1. Arizona Cardinals – QB Kyler Murray (Oklahoma)*
I can’t remember a draft with this kind of uncertainty. I don’t just mean the #1 pick either, which I’ll get to later. No one knows where any of the quarterbacks as going and only Kyler Murray, seemingly a top-4 lock at the very least, has any sort of clear range. You have to figure the quarterbacks will go earlier rather than later, as teams get desperate and trade up, but all quarterbacks have obvious warts, even Kyler Murray, the 5-10 one-year college starter (and Heisman winner).
Defensive players figure to fly off the board early, especially defensive linemen, but a pair of defensive linemen, Rashan Gary and Montez Sweat have serious injury concerns, that also might not be injury concerns at all. Rashan Gary’s shoulder reportedly has been flagged by some teams, who believe he may need shoulder surgery that would likely wipe out his rookie season in the NFL. Other teams seem to think he can play through the injury and get the operation after the season. Montez Sweat, meanwhile, had his heart flagged at the combine and seemed likely to fall out of the first round, but a draft day report broke earlier today that Sweat’s enlarged heart may have been misdiagnosed and that some teams don’t believe it’s an issue at all.
On to the #1 pick, we are less than an hour away from the start and we don’t even have confirmation on who is going number one. The Cardinals are playing their cards very close to the vest, even reportedly reaching out to the representation for all three of Kyler Murray, Nick Bosa, and Quinnen Williams as recently as today. It’s unlikely they’re actually uncertain who they are picking at this point, but they clearly see the value in trying to get a team to give them a monster offer to trade up to #1.
Barring that trade coming through, I still think Kyler Murray is the most likely option (and if the trade were to come through, Murray would likely be taken #1 by whoever moves up). There have been some reports in the past week that they aren’t as sold on Murray as people believe, but at this point in the process I’m much more inclined to go with what has been the consensus for the past 2 months, rather than believing a few contrarian reports that come out the week before the draft, when many reports are fake.
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. Josh Rosen can likely be flipped on day 2, allowing the Cardinals to recoup some of the draft picks they used to acquire him.
2. San Francisco 49ers – DE Nick Bosa (Ohio State)*
Even if Murray goes #1, there’s still a lot of uncertainty at 2. The 49ers don’t need a quarterback and have their choice of the top-two defensive players in the draft in Nick Bosa and Quinnen Williams. I’ve had Quinnen Williams here in the past and he’s certainly still a possibility if he’s higher on their board than Bosa, but rumors that the 49ers are looking to trade Solomon Thomas suggest that the 49ers are locked on to Bosa as their long-term complement to Dee Ford, who was acquired in a sign and trade this off-season.
3. Green Bay Packers (TRADE) – DE Quinnen Williams (Alabama)
This is another spot with a ton of uncertainty. The Jets need an edge rusher badly, probably two edge rushers, but are reportedly not in love with Josh Allen (the #2 edge rusher behind Nick Bosa) and want to move down to recoup the 2nd round pick they gave up in their trade up for Sam Darnold last year. A team could trade up here for a quarterback, especially if Kyler Murray somehow falls here, but the Jets could also get a lot of interest from teams that want either Bosa or Williams, who ever the 49ers don’t take.
We’ve heard the Bills tied to this pick in a trade up scenario, but often times it’s the teams you don’t hear anything about that end up making the splash moves. The Packers have an extra first rounder from their trade down with the Saints last year and could package together 12, 30, and 44 to move up into the top-3 for a blue chip prospect like Quinnen Williams. The Packers did a good job of addressing their big needs in free agency and can afford to go all in on a player like Williams, who will probably be at the very top of many draft boards across the league. He’d give them a loaded 3-man defensive lineman with Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark.
4. Oakland Raiders – DE Josh Allen (Kentucky)*
The Raiders made headlines last week when they dismissed their entire scouting staff before the draft for fear of leaks. The Raiders have a new GM and would likely have cleaned house in the scouting department after the draft anyway, but it was still an unusual move. On top of that, a report came out this week that they have a surprise pick that they want to keep a complete secret. I would be skeptical about that report though. It’s possible they have a surprise pick in mind, but wanting secrecy is not proof that they’re going to do something shocking. Both head coach Jon Gruden and GM Mike Mayock spent years in TV before their current jobs and know this game as well as anyone. They could have easily leaked the report about a surprise pick to an old media buddy.
Given that, I would expect Quinnen Williams to be the pick if he falls here, as he’s arguably the top player in the entire draft. With the Packers moving up ahead of them for Williams, this pick becomes a little murkier, but they’ve worked out Josh Allen privately and Oakland makes a lot of sense as the destination for the draft class’ #2 edge rusher. The Raiders had a pathetic 13 sacks in 2018, in a year where every other team had at least 30, and, as many needs as they have, none is bigger than edge rusher.
This could also be Ed Oliver or Devin White, neither of whom I would consider a “surprise” pick, even though neither fills as big of a need as Allen does. I would be surprised if they took Dwayne Haskins however, despite reports tying him to them. Those could easily be fake reports planted by the Raiders in an effort to try to get a team to move up for Haskins so they can have their choice of Nick Bosa or Quinnen Williams. Gruden has always preferred experience at the quarterback position and is unlikely to want to turn his franchise over to a quarterback with one year of college starting experience.
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. There are reports that owner Dan Snyder wants to move up for Haskins, even against the advice of his front office, which sounds about right. The Buccaneers have their pick of some blue chip 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.
6. New York Giants – DE Ed Oliver (Houston)*
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, 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 they take a defensive player instead. Ed Oliver would give them an instant difference maker on the defensive line.
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.
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 – TE TJ Hockenson (Iowa)
The Bills added some pass catchers in free agency, signing Cole Beasley, John Brown, and Tyler Kroft, but they could still add another one at 9 as they try to give Josh Allen everything he needs to succeed. This is too early for a wide receiver, which is not a pressing need for the Bills anyway, but TJ Hockenson is a potential top-10 pick and would pair well with Kroft at tight end. Kroft was signed to a deal worth 18.75 million over 3 years, but he’s never topped 42 catches in a season and adding Hockenson would allow them to run two tight end sets much more frequently.
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 Bush (Michigan)*
The Bengals re-signed Preston Brown to a 3-year, 16.5 million dollar deal in free agency, rather than shooting higher at the middle linebacker position, but Brown could still be moved to fill a need at outside linebacker. That would open up a spot for a rookie linebacker to play every down in the middle. Devin Bush has a far greater upside and is preferred by some over Devin White. The Bengals, who have worked him out privately, could be one of those teams, but even if they aren’t he may be the best player left on their board. White would be an option here as well if he happens to fall.
12. New York Jets (TRADE) – DE Rashan Gary (Michigan)*
With the Jets trading down and picking up three top-50 picks, they can afford to take a risk like this. Rashan Gary has the upside to be the best player out of this draft, but in addition to his injury concerns he was never a highly productive player in college, possibly due to his shoulder injury. For the Jets, he fills a massive need for a pass rusher. He’s not a pure edge rusher, but the Jets need pass rush anywhere they can get it and Gary has the versatility to fit the multiple defensive schemes that Gregg Williams wants to run. They’ll remain a base 3-4 team for now, but that has never been Williams’ specialty and they figure to be in the nickel a lot of the time anyway.
13. Miami Dolphins – OT Jonah Williams (Alabama)
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 or trade for Josh Rosen, but in the first round I expect them to address another need. As many needs as they have, it’s hard to imagine a bigger need than offensive line, which was a weakness even before they lost right tackle Ja’Wuan James to the Broncos in free agency. Williams could be his replacement or could kick inside to guard, which has been a huge problem position for the Dolphins for years.
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 line 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 Cody Ford (Oklahoma)*
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 Cody Ford, 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. The Buccaneers have worked him out privately even though he’s not an option in the top-5, so he would make sense if they were to move down.
16. Carolina Panthers – DE Clelin Ferrell (Clemson)*
Defensive end is one of the Panthers’ biggest needs and if Clelin Ferrell, a potential top-10 pick, slips to them at 16 they will probably be thrilled. 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. Ferrell 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).
17. New York Giants – QB Daniel Jones (Duke)*
The Giants might not take a quarterback at 6 and it’s even less likely they move up into the top-5 for a quarterback, but I would surprised if they didn’t come away with a long-term quarterback option out of this draft, probably in the top-40 picks somewhere. In my last mock draft, I had the Giants moving back up into the end of the first round to take Daniel Jones, who they are known to like, but if they want him they will probably have to take him at 17, especially if Drew Lock comes off the board early too. It’s just too risky to let him get any further than this if he’s their guy. He’s far from a polished prospect, but would benefit from sitting behind Eli Manning for a year before taking over as the starter in 2020.
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 Marquise Brown (Oklahoma)
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. Marquise Brown is expected to go in the first round, after receiving good news about his injured foot. He’s the best fit for the Steelers of any of the first round wideouts and they could definitely make him the first wide receiver off the board. He’s expected to be ready for training camp.
21. Seattle Seahawks – CB Greedy Williams (LSU)
With two picks in the first round and just 3 in the rest of the draft, the Seahawks will likely look to trade out of one or both of their first round picks, as they have several times in recent years. I didn’t want to predict too many trades though and there isn’t an obvious player to move up for at this juncture anyway. If the Seahawks stay put, Greedy Williams would make a lot of sense, as the 6-2 185 pounder has the size and length that the Seahawks love in a cornerback. 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. 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.
22. Baltimore Ravens – WR DK Metcalf (Mississippi)*
I know the Ravens are a run first team, but Lamar Jackson needs to succeed as a passer for this offense to play at a high level. He’s not going to be able to carry the ball 15-20 times per game for the rest of his career and hold up. Right now, Jackson has next to nothing to work with in the receiving corps, with Willie Snead penciled in as the #1 receiver and no proven talent behind him on the depth chart. That’s a big problem for a quarterback with accuracy issues.
23. Houston Texans – G Garrett Bradbury (NC State)
The Texans desperately need offensive line help and have been linked with each of the top-4 offensive tackles in this class (Taylor, Williams, Ford, and Dillard). They are rumored to be interested in moving up to secure one of them, but they are unable to in this scenario and miss out on all 4. They could address another part of the team, but they have needs on the interior of their offensive line as well and Garrett Bradbury is not a bad consolation prize. He has the versatility to play all 3 interior line positions and is expected to come off the board in the first round.
24. Oakland Raiders – DE Montez Sweat (Mississippi State)*
It’s anyone’s guess where Montez Sweat is going to end up, given the uncertainty around his enlarged heart and how it will affect his professional career. With four picks in the top-35, the Raiders can afford to take this kind of risk. Sweat is a top-10 talent and if he and Josh Allen pan out the Raiders’ pass rush will get a lot better very quickly, after an NFL worst 13 sacks in 2018.
25. Philadelphia Eagles – G Chris Lindstrom (Boston College)
The Eagles’ offensive line was a big strength during their Super Bowl run, but took a big step back in 2018. The Eagles don’t have many pressing needs, but given Carson Wentz’s injury history they will want to do everything they can to keep him on the field. Lindstrom is a plug and play week 1 starter at left guard and an immediate upgrade over any other option on their roster.
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 (6-0 226) would complement the smaller, speedier Hilton well.
27. 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 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.
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. Seattle Seahawks – DT Jeffery Simmons (Mississippi State)*
This is one of the picks the Seahawks got in the Frank Clark trade. With a pair of first rounders, the Seahawks can afford to take a risk like this. Jeffery Simmons is a top-5 talent, but domestic violence history and a torn ACL that may sideline him for all of 2019 could drop him out of the first round. The Seahawks could trade down and target Simmons early in the second, but then they wouldn’t have a 5th year option on his contract and if he misses all of 2019 the Seahawks would only have him for 3 years before free agency. His off-the-field issues complicate matters further, but the Seahawks drafted Frank Clark despite domestic violence history. Even if he doesn’t play until 2020, Simmons could give the Seahawks a dominant interior defensive lineman. They’ll likely lock up Jarran Reed long-term now that Clark has been traded, but they need a long-term starter inside next to him.
30. New York Jets (TRADE) – CB Byron Murphy (Washington)
The Jets upgraded the slot cornerback spot this off-season by swapping Buster Skrine for Brian Poole, but have a big hole at the other outside spot opposite Trumaine Johnson. Morris Claiborne started for them last year, but he remains unsigned in free agency, so the Jets are clearly shooting higher at the position. Cornerback isn’t a position they would address at 3 and they wouldn’t have a 2nd rounder if they don’t trade down, but in this scenario, after trading down and picking up a couple additional picks in the top-50, the Jets would likely target cornerbacks. Murphy is a good value late in the first round.
31. Los Angeles Rams – C Erik McCoy (Texas A&M)*
The Rams have lost a pair of starters on the offensive line this off-season and Jared Goff has had a big statistical drop off in his career when under pressure, so offensive line will likely be a priority for the Rams in the draft. Last year’s 3rd and 4th round picks Joseph Noteboom and Brian Allen are penciled in as the starters at left guard and center respectively, but they need competition for them and Noteboom’s long-term future may be at left tackle anyway, with Andrew Whitworth going into his age 38 contract season. McCoy gives them more options, with the ability to play both center and guard himself. They could start him at center as a rookie with Allen and Noteboom competing at left guard.
32. New England Patriots – TE Irv Smith (Alabama)
Tight end obviously becomes a huge need for the Patriots with Rob Gronkowski retiring, leaving Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Matt LaCosse, Jacob Hollister, Stephen Anderson, Jakob Johnson, 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. He’s more pro ready than Fant and his superior blocking ability makes him a much better fit for the Patriots’ balanced offense.