all this.
QB – Duke – 6’5 – 220 lb
The Good – Jones is the ideal size for the prototype NFL quarterback. His size improves his durability and pocket presence. Pairing with his size, is a strong arm. He can sling it when he needs to, but he can also scramble when needed to. Most teams will try to turn him more into a pocket passer because his athleticism isn’t his most prominent skill. However, every quarterback can benefit from being able to break sacks and escape the pocket.
The Bad – While Jones may have a strong arm, his accuracy makes it look bad in some games. In his biggest game of the season, against Clemson, he showed this inaccuracy at points. He missed a few makable throws, but then again, he had the best front seven in the country breathing down his neck. He will need time to get used to that kind of pressure and to get his arm more accurate, making him the biggest risk out of these three quarterbacks.
NFL Comparison – The guy in the league right now that I think most resembles these characteristics is Ryan Tannehill. They both have Ideal size, can throw deep, but they aren’t going to wow you with their accuracy or athleticism. With that being said, I think Jones can have a better career than Tannehill if he gets drafted into the right system. If he doesn’t then it’s hard to see him exceeding these expectations.
Recap – He could be a solid quarterback at the next level, but it’s going to take time and patience. His risks might make him slide out of the first round, but any quarterback with his talent won’t fall very far.
WR – Oklahoma – 5’ 10 – 170 lb
The Good – Brown has elite speed with hands that constantly surprise people. His speed can get separation on almost any defensive back in man coverage. To get even more separation, he has the quickness to break on a dime and not lose any speed. Even when he’s covered, he still can make tough catches, which is unique for a guy his size.
The Bad – There is one glaring downside when looking at Brown’s profile, his size. Being five feet and ten inches tall isn’t that much of an issue for a slot receiver, but only being 170 pounds opens the talk of durability. He struggled with a couple of injuries during his last year at Oklahoma, including in his last game against Alabama. These injury concerns are the main reason why he might fall in the draft.
NFL Comparison – This might be a stretch, but I believe his ceiling is being as good as his cousin, Steelers receiver Antonio Brown. Now I am not saying that he’ll be at that level right away, chances are in his first year he’ll be closer to Marquise Goodwin. But he does have the talent to turn into a top target.
Recap – He is the fastest receiver in this draft with hands that are surprising very good. I think he can be a solid receiver for many years to come.
WR – Arizona State – 6’4 – 215 lb
The Good – Harry has the size you look for in an outside, red zone threat receiver. What sets Harry apart from the other tall receivers, is how his speed perfectly complements his hands. He can burn a corner off the ball then jump over a safety to make the catch. He is a true dual threat receiver and with that versatility, he can fit into almost any scheme.
The Bad – Harry battled a few injuries during his last year at Arizona State, so there is always the chance of injuries tampering his NFL career. But, when it comes to when he’s on the field, there is only one clear hole in his game, blocking. For a receiver his size you would expect him to be able to help in the ground game. However last year he was ineffective in that area. If he can fix that one thing, then he could be a number one receiver in the NFL.
NFL Comparison – Like my comparison for Marquise Brown, I don’t think he’ll be this good right out of the gates but I’m just putting who I think they can become. So with that, I think his comparison would be Julio Jones. They are both tall athletic receivers who can go up to get jump balls. Harry will need some time to develop before he is in the conversation with guys like Julio and Odell. But he has a chance.
Recap – Harry is a true multi-threat receiver who can outrun almost any defensive back and he can out jump most defenders too. Out of these receivers he probably has the most upside.
WR – Ole Miss – 6’4 – 230 lb
The Good- Metcalf is a huge red zone target, that is one of the strongest skill players in this draft. He can out jump any defensive back and he has hands to back it up. His strength helps him break off of press coverage and again, he has very good hands. Any team who wants a guy they can just throw fade routes to all day, should strongly consider Metcalf.
The Bad- The only knock on Metcalf is he doesn’t have the blazing speed some teams are looking for. He might struggle to get open on deep routes due to this speed. Metcalf also isn’t the best route runner, he doesn’t have the quickness to explode out of cuts. He can still use his frame to shield off defenders, but his quickness won’t be getting him much separation against NFL corners.
NFL Comparison- The closest comparison in my mind would be Mike Evans. They are both strong aggressive receivers that are also very tall. They both are good threats anytime the ball is in the red zone. I think that Metcalf will be able to be better than Evans eventually, but off the bat I think this will be a good comparison.
Overall, his strength will make him a top pick in this draft and might make teams consider him the next megatron. I think he’ll make the quickest impact out of the receivers in this class.
Irv Smith Jr.
TE – Alabama – 6’4 – 240 lb
The Good – Smith is talented wide receiver and his balls skills made me throw his name in this list. He has very good hands and create good separation. He’s a good route runner for a guy his size and he is also decently elusive in the open field. His ability to make plays in the passing game will make him go very early in the draft.
The Bad – The only hole in his game would be his blocking. Most teams look for a tight end that can help in the ground game, and he really isn’t that kind of guy. He has the size to be a good blocker, but he doesn’t have the skills yet. However, eventually he can develop into that.
NFL Comparison – I believe the player that’s closest to him right now is Eric Ebron. They are both talented receivers and they lack skills to help much in the running game. However, I believe his ceiling is Travis Kelce. It’s hard to compare anyone to him, but I do believe with Smith’s receiving skills he can be that kind of guy.
Recap – The former Tide weapon is a talented tight end who can make plays downfield and be a huge target in the red zone. He isn’t a great blocker, but he still will go high in the draft.
RB – Alabama – 5’10 – 215 lb
The Good – Jacobs is a very versatile back, he can go make plays in the pass game, block downfield and he can obviously impact the game running the football. He has a low pad level and can run through most arm tackles. He has potential to grow into a very good every down running back in the NFL.
The Bad – The only true knock on Jacobs would be that there isn’t any film to show how he would do in an every down role. While at Alabama he shared carries with another talented back that will also be picked early in this year’s draft, Damien Harris. Other than that, it’s hard to poke holes in his game, you might be able to make an argument that he is too short. But honestly, I don’t think many teams will worry too much about that.
NFL Comparison – The closest comparison to Jacobs would be Leonard Fournette. They are both very powerful runners who can step out and make plays in other ways. Now Fournette is a bit a bit taller than Jacobs, but their skillsets are similar and if a team can draft another Fournette, then they shouldn’t hesitate.
Recap – I think he while be the most successful running back in this class and any team who picks him could get positive production right away. There aren’t many risks involved with this pick, so I think he’ll go early in the draft.
RB – Memphis – 5’9 – 200 lb
The Good – Henderson’s speed and quickness makes him a threat whether he’s running the ball or catching it from the backfield. He can make one cut and then explode through the hole. His vision also shows signs of being ahead of the average rookie running back. He still has enough power to run through certain defensive backs.
The Bad – The easiest thing to knock about Henderson is his height. I know height isn’t looked at too intently for running backs but that’s the clear hole for him. Also, his lack of power might steer people away from thinking he can be an every down back. The last thing that can be considered bad, is the competition he played against in college. Memphis doesn’t really play against many top teams, so it’s unknown to see how he’ll do against an NFL front seven.
NFL Comparison – I think Henderson might be able to exceed this expectation but for now I would say the closest comparison right now is Doug Martin. They are both undersized and can make explosive runs with just one cut. Martin might have more power than Henderson, but I think it’s still a valid comparison.
Recap – Henderson is an explosive back who could make plays at the next level. His size and durability will be questioned, but he has enough talent to make an impact early in his career.
RB – Iowa State – 5’11 – 215 lb
The Good – Montgomery runs with a low pad level which makes him able to bounce off tacklers. He is also very patient while looking for a hole to open up, and when he sees it he can use his quickness to explode through it. His hands are good enough to trust him in the flat.
The Bad – Even though he is quick, he doesn’t have enough speed to get away from defensive backs. He also isn’t the most powerful running back in this draft. His skill level overall isn’t very flashy because of the lack of pure power and pure speed. This makes picking him somewhat risky and it might make him fall to around the third round.
NFL Comparison – The closest comparison for Montgomery’s would be James Connor. Neither have a skillset that will blow you away, but they both can get the job done out of the backfield. They have good vision paired with good patience. Lastly, they both have enough power to break some tackles.
Recap – Montgomery might slide into the third round. But the team that picks him up will get a guy who will quietly make a positive impact on the field and in the locker room.