Every year before the college football season essentially every sports media outlet releases some sort of All-American team. These All-American teams are theoretically made up of the best college football players at each position in the country, but what if they aren’t? What if they’re generally just the biggest stat producing players/most well-known names at each position. That’s where the NFL Draft Preseason All-American team comes in. This isn’t your older brothers All-American team. This isn’t a play that will mention Will Grier, Bryce Love, or TJ Edwards. The NFL Draft Preseason All-American team is all about the tape and all about being the best looking player at your position, right now, for the upcoming NFL Draft.
QB- Justin Herbert, Oregon, Jr
In a murky 2019 quarterback class, Justin Herbert is the alpha. Not only does he look the part (he’s reportedly up to 240 pounds), but he has all the physical tools NFL teams covet. With Willie Taggart gone and Marcus Arroyo calling the plays for the Ducks it’ll be huge for Herbert to show he can adjust quickly to a new system. As long as he’s healthy he should be able to put up strong numbers. Herbert is known for his size, but his arm strength is live with zippy velocity and his movement skills are perfect for the modern NFL. He’s not a guy anyone’s got pegged as a preseason All-American, but he’s definitely a guy NFL teams will be looking at early in the draft.
Pro Comparison: Carson Wentz
Stat Projection: 3,250 yards passing; 33 passing TDs; 8 INTs; 325 yards rushing; 6 rushing TDs
Honorable Mention: Brian Lewerke, Michigan State
RB- David Montgomery, Iowa State, Jr
The hype train for Iowa State RB David Montgomery has taken off. Runs like this are why. His explosiveness in the open field is awesome. Always looking to create more with beautiful cutbacks. pic.twitter.com/4PfrO7fWeD
— Rob Paul (@RobPaul54) July 29, 2018
Last season Iowa State became a team people feared playing, seemingly out of nowhere. Their impressive defense had a lot to do with it, but the most catastrophic Cyclone in 2017 was running back David Montgomery. You’ll be hard pressed to find a prospect with better contact balance than him as he bounces off every defender. Along with his power he possesses surprising elusiveness and burst, and, as a result is capable of busting off big runs. At times head coach Matt Campbell will even line up the 5-11, 225 pound bruiser at receiver because of his ability as a pass catcher. Montgomery is the key to another 8+ win season in Ames.
Pro Comparison: Frank Gore
Stat Projection: 1,495 yards rushing; 14 rushing TDs; 39 receptions; 331 yards receiving; 2 receiving TDs
Honorable Mention: Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma
RB- Damien Harris, Alabama, Sr
Surprise surprise, Alabama has another running back. Quietly, Damien Harris has hit the 1K rushing mark each of the last two seasons, and there’s no reason he won’t again in 2018. Harris could have been one of the first running backs taken in the 2018 NFL Draft, but elected to return to the Crimson Tide. He won’t be the most talked about Bama player, but he is one of the most entertaining as he can do a bit of everything. Harris has the vision needed to perform in the NFL, the quick feet to make defenders miss, and the power to run over tacklers when necessary. With the recent trend of teams taking running backs early, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Harris be the first back from Tuscaloosa taken in the first-round since Trent Richardson.
Pro Comparison: Ray Rice
Stat Projection: 1,120 yards rushing; 12 rushing TDs; 20 receptions; 150 yards receiving; 1 receiving TD
Honorable Mention: Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M
AP- Myles Gaskin, Washington, Sr
Washington RB Myles Gaskin breaks off big plays at least once per game. Has elite quickness, elusiveness, and burst. Also has plus receiving ability. Big fan of his game. pic.twitter.com/tua99eQAot
— Rob Paul (@RobPaul54) May 6, 2018
First of all, we need to give the undersized, quick, pass catching running backs an official title. Are they “scatbacks,” “air backs,” or “satellite backs”? Whichever we go with, that’s Myles Gaskin’s position. Gaskin has been a historically dominant running back in the Pac-12, topping 1,300 yards rushing in all three of his seasons for the Huskies. Gaskin is undersized, but his quickness and elusiveness make him hard to bring down. He’s known for ripping off chunk runs and despite not being asked to catch a ton of passes, he has a ton of ability in the passing game. A guy with Gaskin’s skillset might not be a bell cow in the league, but he can be a major contributor.
Pro Comparison: Jahvid Best
Stat Projection: 1,365 yards rushing; 20 rushing TDs; 30 receptions; 360 yards receiving; 4 receiving TDs
Honorable Mention: Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
WR- N’Keal Harry, Arizona State, Jr
N'Keal Harry is always open. Even when he doesn't have much separation his ability to make ball adjustments makes up for it. Reminds me of DeAndre Hopkins… pic.twitter.com/rTkwNm0n4Y
— Rob Paul (@RobPaul54) May 1, 2018
There are many reasons to tune into Arizona State games with season. Like, to see Herm Edwards coach football, watch Manny Wilkins make wow plays, or see one of the drunkest student sections. But the best reason is to watch N’Keal Harry dominate opponents. Harry is like a grown man playing receiver against little boys. He’s a physical monster with the size and hands NFL teams spend a top 10 pick on. At least once a game Harry will make an adjustment to a ball that makes you stand up; he’s just got a knack for going up and getting it. The 2019 wide receiver class is already looking like a great one and Harry is the man at the top. He has all the things a franchise pass catcher needs with his size, natural hands, ability to find the ball no matter what, and he can push defenders around after the catch. This is the guy who NFL quarterbacks hope their GM selects next April.
Pro Comparison: DeAndre Hopkins
Stat Projection: 91 receptions; 1,274 yards receiving; 12 receiving TDs
Honorable Mention: Collin Johnson, Texas
WR- AJ Brown, Ole Miss, Jr
It’s weird how much hype surrounds AJ Brown. It’s only weird because he plays primarily in the slot, but is touted as this game breaking prototypical pass catcher. Brown isn’t the guy who attacks corners on the outside. He’s a massive slot that wins with strong hands, consistent routes, and being the quarterback’s best friend. In the NFL he’ll be a safety blank for a quarterback with some big play ability. Get him working underneath routes before unleashing him on a deep shot. He’s always adjusting to off target passes and fighting through defensive backs to come down with balls. There are some questions about his athleticism, but he’s the centerpiece of the Rebels offense.
Pro Comparison: JuJu Smith-Schuster
Stat Projection: 90 receptions; 1,260 yards receiving; 10 receiving TDs
Honorable Mention: Kelvin Harmon, North Carolina State
When you play tight end at Iowa you’re generally expected to be a great blocker and a competent pass catcher. Well, after scoring 11 touchdowns as a true Sophomore, Noah Fant isn’t your average Iowa tight end. Fant is a freak athlete who makes plays downfield for the Hawkeyes. He has the speed, separation, and route running ability to get himself open and the athleticism to out jump anybody covering him. Despite being known as freaky receiving tight end, Fant puts the effort in as a blocker. It may not be the cleanest blocking, but the groundwork is there for him to be competent. Iowa needs to make him there go-to guy in the passing game and we might just seem him taken in the first-round.
Pro Comparison: Delanie Walker
Stat Projection: 40 receptions; 600 yards receiving; 13 receiving TDs
Honorable Mention: Caleb Wilson, UCLA
OT- Jonah Williams, Alabama, Jr
Every year teams who have solidified their quarterback position are looking for a franchise left tackle to protect their goods. It’s not every year we have a player worthy of being taken top 10 to fill that need, this year we have Jonah Williams. Williams isn’t necessarily the prototypical blindside protector. He isn’t a freaky athlete with a ton of length, but he is a mean and powerful player who wins with technique. For Alabama, Williams is always opening up huge running lanes and finishing plays, he’ll even go through the whistle. He’s the type of mean SOB that other linemen feed off of late in the game. For Williams to lock down the top tackle prospect spot, he’ll need to work on his footwork and consistency in pass protection.
Pro Comparison: Andrew Whitworth
Honorable Mention: David Edwards, Wisconsin
OT- Greg Little, Ole Miss, Jr
The main competition to be the top left tackle in the 2019 NFL Draft is Ole Miss’ Greg Little. Unlike Williams, Little has more questionable technique, but more upside with his athleticism. Like Williams, Little is a mean run mauler at tackle who plays through the whistle and often works his way up to the second level of defenses. He’s going to be the key to Ole Miss’ consistency as an offense. With so much skill in terms of pass catchers, the Rebels will rely on him keeping Jordan Ta’amu clean. Williams has the demeanor and athleticism to be a franchise guy. He just needs to work on consistency in his footwork and lower body strength when anchoring down in pass pro.
Pro Comparison: Trent Williams
Honorable Mention: Yodny Cajuste, West Virginia
OG- Nate Herbig, Stanford, Jr
Few teams consistently put out as many talented offensive linemen as Stanford. Their pro-style run-first approach relies heavily on interior offensive line play to consistently win. With all three of their interior O-linemen looking like future NFL players, Nate Herbig is the headliner. Herbig is built like a fridge and knows how to use his size and strength. Often you’ll see him finishing on top of defenders and always playing through the whistle. He’s a big mean hog molly. Despite his size, Herbig moves pretty well. He’s terrific when asked to pull outside and make lead blocks and usually finds his way to the linebackers on the second level when he needs to. Herbig is going to be a huge part of the reason Stanford contends for a Pac-12 title and Bryce Love contends for a Heisman.
Pro Comparison: Josh Sitton
Honorable Mention: Michael Dieter, Wisconsin
OG- Beau Benzschawel, Wisconsin, RS Jr
If Stanford has one of the best offensive lines in college football, Wisconsin has THE best. It’s hard to say who’s the most talented along the line. Right tackle David Edwards is an athletic marvel with major upside, Michael Dieter can play all five positions and is a punishing run mauler, and Beau Benzschawel is a technician and finisher. Benzschawel might not have the most hype, but his hand use is off the charts. Once he gets his hands on a defender it’s over and he’ll drive them until the play is over. When on the move he has no problem making blocks to setup huge runs. His ability in the run game is awesome, but he has some of the better footwork you’ll find from a guard in pass pro. If Benzschawel can play lower more consistently and gets strong when anchoring down, he could end up the top guard.
Pro Comparison: David DeCastro
Honorable Mention: Michael Jordan, Ohio State
C- Dalton Risner, Kansas State, RS Sr
Technically, Dalton Risner isn’t a center, at least he isn’t right now. Currently, Risner is expected to start at right tackle for the third straight season for the Wildcats. In 2015, as a RS Freshman, Risner was K-State’s starting center, and that’s where he projects right now for the NFL. Risner is capable of playing anywhere, but center seems right for him. He has clean technique in pass pro, with solid footwork and fantastic hand placement. Those hands are strong enough to lock down most the defenders in the country. In the run game, Risner plays with strong hands and good leverage to drive through defensive linemen. His athleticism is a question that will probably project him inside in the NFL.
Pro Comparison: Cody Whitehair
Honorable Mention: Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin
ED- Nick Bosa, Ohio State, Jr
There are few prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft with first-round grades and even fewer who look elite already. Nick Bosa falls in both categories. Bosa is the type of defensive player that can turn a franchise around. He might be the cleanest prospect in the draft with no true hole in his game. Like his older brother, Bosa is a sack artist with elite hand use and multiple pass rushing moves. If his initial move is stopped, he has secondary moves and the motor to still beat the offensive lineman. For an edge player to have as much power and strength as a pass rusher is rare. Bosa can drive offensive tackles back into their quarterbacks laps. Against the run, Bosa is just as good. With a strong understanding and ability to set the edge, while also fighting through double teams to stop plays in the backfield. If there’s any question at all, and this is just nitpicking, he isn’t the most flexible player bending the edge. Ohio State has one of the countries most talented defenses and with some questions at quarterback and Urban Meyer’s status up in the air, Bosa will need to carry the Buckeyes.
Pro Comparison: Joey Bosa
Stat Projection: 56 tackles; 22 TFLs; 11.5 sacks
Honorable Mention: Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
IDL- Ed Oliver, Houston, Jr
So, Nick Bosa is one of two elite players right now, the other is Ed Oliver. In the mould of the new wave freak 3-techniques like Aaron Donald, Geno Atkins, and Grady Jarrett, Oliver could be a top 5 pick. Since his first game at Houston, where Oliver destroyed Oklahoma’s offense in an upset win, he has been touted as a future top pick. Oliver is a freak, there’s no other word to describe him and what he does on the football field. There are few men in this world built like him with the explosion, quickness, and non-stop motor. Oliver is a tone-setter every play. He can win with initial quickness and explosion because of his elite athleticism. If that doesn’t work, Oliver has violent hands and a whole ton of power, thanks to his low leverage. Even being a pass rushing 3-tech, Oliver is disruptive against the run. He takes on, and beats, double teams all of the time. Using his leverage, power, and motor, he blows up plenty of plays in the backfield. Oliver is the best player in Houston history and can have a season like Ndamukong Suh’s 2009.
Pro Comparison: Aaron Donald
Stat Projection: 78 tackles; 28 TFLs; 7 sacks
Honorable Mention: Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State
IDL- Christian Wilkins, Clemson, Sr
The Clemson defensive line as a whole in college football is elite, but as individual 2019 NFL Draft prospects, it’s sort of overrated. Clelin Ferrell is the only one who looks like a sure-fire first-round pick. Right now, Christian Wilkins sits as the second best interior defensive lineman in the country after Oliver. Wilkins has the ability, but he hasn’t been able to put it all together for a full season at Clemson. There will be flashes of brilliance for stretches and then he’ll disappear for an entire quarter. There’s no denying his explosiveness off the line and quickness to beat offensive linemen, but too often he gets locked up and shutdown. The athleticism and ability to play with low leverage is encouraging, but for the Tigers they’ll need Wilkins to show up every week for all four quarters.
Pro Comparison: Gerald McCoy
Stat Projection: 65 tackles; 12 TFLs; 6 sacks
Honorable Mention: Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio State
ED- Rashan Gary, Michigan, Jr
Every Ohio State fan will be in on Bosa, but there’s no way Michigan fans won’t be bringing up super freak Rashan Gary. Gary is a versatile defensive lineman who can play almost anywhere. His athleticism at that size makes him a potential first-round pick alone. Gary is far from the NFL-ready prospect that Bosa is, but he can get there. With rare explosiveness, heavy hands, and power, Gary has the NFL tools. He hasn’t been an every down player consistently at Michigan, but this should be the year. If he can show some more flexibility, consistency, and multiple pass rush moves this year, being a top 10 pick is possible.
Pro Comparison: Cameron Jordan
Stat Projection: 60 tackles; 15 TFLs; 8 sacks
Honorable Mention: Brian Burns, Florida State
WLB- Devin Bush Jr., Michigan, Jr
Similarly, to Michigan teammate Rashan Gary, linebacker Devin Bush has the tools to be an NFL playmaker. Bush is a thick, but twitchy linebacker who can roam sideline-to-sideline. Against the run he has the athleticism to get there early and the aggressiveness to finish. His main issue is with getting off his blocks consistently. At times, Bush will get swallowed by offensive linemen. On top of that his instincts aren’t top notch and sometimes put him out of position. On the other hand, his explosiveness, coverage ability, and range are perfect for today’s NFL. Bush is the leader of a crazy talented Wolverines defense.
Pro Comparison: Myles Jack
Stat Projection: 104 tackles; 11.5 TFLs; 6 sacks; 1 INT
Honorable Mention: Troy Dye, Oregon
MLB- Devin White, LSU, Jr
Here's Devin White getting involved in coverage. Breaks up a pass on 4th down vs Florida to seal the win for LSU. White is a complete LB and looks like a future top 15 pick… pic.twitter.com/UuBtWWv6ob
— Rob Paul (@RobPaul54) May 4, 2018
It seems every season there’s one linebacker with the athleticism and aggressiveness to have every NFL scouts mouth watering. LSU has that guy in Devin White. Linebackers may be somewhat devalued these days, but right now, White looks like a top 10 pick. He has a rare combination of explosiveness, range, non-stop motor, and aggressiveness. Overall, he might have more ability than Roquan Smith. He rarely misses tackles and when he gets there, it’s like a car wreck with the way he hits people. In man coverage White can hold his own versus tight ends and running backs. In zone he does a good job as a traffic cop and often gets in passing lanes. The two things for him to improve on to become an elite prospect are his instincts and shedding blocks.
Pro Comparison: Bobby Wagner
Stat Projection: 140 tackles; 14 TFLs; 5 sacks; 2 INTs
Honorable Mention: Mack Wilson, Alabama
SLB- Josh Allen, Kentucky, Sr
The term tweener is thrown around a lot, especially with edge rushers who might be better off as off-ball linebackers. Well, at Kentucky they basically use Josh Allen in a tweener role. They have him play everywhere from the edge to an overhang role. This is how the Wildcats take advantage of his size and athleticism. Players like Allen are becoming more and more important in the NFL. With fantastic explosion coming forward and a few pass rush moves, Allen is able to get after the quarterback. When asked to drop into coverage, he moves well in space and is solid shadowing tight ends. Against the run he uses his range and motor to make plays. For Allen this year he’ll need to step up his hand use, set the edge more consistently, and miss fewer tackles. Quietly Allen leads a talent heavy Kentucky defense.
Pro Comparison: D’Vondre Campbell
Stat Projection: 71 tackles; 12 TFLs; 8 sacks; 1 INT
Honorable Mention: Cameron Smith, USC
CB- Michael Jackson, Miami, Sr
Plenty of cornerbacks have been hyped already for the 2019 NFL Draft, but none are more pro-ready than Michael Jackson right now. He isn’t as flashy as other corners, but Jackson is consistent and brings few flaws. He’s a long corner who uses his length for an aggressive jam when in press. Jackson isn’t a great athlete, but his press technique paired with clean feet and an understanding of how to mirror a receiver in man and read a quarterback in zone make him an intriguing player. One of the best parts of his game is his willingness as a tackler. Often he’s coming up and making plays against the run with aggressiveness and consistent tackling. His hips aren’t as fluid as teams will like and there may be some athleticism questions, but Jackson understands how to play the positon.
Pro Comparison: Josh Norman
Stat Projection: 52 tackles; 4 TFLs; 1 sack; 6 INTs; 8 PDs
Honorable Mention: Deandre Baker, Georgia
CB- Andraez “Greedy” Williams, LSU, RS So
There isn’t a better nickname in college football than, “Greedy.” There also isn’t a flashier and fun cornerback in college football than Andraez “Greedy” Williams. Greedy is a playmaker and that’s probably why he receives so much hype. His ball skills are big time and if a quarterback hangs it up around him, it’s game over. With his long lean build, Williams is a great moving athlete with fluid hips and quick feet. He’s at his best in man coverage due to his lack of instincts in reading a quarterback, and too often he guesses. At times he’ll misstep, but his feet are good enough to expect that to be fixed with NFL coaching. Basically, Greedy needs to show this year that he can handle bigger, more aggressive wide receivers in press to show he’s top cornerback material.
Pro Comparison: Marcus Peters
Stat Projection: 39 tackles; 2 TFLs; 7 INTs; 12 PDs
Honorable Mention: Kris Boyd, Texas
NB- Myles Bryant, Washington, Jr
So it seems Washington just breeds talented defensive backs. Washington’s defensive backfield is like Wisconsin’s offensive line, chock-full of future NFL players. Taylor Rapp and Byron Murphy have been talked about more, but Myles Bryant might be the best of the three potential first-round picks. Bryant almost exclusively plays nickel, while kicking outside to corner from time-to-time. Playing nickel at Washington isn’t like playing it at most schools. A lot of the time they use their nickel like a defensive weapon with plenty of blitzing. Bryant is perfect for the role. He’s an aggressive tackler and an explosive blitzer. He also plays with fantastic instincts always knowing when to attack the outside, on a run or screen, or to set the edge. In coverage he’s a good enough athlete to holdup with quick slots. His footwork and hips could improve, but right now he’s easily the best nickel in the draft.
Pro Comparison: Tyrann Mathieu
Stat Projection: 70 tackles; 6 TFLs; 2 INTs; 10 PDs
Honorable Mention: Javaris Davis, Auburn
FS- Lukas Denis, Boston College, Sr
There’s not clear option at free safety right now for the 2019 NFL Draft, but Lukas Denis seems like the best bet. Denis is on the smaller side for a safety, but he’s an impressive cover man on the backend. His best trait is his ball skills. Denis frequently gets his hands on passes and a lot of the time he’ll create turnovers. He gets himself in position to do so with good athleticism and technique. When he’s in zone on the backend he’s trustworthy as a single high with his range and instincts. If he’s asked to drop down and play man versus slots, he has the footwork and fluidity to stick to them. His biggest issues come as a tackler. Denis isn’t an aggressive player and will miss tackles and take bad angles at times. If he fixes his issues versus the run he’ll shoot up boards.
Pro Comparison: Micah Hyde
Stat Projection: 84 tackles; 2 TFLs; 6 INTs; 12 PDs
Honorable Mention: Jaquan Johnson, Miami
SS- Andrew Wingard, Wyoming, Sr
Here's one of many examples of the type of aggressiveness Andrew Wingard brings to the table for Wyoming. He makes hits like this constantly, balls to the wall every play. pic.twitter.com/QzRvjHgKN9
— Rob Paul (@RobPaul54) April 4, 2018
This was a tough choice. Washington’s Taylor Rapp is a prototypical strong safety for today’s NFL game, but Andrew Wingard does some freaky stuff. The Wyoming safety is the most aggressive defensive back in this draft class, D’Cota Dixon is a close second. He blows up more around the line of scrimmage than pretty much any safety you can find. With his explosive tackling ability, Wingard is terrific versus the run and coming up against short passes. All that combined with his instincts make him intriguing, but there are many questions about his future in coverage. Is he a good enough athlete to start in the NFL? Can he cover tight ends deep down the field? Are his hips too stiff? If he shows he can be a more dynamic player in coverage, he has shown he has everything else to be a top safety in the draft.
Pro Comparison: Troy Polamalu
Stat Projection: 130 tackles; 9 TFLs; 2 sacks; 4 INTs; 6 PDs
Honorable Mention: Taylor Rapp, Washington