2019 NFL Mock Draft

Updated 4/6/19

1st round 2nd round 3rd round 4th round

 

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.

2019 NFL Mock Draft – 2nd Round

1st round 2nd round 3rd round 4th round

 

33. Arizona Cardinals – WR Marquise Brown (Oklahoma)

Most teams that take a quarterback in the first round follow it up by taking another offensive player with their next pick. 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 could easily go in the first round and was Kyler Murray’s favorite target in college.

34. Indianapolis Colts – DT Dre’Mont Jones (Ohio State)

Justin Houston was a big addition at defensive end, but the Colts need to add depth at defensive tackle behind Denico Autry and Margus Hunt. Dre’Mont Jones would factor into the rotation immediately and fits their scheme well. He could go in the first round, but this is a deep defensive tackle class.

35. Oakland Raiders – RB Josh Jacobs (Alabama)

The Raiders signed Isaiah Crowell to a one-year deal and could still bring back Marshawn Lynch, but neither player is a long-term option at running back. Josh Jacobs will likely be the first running back off the board and if he doesn’t go in the first round he’d make a lot of sense for the Raiders at the top of the 2nd round.

36. San Francisco 49ers – WR Deebo Samuel (South Carolina)

The 49ers were unsuccessful in trading for Odell Beckham, so they’ll probably address the wide receiver position through the draft. The 49ers like last year’s 2nd round pick Dante Pettis, but still lack a clear long-term #1 receiver.

37. Los Angeles Rams (TRADE) – C Garrett Bradbury (NC State)

The Rams trade down and take the first center off the board. It’s not a flashy pick, but 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. 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. Bradbury gives them more options, with the ability to play both guard and center himself. They could start him at center as a rookie with Allen and Noteboom competing at left guard.

38. Jacksonville Jaguars – DT Jeffery Simmons (Mississippi State)

The Jaguars let go of defensive tackle Malik Jackson this off-season for salary purposes and could do the same with Marcell Dareus (owed 20 million non-guaranteed in 2020) next off-season, as they try to manage the cap with several key young players due extensions. They took Taven Bryan in the first round last year, but need a long-term starter opposite him. Jeffery Simmons could have been a top-15 pick, but tore his ACL in the pre-draft process. WIth Dareus still on the roster, Simmons won’t be needed much as a rookie, but he could prove to be a steal for a team that needs to keep finding talented young players on cheap rookie deals.

39. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – DE Zach Allen (Boston College)

After adding to their offensive line in the first round, the Buccaneers need to focus on defense with their day 2 picks (now 3 after their trade down with the Redskins). Zach Allen gives them a useful piece upfront for their new 3-4 defense. Especially if they’re planning on moving on from the highly paid Gerald McCoy at some point, they need a young 3-4 defensive end.

40. Buffalo Bills – CB Rock Ya-Sin (Temple)

The Bills took one-year fliers on injury prone cornerbacks Kevin Johnson and EJ Gaines this off-season, but lack a long-term starting option opposite Tre’Davious White. Rock Ya-Sin is a rising prospect and would give the Bills a talented young trio with White and slot cornerback Taron Johnson, a 2018 4th round pick who had a promising rookie year.

41. Denver Broncos – C Elgton Jenkins (Mississippi State)

The Broncos signed right tackle Ja’Wuan James to a big contract in free agency, which fills a big need, but they also lost center Matt Paradis and right guard Billy Turner. The Broncos have an open competition to replace them upfront and could easily add a premium prospect through the draft. Jenkins can play both guard and center, but would probably be most valuable at the next level as a center.

42. Cincinnati Bengals – OT Greg Little (Mississippi)

Cordy Glenn is a solid left tackle when healthy, but he’s also missed 19 of 48 games with injury over the past 3 seasons and they lack a good replacement. Little would give them more depth at the position and another option at right tackle, where the Bengals inexplicably re-signed Bobby Hart to a 3-year, 16.15 million dollar contract this off-season.

43. Detroit Lions – DE Jaylon Ferguson (Louisiana Tech)

Even with the addition of Trey Flowers, the Lions still need to add one more edge rusher. Ezekiel Ansah is still available to bring back as a free agent, but he’s highly unlikely to return. Jaylon Ferguson is a good value at 43.

44. Green Bay Packers – DE Isaiah Buggs (Alabama)

The Packers could still bring back Muhammad Wilkerson, but they’re pretty thin on the defensive line without him. Wilkerson also isn’t a sure thing, coming off a serious injury, with his last strong season coming in 2015.

45. Atlanta Falcons – DE D’Andre Walker (Georgia)

The Falcons are bringing back Vic Beasley for the final year of his rookie deal, but he hasn’t been nearly the same pass rusher over the past 2 seasons as he was in 2016. With little depth behind him and Takkarist McKinley, the Falcons will need to add another edge rusher at some point. D’Andre Walker is undersized at 6-2 251, but the Falcons don’t mind smaller defensive ends (both Beasley and McKinley are under 260) and they can use Walker as a standup linebacker in some situations as well.

46. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (TRADE) – OLB Jachai Polite (Florida)

The Buccaneers add another piece for their new 3-4 defense. Shaq Barrett was a nice addition, but he was only signed to a one-year deal, while Carl Nassib, a questionable scheme fit, will also be a free agent next off-season. Character concerns drop Polite out of the first round, but someone will take a chance on his talent.

47. Carolina Panthers – S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (Florida)

The Panthers used a 3rd round pick on Rashaan Gaulden last year and used him sparingly at safety as a rookie, behind veteran Mike Adams. Gaulden appears to be heading to cornerback for 2019 and probably beyond though, meaning the Panthers will need a long-term option at safety opposite Eric Reid. Mike Adams is gone, so Chauncey Gardner-Johnson could easily be a starter as a rookie.

48. Miami Dolphins – OT Yodny Cajuste (West Virginia)

The Dolphins have a big hole to fill at right tackle after losing Ja’Wuan James in free agency. They could end up starting a rookie at that spot in 2019.

49. Cleveland Browns – CB Sean Bunting (Central Michigan)

The Browns took a cornerback 4th overall in last year’s draft, taking Denzel Ward, and he’s gotten off to a great start, but they lack a long-term starter opposite him. Bunting would probably start as the 4th cornerback behind veterans TJ Carrie and Terrance Mitchell, but could easily be a starter in 2020 and beyond.

50. Minnesota Vikings – CB Justin Layne (Michigan State)

The Vikings have never shied away from using early picks on cornerbacks since Mike Zimmer got to town. With both Trae Waynes and Mackenzie Alexander set to hit free agency next off-season and a lot of the Vikings’ cap already committed to other players, the Vikings will need to add some cornerback depth at some point.

51. Tennessee Titans – G Chris Lindstrom (Boston College)

The Titans moved on from their two starting guards in 2018, free agent Quinton Spain and cap casualty Josh Kline. They upgraded one spot with the addition of free agent Rodger Saffold, but they still need a new starter at the other spot. Lindstrom could compete for the week 1 starting job at right guard.

52. Pittsburgh Steelers – OLB Joe Jackson (Miami)

The Steelers used first round picks on outside linebackers in 2015 (Bud Dupree) and 2017 (TJ Watt), but they could use more depth behind them, particularly with Dupree going into the final year of his rookie deal.

53. Philadelphia Eagles – MLB Te’Von Coney (Notre Dame)

The loss of Jordan Hicks was big for the Eagles’ defense. They’ll need to address the linebacker position at some point and the draft is their best chance to do so at this point in the off-season.

54. Houston Texans – RB Damien Harris (Alabama)

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.

55. Houston Texans – CB Kendall Sheffield (Ohio State)

After losing both Kareem Jackson and Kevin Johnson, the Texans are in a tough spot at cornerback. Johnathan Joseph is going into his age 35 season and the final year of his deal, free agent acquisition Bradley Roby is signed to just a one-year deal, and Aaron Colvin is coming off of a disastrous first season in Houston after signing a 4-year, 34 million dollar deal in free agency last off-season. On top of that, their depth at the position is suspect at best. They’ll need to address this position through the draft.

56. Arizona Cardinals (TRADE) – S Johnathan Abram (Mississippi State)

With the Cardinals taking Kyler Murray #1, the next step would likely be to trade Josh Rosen. Rosen’s name has already come up in trade rumors, being linked to the Chargers, Giants, and Patriots, with one team reportedly offering a second round pick. It makes sense that would be the Patriots, who have a pair of late second round picks and no long-term option behind a soon-to-be-42-year-old Tom Brady.

Rosen had a disastrous first year in the league, but had little help from his supporting cast and was a top-10 pick just a year ago. He’s better than any quarterback the Patriots can get at this point in the draft. The Patriots could also send a future conditional pick based on playing time. The Cardinals need all the help they can get in the draft and, after starting with two offensive players, now turn to defense with the pick they got from New England. They haven’t replaced either Antoine Bethea or Tre Boston this off-season, so they address the safety position here.

57. Philadelphia Eagles – RB David Montgomery (Iowa State)

The Eagles traded for Jordan Howard, but they didn’t give up much for him and probably aren’t done adding at the position, especially with Howard in the final year of his contract and coming off of a down year. David Montgomery gives them a long-term lead back.

58. Dallas Cowboys – WR Miles Boykin (Notre Dame)

The Cowboys added a #1 receiver at the trade deadline in Amari Cooper, but the rest of their receiving corps is pretty suspect, especially with Cole Beasley leaving in free agency. They signed Randall Cobb to replace him, but he’s only on a one-year deal and fellow veteran Allen Hurns is also in the last year of his deal. Last year’s 3rd round pick Michael Gallup could still develop into a solid starter, but they need a 3rd receiver to go with him and Gallup long-term.

59. Indianapolis Colts – WR Terry McLaurin (Ohio State)

With few pressing needs, it would be a surprise to see the Colts double up on wide receivers, as wideout is their biggest position of weakness right now. Last year, they doubled up on defensive ends and guards both in the first 2 rounds, so clearly they aren’t afraid to do it.

60. Los Angeles Chargers – OT David Edwards (Wisconsin)

The Chargers’ offensive line has gotten better in recent years, but right tackle Sam Tevi is their worst starter. They need to add more competition for him. Even if Edwards doesn’t start as a rookie, he can be a valuable swing tackle and develop into a starter long-term.

61. Kansas City Chiefs – CB DeAndre Baker (Georgia)

The Chiefs addressed the safety position in the first round, but they need to address cornerback as well. They had one of the worst secondaries in the league last year and lost their top outside cornerback Steven Nelson to the Steelers in free agency. Baker could compete for a big role in his rookie year in a thin group.

62. New Orleans Saints – WR Hakeem Butler (Iowa State)

The Saints don’t have a ton of needs, even without a first round pick, but they could dip into a deep wide receiver group on day 2, with their depth chart unsettled behind Michael Thomas. 2018 3rd round pick Tre’Quan Smith could develop into a starter, but veteran Ted Ginn is going into his age 34 season and you need at least three good wide receivers in today’s NFL. Butler can be that 3rd guy long-term.

63. Kansas City Chiefs – C Erik McCoy (Texas A&M)

Losing center Mitch Morse in free agency left the Chiefs pretty thin on the interior of their offensive line. Austin Reiter is penciled in as the starter, but he’s an underwhelming option. Erik McCoy is a versatile player who could also compete with Cameron Irving at left guard or serve as a reserve across all 3 interior spots.

64. New England Patriots – WR Parris Campbell (Ohio State)

The Patriots haven’t had much success developing early round wide receivers, but they might have to try again. Julian Edelman is going into his age 33 contract year, Josh Gordon is a constant question mark, and their depth behind them is suspect.

2019 NFL Mock Draft – 3rd Round

1st round 2nd round 3rd round 4th round

 

65. Arizona Cardinals – OT Bobby Evans (Oklahoma)

The Cardinals traded for Marcus Gilbert from the Steelers to fill a hole at right tackle, but he’s going into the final year of his contract, as is left tackle DJ Humphries. Neither player has been that dependable over the past couple years either, missing 20 games and 18 games respectively. They need to improve their depth behind them.

66. Pittsburgh Steelers – G Dalton Risner (Kansas State)

The Steelers re-signed Ramon Foster to a two-year deal, but he’s going into his age 33 season and hasn’t been the same player in recent years. They could use a long-term replacement. In the meantime, Risner can be a valuable reserve who can legitimately play any spot upfront in a pinch.

67. San Francisco 49ers – S Juan Thornhill (Virginia)

Somehow, the 49ers didn’t end up with a starting caliber safety in free agency this off-season, despite a deep position group and a ton of cap space. Juan Thornhill can compete immediately for a role.

68. New York Jets – CB JoeJuan Williams (Vanderbilt)

The Jets upgraded the slot cornerback spot by swapping Buster Skrine for Brian Poole, but have a big hole at the other outside spot opposite Trumaine Johnson. They don’t have a second round pick and probably won’t take a corner at 3, but any cornerback they add through the draft is going to have an immediate shot at playing time, unless they bring in a veteran. Even if they bring in a veteran, any veteran they get at this point likely wouldn’t be a long-term option.

69. Jacksonville Jaguars – TE Jace Sternberger (Texas A&M)

The Jaguars didn’t get much in terms of receiving production from their tight ends last year and their outlook isn’t looking much better going into 2019. They should add a tight end early in the draft.

70. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – MLB Drue Tranquill (Notre Dame)

The Buccaneers signed Deone Bucannon to replace free agent departure Kwon Alexander, but he was only signed to a one-year deal and hasn’t been nearly the same player in the past couple years as he was early in his career. This is another defensive position they’ll have to address.

71. Denver Broncos – OLB Maxx Crosby (Eastern Michigan)

The Broncos had one of the deepest edge rusher groups last season, but after losing Shane Ray and Shaq Barrett, the Broncos are now actually pretty thin behind Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. They should add depth in the middle rounds.

72. Cincinnati Bengals – QB Jarrett Stidham (Auburn)

The Bengals aren’t tied to Andy Dalton long-term and it’s very possible new head coach Zac Taylor has his eyes on a quarterback in the middle rounds to be a potential successor. At the very least, they could use a better backup. Jarrett Stidham is a likely day 2 pick that they could develop into a potential future starter.

73. New England Patriots – DE Anthony Nelson (Iowa)

The Patriots traded for Michael Bennett to replace Trey Flowers, but they still need another defensive end. Nelson has the size that Belichick likes in a defensive end at 6-7 271 and can also line up inside in passing situations.

74. Buffalo Bills – WR Kelvin Harmon (NC State)

The Bills added a pair of veteran receivers in free agency, but could still add one more through the draft in case Zay Jones and Robert Foster don’t keep developing.

75. Green Bay Packers – WR N’Keal Harry (Arizona State)

Aaron Rodgers struggled by his standards in 2018 in large part due to a thin receiving corps. With Randall Cobb leaving in free agency, they are now even thinner. They have some promising young players, but haven’t used an early pick on the position in a while. They’ll have plenty of good options on day 2. This receiver class lacks the high end prospects, but has good depth outside of the first round.

76. Washington Redskins – WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside (Stanford)

This is the Redskins’ first pick since moving up for Dwayne Haskins. They need to get him someone else to throw to. Neither Paul Richardson nor Josh Doctson are impressive and both could be pushed for their jobs by a talented rookie.

77. Carolina Panthers – OLB Germaine Pratt (NC State)

Not only did the Panthers lose Thomas Davis in free agency, but they also lost valuable reserve David Mayo, leaving them very thin at the linebacker position, even with Shaq Thompson taking on a larger role. Pratt could compete for a role in base packages as a rookie.

78. Miami Dolphins – QB Will Grier (West Virginia)

I don’t expect the Dolphins to take a quarterback in the first round, since they prefer the 2020 prospects and figure to have a tough year in 2019, but they’ll have to take a shot on a quarterback at some point. Will Grier is a likely day 2 prospect and would probably make rookie year starts in Miami. Veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick is their only experienced quarterback.

79. Atlanta Falcons – OT Kaleb McGary (Washington)

The Falcons are reworking their offensive line, signing veterans James Carpenter and Jamon Brown to start at guard, releasing right tackle Ryan Schraeder, and replacing him with former Broncos bust Ty Sambrailo. They appear to have their starting 5 locked in for 2019, but could use better depth at a couple spots. McGary gives them competition at right tackle and could also push Sambrailo inside to guard if either of their starting guards struggle.

80. Cleveland Browns – OT Tytus Howard (Alabama State)

The Browns will enter the 2019 season with a lot of hype because of their skill position players, but their offensive line could end up holding them back. They brought back Greg Robinson as their left tackle, despite an up and down season in 2018 and his history of struggles, and they traded right guard Kevin Zeitler, arguably their best offensive lineman in 2018. They have 2018 2nd round pick Austin Corbett to plug in at right guard, but they could use better depth at both right guard and left tackle. Howard at least gives them a good swing tackle and could potentially kick inside if needed.

81. Minnesota Vikings – TE Josh Oliver (San Jose State)

The Vikings top-2 tight ends Kyle Rudolph and David Morgan are both set to hit free agency next off-season, so the Vikings could use a mid-round pick on a developmental prospect. With so much of their cap tied up in a few players, it could be hard for them to retain both tight ends.

82. Tennessee Titans – DT Khalen Saunders (Western Illinois)

The Titans could use added depth on their 3-man defensive line. Khalen Saunders is a great athlete for his size at 6-0 324 and could play multiple spots upfront, including nose tackle.

83. Pittsburgh Steelers – MLB Tre Lamar (Clemson)

The Steelers added Mark Barron in free agency, but he’s struggled in the past couple years with the Rams and doesn’t have any guaranteed money on his contract beyond this year. They could add a rookie to the mix. Tre Lamar would at least have a shot at a rookie year role next to Barron inside in the Steelers’ 3-4 defense.

84. Seattle Seahawks – DT Trysten Hill (Central Florida)

The Seahawks are pretty thin at the defensive tackle position behind Jarran Reed, so they could add help through the draft.

85. Baltimore Ravens – WR Keelan Doss (UC Davis)

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.

86. Houston Texans – TE Dawson Knox (Mississippi)

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.

87. Chicago Bears – S Nasir Adderley (Delaware)

The Bears got a great deal on a one-year contract with HaHa Clinton-Dix as the replacement to free agent departure Adrian Amos, but Clinton-Dix may end up spending just the one season in Chicago, so they need a long-term solution.

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

No Lions tight end had more than 263 yards in 2018. They added Jesse James in free agency, but he’s never had more than 423 yards in a season. They could keep adding talent at the position through the draft.

89. Indianapolis Colts – MLB Vosean Joseph (Florida)

The Colts struck gold with outside linebacker Darius Leonard in the second round last year and could take another linebacker on day 2 this year, as middle linebacker Anthony Walker is an underwhelming starter. Joseph is a great scheme fit and could push him for his job as a rookie.

90. Dallas Cowboys – S Mike Edwards (Kentucky)

The Cowboys missed on all the top level safeties in free agency and had to settle for a one-year deal with George Iloka. They’ll probably add another safety through the draft at some point.

91. Los Angeles Chargers – CB Julian Love (Notre Dame)

The Chargers have a great outside cornerback in Casey Hayward and a great slot cornerback in Desmond King, but the other outside cornerback spot is a question mark. Trevor Williams played well there in 2017, but struggled in 2018 and was benched before being shut down for the season with injury. His replacement Michael Davis wasn’t much better last season, so they could add another player into the mix.

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

Damien Williams ran well down the stretch last season after the Chiefs let go of Kareem Hunt, but he’s still pretty unproven and their depth behind him isn’t great. Veteran Carlos Hyde was signed in free agency, but he’s only on a one-year deal and is coming off of a terrible season.

93. New York Jets – C Michael Jordan (Ohio State)

The Jets upgraded the left guard position by adding Kelechi Osemele via trade, but they could still use another player in the mix at center, where the underwhelming Jonotthan Harrison is currently penciled in as the starter.

94. Jacksonville Jaguars – S Marvell Tell (USC)

Both of the Jaguars’ starting safeties from 2018 are gone, with both Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson getting released. Last year’s 3rd round pick Ronnie Harrison will likely start at one safety spot in 2019, but they have an unsettled situation at the other safety spot.

95. Los Angeles Rams (TRADE) – MLB Sione Takitaki (BYU)

Cutting Mark Barron made sense for cap purposes, as he’s struggled in the past couple years, but losing him leaves the Rams even thinner at inside linebacker and they haven’t replaced him. An early round rookie could compete for a job inside next to Cory Littleton. This is the pick the Rams got for moving down with the Giants in the first round.

96. Washington Redskins – S Darnell Savage (Maryland)

The Redskins added Landon Collins on a big contract in free agency to upgrade on free agent departure HaHa Clinton-Dix, but the other safety spot is still unsettled. The Redskins cut safety DJ Swearinger late in the season for a violation of team rules and didn’t replace him this off-season.

97. New England Patriots – OT Max Scharping (Northern Illinois)

The Patriots have 2018 1st round pick Isaiah Wynn coming back from injury to take over for free agent departure Trent Brown at left tackle, but he’s not a sure thing and ultimately might be a better fit at guard long-term. Left guard Joe Thuney is a free agent next off-season, so the Patriots could find a developmental offensive tackle who could potentially kick Wynn inside for 2020 and beyond. At the very least, the Patriots need to replace swing tackle LaAdrian Waddle, who signed with the Bills in free agency.

98. Jacksonville Jaguars – RB Miles Sanders (Penn State)

The Jaguars don’t have much behind Leonard Fournette, who hasn’t exactly been reliable thus far in his career. A team like the Jaguars that wants to run the ball a lot needs another back to at least give Fournette regular snaps off.

99. Los Angeles Rams – DT Gerald Willis (Miami)

The Rams are pretty thin on the defensive line and aren’t expected to bring back Ndamukong Suh. They’ll probably add another defensive lineman through the draft.

100. Carolina Panthers – G Nate Davis (UNC Charlotte)

The Panthers shored up right tackle and center by retaining Daryl Williams in free agency and signing Matt Paradis from the Broncos, but left guard is a bit of a weak spot. Greg Van Roten is their weakest starter and they could add long-term competition in the middle rounds.

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

The Patriots lost Malcom Brown to the Saints and haven’t re-signed Danny Shelton, which has left them pretty thin on the interior of their defensive line. Their only off-season addition thus far at the position is run stuffer Mike Pennel.

102. Baltimore Ravens – OLB Chase Winovich (Michigan)

The Ravens lost Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith in free agency and, while they expect Tim Williams and Tyus Bowser to both play a bigger role, they could still add another player for depth purposes.

2019 NFL Mock Draft – 4th Round

1st round 2nd round 3rd round 4th round

 

103. Arizona Cardinals – TE Drew Sample (Washington)

The Cardinals have needs at pretty much every position and tight end is no different. Ricky Seals-Jones led the team with just 34 catches from the tight end spot and the only competition they added for him is Charles Clay, who had just 21 catches in 2018 and is more of a replacement for blocking tight end Jermaine Gresham (9 catches).

104. San Francisco 49ers – CB David Long (Michigan)

The 49ers got pretty poor play from starting cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon in 2018 and probably don’t want him to continue starting opposite Richard Sherman in 2019. They took a flier on talented, but injury prone Jason Verrett in free agency, but he’s far from a sure thing and only on a one-year deal. Especially with Sherman getting up in age and likely moving to safety long-term, they should add a developmental cornerback at some point.

105. New York Jets – WR Andy Isabella (Massachusetts)

The Jets signed Jamison Crowder in free agency to give them a solid trio of receivers with Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa, but Anderson is going in the final year of his rookie deal, so they could add insurance for 2020 and beyond through the draft.

106. Oakland Raiders – MLB Gary Johnson (Texas)

The Raiders added Vontaze Burfict and Brandon Marshall to start at linebacker, but both are just on one-year deals, so they’ll probably draft another linebacker too, especially given the recent injury history of both Burfict and Marshall.

107. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – CB Amani Oruwariye (Penn State)

The Buccaneers needed to add a veteran cornerback in free agency to replace Brent Grimes, but didn’t have the financial flexibility to add one. They have other young cornerbacks, but will probably add another one to the mix at some point, especially with a new coaching staff in town.

108. Cleveland Browns – OLB Terrill Hinks (New Mexico State)

Releasing Jamie Collins made sense because he was highly paid and just a 3rd linebacker, but now they’re pretty thin at the position. Adding someone like Terrill Hinks to play outside linebacker in base packages would allow Genard Avery to play defensive end full-time.

109. Jacksonville Jaguars – DE Austin Bryant (Clemson)

Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue are a dominant defensive end duo, but the former is going into his age 33 season and the latter is going into the final year of his rookie deal and is due a steep pay increase. The Jaguars might not be able to afford both long-term and need to add a developmental defensive end at some point.

110. Cincinnati Bengals – OLB Joe Giles-Harris (Duke)

The Bengals have some young linebackers, but don’t have a clear Vontaze Burfict replacement. Giles-Harris can also be a contributor on special teams.

111. Detroit Lions – G Connor McGovern (Penn State)

The Lions didn’t replace retiring right guard TJ Lang and have penciled in journeyman Kenny Wiggins as the starter. They need to add competition.

112. Buffalo Bills – RB Mike Weber (Ohio State)

The Bills somehow found a running back even older than LeSean McCoy, signing Frank Gore to a one-year deal in free agency. Going into their age 31 and age 36 seasons respectively, both McCoy and Gore have contracts that expire next off-season. They’ll need a young back for the future.

113. Baltimore Ravens – DE DeMarcus Christmas (Florida State)

The Ravens could use depth on the defensive line too, as they haven’t retained Brent Urban in free agency.

114. Green Bay Packers – OLB Christian Miller (Alabama)

The Packers signed Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith to replace Clay Matthews and Nick Perry at outside linebacker, but they could still use more depth in the middle rounds.

115. Carolina Panthers – WR Emanuel Hall (Missouri)

The Panthers have a pair of promising young receivers in DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel, but you need three good receivers in today’s NFL. Right now, the Panthers are counting on a pair of mediocre veterans, Jarius Wright and Torrey Smith, for significant roles at receiver.

116. Miami Dolphins – G Javon Patterson (Mississippi)

The Dolphins have issues all over their roster, but they’ll have to take a guard at some point. They could use an upgrade at both guard spots.

117. Atlanta Falcons – CB Lonnie Johnson (Kentucky)

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 and safety Damontae Kazee is expected to move to slot cornerback in 2019 after breaking out in Ricardo Allen’s absence in 2018, with Desmond Trufant remaining as the top cornerback, but they could use depth behind their top trio of cornerbacks.

118. Green Bay Packers – CB Jimmy Moreland (James Madison)

With Tramon Williams going into his age 36 season, the Packers could add another developmental cornerback through the draft.

119. Cleveland Browns – S Amani Hooker (Iowa)

The Browns have remade their safety position this off-season, trading Jabrill Peppers, cutting Derrick Kindred, and replacing them with Eric Murray and Morgan Burnett. They could still use a young developmental player at the position though and Hooker can also play special teams.

120. Minnesota Vikings – RB Devin Singletary (Florida Atlantic)

With Latavius Murray signing in New Orleans, the Vikings are pretty thin behind Dalvin Cook, who has been injury prone thus far in his career.

121. Tennessee Titans – WR Riley Ridley (Georgia)

The Titans signed Adam Humphries in free agency to play the slot, but they could use more competition at the other outside receiver spot opposite Corey Davis. Both Tajae Sharpe and Taywan Taylor were underwhelming in 2018.

122. Pittsburgh Steelers – TE Zach Gentry (Michigan)

The Steelers could take a developmental tight end in the later rounds to replace free agent departure Jesse James.

123. Baltimore Ravens – WR Mecole Hardman (Georgia)

The Ravens are so thin at wide receiver they should probably double up on the position. Hardman provides value as a return man as well.

124. Seattle Seahawks – OT Isaiah Prince (Ohio State)

The Seahawks continue to need help upfront on the offensive line. Isaiah Prince has the size (6-6 with 35 ½ inch arms) that they like to work with and could potentially kick inside to guard.

125. Denver Broncos – S Will Harris (Boston College)

The Broncos could use more depth at safety after cutting veteran Darian Stewart.

126. Chicago Bears – G Ben Powers (Oklahoma)

Kyle Long has had a lot of trouble staying healthy in recent years, so they should add someone in the draft who can develop into a better insurance policy and possible long-term starter.

127. Philadelphia Eagles – DE Ben Banogu (TCU)

The Eagles are deep at defensive end, but also pretty old, with Chris Long, Vinny Curry, and Brandon Graham all over the age of 30. Long and Curry will also be free agents next off-season and may not be retained, going into their age 35 and 32 seasons respectively in 2020.

128. Dallas Cowboys – DT Kingsley Keke (Texas A&M)

The Cowboys could use more depth at defensive tackle.

129. Indianapolis Colts – CB Isaiah Johnson (Houston)

The Colts have a couple key players with expiring contracts at the cornerback position.

130. Los Angeles Chargers – QB Ryan Finley (NC State)

Philip Rivers is going into his age 38 season and won’t play forever, so the Chargers could look for a potential successor through the draft.

131. Buffalo Bills – OLB Tyrel Dodson (Texas A&M)

The Bills have a pair of talented young linebackers in Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds, but their 3rd linebacker Lorenzo Alexander is in his age 36 season. Dodson can provide solid depth and play special teams in the meantime.

132. New York Giants – OT Derwin Gray (Maryland)

The Giants upgraded right guard when they traded for Kevin Zeitler, but could still add competition at right tackle.

133. Los Angeles Rams – S Ugo Amadi (Oregon)

Eric Weddle was a smart signing, but he’s not a long-term solution, going into his age 34 season.

134. New England Patriots – TE Dax Raymond (Utah State)

The Patriots are so thin at tight end that it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them double up on tight ends like they did with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

135. Indianapolis Colts – S Zedrick Woods (Mississippi)

The Colts re-signed Clayton Geathers in free agency, but he hasn’t been durable, so the Colts may want to improve their depth at the position.

136. Dallas Cowboys – TE Foster Moreau (LSU)

The fact that Jason Witten can come straight out of the broadcast booth and be penciled in as the Cowboys’ starting tight end in his age 37 season shows you how thin the Cowboys otherwise are at the position. Witten obviously isn’t a long-term solution.

137. Atlanta Falcons – RB Tony Pollard (Memphis)

Tevin Coleman signed with the 49ers in free agency, leaving the Falcons pretty thin behind injury prone lead back Devonta Freeman. Last year’s 4th round rookie Ito Smith didn’t show much as a rookie, so they could add another young back to compete with Smith for the backup job.

138. Philadelphia Eagles – CB Corey Ballentine (Washburn)

Even after re-signing Ronald Darby, the Eagles could still use another cornerback. Darby is injury prone and will probably be too expensive for the Eagles to retain at the end of his one-year deal if he has a healthy season in 2019.

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 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.