Just about one week from now we will be almost finished with day three of the 2019 NFL Draft. At that time, we will all be rushing to figure out which undrafted free agent signed with which teams and which prospects with draftable grades somehow found themselves without a phone call across all three days of the event.
Today, we tackle the first round on day three, which just so happens to be the sweet spot for Tom Telesco over the last several drafts.
Without further ado, let’s get to it.
CB Jamel Dean - Auburn
If you’re my good friend Kyle Posey, you absolutely love Dean and believe he is arguably the best corner in this entire draft, even over consensus top guys like LSU’s Greedy Williams and Deandre Baker of Georgia.
But most don’t actually know a ton about Dean and it’s not terribly surprising since people don’t hold a lot of weight in players with lengthy injury histories.
The 6-foot-2, 208-pound corner was actually set to play at Ohio State coming out of high-school until he was “medically disqualified” from playing football due to a string of knee injuries he suffered over his prep career. After transferring to Auburn, he was met with another setback. Early in fall camp, Dean suffered another knee injury that took his entire 2016 season away from him.
But, not all hope was lost in the young defender. After another offseason of rehab, Dean came back stronger than ever, starting 11 of 14 games in 2017 and collecting 43 tackles, eight passes defended, and 2.5 tackles-for-loss.
In 2018, finally coming off a year without injury, Dean started 11 of 12 games. He finished his final year with 30 stops, two tackles-for-loss, a sack, two interceptions and nine passes defended.
Auburn's Jamel Dean is pure speed pic.twitter.com/WFh2qZEfMq— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) March 4, 2019
Even after the extensive list of knee injuries, Dean absolutely blew up his athletic testing in Indianapolis. His 4.31 forty was among the top marks for all participants while his 41-inch vertical and 10’10” broad jump were also elite. His 9.95 RAS (relative athletic score) is one of the best all time for a cornerback, up there with guys like Darelle Revis and Marshon Lattimore.
There is a chance that Dean is off the board sooner than the fourth, but if no one gets too wise, I like him to fall. Just consider Maurice Hurst last year and how much he fell.
S Marquise Blair - Utah
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Blair came to the University of Utah following a productive two years in junior college at Dodge City CC. He was a First Team NJCAA All-American after posting 100 tackles, three sacks, and four interceptions.
In his two years with the Utes, Blair finished with 106 total tackles, 5 tackles-for-loss, two interceptions, four passes defended, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. In all, he started 18 of his 23 career games, being named a second team All-Pac 12 performer following his 2018 performance.
Blair also posted an “elite” RAS (over 8.0) with an solid 4.48 forty and a 35-inch vertical. Although he is listed under 200 pounds, Blair doesn’t like to play that way as you can see below.
Marquise Blair killed a guy...— Steve Bartle (@SBartle247) September 3, 2018
AND WASNT SATISIFIED. pic.twitter.com/alc5jLm06h
In fact, I believe NFL Analyst Lance Zierlein said it best in Blair’s draft profile:
However, like most defenders with an aggressive play-style, Blair can get himself into trouble with targeting penalties and just flat out over-committing. He does have the experience to play all over the secondary, having played a fair share of two-high and single-high in the Utes defense.
It should be noted that Blair was also a participant in this year’s Senior Bowl. In fact he’s the first of three guys on this list who are able to check that box.
LB Te’Von Coney - Notre Dame
Coney is probably one of the biggest movers in this year’s linebacker group, and not always in the right direction. Around the senior bowl, Coney was the one getting the most praise between him and his teammate Drue Tranquill who also attended the showcase in Mobile.
With excellent size (6-1, 240), Coney fit the bill of a field general in the middle of a defense. Especially coming off back-to-back seasons with 115+ tackles.
But now, you don’t hear a ton about Coney and I think that’s a bit unfair. I mean, this is a guy who learned from Jaylon Smith early in his career and had himself a very productive career for one of the best teams of this decade.
In his first three years in South Bend, Coney played outside linebacker. In 2017, his last on the outside, he racked up 116 tackles, 11.5 tackles-for-loss, and three sacks. After moving to middle linebacker, he continued that steady production with 123 total stops, 9.5 tackles-for-loss, four sacks, and an interception that helped the Irish seal a late victory against Stanford.
Below is my interview with him at the Senior Bowl:
Don't think I ever posted this during the Senior Bowl, but here is my quick interview with ND LB Te'von Coney (6-1 240).— Michael Peterson (@ZoneTracks) February 4, 2019
He spoke about his game, versatility, and more.
I'll be posting a draft profile on him here soon, as well. Check it out. pic.twitter.com/BouSQEGkRP
Coney told me he that he prefers to play middle linebacker where he is able to run the defense and make all the calls. I think that leadership trait is huge and something any coach would want to work with. Stick him behind Denzel Perryman and watch him prosper.
DT Kingsley Keke - Texas A&M
Keke was unfortunately the victim of far too many people switching up his first and last name throughout the draft process. Because, let’s be honest, Keke Kingsley rolls off the tongue just a little bit better, I’d say.
I’ve talked a lot about Daylon Mack, Keke’s teammate, on here quite a bit over the last two months, but it’s time to look at the guy who actually was the most productive player along that interior over the last several years.
Keke offers ideal size for the position at 6-foot-3 and 305 pounds. His quickness and get-off at the line are tremendous for someone his size which makes it easy to see him fit right into that Corey Liuget role.
Kingsley Keke had a really nice day. pic.twitter.com/fV6OskckWT— Jared Stanger (@JaredStanger) January 25, 2019
After only posting 10 tackles-for-loss and five sacks in his first three seasons, Keke took things up a notch as a senior by posting 11 tackles-for-loss and 7.5 sacks, both good for second on the team.
Another Senior Bowl invitee, Keke really fits the mold of what the Chargers want in a prospect from an experience and fit point-of-view. If he falls down the board due to the rash of elite defensive linemen at the top, Keke could be one of the biggest steals of the weekend and another gem to add to the list of Tom Telesco and company.