With the NFL season officially in the books (congratulations to the Patriots, I guess), I thought what better time than now to release my first mock draft of the season? For die-hards such as myself, it’s always draft season, but nothing really brings the draft into focus like the end of the season.
Without further ado, here we go:
1. Arizona Cardinals | Nick Bosa | EDGE | Ohio State
Let me start off by saying that the Cardinals roster is in absolute shambles. Yikes, this is going to take some time to fix. New head coach Kliff Kingsbury was hired to get the most out of Josh Rosen and develop a high powered offense, but this pick would wisely be used on the best player in the draft, and that’s Bosa. Pairing Bosa with Chandler Jones gives the Cardinals one of scariest pass rushing duo’s around the league. Bosa’s combination of length, size and athleticism will be a nightmare for offensive tackles to handle at the next level. While I think the Cardinals have bigger needs, such as OT and WR, Bosa makes the most sense here.
2. San Francisco 49ers | Josh Allen | EDGE | Kentucky
The 49ers are in an interesting spot. The roster certainly isn’t bad enough to justify picking in the top two, but 2018 was basically a lost season for them after they lost both starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and prized free agency signing Jerick McKinnon for the year before week 3 was in the books. Finding a stud pass rusher should be priority numero uno here and Allen fits the bill. Allen possesses the speed off the edge to give opposing tackles fits at the next level. His journey to becoming a top prospect has been impressive, and he gets rewarded with being a top two selection in this scenario.
3. New York Jets | Jonah Williams | OT | Alabama
Sam Darnold missed three starts during his impressive rookie campaign. New head coach Adam Gase will spend this off season doing everything he can to make sure his franchise quarterback has the protection in place to stay healthy going forward. Selecting Williams here would go a long way towards achieving that. Williams is a polished and experienced prospect that would instantly upgrade the Jets offensive line.
4. Oakland Raiders | Quinnen Williams | DT | Alabama
Back-to-back picks from Alabama, you ask? The Raiders have a larger need on the edge of their defensive line than they do the interior, but they must do a better job of getting after the quarterback in 2019 than they did in 2018, regardless of where the pressure comes from. With Josh Allen already off the board, Williams makes a ton of sense. One can make a strong case for Williams being the most talented player in this class, period. Williams was absolutely dominant throughout 2018, and could completely transform a Raiders front 7 that must improve greatly if year two of the Gruden experiment is to go better than year one did.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Ed Oliver | DT | Houston
While the Buccaneers desperately need to improve the talent in their secondary, I’m not sure they’ll identify a defensive back prospect worthy of spending the 5th overall pick on. The Bucs may move on from Gerald Mccoy and his monstrous contract this off season. They could immediately find his replacement in Oliver, who was often regarded as the best player in college football throughout his time as a Cougar. Despite some size concerns, Oliver is a blue chip prospect with freak-ish movement skills. Oliver’s elite first step and suddenness off the snap will make him a load to handle at the next level.
6. New York Giants | Jachai Polite | EDGE | Florida
No quarterback, you ask? I don’t think Giants general manager Dave Gettleman sees a quarterback worthy of hitching his wagon to in this class. Instead, he’ll ride things out with Eli Manning for one final year, and a grab QB in a 2020 class that appears to be much stronger. The Giants haven’t gotten the production they expected out of Olivier Vernon, and moving on from him would save the team a fair bit of cap space. Enter Polite, an edge rusher with a deadly first step. Don’t be fooled into thinking Polite is a one-trick pony though. He has a wide variety of moves he uses to get to the quarterback such an inside spin, inside rip, and he’s even flashed a nice long-arm move.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars | Dwayne Haskins | QB | Ohio State
Finally we have a quarterback! Much to the dismay of Titans fans, the Blake Bortles era in Jacksonville is about to come to a close. The Jaguars had an absolute nightmare of a campaign in 2018 after a 2017 season that came awfully close to a Super Bowl berth. Haskins is widely viewed as the top quarterback in this class. While I think he has a number of areas in which he has to grow, I find him to be well advanced in two key areas: He does a great job of going through his progressions and his pocket presence is well developed. The Jags have multiple needs on the offensive side of the ball, but it all starts with finding a franchise quarterback.
8. Detroit Lions | Clelin Ferrell | EDGE | Clemson
The first season of the Matt Patricia era was a bit of a nightmare. The Lions went from 9-7 in 2017 to 5-11 in 2018, and Patricia’s leadership qualities have been questioned as of late. Regardless of that, the Lions must get better on the defensive side of the ball. With Ezekiel Ansah possibly hitting free agency, the Lions could look to Ferrell as his replacement. A powerful prospect with an impressive amount of athleticism for his size, Ferrell has long been a productive member of the Tigers defensive line. He’s ready to start and contribute immediately at the next level.
9. Buffalo Bills | D.K. Metcalf | WR | Ole Miss
The Bills desperately need to surround Josh Allen with some weapons at wide receiver, and I do mean desperately. Their leading receiver in 2018 was Zay Jones with 652 yards. That’s... not good? Metcalf has the size and skill set to become a bonafide WR1 at the next level. Metcalf “wins” early with excellent footwork. He also possesses an impressive amount of acceleration for his size, and has the ability to make the tough contested catches that are expected of you in the NFL. Metcalf would quickly become Allen’s go to target in Buffalo.
10. Denver Broncos | Drew Lock | QB | Missouri
Finding a quarterback in the post-Peyton Manning era is something that has kept John Elway up at night. Case Keenum, Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch — the list goes on and on. Finding a quality quarterback has been incredibly elusive in Denver as of late. I believe Elway will try to end the misery with Lock, a quarterback prospect with good arm strength and excellent poise in the pocket. Lock was the best quarterback at the Senior Bowl. That may not be saying much, but I believe it further cemented the thought that he’s a top 10 pick in this draft. Elway won’t let him get past the Broncos.
11. Cincinnati Bengals | Devin White | LB | LSU
The Bengals allowed 455 points in 2018. Only the Raiders and Buccaneers allowed more, and there’s a reason I mocked defensive players to them as well. The Bengals need to find some play makers on that side of the ball, especially at the linebacker position. White is today’s linebacker, someone who struggles to get off blocks but has the range to cover a ton of ground in a hurry. His processing and decision making needs some improvement, but he’s an exciting prospect with the ability to be a game changer on every down.
12. Green Bay Packers | Deionte Thompson | SAF | Alabama
2019 should be an interesting year for the Packers. It’ll be the first time since 2005 that they’ll be coached by someone not named Mike McCarthy. It’ll be Matt LaFleur’s debut season as a head coach, a hire they made that followed the league trend of hiring an inexperienced but highly regarded offensive mind to lead the ship. LaFleur already has some excellent weapons on the offensive side of the ball. The Packers could look to replace Ha Ha Clinton-Dix with this pick. Thompson is a versatile defensive back that can step into a starting role immediately. He has the ability to play single-high or man coverage, while possessing the speed and range to make opposing quarterbacks think twice about throwing in his vicinity.
13. Miami Dolphins | Kyler Murray | QB | Oklahoma
Boom! Do you think Murray would enter the NFL draft and bypass all that Major League Baseball money if he wasn’t assured that he’ll get taken early? In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he went higher than this. The Dolphins are entering a new age in 2019 where Adam Gase won’t be the head coach and Ryan Tannehill won’t be the quarterback. With the Dolphins expected to name Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores as their new head coach later today, the first order of business for him will be to find a franchise quarterback. While Murray has some obvious size limitations, he’s an absolute baller when the game’s on the line. Murray has the natural arm talent and mobility to be a handful at the next level.
14. Atlanta Falcons | Chris Lindstrom | G | Boston College
The Falcons were absolutely decimated by injury in 2018. They’re a prime candidate to have a nice bounce back campaign in 2019, but they must improve their play in the trenches on both sides of the ball in order for that to come true. Lindstrom is a tough interior line prospect with the ability to handle power as good as any linemen in this class. He had an excellent week at the Senior Bowl by all accounts, something that I think further cements the likelihood of him being an early selection.
15. Washington Redskins | Garrett Bradbury | C | NC State
The Redskins face an interesting dilemma heading into this off season. There’s a solid chance that a gruesome leg injury suffered during week 11 will cost Alex Smith his entire 2019 campaign. I think the team would love to find a franchise quarterback in this class, but in this scenario, the top three prospects are already off the board. Instead, they turn their attention to the interior of their offensive line, an area which could certainly use some work. Bradbury plays the game well beyond his years. A true technician, Bradbury’s play in 2018 was as solid as any offensive line prospect in this class. He immediately makes the Redskins offense better in 2019, with or without Alex Smith.
16. Carolina Panthers | Cody Ford | OT | Oklahoma
Priority number one for the Panthers this off season should be simple: they must do a better job of protecting Cam Newton next season. One of the toughest quarterbacks in the game, even Newton couldn’t handle the amount of hits the Panthers allowed on him throughout 2018. Newton’s season ended prematurely thanks to yet another shoulder injury that has fans worried it could even cost him his entire 2019 campaign. Ford is an absolute mauler and could be the difference maker up front that this unit needs. A tough prospect who wins in a phone booth, the Panthers would be lucky to land Ford here.
17. Cleveland Browns | Greedy Williams | CB | LSU
What a time to be alive. Don’t look now, but things are looking up for the Browns. I mean, they’re really looking up. Baker Mayfield has everyone in Ohio feeling dangerous and the promotion of Freddie Kitchens to head coach looks like an excellent decision on the surface. Denzel Ward is a great cornerback, but the Browns secondary could use someone opposite him. Enter Williams, a cornerback prospect with the length, size, athleticism and ball skills to really thrive at the next level. Pairing Ward with Williams would give the Browns one of the most exciting cornerback duo’s in the league next season.
18. Minnesota Vikings | Dalton Risner | OT | Kansas State
Although Kirk Cousins disappointed mightily in year one of a three year fully guaranteed contract, I think he’d look a lot better next season if he could rely more on his run game. The Vikings offensive line severely hampered the offense last season. They need to get more physical and more productive in 2019. Risner is a hard nosed prospect who looked great in Mobile last week. While some think he may move to the interior at the next level, I think his pro team would be wise to try him at tackle first. Risner is a mauler at the point of attack who creates a ton of movement in the run game. He looks and plays like a Mike Zimmer guy to me.
19. Tennessee Titans | Jeffery Simmons | DT | Mississippi State
The Titans 2018 campaign was a weird one. They finished 9-7 despite both sides of the ball suffering some really unfortunate injuries. It all started week one against the Miami Dolphins when quarterback Marcus Mariota suffered a strange nerve injury that would reoccur (albeit in different spots) throughout his entire season. They also lost Delanie Walker (in that same Dolphins game), Logan Ryan, Jonnu Smith and Jack Conklin just to name a few for the rest of the year at some point. Despite dealing with a ton of unfortunate circumstances, head coach Mike Vrabel still got his team into a position to play for a playoff spot on the final day of the regular season. Despite falling short in that game, Vrabel showed a ton of reasons why he might be the right head coach to lead this team to the next level.
Despite getting all of that talent back for a make-or-break year for Mariota in 2019, the Titans need to get better in a number of key areas. They could go with a edge rusher, interior offensive linemen or even wide receiver here, but I decided to give them Simmons instead. Whether the pressure comes from the interior or the edges, the Titans front 7 needs to do a better job of getting to the quarterback in 2019. They relied too much on blitzes from their linebackers and secondary to cause havoc in the backfield, an area of which Simmons made a living in 2018. It’s time for the Titans to add a stud next to Jurrell Casey, and pairing him with Simmons would be a scary look for the quarterbacks of the AFC South in 2019 and beyond.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers | Mack Wilson | LB | Alabama
The Steelers missed the playoffs in 2018 despite having the most talent on the offensive side of the ball in the league in my opinion. A breakout campaign for sophomore running back James Conner eliminated the hole left behind by the LeVeon Bell holdout. With Antonio Brown now allegedly wanting out of Pittsburgh, it’s shaping up to be a wild off season for the black and yellow. Even without Brown, I think the Steelers have enough talent on that side of the ball to focus on their atrocious defense with this pick. Their defense is so bad that they could also look to a cornerback or edge rusher with this selection. I decided to give them Wilson instead. The Steelers simply need more play makers in their front 7. The Steelers allegedly tried to trade up for another Alabama linebacker last year, but were unsuccessful. Wilson is more of a see ball chase ball type of linebacker right now, but he has the raw skill set to develop into something special.
21. Seattle Seahawks | Brian Burns | EDGE | Florida State
The Seahawks could go in a number of directions with this selection. They still need help on their offensive line (how long have we been saying this?) and Russell Wilson could really benefit from having another big target on the outside. Even if Frank Clark returns, they could really use another edge rusher opposite him. Burns is a lengthy, speedy pass rusher with a variety of moves in his pass rush arsenal to routinely win at the next level.
22. Baltimore Ravens | Kelvin Harmon | WR | NC State
There was a changing of the guard at the quarterback position for the Ravens during their 2018 campaign. Joe Flacco certainly saw the writing on the wall when the team selected Lamar Jackson in the first round last year, and Jackson officially took the job over on November 18th thanks to a Flacco injury. If Jackson is truly going to be their quarterback of the future, the Ravens need him to improve as a passer first and foremost, and they’d be wise to surround him with as much talent as possible at receiver. Harmon is a good route runner that catches everything thrown his way. Harmon has the deep speed to threaten the field vertically, something that Jackson and his strong arm could really benefit from.
23. Houston Texans | Yodny Cajuste | OT | West Virginia
It’s amazing to me that DeShaun Watson got through the entire 2018 season with the way the Texans OL was allowing him to get abused early and often. Regardless of that impressive accomplishment, the Texans need to seriously invest in their offensive line this off season. Cajuste is a powerful prospect that also possesses excellent length for the position. He would immediately start for the Texans next season.
24. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago Bears) | Rashan Gary | DL | Michigan
I have the Raiders doubling down on defensive line prospects here despite giving them Quinnen Williams earlier. Yeah, the void left here by the Khalil Mack trade is that large. If Gary tests out of this world at the combine, which is very likely based on what I’m told, he’ll start getting mocked even earlier than this. He’s a versatile prospect that can play any position on the defensive line, and Jon Gruden would be wise to utilize him as such.
25. Philadelphia Eagles | Byron Murphy | CB | Washington
The Eagles secondary was absolutely beat up throughout the 2018 season. I mean, at one point, head coach Doug Pederson was using some of the team’s younger wide receivers at corner during practice. Needless to say, they could really use another body at the position. Lucky for them, Murphy is more than that. An explosive play maker that loves to jump a route, Murphy has the ball skills to quickly make a name for himself at the next level.
26. Indianapolis Colts | Charles Omenihu | DL | Texas
It’ll be interesting to see how the Colts handle this off season. They have the most cap space in the league and in my opinion, a number of areas of need. I think they sort of outperformed their talent last year, and benefited greatly from a strong rookie class. They could use a running back or a receiver to put opposite T.Y. Hilton here, but I believe they’ll address both of those needs via free agency and later in the draft. Omenihu boosted his stock at the Senior Bowl where he routinely flashed the skill set that made him such a load to handle at Texas. Omenihu has the length, quickness and pass rush arsenal to make an immediate impact at the next level.
27. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas Cowboys) | Devin Bush Jr. | LB | Michigan
A third straight defensive prospect for the Raiders? Yes. Bush has the range to be a play maker in all areas of the field. He’s best suited to play behind a strong defensive line that would limit his ability to have to stack blocks. With the Raiders landing Quinnen Williams and Rashan Gary earlier in this scenario, this is a great fit for both parties.
28. Los Angeles Chargers | Christian Wilkins | DT | Clemson
I thought the Chargers looked prime for a serious run at the Super Bowl this season. Phillip Rivers was playing as well as he’s ever played, and the defense was loaded with play makers. The Chargers need to get younger on the interior of their defensive line, and Wilkins would be a great get for them. A sound technician that uses his hands well, Wilkins also wins with quickness inside and great snap anticipation. He’d be a nice addition here.
29. Kansas City Chiefs | Deandre Baker | CB | Georgia
Despite cutting ties with Kareem Hunt (rightfully so), the Chiefs offense didn’t miss a beat in his absence. Their offense is primed for another deep run into the post season next year. General manager Brett Veach must improve their horrendous defense if they’re to contend with the heavyweights of the AFC again next season. They need more talent in the secondary first and foremost. Baker is a fiesty corner with the skill set to excel in man coverage at the next level.
30. Green Bay Packers | T.J. Hockenson | TE | Iowa
The Packers could move on from Jimmy Graham this off season, who disappointed in his first year in Green Bay. After selecting Deionte Thompson earlier, the Packers turn their attention back to the offense with this selection. They should be adding as many weapons as possible as long as they have Aaron Rodgers under center. Hockenson is a do-it-all tight end that shines as both a run blocker and pass catcher. He’s incredibly strong at the catch point and very dangerous after the catch as well. He’d immediately become a popular figure at Lambeau.
31. Los Angeles Rams | Nasir Adderley | SAF | Delaware
It’s always difficult to mock a player for a team as good as the Los Angeles Rams. Despite their poor offensive performance in the Super Bowl, the Rams have more needs on the defensive side of the ball. For one, I don’t expect them to re-sign LaMarcus Joyner this off season and they’ll need to find a replacement. The Rams spent some of their time meeting with safeties at the Senior Bowl. It’s likely they realize how much of a hole Joyner will leave behind. Enter Adderley, a prospect with the range to cover a ton of ground in a hurry. Adderley’s ability to close and disrupt balls at the catch point make him a prospect worthy of this selection.
32. New England Patriots | Marquise “Hollywood” Brown | WR | Oklahoma
Ah, the rich get richer. Despite winning yet another Super Bowl, the Patriots can definitely use more weapons at wide receiver. With Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson set to hit free agency this off season, the Patriots should certainly be in the market for a receiver or two. Brown has the elite speed to take the top off a defense at any given moment. He comes with size limitations, but Brown may be the most dangerous play maker in this entire draft.