Updated Jan. 22, 2019
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.
With all the general managers, coaches and scouts in attendance for the Senior Bowl, there is a lot of chatter going around. Here are some more of the highlights from around the league during the first day of the 2019 Senior Bowl week.
Leading up to the 2019 NFL Draft, one of the most high-profile prospects and most heavily debated will be Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray. After winning the Heisman Trophy in his only year as a starter, Murray decided to enter the 2019 NFL Draft. Multiple team sources, including a few general managers, said they had Murray graded in the second round but believed a team would reach for him in Round 1.
"[Murray] should be playing pro sports on this field," said one GM of a quarterback-needy team at Tropicana Field during the East-West Shrine practices. "You're going to have to change a huge amount of your offense for him. He's too short, so you can't put him under center and do a three-step drop. He's too short to see through 6-foot-5 offensive linemen and defenders getting their hands up. Those west coast offense plays are out the window with him. You have to build the system for him, and he is not a plug-and-play in a pro system like an Andrew Luck, Carson Wentz, Jameis Winston, [Matthew] Stafford, etc. You also are going to be presented with problems for the backup quarterback because Murray is so unique and you won't be able to find a backup that can duplicate what he does. If Murray gets hurt, you may to do a huge overhaul to the offense in order to suit the backup. [Murray] has a good arm and he's athletic, but you have to really commit to him and build everything around him if you're going to take him."
Many other team sources thought Murray should have played baseball from a business-decision perspective, but everyone agreed he has to follow his heart and do what he wants to do. Even with skeptics, the expectation is that Murray will go in the first round. All bets are off as far as how high he could go.
There are a number of quarterback-needy teams with top-16 picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, and in speaking to some sources, here are some early feelings of interest that I've heard about. Barring a trade, the Giants are the first team that could pull the trigger on a quarterback. I've heard from sources that New York likes Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins, Duke's Daniel Jones, and Murray. Staying in the NFC East, I've heard the Redskins like Jones but think he won't get to their pick at No. 16; they expect him to be a top-10 selection. My good friend Cecil Lammey has reported on his radio show that the Broncos like Missouri quarterback Drew Lock. Lammey accurately predicted the Broncos would take Bradley Chubb last year and Garett Bolles the previous year, so to say that Lammey is tied into the Broncos is a massive understatement. Of course a lot can and will change in the leadup to the draft, but right now, those are some of the quarterback crushes I have heard about.
Entering the 2018 college football season, WalterFootball.com wrote in the Hot Press how team sources thought the 2019 NFL Draft could be a legendary year for defensive line talent. Other media reported the same thing because it looked like a special class of defensive line prospects could enter the draft. In speaking with a general manager at the East-West Shrine, they said the defensive line class did not materialize as everyone thought it would. Instead of being legendary, it is good, but not elite or rare. Having Alabama defensive tackle Raekwon Davis and Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown go back to school hurt the class quality significantly, as both of them were top-20 talents.
Overall, team sources say the 2019 NFL Draft is average or perhaps a little below average at every position except on the defensive line, which is above average but not legendary. They say this is not a very good draft in the first round if you do not need defensive line talent.
Last year, the Georgia running back duo of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb were a special tandem that went late in the first round - Michel - and early in the second round - Chubb. Team sources see the same potential in the 2019 NFL Draft with the Alabama tandem of Josh Jacobs and Damien Harris. The sources believe that Jacobs could be the back who goes on Thursday night while Harris could go early in the second round. Jacobs has a better skill set, less wear-and-tear, and a unique combination of size and speed. Thus, he is expected to go off the board first. Meanwhile, Harris is a well-balanced runner with receiving skills and three-down starting potential. Like the Georgia tandem, the Alabama starter could be the second player selected with the backup going higher because of that edge in skill set.