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Three-Point Stance: Sleeper defenders, '18 vs. '19, Bill Polian

CLASS OF 2019 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position

Advertisement National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell’s Three-Point Stance is here with some defensive three-stars from 2018 who could outplay their ranking, comparing the 2018 and 2019 classes and why Bill Polian is wrong about Lamar Jackson.

MORE: Updated Rivals250 for 2019 class | Crouch takes over No. 1 | Big Movers


Andres Fox
Andres Fox (Chad Simmons)

On Tuesday I took a look at several offensive three-star prospects in the 2018 class who could outplay their ranking, so it’s only fair to take a look at the defensive side of the ball as well. Keep an eye out for some of these guys to be potential stars down the line.

DE Andres Fox, Stanford – This kid is tough off the edge and can handle the run. Stanford develops hard-nosed defensive linemen.

DE Dorian Hardy, East Carolina – Trouble landed him outside of the Power Five but he’s a talent and has a chance to be a star at ECU.

DE Daniel Carson, Texas – He has good size and I like his get off and motor. He could play outside or inside, so his versatility is key.

DE/TE Alex Williams, Ohio State – His ceiling is very high as he’s got great length. He can play so many positions and could grow into an offensive tackle. I put him on defense because we project him as a DL, but he’s a Swiss Army Knife.

DE Trajan Jeffcoat, Missouri – He’s athletic and fast and Mizzou has a knack for turning guys into stars along the defensive line.

DT Devin Danielson, Pitt – This is a powerful kid who can handle and beat double teams. If he improves his balance a bit he will be a monster for Pitt.

LB Rosendo Louis, South Carolina – An active linebacker with good size and who can cover a lot of ground. He could be a star under Will Muschamp.

LB Jackson Sirmon, Washington – A tackling machine as an inside linebacker, Sirmon could play better than his ranking with a talented supporting cast at Washington.

LB Jake Venables, Clemson – A coach's son with good size and great instincts. I'm confident that he’ll be a real nice player at Clemson.

LB CJ Goetz, Wisconsin – A tall linebacker who could end up growing into a defensive end if needed. He always seems to be around the ball and will excel at Wisconsin.

CB Sevyn Banks, Ohio State – He’s tall, has room to fill out and he’s going to get coached up at Ohio State. Watch out.

CB Eddie Smith, Alabama – This is nearly the identical situation to Banks.

S Chamarri Conner, Virginia Tech – He’s a hitter and Bud Foster will coach this kid up.


Bo Nix
Bo Nix (

The 2019 class, at early glance, is not even close to the 2018 class when it comes to top-end talent. In fact, there are very few positions where I feel the top-ranked player in 2019 is better than the top guy in 2018. Here’s a comparison at the top of each position group.

Pro-style quarterback – Trevor Lawrence vs. Bo Nix – No competition here. Nix is good but Lawrence is great so 2018 wins this one.

Dual-threat quarterback – Justin Fields vs. Spencer Rattler – Same situation here, Rattler is going to be a good one, but Fields could be a great one. The 2018 class wins again.

All-purpose back – James Cook vs. Mark-Antony Richards – I like Richards and he could be a defensive back as well, but right now Cook takes this battle. This is one that could change before all is said and done with 2019.

Running back – Zamir White vs. Devyn Ford – Ford is very good but White is on that cusp of the top five or six running backs I’ve seen and Ford isn’t there yet.

Wide Receiver – Amon-Ra St. Brown vs. Theo Wease – Wease is big and very good but this one isn’t close right now. 2018’s St. Brown is a freak.

Tight end – Luke Ford vs. Hudson Henry – Henry could end up as good as his brother which would be amazing and allow him to take this battle, but right now I’d take 2018 and Ford.

Offensive tackle – Nick Petit-Frere vs. Darnell Wright – Wright is No. 2 overall so this is interesting because Petit-Frere is still growing and a few years away from greatness. But I’d still take Petit-Frere and 2018.

Offensive guard – Jamaree Salyer vs. Kardell Thomas – Thomas is angry and plays with passion but Salyer is one of the best guards I’ve seen. The 2018 class wins again.

Offensive center – Justin Dedich vs. Clay Webb – Webb is the first five-star center we’ve ever had, so 2019 takes a rare victory lap.

Weakside defensive end – Eyabi Anoma vs. Kayvon Thibodeaux – A very close one but Anoma’s motor wins this battle for 2018.

Strongside defensive end – Xavier Thomas vs. Christopher Hinton – Not even close as Thomas is a man-child and Hinton could be a better offensive lineman.

Defensive tackle – Taron Vincent vs. Ishmael Sopsher – Vincent is a great gap shooter but Sopsher is bigger and has more upside. The 2019 class gets the nod here.

Inside linebacker – Teradja Mitchell vs. Shane Lee – Two big inside linebackers with Mitchell and 2018 getting the edge because he moves better laterally.

Outside linebacker – Micah Parsons vs. Owen Pappoe – Pappoe is very good but Parsons is an absolute freak. This one isn’t close: 2018 in a landslide.

Cornerback – Patrick Surtain vs. Derek Stingley Jr. – Surtain is special and has a lot of advantages over Stingley, who is very good but not good enough to stop 2018 here.

Safety – Tyreke Johnson vs. Brian Williams – Johnson will take your head off and can cover. Williams can cover but isn’t as aggressive.

Athlete – Devon Williams vs. Quavaris Crouch – An easy win for 2019 here as Crouch is a potential freak.


I respect Bill Polian, I really do. He’s a Hall of Famer. He’s won the NFL Executive of the Year Award more than once and he knows more about football than I will ever know. But he’s very wrong about Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Polian, if you didn’t hear, went on ESPN’s “Golic and Wingo” radio show recently and said Jackson was too short and not accurate enough to be an NFL quarterback. He also said Jackson shouldn’t wait to make the change to wide receiver like Terrelle Pryor.

First of all, when is 6-foot-3 too short to play NFL quarterback? I stood next to Jackson in high school and he’s every bit of 6-foot-3. And I’ve scouted Jackson and Terrelle Pryor extensively through both high school and college football and can tell you that Jackson has better mechanics and is much more accurate as a passer.

On the flip side, I don’t think Jackson has the same ability as Pryor to change positions and become a wide receiver. Pryor was a freakish athlete in every sense – taller, bigger, and stronger and yes, more athletic overall than Jackson – and could have been a star at wide receiver in college.

Jackson has one position and one position only and its quarterback. And he has a chance to be a very good one.