1. Arizona Cardinals – QB Kyler Murray (Oklahoma)
The growing consensus is that the Cardinals are locked in on Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray with the first overall pick, now that the Heisman winner and former MLB top-10 pick has committed to football full time. Taking a quarterback in the first round for the second straight year would make them just the 2nd team to do so in the last 50 years, with the only other instance being when the Colts drafted and subsequently were forced to trade John Elway after losing their previous first round pick Art Schlichter to a gambling suspension. Prior to that, most instances of taking quarterbacks in back-to-back first rounds came in the 60s, when the NFL had to compete with the AFL for collegiate talent.
The Cardinals taking Murray a year after trading up to draft Josh Rosen in the first round would be an unprecedented move in the modern era, but the Cardinals have shown they are willing to make unorthodox moves, with their hiring of Kliff Kingsbury, who they hired after sticking with Steve Wilks for just a year, and Kingsbury is known to be in love with Kyler Murray as a prospect. I may end up changing my mind on this, but it’s very possible the Cardinals have already decided on Murray and are keeping it a secret publicly in an effort to drive up the trade value of Josh Rosen (more on that later).
2. San Francisco 49ers – DE Nick Bosa (Ohio State)
Prior to the Dee Ford trade, Nick Bosa seemed like the obvious choice for the 49ers, who needed an edge rusher opposite disappointing 2017 3rd overall pick Solomon Thomas. However, Ford fills that need in a big way, at the cost of a 2nd round pick and a 5-year, 85.5 million dollar contract. Bosa still makes sense though if they think he’s the best player available, which recent reports suggest they do. Thomas has struggled thus far in his career and both he and Bosa have the size to line up inside in passing situations. A trade down with a quarterback needy team would also make a lot of sense for the 49ers, as they could accumulate more picks and draft in a spot where the best available players better fit their top needs (cornerback, safety, wide receiver).
3. New York Jets – OLB Josh Allen (Kentucky)
Recent reports have suggested that the Jets are locked on to Josh Allen with the 3rd overall pick. It’s unclear if that’s assuming that Bosa goes #2 to the 49ers, but with Williams a strong possibility at 2 I would guess that means they’d take him over Bosa. That may surprise some, but the Jets are sticking with a 3-4 defense and they certainly wouldn’t be the first team to take a perceived “lesser” talent because they are a better scheme fit. Allen isn’t exactly a slouch either and he’d instantly boost a pass rush that hasn’t had an edge rusher with more than 7 sacks since 2013.
4. Oakland Raiders – DE Rashan Gary (Michigan)
The Raiders could take Quinnen Williams here, but have a much bigger need at defensive end than defensive tackle. The Raiders took a pair of defensive tackles in the draft last year in PJ Hall and Maurice Hurst and also re-signed veteran Johnathan Hankins, but they have next to nothing at the defensive end position behind 2018 3rd round pick Arden Key, who had just 1 sack as a rookie. Rashan Gary could easily lead the team in sacks as a rookie and his ability to line up all across the 4-3 defensive line is a bonus.
Some have the Raiders taking a quarterback here, but I don’t see it. Jon Gruden has never had much success with young quarterbacks because of his complex offensive scheme and 5-year veteran Derek Carr got better as his first year in Gruden’s system went on. The Raiders also have much more pressing needs and effectively chose Carr over Khalil Mack last August, citing not wanting to have too much money tied up in two players as their reasoning for moving on from Mack.
5. Washington Redskins (TRADE) – QB Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State)
The Redskins are in an interesting situation and it’s hard to predict what they’ll do because of the uncertainty of Alex Smith’s long-term future. If the Redskins believe Smith can recover for the 2020 season, they probably won’t want to move up for a quarterback, instead sticking with Case Keenum and Colt McCoy as one-year stopgaps. With 22 million owed to Keenum, McCoy, and Smith combined in 2019, and another 16 million guaranteed committed to Smith in 2020, the Redskins already have a lot of resources tied up in the quarterback position and have other pressing needs. Picking at 15, the Redskins would likely have to surrender at least a future first round pick to move up into the top-5 to take a quarterback, which is a steep price.
The Redskins have never been known for being patient, so I’m going to predict this trade up for now. The Buccaneers have their pick of some talented defenders if they stay put, so the Redskins will have to pay a premium to move up, but their 2nd rounder and a 2020 1st round pick should be enough to get the job done. The Redskins reportedly like Haskins a lot and would probably need to move at least ahead of the Giants at 6 to ensure they get him.
6. New York Giants – DE Quinnen Williams (Alabama)
The Redskins move up ahead of the Giants to take Dwayne Haskins, but it’s unclear if the Giants would even take Haskins at 6 if he was available. Part of the reasoning behind the Odell Beckham trade was that it didn’t make sense for a team that wants to build around defense and running the football to be paying that much money to a wide receiver. Given that, they might be hesitant to use a high first round pick on a quarterback with Eli Manning already making 17 million in 2019. GM Dave Gettleman has said he likes the approach that the Chiefs took with taking a quarterback (Patrick Mahomes) to sit for a year behind a veteran, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the conservative Gettleman has his eyes on someone with the 6th pick and at the very least I think it’s unlikely they’ll give up multiple picks to move up and take a quarterback in the top-5.
With the Redskins moving up for Haskins, the decision is made for the Giants and the obvious choice for them is to take one of several blue chip defensive prospects available to them here. Which one they’ll take is unclear and players like Ed Oliver, Clelin Ferrell, Montez Sweat, and Devin White will all likely get consideration here, but Quinnen Williams could be a top-3 pick and will probably be the top player left on the Giants’ board. He has the potential to be one of the best 3-4 defensive ends in the league.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – OT Jawaan Taylor (Florida)
The Jaguars will probably have better injury luck on the offensive line in 2019 (at one point all 5 week 1 starters were out with injury), but they still need to add talent upfront. Jawaan Taylor would give them a long-term bookend for Cam Robinson and allow 2018 4th round pick Will Richardson to serve in a swing role or potentially move inside to guard, where right guard AJ Cann is an underwhelming starter. The Jaguars could also take a defensive player here if they like the value better. They’re far better on defense than offense, but they have some expensive, aging players on the defensive line and could really benefit from a player like Ed Oliver.
8. Detroit Lions – MLB Devin White (LSU)
If the Lions hadn’t just given a huge contract to Trey Flowers, a defensive end like Clelin Ferrell or Montez Sweat would probably be the pick here. They still would make some sense, but Devin White fills a much bigger need at linebacker. The Lions used a 2017 first round pick on middle linebacker Jarrad Davis, but he played much better at outside linebacker in 2018 and they need a linebacker to pair with him long-term.
9. Buffalo Bills – DT Ed Oliver (Houston)
The Bills addressed offensive needs in free agency, but they still need to add a defensive tackle and they’ll probably have a good option at 9 in a loaded defensive tackle class. Christian Wilkins would make sense here if Oliver goes earlier than this and if Oliver is available here he seems like the no-brainer selection. Oliver 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.
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 – TE TJ Hockenson (Iowa)
It’s tough to figure out what the Bengals will do at 11. Going into the off-season, their biggest needs were at middle linebacker, right tackle, and right guard, but they addressed those 3 positions with multi-year contracts in free agency, re-signing middle linebacker Preston Brown and right tackle Bobby Hart and signing right guard John Miller from the Bills. All three players are below average starters, but their contracts likely lock them into starting roles in 2019.
Given that, they will likely just take the best player available and that could easily be TJ Hockenson. The Bengals re-signed Tyler Eifert and CJ Uzomah as well, but Eifert is very injury prone and Uzomah is an underwhelming player. Hockenson gives them a reliable player at the position, someone who can be a weapon both in the pass game as a receiver and in the run game as a blocker. He’d be the 3rd tight end taken in the first round by the Bengals in the past decade.
12. Green Bay Packers – MLB Devin Bush (Michigan)
Before free agency, an edge rusher like Clelin Ferrell or Montez Sweat would have made sense here, but the Packers made big financial commitments to Preston Smith (52 million over 4 years) and Za’Darius Smith (66 million over 4 years) and also have Kyler Fackrell as a rotational player. Instead, they could look at inside linebacker, where they need a starter next to Blake Martinez. Martinez is a free agent next off-season anyway and could be cost prohibitive to keep long-term, given the way middle linebackers were paid in free agency this off-season. Devin Bush is a likely top-15 pick and is preferred by some over Devin White.
13. Miami Dolphins – DE Clelin Ferrell (Clemson)
The Dolphins’ plan seems to be to stockpile future draft picks, shed salary, and rebuild, with an eye on taking a quarterback with an early draft pick in a better quarterback class in 2020. That makes more sense than giving away future picks to move up and get a quarterback in the top-5 or top-10, even with only Ryan Fitzpatrick and unproven backups on the roster. They could still take a quarterback in the middle rounds, but in the first round I expect them to address another need. After getting rid of Andre Branch and Robert Quinn and losing Cameron Wake, the Dolphins are very thin at defensive end and need a long-term starter opposite Charles Harris. They’ll have their pick between Clelin Ferrell and Montez Sweat in this scenario, but Ferrell seems like the safer pick given the concerns about Sweat’s heart condition.
14. Atlanta Falcons – DT Christian Wilkins (Clemson)
Christian Wilkins could easily go in the top-10 based on talent, but this is a strong defensive tackle class, so he could slip. The Falcons wouldn’t complain, as they have a massive need at defensive tackle next to Grady Jarrett, who still isn’t signed long-term on the franchise tag. If Wilkins can develop into a high level player and Jarrett signs long-term, they’d be one of the best defensive tackle duos in the league.
15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (TRADE) – OT Jonah Williams (Alabama)
The Buccaneers obviously need help on defense, but after moving down and accumulating more picks they can afford to take the best available player who fits a need. That could be Jonah Williams, who would give them an instant upgrade at right guard and a long-term option at right tackle, where Demar Dotson is going into his age 34 contract year. Williams’ arm length will probably keep him out of the top-10, but he’s a very technically sound blocker and can play multiple positions.
16. Carolina Panthers – DE Montez Sweat (Mississippi State)
Montez Sweat could definitely go higher than this, with some expecting him not to fall out of the top-8, but uncertainty over his heart condition could cause him to fall a little bit. How much he falls is the question. Star Lotulelei and Nick Fairley both had heart conditions that dropped them from possible top-5 picks to 14 and 13 respectively. Those were minor slides, but after Fairley’s heart condition caused an early retirement, teams were more cautious with Maurice Hurst last year, letting the potential first round pick fall all the way to the 5th round. Hurst was one of the better rookie defensive tackles in the league last year and looked like someone who should have been a first or second round pick, so maybe teams will be less cautious with Sweat, but it’s tough to tell.
If the Panthers clear Sweat medically, they’ll be thrilled if he falls to them at 16, as he’ll fill one of their biggest needs. Starting defensive ends Mario Addison and Bruce Irvin are both going into their age 32 seasons, with Irvin only on a one-year contract, and they lack proven depth behind them. Sweat could immediately compete for a starting role and could push to lead the team in sacks as a rookie (Addison led them with 9 in 2018). He’d also be a good fit for them if they are looking to run more 3-4 base sets in 2019, as the Panthers are rumored to be considering with head coach Ron Rivera now calling defensive plays.
17. New York Giants – CB Greedy Williams (LSU)
The Giants continue to build their defense and take a player who could be an instant starter for them at cornerback opposite Janoris Jenkins. The Giants are hoping 3rd round supplemental pick Sam Beal can contribute in 2019 after an injury plagued rookie year, but you need three good cornerbacks in the NFL at least and the Giants don’t have another experienced or highly drafted option.
18. Minnesota Vikings – OT Andre Dillard (Washington State)
The Vikings have had major problems on the offensive line the past few seasons and Kirk Cousins is not nearly as adept at playing under pressure as Case Keenum was, so they’ll need to get help upfront. The Vikings have talked about moving Riley Reiff inside to guard, after struggling at left tackle in his first 2 seasons in Minnesota. In order to do that, they would need a new left tackle. Andre Dillard is a rising prospect and could easily be the pick here at 18 if he’s still on the board.
19. Tennessee Titans – OLB Brian Burns (Florida State)
Even with the addition of Cameron Wake, edge rusher is still a need for the Titans. Wake is not a long-term solution, going into his age 37 season, and they lack a long-term starter opposite 2018 2nd round pick Harold Landry. Burns is pretty raw, but has a huge upside. He could start as a rotational player, before developing into an every down player, as he continues to grow into his frame. He had a dominant combine that would have gotten a lot more attention if it wasn’t for Montez Sweat’s otherworldly performance.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers – WR DK Metcalf (Mississippi)
Trading Antonio Brown obviously left a big hole at wide receiver. The Steelers have JuJu Smith-Schuster to step into the #1 role in his 3rd season in the league and they also added veteran Donte Moncrief to go with last year’s 2nd round pick James Washington, but Moncrief is not a long-term solution on only a two-year deal and Washington struggled mightily as a rookie, often spending gameday as a healthy scratch. Now possessing 4 picks in the first 3 rounds, I expect them to use at least one on a wide receiver. Metcalf’s strong combine likely makes him the first receiver off the board and he could be pushed up into the top-15 if a team is desperate enough for a pass catcher.
21. Seattle Seahawks – CB Byron Murphy (Washington)
Much has been made of the Seahawks losing every member of the Legion of Boom, with Richard Sherman signing with the 49ers, Earl Thomas signing with the Ravens, and Kam Chancellor retiring, but the loss of slot cornerback Justin Coleman, who signed with the Colts, will also hurt this team, especially since they’ve done nothing to replace him. With only 2018 5th round pick Tre Flowers, who struggled as a rookie, of note behind Shaq Griffin on the depth chart, cornerback is a pressing need for the Seahawks going into the draft. In the past, they’ve waited until the mid-to-late rounds to take developmental defensive backs to start a year or two down the road, but the Seahawks need someone who can contribute now.
22. Baltimore Ravens – MLB Mack Wilson (Alabama)
Losing CJ Mosley to the Jets this off-season was obviously a big loss for the Ravens. They like young linebackers Patrick Onwuasor and Kenny Young, but need to add competition, as they have basically no depth behind them. Why not replace one Alabama linebacker with another? Mack Wilson isn’t as highly rated as Devin White or Devin Bush, but he has three down linebacker potential and should still go in the first round.
23. Houston Texans – OT Cody Ford (Oklahoma)
The Texans have badly need upgrades on the offensive line for years, but have struck out in free agency in the past two years and were not in a position to add a high level offensive line prospect in a thin offensive line class in 2018. With a better offensive line class coming out this year, the Texans will have to find upgrades. Cody Ford is a versatile player with a huge upside that can potentially play both tackles spots and guard. He’d make a lot of sense for them at 23.
24. Oakland Raiders – TE Noah Fant (Iowa)
Tight end Jared Cook was the Raiders’ leading receiver in 2018 and with him gone as a free agent the Raiders have next to nothing at the tight end position. With four picks in the first 35 in a strong tight end class, expect for them to find an upgrade through the draft. Fant is one of three possible first round tight ends that the Raiders could plug and play at the tight end spot in 2019. He’s rawer than the other two tight ends, but is a freak athlete with a massive upside.
25. Philadelphia Eagles – DT Jerry Tillery (Notre Dame)
The Eagles signed Malik Jackson in free agency, but could still use more depth at defensive tackle. Jackson may play both defensive end and defensive tackle for them anyway, similar to the way they used Michael Bennett in 2018. Tillery is a perfect fit for their scheme as a one-gap penetrator and can be a very effective rotational player for a team that loves having a deep defensive line.
26. Indianapolis Colts – WR AJ Brown (Mississippi)
The Colts’ offense was very impressive down the stretch in 2018, despite lacking a clear #2 receiver. They signed Devin Funchess in free agency, but he signed just a one-year deal and they lack depth behind him and #1 receiver TY Hilton. AJ Brown gives them a long-term option opposite TY Hilton and his size would complement the smaller, speedier Hilton well. He’s in the mix to be the first receiver off the board, though his teammate DK Metcalf likely moved ahead of him on most boards with his combine performance.
27. Oakland Raiders – CB Trayvon Mullen (Clemson)
The Raiders addressed their pass rush earlier and now address their secondary, as they try to jumpstart what was arguably the worst defense in the league last season. Their only off-season addition of note at cornerback was the mediocre Nevin Lawson, who will compete for roles with Nick Nelson, Daryl Worley, and Gareon Conley. Conley was a first round selection two years ago, but both the GM and head coach who drafted him are gone and he hasn’t shown much in two seasons in the league. Mullen gives them a long-term #1 cornerback option and a starter opposite Conley if Conley can ever put it together.
28. Los Angeles Chargers – DT Dexter Lawrence (Clemson)
Defensive tackle was a weakness for the Chargers in 2018 and things got even worse when they lost their top player at the position Darius Philon in free agency and didn’t replace him. Right now, the only three defensive tackles on the roster are 2018 3rd round pick Justin Jones, who had a rough rookie year, declining veteran Brandon Mebane, and bottom of the roster type TY McGill. Dexter Lawrence would have a big rookie year role.
29. Kansas City Chiefs – S Deionte Thompson (Alabama)
The Chiefs signed Tyrann Mathieu to a big deal in free agency, but they also parted ways with the injury plagued Eric Berry at the same time, so safety is still a need for them, especially if they’re going to drop Tyrann Mathieu down to the slot in sub packages. They’ll have their pick of a few safeties that could potentially play right away opposite Mathieu on a defense that badly needs a talent infusion. Thompson is a big thumper that would complement Mathieu well.
30. Green Bay Packers – S Taylor Rapp (Washington)
Even after adding Adrian Amos in free agency, the Packers could still use help at the safety position and they’ll be in a good spot to take one with their second pick in the first round, the 30th overall pick that they acquired from the Saints in a trade down last year. Taylor Rapp is a likely first round pick and could push to start as a rookie next to Amos.
31. New York Giants (TRADE) – QB Daniel Jones (Duke)
Even if the Giants don’t move up to secure Dwayne Haskins, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them move up for a quarterback at some point. They obviously lack a long-term option at the position and it makes sense for them to move up a few spots from 37 into the end of the first round, not just to make sure they get their guy, but also so they’ll have a 5th year option on his rookie deal. The price to do so will be much less than moving up into the top-5, as the trade value chart suggests the 95th overall pick the Giants got in the Odell Beckham trade is more than enough to make moving down a few spots worth it for a team like the Rams, who currently have just 2 picks in the first top-100. The Giants can sit Daniel Jones for a year behind Manning and turn to him as the starter in 2020.
32. New England Patriots – TE Irv Smith (Alabama)
Tight end obviously becomes a huge need for the Patriots with Rob Gronkowski retiring, leaving Matt LaCosse, Jacob Hollister, Stephen Anderson, and Ryan Izzo as the only tight ends on the roster. Fortunately, this is a good tight end class and they could easily find a starting caliber tight end at the end of the first round, with 3 tight ends expected to go in the top-40 picks or so. Irv Smith could have a big rookie year role for them.