NFL Draft 2019: Buyer beware on Dwayne Haskins, Josh Jacobs, Josh Allen and these other top prospects
Despite being highly touted and likely top picks, these draft prospects are risky propositions
When the draft starts later today, a small collection of early-round picks will get selected much earlier than where I would draft them, for varying reasons. It happens season after season. They're incredibly risky prospects who still land somewhere on Day 1 or Day 2, but in my estimation will have a difficult time living up to their draft positions.
You can check out my "Buyer Beware" prospects below, with the 2019 NFL Draft just hours away.
As for the actual draft, you'll be able to stream our live coverage right here on CBS Sports HQ (or download the CBS Sports app for free on any mobile or connected TV device) breaking down all the picks and everything you need to know during draft weekend.
Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
Reasons why: Ohio State's 2018 offense. Accuracy issues. Slow feet.
Not only did Haskins start for just one season in Columbus, the Ohio State offense, from every conceivable angle, was immaculately constructed to produce historic quarterback figures. First and foremost, Haskins was rarely pressured, which is the foundation for success, especially for an inexperienced quarterback. Watching his film, the amount of wide open, underneath routes that were thrown is almost unbelievable. Also Haskins routinely threw the ball to the short area of the field to let his receivers run after the catch. Both Kyler Murray and Drew Lock stretched the field much more often. And Haskins played with the fastest receiving corps in college football. Parris Campbell ran 4.31 at the combine. Terry McClaurin ran 4.35. Johnnie Dixon ran 4.41.
None of this is necessarily Haskins' fault. He took full advantage of his situation. He's not guaranteed to have as sturdy of an offensive line or a skill-position group that's significantly more gifted than the defense as what he had at Ohio State. Beyond all that, Haskins' accuracy to the intermediate and downfield portions of the field wasn't of top 10 pick quality in my estimation. Too many misses in those ranges. And, because he's not the most gifted athlete without much time to hone his pocket-drifting skills, when Haskins has to move from his base at the top of his drop, things can be ugly. He's not a master at beating the blitz or dicing a secondary with pressure mounting.
So, I'm placing a Buyer Beware sticker on Haskins because, since he's essentially a lock to go in the top half of the first round, there's a strong likelihood the team that drafts him will want him to start immediately or at some point during his rookie season and won't necessarily have a brick wall offensive line or a stellar receiver group. Because of his arm strength, intellect -- reading through his progressions, a skill that's there but outstanding right now -- Haskins can be a good pro down the road. But I think he's much closer to being a project-y quarterback than a sure-fire, instant-starter, top-10 pick.
Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
Reasons why: Over-reliance on athleticism, lack of pass-rushing moves
If you've followed me for, say, even a little more than a week, you know I believe most good players are good athletes. But to be an elite-level player at the edge rusher position, more is needed than a lightning-quick first step. I repeatedly mention "hand work" or pass-rushing moves because they're vital at the pro level. On the field, in the SEC, Allen proved to be a rare mover for his size -- nearly 6-feet-5 and 262 pounds. The speed at which he flew around the edge -- with decent bend -- helped him accumulate 17 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss in his senior season.
His film doesn't feature a wide-ranging collection of pass-rushing moves. Occasionally, Allen swiped offensive tackles' hands away en route to the quarterback. Beyond that, Allen won with a good old-fashioned speed rush around the corner. NFL tackles are significantly better than SEC tackles. They'll sit on that speed rush and take it away. Also, as the combine showed, for his size, Allen isn't highly athletic. His three-cone time of 7.15 seconds placed him in just the 63rd percentile among players at his position over the past 20 years. It represents good, not otherworldly bendiness.
Because he's so physically imposing, with top-level burst and a high motor, I think Allen will be a good pro. He's inside the top 25 of my prospect rankings. But he's seemingly destined for the top five. Maybe even the top three. I just don't think he's polished enough to live up to the lofty expectations that align with being selected that high. If he can learn to use his hands as a counter to his relentlessness around the corner, he can be an All-Pro. In most cases, it's very difficult for edge rushers to effectively execute newly learned pass-rushing moves at the NFL level.
Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama
Reasons why: Lack of aggression and collegiate production
Wilson accounted for 6.3% of Alabama's solo tackles and 6.9% of the team's total tackles in 2018, extremely low figures. Comparatively, Luke Kuechly's were 22.5% and 21.9% in his final year at Boston College. Former Crimson Tide star linebacker Reuben Foster's tackle share figures were 11.0% and 11.6% in his last year in Tuscaloosa. C.J. Mosley? 12.9% solo, 12.8% total. Even first-round bust Stephone Anthony's tackle-share percentages were 8.7 and 9.4 in his last campaign at Clemson.
After Wilson proved to be not very productive on his own team in the SEC, it would be foolish and unfair to expect him to suddenly become an NFL team's leading tackler who's always around the football on Sundays. Heck, he was Alabama's fifth-leading tackler in 2018 playing behind a mostly two-gapping defensive line meant to create free lanes for linebackers.
Wilson's film features rare flashes of high-level athleticism in coverage. That's about it. He's not aggressive as a run defender, is extremely raw defeating blocks and takes an extra split second or so to diagnose where the ball is going. Does Wilson have starter-level athletic talents? Probably. But his relatively lackluster film coupled with unspectacular production leads me to believe he should be more of a late Day 2 or Day 3 pick than someone bound to land within the first 40 picks of the draft.
Jaylon Ferguson, EDGE, Louisiana Tech
Reasons why: Bend issues, underdeveloped arsenal of pass-rushing moves
Ferguson is probably the biggest enigma as a pass-rush prospect as I've scouted. You look at the box score, and you're instantly impressed, 45 sacks and 67.5 tackles for loss in his career at Louisiana Tech. He's around 6-5 and 260 pounds, so Ferguson checks the physical profile box too.
But as for his film, well, it's underwhelming. A fair amount of his behind-the-line tackles are due to him being an unblocked weakside defender or when a quarterback held onto the ball for far too long. There are rare -- and I mean rare -- instances in which Ferguson bent the edge tightly. Most of the time he was easily pushed well past the quarterback without ever using an effective counter.
Because Ferguson wasn't at the combine, his chance to impress scouts came at his pro day. Draft godfather Gil Brandt tweeted Ferguson's three-cone time of 8.08, the highest I've ever seen for an edge rusher. And it aligned with the severe lack of flexibility I noticed on film.
Despite his unreal production, Ferguson is a buyer beware prospect because of what he lacks athletically and the context behind some of the statistics he amassed in college.
Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
Reasons why: Athleticism questions, trump card missing
Jacobs is a quality running back prospect, someone who, in my estimation, belongs in the collection of Day 2 runners in this class. I simply didn't see a true trump card in his game. Yes, the power he packs is fun. It's not super practical at the next level. The vast majority of running backs can't make a living lowering their heads to deliver the blow on linebackers and secondary members on Sundays.
Despite the ability to be an effective one-cut runner near the line of scrimmage, I didn't see much lateral elusiveness in his game, and anything there in Jacobs' arsenal isn't more impressive than the other top backs in this class. Jacobs didn't run at the combine then was timed in the 4.60s at Alabama's first pro day before reportedly running in the 4.50s at the Crimson Tide's second pro day.
Because of all that, I don't see Jacobs as the consensus top ball-carrier in this relatively underwhelming class and is someone who would make much more sense in Round 2 or Round 3 than in the back end of Round 1.
Rashan Gary, EDGE, Michigan
Reasons why: Over-reliance on athleticism, lack of pass-rushing moves and collegiate production
Gary was the top recruit in the country a few years ago but managed just 23 tackles for loss and nine sacks in 34 games at Michigan. Far from bad numbers. Far from elite production. Gary's motor runs high, a plus. Another standout element of what he brings to the field ... explosive athleticism, which he demonstrated at the combine with a 4.58 time in the 40-yard dash, a 38-inch vertical (98th percentile at the edge rusher spot) and a 120-inch broad jump (87th percentile) at 277 pounds. His three cone was in the 66th percentile and his short shuttle landed in the 86th percentile at the position. Gary brings it as an athlete.
His pass-rush plans are essentially nonexistent. It's an outside speed rush or bull rush with Gary. The hand work isn't there. At the very best, his hand use isn't of normal, top-of-the-first-round caliber. Without pass-rush plans or counters, just about every pass rusher struggles at the NFL level. Gary is a fine athlete. That'll help him a great deal at times. The physical aspect is just not enough to allow him to meet early Round 1 pick expectations.
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