The new league year started last week and brought with it a frenzy of free agent signings, cuts, and trades around the NFL.
Now that the dust from the first wave is settling and team needs are more clearly defined, let’s take a look at a possible (trade-free) draft scenario with my first official mock of the season.
1. Arizona Cardinals — Quinnen Williams, Defensive Tackle, Alabama
If you were hoping to read another mock draft where Kyler Murray goes first overall, I can direct you here, here, or here (or here, or here) (and also here, here, or here). Let’s change it up and look at a different scenario for this draft.
After trading for OT Marcus Gilbert to try to stabilize their offensive line, the Cardinals could look to add a special athlete with a limitless ceiling in Bama’s “Q” to bolster a defense that also welcomes free agent signings Terrell Suggs and Jordan Hicks.
2. San Francisco 49ers — Nick Bosa, Defensive End, Ohio State
Nick Bosa is perhaps the “safest” pick in this class. The defensive technician will pair nicely with the newly-acquired Dee Ford and form a deadly pass-rushing duo for Kyle Shanahan’s defense.
3. New York Jets — Josh Allen, Defensive End, Kentucky
While Jawaan Taylor might make more sense from a needs standpoint, the value doesn’t quite line up for the Jets (outside of a trade-back scenario). As it stands, here New York elects to take advantage of a strong edge class with elite prospect Josh Allen.
4. Oakland Raiders — Kyler Murray, Quarterback, Oklahoma
I said above we’re going to change it up and look at a different scenario, and I think this is a great “What if?” to play out. Think Derek Carr is safe in Oakland? To that I’d say, there’s no telling what Jon Gruden might do. I think this would be a more likely pairing in an Oakland-trades-up-to-number-one scenario rather than this stick-and-pick, but I’m not mocking trades so let’s try it this way. Kyler Murray to Antonio Brown!
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Devin White, Linebacker, Louisiana State
It’s not hard to see that Tampa Bay has a Devin White-sized hole at linebacker in their defense. With the departure of Kwon Alexander in free agency, and a pre-existing need at linebacker already, Devin White seems too obvious to not select for the Bucs here.
6. New York Giants — D.K. Metcalf, Wide Receiver, Ole Miss
The Giants finally traded away star wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. after months of speculation and rumors that they were shopping the somewhat-troubled superstar. Beckham had a history of “attitude” incidents (like this one with a kicking net) but is still among the top receivers in the league, and the Giants offense will miss that... unless they are able to replace him with a unique physical specimen like D.K. Metcalf. The Giants still need offensive line help, but after acquiring Kevin Zeitler from the Browns, they can afford to wait a bit longer (like maybe pick 17?) for reinforcements on the line.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars — Noah Fant, Tight End, Iowa
New offensive coordinator John DeFilippo had a lot of success in 2017 with Nick Foles throwing to Zach Ertz en route to a Super Bowl victory. There is no player on the Jaguars’ roster that remotely resembles Zach Ertz, but Noah Fant does (and in fact, Fant has a much better athletic profile than Ertz). Like Ertz, Fant is a big, fast matchup nightmare who plays more like a wide receiver than a tight end and could provide a reliable target over the middle for Nick Foles, where Foles does his best work as a passer.
8. Detroit Lions — Brian Burns, Defensive End, Florida State
The Lions reunited former Patriots defensive lineman Trey Flowers with Matt Patricia, but they still have a glaring need on the other side of the field. I think Burns is a top-5 player in the class, and his speed could compliment the strength and power of Flowers to give the Lions a stout tandem of edge defenders.
9. Buffalo Bills — Rashaan Gary, Defensive End, Michigan
The Bills have attacked a lot of needs in the form of 9 free agent additions already, with 8 coming on the offensive side of the ball. Here, Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane elect to bolster their already stout defense with the athletic and versatile lineman from Michigan, Rashaan Gary.
10. Denver Broncos — Ed Oliver, Defensive Tackle, Houston
There have been lots of rumors already about the Broncos’ potential fascination with Missouri quarterback Drew Lock, but it’s hard to know what to believe this time of year. The Broncos could elect to give it a spin with Joe Flacco rather than take a gamble on what is a weaker quarterback class than 2020 or 2021. The Broncos addressed their top needs - QB, CB, and RT - in free agency, leaving them open to take the best player available. Ed Oliver might be that player, giving Vic Fangio someone who can apply pressure from the interior to add to a ferocious frontline. Oliver collapsing the pocket would be a great compliment to the speed of Von Miller and the power of Bradley Chubb.
11. Cincinnati Bengals — Dwayne Haskins, Quarterback, Ohio State
In this imaginary scenario where Dwayne Haskins is on the board for the Bengals but Devin White is not, Cincinnati may decide to look in-state for their potential heir to Andy Dalton. Now that Marvin Lewis is gone, might the Bengals be in the quarterback market?
12. Green Bay Packers — T.J. Hockenson, Tight End, Iowa
Newly hired Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur will follow in the personnel-grouping-footsteps of his mentor Kyle Shanahan, which means the Packers will be lining up in a high number of 2-TE sets. Jimmy Graham remains a threat in the passing game, while T.J. Hockenson could provide the in-line blocking ability and skills as a receiver to round out the Packers offense and fill the same role that George Kittle plays for Shanahan in San Francisco.
13. Miami Dolphins — Jawaan Taylor, Offensive Tackle, Florida
After losing Ja’wuan James to the Broncos in free agency, the Miami Dolphins will want to surround their 2020 rookie quarterback with adequate protection. Enter a new Jawaan (with a different spelling), who excelled nearby at the University of Florida.
14. Atlanta Falcons — Montez Sweat, Defensive End, Mississippi State
Despite recent reports that Montez Sweat has a minor heart condition, the Atlanta Falcons could decide to take the physical freak-of-nature at No. 14 to bolster their front seven across from Vic Beasley. NFL Network Draft analyst Charles Davis said recently that Sweat fits exactly what the Falcons want in an edge defender.
15. Washington — Drew Lock, Quarterback, Missouri
Washington made a trade to acquire Case Keenum with Alex Smith’s career status still cloudy, but it’s doubtful they see Keenum (or Smith for that matter) as the long-term answer at the game’s most important position. The team reportedly has interest in Drew Lock, and his arm talent might be a good match for Jay Gruden’s vertical offense.
16. Carolina Panthers — Clelin Ferrell, Defensive End, Clemson
The Panthers are yet another team that needs to juice up their pass rush, and Clelin Ferrell is a prototypical fit for the Panthers’ traditional 4-3 scheme, assuming they elect to continue with that alignment (some reports suggest Ron Rivera could be looking to be more multiple in 2019). Ferrell would be an instant starter as a stout run defender who can pressure the quarterback with refined hand usage and an array of pass rushing moves.
17. New York Giants (from Cleveland) — Jonah Williams, Offensive Tackle, Alabama
The Giants continue to improve on offense by adding blindside protection for Eli Manning and/or his eventual heir with the selection of Jonah Williams. Williams was recently called a “Giants-type of player,” and he fills a major need for a team that has been trying to solve the offensive line problem for years.
18. Minnesota Vikings — Cody Ford, Offensive Guard, Oklahoma
Another team that has struggled on the offensive line for years, the Minnesota Vikings might see Cody Ford as an ideal fit with his ability to line up at either tackle or guard. The Vikings have shuffled their line frequently in recent years and have multiple openings along the line, making Ford’s versatility a valuable asset for Minnesota.
19. Tennessee Titans — Garrett Bradbury, Center, North Carolina State
The Titans addressed their top four needs with home-run additions through free agency, including Rodger Saffold to step in at left guard, Adam Humphries as a chain-moving slot receiver, Cameron Wake as a threatening rusher off the edge, and a competent backup quarterback in Ryan Tannehill.
The team could still use another player at each of offensive line and wide receiver, as well as some help on the interior of the defensive line, but no player left on the board would transform the Titans’ team more than Garrett Bradbury, who has all the makings of a generational prospect at the center position. With none of the top edge rushers left and plenty of depth in this defensive tackle class, the Titans can further cement Mariota’s protection by slotting Bradbury in at center and moving Ben Jones to right guard (where he played his first two seasons in the NFL and won the Texans’ Rookie of the Year award as the starting right guard in 2012).
I wrote a bit about the positive effects Bradbury could have on the Titans’ offense in this piece from a few weeks ago.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers — Devin Bush, Jr., Linebacker, Michigan
One year after just missing out on Rashaan Evans, the Steelers take no chances and get their middle linebacker, Devin Bush out of Michigan. The Steelers could probably use a wide receiver, but the organization has a great history with drafting and developing productive players at the position outside of the first round.
21. Seattle Seahawks — Andre Dillard, Offensive Tackle, Washington State
The Seahawks added guard Mike Iupati in free agency, but Seattle is still looking for someone to lock down the right side of the line. Andre Dillard is a somewhat raw prospect who could develop behind Germaine Ifedi if necessary, if he’s not quite ready to start from day one.
22. Baltimore Ravens — Josh Jacobs, Running Back, Alabama
After committing 100% to Lamar Jackson as their starting quarterback, the Ravens will want to build an offense that leans on a power and varied rushing attack. Josh Jacobs could join fellow Alabama running back, the recently signed Mark Ingram, to create a dynamic backfield that perfectly compliments Jackson’s dazzling speed.
23. Houston Texans — Greedy Williams, Cornerback, Louisiana State
The Texans lost Kareem Jackson, Tyrann Mathieu, and Kevin Johnson to free agency, and while they made some moves to replace those guys with Tashaun Gipson, Bradley Roby, and last year’s third-round pick Justin Reid, the defense still needs a shutdown corner on the outside to compliment their front seven. Roby will handle the slot and Greedy Williams can be a ballhawking, scheme-diverse “#1” cornerback. With this pick, the Texans front office continues to ignore the offensive line.
24. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago Bears) — Byron Murphy, Cornerback, Washington
After taking care of most of their offensive needs in free agency with Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, and Trent Brown, and then adding Kyler Murray at number four overall in this mock scenario, the Raiders can now turn their attention to one of the worst defensive units in the NFL, starting with the talented Washington cornerback Byron Murphy.
25. Philadephia Eagles — Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Safety, Florida
With Josh Jacobs not falling to Philly, the Eagles can decide to add a compliment to strong safety Malcolm Jenkins in Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. Gardner-Johnson’s versatile ability to line up as a safety or a nickel should allow him to fit in wherever he’s most needed on the Eagles defense.
26. Indianapolis Colts — Christian Wilkins, Defensive Tackle, Clemson
Christian Wilkins could fit into almost any defensive alignment and adds a pocket-collapsing presence from the interior. With Andrew Luck and a tremendous offensive line on offense and a deep wide receiver class, the Colts decide to continue adding to a defense that already has the reigning defensive rookie of the year, Darius Leonard. Wilkins could eat up blocks in front of Leonard, and he adds some pass rush juice inside, as well. Keep in mind that Colts General Manager Chris Ballard helped draft Chris Jones in Kansas City.
27. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas Cowboys) — Dalton Risner, Offensive Line, Kansas State
The Raiders may have signed Trent Brown, but after parting ways with Donald Penn and trading Kelechi Osemele, the Raiders could use a versatile player like Dalton Risner on their offensive line.
28. Los Angeles Chargers — Jerry Tillery, Defensive Tackle, Notre Dame
Rumors abound regarding the Chargers finally drafting Philip Rivers’ successor, but then again, those rumors swirled in 2017 and 2018, as well, and the Chargers have yet to select a quarterback. Instead, I think the Chargers gear up for another shot at a Super Bowl run with Rivers at the helm, adding talented interior defensive lineman Jerry Tillery, who reportedly played half of the 2018 season with a torn labrum in his shoulder and still recorded eight sacks, three forced fumbles and 10.5 tackles for loss as a defensive tackle.
29. Kansas City Chiefs — Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma
The Chiefs have lots of needs on defense after releasing Justin Houston and trading Dee Ford (and signing Tyrann Mathieu to replace Eric Berry), but perhaps their biggest question mark surrounds the status of Tyreek Hill (if it were up to me, Hill would be banned from the league permanently). Hill’s ability to get behind a defense is arguably the most important element of the Chiefs’ explosive offense (outside of Patrick Mahomes himself), so securing a player to fill that speedster role may become a priority over all other positions for the Chiefs this offseason. While Marquise Brown lacks ideal size and has some injury concerns regarding his foot surgery, “Hollywood” has the speed and playmaking ability to potentially do some of the things that Hill does so well for Kansas City.
30. Green Bay Packers (from New Orleans Saints) — Chris Lindstrom, Offensive Guard, Boston College
With Matt LaFleur installing his zone blocking scheme, he’ll need interior linemen that can move. Chris Lindstrom is a special athlete who would be a perfect fit for the Packers’ new offensive identity and help LaFleur avoid some of the scheme-fit problems he had with his linemen in Tennessee.
31. Los Angeles Rams — Taylor Rapp, Safety, Washington
The Rams could use a rangy free safety to take over for the departed Lamarcus Joyner. Rapp fits the bill, as he’s drawn comparisons to Earl Thomas for his similar skillset.
32. New England Patriots — Hakeem Butler, Wide Receiver, Iowa State
After winning yet another Super Bowl, the Patriots did their usual Patriot things and allowed free agents like Trent Brown, Trey Flowers, LaAdrian Waddle, and Cordarrelle Patterson to walk in free agency, leaving some roles to be filled. That said, wouldn’t it be exciting to see Tom Brady in his age-42 season throwing to a freak like Hakeem Butler? Rob Gronkowski’s status for next season is still unknown, and Butler would be a nice outside compliment to Julian Edelman’s inside game. The Patriots don’t often take wide receivers this early, but they may view Butler as the best combination of talent and need for this pick.
To me, the ideal scenario (outside of something crazy like Ed Oliver or Brian Burns falling to No. 19) would be for the Titans to land Garrett Bradbury in the first round.
Of course there will be plenty of quality defensive linemen, both inside and on the edge, that would improve the Titans’ team who should be available at No. 19, but after letting Josh Kline go, I think the offensive line needs to be a priority.
Jon Robinson could try waiting until later in the draft, but there are a lot of o-line needy teams in this league and the viable day-one-starter options could dry up pretty quickly between picks No. 19 and No. 51, leaving the Titans in a situation that might cause them to reach or end up with a lesser player if they don’t secure someone in the first round.
Boston College guard Chris Lindstrom is another viable option at pick No. 19 if Bradbury is off the board, but Bradbury has a pretty good chance of making it after the Panthers (pick No. 16) signed Matt Paradis in free agency. Minnesota (pick No. 18) also needs lots of offensive line help, but they drafted Pat Elflein in the third round a couple years ago so it would be unusual to see them spend a first round pick on a center (shout-out to Mike for reminding me of that fact) when they need a guard and maybe a tackle, too.
After predicting that the Titans will select Bradbury in the first round (whether at pick No. 19 or elsewhere) back in January, I couldn’t waiver now when my own mock scenario presented Bradbury to the Titans so perfectly.
Way-too-early prediction for #Titans first-round draft selection: Garrett Bradbury, C, NC State. Find this tweet on April 25th.— Titans Film Room (@titansfilmroom) January 22, 2019
This is but one of many scenarios that could unfold on Thursday, April 25th. With a little over a month still to go before draft night, we should have plenty of time to go through as many scenarios as possible!
What do you think?