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The 2019 NFL Draft explained for fans who don’t watch much college football

If you haven’t had much time to learn about the 2019 NFL Draft class, now’s the time to get caught up.

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Hello there, NFL fan. Keeping up with your favorite team, your fantasy team, and all the other games on Sundays, Mondays, Thursday, and sometimes Saturdays can be a full-time chore.

It’d be perfectly understandable if you didn’t have enough time on top of that to also pay attention to the crop of players hitting the 2019 NFL Draft.

Well luckily for you, we’re here to help. You’ve got questions about the draft this upcoming April? We’ve got answers.

What are the important days on the schedule?

The countdown is until Thursday, April 25. That’s when the first round gets started in Nashville. It’s followed by Rounds 2 and 3 on Friday, April 26 and the last four rounds on Saturday, April 27.

But before that, there’s the 2019 NFL Combine that starts Tuesday, Feb. 26. Or at least, that’s when the players start arriving in Indianapolis. You can really start paying attention on March 1 — that’s when they’ll start running 40-yard dashes and doing drills.

Wait ... Nashville?

Yep. The NFL Draft was in New York City for more than five decades before it started bouncing around the country. It made stops in Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, and now it’ll be in Nashville next.

According to The Tennessean, the Titans sold the NFL on the idea of hosting the draft in their home city by getting 20,000 fans to show up to the unveiling of a new uniform design that had already been leaked.

So yeah, even if this draft doesn’t have a David Akers-taunting-Cowboys-fans moment, you should still expect it to be pretty wild.

OK, let’s talk about the players. That Kyler Murray guy is really gonna do this, eh?

The 2018 Heisman Trophy winner was also a top-10 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. The presumption for a while was that he’d play one more season of college football at Oklahoma and then join the Oakland A’s system as a promising, young outfielder in 2019.

But then he went and threw 42 touchdown passes, won the most prestigious award in college football, and suddenly it made more financial sense to try his luck in the NFL.

He entered the NFL Draft in January but really made his decision clear in February, when he released a statement that said he’s “firmly and fully committing [his] life and time to becoming an NFL quarterback.”

So that’s that. No baseball.

Any chance Kyler Murray is the No. 1 pick?

No, probably not. There’s a little smoke to that fire, though.

Here’s Kliff Kingsbury — the new coach of the Arizona Cardinals — telling a reporter in October that he’d take Murray with the first pick in the NFL Draft if he could.

And guess who has the first pick? That’s right, the Cardinals.

Kingsbury’s going to have his chance to take Murray and oddsmakers think there’s a good chance it happens, especially now that they share an agent. But here are a few reasons you shouldn’t count on it:

  1. General manager Steve Keim is still the one drafting for the Cardinals. Kingsbury is part of the equation, but the new coach doesn’t get to unilaterally pick his favorites.
  2. Keim just took Josh Rosen with a top-10 pick last year after trading away third- and fifth-round picks to move up in the draft order. Rosen didn’t look good as a rookie, but it’s way too early to give up on him. The only way Murray would make sense is if they found a trade partner who wanted Rosen. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport says a high-ranking Cardinals official told him that idea is “ludicrous.”
  3. Kingsbury was mostly hired to fix and help Rosen. He’s made it clear that “Josh is our guy.”
  4. Kingsbury was a college coach talking up an upcoming opponent. He had no idea he’d actually have the chance to draft a player.
  5. Murray might not even be worth that anyway. He’s a 5’10, 195-pound quarterback with only one full year of starting experience. Even if the Cardinals didn’t have Rosen on the roster, taking Murray would be a gigantic risk.

So who’s going to be the No. 1 pick then?

Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa is the best bet.

Is he related to the ChargersJoey Bosa?

He sure is. Nick is the younger of the Bosa brothers and may be the better player too.

“The younger Bosa is not simply a carbon copy of his bigger brother, Joey Bosa of the Los Angeles Chargers,” Dan Kadar wrote back in August. “Nick Bosa is a little faster and gets lower bending the edge with more flexibility. He’s coming off a sophomore season with 16 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. He also has excellent handwork, and sheds blockers quickly.”

Their father, John Bosa, was a first-round pick for the Dolphins in 1987, but played only three seasons in the NFL before knee injuries ended his career.

Nick Bosa to the Cardinals is a lock then?

It’s not quite a Myles Garrett- or Andrew Luck-esque guarantee, but the odds are literally pretty good that Arizona will go with Bosa — even if he missed most of the 2018 season with a core muscle injury.

Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams — a one-man wrecking crew who is also very much worthy of a No. 1 pick — is the only one in striking range.

Josh Allen? Again?

Yeah, but this is a very different Josh Allen.

Last year, it was a tall quarterback with a cannon for an arm who got picked in the top 10 despite being not all that good at Wyoming.

This time, it’s Josh Allen, the 6’5 Kentucky pass rusher who was once a two-star recruit for a bunch of reasons you can read about here. He had 21.5 tackles for loss and 17 sacks this season.

Allen and Bosa aren’t the only familiar-sounding names in the class. There’s Greg Little (Ole Miss offensive tackle), Michael Jordan (Ohio State offensive tackle), and Arkansas defensive tackle Armon Watts, who is somehow of no relation to Chiefs safety Armani Watts.

Calvin Ridley’s brother Riley Ridley, Evander Holyfield’s son Elijah Holyfield, and Vincent Papale’s son Vinny Papale are three more draft hopefuls.

I’m not hearing much about quarterbacks. None are worth taking with the top pick?

The top three picks belong to the Cardinals, 49ers, and Jets.

  • Arizona drafted Josh Rosen at No. 10 overall in 2018.
  • San Francisco gave Jimmy Garoppolo a five-year, $137.5 million in 2018.
  • New York drafted Sam Darnold at No. 3 overall in 2018.

Barring something shocking — like Kingsbury banging the table for Murray — none of those teams will be in the market for a new passer. So there probably won’t be a quarterback in the top three unless a team comes flying up the draft order. A trade in the top three picks for a passer has happened in each of the last three drafts, though.

Is there a quarterback worth that?

Maybe? It’d depend on what you think of Kyler Murray, Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, and maybe Missouri’s Drew Lock.

Tell me more about this quarterback class.

It’s not on par with the 2018 class, which had four quarterbacks in the top 10 and five in the first round. In Dan Kadar’s latest mock draft, there are just three in the first round: Haskins, Lock, and Murray — in that order.

Here’s a quick breakdown of those three and Duke’s Daniel Jones, who could be a wild card:

  • Haskins fits the franchise quarterback bill at 6’3, 220 pounds with a strong arm and the ability to dice up defenses from the pocket. He put up huge numbers in 2018, but it was his only year as a starter and he entered the 2019 NFL Draft after his redshirt sophomore season. That inexperience could explain some inconsistencies to his play and his difficulties dealing with pass rushers. He still completed 70 percent of his passes with 50 touchdowns and eight interceptions, though. He also had a 13-1 record in 2018, so those negatives aren’t that pronounced. He’s athletic, and — despite what Stephen A. Smith might have you believe — he’s closer to an Air Raid quarterback than your typical Urban Meyer running quarterback.
  • Lock also looks the part at 6’4, 225 pounds with arguably the best arm in the draft class. He’s excellent at making throws down the field, but he also struggles with accuracy on throws that should be easy. It even landed him on Pro Football Focus’ list of the most overhyped prospects of the class. Still, it’ll only take one team to fall in love with his huge upside. He also comes with a dash of Baker Mayfield-y swagger, including a signature dance that got mocked by an opposing coach.
  • Murray’s going to be the lightning rod of the class. He’s an electrifying player with the speed and arm of an MLB outfielder. No, really he could actually go make millions as an MLB outfielder, even though he opted against it. But he’s also 5’10, 195 pounds with one year of experience as a full-time starter. The skills that made him unstoppable at Oklahoma might not transfer all that well to the NFL.
  • Jones got a bunch of Peyton Manning comparisons during his final bowl game and that’s mostly because he’s a 6’5 guy who kinda looks like Peyton Manning when he’s in uniform. He was also developed by Duke head coach David Cutcliffe — the man who helped groom both Eli and Peyton Manning in college. Jones is another player on PFF’s overhyped list and got there with a relatively strong final season. Jones represents big potential, but he didn’t make nearly enough plays to inspire confidence that he’s an NFL quarterback.

After that there’s a group of passers like NC State’s Ryan Finley, West Virginia’s Will Grier, Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham, and Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson who will likely be mid-round selections.

So not the greatest year to need a quarterback?

Yeah, not so much. This is the draft to load up on linemen.

Oh? Linemen are good to have.

They are! It isn’t the sexiest position to spend a first-round pick on, but ESPN’s Todd McShay has linemen as the entire top five in his latest mock draft.

Kadar has seven in the top 10 of his latest mock draft and 18 in the first round. That includes offensive linemen, but most of all, it’ll be pass rushers and defensive linemen who dominate the first round. All of these guys are in the first round of Kadar’s mock:

  • Nick Bosa, Ohio State
  • Josh Allen, Kentucky
  • Quinnen Williams, Alabama
  • Rashan Gary, Michigan
  • Ed Oliver, Houston
  • Jachai Polite, Florida
  • Christian Wilkins, Clemson
  • Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
  • Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
  • Brian Burns, Florida State
  • Dexter Lawrence, Clemson
  • Zach Allen, Boston College

Oliver’s an interesting one, in particular. He plays defensive tackle in a unique way no coach would teach, and few players could actually pull off. He also missed much of his final season at Houston with a knee injury and got into a weird dispute with his coach over wearing a jacket on the sideline.

Sheesh, that’s a lot of Clemson!

Not exactly surprising Clemson won a national championship with three first-round picks on the defensive line and a ridiculously great freshman quarterback, huh?

The whole line was unstoppable.

So that’s it then? No Shaquem Griffin story I should know about?

No, nothing quite that cool.

The best cornerback in the class is named Greedy Williams, which is about as perfect a name I can imagine for a defensive back — especially if he gets burned on double moves every once in a while.

LSU linebacker Devin White somehow owns seven horses.

Clemson’s Hunter Renfrow is the obvious Patriots wide receiver of the draft class. Last year it was Braxton Berrios, and you can bet that Renfrow will absolutely be catching passes from Tom Brady in the fall.

Any not so cool stories?

Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons is a name you’ll hear plenty too. He tore his ACL this month and will be sidelined for the whole pre-draft process. Simmons was already going to miss the NFL Combine due to an assault charge from 2016 after he was seen on camera punching a woman. Despite those gigantic red flags, the defensive tackle has the type of talent that could get him a spot in the first round anyway.

OK, is THAT it?

Yep. The draft order is right here — with zero first-round picks for the Bears, Cowboys, and Saints, and three first-rounders for the Raiders.

Buckle up for the wackiest two months of the NFL year.