Twenty-one players will attend the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville tonight in hopes of living out their dreams of being a professional football player. The league invites anybody they think will be selected day one of the event, but there’s always those few that fall later than they expected.
Here are five players that might have to wait until Friday to hear their name called.
Drew Lock, QB – Missouri
Lock might be attending tonight’s event, but he’s not a lock to have his name called during the first night of the draft.
With all the rave centering around top quarterbacks Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins, the Missouri product has been somewhat of an afterthought at times. Combine that with the fact that teams are enamored with Duke’s Daniel Jones’ Manning-esque traits – and having the same college coach – now looks like he could be the fourth signal caller taken.
Add in the fact, Will Grier is making a late rise into the first round and Lock could ultimately fall out of the first round after looking like a top-10 pick early in the draft process.
Most of his concerns stem from having small hands and lacking a bit of accuracy, but nothing that can’t be corrected with the right team. The question that remains is which team is willing to take that chance and are they willing to invest a first-round pick on him? My guess is that teams will wait until the early part of the second-round.
Josh Jacobs, RB – Alabama
Running backs were once looked at as one of the few positions where teams could find value in the later rounds rather than risking the biscuit to get a possible elite level talent during the opening night of the draft.
However, since 2015, we’ve seen guys like Todd Gurley, Saquon Barkley, and Ezekiel Elliott selected in the top-10 despite most of the league shifting to pass heavy offenses. That trend ends this year.
Jacobs looks ingrained as the highest rated running back on most draft boards, but with the draft peppered with top tier defenders and few needs at the position, there are fewer opportunities where the Alabama alum could be selected. Not to mention, Jacobs didn’t have a ton of production in college (just 1,491 yards in three years).
Plus, there is a ton of value on day two and why take a shot on one Thursday when another one closely ranked could be there Friday? So, for the first time in four years, a running back won’t be a first-round selection.
Noah Fant, TE – Iowa
Fant would probably be a lock for the first-round had his teammate T.J. Hockenson not been in the conversation.
Iowa has a history of producing solid tight ends and this year they might have outdone themselves. Fant is essentially a big-bodied receiver with strong hands who can line up in the slot, but Hockenson’s ability as a more well-rounded in-line blocker gives him the advantage as the TE1 in this class.
Mock drafts everywhere have Hockenson going top-10, but depending on how the draft shakes up at the top he could fall just outside of it. That would mean teams initially eyeing Fant might have Hockenson land in their laps instead.
Green Bay has been a name linked to various pass catchers and there are a few spots in the 20s where he could fall to. Maybe the New England Patriots would select him as the final pick in the first round, but Fant looks like a candidate to be sitting in the green room longer than he anticipated if the draft doesn’t unfold the way most people expect.
Greedy Williams, DB – LSU
It’s insane how you can look back at the start of the draft process and see a player mocked in the top-5 only to mention his name with those who could fall out of the first-round completely.
Williams was once projected to go within the first five picks and with good reasoning as he fits the ideal mold for a corner in today’s NFL. He’s long, fast and can cover with the best of him.
So why is it looking like he could be drafted on Friday instead? Well, his slender frame and disinterest to tackle probably have something to do with it. Teams that rely more on press coverages could be scared off by his slight build and whether or not he’ll struggle against bigger receivers at the point of attack.
There’s also a small window of where defensive backs will go and the run probably won’t start until the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 20, so if teams prefer more well-rounded corners Williams could slip.
Deandre Baker, DB – Georgia
Baker was also once the consensus defensive back in this class, but his fall has been much more drastic.
While the Georgia product is bulkier, he’s also much shorter and not as fast. The recipient of the Thorpe Award (awarded to the nation’s top defensive back), he consistently locked down defenders and was disruptive breaking up passes. Hell, he hasn’t allowed a touchdown since the 2016 season.
The concerning issue is whether he’ll be able to shut down receivers in the NFL with his physicality and if he loses at the line does he have the speed to make up the ground. Ideally, he fits better in the slot but he played mostly on the outside in college and is not as shifty as you’d like for nickel back.
There are also some alleged character concerns that are not sitting well with teams, according to 247Sports and that might be just enough to push him outside the first round.
*Disclaimer – Montez Sweat is no longer attending tonight’s draft, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He would have been a candidate to fall outside the first round.