MORGANTOWN — One of the quickest turnarounds in sports is from one NFL draft class to another.
As soon as the draft is over, pundits, or “talking heads,” as many like to call them, head straight into next year’s draft. It’s always amazed me, since we don’t have any idea how seniors will perform, what juniors will declare early or how the NFL season will play out in terms of draft order.
But for some reason, here we are, a week after the conclusion of the 2018 first round, talking about the 2019 first round.
WVU fans may have a little more interest in next year’s draft, though, especially compared to what happened last weekend. Kyzir White was the only Mountaineer taken — a fourth-round pick by the Los Angeles Chargers. A host of former players signed as undrafted free agents — Ka’Raun White (Seahawks), Kyle Bosch (Panthers), Elijah Wellman (Redskins), Justin Crawford (Falcons), Eljah Battle (Cardinals), Al-Rasheed Benton (Lions) and Nick Meadows (Colts).
Compared to what Dana Holgorsen-led WVU teams have done in the past, it was a disappointing year as far as professional talent. However, next season should be loaded.
Several players could be taken in the first two days, including Yodny Cajuste, David Sills and Gary Jennings.
But the obvious prospect is quarterback Will Grier, who put up massive numbers in 10-plus games as a junior last season. He decided to return for one more year at WVU, and many draft gurus have Grier as one of the top quarterbacks eligible for the 2019 draft.
The Sporting News’ Bill Bender has Grier as the No. 1 QB in the class of 2019.: “Grier’s career path has taken a few interesting turns, but he proved in his first full season with the Mountaineers he can play. There’s a big arm, mobility and high-volume statistics. He passed for
34 touchdowns with just 12 interceptions and averaged nine yards per attempt. Grier has a chance to add to that in 2018.”
Texas head coach Tom Herman also had high praise for Grier, even comparing him to this year’s No. 1 overall pick, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield.
“He’s along the lines of Mayfield and (TCU’s Kenny) Hill in terms of he’s really, really accurate throwing the football,” Herman said. “He’s a tremendous passer. But he can make you pay with his feet, too. He’s as good as we’ve played, and we’ve played some really, really good ones.”
Not everyone is high on Grier, though. Benjamin Allbright, a Denver sports personality who analyzes quarterbacks in the draft, doesn’t think Grier is a first-round pick. All of Allbright’s criticisms seem fair — Grier is too small, he can struggle with accuracy and he needs to improve his footwork.
But one of Allbright’s criticisms is something many may not think about — “character concerns.” This is stemming from Grier being suspended a year at Florida for testing positive for Ligandrol, a substance used for muscle weight gain.
While Grier admits to his mistake and seems to have a fit into a nice life in Morgantown, his suspension will be a big topic of discussion over the next year as he prepares for the next level. Saying Grier has “character concerns” because of a mistake he made as a 19-year-old is no doubt harsh and could even be classified as click-bait.
Regardless, if Mayfield can be the No. 1 overall pick with video evidence of his grabbing his crotch and yelling “F— you!” to an opponent, as well as running and being tackled by police, I think Grier will be OK.