With the help of my colleagues we put together a top 19 NFL Draft prospects for the 2019 NFL Draft based soley on the performances of the 2016 recruits that participated in The Opening, which ended 10 days ago. The criteria was simple, with the entire exercise based on the long term upside of each prospect in relation to how they performed among their peers in Oregon. Some elite recruits like Nick Bosa and Shavar Manuel were missing and didn’t participate. The 2017 players there do not count because they wouldn’t be draft eligible until 2020. So make sure you check out this extensive look ahead at some of the best players in this current class.
Over the course of today I will release all 19, one by one, every 30 minutes.
17) Mique Juarez (LB) Torrance, Calif.
There were a few linebackers that turned some heads at this event and Mique Juarez was near the top of this list. He had a really good week at The Opening.
Why No. 17?: Juarez measured in at 6-foot-2, 226-pounds at The Opening. He ran a 4.69 forty and posted a 4.42 shuttle. Juarez also had a vertical jump of 34.1-inches.
For linebackers at an event like this you are only seeing half the picture. But the picture Juarez painted was impressive, as he showed some great skills in coverage for his position. The first thing I noticed is just how comfortable he looks in his drops. It’s not forced and there is a natural flow to how he backpedals or how he turns his hips and moves. Juarez is a fluid, smooth ‘backer with athleticism. Juarez showed the ability to drop and read the quarterback. At times he made some great plays on the ball, even intercepting a ball or two. When a play happened in front of him, Juarez showed quick, downhill skills to get to the ball.
Looking ahead: Juarez is staying out West to play in the Pac-12 and his game looks perfectly suited to that wide-open league. He looked terrific in coverage and showed he has instincts to defend the pass. I also like the way this linebacker moves. Juarez showed speed and quickness and the ability to play in space. Those are all vital components to excel at his position in today’s game.
No. 18 Kendell Jones
No. 19 A.J. Brown