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Plenty of uncertainty as NFL Draft looms

Dwayne Haskins of the Ohio State Buckeyes speaks

Dwayne Haskins of the Ohio State Buckeyes speaks to the media after defeating the Northwestern Wildcats at Lucas Oil Stadium on Dec. 1, 2018 in Indianapolis. Credit: Getty Images/Joe Robbins

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — There is something for just about everyone in the 2019 NFL Draft, which commences with Thursday’s first round and goes through Saturday.

Need a quarterback? There are potentially four of them who will go in the first round.

Looking for a pass rusher? There may be half a dozen taken in the first two rounds.

How about an elite defensive tackle? Plenty of them, too.

And a good number of receivers and defensive backs as well.

Many NFL executives and draft analysts consider this one of the best drafts for defensive players in quite some time, which eventually could swing the pendulum away from dominant offenses and record scoring.

Then again, the quarterbacks who go early could form the foundation for more great passing attacks in the years ahead. It’s possible there will be a quartet of passers taken before the 20th overall pick, with Kyler Murray of Oklahoma, Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State, Drew Lock of Missouri and Daniel Jones of Duke leading the way. West Virginia’s Will Grier and Ryan Finley of North Carolina State may be in the mix early, although they may have to wait until Friday, when rounds two and three unfold. The draft finishes up Saturday with rounds four through seven.

The big men on the defensive front will also take center stage, with the possibility that close to a dozen defensive tackles, ends or pass rushers go off the board in the first round. It’s a deep draft along the line, with defensive tackles Quinnen Williams of Alabama and Ed Oliver of Houston leading the way on the interior and Ohio State’s Nick Bosa and Josh Allen of Kentucky the premier pass rushers.

There might also be an early run on offensive linemen, with tackles Jawaan Taylor of Florida, Jonah Williams of Alabama and Washington State’s Andre Dillard leading the way up front, with interior linemen Chris Lindstrom of Boston College and Garrett Bradbury of North Carolina State likely to be gone early.

Just where the players end up remains to be seen. And unlike other draft years, where there is at least some predictability at the top, there is little consensus this time. Just how unpredictable will it be? Consider NFL Network draft expert Daniel Jeremiah’s tweet he posted early Wednesday about the uncertainty surrounding the quarterback position:

“What I've heard in last 24 hours: Redskins moving up for Haskins. Redskins moving up for Jones. Giants moving up for Lock. Giants taking Jones at 17. Titans taking Lock. Bengals taking Haskins. Bengals not taking QB Lions trade back and take QB.”

For the record, Jeremiah predicted a few days ago in a mock draft that the Giants would take Jones with the sixth overall pick. He hinted Wednesday at a pre-draft media briefing that might be different when he posts his final mock before the draft.

Even the first pick is uncertain; while there has been plenty of speculation that Murray would be Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury’s choice with the top pick, Kingsbury said Tuesday the team had not finalized its decision. That may be a smokescreen to attract trade suitors, but it also may be a reflection of just how differently teams view this year’s prospects.

Quinnen Williams had this suggestion when asked whom he’d take with the first overall pick.

“I’d pick myself, just because I can do it all,” Williams said Wednesday at a predraft availability involving players who are attending the draft. “I can play on the front of the defensive line, I can pass rush, I can stop the run. I’m good on the field, off the field, no injuries, good character in general.”

The Jets (third overall) and Giants (sixth and 17th overall) have kept their preferences close to the vest, with Jets GM Mike Maccagnan expressing a willingness to trade down and address multiple positions. If he stays put?

“If we play the game that Murray goes to Arizona and Bosa goes to the 49ers, now you’ve got a decision with Quinnen Williams, Josh Allen and Ed Oliver,” said NFL Network analyst Charles Davis. “To me, you can’t go wrong, but I have a feeling it would be one of the defensive tackles as opposed to the outside edge rusher.”

The Giants have been linked to Duke’s Jones, although Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner expressed some reservations.

"The thing with Daniel is that he played in a great system, so you know he understands football,” Warner said Wednesday. “He played a lot of games, so you know what he brings to the table there. But over that four years, there are some limitations physically. That, to me, is the only question I have with Daniel: Is that something that can get better?”

The answers will start to become clearer starting Thursday night. Until then, let the uncertainty continue.


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