1. Offensive line talent runs deep
Knowing the Bills are in the market for offensive line upgrades, their needs match up well with a draft class that will present them with options well into the middle rounds.
“I think it’s really, really good group, especially once you get to the middle of the first round probably all he way to the middle of the third and around the fourth-round range,” said NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah. “Really good offensive line (talent).”
Jeremiah has four offensive line prospects in his top 20 and nine in his top 50.
2. Injuries, surgery sideline some top prospects
Some of the top talent in the draft won’t be participating in testing at this year’s NFL combine. Widely seen as one of the best receivers in the class, Oklahoma WR Marquise Brown will not participate in Indianapolis due to Lisfranc surgery on his foot. He’ll also miss the Sooners pro day, but should be ready for an NFL training camp.
Alabama RB Josh Jacobs, who has been touted by most to be the best running back in the class, will be limited by a groin injury and won’t participate in some of the on-field testing.
One of the top tackles, Florida’s Jawaan Taylor won’t test due to a hamstring injury.
Others include Alabama S Deionte Thompson with a wrist injury and Stanford RB Bryce Love due to an ACL injury.
3. Elite QBs not as plentiful this year
Last year’s draft class saw four quarterbacks come off the board in the top 10 and five altogether in round one. This year, there might be just a pair of top 10 selections in Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins and Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray.
“Prototypical size for Haskins, pure pocket passer, can make every throw,” said Jeremiah. “The concern a little bit there was the immobility, being able to kind of get himself out of trouble. Being able to move off of his spot and be consistent and accurate.”
Jeremiah has Murray ranked 14th overall on his Top 50 list, four spots ahead of Haskins, but there is a concern with Murray too in the minds of personnel executives.
“Kyler Murray, my hang-ups were really two-fold,” Jeremiah said. “One was his commitment, his focus on football. He eliminated baseball from the conversation so that took care of the first concern. The second (concern) is bulk. I don’t know how much this guy weighs.
“Some folks told me he was going to be 185 pounds and that to me was a major concern. Durability-wise, I don’t know if you can hold up at that size. Peter King said he was up to 206 pounds. If he shows up and he’s over 200 pounds and carries that well, that helps.”
Other quarterbacks projected to be round one options include Missouri’s Drew Lock and Duke’s Daniel Jones.
4. A strong contingent of tight end talent
It’s rarely a position that offers premier talent or depth, but the 2019 tight end class is one of the stronger ones in recent memory and offers both.
With top prospects like Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant there are names at the position who will come off the board early, but Jeremiah outlined how the depth runs as far as the fourth round and beyond.
“I can find you tight ends in every round in this draft,” he said. “I'll give you a couple guys. Kahale Warring from San Diego State, who is going to be 6-5 plus, 250 pounds. He's got really, really soft hands. He can really roll. Excellent change of direction and athlete. He's probably going to go off the board in the second or third round.
“Then Kaden Smith from Stanford, who has probably more contested catches than anybody in this draft. He's not going to run away from a ton of people, but he works in the seams and he catches balls and absorbs contact as well as anybody you're going to see. So he's somebody that can play in line, you can flex him out. He's going to be to me in that two, three range. It’s a really, really good group.”
5. Reversal on combine player bans
Just a couple of weeks ago it was announced that top prospect, Louisiana Tech pass rusher Jaylon Ferguson was disinvited to the NFL combine after a background check turned up a public intoxication charge against him while he was in college.
He was to join a list of top players that included Mississippi State DT Jeffery Simmons and Colorado State WR Preston Williams.
But the NFL has reversed their decision to exclude these players from the NFL combine. All three will be permitted to attend the combine and go through medical testing and interviews with clubs.
None of them can do on-field drills or testing. According to ProFootballTalk.com, Simmons still won’t attend due to recent surgery for a torn ACL.
Both Ferguson and Simmons are among the top 50 players on most draftniks ranking boards.