Earlier this spring we were first introduced to the 2019 NFL draft class featuring many stars dispersed into the 7 rounds. Although, Which players will have the best chance to be the face of the league? Taking a closer look at where some of my favorite players that were drafted into the right spot, and have the best chance at making a big impact for their new teams.
Winner: Devin White - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Over the past 5 seasons the Buccaneers have somehow managed to keep their fans at bay, posting a 33% winning percentage over that span. As Tampa continues this below average theme, their fan base only becomes more and more restless. In todays NFL it’s almost impossible to win with inconsistent play at the Quarterback position. Which turns our attention to their franchise quarterback Jameis Winston, who has yet to lead them to a playoff berth. Despite the Buc’s seemingly never-ending struggles and quarterback fiasco’s, the organization has finally found someone to lead Tampa Bay in the right direction. Not only adding one great coach, but two, going all in on Winston in 2019 for his make or break year. Hiring former two time NFL Head Coach of the Year Bruce Arians, and Defensive Coordinator Todd Bolwes, who both coached together in Arizona not too long ago. The premise behind the hire for the Buc’s is that Arians will be able to tap into Winston's full potential, under his air-raid offensive scheme. The coaching duo brought the Arizona Cardinals to the NFC Championship game in 2015. The very next season Bowles left Arizona to be the head coach of the New York Jets. Leaving Bruce to retire after the 2016 season, now in 2019 coming out of retirement to coach along the sandy beaches of Tampa bay (Not a bad place to relocate). Enjoying all of their palm trees, sunny days, and free income tax, Arians couldn’t think of a better place to give his Superbowl dream one final shot. The duo’s first draft pick was predicted by our burbs combined mock draft 2.0 and a perfect scheme fit for the Buc’s.
The fifth overall selection of the 2019 draft Devin White takes his talents from Louisiana, going east to the sunshine state. The best off-ball linebacker prospect drew comparisons to last year’s draftee Roquon Smith for his athleticism, coverage skills, and blitzing ability. Looking at White’s play at LSU, his biggest asset is his speed. Running a 4.42 forty yard dash at the combine put him atop his position group athletically. After leading the SEC in total tackles and winning the Butkus award for best college linebacker. Devin White is not only the most athletic linebacker, but also the most skilled. Which is why he is my first choice for Defensive Rookie of the year. Among the first things you notice about his game is his ability to cover receivers. He can get physical with tight ends over the middle of the field, and has the lateral quickness to catch a running back behind the line of scrimmage in the flat. This pick for the Buccaneers will also have a huge impact on the defensive play Todd Bowles leads in 2019. Looking back at the 2015 Arizona Cardinals defense, they featured the highest percentage of called blitzes that season. Their success relied on Bowle’s ability to pressure the quarterback in different ways. Sending corners, linebackers, and safeties on blitzes where they get to the quarterback in the pocket more often than any other NFL team. With that being said, Devin White had the highest pressure percentage out of every college linebacker last year. Not just being sent on blitzes, but being successful in disrupting the pocket more often than any other off ball linebacker. Blitzing, being Whites least spoken aspect of his game, that ends up being the biggest key to the Buc’s success. Making his ceiling for production much higher than every other rookie drafted in this class. Last year's DROY Darious Leonard was a critical part of the formula that brought Indianapolis to the playoffs in 2018. Having a less talented quarterback to lead the Buccaneers, it will be harder for White to bolster his entire team to success. Although, we may just see one of the best statistical season from a rookie linebacker in the last five years. Devin White WILL be your 2019 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Runner up: Quinnen Williams - New York Jets
Alabama’s latest top ten pick is by far the most talented rookie of this class. His domination at the college level can not be underestimated. He is a bully against the run and a menace in the pass rush. Now it’d be absolutely crazy to compare any rookie to Aaron Donald, but Quinnen’s ceiling might scrape the reining DPOY. Understanding that Donalds greatness is unparalleled yet, but, also looking at what specific traits allow for players at the DT position to excel, you can see where the comparison protrudes. Quinnen is the closest prospect to Donalds style, their surprising quickness and high motor at the point of attack catches offensive linemen off guard. Making plays in the backfield more often than any other defensive tackle. Quinnen also had the highest PFF grade of all time for a college defensive tackle which warrants this special praise. Now there’s no guarantee Williams plays to his potential for the New York Jets in year one, but he has all the tools to become a superstar in the near future. With relentless effort and a great attitude Williams should be regarded as a top ten defensive tackle in 2019.
Dark Horse: Nasir Adderly - Los Angeles Chargers
The free safety played for the Fighting’ Blue Hens in the FCS last year and finished his season with four interceptions and six pass break ups. Due to the fact that Nasir was not targeted as often at Delaware, his stats don’t speak to his game as a whole. With a smaller scale of tape to look at than most safeties taken early in the draft, Adderly made the most out of every play he could. With the confidence of his coaches and instincts of a veteran, Nasir playing "center field" for Los Angeles should create a highlight reel worthy rookie season. Joining what was already considered as a top secondary in the league, Nasir is in a great position to have a large role for the Chargers. With a completely healthy Joey Bosa and new improved linebacking core, the players around Adderly make him the best second round fit in this last draft. Which makes him may dark horse candidate for DROY and a narrative you will want to pay special attention to.