Fact or Fiction: Debating top positions in draft

COMBINE-FACT-OR-FICTION

1. More than three quarterbacks will be drafted in the first round this year.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction -- There’s a distinct possibility that a fourth quarterback gets picked at the back end of the first round, but I think NFL teams will control their impulses and keep the number at two or three. I have no doubt both Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins will be first-round picks, with both possibly going off the board in the top 10, or even the top five. Past those two players, Drew Lock has the best chance of being a first-round pick. He has top-shelf arm strength and the ability to move in the pocket and get the ball down the field, which could intrigue a team enough to make him a first-round pick. Daniel Jones has good fundamentals and is a product of high level of coaching from David Cutcliffe, so he may intrigue a team that’s looking for a more finished product at the position.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact – Last year was an aberration with five going in the first round, marking only the third time that many were picked that high since the inception of the common draft era in 1967. The 1983 draft had six (John Elway, Todd Blackledge, Jim Kelly, Tony Eason, Ken O’Brien, Dan Marino), and 1999 produced five (Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, Akili Smith, Daunte Culpepper, Cade McNown). What wasn’t an oddity in 2018 was the need for the most important position in sports. In addition, we’re seeing quarterbacks have more success early with college concepts making their way into the big leagues. And it’s not like there are 29 teams completely locked in to their current quarterback. More than three will go in the first 32.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -- The 2019 draft class isn’t as strong and deep as the 2018 group, which included five first-round picks (Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, Lamar Jackson). Given the importance of the quarterback position, it wouldn’t surprise me if three are taken in the first round, but more than that would be an interesting twist. I think Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins and Kyler Murray of Oklahoma will both be selected in the first round. I’m not sure, at this point, if anyone else is likely to be taken in the first round, but once again, it wouldn’t surprise me if someone else emerges, especially given how much stocks rise and fall between now and the draft.

2. The 2019 QB class is being underestimated.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction -- Quarterback classes are never underestimated. Quarterback is the position that everyone focuses their attention. When you have a dynamic player like Kyler Murray, who won the Heisman Trophy (and could also play professional baseball) in the conversation, along with Dwayne Haskins, who threw 50 touchdowns at Ohio State, the quarterback position is going to be at the center of attention. Both players, in my opinion, are worth first-round picks and are being given the correct level of attention. Overall, however, this class does not have the depth of last year’s class. I also don’t think the passers are as polished as the quarterbacks at the top of last year’s class. 

DAN SALOMONE: Fact – Just because 1983 produced three Hall of Fame quarterbacks doesn’t mean there haven’t been good classes since then. And just because 2018 had the hype doesn’t mean 2019 won’t have substance. You have the Heisman Trophy winner and one its finalists in this class, and they were both winners at big-time programs. And like I mentioned before, NFL coaches are more open these days to highlighting the strengths of quarterbacks instead of force-feeding traditional “pro styles.” The two are blending, and that trend isn’t going away with rules favoring the position.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -- As I mentioned previously, I don’t think this class matches or comes close to 2018. Dwayne Haskins and Kyler Murray both have upside and should be considered by any team in need of a quarterback or looking to develop a prospect at this position. Is it possible a middle- or late-round pick could surprise many? Absolutely. That tends to happen with at least one position in every draft. With that being said, it’s also not a stretch to claim that the best quarterbacks in 2019 would be fifth or sixth on the depth chart in 2018. That says a lot.

3. Edge defender is the deepest position heading into the combine.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact -- There could as many as seven or even eight true edge rushers picked in the first round of the draft, with more players at the position going in the second and third rounds. I would be surprised if four or five aren’t taken within the first 10 selections. If you are a team needing a pass rusher, this is a good draft. The seven edge players I believe to be potential first-round picks are: Nick Bosa, Josh Allen, Clelin Ferrell, Rashan Gary, Jachai Polite, Montez Sweat and Brian Burns.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact – That’s the glamour position in this draft, or so the experts say. Look, do I break down tape of every prospect? No, that is someone else’s job. But I do keep an ear to the ground. What’s coming back to me is that this is a good year to look for a pass rusher. You have household names up and down with Bosa, Allen and Gary. Don’t forget about those defensive tackles either. That group can also get after the quarterback in addition to stuffing the run.

LANCE MEDOW: Fact -- There’s a laundry list of playmakers at edge defender in 2019. Case in point, the first overall pick in this year’s draft could very well be a player at that position with Ohio State’s Nick Bosa, whom many consider the best overall prospect. Regardless of how the first round plays out, if teams are still looking for edge rushers in the second and third rounds, they’ll likely walk away with some intriguing playmakers.

4. The No. 1 overall pick will not be a defensive player.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction -- The ONLY WAY a defensive player is not the top pick in this draft is if someone drafts a quarterback instead. The Cardinals, who own the first selection in this year’s draft, have gone on record that they are committed to Josh Rosen, but that can always change. They might also decide to trade down with another team that has fallen in love with either Murray or Haskins. There is no other offensive player in the class I could imagine a team choosing over one of the top defensive linemen (Bosa or Quinnen Williams).

DAN SALOMONE: Fact – I’m sticking with my theme of the week, which is the quarterback infatuation. At this time last year, people were talking about Baker Mayfield going in the second or even third round. And people didn’t even believe the Browns were going to take him the morning of the draft. Don’t forget that. The lure of a quarterback is real, and there is a long way to go between now and April 25.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -- Could a team trade up to take a quarterback? I would never rule that out, but I don’t think a team will need to move up to the No. 1 spot to get that done. I believe Bosa is a strong candidate to be taken with the top overall pick. The same can be said for Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen and Alabama defensive lineman Quinnen Williams. The Cardinals, who currently hold the No. 1 overall pick, finished 26th in the NFL in scoring defense, 20th in total yards and 32nd against the run, in 2018. Assuming they keep the pick, it’s not a stretch to say they could use a defensive playmaker.

Advertising