2019 NFL Draft: Top prospects the NFL's 0-3 teams need to monitor closely

We aren't to October yet, but it's not too early to at least take a peek at some major draft needs for teams that currently appear to be destined for one of the first few picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. 

The Raiders haven't trailed before the start of the fourth quarter in any game but are somehow 0-3. The Texans have been competitive but offensive line issues have held them back en route to losing their first three outings. Josh Rosen finally will take the starting job from Sam Bradford in Arizona, and the Cardinals are another team with offensive line problems.

Let's identify the most glaring issues for the three current 0-3 teams and pinpoint some of the top prospects at the biggest positions of need for those clubs. 

Oakland Raiders 

The Raiders head into Week Four with the lowest defensive pressure rate in the NFL, with just 19 quarterback pressures on 98 drop backs faced through three games. As Jon Gruden stated "it's hard to find a great pass rusher," and there's an unprecedented amount of irony in that quote, especially with Khalil Mack currently tied for the league lead with 20 pressures himself. 

Linebacker is another spot in need of an upgrade, even though Oakland has gotten quality play from veteran Derrick Johnson early. Tahir Whitehead has really struggled. 

On offense, Marshawn Lynch has looked like a younger version of himself ... but he's 32. The offensive line has been strong as expected, yet 35-year-old Donald Penn has been a liability. Amari Cooper has two games with a combined three catches for 26 yards that sandwich a 10-grab, 116-yard outing in Denver.  

As the oldest team in the league and the only franchise with an average player age above 27 years old, the Raiders could go in essentially any direction in the first few rounds of the draft. 

Here are some of the top prospects at their most glaring positions of need.


Nick Bosa, Ohio State: Bosa's currently sidelined with a groin injury and won't be reevaluated by doctors until November. He's already shown enough to be a top 5 pick in the 2019 Draft, and his game is eerily similar to his brother Joey's. Bosa can win with speed-to-power, bend to the quarterback, bull-rushing strength, and/or a variety of efficient pass-rushing moves. Value: Top 5

Clelin Ferrell, Clemson: Ferrell isn't as technically refined as Bosa, but he has prototypical size, length, and plus athleticism for the defensive end spot. He does understand his long arms are his best friends on the edge and typically engages tackles before they can get into his body. Though there's some risk with Ferrell because he's not a technician with his hands yet, he's supremely gifted and can win with tremendous burst and bend off the edge. I've even seen a high-caliber spin move from the Clemson star. Value: Round 1

Brian Burns, Florida State: Both Burns and Ferrell are similar to current Raiders rookie Arden Key in that they're long gifted athletes who'd be more effective with more polished pass-rushing moves. Ferrell is more raw than Bosa and Burns is more raw than Ferrell. With more weight on his huge frame -- he's 6-foot-5 -- the Florida State standout can be a quality edge-rusher in the NFL for a long time. Value: Round 1 - 2 

Jaylon Ferguson, Louisiana Tech: Somewhat of a sleeper here, Ferguson has been incredibly productive in his Louisiana Tech career with 41.5 tackles for loss and 27 sacks in his first three seasons. Against LSU last weekend, he was downright unblockable and already has NFL defensive size at 6-5 and 262 pounds. Ferguson doesn't have a true trump card but can beat offensive tackles in many ways. Value: Round 1 - 2

Off-ball linebacker

Devin White, LSU: Missing tackles due to the hyper-speed at which he plays is the main concern with White. My preseason comparison for him was Myles Jack, and he's looked like that type of linebacker early in 2018. At 6-1 and 240 pounds with insane twitchiness and closing speed, White looks like a play-making weakside linebacker at the pro level. He could be the young quarterback of the Raiders' defense. Value: Round 1

Te'von Coney, Notre Dame: More of a calculated, methodical mover than someone who plays with his hair on fire, Coney is a tackling machine for the Fighting Irish. He's a nearly a full tackle off his 116-takedown pace from 2017, and that's fine. Coney reads his keys quickly and attacks, can beat blocks at the point of attack, and is reliable in zone coverage. Tackling isn't a concern either. Value: Round 1 - 2

T.J. Edwards, Wisconsin: Not as blessed physically as White or Coney, Edwards thrives with rapid play-recognition skills, the ability to efficiently defeat blocks, and plus ball skills in coverage. After three 80-plus tackle seasons to begin his collegiate career which included seven interceptions, Edwards' figures are down slightly through three games this year, but he's still one of the most refined linebacker prospects in the 2019 class. Value: Round 1 -2

Houston Texans

Offensive line. We knew it'd be a problem going into Year 2 of the Deshaun Watson era in Houston, and it's held the team back so far. He's been sacked 10 times through three games at a rate (8.6 percent) nearly identical to a season ago (8.5 percent). For perspective on how high that sack rate is, the top 10 quarterbacks in lowest sack rate from 2017 were all under five percent. Not to mention, Watson's been pressured many other times which has forced him to improvise outside the pocket more than Houston would like. 

And the tackle spot has been the biggest problem. Second-year pro Julie'n Davenport and third-round rookie Martinas Rankin have been revolving doors on the outside. It wouldn't hurt to address the running back spot either despite solid contributions from Alfred Bruce and Lamar Miller

Defensively, the cornerback position has been a noticeable weak spot, and 34-year-old Jonathan Joseph is still the best player in that unit. With Dylan Cole now out, the linebacker spot might be in need of an offseason upgrade too. 

Here are some of the top prospects at their most glaring positions of need.

Offensive tackle

Jonah Williams, Alabama: There's a thought that Williams is destined for a guard position in the NFL, but his tackle film is excellent. He started at right tackle as a true freshman in Tuscaloosa and is now into his second full season as Alabama's left tackle. Let me tell you, he's a fundamentally sound bore to watch. And that's a good thing for an offensive lineman. Williams rarely if ever loses to pure speed to the outside, punches accurately and on time, never lunges, and has the strength to anchor well against power. For the run, he's a great combo blocker and can maul in one-on-one situations. He'd probably step in and start Week 1 as a rookie in the NFL on Houston's line. Value: Round 1

Greg Little, Ole Miss: More of your traditional, tall, long offensive tackle, Little is a dancing bear with a pass-blocking specialty thanks to the position his plus athleticism gets him in on every snap. He can be a bulldozer for the run game but does lean into those blocks on occasion, which gets him off balance. Overall, Little looks like an mid first-round pick because what he can give a team instantly as a pass-blocker. Value: Round 1

Dalton Risner, Kansas State: Though not a Little-like athlete, Risner is deceptively quick to the pass-rushing apex and isn't bullied by bigger, stronger outside rushers. His anchor is nearly as good as Williams', and he might be more powerful coming downhill. Risner could slot to the right side in the NFL and lock down that spot for a decade. Value: Round 1 - 2


Greedy Williams, LSU: At around 6-2 or 6-3 with smooth athletic talents, Williams is going to be a hot commodity in the 2019 NFL Draft. He snagged six interceptions a season ago and already has two in 2018. He's not a 200-pounder, so some bigger, more physical pro wideouts could give him problems. But because he's not a heavy corner, he can run and cut with the sharper route runners, and his length will allow him to get his hands on plenty of passes. He has No. 1 outside corner written all over him. Value: Round 1

Deandre Baker, Georgia: Baker doesn't possess the size of Williams, yet he's just as sticky in coverage and has plus ball skills too. After five interceptions in 2016 and 2017 combined, he has two in 2018 to go along with three pass breakups. Baker's mirroring ability has provided him the reputation as a "don't throw his way" cornerback, which is invaluable to a defense. Value: Round 1

Arizona Cardinals 

John Wetzel and D.J. Humphries probably aren't the answer at offensive tackle for the Cardinals, but the guard position has been even more worrisome through three games. Free-agent add Justin Pugh has not looked like the consistent player he became in New York and Mike Iupati has been a shell of his former self now at 31 years old. 

Although Christian Kirk has looked the part early, after Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals receiver depth is lacking following the departures of Jaron Brown and John Brown this past offseason. J.J. Nelson doesn't have a catch yet, and Chad Williams has one grab for eight yards. 

On defense, the Robert Nkemdiche has looked like the player Arizona hoped they were getting when they drafted him in the first round of the 2016 Draft. He needs help up on the inside beyond Rodney Gunter

Here are some of the top prospects at their most glaring positions of need.

Offensive guard

Ben Powers, Oklahoma: At 6-4 and 313 pounds, Powers looks like he'd flourish as a pass-blocker, and he does. He strikes from a well-centered, balanced base and has enough lateral agility to stick with smaller, quicker gap-penetrators on the inside. He gets out quickly on pulls and is powerful at the point of attack, like just about every Oklahoma offensive linemen. He'd be a welcomed addition to a team in the same division as Aaron Donald and DeForest Buckner. Value: Round 1 - 2

Beau Benzschawel, Wisconsin: Benzschawel is a super-experienced guard prospect with run-blocking prowess and the physical ability to become a top-flight pass-protector in the NFL. At 6-6 and 317 pounds, he has tackle size but plays with a low center of gravity and really punishes in the run game. The Wisconsin moves like he's much smaller and can match the quickness of most one-gap defensive tackles. Value: Round 1 - 2

Max Scharping, Northern Illinois: A 6-6 tackle by trade, Scharping could have a future on the inside at the NFL level, and all he's done for Northern Illinois is dominate in pass protection regardless of the Huskies' opponent. He's close to being "NFL strong" right now and his fluid footwork allow him to rarely get caught out of position. Value: Round 2 - 3

Defensive tackle

Ed Oliver, Houston: Oliver is the closest physical specimen we've seen to Aaron Donald among draft prospects. The incredibly athletic Oliver has the quickest first-step in college football and knows how to jolt then shed blockers against the run. Because he's so far ahead athletically, Oliver doesn't lean on a variety of pass-rushing moves, which has held him back when getting after opposing signal-callers, the only red flag about his game. Value: Round 1

Dre'Mont Jones, Ohio State: Jones is a hybrid defensive tackle / defensive end with the most pass-rushing ability of any defensive lineman who predominantly lines up on the inside. Jones has more pass-rushing moves than some NFL players and his fluid hips and burst allow him to slip through cracks in the offensive line. While he hasn't loaded the stat sheet in his Ohio State career, he's a classic "disruption is production" case. Value: Round 1

Dexter Lawrence, Clemson: Lawrence is space-eating nose tackle who also happens to possess a great deal of pass-rushing moves and insane quickness for his size that allow him to rush the passer much better than most defensive linemen in his size range. He's not easily moved and can scrape down the line of scrimmage on run plays to get to the ball-carrier. On pass plays, Lawrence's bull rush might be the best in the country, and he can swim and swipe past inside blockers en route to the quarterback. Value: Round 1

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