There were many prospects that had their dreams of being drafted in the NFL fulfilled in the 2019 NFL Draft. There were also some prospects that did not have the dream they would’ve experienced when they slipped in the draft for some reason. The process for all the new NFL rookies will start over as each draftee and the non-drafted player will contend for a spot on their NFL team. That doesn’t mean some of the prospects that slipped in the 2019 NFL Draft will not have a chip on their shoulder when training camps start.
Undervalued NFL Rookies Who Could Excel in 2019
Rashan Gary (defensive end) – Michigan Wolverines
Round: 1; Pick: 12 – Green Bay Packers
Gary was selected in the first round with the 12th overall pick from Michigan to the Green Bay Packers. If you ask Gary, he’ll tell you that he should’ve been the first defensive player taken in the draft. The former number one player in the recruiting class of 2016 chose Michigan over every other major program. His input on the field did not match the potential that he had when he first arrived on Michigan’s campus. During his sophomore year, he accounted for 11.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. The following season, however, he only accounted for 6.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
His teammate, defensive end Chase Winovich, had much more of an impact for the Wolverines defense than Gary. It is one thing to have potential, but it is another to have the impact and statistics to match his potential. The Packers took Gary because of the athletic abilities he displayed in the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine. He is also a tough pass rusher once he gets his motor running. Gary will be able to prove his worth in the league that can make him an excellent player. He will need to translate his talent and potential into his performance for the Packers as the division is getting much more competitive.
Montez Sweat (defensive end) – Mississippi State Bulldogs
Round: 1; Pick: 26 – Washington Redskins
Among some of the players that had the biggest boosts throughout the pre-draft process, Sweat was a player that climbed as high as a top-five selection. He finished his career with Mississippi State strong, had an excellent 2019 Senior Bowl, and dominated the 2019 NFL Combine. That was until he was reportedly diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This was a shock to Sweat as he admitted he never had problems with symptoms or this condition. Many teams took him off their draft boards during the 2019 NFL Draft. The Redskins took a chance on Sweat and believed he could create the same input at Mississippi State with Washington.
Sweat’s condition may have been misdiagnosed after the 2019 NFL Draft. In a leap of faith, the Redskins may have picked a top-five to top-10 caliber pass rusher late in the draft. In his last two seasons at Mississippi State, Sweat accounted for 101 total tackles, 30 tackles for loss, and 22.5 sacks. Last season, he had a 20.2 pass-rush win percentage (second in SEC) and 26.6 pressure percentage on third downs. This is the kind of production the Redskins need on multiple occasions. Sweat can play the outside linebacker on first and second downs and the defensive ends on third downs.
Cody Ford (offensive tackle) – Oklahoma Sooners
Round: 2; Pick: 38 – Buffalo Bills
Sometimes when a player slips in the draft, it can be a blessing in disguise. The former first-team All-Big 12 tackle in Cody Ford projected to go in the mid-first round. He was originally ranked as the 15th best player but ESPN had him as the 25th best prospect. Ford was a great run-blocking and pass-protecting tackle for two consecutive Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks: Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. What caused Ford to slip in the second round was his “attitude” he displayed and his lackluster performance in the 2019 NFL Combine. Ford only accounted for 19 reps on the 225-pound bench-press workout.
The Bills didn’t really take a chance on Ford as he was on their radar since before the Scouting Combine. Ford was excited to get selected by the Bills when they took him early in the second round. He looks to be a key leader and contributor for their offensive line that needed talent. Pro Football Focus graded his run-blocking ability with a 91.1 successful rating. He also only allowed a 1.6 pressure percentage, which is the fourth rankings among all the tackles in the Draft. Ford can be able to the main run-blocker for the offense with LeSean McCoy as their running back. At the same time, the Bills are eager to trust the reliable pass-protecting of Ford as they want to develop second-year quarterback Josh Allen.
Drew Lock (quarterback) – Missouri Tigers
Round: 2; Pick: 42 – Denver Broncos
One of the biggest slips in the 2019 NFL Draft was Missouri quarterback Drew Lock because of the need for his position. Throughout the entire pre-draft process, Lock was escalating towards a top-10 to top-15 pick. By the time the Draft started, Lock was slipping for a supposed number of small attributes that teams didn’t like. Small hands and his accuracy were two performance issues that most teams took a different measure on. One of the biggest attributes that finalized his fall was his quote he made about his desired team. Lock mentioned he would rather play for a team that is more structured in their team than an early team that needs help all over the place.
This didn’t fit well with most teams as they took into perspective that he doesn’t have a desire to play for a team like the New York Giants or the Oakland Raiders. The real perspective to take on this quote is just Lock stating his desire to play for a team that team structured and not one that star-player structured. The Denver Broncos are a team that fits perfectly into the ideal setting of Lock as they are building on multiple positions and not all. Lock will get a chance to develop his skills and accuracy while learning under former Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. In each of the last three seasons with Missouri, Lock threw for at least 3,330 passing yards and 23 touchdowns.
Greedy Williams (cornerback) – LSU Tigers
Round: 2; Pick: 46 – Cleveland Browns
Among all the prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft, LSU cornerback Greedy Williams took the biggest dive in his selection. Throughout most of the Draft process, Williams was easily projected as a top-five selection. As late April got closer, Williams was slipping but only just behind Georgia Bulldogs cornerback Deandre Baker. Williams was the purest press coverage defensive back in the entire 2019 NFL Draft. He was even named a part of the 2018 Consensus All-American team. He was not the most efficient open-field tackler, which can be a problem as a defensive back in sole coverage.
A big indication on what threw multiple teams off during the NFL Draft process was the fact he often didn’t visit teams. Many teams did not get the full evaluation of Williams as they were potentially planning for him to be on their team. The Cleveland Browns are a team this off-season that has valued their playing potential and impact on the field than their past experiences with emotions. Cleveland took players like wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry based on their impact and potential. Selecting Williams in the second round isn’t necessarily a gamble. The pick can pay off as a steal if he starts and makes an immediate impact as the pure press coverage corner he was at LSU.