Whew. Thank goodness I don’t have to read about any more NFL Draft stuff now that the 2018 NFL Draft is over.
We know this article won’t be for everyone because we know that some people are honestly glad that the draft is over and we’re closer to Buccaneers football being played and not imagined in 2018. But, for those, like myself, who enjoy looking ahead, these are our top prospects (in no particular order) for the 2019 NFL Draft – with perhaps one or two future Buccaneers on the list.
Best NFL Draft Prospects for 2019
Houston DT Ed Oliver
Oliver has already declared that he will be entering the 2019 NFL Draft, so there’s no speculation. The Houston sensation recorded 22 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks as just a true freshman, and followed it up last year with 16.5 tackles for loss with 5.5 sacks as a sophomore. Health intact, he’s a lock for a Top 5 pick despite being undersized at 6-foot-2, 290 pounds.
Ohio State DE Nick Bosa
Yes, Nick is the younger brother of former Buckeye and now current Charger Joey Bosa – and the younger one is just as good. Nick recorded seven tackles for loss and five sacks as a true freshman and then 16 tackles for loss with 8.5 sacks as a sophomore. He’s nearly unblockable with size, speed and strength. He’s another lock for the Top 5.
Clemson DT Dexter Lawrence
Lawrence, a 6-5, 340-pound defensive tackle, is the latest and greatest prospect from the defensive line factory that is Clemson University. Lawrence had 8.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks as a true freshman but just 2.5 tackles for loss and two sacks as a sophomore. That’s not much slight on his talent, though. He would have been a Top 10 pick in the 2018 draft, had he been eligible.
Clemson DE Clelin Ferrell
Ferrell, like Wilkins, decided to stay in school, and even has another year of eligibility after 2018 – he won’t be using it. The 6-foot-5, 265-pound edge player has totaled 15.5 sacks and 30.5 tackles for loss over the last two seasons. He’s a prototypical 4-3 defensive end.
Michigan DE Rashan Gary
Gary was the former No. 1 recruit in the nation in 2016. He recorded 58 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in his first season as a starter in 2017 after being a rotational player in 2016. He’s another very talented defensive lineman who has a chance to crack the Top 5.
West Virginia QB Will Grier
After moving on from the University of Florida, Grier has put up monster numbers in West Virginia’s spread offense. Thanks to his big arm, Grier recorded 3,490 yards with 34 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 2017. If he progresses even more, he could be the first quarterback taken in 2019.
Ole Miss WR A.J. Brown
Brown averaged 16.7 yards per reception with 11 touchdowns in 2017. At 6-foot-1, 225 pounds, Brown brings everything to the table with size, strength and speed. He’s slated to be the top receiver taken in 2019, and could even be a Top 10 talent.
Miami WR Ahmmon Richards
Richards was building off of what was a fantastic freshman season, in which he averages 19.1 yards per catch, with a great sophomore year as more of the feature player at Miami before he got hurt. At 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, Richards will once again be the focal point of the Canes’ passing offense. He’s one of the most dynamic players in the country.
Washington OT Trey Adams
Adams, who is 6-foot-7, 302 pounds, has the body of a player you’d take in the Top 10. He’s been hurt the last two seasons, which isn’t a good sign, but a fully healthy year will surely make him a Top 20 pick, at the least.
Ole Miss OT Greg Little
At 6-foot-6, 325 pounds, Little has the size to be what you would want as a run blocker, but also shows decent technique in pass blocking for such a young player. Another good year under his belt could make him the top offensive lineman taken.
Alabama OT Jonah Williams
Williams (6-foot-5, 296 pounds) allowed just 2.5 sacks last season as a sophomore for the Crimson Tide. He’s played both left and right tackle as a starter during his two seasons at Alabama and could progress into a sure-fire first round pick when it’s all said and done.
LSU CB Greedy Williams
Williams (6-foot-2, 182 pounds) had six interceptions and 10 pass break-ups in 2017. With that kind of length, another year of solid production as the team’s lock-down cornerback will have the NFL calling his name.
Clemson DT Christian Wilkins
At 6-foot-4, 310 pounds, Wilkins has been playing inside and outside along Clemson’s defensive line for the last three years, and he has done it well. He could have declared last season and likely been a Top 15 pick, but decided to go back for his senior season. He currently has 26.5 career tackles for loss and 10.5 career sacks.
Florida State DE Brian Burns
At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, Burns is a rush end who could play standing up or with his hand down on the next level. In 2017, he started all 13 games at defensive end, totaling 48 tackles, including 13.5 for loss with 4.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and two blocked punts.
Georgia CB Deandre Baker
Baker, who is 5-foot-11 and around 180 pounds, had five interceptions and 14 pass breakups over the last two years. He’s smaller in size, but is a reliable tackler and is aggressive to the ball. His ball skills will likely make him a first round cornerback.
Alabama DE Raekwon Davis
Davis finished his second season at Alabama with 8.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss. At 6-foot-7, 305 pounds, Davis moves incredible well for a man his size. He has the agility and burst from the interior spots that will be coveted at the next level.
Stanford RB Bryce Love
Love was a Heisman Trophy finalist after a season where he recorded 2,118 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns on a 8.1 yards per carry average. At 5-foot-10, 195 pounds, he’s not the biggest back, but can clearly make things happen with the ball in his hand. He’s a smooth runner.
Alabama RB Damien Harris
Though there have been more physically imposing backs that have come through Alabama during his time there such as Derrick Henry and Bo Scarbrough, Harris remained productive. Harris is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard season, and yet elected to return for his senior season. Harris has average more than seven yards per carry in each of the last two seasons, and another one of those years will have a Top 50 pick calling his name.
Missouri QB Drew Lock
Lock led the nation with 44 TD passes last season and the reason for that is because he likely has the best arm in the entire draft class. He needs to clean up some of his mistakes, but he’ll likely be coveted the same way Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen was because of his arm talent.
Oklahoma RB Rodney Anderson
After backing up Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon, Anderson took center stage in 2017. Anderson had 201 yards in the Rose Bowl loss to Georgia and is no longer an under-the-radar guy. His 6-foot-2, 220-pound body means he could be a workhorse back in the NFL.
Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org