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2019 NFL mock drafts: 2019 class is loaded on the defensive side of the ball

There appears to be a ton of talent in the 2019 draft class.

NCAA Football: Texas Kickoff-Oklahoma vs Houston Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, the 2018 NFL Draft just concluded, but we don’t sleep here at BTB! Next year’s crop looks to be very impressive — especially along the defensive line. As many as 11 defensive linemen (interior defensive tackles or EDGE rushers) could hear their names called in next April’s first-round. It’s obviously very early, but that speaks to the talent level expected to be in next year’s class.

The quarterback class, on the other-hand, looks a little shaky at this moment in time. There are a few with lots of potential, but there is also a lot of unknown. If you recall, we were already hearing about the Sam Darnold’s, Josh Rosen’s and Josh Allen’s of the world this time last year. Can somebody step up at that position?

The offensive line class — especially the offensive tackles — wasn’t exactly the best this year; however, there are some elite tackles expected to be in next year’s crop. Good news for any teams needing a lineman to anchor its line.

Here is SB Nation’s 2019 mock draft, with the Cowboys taking:

20. Dallas Cowboys: Jaquan Johnson, S, Miami

There was a lot of talk during the draft that the Cowboys were in talks to trade for Earl Thomas. If they want to address safety next draft, Johnson was a second-team all-conference player who some thought would go pro.

CBS Sports (White) 2019 mock draft:

21. Dallas Cowboys

Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina. The Cowboys drafted a nice receiver in Michael Gallup but should still be looking for impact players at the position. The 2019 draft could be a good place to find starting-caliber receivers in Round 1. Samuel missed most of his junior year with a broken leg but still managed six combined TDs (three receiving, one rushing, two as a return man) in three games.

Bleacher Report’s (Miller) 2019 mock draft:

#19 The Pick: Collin Johnson, WR, Texas

The Dallas Cowboys made interesting moves at wide receiver in the 2018 draft—trading Ryan Switzer to Oakland, acquiring Tavon Austin from Los Angeles, not selecting a receiver early—and will head into the upcoming season with a need for a playmaker down the field. Texas’ Collin Johnson at 6’6” can be the downfield weapon and red-zone nightmare the Cowboys so badly want.

Johnson does need to improve upon his production from the last two seasons and prove to scouts he can run well enough to separate from NFL defenders, but his size and hands are already getting buzzed about as teams prepare for the upcoming college season.

Let’s take a look at some players that you need to know.

Elite defensive line class

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Ohio State vs Southern California Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterbacks have gone number one overall in three of the past four NFL Drafts, but there could be a different position at the top of the 2019 NFL Draft. Some of that is due to a perceived weak QB class, while a lot of it is because of just how talented next year’s defensive line class is.

Ed Oliver of the Houston Cougars, Dexter Lawrence of the Clemson Tigers, Nick BosaJoey Bosa’s younger brother — of the Ohio State Buckeyes, Rashan Gary of the Michigan Wolverines, and Jeffery Simmons of the Mississippi St. Bulldogs are just four of the supremely elite talents across the defensive line in college football.

Oliver became the first five-star recruit to sign with a program outside of college football’s “Power Five” conferences. Since then, Oliver has dominated the competition and has kept his name on top of draft boards. In two premier games, the Houston native recorded seven total tackles, two TFL’s, and two sacks against Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma Sooners; then, he made six tackles, three TFL’s, and two sacks versus Lamar Jackson and the Louisville Cardinals — as a true freshman!

Nick Bosa (34 tackles, 16 TFL’s, and 8.5 sacks in 2017) is being hyped up to be better than his older brother, per Adam Schefter. We all know how talented Joey is turning out to be.

Just check this out:

Dexter Lawrence is probably the best player on a deep and very talented Clemson defensive line, Gary is a former number one overall recruit and has made a name for himself in Jim Harbaugh’s program, and Simmons is coming off of a first team All-SEC campaign.

Get to know this defensive line class. There looks to be a LOT of talent.

How many first-rounders will come from Clemson?

NCAA Football: Clemson Spring Game Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

In addition to Dexter Lawrence, the Clemson Tigers could see three additional defensive linemen go on day one next April! Christian Wilkins nearly declared this year before opting to return to school, we wrote on EDGE rusher Austin Bryant last September, and Clelin Ferrell terrorizes offensive lines week-in and week-out. Do not be surprised if all four starters on the Tigers’ defensive line are drafted in round one next year.

Elsewhere on the Tigers’ roster, offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt is also a projected first-round pick. The 6-foot-5 and 305 pound tackle is a top-15 pick and the third OT taken in Miller’s early mock draft that he released today. Hyatt is a two-time first team All-ACC selection.

Clemson won the national championship in 2016 and made the College Football Playoffs last season. Dabo Swinney’s squad could see five first-round picks next April. Crazy.

The Magnolia Five

TaxSlayer Bowl - Mississippi State v Louisville Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

It’s always tough to predict drafts a year in advance, but there looks to be a ton of talent from the state of Mississippi in the 2019 NFL Draft class, as Miller slots five players (three from Mississippi State, two from the Ole Miss Rebels) in the first 29 picks next April.

In addition to the aforementioned Simmons, Mississippi State has another elite defensive lineman on the roster: EDGE rusher Montez Sweat. Sweat is 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds, has a quick first step, and emerged as one of the better pass rushers across the country as he led the SEC in sacks (10.5) last fall.

The third Bulldog in Miller’s first-round is 6-foot-5 and 230 pound signal caller Nick Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald, the successor to Dak Prescott, has emerged as one of the most dangerous pass/run threats in college football, but is still raw as a passer. If he can grow in that area, he is a player that can sneak his way up draft boards. After all, Josh Allen (6-5, 237) was just picked in the top ten by the Bills.

AJ Brown, from Ole Miss, is the consensus top prospect at the wide receiver position in the 2019 class. The 6-foot-1 and 225 pound receiver burned defenses each and every weekend last fall to the tune of 1,252 yards and 11 touchdowns. Miller has him going in the top five — to Washington.

Put A.J. Brown atop my list of favorite offensive players for the upcoming college football season. He’s a big (6’1”, 225 lbs) receiver with excellent ability to make plays after the catch. Athletically he reminds me of the Tennessee TitansCorey Davis, who went No. 5 overall in the 2017 draft.

Finally, Greg Little — a native of Allen, Texas — is a contender for the top pick next year. The 6-foot-6 and 330 pound left tackle has emerged as a big time lineman in the SEC. The former five-star recruit is a former high school basketball player and possesses unique athleticism for a guy his size.

Others to know:

Las Vegas Bowl - Boise State v Oregon Photo by David Becker/Getty Images
  • Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon Ducks — the front-runner to be the first quarterback taken next April appears to be Oregon’s Justin Herbert. Herbert, 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds, is an athletic quarterback that can hurt defenses through the air and with his feet when needed.
  • Collin Johnson, WR, Texas Longhorns — the Cowboys did not take a wide receiver until the third round this year, but could that change next year? If so, Collin Johnson is a name to know. The 6-foot-6 and 220 pound target is a downfield threat that has averaged over 13 yards per reception in his two collegiate seasons. Miller had this to say about the Texas wideout:

Texas’ Collin Johnson at 6’6” can be the downfield weapon and red-zone nightmare the Cowboys so badly want.

Johnson does need to improve upon his production from the last two seasons and prove to scouts he can run well enough to separate from NFL defenders, but his size and hands are already getting buzzed about as teams prepare for the upcoming college season.

  • Greedy Williams, CB, LSU Tigers — perhaps the top corner in the upcoming class is LSU’s Andraez “Greedy” Williams. Besides the fact that his name is Greedy (an awesome name for a defensive back), Williams possesses elite size at 6-foot-2 and 182 pounds. Williams picked off a whopping six interceptions last season to go along with ten pass deflections and 38 tackles.