By the time the 2019 NFL Draft actually starts on Thursday night, nearly every imaginable scenario will have been laid out in one of the many operating system-style updates to a mock draft. Who goes where probably was included in version 2.0 or 4.5, but the only thing that matters once names are called is how those players fit with their new teams and whether both parties will make it work to capitalize on the potential of making a difference at the next level. 

Handfuls of friends and colleagues invest significant time and energy on these mock drafts -- did I mention we have several here at CBS Sports? -- but the exercise itself isn't really my bag. I think that somewhere between team needs, the underwear Olympics, misinformation, anonymous scouts and the valuation of certain positions on the field is where I check out. 

My approach to the NFL Draft is almost exclusively from the college football perspective. After anywhere from 12-48 games of action, most players have put together compelling cases as the best available prospects in the draft class. Not every player is able to display his full potential in college, but using performances against the best competition can be a far better indicator of what you're going to get on Sundays from a prospect than the promise of further development after the draft. 

This year's class includes potentially my favorite collection of defensive players, and specifically defensive lineman, that I can remember in the last nine years of covering college football here at CBS Sports. There are a few quarterbacks that might be first round picks on Thursday night not included here, but it's not a slight to those players as much as a celebration of what these dynamic and dominant defensive players showed in their college careers. 

Here's how I see the top of the 2019 NFL Draft class, starting with my favorite prospect from that loaded defensive line group. 

1. Ed Oliver, DL, Houston: I don't know if this actually happens in the scouting community or in NFL front offices, but the public interest does seem to fade on players who make a huge splash the moment they set foot on campus. The "where would he get drafted if he could go pro now?" discussions that sparked up after Trevor Lawrence's finish to the 2018 season were raging when Oliver, as a freshman, had a season that statistically lined up among the likes of DeMarcus Walker and Bradley Chubb. Oliver's dominance, strength and explosion on the field became normalized, and it's like we forgot that he's been pro-ready for quite some time. 

2. Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma: No one believes in Kyler Murray more than Kyler Murray. I think the young man has packed every bit of his oft-criticized and carefully measured frame with an immense amount of confidence, and that was the secret sauce that propelled him from Baker Mayfield's backup to Heisman Trophy winner and potential No. 1 overall pick. Quarterbacks with "better" measurables have failed to convert those physical gifts into NFL production, and I suspect some of that failed conversion comes from the mental side of the game. Murray not only had the confidence in his own abilities to lead the Sooners but won over his teammates as well, and I think when you've got a competitor with the "he's that dude" gene, you don't let it go elsewhere.   

3. Nick Bosa, DL, Ohio State: Absolute freak. Bosa's commitment to being excellent at his craft pairs with the physical abilities that were shown short bursts during his time in Columbus. He's got a great argument for No. 1 that has and will be made elsewhere, I just happen to favor Oliver and Murray as a matter of preference. 

4. Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama: Like Murray, Williams exploded onto the scene and jumped up these boards and rankings with just one year of significant work as a regular starter in college. My excitement about seeing Williams at the next level comes from his versatility. Williams worked inside and outside on the line during his career at Alabama, adjusting his body and workout routine like a prize fighter depending on what his team needed. He credits Craig Kuligowski and the NFL players ahead of him at Alabama for showing the path to elevating his game between 2017 and 2018, and the evidence is on the game tape.

5. Devin White, LB, LSU: Consistency goes a long way with me. I don't know if White is going to be a Hall of Famer, but with good health and fortune on the injury front, you will be looking at a 10-year starter in the NFL. He's physical, can cover the short zone and is a great tackler in the open field. Throughout his career at LSU, he always seemed to have his nose near the ball. 

6. Josh Allen, DL, Kentucky: There was a steady progression for Kentucky's defense prior to putting it all together in the memorable 2018 campaign for Mark Stoops. Allen was solid early but stellar by the time he was a senior. He used his unique size and agility as a weapon against blockers, figured out a few unstoppable moves and just ate all day. 

7. Jeffrey Simmons, DL, Mississippi State: SEC coaches did not want anything to do with Mississippi State's defensive line. That group, led by Simmons and teammate Montez Sweat, was as disruptive as anyone in the country last season. Simmons did his damage inside, overpowering blockers and pushing the pocket. His ACL injury has to be taken into consideration, but on college production alone I've got him in my top 10. 

8. Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson: There is no questioning Wilkins' motor, which fired up the moment he started having an impact as a freshman and never stopped through four years of dominance with the Tigers. He played in four College Football Playoffs, won two national titles and served as the spirit animal the line that anchored Brent Venables' defense. 

9. Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan: Turn on the tape and watch Gary chase down a running back from the other side of the field before you question whether this former top recruit was able to convert on that potential in college. Gary had high expectations set from the start because of his athletic abilities, and I maintain that even in the absence of statistical production there was enough of an impact made by a unique football specimen to keep those expectations high while he continues to develop at the next level. 

10. Jonah Williams, OL, Alabama: Absolute warrior. Talking to Williams in college felt like talking to a Saban-bot, or at least someone fully indoctrinated in the ways of "The Process." He values toughness and competition and proved his value to any team with a long and steady career of wearing down opponents in the SEC. 

11. Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State: Because Ohio State fell short of the College Football Playoff, I think the wildly impressive statistical performance of Haskins in 2018 was overlooked. Time will change that, as future Buckeye quarterbacks under Ryan Day will light up the scoreboard but still fall short to Haskins' 4,800 passing yards with a 50-to-8 touchdown-interception ratio.  

12. Devin Bush, LB, Michigan: Your favorite NFL team should be thrilled if it lands either of the Devins this weekend in the draft. Bush separates himself from other prospects in this class with his agility and physicality as a run defender. He's got a great knack for recognizing what's going on, quickly changing direction and filling in the gaps ready to hit. Often he's shedding a blocker or two on his way to the ball but prayers up if some unsuspecting running back gets a face full of Devin Bush in the hole. 

13. Montez Sweat, DL, Mississippi State: The outside, pass rushing compliment to Simmons down at MSU, Sweat is an equally enticing pro prospect. A full bill of health on draft night probably leads to higher draft status than his Mississippi State teammate, but it won't come undeserved after making tackles and tight ends look foolish in the SEC last season. 

14. Garrett Bradbury, OL, NC State: The player development at NC State under Dave Doeren has been a key to sustained success, and Bradbury's potential first-round selection is yet another success story. Bradbury signed with the Wolfpack as a three-star tight end from a private in-state school and worked his way up to being one of the top offensive line prospects in the draft class. The physical transformation happened in lock step with technique development and his established understanding and awareness on the field. Five years after signing with the Pack, he's one of the most low-risk picks of the top two dozen prospects.   

15. Dexter Lawrence, DL, Clemson: Committing to Lawrence is a decision that influences the makeup of an entire defensive line. There just aren't that many human beings at 6-foot-4, 342 pounds with the power and skill that Lawrence displayed in his three years with Clemson. Not only does Lawrence gobble up blockers in the run game, he can push a pocket from the inside and force quarterbacks right into the hands of edge rushers. Where he lands will be a key to his success, and that required specificity is the only reasons I have what I believe to be a top five athletic talent ranked just on the edge of the top 15. 

16. Greedy Williams, CB, LSU: I think Williams' overall stock and status took a step back after his 2018 season as Kristian Fulton, Grant Delpit and the rest of DBU all made a case for the spotlight with their play. But the fact remained that quarterbacks were often unsuccessful when they tried to test Williams, so much so that many never even tried. 

17. Jerry Tillery, DL, Notre Dame: A three-year starter and four-year contributor, Tillery might have put some of his best football on tape already. But I think that Tillery at his best, an athletic and effective pass rusher, is good enough to be an NFL starter for several years with the right fit. 

18. Clelin Ferrell, DL, Clemson: It was easy during Clemson's last two seasons to move up and down the defensive line and a find a new favorite player almost every week. When Ferrell got a matchup that favored his size and length, it was game over for the opposition. Ferrell pairs those natural gifts with a relentless pursuit, making him one of the most dangerous pass-rushing weapons in the draft class. 

19. T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa: During the year, I favored teammate Noah Fant to Hockenson, but colleague and mock draft specialist Tom Fornelli turned my opinion with an emphasis on his versatility. Hockenson's strength as a blocker has him fitting right into that mold where he's effective enough in the run game to serve both potential results in the run-pass option. 

20. N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State: My big swing on wide receivers this year is sticking to Harry as my No. 1. He's got so much "go up and get it" to his game, and while he will lose some of that size advantage he had in college at the next level, there shouldn't be any drop off in his proven ability to win 50-50 balls. Draft Harry, and you'll have a red zone machine ready to contribute right away. 

21. Brian Burns, DL, Florida State: There hasn't been a ton to celebrate around Florida State football when its comes to comparing the current state of the program to the established standard, but Burns did a good job of maintaining the representation of potential NFL standouts during the struggles of 2018. Burns started to shine in 2017 as not only an elite pass rusher but havoc-creating menace in the backfield in special teams as well with a couple of blocked punts. 

22. Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia: Covering Georgia in 2018, I noticed there weren't a lot of opportunities to watch Baker make plays on the ball. Yet the SEC's coaches still honored him as one of the best defensive backs in the league, lending credence to the notion that quarterbacks simply didn't feel comfortable testing the Bulldogs' cornerback. Baker doesn't overwhelm you with size when he gets off the bus, but there's no one out here questioning his competitiveness or effectiveness in coverage. 

23. Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma: Watching the Sooners' offensive line was a treat in 2018. Those boys not only extended the play for Kyler Murray, but got out in the open field on runs with mean intentions for those skinny Big 12 outside linebackers. Ford's specialty leaned more towards the pass protection side of things with great awareness and quickness reacting to oncoming rushers, but he showed some good second-level open field work in the run game throughout the Big 12 title campaign as well. 

24. Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama: Some have fallen in love with Jacobs as a prospect, noting the explosiveness that comes from his smaller (but incredibly strong) frame and the versatility that was shown during his time at Bama. There's a notion that what we saw from Jacobs in limited but diverse action -- from the running game to the passing game to his work in the Wildcat and special teams -- is evidence of development that is ongoing. The idea being that Jacobs is only going to get better. I wish it for the young man, but also consider his success a product of his involvement in a new-look Tide offense that spent most of the season absolutely shredding anything in its path. 

25. Noah Fant, TE, Iowa: When there's a physical marvel like Fant at 6-foot-4, 249 pounds showing explosiveness and ball-catching ability, it's going to jump out on the tape. Fant had our attention from the start because of his receiving numbers, but I dropped him after the season behind his Iowa tight end teammate Hockenson because of some (comparative) shortcomings as a run blocker. 

26. Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma: I hate that Brown's season ended with injury in the Big 12 title game and a tough performance in the Orange Bowl. He was dialed in with Murray for much of the year, and if he can build that kind of relationship with his next quarterback, he can replicate some of those eye-popping home run plays we saw in 2018. Brown can line up anywhere on the field and beat defenses with straight-ahead speed or his quickness in shorter spaces, he just needs the right quarterback and offense to highlight those skills. 

27. Byron Murphy, CB, Washington: Welcome to the Jimmy Lake appreciation portion of the prospect rankings. Washington's defensive coordinator also in charge of the defensive backs has become a star in the coaching industry with his work on Chris Petersen's staff. The measurables on these Washington prospects don't knock anyone's socks off, but nearly every secondary player to come through Seattle has been coached up to read and react with incredible effectiveness. Murphy was a high school stand out at both wide receiver and cornerback, and his full commitment to mastering the defensive side of the ball has made him one of the most well-rounded players to come through Petersen's program. 

28. Taylor Rapp, DB, Washington: Unlike Murphy, Rapp arrived at Washington with less fanfare and expectations as a three-star recruit. His physical attributes aren't going to overwhelm, particularly against anyone else on this list, but like Murphy he's only exceeded expectations during his time in college. This ranking, as we mentioned before, ignores non-college production like his 4.77 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine. Therefore he's not penalized here, where two full years of elite play in a backfield of future pros is good enough to make my top 32. 

29. A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss: If you reading this then you probably realize that D.K. Metcalf is not in my top 32. Metcalf is great! He's going to be incredible at running the go route! But I look for a more well-rounded receiver, and I think Brown's got the route running edge on his Ole Miss teammate and does not lack for athleticism himself. 

30. Jace Sternberger, TE, Texas A&M: One of the first moves for Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M was to hit the junior college circuit and secure a commitment from Sternberger, bringing the tight end back into the mix after a few years of all-spread-everything at TAMU. Sternberger does a great job of finding open seams and space then turning that into more yards after the catch. He ranked top five in the SEC in yards per catch (17.33) and receiving touchdowns (10), and while probably not a first round pick seems like a can't miss selection to me.  

31. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, DB, Florida: There are so many ways that Gardner-Johnson can help a defense. He's got great speed to pair with elite instincts, and an aggressiveness that made him excellent as a blitzer or a space-closing defender in zone coverage. Others might say that aggressiveness works against him, but I'll buy it up every time. If the counter to increasingly pass-heavy offenses is defenses that are aggressive and force turnovers, this is the prototype for that kind of defensive back. 

32. Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina: It me, a Deebo fan blinded by his all-purpose abilities and playmaking prowess. Samuel wins with his physicality as a receiver, but the dynamic ways he can impact a game through special teams make it even more of a no-brainer selection if I'm an NFL front office executive. He's one of the best kickoff return specialists in SEC history and a top-10 receiver in school history despite missing significant time due to injury.