The major question looming as the NFL season winds down and the run to the NFL draft nears is whether Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert will declare for 2019. The answer is: None of my sources have heard anything.
This week, I asked a handful of people at Oregon and in the NFL what they were hearing. “Man, he’s a weird dude. No one has heard a thing,” is how one source with the Ducks put it.
Herbert could be icing out those on the football staff to delay upsetting anyone until after the Dec. 31 Redbox Bowl against Michigan State, but surely teammates would know. Or at least the top agents, who have all been recruiting Herbert this season.
“It’s super-quiet coming out of there. However, you know as well as I do, kids generally declare when sitting atop the draft,” one of the top agents said. And he’s right. Rarely does a Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck come along and stay in college while he’s draft-eligible and considered the nation’s best quarterback.
Scouts, agents, teammates…there is no definitive word on if Herbert is going. What is definitive is NFL decision-makers believe he would be a top-10 pick should he declare. Said one longtime scout: “Same deal as [Mitchell] Trubisky. Maybe he wasn’t 100 percent on coming out, but when you know you’re going to be the first quarterback taken, you don’t go back to school.”
Will he or won’t he? For now, all anyone can do is guess. Even those inside Herbert’s own locker room.
—Kyler Murray won the Heisman Trophy last weekend, and already the smoke surrounding his future—baseball, football or both—is turning into fire. Murray’s agent, Scott Boras, told reporters at the MLB winter meetings that Murray intends to play baseball. But he hasn’t said Murray won’t attempt to play in the NFL next fall as well.
Craig Ruttle/Associated Press/Associated Press/Associated Press
His contract in Oakland, which paid Murray $4.6 million, allowed him to play one year of football at Oklahoma. Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported there is a clause that allows Murray to repay a portion of his signing bonus and play football, which adds more smoke to the possibility of a pro football career.
As an NFL prospect, Murray would face questions about his size. He’s listed at 5’10” and 195 pounds. That would make him the shortest and lightest starting quarterback in the NFL. And while Murray tore through the Big 12 en route to a Heisman win, there would be questions about his ability to dedicate the time needed to be an NFL quarterback if he also plays baseball.
People want definitive grades and rankings on players, but with Murray’s unique situation, it’s a wait-and-see approach before we can evaluate his future.
—With or without Herbert, the 2019 quarterback class is a mixed bag in the senior group. Scouts are torn on who the top senior will be with Will Grier (West Virginia), Ryan Finley (NC State) and Drew Lock (Missouri) all vying for the No. 1 ranking. Each has accepted an invite to the Senior Bowl, which will help in separating them as prospects. An early look has Grier ranked highest, but Lock’s arm talent could excite teams enough to put him in the first round.
—The NFL loves pass-catching running backs, and many teams will look for one after the draft’s first round.
Matthew Putney/Associated Press
Two players who could push into the first with strong showings in the predraft process are Iowa State’s David Montgomery and Memphis’ Darrell Henderson. Montgomery has power to go with his hands, while Henderson has the speed to taunt defenses.
—Keep an eye out for wide receiver Keelan Doss from UC Davis. The 6’3″, 209-pound senior has shown the production (233 catches in the last two seasons) and route running to turn heads. He’s already ranked as one of the best FCS players in the 2019 class and has a Day 2 grade.
It’s time to update the big board before a full refresh of the top 50 and positional groups Tuesday. Here’s my most recent top 32:
1. Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
2. Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama
3. Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
4. Devin White, LB, LSU
5. Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
6. Ed Oliver, DL, Houston
7. Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan
8. Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson
9. Jeffery Simmons, DL, Mississippi State
10. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
11. Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
12. Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
13. Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
14. Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
15. Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
16. Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
17. Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
18. Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
19. Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida
20. Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
21. Dexter Lawrence, DL, Clemson
22. Dre’Mont Jones, DL, Ohio State
23. Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
24. Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
25. Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia
26. Raekwon Davis, DL, Alabama
27. Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
28. Will Grier, QB, West Virginia
29. N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
30. Oshane Ximines, EDGE, Old Dominion
31. Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
32. D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
Each week throughout the rest of the season and until the April 25-27 draft, you can send your questions in via Twitter to be answered here.
Joe Perreth @joeyp3410
@nfldraftscout #MillerMailbag If Kyler Murray said tomorrow that he will focus purely on football and will enter the draft. Could he be the 1st overall pick after what we saw happen with Mayfield?
There’s a saying to never speak in absolutes regarding the draft, but I can’t envision a scenario in which Murray is drafted No. 1 overall. He wouldn’t have the Senior Bowl week to boost his stock like Mayfield did. He hasn’t received the glowing reports about being a leader like Mayfield did. And he won’t have four years of film showing gradual improvement that led to a fantastic jump in play as a senior, either.
Murray is intriguing and exciting, but he doesn’t look like the No. 1 overall player. Of course, no one was saying Mayfield looked like one last year at this time.
6. Stock Up
Ohio State wide receiver Parris Campbell is turning heads as scouts catch up on his late-season game film. Campbell, against Michigan, went off for 192 yards and two touchdowns on six catches.
Jay LaPrete/Associated Press/Associated Press
As teams look for the next Tyreek Hill type of receiver who can win with speed and big plays after the catch, Campbell’s stock continues to rise. He’s a solid Round 2 player and might go higher if he tests as the fastest in the draft class, which is possible.
5. Stock Down
Speed matters when you play cornerback, and there are concerns that Notre Dame’s Julian Love doesn’t have the goods to keep pace with NFL receivers. Love has size at 5’11” and 193 pounds, but he doesn’t show the long speed or fast twitch to handle transitions in man coverage.
Zone teams may still like Love, but the predraft process will be huge for him if he leaves Notre Dame.
4. Sleeper of the Week
I mentioned Doss above, and my love for UMass receiver Andy Isabella is well-known. That leaves Buffalo linebacker Khalil Hodge as this week’s biggest sleeper to know.
Carlos Osorio/Associated Press
A 6’0″, 235-pounder, Hodge has shown incredible production at Buffalo while manning the middle of the field. There will be questions about his sideline-to-sideline speed, which he’ll have a chance to show at the combine, but he could rank as a top-five inside linebacker by April.
3. It’s almost NFL draft season. Here’s the current order based on win-loss percentage and strength of schedule:
1. San Francisco 49ers
2. Arizona Cardinals
3. Oakland Raiders
4. Atlanta Falcons
5. New York Jets
6. Buffalo Bills
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
9. Detroit Lions
10. New York Giants
11. Cincinnati Bengals
12. Green Bay Packers
13. Cleveland Browns
14. Washington Redskins
15. Carolina Panthers
16. Philadelphia Eagles
17. Denver Broncos
18. Miami Dolphins
19. Indianapolis Colts
20. Tennessee Titans
21. Minnesota Vikings
22. Baltimore Ravens
23. Pittsburgh Steelers
24. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas)
25. Seattle Seahawks
26. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago)
27. Houston Texans
28. Los Angeles Chargers
29. New England Patriots
30. Green Bay Packers (from New Orleans)
31. Kansas City Chiefs
32. Los Angeles Rams
2. We’re approaching January, so I’ve added an underclassman watch list to the Scouting Notebook. So far, seven have declared:
- Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma (Draft Projection: Round 3)
- Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State (Draft Projection: No. 1 Overall)
- Jordan Brailford, EDGE, Oklahoma State (Draft Projection: Day 3)
- A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss (Draft Projection: Round 2)
- Keenen Brown, TE, Texas State (Draft Projection: Day 3)
- Sean Bunting, CB, Central Michigan (Draft Projection: Day 3)
- Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State (Draft Projection: Round 1)
- Xavier Crawford, CB, Central Michigan (Draft Projection: Day 3)
- Jovon Durante, WR, Florida Atlantic (Draft Projection: Day 3)
- Noah Fant, TE, Iowa (Draft Projection: Round 1)
- Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, DB, Florida (Draft Projection: Round 3)
- Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan (Draft Projection: Round 1)
- Kelvin Harmon, WR, North Carolina State (Draft Projection: Round 1-2)
- N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State (Draft Projection: Round 1-2)
- Darrell Henderson, RB, Memphis (Draft Projection: Round 2)
- Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State (Draft Projection: Day 3)
- Dre’Mont Jones, DL, Ohio State (Draft Projection: Round 1)
- Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss (Draft Projection: Round 1-2)
- Alize Mack, TE, Notre Dame (Draft Projection: Day 3)
- D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss (Draft Projection: Round 2)
- Ed Oliver, DL, Houston (Draft Projection: Round 1)
- Anthony Ratliff-Williams, WR, North Carolina (Draft Projection: Day 3)
- Dax Raymond, TE, Utah State (Draft Projection: Day 3)
- LJ Scott, RB, Michigan State (Draft Projection: Day 3)
- Devin Singletary, RB, FAU (Draft Projection: Day 2)
- Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn (Draft Projection: Day 3)
- Antoine Wesley, WR, Texas Tech (Draft Projection: Day 2)
- Greedy Williams, CB, LSU (Draft Projection: Round 1)
- Preston Williams, WR, Colorado State (Draft Projection: Day 2)
- Caleb Wilson, TE, UCLA (Draft Projection: Day 3)
1. Stick to Football is all new this week as Joe Montana stops by (Monday), we try to fix the Oakland Raiders (Wednesday) and have major draft updates (Friday). Check out the podcast and subscribe if you haven’t already. We will also post a ton of behind-the-scenes content on our Instagram page.
Matt Miller covers the NFL and NFL draft for Bleacher Report.