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2019 NFL Mock Draft: RAS edition

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What if teams based solely on athleticism and need?

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

As the creator of a system that takes player athletic measurements and compares them to all players at that position for three decades, it’s imperative to have something to ground you. You never want to take the numbers so seriously that it blinds you to what is possible. The whole point of looking at things like Relative Athletic Scores (RAS) is to identify trends, probability. Possibility is something else entirely. One of the ways to keep myself grounded is to run an entirely RAS-based mock draft. We’re right up against the wire here, but it’s done.

The Rules

For this exercise, I’ve decided to use only players who had a qualified RAS score with 8 or more drills completed. Normally a player only needs six to qualify, but I wanted to have a more complete card to avoid some ‘by default’ selections. It ultimately only ended up knocking out a few prospects, with the most notable ones being Quinnen Williams (with seven metrics) and Dexter Lawrence (with six).

Additionally, I only chose from players who were considered draftable. For that I used Draftscout.com’s player rankings, since it kept the net as wide as possible. I actually goofed on this a couple times early in the mock, but only for the options I didn’t pick, so I noted it when I could.

I used the player needs as outlined by NFL.com’s write up on their mocks, which I provided with each tweet when I ran the mock. Of those positions, I generally took the highest RAS player at any of those positions, excluding specialists.

It ended up just as absurd as I had hoped, so I hope you enjoy!

First Overall

Arizona Cardinals select Garrett Bradbury, OC, NC State

Well, this is off to a great start. The highest graded Relative Athletic Score for the 2019 draft class was, well, a punter. But aside from specialists, it was North Carolina State interior offensive lineman Garrett Bradbury. I guess since we’re looking at an extremely unrealistic scenario, that teams look at athletic testing alone to make their selections, we may as well kick off the mock draft with a first overall pick at center. On the plus side, at least the Cardinals will have someone who can block for Josh Rosen, Bradbury is my top ranked offensive lineman in this class and should go in the latter half of the first round.

Second Overall

San Francisco 49ers Select Miles Boykin, WR, Notre Dame

Miles Boykin posted some of the best explosiveness testing ever. In fact, the only player with more impressive explosion metrics was one Calvin Johnson Jr. Boykin is a well thought of prospect in his own right, but one that will likely go in the second round rather than second overall.

Third Overall

New York Jets Select Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan

Whether you like or hate Rashan Gary as a prospect, it’s hard to argue with his athletic ability. Gary rated as the seventh most athletic defensive end of all time, so it’s no surprise he’s going very high in a draft meant to weight only athletic ability and need. If not for a labrum tear, Gary could very well go this high in the draft based on athletic potential, but in real life it is likely to drop him.

Fifth Overall

Oakland Raiders Select Jamel Dean, CB, Auburn

Jamel Dean is well thought of in scouting circles in large part due to the kind of ridiculous athleticism he can display. As many as three knee injuries have actually taken him completely off some team boards, however, and it’s only in the realm of fantasy like this mock draft that he would see a high first round selection.

Note: Jeremy Cox was ineligible for this exercise and should not have been noted in other options.

Fifth Overall

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Select Brain Burns, DE, Florida State

This one is... something that could actually happen. Brian Burns has been consistently mocked in the first round and very often the top half of it. Not really a lot to say here athletically. Burns had to gain a significant amount of weight before the Combine and show that he could maintain his level of athletic ability at that new weight. He did so.

Note: Jeremy Cox was ineligible for this exercise and should not have been noted in other options.

Sixth Overall

New York Giants Select Tyree Jackson, QB, Buffalo

We’ve heard tell that Tyree Jackson may get drafted a lot earlier than his original third-round projection, but sixth overall? Not bad for the most athletic quarterback at this size since Cam Newton.

Seventh Overall

Jacksonville Jaguars Select Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

This isn’t too far out of the realm of possibility. The Jaguars need a tight end and there are two premiere ones in this draft class. Noah Fant put up a top 10 RAS all time, so if it’s going to be one of them in this scenario, it’s going to be him.

Note: Jeremy Cox was ineligible for this exercise and should not have been noted in other options.

Eighth Overall

Detroit Lions Select Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State

Wow, geez, another one of these that could actually happen. There are some medical questions about Sweat, a heart condition identified at the Combine, and there are some off field issues from his time at Michigan State to consider, but he’s still a likely candidate for selection at eighth overall.

Ninth Overall

Buffalo Bills Select Ed Oliver, DT, Houston

Ed Oliver is expected to be a top-10 pick, so going in this range isn’t a surprise. In fact, it would be more surprising in real life that he lasts this long. In the context of this mock draft, the big surprise is that Oliver didn’t go earlier than ninth. His athletic potential is legendary and one of the best all time.

10th Overall

Denver Broncos Select Drue Tranquill, LB, Notre Dame

Drue Tranquill isn’t an unknown prospect, but he’s certainly not a first round prospect in most people’s minds. He is more of a third or fourth round prospect based entirely around his athletic profile and the upside that represents. For the Broncos, they’d get a player who could complement their already strong corps on defense with Von Miller as a tone setter.

11th Overall

Cincinnati Bengals Select Chris Lindstrom, OG, Boston College

Chris Lindstrom is generally considered the top non-tackle prospect guard in this draft class and was well before he posted a fantastic athletic profile. I have no doubt he would provide a huge boost to the Bengals offensive line if he were drafted by them here. That said, even with his elite profile and great tape he is still a guard and is more often projected at the latter half of the first or early part of the second round.

12th Overall

Green Bay Packers Select Emanuel Hall, WR, Missouri

Hall is generally considered a late Day 2, early Day 3 prospect, so this would be a bit of a reach at 12th overall (to put it lightly). What he would provide to the Packers is a reliable target for Aaron Rodgers on deep passes or shallow crossers. A limited route tree is likely to limit Hall early in his career, but there’s few better at running a go.

13th Overall

Miami Dolphins Select Ken Webster, CB, Mississippi

Our first real nope pick, Ken Webster isn’t projected to go anywhere near the first round. He is generally projected in the latter part of Day 3, with the highest projections putting him in the sixth round. His athletic profile is fantastic, though, with some of the best explosiveness numbers of the class.

14th Overall

Atlanta Falcons Select Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington

Projected to go in the second round, Kaleb McGary is a guy who could very well find his way into the latter part of the first round. His elite athletic profile is part of the draw, but he has real upside on tape at the position, too. The Falcons could do a lot worse here, even if they could very well do a lot better.

15th Overall

Washington Redskins Select Andre Dillard, OT, Washington

Dillard is considered the best pass blocker in this draft class, but it has been his increible athletic profile that turned many to his tape after the Combine. This is about the general area he’s going to go, as well. For the Redskins, he would provide a strong pass blocker to anchor their left side, assuming they could find someone to throw the football.

16th Overall

Carolina Panthers Select Yosuah Nijman, OT, Virginia Tech

Yosuah “Yosh” Nijman is one of the most athletic prospects in this draft class. In fact, using his superior cone number from his pro day he would have the highest RAS at offensive tackle ever, taking the spot from Taylor Lewan. His tape can be pretty rough and he’s going to need some serious development to have a career in the NFL, but the athletic gifts are undeniable. Nijman is projected to go in the latter part of the third day of the draft.

17th Overall

New York Giants Select Juan Thornhill, FS, Virginia

Another player I’ve seen creeping into the first round is Virginia’s Juan Thornhill. His athletic ability is as obvious on tape as it was when I ran the numbers, but this is a strong safety class and I have no idea where anyone goes. For the Giants, they’d pair him with Jabrill Peppers to have likely the most athletic safety duo in the NFL.

Note: Connor McGovern was not eligible and should not have been included in other options.

18th Overall

Minnesota Vikings Select Alex Barnes, RB, Kansas State

Sure, why not? Alex Barnes blew up the Combine and immediately became a household name due to the best of the class pretty much mailing it in. The Vikings could use another rusher to complement the oft injured and inconsistent Dalvin Cook, and picking someone with a fantastic profile like Barnes could be a lot worse. Never mind he’s mocked in the late fifth round.

Note: Connor McGovern was not eligible and should not have been included in other options.

19th Overall

Tennessee Titans Select Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State

Yeah, sure, I mean there were people that thought Campbell was a first round prospect. He’d provide a nice speed complement to Corey Davis, so why not make that risk and take a guy who can stretch the field?

Note: Connor McGovern was not eligible and should not have been included in other options. Also, some doofus put 18th instead of 19th overall.

20th Overall

Pittsburgh Steelers Select Josh Allen, LB, Kentucky

The Steelers with a real coup! Nabbing Josh Allen at 20th overall is like walking into a bank to get a drink of water and being handed a bucket of cash. His elite athletic profile is only part of the reason he’s so highly touted as a prospect, and he’d be the first linebacker in what seems like a millennia of Steelers linebackers who can cover properly.

21st Overall

Seattle Seahawks Select Isaiah Johnson, CB, Houston

Before inexplicably deciding to bench at his pro day, Isaiah Johnson was on his way to the best RAS ever for a corner, edging out Marshon Lattimore. Instead, the Day 2 prospect is going to the Seahawks 21st overall to launch the Legion of Zoom.

22nd Overall

Baltimore Ravens Select Renell Wren, DT, Arizona State

Renell Wren is a prospect whose entire claim to fame is an intense athletic profile. A wunderkind of sorts, Wren’s tape flashes enough to get him some Day 2 talk, but he’s more likely Day 3. Or, in the case of this mock, 22nd overall.

23rd Overall

Houston Texans Select D.K. Metcalf, WR, Mississippi

Some of you were probably wondering why you hadn’t seen Metcalf off the board already, and his terrible agility drills are the only real answer. The Texans end up with one of the best straight line athletes in the class.

24th Overall

Oakland Raiders Select Sean Bunting, CB, Central Michigan

Sure, why not double down at corner? The Seahawks took a risk taking an oft-injured corner early in the round, but they take a different risk by looking at a smaller school prospect here instead. Bunting has a lot of fans in the scouting world, enough to see him often in Day 2 talk, but he’s not going in the first round often (ever). I did consider taking the kicker here. For the lulz.

25th Overall

Philadelphia Eagles Select Ty Summers, LB, Texas Christian

The Eagles need a linebacker, so targeting one makes sense. Targeting one that’s projected to go late in Day 3 probably isn’t the wisest choice, but hey, his athletic profile is stellar.

26th Overall

Indianapolis Colts Select Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame

We’re late in the first round, so lining up a player to where he’s drafted in a mock like this one is pretty unlikely. Yet here we are talking about Jerry Tillery to the Colts, a pick that may very well happen in real life. Craziness.

27th Overall

Oakland Raiders Select Ben Banogu, DE, Texas Christian

The Raiders go back to defense with their third pick, this time taking explosive pass rusher Ben Banogu. Banogu may legitimately crash the first round, and this honestly isn’t even a bad landing spot for him. I’d be surprised if he falls as far as the Lions in the second round, just to give an idea of his range.

28th Overall

Los Angeles Chargers Select Justin Hollins, LB, Oregon

Hollins is projected to go DAy 2, so this isn’t a huge leap at 28th overall. It’s still a leap, however, as his elite athletic profile isn’t enough to get him into the first round on its own. For the Chargers, Hollins would provide a steady presence over the middle, with the speed to carry receivers if needs be.

29th Overall

Seattle Seahawks Select Porter Gustin, LB, Southern California

Injury issues are probably going to drop Gustin in real life more than his PED usage (which is due to an approved use of Adderall), but since we’re looking solely at athletic ability in this mock he’s going 29th overall to the Seahawks rather than somewhere Day 3.

30th Overall

Green Bay Packers Select Maxx Crosby, DE, Eastern Michigan

Maxx Crosby is certainly crashing Day 2 in real life, so why couldn’t he crash Day 1 in an athletic testing mock draft? The Packers could use someone to take over for Clay Matthews, and Crosby’s tape is sufficient to put his athletic ability to the test right away.

31st Overall

Los Angeles Rams Select Ray Smith, DT, Boston College

Ray Smith isn’t a guy that’s going to hear his name called Day 1 in real life, and probably not Day 2, but this is fantasy so here he is 31st overall to the Rams. A small and quick type of interior guy, you’d expect Smith to get a lot more production out of his athletic traits, but it is what it is.

32nd Overall

New England Patriots Select Terry McLaurin, WR, Ohio State

The Patriots will never take a running back in the first round, they said ad nauseum leading up to the 2018 draft class. The Patriots will never take a wide receiver in the first round, they’ve said ad nauseum leading up to the 2019 draft class. Forget about it, they’re taking an athlete.