With the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine and pro days in the books, teams are in the process of putting the finishing touches on their evaluations of this year's prospects. With that in mind, I thought it would be a good time to unveil my ranking of the players who, in my estimation, are worthy of a first-round grade. I did consult with NFL front office personnel in putting this list together, but I relied on my own study and research to make a final determination on where to slot the prospects.
Now, obviously, with 32 selections in Round 1, I haven't included enough players to fill every first-round slot, but that's not the goal of this piece. You can check out my most recent mock draft to see my projection for the draft's first 32 picks. These are the 31 prospects most deserving of that lofty first-round status, in my humble opinion.
He's all ball all the time, and he might be the best player in the draft. He's certainly No. 1 on my list.
Got better every year in school and exploded with a 17-sack season in 2018. His best football is still ahead of him.
The best "game wrecker" as an inside rusher in the draft. Emerged in a huge way during the 2018 season for the Crimson Tide.
Flies to the ball, and when he arrives, he makes the ball carrier regret accepting the assignment.
Last year's consensus preseason selection for best DT in this draft class, Oliver's an intriguing mix of speed, quickness and power as an undersized player at the position.
His movement skills make him a strong prospect as a DT. Won the National Football Foundation's coveted Campbell Trophy as the top student-athlete in CFB -- a.k.a. the academic Heisman.
Followed up a wonderful career at Mississippi State with a phenomenal NFL Scouting Combine run of 4.41 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Gets to the passer and can play the run, too.
People will have questions about his production at Michigan, but he offers a rare blend of size, strength, speed and versatility.
Looks like the prototypical QB we sought for years in the NFL. Big arm and production in one season as a starter. There are questions about his pocket elusiveness.
The most dynamic playmaker by far in this year's QB crop. A big play waiting to happen on every snap and the likely first overall pick (by the Cardinals, it appears).
The best pure pass catcher at his position. Can really run at his size (6-foot-4, 249 pounds) and will block. My top-rated TE.
Many view him as the most complete TE in the class. He mauls people at the line of scrimmage as a blocker. Excellent receiver, too.
Often was the third RB in Alabama's rotation, but he's the top back in this year's draft. Excellent explosiveness through the hole, with good hands as a pass catcher.
Great genes (his dad was an NFL safety), with a good ability to diagnose and then explode to the point of attack.
A mauler at right tackle in his career with the Gators.
Had to play through injuries during his final college season, and it hindered him in the CFB playoff game vs. Alabama. Prior to that? Averaged over 18 yards per catch in two seasons at OU, scoring 17 TDs. He's expected to be ready for training camp as he recovers from offseason Lisfranc surgery.
Tremendous technician. Best pass-protecting OT in the draft.
Skilled competitor. Can certainly be a starter at OT, but I like him better as an OG.
Rangy build, plays with leverage and punch. Add in a smart, effective pass rush, and you've got a top prospect.
Very strong, with straight-line speed in the low 4.3s. He can run past, through and play over the top of DBs.
He'll be a plug-and-play guy at center for the team that drafts him. He's had an excellent postseason, starring at the Reese's Senior Bowl and the combine.
Some may question his size (5-11, 190; added some good weight for his pre-draft workouts), and some see him strictly as an inside CB, but I'm crazy about his instincts and willingness to play against the run.
Has added some needed weight in the run-up to the draft, and will add more prior to the 2019 season. Often rushed off the edge like an OLB.
The top-rated senior QB. A nice combination of arm talent and upside.
Demanded the opportunity to match up with the opposition's WR1 each week while at Georgia. Super competitive. Wants to contest every throw to the man he's covering.
Plenty of length, speed to burn, with a nose for the ball. Built to take on today's big and tall NFL WRs.
Held down the right tackle spot with a flourish on the best overall O-line in CFB. Definitely can be an OT, but some may project him to kick inside to OG.
A tough safety who plays his best football inside the box.
A bit undersized, but a tremendous downfield threat and a willing blocker. Really emerged in 2018.
I know teams will downgrade him based on his pro day 40-yard dash, but I love what I see on tape from Rapp. He's a first-rounder in my book.