It’s time for another projection of the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
As someone that regularly collects and collates mock drafts, I find it frustrating when many simply pump out a “new” one but have only changed a handful of picks from their previous version.
I made a concerted effort not to do that with this mock draft. I can proudly say that only four picks from my previous mock from over a month ago are the same. Nearly 90 percent turnover is something I can proudly boast compared to many of the mocks you’ll find elsewhere on the internet.
A lot of that has to do with simply the fact that free agency completely turns everything on its head, which is why I always say that while mocks before March can be fun exercises, they’re functionally worthless as far as their predictive capabilities go.
It’s not to suggest that a mock even a month ahead of the draft is exactly accurate, but it can at least be in the same zip code as what the actual draft will be.
So without further ado, let’s get to it!
1. Arizona Cardinals – QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
I continue to be in denial about the Cardinals selecting a quarterback a year after trading up for Josh Rosen. Yet all the rumors seem to suggest that the new regime in Arizona is leaning that way
My current belief is that the Cardinals don’t want Murray, but instead are trying to make people think they want him so that they can get someone (*cough* Oakland *cough*) to give them a king’s ransom in a trade for him.
But with all that in mind, let’s give them Murray anyway. It seems to me that people look at Murray, see Mayfield’s 2018 success and think it’s replicable. Both are short quarterbacks from Oklahoma that won Heisman trophies, so clearly they must be the same!
2. San Francisco 49ers – DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State
If for whatever reason, the Cardinals pass on Bosa, the 49ers will happily snatch him up even after acquiring Dee Ford this offseason. Solomon Thomas has not been a success so far in his short stint in the Bay Area and there are no questions about Bosa’s potential to be one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL.
3. New York Jets – OLB Josh Allen, Kentucky
Over a month ago, I projected the Jets to take an offensive tackle with this pick. Post free agency, it remains the most glaring hole on the team. So I think the Jets are going to look at moving back from this pick so they can get a blocker up front. In their ideal world, the Jets can entice someone to come up for another one of the quarterbacks.
But instead, they’ll take an edge-rusher after striking out on one during free agency. Allen is the best fit given that new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is expected to keep their 3-4 defense for the time being. That’s something that makes little to no sense to me either, but I’ll save that rant for another day.
4. Oakland Raiders – DT Quinnen Williams, Oklahoma
If the Raiders don’t move up for Murray, I suspect they’ll “settle” for the best pass-rusher available at this pick. With no-nonsense GM Mike Mayock in the building to save Jon Gruden from himself, Williams is the pick. Despite edge-rusher being a far more glaring hole than defensive tackle, the Raiders just need to get the best player possible with this pick, and not reach for need this high like they did a year ago with the Kolton Miller pick.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – LB Devin White, LSU
After losing Kwon Alexander in free agency and despite adding Deone Bucannon to a one-year contract, the Bucs could add some long-term stability at the linebacker position by taking White. Putting him beside Lavonte David in Todd Bowles’ 3-4 scheme will give the Bucs a lot of speed in the middle of their defense.
6. New York Giants – OLB Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
The Giants are in shambles after the Odell Beckham trade but seem firmly committed to quarterback Eli Manning for at least another year. Thus they’ll look to improve their pass rush with this top pick by taking Sweat, who dominated at the Combine. Sweat’s heart condition is a concern, but I doubt it causes him to drop like it did for Maurice Hurst a year ago.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – OT Jawaan Taylor, Florida
The Jaguars have a clear need at right tackle and are trying to fix an offensive line that gave up over 50 sacks a year ago. Enter Taylor, who should slide in immediately to start opposite Cam Robinson.
8. Detroit Lions – DE Rashan Gary, Michigan
After the addition of Trey Flowers, the Lions could still use some edge pressure. While many project Gary to play inside in the NFL, my scouting eyes tell me he seems most comfortable on the edge and possesses the type of athleticism to slim down and be able to potentially stand up in Matt Patricia’s hybrid defense.
9. Buffalo Bills – DE Brian Burns, Florida State
The Bills have been very active in free agency to fill several needs across their roster, but the one problem spot that remains is their limited pass rush. With Jerry Hughes approaching age 31 in a contract year, securing their edge pressure for the long-term with Burns will be a priority in the draft.
10. Denver Broncos – DT Ed Oliver, Houston
The Broncos will be tempted to take a quarterback like Drew Lock here, but they know that Joe Flacco isn’t going to have any of that after bristling at the presence of Lamar Jackson a year ago. So they’ll look to solidify their already dynamic pass rush with some interior help where Adam Gotsis simply hasn’t been a difference maker.
11. Cincinnati Bengals – QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
The Bengals can easily move on from Andy Dalton after this season and with Marvin Lewis out the building, one expects the purge to continue by looking for a new franchise quarterback like Haskins. The Bengals know that to compete in the changing AFC North, getting new blood under center is a must.
12. Green Bay Packers – WR D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss
The Packers have spent just one first-round pick on a wide receiver in the past 20 years. But the team’s activity in free agency suggests that the “old ways” of operating are a thing of the past. New head coach Matt LaFleur would love to put Metcalf and Davante Adams on the field together to make sure that Aaron Rodgers has a bevy of weapons to throw to in the twilight of his career.
13. Miami Dolphins – OT Jonah Williams, Alabama
Everyone expects the Dolphins to bottom out in 2019 in order to position themselves to take a franchise quarterback next year. So it makes sense to try and build up the offensive line in the meantime. Williams can step in immediately into JaWuan James’ vacancy at right tackle.
14. Atlanta Falcons – OT Cody Ford, Oklahoma
The Falcons upgraded their guard play with James Carpenter and Jamon Brown this offseason, but can’t be content with Ty Sambrailo at the right tackle spot with just eight career starts. Ford brings the physicality that the team has been looking for all offseason and gives the team a long-term piece on their offensive line to team with Jake Matthews.
15. Washington Redskins – LB Devin Bush, Michigan
Don’t be surprised if the Redskins are in play to move up for a quarterback, as that is the type of bold move that owner Daniel Snyder wants to make in order to reinvigorate a dejected fanbase. But if they stay put, they do have a hole at inside linebacker after Zach Brown was released and the future reliability of Reuben Foster remains undetermined. Bush fills that role perfectly with
16. Carolina Panthers – OT Andre Dillard, Washington State
Having missed out on the run of pass-rushers earlier in this projection, the Panthers “settle” for one of the better tackle prospects in this class in Dillard. Despite retaining Daryl Williams for another year at right tackle, the Panthers can groom Dillard to play left tackle and kick Taylor Moton over to the right side come 2020.
17. New York Giants – QB Daniel Jones, Duke
I have a strong suspicion that the Giants will seek to bolster their offensive line with this pick, again because this team is inexplicably committed to Manning. But giving them Jones makes a lot of sense given his shared history with David Cutcliffe. Jones should be able to integrate smoothly into that locker room and not be a threat to Manning for the next few years as the Giants continue to circle the drain at quarterback.
18. Minnesota Vikings – DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson
The Vikings need all the help they can get on their offensive line, but Wilkins is too good a proposition to pass up here. After losing Sheldon Richardson this offseason, Jaleel Johnson not making much of an impact, combined with Linval Joseph getting up there in years, Wilkins is a solid pick to re-solidify the middle of their defensive line.
19. Tennessee Titans – OC Garrett Bradbury, N.C. State
Despite spending a lot on him in free agency, new left guard Rodger Saffold is at best a two-year solution. The Titans need some long-term solutions, which Bradbury can provide. While he’s been a fixture at center for the past three years, Ben Jones did begin his NFL career playing guard in Houston, giving the Titans some added flexibility to get their five best offensive linemen on the field at the same time.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers – CB Greedy Williams, LSU
The Steelers have sunk a number of high picks in their secondary in recent years to no avail. The addition of cornerback Steven Nelson in free agency means that unlike Artie Burns and Tremaine Edmunds, Williams won’t be forced to have to hit the ground running for the Steelers at cornerback in 2019. Instead, he can be groomed more slowly to take over for Joe Haden come 2020.
21. Seattle Seahawks – TE T.J. Hockenson, Iowa
Well, the Seahawks can’t believe their luck by having a player like Hockenson slide to them at this point in the draft. But recent history (see Howard, O.J.) tells us that tight ends have a tendency to slide on draft night. Hockenson’s ability not only as a pass-catcher but as a blocker makes him a good fit in Seattle.
22. Baltimore Ravens – WR N’Keal Harry, Arizona State
The Ravens will dub Harry as another Anquan Boldin type, who had a lot of successful years in Baltimore as well as in San Francisco under current Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Given Baltimore’s focus on running the ball with Lamar Jackson, Harry’s ability as a blocker will also come in handy.
23. Houston Texans – CB Byron Murphy, Washington
The Texans desperately need help along the offensive line, but this is a deeper draft class at that position than it is at cornerback, where they also have holes. Outside corners Johnathan Joseph and Bradley Roby are only locked in for one season and slot corner Aaron Colvin had a disappointing first season in Houston. Murphy should help solidify one of those spots for the long term.
24. Oakland Raiders – DE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
It’s a far drop for Ferrell, who was once projected as a top 10 selection. But the Raiders are happy to get their edge-rusher to team with Williams on what they hope is a vastly improved pass rush this year.
25. Philadelphia Eagles – S Nasir Adderley, Delaware
The Eagles have an aging safety group with both Malcolm Jenkins and Andrew Sendejo turning 32 later this year and Rodney McLeod coming off a disappointing, injury-plagued 2018 season. Adderley is a hometown kid that should solidify this group for years to come.
26. Indianapolis Colts – CB Sean Bunting, Central Michigan
Bunting is a player that is climbing boards after an impressive workout at the Scouting Combine and helps solve one of the most glaring question marks on this Colts roster at cornerback.
27. Oakland Raiders – TE Noah Fant, Iowa
While a quarterback like Drew Lock would be tempting here, I suspect if the Raiders are in the market for drafting a quarterback it’ll come at the top of the first round and not later. So they take the best positional player available in Fant, to slide into Jared Cook’s vacancy at tight end.
28. Los Angeles Chargers – OT Dalton Risner, Kansas State
The Chargers were amazingly able to get by with a right side featuring Michael Schofield and Sam Tevi last season. With Forrest Lamp coming back from injury to potentially take over at right guard, Risner can be plugged in immediately at right tackle.
29. Kansas City Chiefs – OC Erik McCoy, Texas A&M
After losing center Mitch Morse in free agency, the Chiefs have a clear hole in the middle of their offensive line. McCoy can slide in immediately and fill the hole and the Chiefs don’t have to spend a year wondering if Austin Reiter is the long-term answer.
30. Green Bay Packers – S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida
With the signing of Adrian Amos, the Packers have solidified their strong safety position. Gardner-Johnson finishes the job at free safety, giving the team a versatile option that can play a variety of roles in the back half of the defense.
31. Los Angeles Rams – OG Chris Lindstrom, Boston College
Losing Saffold and John Sullivan is a big blow to the Rams up front. Lindstrom can come in and play either guard spot but current starting right guard Austin Blythe also has experience at center, giving the Rams flexibility to move him around to make sure the five best blockers are on the field in 2019.
32. New England Patriots – WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma
A foot injury has meant that Brown hasn’t been able to generate the type of buzz you’d expect from the speedy playmaker this offseason. Yet the Patriots won’t complain since they are on the lookout for dynamic playmakers with Julian Edelman entering a contract year at age 33. Brown’s explosiveness and ability to play inside and outside makes him a great fit should he slide this far.