With the 2019 NFL Draft fast approaching, mock drafts and prospect rankings are flying fast and furious. Let's take a moment to view this class through a slightly different prism: by finding the best NFL team fits for five of the top prospects at four key positions. The below list does not necessarily take into account where these teams are drafting and how many picks they hold; rather, this is about identifying the best match between prospect and team.
Below, we've paired five top running back prospects (ranked in order) with the teams that best fit them. Click on the tabs above to see fits for receivers, quarterbacks and pass rushers.
The fact that Raiders brass is apparently waiting to make a final decision about re-signing Marshawn Lynch until after the draft suggests a younger back is probably on their radar, perhaps even someone whom Oakland could pick 24th or 27th overall. In 12 seasons as an NFL coach, Jon Gruden has produced just two 1,000-yard rushers (Tyrone Wheatley in Oakland in 2000 and Cadillac Williams in Tampa Bay in 2005). Landing a true bell-cow back would help make the Raiders' overhauled receiving corps even more effective. Jacobs has very good hands, outstanding quickness and strength as a runner. He only carried the ball 251 times in three seasons at Alabama, which means there should be plenty of tread left on his tires. And he can line up as a Wildcat quarterback, which is the kind of thing Gruden loves. Jacobs is probably the best back in this year's draft and should have a very good NFL career.
Jordan Howard's limited receiving skills made him expendable in coach Matt Nagy's offense, and he was thus shipped to Philadelphia last month. Still, Howard did produce on the ground (935 yards and nine TDs on 250 carries), and Chicago will have to find someone to replicate that. Sanders racked up 1,274 rushing yards on 220 carries (5.8 yards per carry) and 24 catches for 139 yards last season at Penn State, showing very good running and pass-catching skills, which could make him an ideal candidate to become the No. 2 back behind Tarik Cohen, with free-agent signee Mike Davis sliding into the No. 3 role. He also should have relatively fresh legs, given that he was working behind reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Saquon Barkley in his first two seasons with the Nittany Lions.
Tampa tied for 30th in the NFL last season in average yards per carry (3.9) and average rushing yards gained on first down (also 3.9). New head coach Bruce Arians said he wants to build aroundPeyton Barber, but Barber has yet to demonstrate he'll be able to play a major role in the Bucs' passing attack, finishing last season with a career-high 20 catches. 2018 second-rounder Ronald Jones, meanwhile, was a disappointment as a rookie, finishing with 44 yards on 23 carries in nine games. Tampa will likely use its first two picks (Nos. 5 and 39 overall) to address defensive needs, but it would make sense to look for a pass-catching back as early as Round 3. Enter Harris, who proved to be a steady player capable of running inside or outside and excelled at catching the football for the Crimson Tide.
Coach Matt Patricia has indicated he doesn't want to put too great a workload on Kerryon Johnson, who is coming off a knee injury that prematurely ended an otherwise impressive rookie season. Detroit added C.J. Andersonon a one-year deal as veteran help, but it would still make sense for the Lions to turn to the draft for depth, depending on how they feel about Theo Riddick and Zach Zenner. Anderson is probably as skilled as Josh Jacobs -- the only reason he'd still be available later in the draft is his injury history, which includes a knee injury that ended his 2018 season in September. He's a very good back, a tough runner who can run it inside or bounce it outside and make an impact as a pass-catcher in the Lions' scheme. The Oklahoma product should be available in the fifth or sixth round, and he could be a steal for Detroit, if he stays healthy enough to let his talent shine.
Christian McCaffrey has proven himself to be a force, generating 1,965 yards from scrimmage (6.0 yards per touch) in 2018, but the two-year veteran doesn't have the strength to run through people. Thus, the Panthers could still stand to add someone who can run the ball inside. Montgomery is big enough (5-foot-10, 222 pounds) to get in there and muscle his way forward in short-yardage and goal-line situations -- plus, he has enough pass-catching ability (71 catches, 582 receiving yards in three seasons at Iowa State) that he won't limit what Carolina can do when he's on the field. The former Cyclone projects as a nice backfield complement to McCaffrey.