The 2019 NFL Draft will ultimately produce some big-time busts and amazing steals, because evaluating prospects is an inexact science even the best struggle with.
Looking at this year’s draft class, some players are being hyped up beyond their true value, while others aren’t getting nearly enough love.
These are the most overrated, and underrated, players entering the 2019 NFL Draft.
Overrated: Rashan Gary, defensive end, Michigan
Gary is like a sports car that looks like it’ll be the sweetest ride you ever experienced. Then you get into the car and realize it just doesn’t deliver the performance you expect.
An elite athlete who has all the measurables anyone could ever ask for, Gary’s testing numbers have never led to the kind of dominance you’d expect. He disappeared for long periods of time at Michigan and finished his career with just 9.5 sacks and 23 tackles for a loss in three seasons.
Underrated: Hakeem Butler, wide receiver, Iowa State
For my money, Butler is the best receiver in the 2019 NFL Draft. An absolute freak of nature who measures 6-foot-5 and 227 pounds, he posted a 4.48-second 40 at the combine. His long arms are a tremendous asset, as Butler often comes down with ridiculous contested catches (like this).
Butler also showed he can produce big numbers, posting 1,318 yards and nine touchdowns on 60 receptions as a redshirt junior last year. A technically sound receiver, he stands to blossom even further at the next level with an NFL quarterback feeding him the ball. Yet when people talk about the “top” receivers, he’s usually down the list.
Overrated: D.K. Metcalf, wide receiver, Ole Miss
Speaking of players everyone has been talking about as a “top” receiver, Metcalf should scare the crap out of every NFL decision maker out there. Because of his insane height-weight-speed ratio (6-foot-3, 228 pounds, and 4.33-second 40), there’s a good chance Metcalf will be selected early in Round 1.
Yet, there are some big-time red flags this prospect brings with him. Most concerning is the fact that Metcalf has struggled to stay healthy, which has him entering the NFL with just 67 catches for 1,228 yards in three seasons at Ole Miss. Additionally, Metcalf is a straight-line runner who is not quick laterally, and he could struggle to get open at the NFL level.
Underrated: Darrell Henderson, running back, Memphis
Explosive. That’s the word that springs to mind when watching Henderson run. He can rip off a touchdown from anywhere on the field and did plenty of that last year for the Tigers, going 1,909 yards with 22 touchdowns on just 230 carries. In fact, the past two years, he averaged 8.9 yards per rush, which is incredible.
Henderson can also make big plays in the pass game. He caught 63 passes and averaged 12 yards per reception in three years at Memphis. He might not be a pure bell-cow back, being a bit undersized at 5-foot-8 and 208 pounds. Yet he’ll make an immediate impact on any offense and should be utilized heavily from the start as a rookie.
Overrated: Daniel Jones, quarterback, Duke
Depending on which big board you look at, Jones is viewed by many as one of the top three or four quarterbacks in the 2019 NFL Draft class. Certainly, he has the size (6-foot-5 and 221 pounds) teams covet. He’s also extremely athletic and has an adequate arm.
Yet this player screams Ryan Tannehill to me. He’s going to entice. He’s going to be drafted early. He might even have some amount of success in the NFL. Yet ultimately, I see whichever team that drafts him being forced to move on in a few years after he fails to truly become a franchise leader.
Underrated: Andy Isabella, wide receiver, UMass
Some team is going to get an absolute steal with this burgeoning star. One of the most productive receivers in college football last year, he lit up opposing defenses on a weekly basis to the tune of 102 receptions for 1,698 yards and 13 touchowns.
An undersized receiver at 5-foot-9 and 188 pounds, Isabella might be faster than Marquise Brown and is one of the best route runners in the 2019 NFL Draft class. He’s also tougher than nails (check this out). He has a bright future ahead of him as an elite slot specialist (and perhaps more) in the NFL.
Overrated: Marquise Brown, wide receiver, Oklahoma
Everyone wants to compare Brown to DeSean Jackson. And to a certain extent that’s fair. He is small, he’s incredibly fast, and many times he was able to use that speed to get past college defenders.
Speed can only get you so far, however. Brown isn’t just small. He’s tiny. He’s a full three inches shorter than Jackson and weighed in at 166 pounds, which is 12 pounds less than Jackson did in 2008. Additionally, he sometime struggled against press coverage — a tactic NFL corners will employ plenty. Finally, he’s recovering from a foot injury, and those are darn tricky for receivers.
Underrated: Ed Oliver, defensive tackle, Louisville
The big reason Oliver is featured here as an underrated prospect is that he is the best interior lineman in the draft, and might be the best player overall. Yet few people discuss him as this type of elite prospect. Instead, he’s being talked about as a guy who might be asked to play linebacker, or who might struggle to play inside because he’s “smallish” at 280-plus pounds.
Goodness. Just watch Oliver dominate from the nose guard spot and those concerns should be tossed right out the window. He’s an absolute offense wrecker and will continue to be that at the NFL level.
Overrated: Drew Lock, quarterback, Missouri
If you’re looking for a Jay Cutler type who can throw a football into a tight window anywhere on the field, but who will also throw it to the other team at inconvenient times, then Lock is your man.
Lock has the ability to make incredible throws. He has arm talent, to be sure. Yet he’s also spotty with his accuracy and regressed last year after a monster junior campaign at Missouri. I expect he’ll be selected in the top 10 of the 2019 NFL Draft, and that the Denver Broncos will end up looking for yet another quarterback after a handful of years.
Underrated: Miles Boykin, wide receiver, Notre Dame
A player who’ll almost certainly be available in Day 2 of the 2019 NFL Draft, Boykin will ultimately be seen as a steal.
Thanks to the quarterback situation at Notre Dame, it wasn’t until Ian Book took over last year that Boykin really took off. Yet once he did, his abilities became evident and the production flowed (59 catches for 872 yards and eight touchdowns).
The thing that really stands out is how well Boykin moves for a man of his size (6-foot-4 and 220 pounds). He has the potential to become an elite receiver at the NFL level.