When it comes to evaluating college players, NFL teams look at all sorts of things. The biggest factor, of course, is talent. No matter the level, or the sport, talent will typically outweigh anything else. Another thing that's considered, but doesn't always carry as much weight, is production.
It makes sense. Just because a guy catches a lot of passes, or makes hundreds of tackles at the college level doesn't mean it's going to translate to the next level. If you hadn't noticed, there's somewhat of a difference in the level of play between the NFL, and a conference like the MAC.
But what if production at the college level was the best indicator of success in the NFL. What if production trumped all?
For my latest mock draft, I've gone through the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft with the teams picking players based on two things, and two things only: that team's particular needs, and the player's college production.
Suffice to say this mock draft might begin like a lot of other mocks, but after that, it won't look all that familiar. Get ready to see some names you might not know yet but could prove to be late-round steals.
I joined Will Brinson, Ryan Wilson Tom and R.J. White to do a Mock Draft on the Pick Six Podcast (you can listen below).
Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
|Andy Isabella, WR, UMass |
I can hear Bill Belichick angrily sighing from here as this pick is announced. Most mocks have the Niners taking a pass rusher, and in real life, they should, but you can argue their biggest need is at receiver, so why not draft a guy with 231 career receptions for 3,526 yards and 30 touchdowns?
|Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama: |
He was at Alabama for three seasons and started every damn game while he was there. I mean, he earned the starting right tackle job as a freshman, and when you consider the kind of talent that Alabama produces, that's a remarkable accomplishment.
|Jaylon Ferguson, EDGE, Louisiana Tech |
There is not a single player in the history of college football to amass more career sacks than Jaylon Ferguson's 45. OK, maybe there is, but not since they started tracking sacks there isn't.
|Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky |
Josh Allen had only one monster season at Kentucky, picking up 17 sacks and 21.5 TFL last season, but he had a few solid years before that and finished his career with a total of 31.5 sacks and 42 TFL.
|Drew Lock, QB, Missouri |
Drew Lock has a big arm and big production. In four years at Mizzou, he threw for 12,193 yards and 99 touchdowns. We'll sweep those 39 interceptions and career completion rate of 56.9 percent under the rug for now.
|Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma |
The Jaguars need help on the offensive line, so they draft the best lineman from one of the best offensive lines in college football.
|Khalil Hodge, LB, Buffalo |
The last linebacker out of Buffalo named Khalil turned out to be pretty good. This one had 419 tackles, 21 TFL, 5.5 sacks and 3 interceptions in three seasons.
|Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State |
I think you could easily argue that there isn't a left tackle in this draft with more experience pass-blocking than Andre Dillard. The running backs at Washington State are really just receivers who line up in the backfield.
|Jake Browning, QB, Washington |
Browning was a four-year starter at Washington, and in that time he threw for 12,296 yards and 94 touchdowns while winning two Pac-12 titles, three division championships, and earning a berth in the 2015 College Football Playoff.
|Dalton Risner, OT, Kansas State |
Risner doesn't get a ton of draft hype as a first-round pick in most mock drafts, and some think he'll have to move to guard at the NFL level, but he was devastatingly effective for Kansas State the last few years.
|Ed Oliver, DL, Houston |
Oliver played in only eight games last season, which hurt his overall production, and that combined with teams having greater needs elsewhere before this pick allows him to fall to the Packers. I don't think Green Bay will mind a defensive tackle that averaged 1.7 TFL per game at Houston.
|Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson |
The Clemson defensive line could have been one of the best in college football history, and spoiler alert, Wilkins won't be the last player from it you see in this mock. In four seasons Wilkins had 192 tackles with 40.5 TFL and 16 sacks. He also helped win two national titles.
|Oshane Ximines, EDGE, Old Dominion |
There's a good chance this is the first time you're seeing Oshane Ximines' name. Well, he was somewhat productive during his career at Old Dominion, finishing with 32.5 sacks and 51 TFL over four seasons.
|Keesean Johnson, WR, Fresno State |
Familiar name, new spelling. In four seasons with the Bulldogs, Johnson caught 275 passes for 3,463 yards and 24 touchdowns.
|A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss |
Brown played in a volume offense and he was the beneficiary of a lot of that volume. He was only in Oxford for three seasons, and was just a starter for two of them, but finished with 189 receptions for 2,984 yards and 19 touchdowns anyway.
|Clifton Duck, CB, Appalachian State |
First of all, you have to love the name Clifton Duck. It sounds like the main character of a children's book. You should also enjoy his production as a corner with the Mountaineers, as he finished his college career with 158 tackles, 12 interceptions and 19 passes defended in three seasons.
|Erik McCoy, OL, Texas A&M |
McCoy was with the Aggies for three seasons and he started 38 games for them during his time. Some at center, some at guard. In other words, he's versatile, and Minnesota needs some help everywhere on its OL.
|Dexter Lawrence, DL, Clemson |
Our second member of the Clemson defensive line is off the board. Like Christian Wilkins, Lawrence was a starter his entire career at Clemson, but his career only lasted three seasons. In 38 games Lawrence amassed 131 tackles, 10 sacks and 18 TFL from the interior of the line. He also made it damn near impossible to run the ball against the Tigers.
|Malik Fountain, LB, Central Michigan |
Fountain overflowed during his senior season at Central Michigan, but he played all four years and finished with 399 tackles and 25 TFL. He also picked off two passes last season.
|Juan Thornhill, S, Virginia |
The Seahawks choose Juan Thornhill to replace Earl Thomas, and like Thomas, Thornhill proved to be a playmaker in college. He picked off 13 passes in three seasons at Virginia and also made 208 tackles with 12 TFL.
|Cody Thompson, WR, Toledo |
MAC defenses did not have a good time trying to cover Cody Thompson the last four seasons. While injuries limited him in 2017, Thompson still leaves Toledo with 181 career receptions for 3,312 yards and 30 touchdowns to his name.
|Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss |
Little didn't start every game during his freshman season at Ole Miss, but he played in all of them. He then started every game each of the last two seasons at left tackle, and he'll come in handy as the Texans try to protect Deshaun Watson.
|From Chicago |
Joe Dineen, LB, Kansas
|T.J. Edwards, LB, Wisconsin |
Edwards played in 53 games for the Badgers over four seasons and had 366 tackles, 37.5 TFL, 8 sacks and 10 interceptions. So, you know, he was quite productive.
|N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State |
Harry may end up a first-round pick based on talent too, but if we're going production, he'd still qualify. In three seasons at Arizona State, he caught 213 passes for 2,889 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also contributed a bit as a ballcarrier, finishing with 144 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns there as well.
|From Dallas |
Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame
|Iman Marshall, CB, USC |
Marshall was a highly-rated recruit, and for the most part, he lived up to the hype. He only had 6 interceptions in 48 games but had 36 passes defended as well as 218 tackles, including 9.5 TFL.
|Sutton Smith, EDGE, Northern Illinois |
Sutton Smith was the star of many Tuesday and Wednesday night games in November. He played in 10 games as a redshirt freshman in 2016 but didn't have much of an impact, picking up a sack and 2 TFL. Then the last two seasons happened. Over the course of 27 games since 2017, Smith had 29 more sacks and 56.5 TFL. That's an average of 1.1 sacks and 2.1 TFL per game over the last two seasons. The Chiefs will take it.
From New Orleans
Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
|Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State |
NFL teams will worry about whether or not Burns is big enough, but his size wasn't much of an impediment with the Seminoles. Burns played in 33 games over three seasons and had 123 tackles, 38.5 TFL, and 23 sacks. He also forced an astounding 7 fumbles and had 7 passes defended as well. He's versatile, people!
|T.J. Rahming, WR, Duke |
This pick is almost so New England it hurts. Rahming, a 5-foot-10 slot receiver from Duke, caught 253 passes for 2,919 yards and 13 touchdowns in 47 games for the Blue Devils. He's ready to be the new Julian Edelman.