Going with Gary

Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary (pictured above) is an incredible athlete and should be a likely first-round pick, especially after he has a chance to truly display his athletic abilities at the upcoming NFL Combine.

If you’re like me, the next few months in the sporting world presents a dilemma. Your friends have stopped humoring your Alliance of American Football interests and your poor pickup basketball performances invalidate all of your NBA takes. Afraid you have no sports knowledge to contribute for the rest of the semester? Fear no longer. Here are four takes to make it seem like you are an expert in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft class.

Focus on Defensive Line Draft Choices

Looking at defense, I highly recommend Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary. A freak athlete (6’4”/280 lbs) and the former No. 1 overall prospect in 2016, he is likely to shine at the upcoming NFL Combine and secure himself a top 15 pick. One of his biggest strengths is his versatility along the line. Gary is a guy who can line up on the edge just as effectively as he does inside. There are (reasonable) concerns about his lack of pass-rushing production in college, but I would be shocked if NFL general managers suddenly decided to ignore pure, unadulterated talent, especially on defense.

Harp on Dwayne Haskins' College System 

Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins seems to be benefitting from his weak positional group moreso than any other player this year. Had he been a part of last year’s draft class, it’s unlikely he would have been taken earlier than the fifth quarterback off the board. One of the biggest questions he faces is his ability to run an NFL offense. As a one-year starter, he was pretty rarely running full-field progressions and typically only had three reads on one side of the field.

This is not something you can hold against him. He performed very well in this system, and it is totally possible that he is capable of running a more advanced offense. The issue simply lies in him being a likely top-five pick. Wouldn’t you want to know for a fact that he is equipped for the next level before using that draft capital?

Overuse the Term “Edge Rusher”

For those (like me) who base much of their football knowledge on Madden, an edge rusher is a type of defensive player that lines up on the edge of the line and can be either a defensive end or outside linebacker. As the league has evolved and pass rush has become king, these types of players are at a premium value during the draft. This year’s draft class is most notable for the elite talent and depth at this position, including but certainly not limited to: Nick Bosa, Rashan Gary, Josh Allen, Clelin Ferrell and Montez Sweat. Truly any of these guys could end up as top five picks given strong Combine performances.

Do Not Reach on a Running Back

This is not to say that I do not think that running backs are important to a team's success. I simply think that reaching early on in the NFL Draft for a running back is never the right move. Running backs are expendable position players, so there is absolutely no reason to waste a pick taking a player that has a high likelihood of injury or post-rookie contract free agency movement. Rather, general managers should be focused on picking players that fill specific needs. Adding a defensive back or offensive lineman can be much more beneficial to a potential playoff team than simply taking a highly-touted SEC running back because he is still available. Keep in mind that attitude is everything in impressing (or annoying) everyone unlucky enough to be in earshot of your rambling. These tips are not to be used if you would back down in the face of superior logic; make your statement, and never change your mind. As a ten- year-old, I claimed that Jamarcus Russell was the best player of his draft class. I stand by that statement, and it’s a hill I’m willing to die on. Good luck, godspeed and go Lions.

Contact Killian Pinkelman at kpinkelman@colgate.edu.

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