Look for these five prospects to go off the board earlier than experts expect
The 2019 NFL Draft is fast approaching. As always, you can't move about the internet these days without bumping into hundreds of mock drafts written by anyone and everyone.
The dirty little not-so-well-kept secret about all of those mock drafts is that they are never right. They are all wrong, and most of them are not even close.
Heading into this year's draft, I've highlighted five guys who most experts have getting picked much later than they'll actually be selected. I call them my "draft crashers," as they'll be the ones hearing their names called earlier than projected, making the experts look like anything but.
5 2019 NFL Draft Crashers to Watch
Ryan Finley, QB, NC State
Less than two years ago, some outlets had Finley projected as the No. 1 overall pick had he come out in the 2018 draft. He stayed for his senior year, put up the best numbers of his career, and yet somehow got lost in the mock draft shuffle. Finley does everything well and nothing bad as a quarterback. Some might argue that he's the safest pick in the draft at the position. If there's a run on quarterbacks in the first round, you might see him slip in at the end of the first round or early in the second.
Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State
All Sanders did this past season was step in and replace Saquan Barkley at Penn State to the tune of 1,274 rushing yards at 5.8 yards per carry and nine scores. He didn't punch it into the end zone as often as Barkley did, but he also didn't get the same number of touches near the goal line. Bottom line: in a draft class void of true star-power at the running back position, Sanders looks like the only back with size, experience and a track record of being a three-down workhorse. Look for him to be the second running back taken in the draft — and have the best rookie season of any of them.
Dax Raymond, TE, Utah State
While scouts drool over the different attributes Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson bring to the table, Raymond is sitting there looking like a combination of the two players. He has a similar build (6-5. 255) and playing style as a receiver as Fant, and is every bit strong and versatile as Hockenson. If he played in a Power 5 conference, he would likely be one of the first three tight ends drafted. As it stands, there's a good chance he's the fourth player at his position off the board.
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, DB, Florida
He'll enter the draft as a safety, but Gardner-Johnson has experience and the ability to play cornerback at the next level. The name of the game in the NFL is versatility, and with only 53 spots on a roster, versatility is at a premium. Gardner-Johnson is a playmaker who stays fired up for four quarters and can change the identity of a defense. Look for him to be one of the first three defensive backs to go off the board.
Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia
The only real knock on Cajuste is that he needs to improve as a run blocker. He is nothing short of elite as a pass blocker, and one of the better athletes at his position in the draft. With how often most NFL teams are throwing it nowadays — as well as the sets they are throwing and running out of — Cajuste's shortcomings as a traditional run blocker are easy to overlook. Bottom line: he's an elite blindside protector who will likely hear his named called in the first round.
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo! SBNation and Bleacher Report. He is a three-time FWAA writing contest award winner. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.