Why many ‘way too early’ NFL mock drafts are high on one Sacramento-area product

Alabama offensive lineman Jonah Williams, a Folsom High graduate, is expected to be a first-round pick in the 2019 NFL draft.
Alabama offensive lineman Jonah Williams, a Folsom High graduate, is expected to be a first-round pick in the 2019 NFL draft. Associated Press file

The Sacramento area has sent at least five players to the NFL this offseason.

Roseville High product Kolton Miller and Sheldon High graduate Taron Johnson were drafted in April, and three players signed following the annual seven-round event: Pleasant Grove's Wyatt Demps, Grant's Trayvon Henderson and Oak Ridge's Ross Dwelley.

But what about 2019? The speculation is already under way.

Several publications have already put out their "way too early" mock drafts, and one area product is receiving a lot of love.

Alabama tackle Jonah Williams is widely regarded as one of the best offensive linemen in the nation. The Folsom High School graduate was an All-Southeastern Conference and second-team All-America selection last season as a sophomore for the national champion Crimson Tide.

Of the eight sites sampled here, Williams is a first-rounder in all of them. Another regional product, USC linebacker Cameron Smith, makes the Day 1 list in on two mocks.

The 2019 NFL draft kicks off April 25 in Nashville, Tenn. Here's what analysts had to say about Williams and Smith:

ESPN (Insider)

Updated May 3

Todd McShay has Williams going seventh to the Denver Broncos. He wrote that the draft order was "generated by Football Outsiders, using its early projected records for the 2018 season."

"A 2017 first-team All-SEC selection, Williams is another talented offensive lineman," McShay wrote.

Sporting News

Updated May 4

Contributor Eric Galko is high on Williams. He has the Cleveland Browns taking him No. 5 overall, the highest selection of all the analysts here. What's not clear is how his draft order is determined.

"The Browns didn’t replace Joe Thomas in the 2018 NFL draft, and they likely will have to find his long-term replacement in 2019," Galko wrote. "Williams projects to be the top offensive tackle in the class."

CBS Sports

Updated May 7

Will Brinson has Williams going 14th overall to the Seattle Seahawks. Like Sporting News, how the draft order was set isn't explained.

"They keep not picking offensive linemen and we all keep giving them offensive linemen in mock drafts anyway," Brinson wrote.

San Diego Union-Tribune

Updated April 30

Eddie Brown has the Indianapolis Colts selecting Williams with the ninth pick. To determine draft order, he used Super Bowl futures from OddsShark.

"Next season will be Williams' third leading a dominant Crimson Tide offensive line," Brown wrote.

Brown also has Smith going in the first round, No. 25 to the Green Bay Packers.

"Smith is a traditional run-stuffing middle linebacker," Brown wrote.

Draftwire/USA Today

Updated April 30

Luke Easterling thinks Williams would be a good fit for the Chicago Bears with the No. 6 pick. His draft order comes courtesy of Super Bowl futures from Vegas Insider.

"Continuing the trend of giving Mitchell Trubisky every reason to succeed, Williams is a stud blocker who can plan either tackle spot at a high level," Easterling wrote.

Walter Football

Updated May 29

Arguably the most updated site for mock drafts is run by analyst Walter Cherepinsky. He has Williams going later than the rest, with the Minnesota Vikings taking him at No. 23.

"The Vikings paid Kirk Cousins a ton of guaranteed money this offseason, so they'll need to make sure they protect him as well as possible," Cherepinsky wrote. "Adding another tackle or guard makes sense. Jonah Williams had a great freshman year as Alabama's right tackle. He's now manning the blind side with Cam Robinson gone."

Cherepinsky's site covers two rounds. On Day 2, he explains why Smith joining the defending-champion Philadelphia Eagles at No. 41 makes sense.

"The Eagles have some issues in their linebacking corps," he wrote. "Jordan Hicks has had trouble staying healthy, while Mychal Kendricks will be an impending free agent after the 2019 season."


Updated May 22

Dane Brugler projects the underclassman going to the New York Giants with the 11th pick. His draft order is a reverse order of Super Bowl odds, via who he calls his personal adviser.

"Williams has started all 29 games in his first two seasons in Tuscaloosa, first at right tackle before moving to the left side as a sophomore," Brugler wrote. "His draft arrow is pointing north."

Draft Site

Updated in April

The site doesn't offered detailed analysis, but has a list of the first two rounds. Williams is slated to be drafted at No. 20 by the Detroit Lions. Also going in the first round is Smith, No. 29 to the Jacksonville Jaguars.