It would be foolish to base a draft strategy around the prospects that may be available the following year. Far too much can change over the course of a season. Nonetheless, long term draft planning could benefit the Baltimore Ravens.
Surveying the top potential 2019 draft prospects might be valuable if a tiebreaker is needed to decide between players during the 2018 NFL draft. A cursory glance at the best football players still in college shows four positions poised to be the strengths of the 2019 draft class:
Missouri’s strong armed quarterback Drew Lock posted a 166 passing efficiency rating as a junior last season. Jarrett Stidham eclipsed 3,000 passing yards and led victories over Georgia and Alabama after transferring to Auburn. Shea Patterson, another transfer, is a mobile prospect who will learn under Jim Harbaugh at Michigan in 2018.
Clayton Thorson is a dual threat quarterback who is coming off a torn ACL, but could become a top-10 pick with a strong senior year at Northwestern. After transferring from Florida, Will Grier lit up the Big-12 with 36 total touchdowns for the Mountaineers in 2017. And Ryan Finley opted to return to NC State after a tremendous redshirt junior season. Other quarterbacks worth monitoring include Oregon’s Justin Herbert, Washington’s Jacob Eason and Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald.
The 2019 class could provide some solutions for NFL teams in need of quality tackles. Greg Little is the prototypical blindside protector and earned second team All-SEC honors as a sophomore for Ole Miss last year. Jonah Williams has started every game for Alabama over the last two seasons and has an All-SEC pedigree. Washington’s Trey Adams is a massive man who is coming off a knee injury but has plenty of experience. Wisconsin’s bookend tackles Michael Dieter and David Edwards are also hoping to continue the Badgers tradition of producing high level NFL lineman.
Nick Bosa has followed in his brother Joey’s footsteps to become a dominant force at defensive end for the Buckeyes. He has a chance to be the top overall draft pick in 2019. Clemson’s Clelin Farrell surprised many by going back to school after posting 9.5 sacks as a junior. Joe Jackson is an intriguing athlete that has provided two years of strong production for the Miami Hurricanes. And rising junior Brian Burns, a quick twitch pass rusher, will lead the Florida State Seminoles defense in 2018.
Defensive tackle is expected to be the best position of the class at this early stage. Elite prospect Ed Oliver has amassed 38.5 tackles for a loss and 10.5 sacks during his first two season at Houston. Dexter Lawrence of Clemson is a physical freak who will contend with Oliver for the top spot. Lining up beside Lawrence for the Tigers next season will be Christian Wilkins, another versatile big body who would have likely been a top-15 pick in this year’s draft if he entered.
Alabama’s Raekwon Davis dominated the College Football Playoff last season with three tackles for a loss, two sacks and an interception combined against Clemson and Georgia. Dre’Mont Jones is another probable first round pocket collapser from Ohio State. Lastly, Rashan Gary from Michigan has positional versatility and posted impressive stats as a sophomore last year.