There are no guarantees in the NFL draft, but some selections carry less risk than others.
As part of our 2019 NFL Draft preview, we identified four of the “safest bets” in this year’s draft class — prospects who, even if they don’t become generational superstars, have very low bust potential.
Here they are, in no particular order:
Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
If quarterback Kyler Murray isn’t the first player drafted Thursday night, it almost certainly will be Bosa, whose pass-rushing prowess rivals that of his older brother, Los Angeles Chargers star Joey Bosa. With top-level athleticism, a relentless motor and NFL-ready technique, the younger Bosa should be an immediate contributor for whichever team selects him (likely the San Francisco 49ers, who pick second overall). The one knock on the former Buckeyes star: health. Injuries have ended two of his last four seasons — including his final year at OSU — so he’ll need to prove he can stay on the field in order to reach his full NFL potential.
T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
There hasn’t been a tight end drafted in the top 10 since Eric Ebron in 2014, and before him, there hadn’t been one since 2006. There’s a good chance Hockenson joins that exclusive club this year. He’s widely considered the top prospect in a deep and talented tight end class — one that includes another likely first-rounder in fellow Iowa product Noah Fant — earning plaudits for both his receiving ability (49 catches, 760 yards, six touchdowns in 2018) and his talents as a blocker. You don’t see many tight ends compared to both Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce during the pre-draft process, but that just shows how high folks are on Hockenson.
Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
Wilkins isn’t the top-ranked defensive tackle in this year’s loaded class — that honor belongs to Alabama’s Quinnen Williams — but he’s not far behind. A surefire first-round pick, Wilkins was the leader of a ridiculously talented Clemson D-line that also featured projected first-rounders Clelin Ferrell and Dexter Lawrence, starting all 44 games over his final three seasons and earning unanimous All-American recognition in 2018. Wilkins is skilled enough against the run and pass to be a three-down player in the NFL, and his character has been described as “off the charts.”
Chris Lindstrom, OL, Boston College
Teams looking for interior offensive line help would be thrilled to land Lindstrom, who started 47 consecutive games over his four years in Chestnut Hill. The majority of those starts were at guard — Lindstrom’s projected position at the NFL level — but he also served as the Eagles’ primary right tackle in 2017 and earned second-team All-ACC honors there. He’s been practicing at center during the pre-draft process, too, to further boost his versatility. That combined with his superb athleticism (second among O-linemen in the 40-yard dash and broad jump at the NFL Scouting Combine) and high football IQ make Lindstrom one of the safest bets in this year’s class.
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