Over the last 6 weeks the @ninetynineyards Draft Talk team have been discussing our Top 5s at each position group. Last week we completed the set with the quarterbacks. Following on from that series I’ve put together my Top 5 Team, the prospects I’d be turning in the card for in a team’s war room, if anyone ever let me near one! Let’s start on the offense.
Top 5 Offense (11 personnel – 1RB, 1TE, 3WR)
QB – Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
RB – Javonte Williams, North Carolina
TE – Kyle Pitts, Florida
WR – JaMarr Chase, LSU
WR – Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
WR – DeVonta Smith, Alabama
OT – Penei Sewell, Oregon
OT – Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech
G – Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
G – Wyatt Davis, Ohio State
C – Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma
Quarterback is the easiest of all the picks. Lawrence stands way out in front and may be the most complete QB prospect to come into the NFL since Andrew Luck. All the physical traits plus the character and leadership skills to carry a franchise forward. At running back I may have skipped Travis Etienne and Najee Harris but I think Williams is going to give me better blocking to help protect Lawrence which allows me to bring Kyle Pitts in at tight end and not worry too much about giving him blocking assignments. Lawrence is going to have an eye-watering plethora of targets to throw to in Pitts and the wide receiver trio of Chase, Waddle and Smith. That group could be utilised in so many different ways to give a defense head-spin trying to keep up. If we were reviewing the wide receiver group now I think Elijah Moore would have snuck in to my 5 and maybe into this group in the slot position.
The offensive line is strong and balanced with Sewell as the more adept run-blocking tackle and Darrisaw as the QB’s best friend. The interior group is fortified with Vera-Tucker and Davis protecting against that rush up the middle and carving out lanes for Javonte Williams. Humphrey has the high football IQ at center to help diagnose where the pressure is coming from pre-snap. Lawrence will have all day long to go through his progressions. For 2 tight end sets I’d happily add Pat Freiermuth in from Penn State, and for a second running back when needed how about the multi-functional Kenneth Gainwell from Memphis
Top 5 Defense (4-3 Defense)
DE – Greg Rousseau, Miami
DE – Kwitye Paye, Michigan
DT – Daviyon Nixon, Iowa
DT – Christian Barmore, Alabama
OLB – Micah Parsons, Penn State
MLB – Nick Bolton, Missouri
OLB – Zaven Collins, Tulsa
SS – Jeremiah Owusu-Koromoah, Notre-Dame
FS – Trevon Moehrig, TCU
CB – Patrick Surtain, Alabama
CB – Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech
Upfront I’ve got, in my opinion, the best two pass rushers in what is not an elite group this year. Rousseau has ridiculous length and reach, you are never out of his grasp, and Kwitye Paye has an all-day long motor for getting into the backfield. That same desire and effort is matched on the interior with Daviyon Nixon and Christian Barmore. Both are power movers giving this D-line real impact up the middle. If I had to switch to a 3-4 front then in would come Levi Onwuzurike from Washington who has the versatility to tick all the boxes upfront. The linebacker group complement the front four. Nick Bolton gives added support against the run game, Micah Parsons is Mr. Everywhere and Zaven Collins has surprising versatility for a 260lbs LB, able to drop into coverage as well as support the rush.
Here is where I cheat a little bit as I want to get Jeremiah Owusu-Koromoah into my Top 5 team, and given the relatively poor safety class I’m going to switch him into the strong safety position. He has the speed to cover the ground and the power to produce devastating hits. Between him and Parsons the D should be able to neutralise any opposing TE or RB threats. If you asked me to pick solely from this safeties than I’d add Richie Grant from Central Florida who has the instincts and aggression to come down into the box. The secondary is awesome with Trevon Moehrig patrolling the outer reaches at free safety and at cornerback we have a true craftsman at the position in Patrick Surtain and the athleticism of Caleb Farley. I’m going to trust here that his current back injury is nothing serious. For those downs where I need to bring in a nickel it would probably be Elijah Molden from Washington, plug and play in that position from day one.
That looks like a pretty decent rookie team to me. I hope you have been enjoying the @ninetynineyards Draft Talk podcasts recently. If you’ve missed them then go check them out, 85 players were covered in total and each position group generated plenty of chat. What are your thoughts on the best rookie prospects? Let us know on @ninetynineyards – less than a month to go now!