As I like to say, it’s that time again.
With this article, it will be my 12th straight year completing a comprehensive mock draft. It’s absolutely crazy to think that it all started in 7th grade as a way to pass time in study hall.
I’ve actually gotten back to scouting more prospects this year with my free time, so that probably means that I’ll follow up my six correct picks from last year’s draft with a total goose egg. The unpredictability is what makes the draft so fun though! (He mumbles begrudgingly to himself)
No further exposition needed. Let’s get started.
- Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma: As outlined by Warren Sharp on Twitter, 2018 first-round QB Josh Rosen faced arguably the worst set of circumstances of any rookie in recent memory. And now, instead of addressing major holes at basically every position on the roster, GM Steve Keim and Co. will attempt to fix the one area that doesn’t require repairs? It would mark epically new levels of dumb, but I would not be surprised at all to see it come to fruition. After all, there’s a reason this team has suffered a slow, painful degradation into irrelevance. I have nothing against Murray, by the way. He’s a fairly talent player, and he would benefit from his pre-existing relationship with new coach Kliff Kingsbury, but I’m just not seeing the same levels of hype that other people are giving him.
- San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State: Murray going No. 1 clears the path for Nick Bosa, and the 49ers strike gold…wait that cliche sucks. I’ll think of a better one. John Lynch and Co. should rush their card to the podium…No, that sucks, too. Anyway, Bosa should be a no-brainer pick for a team that’s lacked consistent outside pressure in recent years. Pairing him with new acquisition Dee Ford and interior stalwart DeForest Buckner will produce an intimidating front four…in fact, one could say their pass rush will be golden. Alright, I’m done.
- New York Jets: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama: I’ve seen the reports about how the Jets want to trade down. As a team that has multiple holes and just six picks, I believe that. But I do not believe the Ed Oliver hype that has ramped up in the 11th hour. If the Jets cannot secure adequate compensation for this pick, there’s nothing wrong with staying put and taking arguably the best player in the draft. Williams is already a wrecking ball with plenty of room left to grow into one of the NFL’s best interior disruptors. He can’t save New York’s hideous new uniforms, but he might be able to save GM Mike Maccagnan’s job.
- Oakland Raiders: Devin White, LB, LSU: The Raiders are going to be quite entertaining to watch tonight. Will they trade to No. 1, draft Kyler Murray, and replace Derek Carr in one of the most unimpressive blockbusters of all time? Will new GM Mike Mayock administer a live DNA test to Jon Gruden in their barricaded war room to see if the latter is, in fact, a secret love child of ghoulish owner Mark Davis and a mushroom? The reports say we’re in for “a surprise,” which is the exact kind of thing a desperate, newly single father says to his estranged son after the former blows half of the latter’s college fund on a “sure-fire investment opportunity.” Anyways, I honestly do think that we could be in for a surprise here if the board shakes out this way. The Raiders need someone who brings impressive qualities on and off the field, and Devin White is a major playmaker who could set the tempo for a defense devoid of leaders. All the inner circle turmoil could be Gruden and Mayock trying to hide their interest from Tampa Bay, which reportedly loves White and picks right after them at No. 5.
- (TRADE) Washington Redskins (from Tampa Bay): Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State: Washington has shown aggressiveness to get who they want in the past, and they need a long-term quarterback badly. You look at their roster, and it’s fairly complete. They hung in tough last year despite numerous injuries, including the indefinite loss of QB Alex Smith to a gruesome broken leg. I see at least four teams (NYG, Denver, Cincinnati and Miami) ahead of them that could make a move at QB, and there are other teams that could also complete a trade up (like Oakland). Washington has picks to move up. It’ll take a lot to convince the Bucs to move back to 15, but Haskins may well be worth it. He is the best quarterback in this class, in my opinion, and it seems like he would be a good fit with Jay Gruden’s offense. He has a lot of connections to the D.C. area and the team, too.
- New York Giants: Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky: David Gettleman either lives in his own pocket dimension where Eli Manning throws for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns each year, or he’s just taking us all for a ride with all of his baffling pre-draft comments about the 38-year-old QB’s quality of play. I think the Giants will finally invest in a new signal caller, but only if the value is right. Gettleman is old school, after all. If he abides by the best player available strategy, Josh Allen has to be the pick. Quite possibly the most talented edge rusher in the draft, Allen has shown tremendous growth in the past couple years, and he has the athletic profile and football IQ to continue his ascension.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa: The Jags made a notable adjustment under center by replacing Blake Bortles with Nick Foles, which seems like a major upgrade if you watch a Super Bowl 52 rerun or a unilateral move if you look at Foles’ entire body of work outside of Philadelphia. Quite the dichotomy. Foles deserves a fair shake, and the Jags are a talented team that was stunningly close to the playing against Foles in that Super Bowl less than two years ago. Foles loves throwing to tight ends, and the Jags are in an ideal spot to select one of the best available in recent memory. Hockenson is a complete, explosive athlete with refined blocking technique and some eye-popping ball skills. Tight ends selected in the top 10 are rare and more often miss than hit, but the league is constantly changing so don’t rule it out.
- (TRADE) Atlanta Falcons (from Detroit): Ed Oliver, DL, Houston: It’s a popular scenario, and I have to agree with it. The Falcons have Grady Jarrett on the hook for this year thanks to the franchise tag, but who knows if they’ll be able to keep him around beyond that. Even with him, the defense could use some additional disruptors, and Oliver might be the freakiest one available at this point. He seems like the type of player who could fit in well with Dan Quinn’s philosophy, as he can line up at multiple spots along the line. Quinn might be in his last year if he can’t take the Falcons back into contention, so this trade seems worth risking.
- Buffalo Bills: Jonah Williams, OL, Alabama: I don’t know if Josh Allen will ever turn into anything more than a strong-armed tight end cosplaying as an NFL QB, but the Bills should do all that they can to put him in a situation more conducive to success. The receivers are bad. The offensive line is bad. It’s a dealer’s choice here. The latter group got a lot of depth added to it in free agency, but no one, besides new center Mitch Morse, stands out as anything more than average. People have been questioning Jonah Williams for no reason. He’s refined, agile and clearly intelligent. Unless he suddenly develops T-Rex arms, I won’t lose sleep over a wingspan that falls less than an inch (or whatever it is) below the “average threshold.” Bills nab a blue-chipper who can play tackle or guard.
- Denver Broncos: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan: The equivalent of an adorable, frail 98-year-old going to college and earning their degree, new head coach Vic Fangio finally gets his first chance at the ripe age of 60. He’s an exceptional defensive mind, and it won’t be surprising to see him focus on a team-building approach similar to his prior spot, Chicago — build a devastating defense to take the load off an unspectacular offense. New QB Joe Flacco is still elite, after all, so they should be fine. Devin Bush has skyrocketed up a lot of boards, and it’s not entirely surprising based on his insane explosiveness and range. His small size could be a concern, especially if he plays inside, but he couldn’t land in a much better spot.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri: Hmm, Cincinnati. One of the worst owners in the league in Mike Brown. A 35-year-old head coach who has no notable accomplishments. A Swiss-cheese roster with like six above-average-or-better starters. A no-name defensive coordinator. Did I cover everything? This team needs to go into full tear-down mode, and it needs to start with kicking QB Andy Dalton to the curb. He’s never been a particularly impressive player, and Taylor might want to make his mark with someone new who will cost significantly less than the $16 million a year that the Red Rifle is currently making. Drew Lock is not without his flaws, but he’s got the prototypical size, eye quickness and anticipation, as well as a rocket arm. He needs to become more consistent with accuracy and handling pressure, but the tools are there for him to become a great thrower.
- Green Bay Packers: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma: Future Hall-of-Fame QB Aaron Rodgers has entered his golden years, and it seems like more people than ever have concerns about the quality of his play. Injuries and a strained relationship with former coach Mike McCarthy were the most obvious culprits for the perceived decline, but new coach Matt LaFleur might have what it takes to get his star signal-caller back to his former level. With two first-rounders, the Packers have a lot of flexibility. This pick should be dedicated to the offensive side of the ball, where Rodgers needs more help to reestablish this team as a threat to the two defensive juggernauts in the NFC North. “Hollywood” Brown provides Green Bay with a dimension on offense that they really haven’t had in a while, as he’s the definition of a home run threat that can take the top off secondaries. Brown might be diminutive, but he’s a superb route runner with reliable hands and mind-blowing speed.
- (TRADE) Houston Texans (from Miami): Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida: Franchise QB Deshaun Watson, who has already experience a major knee injury in his career, took more than 60 sacks last year behind a ramshackle offensive line. Granted, he was responsible for some of those, but the front-five still struggled mightily with consistency in both pass protection and run blocking. The Texans are another squad that’s ready to seriously compete, but they cannot do that without some upgrades along the offensive line. It’s a big jump, but they’ll need to make it if they want to secure a top-tier tackle. Jawaan Taylor’s improvement between 2017 and 2018 was remarkable, and he should become an instant starter at right tackle. With impressive strength, instincts and patience, he could be a stalwart on that front for the next decade.
- (TRADE): Carolina Panthers (from Detroit): Andre Dillard, LT, Washington State: With so many teams desperate for offensive line upgrades, the run will start early on the best available tackles. The Panthers signed Matt Kalil for $55 million during the 2017 offseason to play the blind side, and he’s been cut loose only two years later. The Panthers have good players in Matt Paradis, Taylor Moton and possibly Trai Turner if he can rebound from a down year, but they have no natural left tackle. Cam Newton takes a beating more often than other franchise QBs, and Carolina needs to fix that. Dillard has to develop more in the run game, but no other tackle prospect is as smooth as him in pass sets. A line (left to right) of Dillard, Daryl Williams, Paradis, Turner and Moton looks much better on paper.
- (TRADE) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (from Washington): Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State: GM Jason Licht excited Tampa’s fan base last year by trading down from No. 7 to 12, and then everyone practically lit the torches when he passed on Derwin James to select nose tackle Vita Vea. That decision isn’t looking so hot (there’s plenty of time for that to change), but Licht loves manipulating draft capital and maneuvering to find the players he likes. If Devin White does indeed go to Oakland, and the decision makers don’t love the value they have at five, why not pilfer Washington’s war chest this year and, most likely, part of next year’s? The Bucs still have a lot of needs, and Brian Burns fulfills a major one while securing the picks necessary to address other areas later on. Burns might be a little undersized, but he’s dangerous quarterback hunter with a stunningly advanced array of moves. Putting him in Todd Bowles’ attacking scheme is a big “yes, please” move for me.
- (TRADE) Detroit Lions (from Carolina): Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State: The Lions’ roster is kind of stunk in limbo right now. They’ve got a lot of solid players, but not many standouts apart from Darius Slay and Trey Flowers. How good is Matt Stafford going to be moving forward? A lot of questions abound, but America’s favorite Hagrid lookalike, Lions coach Matt Patricia, should focus on what he thinks he knows best: Defense. Flowers was a positive signing for the pass rush, but the team is short-staffed in the area and could use someone to rush opposite of him. Sweat plays an intense, aggressive form of football, and he profiles well as a No. 2 rusher with plus run defense.
- New York Giants (from Cleveland): Daniel Jones, QB, Duke: My goodness, this pick would be silly, but we are still talking about David Gettleman here. Imagine giving up one of the best receivers in the game (Odell Beckham Jr.), in his prime, for a mid-first round selection…and then turning it into Daniel Jones. There’s nothing egregiously wrong with Jones as a player, but there’s nothing remarkable about him either. He demonstrates sound mechanics. Did you know that he worked with David Cutcliffe, who worked with Peyton Manning? Wow. When you get down to it, Jones strikes me as a quintessential game manager in the vein of Andy Dalton, or prime Matt Schaub at best.
- Minnesota Vikings: Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma: The Vikings might be tempted to take a shot on one of the defensive prospects remaining, but I don’t know how they could ignore their continuous issues on the offensive line when it heavily affects the success of their skill players, namely Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook. Josh Kline and Brian O’Neill are hardly ideal on the right side, so Cody Ford could present a massive upgrade. The definition of a dancing bear, Ford blends immense physical talent with promising (though still raw) technical prowess. They’d be lucky to have him available at this point.
- Tennessee Titans: Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson: The Titans could go in multiple directions here, but it’s hard to ignore their diminished presence on the edge. Harold Landry seems poised to build on a good rookie year, but Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo have both moved on. When you have a talent like Clelin Ferrell at this spot, I don’t know how you could pass on that combination of value and need. He might not have spectacular quickness or agility, but Ferrell is a lengthy specimen who’s reactive and savvy. He screams 8-10 sacks a year, and that makes for a valuable contributor.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington: Byron Murphy is my No. 6 overall player in this draft. I’m in love with his game. He’s a hawk with exceptional instincts and ball skills, as well as impressive body control. He showed off the latter quality at the Scouting Combine, as he blew everyone else away in drills. He’s a tad undersized by current NFL standards at 5’11”, and his long speed is not elite, but the dude just knows how to play. I’m giving you this scouting report to hammer home how much of a steal this pick could be for Pittsburgh. They need capable players in the secondary, and that requires that they stop screwing around with raw projects like Artie Burns. Go with the best cornerback in the draft, make the yinzers happy. Simple as that.
- Seattle Seahawks: Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan: Getting rid of Frank Clark gives Seattle some relief from its seemingly omnipresent cap restraints, but it significantly weakens their pass rush now that he won’t be tossing offensive linemen around like dead fish at the Pike Place Market. The Seahawks are generally the hardest team to predict in the first round, as they follow a truly unique road map. For all we know, this pick could be somebody who I didn’t even watch / pay that much attention to. Humor me and assume they’ll be somewhat normal, and Rashan Gary seems to fit the team’s mold. He’s an athletic freak who can play adequately inside or outside, making him a useful chess piece.
- Baltimore Ravens: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss: People love ragging on new franchise QB Lamar Jackson for his perceived lack of throwing talent, but I think it’s taken a little too far sometimes. Jackson is raw, undoubtedly, but the dude did special things in college as a runner AND passer. Give him a full off-season as the starter, and we should see noticeable improvements. But perhaps even more imperative is the addition of new receiving talent. Willie Snead currently listed as No. 1 on the depth chart? That’s a big nope for me, dawg. Metcalf has dazzled in the pre-draft process with his chiseled frame and insane athletic testing, which made him a media darling. However, it’s important to temper expectations, as Metcalf missed a lot of college games due to significant injuries. Thus, he still needs to polish the technical aspects of his game. His physical tools are rare though, and he can pay big dividends as a foil to Jackson and a run-heavy game plan while continuing to work on his shortcomings.
- (TRADE) Miami Dolphins (from Houston): Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson: The Dolphins need a cultural reset, and, like so many other teams in that position throughout the years, they’ve tabbed yet another Bill Belichick disciple to carry out the overhaul. Brian Flores has received some hefty praise for taking a pedestrian group of players to unexpected heights during New England’s Super Bowl run. He’s got another tall task ahead of him with Miami, which hasn’t won a playoff game since the turn of the millennium. A trade-down nets them valued capital in a draft that’s sure to be active in Day 2. If they want a high-character player who fulfills a major need on Day 1, look no further than Christian Wilkins. I’m a fan of how well he utilizes leverage and hand technique; he’s an ideal 3-technique penetrator. His lack of length could be a concern, and he didn’t demonstrate game-breaking qualities as often as other players in his position group, hence this fall. That said, he’s got the talent to start immediately, and good coaching could make him a Pro Bowler.
- Oakland Raiders (from Chicago): Noah Fant, TE, Iowa: The Raiders have made an admirable effort to overhaul their disappointing offense this offseason, starting with the acquisition of troubled receiver Antonio Brown. As long as he behaves, *insert starting quarterback here* should benefit immensely from Brown’s dominant presence. They’ve also picked up receivers Tyrell Williams and J.J. Nelson, but they lost tight end Jared Cook. Cook put up the best numbers of his 11-year career under Gruden, so tight end should be a top priority. Enter Noah Fant, who profiles in a similar role to Cook. Fant is an elite athlete for the position who has a knack for the endzone. He’s not going to impress anyone with his blocking, but his skill in the passing game should make up for it.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson: The Eagles’ roster is in a generally favorable position, as it doesn’t seem to have any pressing needs. They could probably use high-quality depth at offensive tackle and linebacker, but the value for either isn’t great at this current selection. Philadelphia’s post-Chip Kelly turnaround has relied heavily on the defensive line, which GM Howie Roseman has kept consistently stocked with impressive talent. Fletcher Cox still leads the flock, but his supporting group is the weakest it’s been in years. Dexter Lawrence will immediately beef up the team’s interior, as he profiles as a devastating nose tackle who overpowers and engulfs his adversaries.
- (TRADE) Arizona Cardinals (from Indianapolis): N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State: If the Cardinals are really going to pull the trigger on Kyler Murray, they should at least pay him the courtesy of improving the team’s abysmal receiving corps. We all love Larry Fitzgerald, but the future Hall-of-Famer will be 36 years old at the start of the season. He’s there more for his mentorship. Christian Kirk flashed good potential, but he finished the season injured. Chad Williams, Kevin White and Ricky Seals-Jones should not be considered as obstacles to any pick involving a receiver. The Cardinals could use some of their Day 3 capital to make a small jump and shop local with Harry, who is probably the most impressive contested-catch receiver in the draft. For a big-bodied fella, Harry is a surprisingly versatile player who can play outside and inside. He would serve as a major boon to Kingsbury’s offense.
- Oakland Raiders (from Dallas): Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama: The Raiders can complete their offensive overhaul by selecting a player who many consider to be the best running back in the draft. I can’t deny that Jacobs showed some great stuff on film — namely his assertive running style and impressive pass-catching skills — but his lack of touches, average open-field speed and shimmy, and lack of pass-blocking opportunities leave me a little more skeptical than others. Still he should serve as a marked improvement over retired Marshawn Lynch, washed-up Doug Martin and mediocre Isaiah Crowell.
- Los Angeles Chargers: Chris Lindstrom, OG, Boston College: Another team in a good position to do whatever the hell they want, the Chargers have established themselves as an AFC power who remain just a few steps away from the Super Bowl. They could use a better defensive tackle to improve their rough run defense that got exploited in the playoffs, but they would likely need to execute a trade up to find a player who fits that need well. And as recent history has indicated, Los Angeles does not go for trades in the first round. A player like Renell Wren might be an strong target on Day 2, but for now the Chargers go with an impressive guard in Chris Lindstrom. He’d likely present an upgrade over Dan Feeney or Michael Schofield. If Forrest Lamp can get his career back on track, the unit will be in much better shape for protecting Philip Rivers/Josh Rosen (?).
- Seattle Seahawks (from Kansas City): Greedy Williams, CB, LSU: Trading away Clark added another first-round pick into Seattle’s quiver, which makes this mock draft even more maddening. Are those ancient alien hieroglyphics on the walls of my apartment? Anyway, I’m going to slot fast-falling Greedy Williams into this position because he seems like an exemplary stylistic fit. Williams clearly has the traits to succeed in press-man coverage, but inconsistent effort and bad tackling should lead to concern. Seattle has brushed off character concerns in the past, and I don’t see Williams being any different.
- Green Bay Packers (from New Orleans): Garrett Bradbury, OG, N.C. State: The Packers have allowed Rodgers to take far too much punishment over the past few years, and that must be rectified. Thanks to New Orleans’ aggressive trade up last season, Green Bay has another shot to beef up their struggling offensive line. Garrett Bradbury would slot right into LaFleur’s zone blocking concepts, as he’s the best mover in the entire draft among guards (possibly all offensive linemen). He should easily usurp Lane Taylor or Billy Turner.
- (TRADE): Tampa Bay Buccaneers (from Los Angeles Rams): Jerry Tillery, DL, Notre Dame: When you rob a team for a hypothetically massive draft haul, you’ve got to make it count. It wouldn’t even take much to move from 39 to 31, so the Bucs would still have multiple picks in Day 2 to use as they see fit. Not to mention they could acquire additional picks by trading Gerald McCoy or possibly even Jason Pierre-Paul. Licht has traded back to gain additional selections and then parlayed them into later deals on multiple occasions, and he does so again in what could be his final draft. The Bucs still need reinforcements along the D-line, and Tillery could be an imposing fit in Bowles’ scheme. He needs to become much more consistent, but he has the size and traits to wow at the next level. He would have a good coaching staff to show him the way.
- (TRADE): San Francisco 49ers (from New England): Nasir Adderley, FS, Delaware: The Patriots have a hilarious number of draft picks, again, with 12. And you know what? I bet you there’s a decent chance they’ll trade down again. New England has more needs than usual, so why not maximize the cache as much as possible? Instead, the 49ers give up a mid-round selection to move back into the first round and select the first safety of the draft. I was torn here between Adderley and Darnell Savage, who has rocketed up abnormally late in the process. Savage is good, but I still have to stick with Adderley, who made waves at Delaware. He’s got a lot of experience at safety and cornerback, and that versatility will add to his value. Adderley has good size at 6’, 206 lb., and he shows explosiveness, fluid body control, good long speed and strong ball skills. He displayed some inconsistencies, like coverage recognition and reaction, but the good far outweighs the bad. There will likely be questions about his level of competition as well, but not from me.
Whether you’ve been with me for the majority of the last 12 years or just the last five minutes, I appreciate you all so much. Thanks for giving me that added motivation to keep doing something that brings me so much joy.
Enjoy the draft!