2019 NFL DRAFT RANKINGS – ABOVE & BEYOND
By Greg DePalma, OFN Host/Football Analyst
This is the first of a series of 2019 NFL Draft reports where I break down key players who I believe will out-perform their current draft status c/o Ourlads’ official ranking boards and become anywhere from above-average to elite professionals.
This first list includes players that have the best chance to become superstar performers on the next level. Currently, none of these players are top-ranked at their respective positions.
Make sure to tune in to the Ourlads’ Guide to the 2019 NFL Draft podcast, as Dan Shonka and I go in-depth on all the latest draft coverage.
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TOP 4 PLAYERS: ABOVE & BEYOND
1 Austin Bryant, Clemson
Ourlads’ 6th-ranked DE
This generational talent has great size, sideline-to-sideline quickness and unnatural athleticism to revolutionize the position.
Bryant burst onto the national scene with eight tackles in the 2015 Orange Bowl when he filled in for injured future first-round pick, Shaq Lawson. He then became a full-time starter in 2017 and proceeded to tally a school-record-tying four sacks in a Week-2 game against Auburn on his way to 1st-team All-American honors.
In four seasons at Clemson, Bryant totaled 130 tackles, 37 TFL & 21 sacks. Keep in mind he played with a pectoral injury last season that required surgery and will prevent him from working out at the Scouting Combine. More reason to believe his A+ abilities won’t be as apparent to everyone until after the draft.
If Bryant gets taken by the right coaching staff with a creative coordinator who can maximize his immense skill set, he could not only end up as the primary star of the Clemson ‘fantastic four’, but also of the entire ‘19 draft class.
2 Andraez ‘Greedy’ Williams, LSU
Ourlads’ 2nd-ranked CB
Williams demonstrated star potential as soon as he stepped on the field during his redshirt freshman season and never looked back. He ended up starting 13 games in 2017 for one of the perennial top defensive back programs in the nation, all the while leading the SEC in interceptions with six.
Williams has an excellent blend of size & speed for the position along with top playmaking skills. He’s also battle-tested in the top conference in the land.
The Shreveport native should enter the NFL Scouting Combine on par with the best corner prospects to come out of the draft over the past three years (Denzel Ward, Marshon Lattimore and Jalen Ramsey).
And if his combine testing goes well, look for Williams to be a lock top-5 selection with a shot at going as high as No. 3 overall to the Jets. Anything less than that, and some lucky team will have themselves a bona-fide steal.
3 Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M
Ourlads’ 3rd-ranked RB
If you’re looking for an electrifying runner in this year’s draft class, look no further.
The Aggies record for single-season rushing yardage was broken in dynamic fashion during a Gator Bowl win this past December by Williams. Not only did he break the 30-year-old mark, but he did it on a 93-yard TD run, his third of the game. Williams finished the season with 1,760 yards and 18 TDs.
Williams is similar in size and speed to Christian McCaffrey, who ended up as a top-10 pick in 2017 (8th overall). He’s also proven to be every bit the home-run threat after leading the nation in plays from scrimmage of 10 or more yards with 69. And he did it in the nation’s toughest conference.
As far as his class competition goes, why would I risk a higher draft pick on one of those Nick Saban running backs when I can be patient and grab Williams? How many times are we going to be fooled by those Alabama kids who only look the part in college to then disappoint in the pros?
I’m referencing players like Trent Richardson (3rd overall), Mark Ingram (28th overall), TJ Yeldon (36th overall), Derrick Henry (45th overall) and Eddie Lacy (61st overall). Each of whom have been letdown’s in some fashion. Even Ingram, the best of the lot, took six seasons to finally achieve value.
Williams, like McCaffrey, is a top-10 talent. That I have little doubt. But Damien Harris? Josh Jacobs? Well unless and until one of these ‘Bama kids can actually outperform their college days, I’d rather use my pick elsewhere.
4 N’Keal Harry, Arizona State
Ourlads’ 3rd-ranked WR
Harry was one of the most exciting big-play performers that most fans didn’t get a chance to see on a consistent basis last season. He’s a premier open-field runner who possesses excellent size and athleticism for the position.
Over the past two years with underwhelming quarterback play, Harry still produced 155 receptions, 2,230 receiving yards and 17 TDs.
He’s also a bonus as a major weapon in the punt return game, averaging 16.9 yards this past season including a stunning 92-yard game-winning score against USC.
If Harry runs well enough at the Scouting Combine, he should be locked in as the top-ranked receiver of this draft.