It’s here! The 2019 NFL Draft kicks off tonight at 8:00pm. For the last few months, we’ve been churning out in-depth research and analysis of the top rookie prospects and Buffalo Bills team-building tendencies. This is the place to be as you look for details about the draft this weekend. We’ve rounded up all the best content into one place: this article right here.
[External link] Mockdraftable - Athletic measurable charts for NFL prospects
[External link] CFBStats - College stats and rankings for every FBS player
[External link] Drafttek trade value chart - original Jimmy Johnson formula
[External link] Drafttek trade value chart - updated Rich Hill formula
SB Nation Mock Draft
Visits and Connections
Individual Scouting Reports
Scouting the potential first round picks, in excruciating detail
Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
Williams enters the draft praised more for his technical refinement and experience than his athleticism. His performance at the combine can be considered “middling,” with his arm length in particular being questioned.
He is absolutely the most polished lineman Nick Saban has produced in his dozen years at Alabama, and that’s not faint praise, considering over a dozen have been drafted to-date. More tellingly, you knew from his first game he was going to be that special too.
His cerebral nature and potential versatility should make him a safe pick and successful, long-time starter in the NFL.
[T]he only negative I could find with his tape is that Williams isn’t an overpowering athlete. He doesn’t punch with enough power to knock down a defender. He finishes blocks, but doesn’t maul players into the dirt on a regular basis. He’s not pulling into space to block for a bubble screen. That might limit his upside, for some people, but I have no problem slapping a first-round grade onto a refined technician who can play both left and right tackle. Considering his versatility, connections with Brian Daboll, and work ethic, Williams has to be a strong contender for Buffalo’s first pick of the draft.
At 6’4” and 302 pounds, Williams looks like a poor physical match for Buffalo’s roster. He lacks the length they’ve been consolidating on the outside, and the bulk of their guards. His height-weight-arm measurements would fit at center, but the team just signed Mitch Morse to lock down that position for the future.
In terms of scheme, and what the Bills would want for their offense, however, Williams would be able to handle anything the team throws at him.
Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
Ever since his freshman season, draft observers have pegged Oliver as a top-five pick. Being one of the most disruptive defensive tackles in college football for three years will earn you that notoriety. However, his inability to turn his athletic gifts into ultra-productive sack totals has worried analysts and his argument with Major Applewhite will have teams questioning his maturity.
If he doesn’t make a play himself, he’s going to demand double teams, which allows other linemen and linebackers to make the play. He’s that special of a player, and the team that drafts him is getting an immediate starter that has star potential.
Twitched-up ball of explosive fury from the moment he comes out of his stance, but his lack of NFL size and length creates challenges with his NFL projection. Oliver’s athletic ability is beyond rare, but his ability to add and maintain mass could be the critical for his future success.
Ed Oliver won’t fit every team’s size profile, and the finer points of his technique are still coming along. In spite of those concerns, his tape consistently pops with jaw-dropping feats of athleticism leading to tackles in the backfield.
He is ideally suited for a three-technique position and has the foot quickness to take over the penetrating defensive line position from Kyle Williams. Williams was just over 6’ tall and 300 pounds when he entered the league but had great numbers on the three-cone (7.43) and short shuttle (4.52).
Oliver was even better, running a blistering 4.2-second short shuttle and a 7.15-second three-cone drill. If he can maintain the weight to engage with interior offensive linemen, the sky is the limit.
T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
Most draft analysts have the redshirt sophomore pegged as not only a first-round talent, but the first tight end off the board. His refined ability as a blocker combined with his reliability in the red zone and over the middle of the field set him apart from most of the other prospects in the class. As such, Bills fans should expect him to be taken within the first 20 picks of the draft.
Ultimately, I don’t think he is a particularly sexy top-10 pick as a very high floor tight end with a potentially high ceiling. I think his statistical comp is someone like Zach Ertz, right around 10-12 YPC. For a team with a need for an all-purpose tight end, he’ll have incredible value. To succeed at the level of Kittle, he will have to be the beneficiary of very good scheme and/or playmakers around him.
Hockenson is a rare blend of versatility to win as a “modern” tight end with all the throwback ability of a classic player. He is a polished route runner with excellent hands and ball skills that wins both in-line and flexed. He is a punishing blocker that can lineup anywhere in the formation and create space for his teammates.
I want to emphasize: Hockenson is an athletic marvel. Iowa asked him to handle tough, varied roles in its pro-style offense. He spent time in the backfield as an H-back, as an inline tight end, and split into the slot. He ran routes from three-point stances. He’d chip and release as the primary target on passing plays. And when they called his number, he would execute.
Hockenson grew up in a small Iowa town south of Des Moines and seems made to pair with the Bills’ decision makers for multiple reasons. As a redshirt sophomore and 21-years of age, he still has room to grow into his frame, but he already fits the mold of what they have looked for in the past at the position.
Brian Burns, DE, Florida State
Lining up as a lanky 6’5” and weighing 235 lbs, Burns was the designated speed rusher for the Seminoles—and his best trait is his ability to scream off the edge, bend the corner, and attack the opposing quarterback.
His athleticism is off the charts which is making teams fall in love with him. Wilson said that “Burns is an explosive edge rusher who is surprisingly strong. He regularly wins to the outside with his speed but showed the ability to run stunts inside as well.”
Long, thin pass-rush specialist who possesses elite get-off and stride length to simply outrun overmatched tackles around the rush arc and into the backfield. Burns’ edge speed and varied rush approach should translate to the league, but his skinny frame and lack of play strength are absolutely concerns moving forward.
He has a rare combination of athletic ability and size, and he merges that with a combination of motor and creativity that help him reach his potential. Burns has the upside of a top-ten NFL pass rusher, and that could give the Bills an elite defensive unit moving forward.
With the body type comparisons to McDermott defensive ends, I think Burns is unlikely to be Buffalo’s pick at number nine, despite his high motor and pass-rushing speed and skills. If they trade down into the bottom half of the first round, he could be on their board—but he just doesn’t seem to fit the bill.
Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State
While his agility and ability to turn the corner will never be his strong suit, his speed and strength make his bullrush deadly. His length also allows his to set a strong edge against the run. Running backs trying to run anywhere near him rarely escaped his grasp.
Sweat was one of the most agile defensive ends in the country. He’s really built differently than most defensive ends, but the guy can straight up play.
Despite compiling 22.5 sacks over the last two seasons at Mississippi State, Sweat isn’t likely to be that caliber of a sack artist in the NFL on account of his modest burst, twitch and flexibility. Sweat is a technician that can be a standout against the run while offering some pass rushing upside that comes with restrictions.
The billing says elite athlete, outstanding size, very productive. The results seem more like a Jadeveon Clowney-lite: this is an explosive and powerful edge rusher. He can dominate against the run, using his power moves to close gaps or make tackles in the backfield. He’s developed a few strong moves, like a bull rush and a rip, but the overall pass-rushing repertoire isn’t as far along. He also seems to be more of a linear force than someone who can consistently turn the corner or counter to the inside.
Allowing Sweat to come in and learn during the final year on the contracts of Hughes and Lawson would be a great start to his career, while replacing the similarly sized Trent Murphy on pass-rush downs could be a great short-term option to get him acclimated to the NFL. If his medical checks out and if he’s truly past the suspension from three years ago, Sweat seems like a great fit in Buffalo.
D.K. Metcalf, WR, Mississippi
From most perspectives, Metcalf is a powerhouse athlete. His deep speed is rare for a player of his size, allowing him to play multiple roles and attack several areas of the field. His Pac-Man athletic chart matches him with similar height-weight-speed players like former Kansas City Chiefs receiver Jon Baldwin and journeyman Kenny Britt. Unfortunately, it seems very few of those comparisons yielded great NFL players.
Big, explosive talent with projectable upside to become a home-run threat as a WR1. Teams seek out pass-catchers with rare height, weight and speed dimensions and Metcalf has those for days.
In the right setting, with enough experience, D.K. Metcalf could be an incredible vertical threat for an offense. Think of how Martavis Bryant was playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and now imagine a player with an extra 20 lbs of muscle mass on top of that speed. However, he’s not for everybody.
Metcalf doesn’t check a lot of the boxes that the Bills look for. He isn’t experienced, having left Ole Miss after his redshirt sophomore season. He’s dealt with foot and neck injuries, ending two of his college seasons. He’s a boom or bust prospect, which Buffalo has largely avoided outside of Josh Allen a year ago.
Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
Taylor has all the tools to be a starter at right tackle in the NFL. He has the athletic ability, the experience, and the work ethic teams want along their offensive line. Accordingly, most mock drafts have him going in the top fifteen picks, with the only possible factor holding him back is his inability to handle the left tackle spot. As such, he could be primed for a slight fall on the draft’s first day.
Taylor has the size (Florida lists him at 6’5” and 325 pounds, and his weight loss prior to his arrival in Gainesville is well-documented) and the technique to be an NFL starter, and was a consistently strong performer throughout his three years in Gainesville after entering the Gators’ lineup as a true freshman in 2016
After a mediocre at best sophomore season, Jawaan Taylor became one of the country’s most improved players during the 2018 campaign, excelling under Dan Mullen’s new staff at Florida. Facing a murderer’s row of pass rushers throughout the season, Taylor was consistently excellent, showing explosive footwork, impressive range in his set points and the power to physically manhandle opponents as well.
Overall, Taylor impressed me with a first-round skill set. His athletic toolbox is ideal for an offensive tackle, with a great combo of strength, speed, and balance. He has length and pass-protection techniques that help him neutralize edge rushers and make it look easy. He brings it together with an attitude of a tireless worker and a man with a chip on his shoulder.
In this day and age, right tackle is almost as valuable as left tackle on an offensive line. Taylor has the upside to eventually be a Pro Bowler at the position, but the Bills might have a logjam at the position in 2019 if they draft him. If that can be worked out, Taylor might be the long-term blocker Buffalo needs in front of Josh Allen.
Cody Ford, OG, Oklahoma
Ford elicits various opinions from most draft analysts. Some see him as a much better fit at guard, where his movements skills would make him among the most versatile in the NFL. Others think that he is more than capable as a right tackle, and that his 2018 season at Oklahoma proved it. Regardless, he has the hype of a first rounder, although he may be selected towards the end of that round.
I think he’d be a decent fit in Buffalo due to the fact that the Bills have a forward-thinking offensive coordinator in Brian Daboll. I think he’ll be able to utilize his strengths. For instance, Ford has a ton of experience with creative misdirection at Oklahoma, and you see a lot of that from Daboll’s offense.
Ford offers a rare combination of physical and athletic traits that will have NFL teams dreaming of his upside. He is raw and relatively inexperienced as a starting tackle with exploitable holes that will need to be patched before he can thrive in the pros. As a tackle, he’s a developmental, high-risk/reward talent.
Cody Ford is an absolute mauler. He has incredible paw power. If he latches onto a dude with his hands, he’ll pull them apart like a grizzly bear. Once his hands are on a defender in pass protection, it’s all over.
At 6’4” and 329 pounds with 34-inch arms, Ford fits the size prototype Buffalo has looked for at both guard and tackle. He has the bulk to play inside and the long arms to play anywhere on Buffalo’s line. He probably lacks the fluidity for left tackle, but Dawkins can stay there and the Bills can shore up another position with Ford.
Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
Williams not only broke out, but busted down the door. Williams had 45 total tackles, led his team in tackles-for-loss with 19.5, and had seven sacks and a safety. With the massive success in 2018 came accolades. Williams was a unanimous first team All-American, a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Bednarik Award and was even discussed as a Heisman candidate.
Quinnen Williams’ 2018 season was probably the most dominant I’ve seen from an Alabama defender in the Nick Saban tenure. And there have been some big seasons out there over the years such as Rolando McClain in 2009 and Jonathan Allen in 2016, and Minkah Fitzpatrick in 2017.
Quinnen Williams features the same toolbox of traits that we’ve seen in other recent Alabama defensive lineman but taken to another level across the board. He dominates with a rare blend of quickness, power, flexibility, processing skills and technique that make him primed for a sensational career as a standout playmaker.
Williams may have emerged from obscurity at Alabama’s defender factory (as obscure as a four-star recruit could be), but by the end of his redshirt sophomore season there was no doubt that he was the best player on the defense. He may not be an elite athlete, but he’s still a very good one—and the level of technical polish (and advanced mental game) he displayed is extraordinary for such a young player.
Williams is that rare, versatile talent on the defense who only shows up once every year or two. He’d fit pretty much every defense with Pro Bowl potential, and would be the perfect match for Buffalo’s missing interior pressure. If he somehow fell down the draft, the Bills drafting him would be a coup.
Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
Coming from a Mike Leach offense, it was always assumed that Dillard would test well in any of the movement and explosion drills at the combine, and his performance definitely did not disappoint. His 40-yard dash, broad jump, 3-cone and 20-yard shuttle were among the best at the event.
From the day he took over, he was an anchor on the line -- which was totally wild, because he was a skinny, athletic kid when he signed. Something like 250 pounds. But he put on a ton of good weight and then was able to retain the athleticism and that’s how a low-three star kid at Washington State becomes a high first round pick in the NFL. There aren’t really moments or legacies for offensive linemen, but he’s a testament to what hard work and determination can do.
Talented four-year starter at left tackle with outstanding feet who offers an instant athletic upgrade for teams getting battered from the blind-side. Because of his scheme, Dillard will be a little behind in terms of his feel for set points and firing off the ball in the run game.
Overall, Dillard surprised me (and more than a few other evaluators) with his impressive game tape. While he wasn’t as highly-thought-of when the offseason began, I think he’s pretty well established as the best senior offensive tackle in the draft (and a first round prospect). His pass protection talent and technique is excellent, and that’s the most important trait for an offensive tackle.
A redshirt senior who had a great week at the Senior Bowl, Dillard is definitely on Buffalo’s radar. His outstanding athletic ability also can’t hurt. The biggest issue might be a positional logjam. Dillard’s best fit is at left tackle. That’s where Dion Dawkins has been playing. If Dawkins moves, where does he go? Right tackle (where Nsekhe would be slated to start)? Left guard (where Quinton Spain was expected to battle Wyatt Teller)? Right guard (Spencer Long)?