Draft-day slides happen to top prospects every single year. Whether it’s due to concerns about injury, physical traits or just bad decision-making by teams, it’s inevitable.
So with that in mind, we’re looking at 10 NFL prospects who could be waiting in the green room much longer than they, or anyone else, expects during the 2019 NFL Draft.
Rashan Gary, defensive end, Michigan
Touted as a top-10 player in this year’s draft, Gary could slide well into the teens in Round 1. Despite posting jaw-dropping totals in measurable drills, and despite his prototypical 6-foot-4, 277-pound frame, Gary’s college production is problematic. He should have dominated on a regular basis, yet he disappeared for stretches at Michigan. He also didn’t do as good a job at getting to the quarterback (just 9.5 sacks in three seasons) as other top defensive ends in this draft.
Jonah Williams, offensive tackle, Alabama
A rock-solid offensive lineman who is technically sound and started games for the Crimson Tide three years in a row, Williams earned All-American honors in 2018. He has outstanding footwork and didn’t give up many sacks at Alabama. Yet Williams is seen by some as a better interior lineman prospect than a franchise left tackle. Additionally, many believe Florida product Jawaan Taylor is the best left tackle in the draft. Don’t be surprised if Williams falls into the second half of Round 1.
Clelin Ferrell, defensive end, Clemson
Unlike Gary, Ferrell did register big-time stats at Clemson the past few seasons, tallying 27 sacks from 2016-18, and 11.5 last year alone. He’s an ideal 4-3 defensive end, and it’s not hard to imagine he’ll become a starter in short order at the NFL level. The reason Ferrell could slide is that there are other, more enticing defensive ends with more explosive physical traits that teams will covet. With that in mind, a slide into the 20s in Round 1 wouldn’t be shocking.
Daniel Jones, quarterback, Duke
It seems like a given that Kyler Murray and Drew Lock are going to be top-10 selections. And honestly, it would shock nobody around the league if Dwayne Haskins and Jones were both top-15 selections in Round 1. The thing about Jones that keeps him from being a lock here is that he didn’t perform well against good college defenses and has an average NFL arm. A true wild card, he could go in the top 10, or he could slide out of Round 1 altogether depending on how NFL teams view his potential.
DeAndre Baker, cornerback, Georgia
From a technique standpoint, you’d be hard pressed to find another cornerback in the 2019 NFL Draft class who holds a candle to Baker. He’s NFL ready in this aspect of his game and could become a very good cover man early in his career. The reason Baker might slide in the first round is that, compared to the other top corners in the draft, he’s not nearly as fast. His 4.52-second 40 isn’t awful. It’s just not going to be good enough to keep up with the top receivers in the league. This is why many believe LSU’s Greedy Williams will be the first cornerback off the board.
Marquise Brown, wide receiver, Oklahoma
This all boils down to one thing: Size. Brown is tiny by NFL standards, measuring in at 5-foot-9 and 166 pounds. He’s often compared to DeSean Jackson, but the veteran receiver was a good three inches taller and 12 pounds heavier when he entered the league. As Graham Barfield of NFL.com pointed out recently, there has only been one other wide receiver in league history to weigh under 170 pounds and average over 40 yards per game. Despite his quickness and speed, Brown’s lack of size could cause his stock to take a huge dive.
Dexter Lawrence, nose tackle, Clemson
Nose tackles are incredibly important. This position is also are among the least-sexy in the league, and NFL scouts are reportedly not as high on Lawrence as many in the media have been. In terms of college production, he was a dominant force for Clemson the past three years. Extremely athletic for a man of his size (6-foot-4 and 340 pounds), Lawrence does more than just plug gaps and stop the run. Unfortunately, he also comes with a red flag after failing multiple tests for PEDs ahead of the 2018 postseason.
Noah Fant, tight end, Iowa
In terms of raw athleticism and speed, Fant is in a class of his own this year among top tight end prospects. He posted top marks among tight end combine participants in the 40, broad jump, vertical, 3-cone drill, and was third in the short shuttle. The issue with Fant is two-fold. First, for a pass-catching tight end, he drops too many balls. Secondly, he is not a strong run blocker and needs to build functional strength. Due to those deficiencies, this talented player could slide into the bottom half of Round 1, if not into Round 2.
Zach Allen, defensive end, Boston College
There seems to be a great divide among NFL draft analysts about where Allen belongs. Some have him as a first-round talent. Some see him as a late-second round player, or worse. Chances are, there’s a similar divide among NFL teams. Allen has ideal size for a 3-4 defensive end. He also plays with outstanding strength and has a nose for the ball. The issue is that he is an average athlete who may have a limited ceiling at the NFL level.
Dwayne Haskins, quarterback, Ohio State
Whether it’s a smokescreen or reality, people who cover the league on a national level are hearing from multiple sources that Haskins’ stock is falling. Peter King of NBC Sports recently reported he’s heard Haskins could end up being the fourth quarterback selected. If that happens, it would be pretty stunning given he passed for 4,831 yards and 50 touchdowns last year at Ohio State. However, Haskinsis also inexperienced (just one year as a starter in college) and struggles with lateral mobility. Where he lands in the 2019 NFL Draft will be one of the most fascinating developments to track.