Mosher: 5 bold predictions for 2019 NFL Draft

Haskins, Metcalf fall, Polite still around on Day 3 and Giants punt on premium-round passer

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I look forward to the last weekend in April more than any other because of the chaos that always ensues. Without fail, our minds are blown during every draft as a premier prospect falls or as a team makes a blockbuster trade. There are always wild things that happen during this weekend that no one can expect.

Today, we are going to try to “predict” some of the madness that could happen during the 2019 NFL draft. Using some clues and educated guesses, here are my five bold predictions for this year’s draft. 

1. Drew Lock will be drafted before Dwayne Haskins

For a large portion of the draft season, Dwayne Haskins has been considered one of the top two quarterbacks in this class, and it's not hard to see why. As a redshirt sophomore, Haskins put up record numbers at Ohio State, throwing 50 touchdowns while completing 70 percent of his passes. No quarterback was responsible for more touchdowns (54) than Haskins last season, and again, he was a redshirt sophomore in his first season as a starter. Considering he has size, arm talent and production, he should be a lock to be a top-10 pick.

However, there has been some late momentum for Missouri QB Drew Lock. It's also not hard to see why Lock could be rising on draft boards this late in the process.

He's an experienced quarterback, starting 38 games over the past three seasons. His completion percentage has increased every year at Missouri, and he's blessed with the strongest arm in the class. All of those things matter to NFL coaches and evaluators and will likely be the reason he is a first-round pick, despite inconsistent play over his career.

That is why I won't be surprised at all when the older, more seasoned Lock is drafted ahead of Haskins. While I may not agree with the move, this prediction feels very likely as Lock has a lot of fans around the league. Look for Lock to come off the board inside the top 10 picks, likely via a trade up, and don't be surprised if Haskins is still available in the teens.

2. A.J. Brown is selected over teammate D.K. Metcalf

Like Dwayne Haskins, Mississippi receiver D.K. Metcalf has widely been considered the top receiver in the class. At 6-foot-3, 228 pounds, Metcalf looks like Hercules on the football field. At the NFL combine, he ran a 4.33 40-yard dash and leapt 40.5 inches in the vertical jump drill. He is simply one of the most explosive receivers we have seen enter the draft in a long time.

However, it wouldn't be a complete shock if he wasn't the first receiver — overall, never mind from Ole Miss — picked in the 2019 NFL draft. It wouldn't be a complete surprise if his teammate, A.J. Brown, was selected before him.

Brown isn't nearly as athletice as Metcalf, nor does he have his elite size. But what Brown does have is one impressive resume. Over the past two seasons, Brown caught 160 passes for 2,572 yards and 17 touchdowns in the SEC. Not only is Brown productive, but he is also versatile. When Metcalf was on the field, Brown primarily played in the slot. But when Metcalf was out, Brown moved to the outside and was dominant.

Metcalf may have the higher ceiling, but Brown has a higher floor and is more scheme diverse. Don't be surprised when several teams have Brown higher on their board and he ends up being drafted earlier than Metcalf. 


3. Florida's Jachai Polite falls to Day 3

Florida's Jachai Polite has had an offseason to forget. That is extremely unfortunate considering just how well he played during his final season in The Swamp. As a junior, he recorded 19.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks in 13 games. In addition to finishing third in the conference in sacks, he led the nation in forced fumbles (six). But since the season ended, things have spiraled out of control for Polite.

Polite struggled at the NFL combine, running a 4.84 40-yard dash at 258 pounds. He also struggled in the vertical jump, scoring in just the 15th percentile (32 inches). Polite also reportedly struggled in interviews and did not make a good impression on teams. He then went to his pro day in Gainesville and continued to struggle. Polite ran a 5.04 40-yard dash and hurt his hamstring once again.

Polite is an incredibly gifted pass rusher, but there are so many questions surrounding him now that he's poised to suffer an Arden Key-like drop in the 2019 draft. Polite will fall out of the top 100, remaining on the board into Day 3.


4. Oklahoma’s Marquise “Hollywood” Brown is the first receiver selected

As previously predicted, at least one receiver will be drafted ahead of Mississippi’s D.K. Metcalf. But who else has a chance to be the first receiver off the board? Look no further than Oklahoma’s Marquise “Hollywood” Brown.

With the emergence and domination of Tyreek Hill, teams across the league are searching for players with speed who can stretch a defense. Hollywood Brown is a similar to Hill: Undersized, but with home-run speed. Over the past two seasons at Oklahoma, Brown caught 132 passes for 2,413 yards and 17 touchdowns. In his college career, he’s averaged 18.3 yards per reception, the fourth-most for any receiver in Big 12 history.  

However, some questions are surrounding his draft stock. Brown could not participate in workouts at the NFL combine because of a LisFranc injury requiring surgery. Not only is he injured entering the NFL, but Brown is also historically small. According to Mockdraftable, he is the lightest receiver ever measured at the NFL combine, weighing in at only 166 pounds. Combine that with his small arms and hands, and you are looking at one of the smallest pass catchers the league has ever seen.

But despite some of the concerns surrounding Brown, he is still considered to be a lock to go in the first round. ESPN’s Adam Schefter called him a “projected top-15 pick” and NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah “feels good” that Brown will be selected in the first round. The NFL invited him to attend the draft, meaning the league also thinks he will likely be a first-round pick.

Don't be surprised when Brown is the first receiver drafted — a lot earlier than most are imagining. There aren't many players with his speed and production in the NFL. It wouldn’t even be a total shock if he wound up being a top-10 pick when everything is said and done.


5. The Giants will ignore the QB position in Round 1

It’s tough to get inside the mind of New York Giants GM Dave Gettleman. He has been one of the most unpredictable general managers in the league over the past few seasons, trading away Odell Beckham Jr., removing the franchise tag from Josh Norman in Carolina, etc. No one really knows the plan of Gettleman and the Giants, but we are going to make a prediction anyway.

The Giants own two picks in the first round, Nos. 6 and 17. Most believe the first selection will address their pass-rush need with either Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat or Florida State’s Brian Burns. Both are explosive edge players who would upgrade the team’s pass rush right away.

At pick No. 17, could the Giants address their need for a successor to Eli Manning? It's unlikely that any of the top three quarterbacks will be available (Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, and Drew Lock) and that could force the team to go elsewhere with this pick. Considering how much the Giants have backed Eli Manning publicly, it wouldn’t be a total surprise to see them continue to upgrade their defense in the middle of the first round.

Assuming the Giants wait on the QB position, there are a few intriguing prospects who could be available after the first round. Players such as West Virginia’s Will Grier or Buffalo’s Tyree Jackson would make sense on Day 2 if the Giants wanted to groom a young quarterback behind Manning. Expect the Giants to be one of the wild-card teams on the first day of the draft and Gettlemen to do the unexpected.

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