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.