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Watch old NFL Drafts to gain perspective: 2019 as 2023
What have we learned from the draft that happened four years ago and how can we apply it to today? Seaside Joe 1467
The first round of the NFL Draft has always been my favorite day of the year, I’m surprised it took me 40 years to realize that I like going back to watch old editions on YouTube. I immediately discovered two things: a) I forgot what I didn’t remember. Makes sense. b) There are so many lessons to learn from the perspective gained by watching the excitement—and the skepticism—from how fans and broadcasters covered the first round of the draft at the time.
Here are just a few of the lessons I’ve learned:
Everybody’s a great player on draft day
“Character concerns” only last if the person keeps them alive & sometimes you didn’t see “character concerns” coming
A “fit today” is often gone tomorrow…”this coach” and “that teammate” could be gone before you know it
I decided to share with you my findings in re-watching the 2019 NFL Draft from only four years ago and I also want to give a glimpse into a prospect from 2019 who is “like” another prospect in 2023. These are not comps! You can watch the entire first round of the 2019 NFL Draft here (can’t embed video, blame the NFL) and if you love the draft, it’ll fly by like a Coen Bros. movie. (No Country, not A Serious Man.)
Like: These are not comps!
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Cardinals - QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
Like: QB Bryce Young, Alabama
It’ll be easy to make out the comments from people who read the names and not the explanation that these are not comparisons. Maybe it’s just one trait, maybe it’s a narrative, maybe it’s a lesson to take from the past, but these are not “comps” so careful with commentary about how “Kyler is better than Bryce because of X, Y, Z”—that’s not the point being made today. There are plenty of other forums and sites to have those arguments.
In 2012, Russell Wilson was a third round pick because of his height. That fear has mostly been dispelled because of Wilson’s success, leading to Kyler, Baker Mayfield, and now potentially Young as number one picks. The entire discussion around Young on draft night will be his size.
49ers - DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State
Like: CB Joey Porter, Jr., Penn State
Is it now well established that these ARE NOT COMPS?
The focal point of Bosa’s selection was that he was a great prospect, sure, but then it turned to his family history in the league: Father John Bosa was a first round pick (not much of a career), uncle Eric was a first round pick (same), his cousin is receiver Jake Kumerow, and obviously his brother is Joey Bosa.
Joey Porter’s NFL lineage is even easier to trace and he could be the first cornerback off the board. The broadcast will likely be talking to Porter, Sr..
Jets - DT Quinnen Williams, Alabama
Like: DT Gervon Dexter, Florida
PFF compares Jalen Carter to Williams, but obviously that’s just on the football field at a certain position. How can we compare their personalities? Quinnen Williams is the most adorable and likeable young defensive player in the NFL. A guy who thanks himself for sneezing.
Dexter isn’t expected to be a first round pick, but like teammate Anthony Richardson (they also played AAU basketball together) he’s got all the traits and not much of the tape. Once an elite recruit (Dexter was five star, Carter was “only” four star in 2020), Dexter’s athleticism is on the same level as Quinnen. He won’t be taken nearly as high.
Raiders - DE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
Like: DE Lukas Van Ness, Iowa
I’m just basing this off of the fact that some people have put Van Ness in the top-10 of their mock drafts and that’s a divisive opinion. Ferrell was a shocking number four pick and the broadcast was like, “Uh yeah, I mean, he’s a good player and I guess he makes more sense in that defense than Josh Allen” which is a lesson to take from this: Don’t draft players for Paul Guenther’s defense.
Or I guess, really, don’t ever draft players this early because they are a “better fit” for a certain system. I think this range should be reserved for players who transcend schemes…and coaches. This is NOT a Lukas Van Ness diss or career prediction. This is not a comp!
Bucs - LB Devin White, LSU
Like: RB Bijan Robinson, Texas
If you just want to draft a highly-respected, productive college football player who is an athlete and should have a high floor at a position not usually picked this high, Robinson fits the mold. White’s career has been good—a Pro Bowl, a Super Bowl, some pass rushing abilities—but there’s a couple schools of thought on how valuable he actually is and what that’s worth to a team. There are lowkey some trade rumors out there because the Bucs could save over $11 million by moving him and letting another team hammer out his next contract.
Tampa Bay couldn’t regret the move, but are there some better names lower on the list? It’s a consideration when teams pick players who are guaranteed to have value but at a position that some say isn’t quite valuable enough.
Giants - QB Daniel Jones, Duke
Like: QB Will Levis, Kentucky
I unlocked a recent bonus article that I wrote on Levis. If you’re a free subscriber and unsure if maybe I’m not hitting home runs behind the paywall, give it a read and decide for yourself.
Are Dimes and Levis similar as quarterbacks? I could see charting a path where a team might have to be as patient with Levis as New York’s had to be with Jones and even then not knowing for sure if he’s a star. That’s just one person’s cursory opinion and it could hardly be held against him.
Jaguars - OLB Josh Allen, Kentucky
Like: OLB Will Anderson, Alabama
Very similar in size and Anderson ran a 4.60 at 253, Allen ran a 4.63 at 262. Allen’s very good, he could still get a lot better. There is definitely a large contingent out there who believes that Allen’s production (14.5 sacks over last two seasons combined) is a similar ceiling to Anderson and not of the “Nick Bosa” conversation. Both also had 17-sack seasons in the SEC.
Lions - TE T.J. Hockenson, Iowa
Like: TE Michael Mayer, Notre Dame
Hockenson is a rare top-10 pick at tight end and there’s an outside chance that Mayer could join that group. Some rate Dalton Kincaid higher, if not another tight end. The depth at the position this year could push all the tight ends down the board a little. These two tight ends are not being comped although interestingly, they both ran a 4.70 and are essentially the exact same size.
Bills - DT Ed Oliver, Houston
Like: DT Calijah Kancey, Pitt
He’s a brick-house sub-290 defensive tackle in the Aaron Donald mold. Also ESPN highlighted how White and Oliver both like horses.
Steelers - LB Devin Bush, Michigan
Like: CB Joey Porter, Jr., Penn State
I’ll go back to the Porter for this one, Bush’s father was a first round pick in 1995 and he won a Super Bowl with the Rams in 1999. The Steelers traded up for a rare top-10 pick in franchise history because they were so hyped on him, but his career-post ACL tear has pushed him to the brink of not making a team next season. It’s a reminder that injuries can hit and derail all players, not just running backs. This is a LEGS LEAGUE and if you lose your speed even by a little bit, that hurts virtually any position. And weird suits only get you so far.
Bengals - OT Jonah Williams, Alabama
Like: OL Peter Skoronski, Northwestern
Pretty straightforward, in the words of Booger McFarland, “I don’t care about his arm length, the guy knows how to pass block.” The talk on Skoronski is his arm length and whether he’s a tackle or a guard. Williams has played tackle in the NFL and specifically he’s now Joe Burrow’s left tackle, with a grade of about…”Eh, he’s good enough.” Is that better than the guard pick coming up at 14?
Packers - LB Rashan Gary, Michigan
Like: DE Myles Murphy, Clemson
I’ll just go with the guy who PFF does comp to Gary in their draft guide. The question on Gary is, “He’s got the athleticism to be special, why doesn’t he have the production?” We saw flashes in his first two years in Green Bay, then he had 9.5 sacks and 28 QB hits in 2021. Gary missed eight games last season with a torn ACL. Will he come back the same?
Dolphins - DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson
Like: DT Bryan Bresee, Clemson
Wilkins was a much better college player than Bresee and these are not comps. The similarity in their situation, besides playing at Clemson, is trying to separate all of these highly-ranked recruits who play next to each other on the same defensive line. We’ve seen that the last couple of years at Georgia, we saw it at Clemson in 2019, and we’re seeing it a little bit at Clemson again with Murphy, Bresee, and Trenton Simpson behind them. Bresee is expected to go much lower than 13. Of the 13 players we’ve seen on this list so far, you could argue that Wilkins is the third-best right now.
Falcons - G Chris Lindstrom, Boston College
Like: RB Bijan Robinson, Texas
I’ll use Bijan again because Boston College is referred to as “OLU” on the broadcast and Lindstrom has since turned into an elite NFL guard. What that’s worth to a team is up for debate, similar to running back. Robinson comes from a “RBU” lineage that includes Ricky Williams, Earl Campbell, Jamaal Charles, and Cedric Benson. Robinson’s career rushing numbers are eerily similar to Charles and he has a higher YPC than all of them.
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Washington Moonballs - QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
Like: C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
Yes, I went there, it’s the easiest place to go. When you decide to play QB at Ohio State, you make the conscious decision to get the most help in college football. That’s a fact: Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and Marvin Harrison, Jr.. Haskins had Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin.
Stroud is attempting to be the first Ohio State quarterback to have passing success at the next level and I hope he does it. (Well, I hope he does it depending on where he lands.)
Note on the QBs: There was talk that Haskins could go to the Giants at six, with the belief being that New York could target Jones at pick 17. At a certain stage of the night, “Why is Drew Lock still available?” became the number one talking point—keep that in mind about QB value leading into draft night. But seriously watch Haskins highlights—his passing highlights, his arm strength, his best deep balls could compete with anybody in the 2023 class.
Panthers - DE Brian Burns, Florida State
Like: DE Will McDonald IV, Iowa State
Questions of being big enough to be a productive edge rusher were on Burns in 2019 and they could follow McDonald this year. Per PFF: “He’s undersized for an edge rusher but wins with speed and by getting into open space.” We might see McDonald sneak into this range of the draft.
Giants - DT Dexter Lawrence, Clemson
Like: DT Jalen Carter, Georgia
I will mention Carter at least a couple of times. Did you remember that Lawrence was suspended for his final game because he tested positive for a substance? Similar to Carter, you could also question Lawrence’s college production and if he got worse as time went on and if he was helped by being on the best college defense. Today, Dexter Lawrence is one of the top defensive linemen in the NFL, coming off a second-team All-Pro nod.
Vikings - C Garrett Bradbury, NC State
Like: C Luke Wypler, Ohio State
They’re both 6’3, 300 lbs, and considered “undersized” but Wypler could end up as the top center in the draft. Bradberry’s career has not been nearly as good as the enthusiasm you can hear from the fans and the broadcast at the time he was drafted. There’s an outside chance that the Seahawks will try to sign him in free agency, as he didn’t get the fifth-year option.
Titans - DL Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi St.
Like: DT Jalen Carter, Georgia
Basically the entire conversation at this pick was centered around a violent fight with a woman from Simmons’ past. When Carter is picked, the conversation will center around his involvement with a car crash that killed two people, including a teammate. This is not a comparison of incidents, it’s just a fact that that’s what ESPN will focus on when he’s drafted, which I think will still be very high because teams will expect people to move on and forget.
Simmons has made the second-team All-Pro roster in each of the last two seasons and he’s set to become one of the highest-paid defensive players in the NFL. That’s what people talk about today.
Broncos - TE Noah Fant, Iowa
Like: TE Sam LaPorta, Iowa
It’s rare to see teammates at the same position be drafted in the same first round. I don’t know if we’re quite there with any prospects in 2023, so I’ll just go back to Iowa for this one: I do think it’s relevant when prospects at the same position come from the same school because those coaches are recruiting players cut from the same cloth, coaching them the same way. LaPorta also does share some other athletic/game similarities to Fant and could sneak into the back end of the first round.
Packers - S Darnell Savage, Maryland
Like: CB Deonte Banks, Maryland
Honestly, this comp wasn’t meant to be because they’re both defensive backs out of Maryland, but I’ll take it. Savage was a late riser after his last college season ended, Banks is on a similar trajectory. Banks could go from day two pick to mid-first round because of elite athleticism. Savage’s career has been so-so and some fans are ready to move on, though the Packers picked up his fifth-year option and have backed him. I find that most late first round picks do not get the fifth-year option and underwhelm to the “first round” label.
Eagles - LT Andre Dillard, Washington State
Like: iOL Cody Mauch, North Dakota State
Dillard went from a non-prospect as a freshman to being really the first true offensive tackle off the board despite starting out at ~240 lbs at college and then adding a lot of weight to get to this position. Dillard has started nine games in four years and it’s not because of injuries. Mauch started his college career as a 221 lb TE and he gained 80 lbs to become one of the top tackles and he could move inside in the NFL.
Texans - OL Tytus Howard, Alabama St.
Like: O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida
Torrence wasn’t much of an NFL prospect, went to Louisiana-Lafayette, and now he’s a lot of people’s top guard in the draft. Howard also has a small school background, he’s moved around the offensive line in the NFL and he’s had a so-so career.
Raiders - RB Josh Jacobs, Alabama
Like: RB Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama
Jacobs entered his final college season at Alabama expected to be well behind Damien Harris, but he ultimately became the only first round running back in 2019. (They also shared the backfield with Najee Harris and Brian Robinson, with Tua Tagovailoa, Mac Jones, and Jalen Hurts at QB…and Jerry Jeudy, Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith, and Henry Ruggs at WR…. Cancel Nick Saban.) Gibbs transferred from Georgia Tech and took over to put himself into position to be the second RB drafted in 2023.
Seaside Joe wants to hit 2,000 subscribers by the draft! Here’s one of those telethon temp charts from TV shows to show our progress (ignore the dollar signs):
Ravens - WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma
Like: WR Quentin Johnston, TCU
Brown was the first receiver drafted and there was some talk that maybe no recievers would go on day one, with “Brown as the one receiver who truly belongs in the first round” per Todd McShay. Amazing when you consider the receivers who went on day two, including DK Metcalf. This class is kind of similar, there isn’t a lot of first round hype on any but Johnston may end up as the consensus WR1. Will day two be the real time to go shopping?
Moonballs - DE Montez Sweat, Mississippi St.
Like: CB Cam Smith, South Carolina
It’s a little much to bring back Jalen Carter again, so I’ll use another example for a 2023 prospect being mentioned alongside “character concerns”, which is Cam Smith. Allegedly! Montez Sweat could have been a top-10 pick, he was a freak at the combine, but there were double concerns with his character and a heart condition. I didn’t remember either “red flags” for Sweat and now he’s one of the top edge rushers in the NFL.
Raiders - S Johnathan Abram, Mississippi St.
Like: S Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M
ESPN cited Abram’s hitting and that was the same praise that Johnson got from former NFL cornerback Samari Rolle recently. “I believe Johnson will be the best rookie defensive back in the NFL next season. NFL ready? He’s got the frame (6-foot-3), the size (200 pounds), and he played in the SEC. He’s not afraid. If you watch his film, he played his best in the biggest games.”
Seahawks? He could literally replace…Johnathan Abram.
Chargers - DT Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame
Like: DL Keion White, Georgia Tech
Tillery converted from offensive line to defensive line, had an inconsistent career, measured 6’6, 295, great traits projected to the next level but a little on the older side. White converted from OL to DL, not really “inconsistent” as much as he missed two years, 6’5, 286, great traits projected to the next level but a little on the older side.
Seahawks - DE L.J. Collier, TCU
Like: DE Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech
When Seattle was on the board, the broadcast mentioned that DK Metcalf would make a lot of sense for them at 29. What a steal at 64! I have to give Louis Riddick some credit for his performance in 2019, he said that he wasn’t sure that Collier “had the juice” to be a first round pick.
I’m really not being mean by bringing up Wilson, he IS a better prospect and he could be a much better NFL player. But I have to call back my own article on the last two Big 12 edge rushers to be picked in the first round being Collier and Bruce Irvin. For pain, here’s what ESPN showed:
Giants - CB DeAndre Baker, Georgia
Like: CB Kelee Ringo, Georgia
For all the character concerns we hear every year, that wasn’t the narrative on Baker. You just can’t pretend to know what the future will bring and Baker’s 2020 arrest for armed robbery (alongside Seattle’s Quinton Dunbar) led to being waived by the Giants and though the charges were dropped, he’s been a free agent for a while. And yeah, just going Georgia-Georgia CBs.
Falcons - OT Kaleb Mcgary, Washington
Like: OT Darnell Wright, Tennessee
Both very tall tackles, Wright is bigger and gaining steam leading into the draft. He could end up as a first rounder and he met with Seattle. McGary didn’t get the 5th year option but had a career-year in 2022 and is a FA.
Patriots - WR N’Keal Harry, Arizona State
Like: WR Jordan Addison, USC
Everybody’s “good” on the first night of the draft! You think any Patriots fans were thinking that Harry’s skills wouldn’t translate with Tom Brady? The receivers who didn’t get drafted on day one: Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown, Metcalf, Dionte Johnson, and McLaurin! And I didn’t hear any of their names mentioned except for Metcalf! There was a lot to like about Harry—character, size, production—but also questions about athleticism, route running. Addison has the route running, but questions about athleticism, size, and if he’ll be productive at the next level. He could sneak into the first round.