2019 NFL College Draft Closing Thoughts

Now that the 2019 College Draft is in our rear-view mirror, teams begin what is called “Phase 2” of their off-season programs. Fans should keep in mind that their favorite teams do not have to line up for real for four more months. Many additions, subtractions and improvements of rosters are still very popular. There is no reason to panic yet if your team still has a couple needs to fill. Here are a few notes that come to mind from a big picture standpoint.

First-Round Picks Drafted 3 Years Before 

It’s always interesting to see, at this time of the year, what teams do with first-round pick “options” on players drafted 3 years before. This is the first real indicator of how a team drafted that year. I plan to dive into some specific 1st round draft grades for the 2016 draft soon, but a couple of question marks jumped out at me after the deadline has now passed for a team to pick up a fifth-year option for these players. It may not be a RED light, but I’d sure consider it to be a flashing “yellow” if your team has a history of not exercising the fifth year that it originally negotiated with that first round player, especially if they were top 20 picks.

Two players who are not even on the rosters of teams that drafted them in 2016 are QB Paxton Lynch from Memphis St. who was drafted in the first round by Denver and WR Corey Coleman (Baylor), drafted by the Browns. They, common-thread,  ran college schemes that were pass-happy spread offenses with little or no processing required.  If we throw WR Josh Doctson from TCU (drafted by Redskins) and Laquon Treadwell (drafted by Minn) in there, two more spread, pitch and catch offenses for skilled positions, and we have to look at it closer.  I see an analytics project coming.

Turning College Recruiting into an NFL Operation 

Spring practices are over now in college football and it’s a good time for programs to reflect. I’d definitely look hard at what Coach Nick Saban has done with his personnel dept/recruiting at Alabama. In short, he has turned it into an NFL operation. He has “pros” evaluating and the people who evaluate involved in ranking and studying players 24-7. In short, he has to determine who to say no to. Everyone wants to come play for him, so he has to prioritize who they recruit. He has a non-coaching staff that spends 100% of their time doing just that. If I were a college head coach I would surely find the budget to set up a program of identifying, evaluating, and finding players that FIT in our schemes, just like the pros do.

Taking a Closer Look at AAF Players

I find it interesting to follow which teams seriously use and give the opportunity to “3- day tryout” players for rookie minicamps. This year, in particular, it should be advantageous. With the recent failure of the AAF, each team had several players never signed to NFL contracts who participated in that league. I would definitely consider giving those guys a look even if they were not starters in the AAF. They might have been injured, out of college, or just fell through the proverbial cracks with scouts last spring. They are in football shape, gained valuable experience and just flat out may have gotten better having played an AAF season.

I can think of two guys right now who we had in Salt Lake who I would definitely look at if I were a pro scout for an NFL team at one of these rookie mini-camps – Sam Mobley, WR Catawba and Jerimiah Johnson DC, Concord-West Virginia. Both of these guys would step in mentally and are ready to compete at a high level. My guess is, each AAF team might have had similar players. They would be perfect practice squad players in the 2019 season for an NFL franchise.  

Photo Credit: Shutterstock | Melinda Nagy

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