As we patiently wait for the free agent market to launch and stir up some buzz, we are just a couple months out from the NFL Draft. Last year was certainly surprising with the Cleveland Browns opting for Baker Mayfield at the top of the first round. With the Arizona Cardinals holding the first pick and a new head coach in Kliff Kingsbury for 2019, will they pull any surprises to open the first round? Here is a look at the first round mock.
1. Arizona Cardinals – Nick Bosa, EDGE, OHIO STATE
Kingsbury has publicly announced they are moving forward with Josh Rosen as their quarterback of the future. There won’t be any magical union for the Cardinals and Kyler Murray. Plus, the Cards makes the right choice by taking arguably the most disruptive edge defender in the entire draft. Some even say he’s better than his older brother, Joey.
2. San Francisco 49ers – Quinnen Williams, DL, ALABAMA
Over three of the last four seasons the 49ers have taken a defensive lineman in the first round and will make it four of the last five with the best interior d-lineman in the draft. San Francisco is a lot of analyst’s choice for a sneaky Super Bowl contender. They surely have invested enough in the draft to have a Super Bowl caliber defense.
3. New York Jets – Greedy Williams, DB, LSU
There were grumblings that the Jets were regretting the hefty contract that they shelled out for Trumaine Johnson last offseason, and if that doesn’t pay dividends in 2019, one could imagine a shortened stay for him in ‘Gang Green.’ However, if he does return on their investment, an addition of Williams’ talents to the likes of Johnson, Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye could go a long way in creating one of the better secondaries in the AFC.
4. Oakland Raiders – Josh Allen, EDGE, KENTUCKY
The Raiders sure could have used a pass rusher in 2018. If only they had someone. Well, if the first three picks play out like this, you can expect their reps to sprint to hand in their selection of Allen. He has been mocked all over the Top-10 selections across multiple drafts – Gruden gets redemption here and lands his prized pass rusher.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars (via TB) – Dwayne Haskins, QB, OHIO STATE
The Jaguars fell short of the Super Bowl in 2017 and fell even further from contention in 2018. The Jags’ offense has been completely tied to the run game, largely because of the coaching staffs reluctance to put their fate in the hands of Blake Bortles. Yet, when you deal with multiple offensive line injuries, that offensive approach is doomed to fail. Regardless of free agent signings, Jacksonville leap frogs New York and snatches the New York Giants fans dreams with the selection of the top quarterback of the draft.
6. New York Giants – Jonah Williams, OT, ALABAMA
Giants GM David Gettleman didn’t keep secret his urge to compete now and drafted Saquon Barkley in the first round last year. Still, the Giants fell flat and somehow have continued to support Eli Manning as their QB for 2019. Maybe they take a QB later in the draft, but here they realize they need to protect their aging investment. Williams immediately steps in next to left guard Will Hernandez and swings Nate Solder to the right tackle spot. The Giants just might be able to have a passing offense. We’ll see.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (via Jacksonville) – Byron Murphy, DB, WASHINGTON
Until the recent news of Gerald McCoy’s return for a 10th season in a Bucs uniform, you could have mocked any of the DL prospects here for his replacement. Instead the Bucs turn their focus to improving their nearly league worst pass defense (26th) and bring in Murphy. The sticky man coverage style defender comes from a long line of successful defensive backs from the Huskies.
8. Detroit Lions – Rashan Gary, EDGE, MICHIGAN
The “Ziggy” Ansah experiment didn’t have the kind of impact Lions faithful were banking on and he departs this offseason. Detroit could have used a DB here as well, with EDGE being a need, they pull the trigger and take the in-state product from Ann Arbor. The former Wolverine is an opening day starter for the Lions moving forward.
9. Buffalo – D.K. Metcalf, WR, OLE MISS
For the first time in years, the Bills aren’t in the market for a QB in the upcoming draft. They did, however, clean house and send many of their aging veteran receivers packing. The Bills’ front office personnel need to surround young gunslinger Josh Allen with talent. They do have promising players in Zay Jones, Robert Foster, and Isaiah McKenzie. But, neither of these are true alpha wideouts. Along comes Metcalf, one of the most imposing physical specimens we have seen in quite some time. Buffalo has found their top dog.
10. Denver Broncos – Drew Lock, QB, MISSOURI
Since John Elway took over as the general manager and president of football operations, the Broncos have drafted Tim Tebow, Brock Osweiler, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. They have also signed or traded for Peyton Manning, Case Keenum and soon Joe Flacco. Elway has shown a propensity for drafting big and athletic quarterbacks, and although this is against popular opinion, he does it again – but this time he gets it right. The productive rookie from the SEC finally breaks the ‘disappointing results’ trend for Elway.
11. Cincinnati Bengals – T.J Hockenson, TE, IOWA
Some of the Bengals’ best offensive years under former head coach Marvin Lewis, included great production from the tight end position – mainly Tyler Eifert. Eifert along with Tyler Kroft and C.J. Uzomah are all free agents this offseason. New head coach Zac Taylor brings his aggressive offense from the Sean McVay coaching tree – and hopes that Hockenson is the next top flight tight end from the Hawkeyes.
12. Washington Redskins (via Green Bay) – Kyler Murray, QB, OKLAHOMA
Alex Smith was lost for the season last year in a gruesome leg injury that was similar in more ways than one to what former Redskin quarterback Joe Theismann suffered (in fact, it was the exact same day 33 years apart…eerie). It is completely unknown at this point what his status will be for the upcoming season and many believe Smith’s successor will be found in this draft. We have Washington jumping ahead of other QB needy teams, like Miami, and snagging the most talked about prospect in Murray. The Oklahoma product could supplant other draft prospects at the position when all is said and done.
13. Miami Dolphins – Will Grier, QB, WEST VIRGINIA
With Adam Gase gone to the Jets, the Dolphins now turn their sights on the future and that means forgetting Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill has a fairly team-friendly contract and he very well could act as a bridge for the QB of the future. Many analysts think Daniel Jones gets selected within the Top-15, but he has just one year of experience as a starter, which could make some nervous. On the other hand, Mitch Trubisky only had one year as a starter too, and that worked out alright for the Chicago Bears to this point. Miami opts for the more experienced QB in Grier and brings him back to Florida where his college career started.
14. Atlanta Falcons – Ed Oliver, DL, HOUSTON
Oliver had a solid NFL Combine, showing great athleticism and he will make a team very happy with their investment. The Falcons luck out with the run on QB’s selected previously in the first round and Oliver lands in their lap. With both Grady Jarrett and Terrell McClain being possible free agents, Falcons fans can hope they find a way to pair Oliver with Jarrett and second year DL Deadrin Senat, to form an imposing interior defensive line rotation.
15. Green Bay Packers (via Washington) – Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, CLEMSON
In his first year as general manager, Brian Gutekunst pulled off a veteran move by acquiring this years 30th overall selection to go along with this pick, and still was able to pick Jaire Alexander and come back and snag Joshua Jackson in the second round in 2018. This selection of Ferrell allows Green Bay to address a glaring hole with the departure of either Clay Matthews or Nick Perry – or both. Ferrell has great size and was a solid producer during his tenure at Clemson.
16. Carolina Panthers – Dalton Risner, OL, KANSAS STATE
The Panthers are currently experiencing the aftermath of a pieced together offensive line that stumbled around Week 6 of the 2018 regular season. This led to a seven-game losing streak, not making the postseason and the icing on the cake was offseason throwing-shoulder surgery for franchise QB, Cam Newton. The Panthers’ front office doesn’t need to be reminded of that mistake, as they select one of the meanest and most tenacious offensive line prospects in the draft.
17. Cleveland Browns – N’Keal Harry, WR, ARIZONA STATE
It’s a new era in Cleveland, they have what looks like a franchise quarterback and a collective front office paired with a coaching staff bent on creating a winning culture. One spot they need to address is the wide receiver position. Jarvis Landry did okay in that role last year, but seems to be better suited to be an exceptional second option. John Dorsey makes another great selection with the addition of Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry and the ‘Dawg Pound’ now has their top wideout.
18. Minnesota Vikings – Jawaan Taylor, OT, FLORIDA
The Vikings had one of the most intimidating defensive units since Mike Zimmer took over as head coach, yet really mired in mediocrity for much of the 2018 season. Much of this was due to the inability to open running lanes for Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray, while keeping Kirk Cousins upright. Rick Spielman and Zygi Wilf will continue to build through the draft and look to improve the offensive line and it starts with the best player available at the tackle position.
19. Tennessee Titans – Montez Sweat, EDGE, MISSISSIPPI STATE
In the 2018 rookie draft, Tennessee took Harold Landry with the 41st overall pick in the second round. He paid immediate dividends with 44 tackles (five for a loss) and 4.5 sacks. The Titans again dip into the EDGE defender pool and select Montez Sweat. Sweat transferred after two years of little usage from Michigan State, and produced double digit sacks for the Bulldogs in each of his two seasons in the SEC. Taking proven production from a ‘Power Five’ Conference is always a positive step forward and will help with the possibility of Bryan Orakpo‘s departure ahead of free agency.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers – Devin White, ILB, LSU
The draft can’t come soon enough for the Steelers. Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell turned into embarrassing blemishes for the Rooney family and Mike Tomlin over the past two seasons. Pittsburgh needs some good publicity. And, here it is in the form of Devin White. After the horrific injury to Ryan Shazier, the Steelers have felt every bit of his absence. White is a possible star in the NFL and should succeed with whatever defensive scheme he lands in.
21. Seattle Seahawks – Cody Ford, OT, OKLAHOMA
Could they select another running back? No, it won’t happen again. Seattle had a very good defense again, and like prior seasons, still needed better play from the offensive line. They take Ford here and reap the benefits. He’s a powerful tackle who excels in pass protection, something the Seahawks haven’t been able to depend on for quite some time. Addressing a need, it’s a newer concept in Seattle.
22. Baltimore Ravens – A.J. Brown, WR, OLE MISS
The Ravens made a sincere effort to improve their receiving corps in 2018 and did so in the form of Michael Crabtree and John Brown. With the transition from the vertical game that Flacco presented, to the ground and pound style that Lamar Jackson represents, the needs have changed. (John) Brown will find himself with a new home this offseason and the Ravens need an all-around producer at the receiver position. (A.J.) Brown should be able to step in and be a very productive slot player for the Ravens and will find the openings when Jackson begins to scramble. A good fit here.
23. Houston Texans – Yodny Cajuste, OT, WEST VIRGINIA
The Texans have a need to build a quality offensive line for Deshaun Watson to really be unleashed. They haven’t invested much in the way of draft choices over the last few years and have just three total offensive linemen on the roster that they drafted. Their lack of investment has shown in many games over the last two seasons. The West Virginia product can be a starter immediately, and if Houston schemes to add help where needed, Yodny should be more than serviceable and develop quickly.
24. Oakland Raiders (via Chicago) – David Montgomery, RB, IOWA STATE
Marshawn Lynch is gone and Doug Martin might not be far behind. Oakland collected these picks for a reason, and that was so Jon Gruden could build a team to his liking. He adds another key piece here with the selection of Montgomery. He is a workhorse style back and almost reminds you of the type of running backs Gruden had during his first tenure with the ‘Silver and Black’. A necessary choice at this point in the draft with the Philadelphia Eagles being linked to selecting a back as well.
25. Philadelphia Eagles – Joshua Jacobs, RB, ALABAMA
The Eagles and GM Howie Roseman could have gone in multiple directions here, but they have shown they are more than willing to make big splash moves. Jacobs has already been dubbed the RB1 of this draft class by many in the fantasy football community, and this landing spot should excite Eagles fans. Doug Pederson prefers a committee approach in the backfield, but Jacobs has three down capability, maybe there’s change on the horizon? Nevertheless, Jacobs is a size and speed specimen that will make his presence felt on the field from day one.
26. Indianapolis Colts – Jachai Polite, EDGE, FLORIDA
The Colts had arguably the most successful draft of any franchise in 2018, and it was headlined by Quentin Nelson, Darius Leonard and Tyquan Lewis. Indy might face the possibility of Najee Good departing and Polite is a clear upgrade. He will step in and immediately add to an ever-improving Colts defense. This should allow Leonard to face less double teams as well – another great selection from Chris Ballard.
27. Oakland Raiders (via Dallas) – Kelvin Harmon, WR, N.C. STATE
Mike Mayock continues to patch up holes in the roster that Gruden and former GM Reggie McKenzie created last season by selecting Harmon. At 6-3 and 214, he is built to be a perimeter receiver in the NFL. He is fresh off back-to-back 1,000-plus yard seasons at NC State, catching passes from Ryan Finley. The Raiders cap off a solid first round under their new front office regime.
28. Los Angeles Chargers – Devin Bush, ILB, MICHIGAN
Los Angeles is in the market for the services of an interior linebacker and the free agent market leaves a lot to be desired. A name that fits the hole here, former Wolverine Devin Bush. Both Denzel Perryman and Hayes Pullard are free agents this offseason, while Bush has shown he has three down capability. The Michigan product amassed 179 tackles, and 10 sacks to go along with an interception over his last 2 seasons in Blue.
29. Kansas City Chiefs – Johnathan Abram, S, MISSISSIPPI STATE
The Chiefs had one of the best offenses in the NFL in 2018 and boasted a defense that was almost as equally bad. The Chiefs were 31st against the pass in 2018, after allowing 4,374 yards through the air. KC begins their process to remedy the situation with the best safety prospect in the draft, and pairs him with Eric Berry to form an exciting safety tandem.
30. Green Bay Packers (via New Orleans) – Brian Burns, EDGE, FSU
Assuming Green Bay doesn’t trade out of this spot, and brings in a safety via free agency, one could easily see Brian Burns in ‘Green and Gold.’ The former Seminole showed incredible ability to find the ball and make plays. In 2018, Burns recorded 15.5 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks and topped it off with three forced fumbles and three batted balls. This pairing with (Clelin) Ferrell would certainly give Green Bay a pass rushing duo to reckon with for years to come.
31. Los Angeles Rams – Christian Wilkins, DL, CLEMSON
The 2018 National Champion Clemson Tigers’ defensive line, boasted the most amount of NFL ready prospects in the nation. Wilkins was one of the most disruptive and polarizing figures of the group and fits right where Ndamukung Suh was. The Rams must focus future financial resources elsewhere in preparation of needing to re-sign players like Jared Goff and Cooper Kupp. Wilkins fits in well right next to Aaron Donald.
32. New England Patriots – Noah Fant, TE, IOWA
Another season gone by and another Patriots Super Bowl to add to the trophy case. Unfortunately, for the rest of the league, the Patriot that has been rumored to be pondering retirement, isn’t Tom Brady – but Rob Gronkowski. The ‘rich get richer’ in this story and the Pats scoop up Gronk’s successor in the form of Noah Fant. Another weapon added to the Pats arsenal to further string along Brady’s successful career.
by Joshua Deisinger – @sconnieJosh