The Group of Five conferences always seem to have their fair share of quality NFL Draft prospects. The 2019 draft will be no exceptions. Teams from the American Athletic Conference, Mid-American Conference, Conference USA, Sun Belt Conference, and the Mountain West Conference make up the Group of Five. Today we are going to look at the top 2019 NFL Draft prospect from each of the Group of Five conferences. We will also look at the top prospects for the FBS Independents and FCS Division.
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
ED OLIVER, JR/DL, HOUSTON
If you looked up freak show in the dictionary it will probably show you a picture of Ed Oliver. Oliver is built like a tank and moves like a fighter jet. He was a five-star recruit out of high school but stayed home in Houston. As a true freshman, Oliver had 22 TFL and five sacks. Last year, with the spotlight firmly on him, he responded with 16.5 TFL and 5.5 sacks. Oliver is currently my #1 overall prospect and he has already declared for the draft (he will play his junior season).
ANTHONY JOHNSON, SR/WR, BUFFALO
Anthony Johnson is a size/speed dynamo for UB. Johnson burst on the scene last year after two years at JUCO. He caught 76 passes for 1356 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2017. He has three cousins currently in the NFL, including Jadeveon Clowney. The crazy thing is, Johnson may not end up being the top prospect on the Buffalo team. QB Tyree Jackson could ultimately pass him by seasons end. A great problem to have if you are UB.
DEVIN SINGLETARY, JR/RB, FLORIDA ATLANTIC
There are not many more productive backs in the Group of Five (or college football in general) than Devin Singletary. He had a great season in 2016, but once he came under the coaching of Lane Kiffin, it became ridiculous. Singletary rushed 1918 yards and 32 touchdowns. He has averaged 6.5 yards-per-carry in his career to this point. He has shown a solid ability in the passing game. Singletary could emerge as one of the top players at his position before the end of 2018.
MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE
JAHLANI TAVAI, JR/LB, HAWAII
Hawaii hasn’t exactly been known for its defensive excellence in recent years. Jahlani Tavai can help sway those notions. Tavai is a sideline-to-sideline dominator. He finishes plays. Tavai has recorded over 120 tackles in each of the last two years. I need to study him more as a pass defender, but as a run defender, Tavai is top-notch.
SUN BELT CONFERENCE
JUSTICE HANSEN, SR/QB, ARKANSAS STATE
Justice Hansen has guided the Red Wolves to back-to-back bowl games. He is a big armed QB with some mobility. Hansen threw more INTs last year than I would prefer but he isn’t completely careless with the football. He is easily at the top of Group of Five quarterbacks. Hansen is a dark horse 1st round candidate.
RON LAFORCE, SR/DS, NEW MEXICO STATE
LaForce is an undersized safety prospect but he has no fear. He emerged a year ago for the Aggies after starting at the JUCO level. He finished the season with 104 tackles and 3 interceptions. 2 of his 3 picks came against arch-rival New Mexico. He recorded 16 tackles against an SEC-foe in Arkansas. I think Ron LaForce is going to sneak up on people in 2018 and be a solid prospect for the 2019 NFL Draft.
FCS DIVISION AND BELOW
TARYN CHRISTION, SR/QB, SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
Christion is a dual-threat QB. He has the arm strength to make NFL throws and has played some bad elements. 2018 will be key for his growth because now he must show what he can do without NFL-level talents like Dallas Goedert and Jake Wieneke to throw to. Christion has been very productive over the last two years and I expect it to continue.
That concludes our 2019 CONFERENCE-BY-CONFERENCE Draft prospect preview.
Let us know in the comments about your favorite prospect from these conference/divisions!
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