Because I like hurting my brain for you people, here we go with my mock draft. First off, some ground rules. No trades. Too many factors in play to start moving around the draft order. Which is funny, because I have a feeling that the Cardinals are going to start the show by trading back for more picks.
1. Arizona Cardinals- Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
Wait…What about Kyler Murray? MY gut instinct is that it’s hype. And if Murray goes number one overall, it’s because the Cardinals traded this pick away for multiples. Arizona isn’t getting what they want for Josh Rosen, who they traded three picks to move up for last year. I think it will be way too early to call him a bust, and the Cardinals aren’t close, especially in a division with the Rams and Seahawks. One player isn’t even going to get them back to .500. This tells me that they need to stack talent all over the field, not draft an undersized QB that might or might not be better than the prototypically-sized guy they have now. Defensively, they have plenty of needs, but my gut is that an anchor for the defensive line can do more to stabilize this non-contender than an EDGE rusher or a flashy linebacker. Williams had 19.5 tackles for loss against a bevy of future NFL running backs in the SEC. He’s a ten-year NFL starter and a no-miss prospect.
2. San Francisco- Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio St.
Have you seen Joey Bosa play for the Chargers? Well, his little brother is probably better. He graded out faster and stronger at the combine and he’s a natural hand fighter with great instincts and technique. He’s an immediate threat to have ten-plus sacks at the next level. He could be the piece that the Niners need to supercharge that defense.
3. NY Jets- Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
If Bosa is available here, that’s the pick, but New York needs pass rushing, and this is a heck of a year to fill those slots. Allen was a beast in his senior year at Kentucky, sacking opposing quarterbacks seventeen times and forcing five fumbles. There’s a lot to like here for a Jets team that will need to shore up their defense and pester Tom Brady if they want to take a run at the AFC East.
4. Oakland- Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
Derek Carr isn’t the answer in Oakland. Believe me, the arrival of Antonio Brown won’t change Carr’s skittishness. He just hasn’t been the same guy since the injury that ended the Raiders playoff hopes a few seasons back. There’s no doubt in my mind that Jon Gruden likes what he sees in Kyler Murray. Might the Raiders try to give Arizona this pick and another to ensure that Arizona doesn’t grab him first overall? I’m not sure, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Apparently, Jon Gruden has sent his scouts home leading up to the draft. I’m not sure what sort of power play that is, but it tells me that they’re planning something that they can’t leak.
5. Tampa Bay- Devin White, LB, LSU
The six-foot, 237 lb. linebacker out of LSU is the best linebacker in the draft. He’s averaged over 125 tackles per season for LSU and has a nose for the play. He’s an inside linebacker but will roam sideline to sideline and make plays all over the field. For a Tampa Bay defense that was, to be kind, ineffectual, White is the perfect chess piece to upgrade both their run and pass defense.
6. NY Giants, Brian Burns, EDGE, FSU
Did I mention that this draft was awash with top-tier edge rushers? Montez Sweat would also be a good bet here, but a heart condition might have him slipping down teams’ draft boards. I know it’s considered gospel that Dwayne Haskins from Ohio St. is headed to New York, but I don’t buy it. The great Giants teams of the past fifteen years are all predicated on elite pass
rushers. I think that frequently teams overvalue quarterbacks in the draft, but the Giants don’t make that mistake here. They have the seventeenth pick in the draft as well, so maybe they’ll look for Eli Manning’s understudy there.
7. Jacksonville, Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
OK, with Nick Foles coming to town, the Jags have solved their biggest problem, but it still leaves them with plenty of needs come draft day. That offensive line needs big bodies to protect their new QB, so that’s where I think they’ll start. Jawaan Taylor is the consensus pick for best available big man. He’s 6’5”, 312 lbs. of earth-mover. He’ll be an asset in pass protection and opening lanes for Leonard Fournette. If this offense gets on track, do these Jags become a contender again?
8. Detroit, T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
Let’s remember that Matt Patricia comes from New England. He’s seen what now-retired TE Rob Gronkowski brought to the table in terms of pass-catching and run-blocking. Hockenson is that type of versatile talent, and he’s a mismatch nightmare at 6’5”, 251 lbs. The Lions have plenty of needs here, but with Hockenson still on the board at eight, I think they have to go for it.
9. Buffalo, Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan
I toyed with the idea of putting an offensive lineman here. But Rashan Gary has immense potential to be a game changer at the next level. It might be a risky pick, but the Bills need to make a gamble that pays off if they want to compete. He’s a physical defensive lineman with unique tools at 6’4”, 277 lbs, but he might have been playing out of position at Michigan. His 4.58 in the forty-yard-dash was the top performance at the combine among defensive linemen. Will he be a pure edge rusher at the next level?
10. Denver, Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
I’m not alone with this pick. There’s plenty of pundits out there who see Lock as a lock to end up in Denver. Joe Flacco isn’t a long-term solution, he’s a stopgap. Lock is the endgame. On the strength of a massive junior year at Missouri where he threw 44 TDs to 13 INTs and averaged almost ten yards per pass attempt, he’s a good pick. He followed that up with an even more accurate senior year. It’s no secret that John Elway wants the prototypical pocket passer, he’ll be on the board at ten.
11. Cincinnati, Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio St.
Andy Dalton was never a bad passer by NFL standards. He’s never been particularly good, either. Add in the talent around him over the past few years, and it’s easy to make the case that it’s time for a big change in Cincinnati. There’s a lot of talk that Haskins goes to the Giants at six, but I don’t see it. That leaves the young and talented, but relatively untested Haskins on the board here. He’s only had two years to look at, but his 2018 season for Ohio State was a doozy. 4831 yards, completing 70% of his passes with 50 TDs to only 8 INTs. He’s well worth a gamble for a Bengals team that hasn’t won a playoff game since 1990.
12. Green Bay, Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
With the departure of Clay Matthews, Green Bay will be looking for a disruptive presence for their defensive line. Ed Oliver might fit the bill. He’s slightly undersized, but he’s athletic and fast. He’s not an edge rushing sack machine, but he stuffs the stat sheet with tackles for loss, despite near constant double teams. If that sounds familiar, it’s because that’s how Aaron
Donald was regarded coming into the league. If Ed Oliver is a mini-Aaron Donald, sign me up.
13. Miami, Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
The Dolphins allowed the fifth-most sacks in the league last year, and they’ve just invested in flat-footed veteran (and #beardgoals legend) Ryan Fitzpatrick. For that to work at all, they need to protect Fitz-magic. Enter Jonah Williams, the 6’4.5”, 302 lbs. offensive lineman out of Bama. He’s a bruiser that will give Fitzpatrick time in the pocket. That’s exactly what they need.
14. Atlanta, Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
Wilkins was at the heart of the best defense in the NCAA by average yards per play. The Falcons need that sort of versatile run stopping defensive lineman to shore up a unit that allowed over 130 YPG on the ground in 2018. He might seem a little small, at only 6’3”, but he’s quick for his 315 lbs. and can elude blockers to make plays.
15. Washington, D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
Let’s assume for a second that Washington is set at QB. I’m not sure they are, but to do a mock draft, you need to make some assumptions. If that’s the case, they need a receiver to replace Jamison Crowder. D.K. Metcalf rocketed up draft boards everywhere with a near-perfect combine that had scouts drawing comparisons to Calvin Johnson. Megatron 2.0. Hard to miss here.
16. Carolina, Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
Carolina’s linebacking corps will look different for the first time in forever, with the departure of legend Thomas Davis. Luke Kuechly will need some help back there, and I love the idea of Devin Bush, a speedy, if slightly undersized, sideline-to-sideline backer going to Carolina. Bush has a nose for pass breakups in the flat, can get to the quarterback and is difficult for heavy and slow offensive lineman to block effectively. If the Panthers want to find Davis’ replacement this week, Bush is at the top of my list for them.
17. NY Giants, Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
The Eli Manning era might not be over yet, but it ain’t far off, either. With two picks in the first round, I’d be shocked if the Giants don’t grab a QB with this second pick. Jones is prototypically-sized (6’5”, 221lbs.) and is probably better than his stats suggest, given he was passing to Duke’s receiving corps. I can easily see Jones being the perfect understudy/development project as the Giants put a bow on Manning’s career.
18. Minnesota, Andre Dillard, OT, Washington St.
Minnesota’s offensive line was a mess last season, negating any upswing that might have occurred with Kirk Cousins arrival. They need several pieces along the line, and the best OG or OT on the board here is Dillard. He’s a brilliant pass protector and he’s a solid scheme blocker in run situations. He’s athletic and surprisingly quick for 6’5”, 315 lbs., he’ll be fun to watch against Bears and Packers pass rushers at the next level.
19. Tennessee, Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
The Titans were a bit of an enigma last season, and it’s hard to diagnose exactly where the troubles lie. At this point in the draft, I was leaning towards the offensive side of the ball for the Titans, but with the top prospect among cornerbacks still on the board, I can’t see Tennessee passing on the blazing fast (4.37), 6’2” corner. He’s got too much upside potential to fall any further.
20. Pittsburgh, Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama
Pittsburgh needs to stiffen up on the defensive side of the ball, Wilson will help. Wilson started at Bama as a true freshman and led the team in interceptions his sophomore season. He’s the textbook definition of a modern NFL linebacker who can play in multiple defensive fronts with ease. This might be a little bit high for Wilson, with both of the Devins off the board, he’s the best linebacker available in my opinion. You don’t always draft for need, but in this instance, the Steelers certainly should.
21. Seattle, Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi St.
And here’s a case of potential upside outweighing need. The Seahawks made something from nothing last year, and their area of biggest need is probably wide receiver. But Montez Sweat is probably a top ten pick if the combine didn’t reveal a minor heart condition. Doctors have cleared him to play at every level, and Sweat is unconcerned, but with a draft class chock-full of pass rushers, it doesn’t surprise me to see him slipping a bit. That being said, the condition clearly doesn’t slow him down. Thirty-one wide receiver prospects at the combine ran slower than he did (4.41) in the forty. Seattle will get a steal selecting him at twenty-first overall.
22. Baltimore, Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
Baltimore made the playoffs last season on the strength of a run-first attack that came alive under Lamar Jackson. There’s no reason to think that the Ravens can’t continue that scheme, but a good bet is that they’ll look to open it up with more downfield strikes. Fant is a pass-catching TE that will be far more useful catching passes in the flat than run-blocking. He’s got
size and length and has some quickness (4.5) to separate. As part of the Iowa tandem at TE, he averaged over 14 yards per reception over the past two seasons. He could well become a sturdier version of Jimmy Graham.
23. Houston, Garrett Bradbury, C/OG, N.C. State
Houston, after a season in which the Texans allowed the most sacks in the league, has a glaring need all along the offensive line. Garrett Bradbury is a solid bet to shore up protection, and he can play a few different places along the line as they rebuild/tweak that unit. Cody Ford would also be a good pick here, but I like Bradbury’s versatility.
24. Oakland, Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
Oakland didn’t get to opposing quarterbacks much in 2018 after they shipped off Khalil Mack. They’ll need to upgrade along the defensive line with this pick. In most other drafts, Ferrell would be getting more buzz than he has. With the glut of edge rushers available, Ferrell has somehow gotten lost in the shuffle, but he’s a solid day one starter on almost any team in the
league. He’s not just a sack machine, he’s solid against the run, and frequently penetrates with his speed and good hands. Granted, he isn’t Khalil Mack, but for 1/10 th the price, the Raiders will get way more than ten-percent of Mack’s production.
25. Philadelphia, Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
Carson Wentz has gone down with season-ending injuries two seasons in a row. With Nick Foles gone, the Eagles won’t have the type of super-backup that won them a Super Bowl title two years ago and carried them into the playoffs last season. To keep Wentz healthy, they need to become a run-first team. Josh Jacobs from Alabama is the answer. He’s a compact back, at 5’10”, 220 lbs., but he has plenty of shiftiness, isn’t afraid of contact, and catches the ball well on the move. He’s not the best back in pass protection but will be a versatile weapon for the Eagles.
26. Indianapolis, Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
The Colts need two things to continue their ascent in the AFC South. First on the list is a steadier secondary. Baker isn’t huge at 5’11”, 193 lbs., and he isn’t flat out fast (4.52), but he is the sort of corner than makes life miserable for opposing receivers. Great instincts and hands, plus he has a tendency to get loose after interceptions. He AVERAGED over 40 yards per INT return in 2018. Fun bonus, he didn’t allow a single touchdown in his final two years at Georgia.
27. Oakland, Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi St.
This is Oakland’s third pick in the first round (assuming that they don’t package picks to move up, which I think they might). It’s not so much about need here, it’s about finding NFL-ready players that can make impact. That being said, this pick also satisfies the need to shore up a mediocre secondary in the pass-happy AFC West. Abram is an aggressive safety who loves to hit and will remind Raiders fans of a more old-school silver and black defender.
28. LA Chargers, Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
The Chargers went to the playoffs last year as one of the most dangerous wildcard teams ever. They’re stacked on both sides of the ball, and there aren’t a lot of obvious needs here. But you can always beef up your defensive line, and Lawrence will take up space. The 6’4” 342 lbs. monster is an absolute beast in the run game, bowling over blockers and collapsing pockets. He has the ability to change opposing O.C.’s game plans just by setting foot on the field.
29. Seattle, Darnell Savage, S, Maryland
Savage is rapidly moving up scouts’ draft boards after a 4.46 forty at the combine, plus he’s versatile. Savage is solid in the run game and a thumper that doesn’t miss once he locks on, plus he’s a ballhawk. He’s a little undersized, but certainly has the frame to make tackles at the next level. He could be a great piece to add to a defense that values versatility in the secondary.
30. Green Bay, Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama
It won’t take too much to rejuvenate the Packers. They’re always close as long as they have A-Rod, and with two picks in the first round, they’re sure to address their Hall of Fame QB’s weapons. Plenty of folks have noted that this isn’t a great draft at the skill positions, and I agree, but sometimes raw talent can be molded into something, and Irv Smith Jr. might be one of those guys. He’s a good blocker and catches the ball well, and his athleticism will make him tough to bring down after the catch. He didn’t catch a ton of balls at Alabama because tight ends are an afterthought in their offense, but I think he could become a top-tier TE very quickly for the Packers. If Green Bay passes on him, New England will definitely take him two picks later.
31. LA Rams, Cody Ford, OG, Oklahoma
The Rams don’t need a lot of help. They’re a loaded team on both sides of the ball, but New England did expose a weakness in the Super Bowl. With Todd Gurley ineffective/unavailable, play action broke down under the weight of a relentless Patriot pass rush. Some more athleticism along the offensive line will help. Cody Ford is 6’4”, 329 with a 5.21 forty. He’s a touch raw but has the ability to move left to right quickly and has a high ceiling if he can develop his hands and learn to manipulate defenders.
32. New England, Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame
This is exactly the sort of pick you’ll expect from the Patriots. It’s a head-scratcher, unless you know what they’re looking for. Tillery can be a force rushing the QB, but has a balanced skill set, and he’s long, at almost 6’7”. He can be deployed in a variety of fronts and can be bounced around the line a bit. He’s got good football IQ and has room to fill out his frame to get stronger at the next level.
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