Top-50 2019 NFL Free Agents

1. DE Trey Flowers (New England)

Trey Flowers could have easily been franchise tagged by the Patriots, even at a one-year value of around 17 million dollars. The Patriots opted against committing that much of their cap to one player, which means they will likely be moving on from Flowers this off-season, as Flowers could command upwards of 17-18 million annually on the open market. Flowers’ sack totals don’t jump off the page (21 in 45 games in the past 3 seasons), but he added 39 hits and 97 hurries, to give him a 12.2% pressure rate, impressive for a player who frequently lines up on the interior in pass rush situations. Also a dominant run stuffer, Flowers was Pro Football Focus’ 3rd ranked edge defender in 2018 and, with all the other dominant defensive linemen getting franchise tagged, Flowers figures to command a big contract in free agency.

He should have plenty of suitors, but one team in particular that would make a lot of sense is New England’s division rival the New York Jets. Not only do the Jets have among the most cap space in the league (93 million), they also desperately need pass rushers for their new 4-3 defense. They could easily outbid the rest of the league for Flowers’ services. Flowers could play both defensive end and defensive tackle and, only going into his age 26 season, would give them a much needed young building block on defense.

Prediction: 4 year, 74 million dollar contract with NY Jets

2. RB Le’Veon Bell (Pittsburgh)

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of market Le’Veon Bell gets this off-season, after sitting out the season and turning down 14.5 million on the franchise tag, not wanting to risk injury before he could cash in as a free agent on a long-term deal. His willingness to sit out a season won’t sit well with a lot of teams, and his history of injury and drug suspension is concerning as well, for a player looking to be paid at the top of the running back market.

Bell is only going into his age 27 season and talentwise he’s just as good as Todd Gurley and David Johnson, who set the running back market last off-season with deals that pay them 13+ million annually, but Bell comes with a lot more risk and it’s worth wondering if either Gurley or Johnson is worth that kind of money either. Bell’s holdout was in large part a protest against running backs being seen as replaceable and not worth giving big contracts, but his backup James Conner largely disproved his point, as Bell was pretty easily replaced by the Steelers.

Someone will probably still give Bell a big contract, although he may be disappointed by the guarantees he’s offered, given his history. One team that would make a lot of sense is the Texans, who will likely be aggressive in free agency this off-season, as they seek to maximize their title window with Deshaun Watson under contract for about 4 million total over the next 2 seasons. Bell has averaged 138 yards from scrimmage per game in his past 49 games and would be a huge upgrade over Lamar Miller in Houston’s offense. Adding him to an offense with Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, and Will Fuller could make the Texans a very dangerous offense and I have to think joining another AFC contender would be appealing to Bell.

Prediction: 3 year, 44 million dollar contract with Houston

3. QB Nick Foles (Philadelphia)

It’s a poorly kept secret that Nick Foles is expected to sign with the Jaguars, who have cleared cap space by cutting underperforming veterans. Jacksonville was one of the only starting jobs open to Foles and they gave him easily the best chance to get back to the post-season. Foles likely won’t come cheap, but the Jaguars paid 20 million to Blake Bortles last season and Foles should be a noticeable improvement under center.

Foles has been inconsistent throughout his career, but going to a run heavy, defense minded team like the Jaguars will be good for him, as will reuniting with John DeFilippo, his quarterbacks coach in 2017, now the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator. The Jaguars were better than their 5-11 record in 2018, going 2-6 in games decided by a touchdown or less, and an upgrade at quarterback could easily put the Jaguars right back into contention in the AFC.

Prediction: 3 year, 73 million dollar contract with Jacksonville

4. S Earl Thomas (Seattle)

Earl Thomas headlines a deep safety group in free agency. Thomas is one of the best safeties in the league when healthy, but his season has ended with a broken leg in 2 of the past 3 seasons and he’s going into his age 30 season, so he might not get quite the contract he’s looking for in his first trip to the open market. Thomas has been a top-13 safety on PFF in 6 straight seasons though and a top-2 safety in 3 of the past 4 seasons, so he will still command a lot of attention. He’s frequently tied to the Cowboys, his hometown team who happens to need a safety, but the 49ers have more financial flexibility and there’s been talk of him reuniting with Richard Sherman in San Francisco. The 49ers have 66 million in cap space and an obvious need at safety. They could pay Thomas close to the 13 million annually that Eric Berry, the highest paid safety in the league, makes.

Prediction: 4 year, 50 million dollar contract with San Francisco

5. S Adrian Amos (Chicago)

Adrian Amos isn’t as big of a name as Earl Thomas, but he’s still been one of the better safeties in the league over the past couple years. A mere 5th round pick in 2015, Amos has earned a positive grade on PFF in all 4 seasons in the league (56 starts) and has finished 3rd and 10th among safeties in the past 2 seasons respectively. The Bears don’t have a ton of cap space and probably won’t be able to re-sign both Amos and slot cornerback Bryce Callahan, but I have to think they’d pick Amos if it came down to the two. Not only is Amos the better player, but this is also a deeper free agency class at safety, so they may be able to keep Amos at a discount, while Callahan will likely have more of a bidding war.

Prediction: 5 year, 43 million dollar contract with Chicago

6. S Landon Collins (NY Giants)

A year ago, it seemed unlikely that the Giants would let Landon Collins leave, as the 2015 2nd round pick finished 10th among safeties on PFF in 2016 and 12th in 2017 and looked like one of the Giants’ few young building blocks. However, he had a bit of a disappointing year in 2018, finishing 44th at his position, and the cap strapped Giants decided they didn’t want to pay him at the top of the safety market, opting not even to try using the 11 million dollar franchise tag on him.

The Colts were linked to Collins as soon as it was reported that he was likely done in New York and, unlike the Giants, the Colts have the financial flexibility to sign Collins to a top of the market deal at 12-13 million annually, as the Colts have the most cap space in the NFL and an obvious need at safety. Still only going into his age 25 season, Collins has obvious bounce back potential and would pair well with budding young safety Malik Hooker in Indianapolis. Hooker and Collins could easily be the top safety duo in the NFL for years to come.

Prediction: 5 year, 63 million dollar contract with Indianapolis

7. MLB Jordan Hicks (Philadelphia)

Jordan Hicks has been a dominant linebacker whenever healthy, finishing in the top-14 among non-rush linebackers on PFF in 3 of 4 seasons in the league, but he’s also missed at least 4 games with injury in 3 of 4 seasons in the league. Hicks showed his upside by making all 16 starts and finishing 3rd among middle linebackers on PFF in 2016 and the Eagles defense wasn’t nearly as good without him in 2018. The Eagles have freed up cap space with some releases, so I expect them to find a way to keep him. He should get around the 5-year, 50 million dollar extensions that Eric Kendricks and Benardrick McKinney got last off-season.

Prediction: 5 year, 52 million dollar contract with Philadelphia

8. OLB Justin Houston (Kansas City)

The first cap casualty on this list, Justin Houston was let go by the Chiefs ahead of a 17 million dollar non-guaranteed salary, with the Chiefs looking to lock up fellow edge defender Dee Ford on a long-term deal. Houston is going into his age 30 season and has missed 21 games with injury over the past 4 seasons, but should still be in high demand, especially among teams like the Rams that want to add talent without sacrificing their compensation picks. Houston has maintained a 15.1% pressure rate over the past 4 seasons, including a 2018 season in which he finished 12th among edge defenders overall on PFF and had 9 sacks and a 12.8% pressure rate in 12 games. He almost makes too much sense for a Rams team whose biggest need is on the edge of the defensive front.

Prediction: 2 year, 24 million dollar contract with LA Rams

9. C Matt Paradis (Denver)

Originally a mere 6th round pick by the Broncos in 2014, Matt Paradis is older than most first time free agents, going into his age 30 season, and he’s coming off of a broken leg that ended his 2018 season, but he hasn’t had any other major injuries and interior offensive linemen can play at a high level into their 30s, so Paradis could still challenge to be the highest paid center in the league, at upwards of 10.5 million annually. He’s finished in the top-8 among centers on PFF in 3 straight seasons, including 2nd place finishes in 2016 and 2018. The Broncos don’t have a ton of cap space, but can’t afford to lose their best offensive lineman and will likely prioritize keeping their most important free agent.

Prediction: 4 year, 42 million dollar contract with Denver

10. DT Sheldon Richardson (Minnesota)

If you just look at sack numbers, Sheldon Richardson has declined in recent years, with 7 sacks in the past 3 seasons, compared to 16.5 in his first 3 seasons. His pressure stats tell a different story however, as he pressured the quarterbacks at a 10.4% rate in his first 3 seasons, as opposed to 9.8% in the past 3 seasons, not a huge difference. Also a strong run stuffer, Richardson is an above average starting interior defensive lineman that can play in both a 3-4 and a 4-3 defense.

Character concerns limited him to a one-year deal worth 8 million with the Vikings in his first trip to free agency last off-season, but he could get a multi-year deal this time around. The Saints don’t have a ton of cap space, but have proven in the past that they are willing to be aggressive in free agency to maximize their Super Bowl window with Drew Brees at the end of his career. Defensive tackle is a need position for them with Tyeler Davison hitting free agency and Sheldon Rankins tearing his achilles in the playoffs. They may view Richardson as the missing piece.

Prediction: 3 year, 30 million dollar contract with New Orleans

11. CB Ronald Darby (Philadelphia)

Ronald Darby would probably be top-5 on this list if he didn’t have injury concerns, as he’s only going into his age 25 season and has shown #1 cornerback ability, but also has struggled to stay healthy in recent years, missing 15 of 32 games in 2017 and 2018, including the final 7 games of 2018 with a November torn ACL. He could still easily get paid a lot as the top available cornerback this off-season, as teams will expect him to keep getting better on his second contract, given his age.

His interception total (6 in 4 seasons) is underwhelming, but his 54 pass breakups are 10th in the league over the past 4 seasons, despite the missed time with injury. Those pass breakups have come in 46 games and all players ahead of him in pass breakups played at least 55 games over that stretch. The cap strapped Eagles are unlikely to be able to bring both him and Jordan Hicks back, but the Chiefs freed up cap space when they released Justin Houston and could look to make a splash move like this to upgrade their secondary.

Prediction: 4 year, 48 million dollar contract with Kansas City

12. OT Trent Brown (New England)

The Patriots acquired Trent Brown inexpensively last off-season, swapping picks 95 and 143 with the 49ers to acquire him during last year’s draft and paying him just 1.907 million in 2018, and he proved to be a diamond in the rough, starting all 19 games at left tackle en route to a Super Bowl victory. Brown isn’t a one-year wonder either, allowing just 9 total quarterback pressures in 10 games in 2017 with the 49ers before going down with a shoulder injury. Part of the reason the 49ers moved on from him is because they felt the 6-8 380 pounder was not fleet of foot enough to play left tackle long-term for them, but he showed with the Patriots that he can make up for his lack of foot speed with his incredibly long arms and huge frame.

The Patriots don’t have much financial flexibility and, with 2018 1st round pick Isaiah Wynn coming back from injury and likely able to replace Brown in the lineup, it’s unlikely Brown returns to New England. Much like the Patriots’ previous left tackle Nate Solder, Brown is a strong candidate to be overpaid elsewhere in once again a weak left tackle class in free agency. I would expect him to get at least the 13.75 million annually Tampa Bay’s Donovan Smith got on his recent new contract. The Texans struck out on Solder last off-season, but still badly need a left tackle and have plenty of cap space (74 million) to work with, so it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see Brown join another former Patriot in Texans head coach Bill O’Brien.

Prediction: 4 year, 56 million dollar contract with Houston

13. G Rodger Saffold (LA Rams)

Rodger Saffold had injury problems early in his career, but he’s played 46 of 48 games over the past 3 seasons and has played at a high level, allowing just 6 sacks combined and finishing in the top-8 among guards on PFF in both 2017 and 2018. His age (going into his age 31 season) could prevent him from getting 4+ years on a new contract, but guards tend to age better than other positions and Saffold could easily become one of the highest paid guards in the league in terms of average annual value, especially with a lack of good available guards this off-season. The Bills need offensive line help badly and have among the most cap space in the league. Saffold could fill a hole at either left or right guard for the Bills.

Prediction: 3 year, 34 million dollar contract with Buffalo

14. DE Ezekiel Ansah (Detroit)

Ezekiel Ansah made 17.143 million on the franchise tag in 2018, after a 12-sack 2017 season, but he and the Lions were far apart in contract negotiations last off-season due to the Lions’ concerns about his durability. Ansah dealt with ankle and knee injuries during the previous 2 seasons and managed just 2 sacks in 13 games in 2016 due to an ankle injury, though he did add 12 quarterback hits. The Lions’ concerns about his long-term durability proved to be wise, as Ansah was limited to 146 snaps by shoulder injuries in 2018.

He’s considered highly unlikely to return to Detroit, but he could still have a hot market. With most of the good edge defenders getting franchise tagged, someone will likely pay a high price for a player with the upside of Ansah, who has a career 13.1% pressure rate and 48 sacks in 80 games. His age (30 in May) could limit him to 2-3 year deals, but he should get a good annual average. The Raiders are desperate for an edge defender and have plenty of cap space to work with, even after acquiring Antonio Brown.

Prediction: 3 years, 45 million dollar contract with Oakland

15. WR Golden Tate (Philadelphia)

Golden Tate is going into his age 31 season, but should be able to take advantage of a weak wide receiver market to get a good annual value on a 2-3 year deal. He struggled to acclimate after being traded to the Eagles at last year’s trade deadline, but he topped 1000 yards in 3 of 4 seasons prior to last season and was on his way to another 1000-yard season in 2018 before the trade. Tate should have plenty of suitors, but the Colts could easily stand out as the best. Not only do they have among the most cap space in the league, but they also have a great offense led by quarterback Andrew Luck and need to add at least one, maybe two wide receivers this off-season. Tate could easily have a few more productive years with Luck and should get around the 3-year, 33.5 million dollar deal DeSean Jackson got at a similar age two off-seasons ago.

Prediction: 3 years, 36 million dollar contract with Indianapolis

16. MLB CJ Mosley (Baltimore)

This might seem a little low for CJ Mosley, who ranks 4th in the NFL with 579 tackles over the past 5 seasons, but he has his issues in coverage. That likely won’t stop him from becoming one of the highest paid middle linebackers in the league though. The Ravens did not franchise tag him, but that’s largely because the linebacker tag value is skewed by rush linebackers and would have paid Mosley 15.5 million, significantly more than the 12.35 million made annually by Luke Kuechly, the highest paid non-rush linebacker in the league. Mosley could come close to matching Kuechly in average annual value though. The Ravens freed up a lot of cap space by moving on from Joe Flacco and rarely let their defensive stars leave, so I would expect him to ultimately return to Baltimore.

Prediction: 4 year, 48 million dollar contract with Baltimore

17. DT Ndamukong Suh (LA Rams)

Ndamukong Suh is going into his age 32 season, but he’s remarkably never missed a game with injury in 9 seasons in the league and still played at a high level in 2018. He only had 4.5 sacks, but that was largely because of his role as the nose tackle in the Rams’ 3-4 defense. He finished 15th overall among interior defensive linemen on PFF. In the first 8 seasons of his career in a 4-3 defense, he averaged about 6.5 sacks per season and he has a career pressure rate of 9.4%, despite lining up almost solely on the interior in sub packages.

Suh signed a one-year deal with a contender last off-season, signing for 14 million with the Rams, after being released by the Dolphins, rather than being paid his 17 million dollar non-guaranteed salary. Now a free agent again, Suh may do something similar with another contender. The Patriots could lose both Malcom Brown and Danny Shelton in free agency this off-season and Suh would give them a good replacement.

Prediction: 1 year, 10 million dollar contract with New England

18. S LaMarcus Joyner (LA Rams)

A 2nd round pick in 2014, LaMarcus Joyner was a man without a position for the first three seasons of his career, bouncing between slot cornerback and safety, before breaking out as a full-time starting safety in his 4th season in the league in 2017, finishing 2nd among safeties on PFF. The Rams franchise tagged him, not wanting to lose one of their better defensive players, but were skeptical about giving him a long-term deal. Not only had Joyner only had one good year, but the Rams also had other significant long-term financial considerations.

Joyner disappointed a little bit in 2018, finishing 28th among safeties on PFF, and the Rams seem to have already moved on with a cheaper alternative in Eric Weddle. This is a deep safety class, but Joyner figures to be paid near the top of the safety market. The Redskins don’t have a ton of cap space, but they like to be aggressive in free agency and need to replace both of their safeties, with HaHa Clinton-Dix hitting free agency and DJ Swearinger getting cut for disciplinary reasons at the end of last season. They can sign Joyner to a 5-year deal with a big signing bonus to keep his cap hit down in 2019.

Prediction: 5 year, 55 million dollar contract with Washington

19. OT Daryl Williams (Carolina)

Daryl Williams was a 4th round pick in 2015 and made 26 starts from 2016-2017, including a breakout 2017 season in which he finished 14th among offensive tackles and 2nd among right tackles on PFF. Unfortunately, he missed all but one game due to knee injuries in 2018, but he’s still in the prime of his career in his age 27 season and should have many interested suitors. He’s unlikely to be back in Carolina, where Taylor Moton played well in his absence, but the Giants have a glaring hole at right tackle and their GM Dave Gettleman originally drafted Williams with the Panthers.

Prediction: 4 year, 42 million dollar contract with NY Giants

20. OLB KJ Wright (Seattle)

KJ Wright was one of the best 4-3 outside linebackers in the league from 2011-2017, an unheralded member of a dominant Seattle defense, but he was limited to 233 snaps by injury in 2018 and could have a bit of a depressed market in free agency. One destination that makes a lot of sense for him is the Chargers, who employ his former defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. If Wright bounces back even somewhat in 2019, he’ll be a big upgrade over the oft injured Jatavis Brown.

Prediction: 3 year, 27 million dollar contract with LA Chargers

21. QB Teddy Bridgewater (New Orleans)

By now, most know Teddy Bridgewater’s story. A solid starter who made 28 starts in his first 2 seasons in Minnesota, Bridgewater suffered a gruesome knee injury before the start of the 2016 season and missed close to two full seasons. As a free agent last off-season, he had to settle for a one-year dollar, 6 million deal with just 500k guaranteed at signing from the Jets and, while he impressed enough in the pre-season to warrant a 3rd round pick in a trade from the Saints, he struggled in his one start in New Orleans, completing just 14 of 23 attempts for 118 yards, a touchdown, and a pick in a home loss to the Panthers.

With Case Keenum likely going to Washington and Nick Foles likely going to Jacksonville, Bridgewater is left without a clear starting job opening in free agency and may have to settle for another backup job. His best option is probably to take an incentivized deal with Miami, who could be cutting loose Ryan Tannehill and his 18.75 million dollar non-guaranteed salary. At this point it’s really unclear what to expect from Bridgewater. Given that his start last year came in a meaningless week 17 game, Bridgewater hasn’t seen any meaningful action since 2015, but he’s still only going into his age 27 season. Now 3 years removed from the injury there could still be a comeback in his story.

Prediction: Incentivized 1 year contract with Miami

22. OLB Shaq Barrett (Denver)

Shaq Barrett’s sack numbers (14 in 61 career games) don’t jump off the page, but he hasn’t even played half of the snaps in his career, stuck in a deep edge rush rotation in Denver. Also a strong run defender, Barrett adds 22 quarterback hits and 65 quarterback hurries on 833 career pass rush snaps, giving him a solid 12.1% pressure rate for his career. Only going into his age 27 season, a pass rush needy team could easily give him a bigger deal than most expect, projecting Barrett to be a more productive player in a larger role. The Titans, who lost Brian Orakpo to retirement and Derrick Morgan to free agency, have a big need for an edge defender and have the cap space (about 43 million) to outbid teams.

Prediction: 4 year, 42 million dollar contract with Tennessee

23. TE Jared Cook (Oakland)

The 2018 Raiders season was a miserable one for most involved, but Jared Cook managed to have a career year, putting up career highs in catches (68), yards (896), and touchdowns (6). That was in part because he was Derek Carr’s only reliable receiver, as his 101 targets were also a career high, but he finished as PFF’s 7th ranked tight end overall and earned a career best 75.7 grade. Teams will have some concern that he had his best season in his 10th season in the league and soon-to-be-32-year-old tight ends usually aren’t in high demand, but he’s by far the best tight end option in free agency and should cash in from a tight end needy team like the Lions. The Lions had just 45 catches by a tight end in 2018 and enter the off-season with about 44 million in cap space to work with.

Prediction: 3 year, 25 million dollar contract with Detroit

24. S Tyrann Mathieu (Houston)

It’s hard to believe Tyrann Mathieu is only going into his age 27 season. Originally a 3rd round pick in 2013, Mathieu had a Defensive Rookie of the Year caliber year in 2013 and a Defensive Player of the Year caliber year in 2015, but both seasons ended with him tearing his ACL. Mathieu also missed time with a shoulder injury in 2016 and hasn’t been as good in his other 4 seasons as he was in 2013 and 2015. Signed to a big 5-year, 62.5 million dollar extension by the Cardinals in 2016, Mathieu was released just two off-seasons and 21.6 million dollars later and had to settle for a one-year prove it deal with the Texans that ended up paying him just 7 million last season.

Mathieu wasn’t dominant in his one season in Houston, but he’s played all 32 games over the past 2 seasons and should still be in the prime of his career. He should be able to get a pay increase on a multi-year deal this time around, even in a strong safety class. The Packers never used to get involved in free agency, but they are trying a new approach under their new GM. With about 35 million in available cap space, expect them to be players in free agency this off-season and they need an upgrade at both safety spots. Mathieu would fill one of those spots.

Prediction: 3 year, 30 million dollar contract with Green Bay

25. RB Jay Ajayi (Philadelphia)

A 5th round pick in 2015, Jay Ajayi has averaged 4.48 yards per carry on 562 career carries, but has had a lot of trouble staying healthy, missing 22 of 64 games, including the final 12 of last season with a torn ACL. Knee concerns are a big part of why he fell in the draft and they will hurt his free agency stock as well, but there’s no denying the talent. Ajayi showed what he can do if he stays healthy in 2016, rushing for 1272 yards and 8 scores on 260 carries, averaging 4.89 yards per carry and finishing 4th in the NFL in rushing yards, and he still has plenty of upside, only going into his age 26 season.

The Buccaneers were one of the worst rushing teams in the league last season, averaging 3.92 yards per carry, 31st in the NFL. Ronald Jones, who they drafted 38th overall last year, was a huge disappointment and the Buccaneers may prefer to add a veteran instead this off-season. A one-year incentivized deal would make sense for both sides. If Ajayi stays healthy and repeats his 2016 season, he could cash in on a bigger multi-year deal in free agency next off-season.

Prediction: Incentivized 1 year contract with Tampa Bay

26. OT Ja’Wuan James (Miami)

The Dolphins have had offensive line issues in recent years, but Ja’Wuan James has been a solid starting right tackle for them when healthy. His durability is a concern, as he missed 9 games in 2016 and 8 games in 2017, but he played at least 15 games in his other 3 seasons and has earned a positive grade from PFF in all 5 seasons in the league. The Dolphins can’t afford to lose him. They’ve freed up cap space by releasing several veteran players and the rebuilding Dolphins should use some of it to keep the soon-to-be-27-year-old James around long-term, even if it means paying him as one of the top right tackles in the league.

Prediction: 5 year, 45 million dollar contract with Miami

27. CB Bryce Callahan (Chicago)

I mentioned in Adrian Amos’ write up that the cap strapped Bears would likely have to choose between their free agent safety and their free agent slot cornerback Bryce Callahan. I think Amos is the more likely of the two to return, as the Bears can get Amos on a reasonable deal in a strong safety class, but would likely have to get into a bidding war for arguably the league’s best slot cornerback.

The 8.5 million annually Tavon Young got on his recent extension seems like a likely starting point for Callahan in free agency. In addition to having a big need at tight end, the Lions also have a big need at cornerback and will likely use some of their cap space to find help at that position in free agency. For a team like the Lions that uses a lot of sub packages, a good slot cornerback like Callahan is a necessity.

Prediction: 4 year, 34 million dollar contract with Detroit

28. DE Cameron Wake (Miami)

Cameron Wake isn’t the biggest name, but he’s been one of the best edge rushers of the past decade, pressuring the quarterback on 15.8% of pass rush snaps in 10 seasons in the league. Even in his age 36 season in 2018, he had a 17.3% pressure rate (2nd in the NFL) and finished with 6 sacks despite being a part-time player. Wake isn’t a long-term option at his age, but he should still have a good market in free agency.

The Seahawks have a good amount of cap space (33 million) and a need at the defensive end position, but are unlikely to spend big on a defensive end in free agency because they need to sign franchise tagged Frank Clark to a big long-term deal as well. A cheaper short-term option like Wake would make more sense and Wake could see joining the Seahawks as his chance to contend for a Super Bowl. While he made the post-season just once in 10 seasons in Miami, the Seahawks have qualified in 6 of 7 seasons in the Russell Wilson era.

Prediction: 1 year, 8 million dollar contract with Seattle

29. WR Tyrell Williams (LA Chargers)

Tyrell Williams has been stuck behind Keenan Allen for the past two seasons and split playing time with Mike Williams this past season, but he still topped 650 yards in both seasons. In 2016, when Keenan Allen missed all but one game with a torn ACL, Williams topped 1000 yards, putting up a 69/1059/7 slash line. Williams has averaged 1.51 yards per route run in his career and, while a lot of that is as a result of playing with Philip Rivers, Williams is still only going into his age 27 season and likely will be seen as a potential #1 receiver by several teams. He has great physical tools at 6-4 207 and should be able to take advantage of a shallow group of receivers in free agency to get paid. The Bills have a huge need for wide receivers and the cap space to be aggressive in free agency (75 million). Williams deep ball ability (16.3 yards per catch in his career) makes him a good fit with Josh Allen, who desperately needs a long-term #1 option.

Prediction: 4 year, 46 million dollar contract with Buffalo

30. QB Tyrod Taylor (Cleveland)

Tyrod Taylor capably led the Bills’ run heavy offense as the starting quarterback for 3 years (43 starts from 2015-2017), averaging 7.16 yards per attempt, adding 1,575 yards on the ground, and throwing just 16 interceptions on 1,236 pass attempts, but they decided they wanted to go with a younger, cheaper option with a higher upside and traded Taylor to the Browns for a 3rd round pick that they eventually used to help them move up and draft Josh Allen. Taylor started week 1 for the Browns, but was a poor fit for Todd Haley’s offense and never got his job back from Baker Mayfield after getting hurt week 3.

Unlikely to find a guaranteed starting job, a lot of dots have connected Taylor to the Ravens, where he would be an ideal fit in the same Greg Roman led run based offense that he had success in with the Bills, as a veteran backup behind 2nd year starter Lamar Jackson. Taylor may prefer somewhere where he has a better chance to make starts in 2019 though, so he can try to rehab his stock for another trip to free agency next off-season. Behind the oft injured Marcus Mariota seems like a better spot for him. The Titans have plenty of cap space and can afford to pay a premium for a much needed high end backup. With Taylor, the Titans won’t be doomed when Mariota suffers his annual injury.

Prediction: 1 year, 8 million dollar contract with Tennessee

31. DT Tim Jernigan (Philadelphia)

An above average starter that finished 39th among interior defensive lineman on PFF in 2017, the Eagles gave Tim Jernigan a 4-year 48 million extension ahead of free agency in December 2017 and promptly regretted it. Jernigan injured his back and missed most of the 2018 season after having off-season surgery. Needing to clear cap space, the Eagles declined the final 3 years of his contract this off-season, ultimately paying him 13 million for 100 mediocre snaps on his extension.

Jernigan likely won’t get that big of a contract on the open market, but he’s only going into his age 27 season and he’s a useful player when healthy, playing the run well, while adding a little bit of pass rush. The Eagles’ defense clearly missed him in 2018. The Bills need to replace the retiring Kyle Williams and have the cap space to be aggressive at the defensive tackle position for the 2nd straight off-season. Jernigan would rotate with 2018 3rd round pick Harrison Phillips and veteran Star Lotulelei, who signed in Buffalo for 50 million over 5 years last off-season.

Prediction: 4 year, 40 million dollar contract with Buffalo

32. CB Pierre Desir (Indianapolis)

Originally a 4th round pick by the Browns in 2014, Pierre Desir never played more than 392 snaps in a season in his first 4 seasons in the league, 3 with the Browns and then 2017 with the Colts. However, Desir had a surprise breakout year in his 5th season in the league in 2018, making 12 starts and finishing as PFF’s 25th ranked cornerback. He’s a risky signing, a one-year wonder already going into his age 29 season, but the Colts have the most cap space in the league and can’t afford to lose their best cornerback. I would expect them to outbid other teams to keep Desir, who is obviously a great fit in defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus’ defensive scheme.

Prediction: 3 year, 30 million dollar contract with Indianapolis

33. C Mitch Morse (Kansas City)

A 2nd round pick in 2015, Mitch Morse has been unspectacular in 4 seasons in the league, but he’s been a solid starting center and should be in demand in free agency. With the Chiefs having limited cap space, it seems likely they’ll get outbid for Morse in free agency. Only going into his age 27 season, Morse could keep getting better, but injuries have become a concern for him in the past couple years, as foot and head injuries have limited him to 18 of 32 games in 2017 and 2018. That could limit his market and he may be better off taking a one-year prove it deal and trying free agency again in 2020, but this isn’t a deep center class in free agency, so Morse could cash in somewhere. The Jets have a big hole at center and among the most cap space in the league.

Prediction: 4 year, 30 million dollar contract with NY Jets

34. DE Muhammad Wilkerson (Green Bay)

At one point, Muhammad Wilkerson was one of the best defensive linemen in the league, finishing 3rd among interior defensive linemen on PFF in 2012, 5th in 2014, and earning a 5-year, 86 million dollar contract after the 2015 season. However, Wilkerson seemed to coast once getting paid and was released after 2 years and 37 million. He signed a 1-year prove it deal worth 4.5 million with the Packers last off-season as a free agent and was off to a great start, but had his season cut short after 3 games with a broken ankle. The Packers seemed pleased with his play though and could easily bring him back on a similar deal. Still only going into his age 30 season, Wilkerson could easily have a bounce back year if he stays healthy and motivated.

Prediction: Incentivized 1 year contract with Green Bay

35. DT Henry Anderson (NY Jets)

A strong run stuffer in his first 3 seasons in the league with the Colts, Henry Anderson struggled to stay healthy, missing 19 of 48 games, and was sent to the Jets for a mere 7th round pick last off-season when the new coaching staff decided he wasn’t a good fit for their scheme. With the Jets, not only did he play all 16 games for the first time, but he also broke out as a pass rusher with 7 sacks and a 10.5% pressure rate, as opposed to 3 sacks and a 8.1% pressure rate in his first 3 seasons in the league. Teams will be wary of the contract year breakout year and the Jets may not see him as a good scheme fit with Gregg Williams coming in as defensive coordinator, but he’ll still be in demand and he’ll be a better scheme fit in Seattle, where they need to reload on the defensive line. Anderson would allow them to do that without breaking the bank.

Prediction: 3 year, 24 million dollar contract with Seattle

36. CB Steven Nelson (Kansas City)

The Chiefs have had major issues on defense in recent years that have prevented them from taking that next step, but Steven Nelson has not been the problem. He did miss 7 games with injury in 2017, but he’s earned positive grades from PFF in 3 straight seasons, with his best season coming in 2018, when he finished 37th among cornerbacks. He’s also allowed fewer than 60% completion in 3 straight seasons. Only going into his age 26 season, Nelson could keep getting better and should draw a lot of attention on the open market. Cornerback is another position the Jets could address in free agency, as they look for an upgrade on free agent Morris Claiborne.

Prediction: 4 year, 36 million dollar contract with NY Jets

37. S HaHa Clinton-Dix (Washington)

A first round pick in 2014 and a solid starter in Green Bay for the first 4 and a half seasons of his career, HaHa Clinton-Dix was surprisingly sent to the Redskins for a 4th round pick at the trade deadline last year. The Packers were able to get something for a player they likely were not going to re-sign anyway, but Clinton-Dix was also their best safety at the time and their safety play was horrendous in the second half of the season after moving on from him. Considering they were in playoff contention at the time, getting a 4th round pick for a capable player didn’t seem worth it.

Clinton-Dix didn’t make much of an impact in his half season in Washington and he joins a deep safety class, so he probably won’t break the bank, but he should have several interested suitors. The Raiders are one team that figures to spend on defense in free agency, with plenty of remaining cap space even after the Antonio Brown trade and holes all over arguably the worst defense in the league. A deal similar to the one Eric Reid signed with the Panthers (22 million over 3 years) would make sense for Clinton-Dix, as it would allow him to test free agency again before he turns 30, in probably a thinner free agent group of safeties.

Prediction: 3 year, 21 million dollar contract with Oakland

38. WR Cole Beasley (Dallas)

Cole Beasley has never put up huge numbers, but he’s caught 176 passes for 1819 yards and 12 touchdowns from Dak Prescott the past 3 seasons, an average slash line of 59/606/4 per game and he’s been especially dependable on 3rd and 4th down, with a whopping 39.2% of his catches coming on 3rd or 4th down. His reliability in big spots and 76.5% catch rate (75 catches on 98 targets) earned him PFF’s 5th highest wide receiver grade in 2016. Beasley is unlikely to return to Dallas, however, after recent comments ripping the organization for pre-determining which receivers get the ball.

The diminutive 5-8 180 pounder won’t be a fit for every team and his age (going into his age 30 season) won’t do him any favors either, but this is a thin receiving class and receiver needy teams will be interested. He should at least top the 2-year, 12 million dollar deal that Danny Amendola got in free agency last year, but it also doesn’t seem like money is as important to him as a good fit. It’s hard to imagine a better fit than Green Bay, who needs a replacement for Randall Cobb on the slot and another pair of reliable hands. Playing with several rookies in the receiving corps, Aaron Rodgers struggled by his standards in 2018. Someone like Beasley that you can always trust to be in the right spot would be a big help for this team.

Prediction: 2 year, 14 million dollar contract with Green Bay

39. RB Mark Ingram (New Orleans)

Mark Ingram has been half of the most dangerous running back duo in the NFL over the past 2 seasons, rushing for 1,769 yards and 18 touchdowns on 368 carries (4.81 YPC) and adding another 79 catches for 586 yards and another score while working in tandem with Alvin Kamara. It seems likely that duo will be split up this off-season, with Ingram likely to find a bigger role and more money as a free agent on the open market this off-season. Injury prone early in his career, Ingram hasn’t missed a game due to injury in 3 seasons, while averaging 4.91 yards per carry on 573 carries over those 3 seasons. His age (30 in December), position, and previous injury history will concern teams, but he should be able to get a good annual average on a short-term deal.

The Jets are considered one of the favorites for Le’Veon Bell, as they have a glaring need at running back and among the most cap space in the league, but if Bell decides he’d rather play for a team that’s more in contention, the Jets could look to Ingram as their backup plan. He’d give them a obvious upgrade on Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell without breaking the bank. He could push for 300 touches in New York.

Prediction: 3 year, 20 million dollar contract with NY Jets

40. OLB Preston Smith (Washington)

Looking purely at sack totals, Preston Smith seemed to struggle in 2018, with just 4 sacks, after 20.5 in his first 3 seasons in the league, but he actually had the best year of his career. Not only did he play a career high 834 snaps and play the run well, but he also had a career high 53 total pressures, despite the underwhelming sack total, giving him a pressure rate of 11.3%, compared to 9.8% in his first 3 seasons in the league. Overall, he finished 20th among edge defenders on PFF.

Turning 27 in November and a former 2nd round pick, Smith is the type of edge defender teams assume will get better on his next contract. With most of the top edge defenders getting franchise tagged, Smith could get easily an above market deal, which probably means he won’t be back in Washington. The Redskins have limited cap space, other more pressing needs, and an in house replacement in 2017 2nd round pick Ryan Anderson.

The Packers, on the other hand, could let go of both Clay Matthews (free agency) and Nick Perry (cap casualty) this off-season, as they shoot higher at the edge defender position. They could give Smith a similar deal to the one they gave Perry two off-seasons ago (59 million over 5 years with 28 million guaranteed in the first two years). Unlike the injury prone Perry, Smith hasn’t missed a game in 4 seasons in the league.

Prediction: 5 year, 55 million dollar contract with Green Bay

41. CB Bradley Roby (Denver)

A first round pick in 2014, Bradley Roby earned positive grades from PFF in each of the first 4 seasons of his career, playing about two thirds of the snaps as the 3rd cornerback behind the talented duo of Chris Harris and Aqib Talib. With Talib traded to the Rams last off-season, Roby became an every down cornerback and matched up with opponents’ top outside receivers more often than not, but he got exposed in that role, allowing a 117.3 QB rating into his coverage and finishing 102nd among 131 eligible cornerbacks on PFF.

Despite that, Roby could benefit from a thin cornerback class in free agency. Only going into his age 27 season, teams may see the first round pedigree and the flashes he showed early in his career and think he’ll be better on his second contract. The 49ers are a cornerback needy team with money to spend. With Richard Sherman on one side, Roby won’t have to match up against #1 receivers as much. He’d be a big upgrade over Ahkello Witherspoon, who was one of the worst starting cornerbacks in the league in 2018.

Prediction: 3 year, 30 million dollar contract with San Francisco

42. DT Malik Jackson (Jacksonville)

Malik Jackson signed a massive 6-year, 85.5 million dollar deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars three off-seasons ago and through the first two seasons of the contract he continued the high level of play he showed in Denver. However, Jackson struggled by his standards in 2018 and played just 61 snaps in the final 3 games of the season, with first round pick Taven Bryan playing a larger role down the stretch. Owed 13 million non-guaranteed in 2019, Jackson was an obvious release for a cap strapped Jaguars team.

He’s still only going into his age 29 season though and was PFF’s 26th ranked interior defensive lineman as recently as 2017, so should still be able to get good money on the open market. He makes a ton of sense for the Eagles, who have freed up cap space with some releases. Not only would he fill a huge need at defensive tackle, he’d do it without costing them the compensation picks they will likely get for losing Ronald Darby and Nick Foles.

Prediction: 3 year, 27 million dollar contract with Philadelphia

43. WR Jamison Crowder (Washington)

Jamison Crowder has been seen as a breakout candidate for a few seasons, but it’s very possible the diminutive 5-9 177 receiver maxes out as an above average slot receiver. He’ll still be in high demand this off-season though, especially with a thin group of receivers. His 29/388/2 slash line in 2018 is pretty bad, but he missed 7 games with injury and when he returned he had to play with Colt McCoy, Mark Sanchez, and Josh Johnson under center. Prior to last season, he averaged a 64/747/4 slash line in the first 3 seasons of his career. Only going into his age 26 season, it’s very possible he gets an above market deal from a team that thinks he’ll be better on his 2nd contract. The Titans are a receiver needy team with cap space, so they make sense as a destination for him.

Prediction: 4 year, 32 million dollar contract with Tennessee

44. WR Adam Humphries (Tampa Bay)

Adam Humphries is kind of the opposite of Jamison Crowder. He entered the season with little expectations buried on the depth chart as the 4th wide receiver on a team with a couple good pass catching tight ends as well, but he carved out a role as the team’s primary slot receiver end wound up with a 76/816/5 slash line on 105 targets. Humphries also had 622 yards in 2016 and 631 yards in 2017, and, only going into his age 26 season, teams will expect he can continue improving. He may outearn Crowder just because of recency bias, even though Crowder has overall had the more productive career, but they should be in the same ballpark. The Cardinals need to build around their young quarterback, whether that ends up being Josh Rosen or Kyler Murray. They have about 42 million in cap space to work with.

Prediction: 4 year, 36 million dollar contract with Arizona

45. CB Darqueze Dennard (Cincinnati)

The Bengals typically do a pretty good job of keeping their own free agents, especially ones they’ve invested a first round pick into like they did with Darqueze Dennard in 2014, but Dennard is a 3rd cornerback in Cincinnati behind Dre Kirkpatrick, who they kept on a 5-year, 52.5 million dollar deal last off-season, and William Jackson, who will soon need a big extension. Even as a 3rd cornerback with just 19 career starts, Dennard has shown his first round talent, finishing above average on PFF in 4 of 5 seasons in Cincinnati, including on 675 snaps in 2018. Given his first round pedigree, some teams will likely project him to a larger role and pay him accordingly, so he’ll probably take more money elsewhere. The Browns need a long-term cornerback opposite Denzel Ward. With a ton of cap space and few needs, I expect them to target cornerbacks in free agency.

Prediction: 4 year, 36 million dollar contract with Cleveland

46. OLB Anthony Barr (Minnesota)

Anthony Barr will be an interesting case in free agency. He was a dynamic player early in his career, finishing 2nd among linebackers on PFF in his 2nd season in the league in 2015, but he hasn’t been nearly as good since. The 9th overall pick in 2014, Barr made 12.306 million on his 5th year rookie option in 2018, but likely won’t get that annually on the open market. He may take a short-term deal and try free agency again in a couple years, rather than locking himself in at a lower rate.

The Vikings don’t have much cap flexibility after locking up several other young building blocks instead of Barr, so a return to Minnesota seems unlikely, but he should have several interested suitors in free agency. The 49ers have the cap space to be aggressive in pursuing him on a short-term deal and they need a veteran linebacker with the overpaid Malcolm Smith likely to be let go this off-season. Barr can also give the 49ers some edge rush in sub packages.

Prediction: 2 year, 22 million dollar contract with San Francisco

47. OLB Jamie Collins (Cleveland)

Jamie Collins has a similar skill set to Anthony Barr, but he’s a few years older, going into his age 30 season. Collins was one of the better linebackers in the league in New England a few years ago, but was traded away for just a 3rd round pick and did not life up to his 4-year, 50 million dollar extension in Cleveland, which is why they cut him rather than paying him 10.5 million non-guaranteed in 2019. The one benefit Collins will have over Barr is that he won’t mess up compensation picks for the team that signs him, which is important to a team like the Steelers that stands to gain a 3rd rounder when Le’Veon Bell signs elsewhere. He’d make sense for them as a short-term stopgap at middle linebacker, which has been a weakness of the Steelers’ defense since Ryan Shazier got hurt.

Prediction: 1 year, 6 million dollar contract with Pittsburgh

48. OLB Dante Fowler (LA Rams)

The 3rd overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Dante Fowler’s career got off to as bad of a start as possible, as he tore his ACL in one of the first practices of rookie camp. Fowler didn’t play badly when he returned, but he fell behind Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell on the depth chart. The Jaguars declined his 5th year option and traded him to the Rams midway through the 2018 season for 3rd and 5th round picks.

In 11 games with the Rams, including the post-season, Fowler averaged 54.5 snaps per game, a steep increase from the 31.3 snaps per game he averaged the first 42 games of his career, but he failed to stand out and had just 30 total pressures on 363 pass rush snaps (8.3% pressure rate). Not even 25 until August, he’ll draw interest on upside alone in a thin edge defender class, but he comes with a lot of risk. The Lions could take a chance on him as a younger, cheaper alternative to Ezekiel Ansah.

Prediction: 4 year, 34 million dollar contract with Detroit

49. G TJ Lang (Detroit)

A cap casualty who was not worth the 8.25 million dollar non-guaranteed salary he would have been owed if the Lions kept him, TJ Lang is going into his age 32 season and missed 10 games with a neck injury in 2018. He may ultimately end up retiring and hasn’t played more than 13 games in a season since 2015, but if he can get cleared medically he could be a useful addition to his new team.

Guards can play at a high level into their mid 30s and, while Lang hasn’t been as dominant in recent years as he was in his prime, he’s still earned a positive grade from PFF in 8 straight seasons and ranked 6th among guards in pass protection as recently as 2017. If he does keep playing, one team that would make a lot of sense to sign him on a one-year incentivized deal is the Rams, who need to replace left guard Rodger Saffold. If healthy, Lang could give them a cheap replacement without costing them any compensation picks.

Prediction: Incentivized 1 year contract with LA Rams

50. OLB Za’Darius Smith (Baltimore)

Largely a rotational player his first 3 seasons in the league, Za’Darius Smith broke out in his 4th season in the league in 2018, playing a career high 691 snaps and totaling 8.5 sacks, 18 hits, and 33 quarterback pressures on 458 pass rush snaps (13.1% rate). The one year of production will concern teams, as will his struggles in the run game, but he’s also only going into his age 27 season and teams will likely pay him on the expectation that he continues improving, given how thin the edge rush market is.

With the Ravens having other free agent concerns, they could easily get outbid. The Cardinals have needs all over the field and plenty of cap space, so expect them to add at least a couple free agents on significant contracts. They’ve been tied to Joey Bosa with the #1 overall pick, but if they end up going with Kyler Murray as many expect, they’ll have to look elsewhere for edge rush help.

Prediction: 4 year, 40 million dollar contract with Arizona

2019 NFL Mock Draft

Updated 2/25/19

1st Round 2nd Round 3rd Round

 

1. San Francisco 49ers (TRADE) – DE Nick Bosa (Ohio State)

It’s not often the teams picking 1 and 2 trade, but it would actually make some sense this year. Nick Bosa and Quinnen Williams are similar caliber players and, while the Cardinals could use both equally, the 49ers would much prefer Bosa as he would fill a much bigger need at defensive end. With recent first rounders DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead both coming off of strong seasons inside in the 49ers’ 4-3 defense, they don’t need Williams all that much. The price to move up a spot probably wouldn’t be that high, assuming the Cardinals grade Bosa and Williams equally. The 49ers can give the Cardinals their 3rd round pick this year and a 3rd round next year to get equal value on the trade value chart. Bosa gives the 49ers a desperately needed edge rusher.

2. Arizona Cardinals (TRADE) – DE Quinnen Williams (Alabama)

With the 49ers moving up for Bosa, the Cardinals get a pair of extra picks for their rebuild and take a player at 2 that they arguably could take at 1. Williams would play defensive end in the Cardinals’ base 3-4 defense, under new coordinator Vance Joseph, but would see the majority of his snaps as an interior rusher in sub packages. He’d be a difference maker on the defensive line for a team that don’t have anyone worth worrying about other than Chandler Jones.

3. New York Giants (TRADE) – QB Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State)

If the Giants want to take the top quarterback in the draft class, Dwayne Haskins, they’ll likely have to move up for him. Not only could a team like Oakland take him at 4 ahead of the Giants at 6, but other teams could also move up to get Haskins. With Bosa and Williams being the clear top-2 prospects in this draft, the most logical spot for a trade up seems to be 3, where the Jets need extra picks after trading three second rounders to the Colts to move from 6 to 3 for Sam Darnold last year. The Jets probably won’t get three second rounders from the Giants to do the opposite move this year in a weaker quarterback class, but they could easily get a second this year and a second next year. Haskins gives the Giants their successor to Eli Manning, who could opt to retire this off-season.

4. Oakland Raiders – DE Clelin Ferrell (Clemson)

The Raiders badly missed Khalil Mack on defense after sending him to the Bears. They had a league low 13 sacks on the season, while Mack had 12.5 on his own in Chicago, despite missing a pair of games with injury. The Raiders will have to address the edge rush through the draft. Clelin Ferrell and Josh Allen both make sense here, but Ferrell is bigger and more of a natural every down defensive end in a 4-3, while Allen would be more of a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker. Allen may be a better fit in a base 3-4 defense.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – OLB Josh Allen (Kentucky)

With the Raiders taking Ferrell because he’s a better fit for their 4-3 defense, that leaves Josh Allen to the Buccaneers, who are switching to a base 3-4 under Todd Bowles. Jason Pierre-Paul and Carl Nassib, their current top edge rushers, are questionable fits as 3-4 outside linebackers. They won’t be a pure 3-4 team, but that’s even more reason why they need a versatile player like Josh Allen. They had one of the worst defenses in the league last year and Allen can rush the passer, drop in coverage, and stop the run, so he’d be a huge help for them defensively.

6. New York Jets (TRADE) – DE Rashan Gary (Michigan)

The Jets trade down and are still able to get a high level defensive lineman in a loaded defensive line class. Rashan Gary is a bit of a hybrid player at 6-5 280. He’ll play defensive end in base packages for them and move inside and rush the passer from the interior in sub packages. He’ll fill needs for the Jets in both roles and give new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams the kind of penetrating interior defensive lineman he loves to build his defenses around.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars – DT Ed Oliver (Houston)

The Jaguars could take a quarterback in the first round, as it’s clear Blake Bortles will not be back as the starter, but it’s more likely the Jaguars go with a veteran like Nick Foles. Not only is Foles’ old quarterbacks coach in Philadelphia, John DeFilippo, now the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator, but the Jaguars are built to win now on defense and might not want to rely on a rookie quarterback. Instead, they add Foles and take best available with the 7th overall pick.

The Jaguars used a first round pick on a defensive tackle in the first round last year, taking Florida’s Taven Bryan, but they could still take another one this year. Malik Jackson is likely to be let go, owed 13 million non-guaranteed in 2019, while Marcell Dareus is also a candidate to be let go, owed 21.2 million non-guaranteed between 2019 and 2020. Calais Campbell (29 million over the next two years in his age 33 and 34 seasons) is also highly paid and getting up there in age. With the Jaguars up against the cap, it makes sense for them to get younger and cheaper on the defensive line in a draft class with a bunch of talented defensive linemen. Ed Oliver has top-5 talent.

8. Washington Redskins (TRADE) – QB Kyler Murray (Oklahoma)

With Kyler Murray committed to football, it seems likely that some team will draft him high. The Redskins could easily be that team, as they love to move big splash moves like this. They can’t count on Alex Smith ever returning to form and need a cheap young quarterback to offset the guaranteed money they owe Smith. The Redskins trade their 2nd round pick to the Lions to move up from 15 to 8 and secure Murray. He might not be ready to start week 1, but he could be forced into action anyway because the Redskins don’t have the cap space to sign another quarterback to a significant contract.

9. Buffalo Bills – DT Christian Wilkins (Clemson)

The Bills have plenty of needs on offense, but they need to add a defensive tackle at some point and they’ll probably have a good option at 9 in a loaded defensive tackle class. Wilkins would replace the retiring Kyle Williams in the defensive tackle rotation with 2018 free agent acquisition Star Lotulelei and 2018 3rd round pick Harrison Phillips. Wilkins has the upside to be one of the Bills’ best defensive players a few years down the line.  

10. Denver Broncos – QB Drew Lock (Missouri)

The Broncos traded for Joe Flacco, but they only gave up a 4th rounder for him, so his addition won’t preclude the Broncos from taking a quarterback in the draft. The remaining 63 million over 3 years left on Flacco’s contract is all non-guaranteed, so the Broncos can get out of his contract whenever they want. John Elway is known to be a big fan of Lock, who can sit a year behind Flacco with an eye on him being the starter in 2020, which would save the Broncos significant cap space. Flacco would otherwise be owed 20.25 million in 2020 if they stick with him.

11. Cincinnati Bengals – MLB Devin White (LSU)

The Bengals had a lot of problems in the linebacking corps this season and are likely moving on from the highly paid Vontaze Burfict this off-season, after a down year in which he missed time with both suspension and injury. They are probably hoping Devin White, the top middle linebacker in the class, falls to them at 11. He’ll slot in immediately at middle linebacker, with incumbent Preston Brown set to free agency. He and promising young outside linebacker Nick Vigil can form a solid duo long-term if both keep developing.

12. Green Bay Packers – OLB Jachai Polite (Florida)

The Packers got a breakout year from 3rd year outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell, who had 10.5 sacks in 2018, including 5.5 in 7 starts, but they didn’t have a single other edge rusher with more than 3.5 sacks. Clay Matthews looked like a shell of his former self and likely won’t be brought back in a starting role as a free agent for his age 33 season in 2019, while Nick Perry has had just 8.5 sacks in 21 games in 2 seasons since signing a 5-year, 59 million dollar deal and might not be brought back at a non-guaranteed 10.75 million dollar salary. They could easily address the edge rusher position with one of their two first round picks.

13. Miami Dolphins – OT Jonah Williams (Alabama)

A lot of people have the Dolphins drafting a quarterback in the first round, but it sounds like they prefer to wait until next year’s stronger quarterback class, rather than trading up from 13 to get a quarterback in a weaker class this year. If there’s a quarterback they love, they may still trade up, but I think it’s more likely they sign a veteran stopgap like Case Keenum or Teddy Bridgewater and use a mid-round pick on a quarterback, with an eye on having a high draft pick in 2020. If they pass on a quarterback, an offensive lineman makes a lot of sense. Williams can either replace free agent right tackle JuWuan James or he could move inside to guard, where the Dolphins have had serious problems for years.

14. Atlanta Falcons – CB Greedy Williams (LSU)

With Robert Alford getting released and Brian Poole getting non-tendered, it’s clear the Falcons are going in a different direction at cornerback. Last year’s 2nd round pick Isaiah Oliver figures to be a big part of that new direction, but they need a 3rd cornerback to go with Oliver and Desmond Trufant. Greedy Williams has a huge upside and has the kind of size (6-3 185) that head coach Dan Quinn loves in a cornerback.

15. Detroit Lions (TRADE) – CB Byron Murphy (Washington)

With several major needs, the Lions pick up an extra second round pick in their trade down with the Redskins. One of those needs is cornerback, as the Lions need to find a consistent starter outside opposite Darius Slay. They used a 2nd round pick on Teez Tabor in 2017, but he was arguably the worst cornerback in the league last season, while veteran Nevin Lawson was only better by default. The Lions miss out on Greedy Williams, but there are some that prefer Murphy, who is a more refined player.

16. Carolina Panthers – OT Jawaan Taylor (Florida)

The 5-year, 55.5 million dollar deal the Panthers gave Matt Kalil two off-seasons ago looked bad at the time and looks even worse now. Kalil missed all of 2018 with injury and even when healthy he hasn’t been the kind of player deserving of that kind of salary in years. The remaining 29.75 million over 3 years left on his contract is all non-guaranteed, so the Panthers could move on from him this off-season and replace him with a cheaper option through the draft.

17. Cleveland Browns – OT Greg Little (Mississippi)

Browns fans might have PTSD about drafting someone named Greg Little, but offensive tackle is their one glaring hole on offense and Greg Little seems like the kind of prospect that can anchor that position for a decade. Greg Robinson wasn’t horrible down the stretch, but the former Rams mega-bust is still an underwhelming option at one of the most important positions in the game. The Browns can shoot higher in the draft.

18. Minnesota Vikings – DT Dre’Mont Jones (Ohio State)

Sheldon Richardson had a solid year in 2018, but he was only signed to a one-year deal and the Vikings don’t have much depth behind him, with Tom Johnson also not under contract for 2019, his age 35 season. They could dip into this deep defensive tackle class.

19. Tennessee Titans – OLB Montez Sweat (Mississippi State)

The Titans used a 2nd round pick on Harold Landry last year, but they need a long-term bookend for him. Brian Orakpo just retired ahead of what would have been his age 33 season and the declining Derrick Morgan is a 30-year-old free agent this off-season.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers – MLB Mack Wilson (Alabama)

The Steelers have struggled to replace Ryan Shazier since he got hurt and had major problems covering tight ends in 2018 as a result. Shazier is holding out hope he can play again, but the Steelers can’t count on that, so they’ll have to add another middle linebacker at some point. If Shazier can miraculously return to form, he and Wilson would form a dangerous duo in the middle of their 3-4 defense.

21. Seattle Seahawks – DE Brian Burns (Florida State)

The Seahawks are almost definitely going to franchise tag Frank Clark, rather than letting him hit free agency, but they need an upgrade opposite him. Besides Clark and defensive tackle Jarran Reed, the Seahawks didn’t have anyone with more than 3 sacks last year. Burns is a bit undersized, but the Seahawks have had success with undersized edge rushers before and he’d fill a big need for them immediately.

22. Baltimore Ravens – WR AJ Brown (Mississippi)

The Ravens can’t keep giving Lamar Jackson 15-20 carries per game and expect him to last the whole season, so they’re going to have to open up their passing game over the off-season. Unfortunately, John Brown is a free agent, Michael Crabtree could be a cap casualty, and Willie Snead is a free agent next off-season. Without a true #1 receiver, they could use a high pick on a wide receiver. This isn’t a good wide receiver class at the top, but this is around where I expect the first wideout to come off the board.

23. Houston Texans – TE TJ Hockenson (Iowa)

When Will Fuller and Keke Coutee are healthy, the Texans will have a talented trio of wide receivers, but they need a pass catching threat over the middle at tight end. This is a strong tight end class with a few tight ends that could go in the late first round, so that’s a direction they could go with their 23rd overall pick.

24. Oakland Raiders – S Deionte Thompson (Alabama)

The Raiders used a first round pick on Karl Joseph in 2016, but, despite decent play in his first two seasons, Jon Gruden decided he didn’t want Joseph to remain a starter in 2018, opting instead to use washed up veterans like Marcus Gilchrist and Reggie Nelson. Both are free agents this off-season, so the Raiders could look to the draft for another safety to compete with Karl Joseph and 2016 undrafted free agent Erik Harris, who also strangely saw action ahead of Joseph in 2018.

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (TRADE) – QB Daniel Jones (Duke)

Another team trades up for a quarterback, with the Buccaneers stopping the slide of Duke quarterback Daniel Jones, who some think could be a top-10 pick. Given that I expect Miami to skip this year’s first round quarterbacks, I didn’t see a clear spot for a 4th quarterback in the first round, but there could easily be a surprise team like last year, when the Ravens traded back up into the first round for Lamar Jackson. Daniel Jones is a perfect fit for head coach Bruce Arians’ downfield passing offense and the organization may be growing tired of Jameis Winston, who is in the final year of his contract in 2019.

Winston will probably get another shot at being the starter in 2019 regardless of whether or not they use an early pick on a quarterback, but the addition of Jones would have him on a short leash. Neither his play on the field nor his conduct off the field suggests they should give him a big extension, so they may prefer to move on from him after next season. They give the Eagles an extra 3rd round pick to move up from 39 to 25 to take a long-term replacement.

26. Indianapolis Colts – DT Jerry Tillery (Notre Dame)

The Colts’ defense exceeded expectations this season, but they could use more talent, especially on the defensive line. Denico Autry and Margus Hunt were a solid defensive tackle duo, but the latter is a 32-year-old free agent this off-season and they don’t have much depth behind them. This is yet another team that could take a defensive tackle in the first round.

27. Oakland Raiders – TE Irv Smith Jr. (Alabama)

Tight end Jared Cook was the Raiders’ leading receiver in 2018, but he’s a free agent and could command a big salary in free agency. The Raiders have the cap space to bring him back, but it’s unclear if the rebuilding Raiders want to pay top dollar for a tight end who is going into his age 32 season. It’s a strong tight end draft and they can address the position with one of their two late first round picks.

28. Los Angeles Chargers – DT Dexter Lawrence (Clemson)

The Chargers have a bunch of free agents at defensive tackle, which was not a position of strength anyway. Even if they re-sign Darius Philon, the best of the bunch, they need a starter next to him. Last year’s 3rd round pick Justin Jones showed nothing as a rookie and will likely have a rotational role at most in 2019.

29. Kansas City Chiefs – S Taylor Rapp (Washington)

It’s unclear if Eric Berry will ever be able to return to form, going into his age 31 season with a serious history of injuries, but even if he does, the Chiefs still need a better safety opposite him. This should be a position they prioritize in the draft.

30. Green Bay Packers – G Cody Ford (Oklahoma)

The Packers could use an upgrade at right guard and Cody Ford is a high upside prospect that could go higher than this. He can also play some offensive tackle for them, but he’d be most needed as a guard in Green Bay.

31. Los Angeles Rams – OLB Jaylon Ferguson (Louisiana Tech)

Aaron Donald had 20.5 sacks by himself, but the Rams didn’t have another pass rusher with more than 4.5 and desperately lack a top end edge rusher. Trade deadline acquisition Dante Fowler failed to produce the desired results and now is headed to free agency. This is a position the Rams could address at the end of the first round.

32. New England Patriots – DE Zach Allen (Boston College)

Even if the Patriots retain Trey Flowers in free agency, they need another defensive end. Zach Allen has the size that Belichick likes in a defensive end at 6-5 285 and can also line up inside in passing situations.

2019 NFL Mock Draft – 2nd Round

1st Round 2nd Round 3rd Round

33. Arizona Cardinals – WR Marquise Brown (Oklahoma)

Christian Kirk looks like a nice find in the 2nd round of last year’s draft, but they need a long-term complement for him, with Larry Fitzgerald going into his age 36 season. Chad Williams, a 3rd round pick in 2017, has shown nothing in two seasons in the league, catching just 37% of his targets. Marquise Brown would have an immediate role in 3 wide receiver sets, even with Fitzgerald sticking around for at least one more year.

34. Indianapolis Colts – WR DK Metcalf (Mississippi)

The Colts’ offense was very impressive down the stretch, despite a clear #2 receiver. DK Metcalf gives them a higher upside option opposite TY Hilton. A big receiver, his skill set would complement the smaller, speedier Hilton well.

35. Oakland Raiders – CB Trayvon Mullen (Clemson)

This is the Raiders’ 4th pick in the top-35 and they address the defense again, hoping to jumpstart a defense that was one of the worst in the league last season. They need a long-term starter opposite Gareon Conley. Nick Nelson and Daryl Worley are options, but you need at least 3 or 4 dependable cornerbacks in today’s NFL and the Raiders are pretty thin at the position, with veterans Rashaan Melvin and Leon Hall hitting free agency.

36. Pittsburgh Steelers (TRADE) – CB DeAndre Baker (Georgia)

I wrote an article a couple weeks ago breaking down the most likely options for Antonio Brown in 2019 and settled on the 49ers as the most likely destination. What could the Steelers get in return? In that article I said I expected they’d get more than the 4th rounder the Raiders got for Randy Moss in 2007, but not much more. The 49ers could give their 3rd round pick (#67) but they’ve already given that pick to the Cardinals in their trade up to #1. Instead, they could give up their 2nd round pick (#36) for Brown and the Steelers’ 3rd round pick (#83).

The difference between #36 and #83 on the trade value chart is about the equivalent of the 53rd pick, so it’s a relatively good return for Brown, the 49ers could also send wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (owed about 13.7 million non-guaranteed over the next 3 seasons) back to the Steelers as a veteran replacement for Brown. That would prevent the Steelers from needing to use an early pick on a receiver, which would allow them to focus on other positions like cornerback.

The Steelers benched 2016 1st round pick Artie Burns and barely played him in the second half of the season, but that didn’t help their cornerback issues, as veteran journeyman Coty Sensabaugh and 2017 3rd round pick Cameron Sutton both struggled. Baker gives them an upgrade on free agent Coty Sensabaugh and insurance in case top cornerback Joe Haden leaves as a free agent next off-season.

37. New York Jets (TRADE) – RB Joshua Jacobs (Alabama)

The Jets get this pick for moving down with the Giants from 3 to 6. The Jets are expected to pursue a running back in free agency and they have the money to spend, but if they are unable to sign one they’ll have to find one in the draft. Joshua Jacobs will likely be the first running back off the board on in April and could be a first rounder if a team likes him enough. Assuming the Jets don’t sign someone like Le’Veon Bell in free agency, Jacobs would have the opportunity for a huge rookie workload for a team that is likely to get rid of veterans Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell.

38. Jacksonville Jaguars – TE Noah Fant (Iowa)

Noah Fant is one of three tight ends who could go in the first round and he makes sense for the Jaguars at the top of the second if he slips. The Jaguars had several different players make starts at tight end last season. While injuries were part of the problem, week 1 starter Austin Seferian-Jenkins was cut, leaving them without a clear #1 tight end for 2019. Fant could have a big role immediately.

39. Philadelphia Eagles (TRADE) – DT Jeffery Simmons (Mississippi State)

The Eagles pick for the first time at 39, after trading down with the Buccaneers from 25. The Eagles got a 3rd rounder in that trade down, replacing the one they lost in the Golden Tate trade, and they have an extra second rounder from a trade down last year, so they have 4 picks between 39 and the Buccaneers 3rd round pick at 70. Simmons is a very risky pick, with a history of domestic abuse and a torn ACL, but he’s a top-5 talent and the Eagles are in a position to take a risk like this. He’d fill a need at defensive tackle, though it’s unclear if he’ll be able to play at all in 2019. At a certain point, he’s worth the risk.

40. Buffalo Bills – OT David Andrews (Wisconsin)

The Bills need to put Josh Allen in a position to be successful. They need to add help at wide receiver as well, but there are better values at offensive tackle at this point in the draft. Andrews could play immediately on either the left or right side for the Bills. Dion Dawkins is a capable left tackle, but might be better off on the right side, where incumbent starter Jordan Mills is a free agent.

41. Denver Broncos – OT Andre Dillard (Washington State)

Teams that take a quarterback in the first round tend to use their next pick on an offensive player. The Broncos have a huge hole at right tackle and they could easily address that need in the second round, if they can’t in free agency. Incumbent right tackle Jared Veldheer is a free agent this off-season and could retire ahead of his age 32 season.

42. Cincinnati Bengals – OT Yodny Cajuste (West Virginia)

The mini run on offensive tackle continues as the Bengals also need to address the position. Their offensive line was better in 2018 than 2017, but largely by default. New left tackle Cordy Glenn was solid when on the field, but he’s missed 19 of 48 games over the past 3 seasons. Right tackle, meanwhile, remained a serious weakness for the Bengals in 2018. Cajuste can play either side.

43. Detroit Lions – WR Deebo Samuel (South Carolina)

With Golden Tate out of town, the Lions have very little depth behind Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay at wide receiver. Deebo Samuel can immediately be their 3rd receiver and could easily develop into a long-term starter, with both Jones and Golladay set to hit free agency in two off-seasons.

44. Green Bay Packers – S Nasir Adderley (Delaware)

The Packers weirdly traded top safety HaHa Clinton-Dix to the Redskins at the trade deadline and subsequently had terrible safety play for the remainder of the season. Even if they add a free agent, they need could still draft a safety because they need to add two starting caliber safeties this off-season. Nasir Adderley is one of the top small school prospects in the draft and could sneak into the late first round.

45. Atlanta Falcons – DT Gerald Willis (Miami)

The Falcons will likely franchise tag Grady Jarrett rather than allowing him to hit the open market, but even if they bring him back they still need help at defensive tackle next to him. I expect them to address this position relatively early. Willis is a high upside day 2 prospect who gives them insurance in case Jarrett can’t be re-signed beyond 2019.

46. Detroit Lions (TRADE) – DE Joe Jackson (Miami)

With Ezekiel Ansah likely to hit the open market after an injury plagued year on the franchise tag in 2018, the Lions badly need help at defensive end. A second round pick like Joe Jackson could immediately have a big role.

47. Carolina Panthers – C Elgton Jenkins (Mississippi State)

The Panthers could double up on offensive linemen in the early rounds. Taylor Moton is locked in at right tackle after a strong year, while Trai Turner and his big contract are locked in at right guard. However, center Ryan Kalil is retiring and the Panthers have question marks at left tackle and left guard as well. They addressed left tackle in the first round and now get a plug and play starter at center. Keeping Cam Newton healthy is paramount and the Colts showed last year that a good draft of offensive linemen can turn a line around in a hurry.

48. Miami Dolphins – RB David Montgomery (Iowa State)

Going into his age 36 season, Frank Gore is unlikely to be retained by a rebuilding Dolphins team. Instead, they could look to the draft for a back to pair with Kenyan Drake. David Montgomery is likely to come off the board in round 2.

49. Cleveland Browns – WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside (Stanford)

Breshad Perriman was a surprise standout for the Browns down the stretch, but he’s a free agent this off-season and they’re pretty thin at wide receiver without him. They could add someone on day 2 to push Rashard Higgins and Antonio Callaway for playing time.

50. Minnesota Vikings – OT Bobby Evans (Oklahoma)

The Vikings used a 2nd round pick on an offensive tackle last year, taking Brian O’Neill, and he showed promise down the stretch, but the Vikings still need offensive line help. There’s talk that left tackle Riley Reiff could be moved inside to guard, where the Vikings need help at both spots. If the Vikings do that, they’ll need to find a new left tackle.

51. Tennessee Titans – S Johnathan Abram (Mississippi State)

The Titans signed Johnathan Cyprien to a 4-year, 25 million dollar deal two off-seasons ago, but he struggled mightily in 2017 and missed all of 2018 with a torn ACL. Owed 5.5 million non-guaranteed in 2019, he’s an obvious cut candidate, but they don’t have a clear replacement. Veteran Kenny Vaccaro, signed to replace Cyprien after he got hurt, was only signed for one-year and may go elsewhere in free agency. They could look to address this position in the draft.

52. Pittsburgh Steelers – G Chris Lindstrom (Boston College)

Long-time left guard Ramon Foster is going into his age 33 season and his play has slipped in recent years. With Foster hitting free agency this off-season, the Steelers may opt to get younger at the position. BJ Finney, a swing interior lineman who has shown some promise in limited action, is one option, but the Steelers could also use a relatively high draft pick on the position. Lindstrom could be a plug and play starter as a rookie.

53. Philadelphia Eagles – RB Damien Harris (Alabama)

Damien Harris is one of two Alabama running backs that could go high in the draft. He’d fill a big need for the Eagles, who cycled through multiple lead backs last season after Jay Ajayi got hurt. With Ajayi heading to free agency and the Eagles strapped for cap space, they’ll probably let Ajayi go and find a cheaper replacement through the draft. Harris would have the opportunity for a big rookie year role, with his only competition for carries being Wendell Smallwood, Josh Adams, and a 36-year-old Darren Sproles.

54. Houston Texans – OT Tytus Howard (Alabama State)

The Texans didn’t really address the offensive line in last year’s draft because they didn’t have a pick in the first two rounds and it wasn’t a strong offensive line class. This year’s offensive line class is stronger and they have three picks in the first two rounds, so I would expect them to use at least one on an offensive lineman. Howard could immediately compete for a starting job at either tackle spot.

55. Houston Texans – CB Julian Love (Notre Dame)

Kareem Jackson and Shareece Wright are both free agents, while the injury prone Kevin Johnson could be let go ahead of his 5th year option if he can pass a physical. That would leave the Texans with Johnathan Joseph and Aaron Colvin as their top cornerbacks, but the former is going into his age 35 season, while the latter struggled mightily last season in the first year of a 4-year, 34 million dollar deal. They need to add cornerback help at some point.

56. New England Patriots – S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (Florida)

The Patriots love using early picks on defensive backs and, with 6 picks in the first 3 rounds, I would expect them to take at least one. Both McCourtys are going into their age 32 season, with Jason hitting free agency this off-season and Devin hitting free agency next off-season. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is a good value at this point in the draft and could be a long-term starter for them at safety.

57. Philadelphia Eagles – WR Kelvin Harmon (North Carolina State)

The Eagles traded for Golden Tate because they didn’t have anything behind Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor, but Tate is unlikely to be retained as a free agent this off-season. They could turn to the draft for a 3rd receiver. With Agholor going into the final year of his rookie deal in 2019, a draft pick like Kelvin Harmon could easily be a starter by 2020.

58. Dallas Cowboys – TE Kaden Smith (Stanford)

Even with the addition of Amari Cooper, the Cowboys need to keep adding pass catchers. They still don’t have a clear standout at tight end and Geoff Swaim, the starter last season before getting hurt, is a free agent this off-season. Kaden Smith would give them a higher upside option.

59. Indianapolis Colts – MLB Devin Bush (Michigan)

The Colts struck gold with outside linebacker Darius Leonard in the second round last year. Now they add another second round linebacker to give him a long-term running mate. Bush could be an upgrade as a rookie over Anthony Walker, the incumbent starting middle linebacker.

60. Los Angeles Chargers – OLB Terrill Hanks (New Mexico State)

The Chargers’ 7 defensive back strategy worked against the Ravens, but it was largely out of necessity, with their top-3 linebackers Denzel Perryman, Jatavis Brown, and Kyzir White out with injuries. White will be back in 2019, but the other two are free agents. They’ll probably add a linebacker at some point in the draft and Hanks can be a three down player in a 4-3. He reminds some of Darius Leonard.

61. Kansas City Chiefs – C Garrett Bradbury (North Carolina State)

If the Chiefs are unable to re-sign center Mitch Morse in free agency, they could find his replacement in the draft. Garrett Bradbury is one of a handful of centers who could come off the board on day 2.

62. New Orleans Saints – DT Isaiah Buggs (Alabama)

This is the Saints’ first selection, with their first round pick going to the Packers to complete last year’s trade up for defensive end Marcus Davenport. Even with the addition of Davenport, the Saints are pretty thin on the defensive line right now, with a couple key players set to hit free agency. Buggs gives them depth and can play both inside and outside at 6-5 285.

63. Kansas City Chiefs – RB Darrell Henderson (Memphis)

Damien Williams impressed down the stretch as a replacement for Kareem Hunt, but the Chiefs will probably still use a draft pick on a running back to pair with Williams.

64. New England Patriots – WR Terry McLaurin (Ohio State)

The Patriots haven’t had much success developing young receivers, but they may have to try again, with Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, and Cordarrelle Patterson all set to hit free agency. They still have Julian Edelman and they could get Danny Amendola and Josh Gordon back too, but they can’t count on either of those and Edelman is going into his age 33 season, so they need to add a young receiver at some point.

2019 NFL Mock Draft – 3rd Round

1st Round 2nd Round 3rd Round

65. Arizona Cardinals – OLB D’Andre Walker (Georgia)

The Cardinals passed on Nick Bosa at #1 to trade down and take Quinnen Williams at 2, but they’ll need to address the edge rush at some point. Outside of Chandler Jones, no Cardinal had more than 4.5 sacks last season. Markus Golden, who had 12.5 sacks in 2016, has just 2.5 in 15 games in 2 years since due to injury and may not be retained this off-season as a free agent.

66. Oakland Raiders – MLB Te’Von Coney (Notre Dame)

Middle linebacker is another position on defense that the Raiders need to address. Coney could be the starter as a rookie if they don’t add another option.

67. Arizona Cardinals (TRADE) – OT Kaleb McGary (Washington)

This is one of the picks the Cardinals got for swapping 1 and 2 with the 49ers. The Cardinals once again need to upgrade their offensive line. Left tackle DJ Humphries will probably get one last shot as the left tackle in 2019, but he’s a free agent after the season and they lack a good option opposite him, with Justin Pugh looking like he’s going to settle in as a guard. They need to give Josh Rosen every opportunity to succeed.

68. New York Jets – CB Rock Ya-Sin (Temple)

Cornerback is a position the Jets could address in free agency, but with both Morris Claiborne and Buster Skrine hitting free agency, the Jets need to add a pair of cornerbacks. It wouldn’t be hard to upgrade over either of those players.

69. Jacksonville Jaguars – G Dalton Risner (Kansas State)

The Jaguars’ offensive line should be better in 2019 when healthier, but they have a glaring hole at right guard, with AJ Cann set to hit free agency. With limited cap space, this is a position the Jaguars will probably have to address in the draft.

70. Philadelphia Eagles (TRADE)  – CB JoeJuan Williams (Vanderbilt)

The Eagles got some good play from young cornerbacks down the stretch after losing Ronald Darby, but the Eagles could still add another cornerback to the mix, especially if they pick up an extra pick in a trade down. This completes the Eagles’ trade with the Buccaneers at the end of the first round.

71. Denver Broncos – TE Jace Sternberger (Texas A&M)

The Broncos have some promising young players at wide receiver, but need to add another young tight end, with Jake Butt’s career in doubt after a 3rd torn ACL. Jeff Heuerman led Bronco tight ends with a 31/281/2 slash line in 2018 and he’s a free agent this off-season. The Broncos can look to the draft for a higher upside option.

72. Cincinnati Bengals – TE Dawson Knox (Mississippi)

The Bengals’ top-3 tight ends are all currently free agents. They may re-sign one or two, but only Tyler Eifert is starting caliber and he’s incredibly unreliable due to injuries. The Bengals are unlikely to spend big money on an outside free agent like Jared Cook, so the most likely outcome is they bring back Eifert on an incentivized deal and pair him with a high upside rookie.

73. New England Patriots – DT Renell Wren (Arizona State)

The Patriots’ first round pick, Zach Allen, can line up at defensive tackle in sub packages, but the Patriots need a base defensive tackle as well, with both Danny Shelton and Malcom Brown set to hit free agency. With 6 picks in the first 3 rounds, the Patriots can afford to take a couple defensive linemen.

74. Buffalo Bills – WR Hakeem Butler (Iowa State)

The Bills addressed the offensive line in the 2nd round. Now they need to address the receiving corps. Zay Jones and Robert Foster have some promise, but they need to add at least one, if not two more wide receivers to the mix.

75. Green Bay Packers – OLB Maxx Crosby (Eastern Michigan)

If the Packers lose both Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, they could easily double up on outside linebackers during the draft. Crosby, Jachai Polite, and Kyler Fackrell would form a young, high upside trio.

76. Washington Redskins – WR Parris Campbell (Ohio State)

This is the Redskins’ first pick since moving up for Kyler Murray. They need to get him someone else to throw to, even if they are able to re-sign Jamison Crowder in free agency. Neither Paul Richardson nor Josh Doctson are impressive and both could be pushed for their jobs by a talented rookie.

77. Carolina Panthers – DE Anthony Nelson (Iowa)

With Julius Peppers retiring, the Panthers badly need to get younger at defensive end. Right now their top-2 defensive ends are Mario Addison, who is going into his age 32 season, and Wes Horton, a free agent who struggled mightily in 2018. After badly whiffing on Daeshon Hall in the 3rd round in 2017, cutting him before the start of the 2018 season, the Panthers need to try to draft and develop another defensive end. This is also a position they could address in free agency, as they’ll need two defensive ends if they can’t retain Horton.

78. Miami Dolphins – QB Jarrett Stidham (Auburn)

The Dolphins will probably take a quarterback they like at some point. Who that will be I’m not sure, but Jarrett Stidham is expected to go in the mid rounds and would make some sense for them in the 3rd. He could compete with a veteran like Teddy Bridgewater or Case Keenum for the Dolphins in what looks to be a big rebuilding year with an eye on a high draft pick in 2020.

79. Atlanta Falcons – G Erik McCoy (Texas A&M)

The Falcons could use help at both guard spots and even a 3rd round pick would have a shot to start as a rookie. McCoy can also play center, giving the Falcons long-term insurance behind Alex Mack, who is going into his age 34 season and has just two years left on his contract.

80. Cleveland Browns – DT Khalen Saunders (Western Illinois)

The Browns need to upgrade starting defensive tackle Trevon Coley, who is arguably their weakest starter on defense. Fortunately, this is a good year to need a defensive tackle. Saunders could push for a big rookie year role at a thin position.

81. Minnesota Vikings – OLB Tyrel Dobson (Texas A&M)

Anthony Barr is unlikely to be re-signed this off-season, so the Vikings will have to add linebacker help at some point. They have a couple promising young linebackers in Ben Gedeon and Kentrell Brothers, but they need competition.

82. Tennessee Titans – WR N’Keal Harry (Arizona State)

Corey Davis could be a budding #1 receiver, but he’s still young and they don’t have anyone proven opposite him, with both Tajae Sharpe and Taywan Taylor underwhelming last season. They could add more competition through the draft if they don’t in free agency.

83. San Francisco 49ers (TRADE) – S Mike Edwards (Kentucky)

The 49ers haven’t picked since pick #1, but they’ve also acquired Nick Bosa and Antonio Brown, so I doubt they’re complaining. They could also use help at safety and Edwards is a solid value in the middle of the 3rd.

84. Seattle Seahawks – G Michael Jordan (Ohio State)

The Seahawks seemingly need offensive line help every year. Their offensive line wasn’t as bad in 2018 as it’s been in past years, but they could use another guard with underwhelming veteran JR Sweezy set to hit free agency this off-season. Michael Jordan has the size the Seahawks love at 6-7 315.

85. Baltimore Ravens – RB Devin Singletary (Florida Atlantic)

The Ravens will obviously be a run heavy team under new quarterback Lamar Jackson and they have an unsettled running back situation, so they could add another back to the mix through the draft, especially with Alex Collins, Buck Allen, and Ty Montgomery all possibly being let go this off-season.

86. Houston Texans – RB Miles Sanders (Penn State)

Lamar Miller is going into the final year of his contract. He’s an underwhelming starter anyway, but the Texans lack another capable back. Dont’a Foreman, their 3rd round pick in 2017, showed promise as a rookie, but couldn’t get back into form in his 2nd season after a torn achilles. He may still be in their future plans, but they should add another young back to the mix at some point.

87. Chicago Bears – S Jamal Peters (Mississippi State)

The Bears have a dominant defense, but they could lose both slot cornerback Bryce Callahan and safety Adrian Amos to free agency this off-season. Peters, a versatile defensive back who can play cornerback or safety, would give them a potential long-term replacement at one of the two spots.

88. Detroit Lions – TE Kahale Warring (San Diego State)

Levine Toilolo led all Detroit tight ends with a 21/263/1 slash line in 2018, so the Lions can obviously do better. They need to add a pass catching tight end at some point this off-season. Warring is very raw, but has a huge upside and could still be the Lions’ best receiving tight end as a rookie, even as raw as he is.

89. Indianapolis Colts – CB Amani Oruwariye (Penn State)

Colts’ cornerbacks surprisingly took a bit step forward in 2018 but they’ll take a big step right back if they lose Pierre Desir in free agency. They could add depth in the middle rounds either way, in case their other breakout cornerbacks cannot continue their solid play in 2019 and beyond.

90. Dallas Cowboys – WR Keelan Doss (UC Davis)

Michael Gallup will have a bigger role opposite Amari Cooper in 2019, but they need to keep adding young receivers, as it looks likely they’ll lose key slot receiver Cole Beasley in free agency this off-season.

91. Los Angeles Chargers – OT Chuma Edoga (USC)

The Chargers have improved their offensive line in recent years, but could still use an upgrade at right tackle, where Sam Tevi was an underwhelming starter in 2018.

92. Kansas City Chiefs – CB Justin Layne (Michigan State)

The Chiefs need help at cornerback, where both Steven Nelson and Orlando Scandrick are free agents this off-season. Kendall Fuller is probably their best cornerback, but he only has one year left on his deal.

93. New York Jets – WR Riley Ridley (Georgia)

The Jets are one of the teams that will likely pursue Antonio Brown in free agency and if they don’t get him they’ll have to add a receiver in the draft to give them some depth behind Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson, the latter of whom is going into the final year of his rookie deal.

94. Jacksonville Jaguars – DE Austin Bryant (Clemson)

Even with the addition of Ed Oliver in the first round, the Jaguars could still add another defensive lineman in the mid rounds, given Calais Campbell’s age and their lack of proven depth behind him on the depth chart.

95. Cleveland Browns – CB Lonnie Johnson (Kentucky)

Denzel Ward looks like a long-term starter at one cornerback spot, but the other spot is unsettled and they could use more young depth either way. Johnson is a developmental prospect that could start a year or two down the road.

96. Washington Redskins – MLB Tre Lamar (Clemson)

The Redskins have a solid defense, but they need help at middle linebacker, where Mason Foster struggles and Zach Brown is an overpaid two-down run stuffer.

97. New England Patriots – QB Will Grier (West Virginia)

It’s unclear what the Patriots’ long-term solution behind Tom Brady is at this point. They obviously believe Brady can keep playing at a high level for another couple years, but if there’s a quarterback they like in the draft they’ll take a shot on him. The mid rounds make a lot more sense for them than reaching at the top of the draft in an underwhelming quarterback class.

98. Los Angeles Rams – DT DeMarcus Christmas (Florida State)

Ndamukong Suh had a solid year, but he was only signed to a one-year deal and the Rams might not be able to bring him back for cap reasons. They could find his replacement through the draft.

99. Los Angeles Rams – MLB Drue Tranquill (Notre Dame)

Mark Barron could easily be let go this off-season, as his 8 million dollar salary doesn’t match his performance in the last two years. Needing the money for other parts of their roster, releasing him and replacing him with a cheaper rookie seems like a no brainer.

100. Carolina Panthers – S Jaquan Johnson (Miami)

The Panthers locked up Eric Reid on a long-term deal but need a long-term complement for him, with Mike Adams seemingly nearing the end, ahead of his age 38 season. Adams shouldn’t be brought back as a starter.

101. New England Patriots – TE Zach Gentry (Michigan)

Even if Rob Gronkowski returns for another season in 2019, the Patriots will need to find a young tight end in the draft. Gronkowski won’t be around much longer and they don’t have another good option at the position.

102. Baltimore Ravens – S Juan Thornhill (Virginia)     

With Eric Weddle going into an age 34 contract year, the Ravens will probably use a mid round pick on a developmental safety who could potentially replace Weddle long-term.  

2019 Franchise Tag Candidates

The franchise tag period begins February 19th, when teams can officially start placing the tag on players they don’t want to lose in free agency. Each team is allowed one franchise tag, which locks a player in on a one-year deal worth the average of the top-5 cap hits at that players’ position, assuming that player doesn’t choose to sit out the season like Le’Veon Bell did in 2018. Not including players who would only be tagged to be traded (Bell, Earl Thomas, and Nick Foles) and kickers (Stephen Gostkowski and Robbie Gould), there are 9 serious candidates for the franchise tag this season.

DE Trey Flowers (New England)

In addition to Gostkowski, the Patriots also have left tackle Trent Brown set to hit free agency, but with 2018 1st round pick Isaiah Wynn expected to return from injury and compete for the left tackle job, Brown seems unlikely to be tagged at a one-year rate of 15.3 million. Instead, it would either be Gostkowski or Flowers if the Patriots decide to use the franchise tag. They may not choose either, but there’s a case to be made that Flowers is worth about 18.7 million annually, which is around where the defensive end franchise tag number is expected to be.

Flowers’ sack total doesn’t jump off the page (21 in 45 career games), but he’s added another 39 hits and 97 hurries on the quarterback and Bill Belichick knows the value of guys who can consistently disrupt the quarterback, even if they aren’t always getting the sack, and he knows the value of guys who can line up in different spots on the defensive line, which Flowers does. Flowers is also really their only consistent pass rusher and he plays at a high level against the run as well. The transition tag (projected at 15.7 million) is another option, but Flowers’ pass rush productivity isn’t a secret around the league and he’d probably get offers ranging in the 16-18 million annual range that they’d have to match. Either way, he’s going to get paid this off-season.

MLB CJ Mosley (Baltimore)

Mosley seems likely to end up back in Baltimore one way or another, but the franchise tag doesn’t seem like a great option for him. Because the linebacker tag value includes pass rush linebackers in its calculation, the projected franchise tag value for linebackers is 15.8 million, which would put Mosley far above the top non-rush linebacker in the league in terms of average annual salary, which is Luke Kuechly at 12.4 million. Mosley could still top that number on a long-term deal, even if issues in coverage suggest he’s not that caliber of a player, but the Ravens might not want to risk that much of their cap being tied up in a player who isn’t a huge factor in coverage or rushing the quarterback. Perhaps the transition tag (projected 13.6 million) is a better option.

OT Donovan Smith (Tampa Bay)

A 2nd round pick in 2015, Smith made all 64 starts at left tackle for the Buccaneers in 4 seasons on his rookie deal, but he was one of the worst left tackles in the league for the first 3 seasons, before improving in 2018. From 2015-2017, he allowed 34 quarterback hits, most among offensive tackles, and committed 33 penalties, second most among offensive tackles. Those numbers dropped to 9 and 7 in 2018 and evidently the Buccaneers expect him to continue improving, as they are reportedly considering the franchise tag to keep him for 2019. That be a smarter move than giving Smith a big long-term contract, but 15.3 million is a big cap number for a player of Smith’s caliber and it wouldn’t be that hard to find a comparable player for less. Perhaps the transition tag (projected 13.7 million) is a better option here as well.

DT Grady Jarrett (Atlanta)

The Falcons’ defense should be better when healthier in 2019, but they can’t afford to lose Grady Jarrett. Their defense was horrible in 2018, but they were even worse in the 2 games Jarrett missed. First and foremost a strong run stuffer on the interior, Jarrett also has 13 sacks and 28 quarterback hits from the defensive tackle spot over the past 3 seasons. The 15.6 million dollar franchise tag is around what he’d get annually on a long-term extension, so I’d expect this to happen in the absence of a long-term deal.

S Landon Collins (NY Giants)

Safeties have one of the cheaper franchise tags at around 12 million annually. While the Giants don’t have a ton of cap space and have other needs, they can’t afford to lose one of their few truly good players. Injuries have ended his last two seasons, but he’s missed just 5 games in 4 seasons in the league and has been one of the best safeties in the league for each of the past 3 seasons, so he’s fairly low risk and could keep getting better, only going into his age 25 season. Given that, it probably makes more sense for the Giants to extend Collins long-term and lower his 2019 cap hit. He could push to be the highest paid safety in the league, upwards of 13 million annually, but the Giants could still structure that in a way that allows them to still address their many other needs.

DE DeMarcus Lawrence (Dallas)

Lawrence was already franchise tagged by the Cowboys once, playing the 2018 season on a one-year, 17.143 million dollar deal. It was a smart decision by the Cowboys at the time, as Lawrence was a one-year wonder with an early career history of back problems, but now that Lawrence is coming off of another strong season, the Cowboys are in a tough position. They obviously don’t want to lose him, but tagging a player for the 2nd year in a row requires a 20% increase in salary, meaning the franchise tag would cost them about 20.57 million this time around.

That’s a huge number to commit to a non-quarterback, especially with players like Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, and Ezekiel Elliott also due pay raises soon, but Lawrence has 25 sacks and 23 quarterback hits over the past two seasons, while playing at a high level against the run, so he could command close to 20 million annually on a long-term deal anyway. At the very least, he’ll be looking to top the 5-year, 85 million dollar deal Olivier Vernon got two off-seasons ago.

DE Frank Clark (Seattle)

For many players, the franchise tag amount is more than they’d likely get on the open market in average annual salary. Teams pay a premium for the benefit of being able to go year-to-year without big signing bonuses and large chunks of guaranteed money. That’s not the case with Frank Clark, even at the 18.7 million dollar defensive end rate. Players with 33 sacks and 27 quarterback hits in 3-year stretch before their 26 season tend to get paid. He figures to get around 20 million annually on a long-term extension and the Seahawks have the cap space to make sure he doesn’t go anywhere.

OLB Jadeveon Clowney (Houston)

Clowney seems like a perfect fit for the franchise tag. Not only do the Texans get a slight discount because he’s listed as a linebacker in the Texans 3-4, rather than a defensive end (18.7 million vs. 15.8 million), but it also perfectly fits where he is in his development. Clowney hasn’t quite lived up to expectations as the #1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and the Texans may be hesitant to give him a huge long-term contract, but he’s also shown flashes of dominance and could keep getting better, still only going into his age 26 season, so they don’t want to lose him either. I wouldn’t expect him to sign a long-term deal this off-season, but I don’t expect him to go anywhere else.

OLB Dee Ford (Kansas City)

The franchise tag is also a perfect fit for Dee Ford and the Chiefs, who will also benefit from Ford being classified as a linebacker in their 3-4 system. Ford’s 13 sacks and 17 quarterback hits in 2018 suggest a player worth big money, but the 2 sacks he had in 6 games in 2017 before back surgery suggest maybe he’s someone you should make prove it again before giving him a big long-term contract.

Top-10 Most Likely Antonio Brown Trade Destinations

After years of drama in Pittsburgh, perennial All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown has formally demanded a trade from the Steelers. Brown has been one of the best overall players in the league in recent years, averaging 114 catches for 1524 yards and 11 touchdowns per season since 2013, all best in the NFL over that 6-year stretch. However, he might not draw as much in a trade as you’d think. Not only do the Steelers have no leverage now that he’s publicly demanded a trade, but he’s also going into his age 31 season and could be on the downside of his career. His contract (39 million over 3 years remaining) isn’t a bad value at all, as the Steelers paid out 19 million of his 4-year, 68 million dollar extension in a signing bonus two years ago, but that raises another concern. Brown is quitting on his team less than 2 years after they gave him a 19 million dollar signing bonus and an additional 10 million in new money in the first year of the deal. That won’t be looked upon favorably around the league.

It’s tough to guess what the Steelers could get for Brown as there really isn’t a good recent comparison. Randy Moss was traded for just a 4th rounder in 2007 at around the same age, but he also was coming off of a 42/553/3 slash line in a season in which he didn’t try hard on a hapless Raiders team. Brown might not be the best teammate, but he always gives effort on gameday and is coming off of another strong season, leading the league with 15 receiving touchdowns. I’d imagine they can get more than a 4th rounder, but it may not be by much, given the circumstances. The Steelers probably won’t like the offers they get, but ultimately don’t seem to have much of a choice, as it’s hard to see this relationship getting repaired.

Given that Brown being traded is seemingly inevitable at this point, the question now becomes where will be play in 2019. While most teams might like to add Antonio Brown to their roster, that list gets much smaller when you remove teams that don’t have pressing needs at wide receiver, teams that don’t have the cap space to add him, and teams that the Steelers wouldn’t trade him to. It’s already been reported that the Steelers don’t want to trade him in the division or to the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots, for obvious reasons, and I would imagine they wouldn’t want to trade him to any of the teams that are coming off strong years, as they still view themselves as contenders and wouldn’t want to give a fellow contender their missing piece. I excluded all teams that won at least 12 games in 2018, which eliminates the Rams, Saints, Chargers, Chiefs, and Bears.

I also excluded bad teams who are rebuilding and likely wouldn’t want to trade for a soon-to-be-31-year-old wide receiver, which eliminates the Cardinals, Raiders, and Dolphins, teams that currently have negative cap space, which eliminates the Jaguars and Eagles, and teams with limited cap space and more pressing needs elsewhere, which eliminates the Vikings, Buccaneers, Falcons, Lions, and Giants. The Seahawks and the Cowboys are also excluded because the former already has 2 wide receivers making 8 figures annually and the latter already made a big splash move for a receiver and won’t have much cap space left after extending Amari Cooper, Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Byron Jones, and DeMarcus Lawrence. That leaves 10 teams with a realistic shot of trading for Brown, with varying degrees of likelihood.

10. Green Bay Packers

I almost eliminated the Packers before this. They went just 6-9-1 last year, but that’s unlikely to fool the Steelers into sending Brown to Green Bay to team up with Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams. The Packers have plenty of incentive to trade for Brown and could easily be the highest bidder, as Rodgers struggled by his standards last year while playing with inexperienced receivers, but that’s precisely the reason why the Steelers wouldn’t want to see Brown in Packer green. He could easily be their missing piece, especially if they stay healthier on defense. This is still a possibility, but I’d consider this unlikely, especially since Rodgers and the Packers beat the Steelers in their most recent Super Bowl appearance. I doubt they’ve forgotten that.

9. Indianapolis Colts

At 10-6, the Colts weren’t good enough to be eliminated prior to this, but they were arguably the best team in the NFL in the second half of last season and adding Brown, who would fill a big need at wide receiver, would make them all that much better. While that gives them plenty of incentive to try to trade for him, it also would probably give the Steelers a lot of pause about trading him to them. Especially since the Colts will still have plenty of cap space to work with in free agency even after acquiring Brown, the Steelers could easily regret sending Brown to Indianapolis.

8. Houston Texans

The Texans are in a similar boat as the Colts in that adding Brown would help them immensely and they have the cap space to add him easily, but the Steelers might not want to send Brown to a team that looks like an annual playoff contender in the AFC with Deshaun Watson under center. If the Texans got Brown, they’d be able to play him, DeAndre Hopkins, and Will Fuller at the same time, which would be a nightmare for opposing defenses, including the Steelers.

7. Tennessee Titans

The Titans aren’t as good as the previous 2 AFC South teams, but they could become a contender in a hurry if they acquired Brown and Marcus Mariota stayed healthy for a full season. Corey Davis could be a budding #1 receiver, but he’s still young and they don’t have anyone proven opposite him, with both Tajae Sharpe and Taywan Taylor underwhelming last season. This is more likely than the Steelers sending him to the Packers, Colts, or Texans, but I still don’t see this as a strong possibility.

6. Denver Broncos

The Broncos have some promising young receivers, but their only proven veteran is Emmanuel Sanders, who tore his achilles in December, putting his status for the start of the 2019 season in doubt. Sanders’ 10.25 million dollar salary for 2019 is not guaranteed and the Broncos could save that entire amount against the cap if they were to let him go. They could release him and replace him with Brown via trade. Likely not true contenders in the AFC even with Brown, the only reason they aren’t higher on this list is they’ve been a thorn in the Steelers’ side in recent years, winning 4 of the past 5 matchups, including a pair of playoff games and an upset win in 2018 that ultimately caused the Steelers to miss the post-season, so the Steelers may not want to see Brown in Bronco orange.

5. Carolina Panthers

The Panthers rank relatively high because they are an NFC team and you have to believe the Steelers would prefer to send Brown to the NFC. They aren’t an obvious fit for him though because they have minimal cap space (about 19 million as of this writing) and a pair of talented young receivers in DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel who played well down the stretch in 2018. That’s not to say they couldn’t use a player of Brown’s caliber, but they might prefer to commit their remaining cap space to other parts of the roster.

4. New York Jets

The Jets were a bad team last year, but I think they are officially no longer in rebuild/teardown mode. Now that they have a quarterback of the future locked in, it’s time for them to start building around him and they have the second most cap space in the league to build with. With an underwhelming free agency class, the Jets may see acquiring Brown as a better use of their money than paying a similar amount to someone like Golden Tate, even if it means parting with a draft pick. The Jets don’t have a second round pick because of their trade up for Darnold last year, but they do have a pair of 3rds thanks to their trade of Teddy Bridgewater to the Saints, which could be intriguing to the Steelers. The Steelers also probably wouldn’t have to worry about the Jets becoming a contender purely from the addition of Brown.

3. Buffalo Bills

The Bills are similar to the Jets in that they have a young quarterback who needs a #1 receiver, while simultaneously not being good enough to scare the Steelers off from sending him there. They also have a ton of cap space, 4th most in the NFL. The only reason they are higher than the Jets is because they currently have 9 draft picks in 2019, while the Jets have just 6.

2. Washington Redskins

You could argue that the Redskins, who currently don’t have a quarterback, should have been eliminated with the other bad teams that are rebuilding, but owner Dan Snyder doesn’t know the meaning of the word rebuilding and trading for Antonio Brown when he probably wouldn’t even make them a playoff team is the exact kind of splash move he loves making. Given their history of acquiring expensive veterans, the Redskins could be the highest bidder for Brown and the Steelers would have no worries about seeing Brown in the Super Bowl if they sent him to Washington.

1. San Francisco 49ers

I thought about putting the Redskins first because of their history, but the 49ers are too good of a fit, as they check every box. They’re an NFC team that’s unlikely to make the Super Bowl in the next couple of years. They have plenty of cap space and a need at wide receiver. They’re also a team on the rise that has incentive to add a player of Brown’s caliber and free agency is an underwhelming option this year. Brown is also reportedly very interested in going to San Francisco and any team that acquires him will want to make sure he’s committed to them long-term, given how he quit on the Steelers just two years after receiving a huge extension and signing bonus.

2014 NFL Draft Redo

1. Houston Texans – DT Aaron Donald (Pittsburgh)

There was nothing wrong with the Texans’ original pick of Jadeveon Clowney, but the Texans can shoot a little higher in this re-draft with Aaron Donald, who is the best defensive player in the league. Donald and JJ Watt have won 5 of the last 7 Defensive Player of the Year awards. Imagine trying to block both of them. No thanks.

2. St. Louis Rams – DE Khalil Mack (Buffalo)

As good as Aaron Donald is, Khalil Mack isn’t much of a downgrade. The Rams miss out on Donald (originally drafted 13th overall), but Mack gives them a much needed edge rush presence and helps soften the blow of losing Donald.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars – WR Odell Beckham (LSU)

In a draft class filled with elite talent, the Jaguars reached on a quarterback, taking Blake Bortles 3rd overall. Quarterback was a huge need for them at the time, but Bortles hardly solved it, as the Jaguars are in the market for a new quarterback again this off-season. I thought about giving the Jaguars a quarterback here, but with several elite talents still left on the board, any quarterback would be a bit of a reach. Wide receiver was also a massive need at the time and the Jaguars originally added a trio of wide receivers in the 2014 NFL Draft, Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee, and Allen Hurns. None of those receivers are bad, but Beckham is an obvious upgrade and would have been a big boost to this offense.

4. Buffalo Bills – G Zack Martin (Notre Dame)

Guards don’t usually go in the top-5, but with Zack Martin you know you’re getting an annual All-Pro. The Cowboys were criticized by some for taking him at 16, but it turns out that wasn’t nearly high enough, as he’s arguably the top interior offensive lineman in the league and has been one of the best at his position since his first game in the league.

5. Oakland Raiders – DE Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina)

Jadeveon Clowney is the Raiders’ consolation prize for Khalil Mack going a few picks higher. He hasn’t been as durable or as consistent as Mack, but he’s shown stretches of dominance and was one of the younger players in this draft, so he could continue getting better, only going into his age 26 season in 2019.

6. Atlanta Falcons – OT Taylor Lewan (Michigan)

Jake Matthews, the Falcons’ original pick here, is a solid left tackle, but Taylor Lewan is a higher level player. Matthews’ 4th quarter hold in Super Bowl 51 is also a big part of the reason why the Falcons were not able to finish off the Patriots, so perhaps the Falcons would have been Super Bowl Champs if they had taken Lewan instead.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – WR Mike Evans (Texas A&M)

The Buccaneers stick with their original pick here, as Mike Evans has topped 1000 yards in all 5 seasons in the league, averaging a 79/1221/8 slash line and missing just 3 games with injury. Still only 26 in August, Evans is one of the top receivers in the entire NFL.

8. Cleveland Browns – QB Derek Carr (Fresno State)

The quarterbacks were tough to slot in this re-draft. Normally franchise caliber quarterbacks go high, but this draft is filled with top level talent at other positions, while the top quarterbacks have their warts. With much of the top level talent gone at this point, it makes sense for the Browns to take a quarterback. Derek Carr has been inconsistent, but he’s started 78 of 80 games in 5 seasons in the league and would have stabilized the Browns’ quarterback situation far earlier than Baker Mayfield eventually did. He would have been an obvious upgrade over Johnny Manziel, the quarterback they took with the 22nd pick, or Justin Gilbert, the cornerback they took with this 8th overall pick originally.

9. Minnesota Vikings – QB Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois)

Like Derek Carr, Garoppolo was tough to slot. At his best, he has a higher upside than Carr, but he’s much less proven, with just 10 career starts. After spending the first 3 and a half years of his career as Tom Brady’s backup, Garoppolo tore his ACL 3 games into his first full season as a starter in 2018. Signed to a 5-year, 137.5 million dollar extension last off-season, Garoppolo is  highly valued and productive quarterback when healthy.

The Vikings top quarterback at the time of the 2014 NFL draft was Matt Cassel. They did take Teddy Bridgewater with the 32nd pick and he was decent for a couple years, but then he suffered a devastating injury, forcing the Vikings to trade a first round pick for Sam Bradford and give a guaranteed contract to Kirk Cousins. At his best, Garoppolo is an upgrade over both of those quarterbacks and could have lead the Vikings to the Super Bowl in 2017, when the Vikings made the NFC Championship with Case Keenum. He comes with questions, given his lack of experience, durability concerns, and the fact that he might not have been as good if he didn’t start his career with New England, but he’s worth the pick here for Minnesota.

10. Detroit Lions – DE DeMarcus Lawrence (Boise State)

Eric Ebron, the Lions’ original pick here, never panned out for them like they wanted, so instead they get some much needed help for their defense. Lawrence had injuries early in his career, which is why he slides to 10, but he’s been one of the best edge rushers in the league over the past 2 seasons, with a combined 25 sacks and 23 quarterback hits, while playing stellar run defense as well. Unless he’s franchise tagged for a 2nd straight year at a price of 20.57 million, he’s expected to become one of the highest paid defensive players in the league on a long-term deal this off-season.

11. Tennessee Titans – WR Davante Adams (Fresno State)

The Titans have needed a #1 receiver for years, with Kendall Wright in 2013 being their last 1000-yard wide receiver. Davante Adams slides because he got off to a slow start to his career and because he’s benefitted from playing with Aaron Rodgers, but he also had a 74/885/10 slash line in 2017 with Rodgers missing most of the season with injury and his 111/1386/13 slash line was among the very best in the league in 2018.

12. New York Giants – WR Brandin Cooks (Oregon State)

Brandin Cooks has topped 1000 yards in 4 straight seasons, but falls a little bit in a strong wide receiver class. As consistent as he’s been, he’s never put up dominating numbers and he’s always played with a lot of talent around him, catching passes from Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Jared Goff in his career. The Giants take him as a consolation prize for losing Odell Beckham. Cooks is a slight drop off talent wise, but he’s more durable and less of a headache to deal with than Odell, so this isn’t a bad scenario for the Giants.

13. St. Louis Rams – OT Jake Matthews (Texas A&M)

The Rams can’t take Aaron Donald, their original choice here, but they took Khalil Mack at 2 instead of their original #2 overall pick Greg Robinson, who was a massive bust, and now they can take a better left tackle in Jake Matthews here at 13. As good as Donald is, the Rams might prefer to have both Mack and Matthews, who has developed into an above average left tackle. The Rams had terrible play at left tackle until they signed Andrew Whitworth two off-seasons ago and he could retire this off-season, ahead of what would be his age 38 season.

14. Chicago Bears – CB Kyle Fuller (Virginia Tech)

The Bears have had a weird ride with Kyle Fuller, their original pick here. He was a starter for them his first 2 seasons in the league, but missed all of his 3rd season with injury and had his 5th year option declined, as they felt he did not work hard enough to return from injury. Fuller ended up making the Bears regret turning down his option, playing at a high level in 2017 and parlaying that into a big contract. The Bears gave him the transition tag, giving them the right of first refusal on any contract offer he accepted, and ended up matching a 4-year, 56 million dollar deal he signed with the Green Bay Packers. Considering he had arguably the best season of his career in 2018 on an overall dominant Bears defense, I don’t think they regret that contract and ultimately they’d probably take him again if they could.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers – DE Stephon Tuitt (Notre Dame)

Stephon Tuitt was originally a 2nd round selection by the Steelers, but he’s played at such a high level that they’ll have to take him in the first round this time around. Their original first round pick Ryan Shazier was not a bad selection, but his career is in doubt after a terrible neck injury he suffered during his 4th season in the league in 2017.

16. Dallas Cowboys – DE Dee Ford (Auburn)

The Cowboys have already lost Zack Martin, their original pick here, and DeMarcus Lawrence, a 2nd round selection, but they still get a high level player in Dee Ford here at 16. Ford isn’t as good as Lawrence against the run, but he has 30.5 sacks and 40 hits in 67 career games, while Lawrence has 34 sacks and 36 hits in 64 career games, so there isn’t much drop off there.

17. Baltimore Ravens – MLB CJ Mosley (Alabama)

CJ Mosley was the Ravens’ original pick here and they would probably take him again if they had the opportunity. He has his issues in coverage, but he’s one of the best run stoppers in the league and has been a tackling machine for one of the NFL’s better defenses. His 579 tackles over the past 5 seasons combined rank 4th behind Luke Kuechly, Bobby Wagner, and Lavonte David.

18. New York Jets – WR Sammy Watkins (Clemson)

Originally the 4th overall pick, Sammy Watkins was tough to slot in this re-draft. On one hand, he hasn’t played a full 16-game season since his rookie year and has only topped 1000 yards once, which puts him far behind the other top receivers in this class in terms of production. He hasn’t even topped 600 yards since 2015 and missed 15 of 48 games the past 3 seasons combined. On the other hand, he signed a 3-year, 48 million dollar deal with the Chiefs last off-season, making him the 6th highest paid wide receiver in the league in terms of average annual salary, so clearly his skill set is still in high demand. He was a bit underwhelming in 10 games for the Chiefs in his first season in Kansas City, but, still only in his age 26 season, he still has plenty of upside and at least one team would fall in love with him in the first round in a re-draft. The Jets, who only had one receiver with more than 409 yards in 2014, are one of the teams that could use him.

19. Miami Dolphins – WR Jarvis Landry (LSU)

The Dolphins chose not to retain Jarvis Landry as a free agent last off-season, instead franchise tagging him and trading him to the Browns for a 4th round pick, but that was mostly for financial reasons, as the cap strapped Dolphins couldn’t afford the 5-year, 75.5 million dollar deal the Browns ultimately gave him. That deal might be a little bit of an overpay, but Landry has still averaged a slash line of 96/1003/5 in 5 seasons in the league and has just 26 career drops, as opposed to 481 career catches. The Dolphins have to use their first round pick to keep him this time around, after originally taking him in the second, but he’s worth this spot, even in a good wide receiver draft.

20. New Orleans Saints – CB Malcolm Butler (West Alabama)

The Saints tried to trade for Malcolm Butler two off-seasons ago, even offering their original pick here, Brandin Cooks, in a trade for Butler, before ultimately sending Cooks to the Patriots for a first rounder when the Patriots decided to keep Butler. The Saints addressed their cornerback need by taking Marshon Lattimore with the 11th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, but taking Butler in 2014 would have helped them sooner and he’d form a solid duo with Lattimore. There’s some concern that Butler was benched in the Super Bowl by the Patriots and that he wasn’t as good in his first season outside of New England, which is why he slips a little, but he’s still a solid starter and was still highly valued on the open market last off-season, signing for 61.25 million over 5 years.

21. Green Bay Packers – S HaHa Clinton-Dix (Alabama)

I went back and forth on putting Clinton-Dix here. On one hand, he was a solid starter for the Packers for the first four and a half years of his career, making 65 starts after originally being drafted here at #21 overall, but he was also traded mid-season to the Redskins for a 4th round pick this year. He was in the final year of his rookie contract, but the Packers were also in playoff contention, so it was surprising to see the Packers deal away their best safety. An above average starter at his best, Clinton-Dix is worth drafting again.

22. Cleveland Browns – G Joel Bitonio (Nevada)

The Browns missed badly with their two first rounders in 2014, taking Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel, but they did salvage their draft somewhat by taking Joel Bitonio in the 2nd round. Bitonio has developed into one of the better left guards in the league and would likely go in the first round in a re-draft, so the Browns have to take him here if they want to keep him. In reality, they kept him with a 5-year, 50 million dollar extension in 2017, so clearly they value him highly.

23. Kansas City Chiefs – G Andrew Norwell (Ohio State)

Originally undrafted in 2014, Norwell made 54 starts in 4 seasons with the Panthers, before signing a 5-year, 66.5 million dollar deal with the Jaguars last off-season. He’s talented enough to go higher in this re-draft, but falls because of lack of positional need. He’d fill a big need for the Chiefs and would be the most talented guard they’ve had in recent years.

24. Cincinnati Bengals – C Brandon Linder (Miami)

The Bengals originally took Russell Bodine in the 4th round of this draft and he made all 64 starts for them at center from 2014-2017, but he didn’t play all that well and the Bengals ultimately used a first round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft on a center, taking Ohio State’s Billy Price. Linder, one of the better centers in the league, would be an obvious upgrade over Bodine and Price.

25. San Diego Chargers – C Matt Paradis (Boise State)

The Chargers have had offensive line issues for years, especially at center, which was an annual weakness until they signed Mike Pouncey to a 2-year, 15 million dollar deal last off-season. Paradis, one of the better centers in the league, would have filled that weakness much quicker.

26. Philadelphia Eagles – OLB Anthony Barr (UCLA)

Anthony Barr hasn’t been as good in recent years as he was early in his career, but he still would have helped an Eagles team that had linebacker issues in 2014. A free agent this off-season, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of market he has.

27. Arizona Cardinals – OLB Telvin Smith (Florida State)

The Cardinals originally drafted Deone Bucannon here, a 6-1 211 safety that they eventually turned into a linebacker. Bucannon had some good years early in his career, but has struggled with injuries in recent years and likely will have to settle for a one-year deal on the open market this off-season. Telvin Smith, who signed a 4-year, 45 million dollar extension with the Jaguars in 2017, is a similar player at 6-3 215, but has been much more consistent in his career, despite originally falling to the 5th round. He’d likely go in the first in a re-draft.

28. Carolina Panthers – OT Charles Leno (Boise State)

The Panthers had serious issues at both tackle spots in 2014 and still have a weakness at left tackle even today, despite giving Matt Kalil a 5-year, 55.5 million dollar deal two off-seasons ago. If they had taken someone like Charles Leno, they could have avoided that. Leno, originally a 7th round pick, was a late bloomer, which is why he falls this far, but he’s one of the better pass protecting left tackles in the league.

29. New England Patriots – DT Timmy Jernigan (Florida State)

The Patriots used this pick on defensive tackle Dominique Easley in 2014, but he played in just 22 games for New England due to injuries. Timmy Jernigan would have been a better option for a team that had a big need at defensive tackle at the time, taking one in the first round in both 2014 and 2015. Jernigan missed most of 2018 after off-season back surgery, but he was a solid starter in 3 seasons with the Ravens and took his game to the next level in 2017, when he won the Super Bowl after an off-season trade to the Eagles, earning a 4-year, 48 million dollar extension in the process.

30. San Francisco 49ers – S LaMarcus Joyner (Florida State)

The 49ers didn’t have a lot of weaknesses in 2014, as this Jim Harbaugh team was coming off of its 3rd straight NFC Championship game appearance. They took a versatile defensive back in Jimmie Ward here originally, but LaMarcus Joyner, who fell to the Rams in the 2nd round, became a much better version of what they were expecting Ward to be, though it did take him until his 4th season in the league to breakout. Drafting him here not only gives them much needed talent on a defense that was depleted pretty quickly after 2014, but it also keeps him away from the division rival Rams.

31. Denver Broncos – CB Bradley Roby (Ohio State)

Bradley Roby was the Broncos’ original pick here and, while he never developed into a top level cornerback, I don’t think the Broncos really have too many regrets about getting a solid starter late in the first round. At this point, it’s hard to do much better than Roby, who will likely be one of the highest cornerbacks in free agency this off-season.

32. Minnesota Vikings – WR Allen Robinson (Penn State)

The Vikings got a quarterback at 9 and now get a receiving threat. Before the days of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, had a real problem at wide receiver. The 2014 Vikings were led in receiving yards by the overpaid Greg Jennings, who was released the following off-season after a 59/742/6 slash line. Allen Robinson has been inconsistent and injury prone, but he’s shown #1 receiver ability for stretches. He falls because he’s part of a very deep wide receiver class.