Now that the combine, virtually all the pro days and the workouts are behind us, I decided to take another crack at this. My hours (minutes) of research are bound to pay off in the form of a dynamite draft class that I’m sure GM Brian Gaine is going to want to read about. (I slid a copy under his door yet noticed that it made its way rather quickly into the recycling bin.)
Round 1 - Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
We call drafting players an inexact science. So many high picks in this position group have flamed out faster than the AAF. And a player once drafted in the seventh round is now the highest paid at his position in the history of the NFL. Williams will never be called an athletic ‘freak.’ But he’s solid, well-coached and all the experts (there I go again) think he’ll start for a long time.
Round 2 – Isaiah Johnson, CB, University of Houston
Just because I really enjoyed going to Coogs hoops games this year and actually purchased some gear, doesn’t mean I’m pandering to their fans. Johnson is a really good player. It seemed like the entire NFL showed up at UH pro day to see Ed Oliver, but Johnson was far more than a side show. He’s got size (6-2, 208) and runs a 4.4. Sounds good to me!
Round 2 – Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington
Is it ok to call the University of Washington ‘U-Dub’ if you’re not in Seattle? I’m thinking it sounds either too provincial, or people will think you’re trying too hard. Won’t it feel like an upset if the Texans don’t take either two OLs and a CB or two DBs and an OT with the first three picks? John Harris has McGary ranked at 39 in his Harris 100. Some other experts can’t figure out if he’ll be a guard or tackle. But I can’t figure out, in my pick-up basketball games, if I’m a ‘stretch four,’ old school 5, or just plain horrible. I feel comfortable taking McGary right here.
Round 3 - Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State
The Nittany Lions had Saquon Barkley run wild in 2017, so when he left, there were big cleats to fill and Sanders did great. He made second team All-Big 10 (which has a gazillion schools these days. God forbid they adjust the number in the conference name. Tradition, you know… like having Rutgers play Maryland is such a ‘Big 10’ tradition) and was the team’s Most Outstanding Player in 2018. He’s got the size and enough speed to move the sticks early and often in the NFL.
Round 5 - Gary Jennings, WR, West Virginia
West Virginia is, of course, in the Big 12, which has enough schools to fill a 10-team league. Jennings is fast, catches the ball well and, at 6-2, 215 pounds, can win a lot of battles against physical DBs. I read a report that said his three-cone drill could’ve been better. I’ll send a memo down the stadium crew to make sure there are no cones on the field when the Texans play.
Round 6 - Ken Webster, CB, Ole Miss
I, like many other media types, am bound by an unofficial covenant with my Mississippi friends to call their university ‘Ole Miss.’ Webster ran a 4.43 at the combine, which is fast enough to do damage in the defensive backfield. He’s hardly the finished product, but it’s Round 6. And now is a good time to remind you that so many great NFL players come from the later rounds. These guys are the ‘tweeners.’ They don’t have their own TV show like “Undrafted” and they certainly don’t get the notoriety of the higher picks. Even the undrafted guys get semi-recruited by the teams. This is a tough road but the development is fun to watch.
Round 7 - Nick Scott, S, Penn State
A Nittany Lion is not actually a species. There’s a Mt. Nittany and there are likely some mountain lions and… you do the math. No one will confuse Scott with the Honey Badger. But a comparison can be made in leadership skills. Scott was defensive and special teams captain during his time in State College (Notice I didn’t say Happy Valley. The people who live there don’t say Happy Valley). He’s going to make someone’s 53-man roster. If I’m wrong, my GM career will once again be derailed… until the first V-mock of 2020, of course.