NFL Mock Drafts are the equivalent of someone bringing free sandwiches from Panera into your office: people sprint over as soon as they find out they’re available available, but after going through one of them, most people realize just how bland, mind-numbingly ill-conceived, and ultimately useless the majority of them are.
So in yet another annual edition of “trying to project what’s going to happen in the NFL Draft with said projections looking hilariously terrible after the actual draft takes place,” here are my final projections of what I think will take place this Thursday evening, in Round 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Reminder: this is what i’m predicting to happen, based on a combination of the latest (reliable) team-by-team intelligence, identified team needs, and overall drafting trends.
On to this mockery of a legitimate football practice (pun intended).
1. Arizona — Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
I’m now actually rooting for this pick to happen for three simple reasons:
- It validates my theory that most (if not all) NFL owners are more interested in selling tickets than winning games, even if it means proverbially cutting off their nose to spite their face;
- If the Cardinals select Murray, they’ll almost certainly have to trade Josh Rosen, putting my beloved Washington Redskins in the hunt for such a deal (#RosenToDC); and
- There are a lot of gas bag NFL “analysts” (and I use that term as loosely as humanly or grammatically possible) who’ve been trying to get their five minutes of fame by putting out click-bait on how the Cardinals are NOT going to take Murray, so I’m looking forward to exposing those frauds if (or rather, when) it happens.
2. San Francisco — Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
I absolutely love the idea of the MAGA-spouting, ethno-supremacy (that term implies exactly what you think it implies) believing, unabashed right-wing nutjob who averaged less than half-a-sack per game in his 47-game college career, from a school I couldn’t possibly despise more, being drafted by a team based in perhaps the most politically liberal, left-leaning city in the United States.
The irony couldn’t be more perfect.
3. NY Jets — Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky
The Jets taking a defensive tackle (maybe Ed Oliver?) has been getting a late push, but I’m sticking with the previous status quo, especially because:
- People who cover the team think this is the way they’ll go;
- The Jets don’t have a single edge rusher on their roster who had more than 7 sacks last season;
- Allen compares favorably to a guy who, at the very last possible second, rejected their overtures in free agency (Anthony Barr); and
- Ed Oliver’s most recent head coach at the University of Houston was Major Applewhite, the latter of whom Oliver got into the well-publicized public spat with, and who happens to be friendly with new Jets’ head coach Adam Gase.
Then again, the fact that they’re burning up the phones to trade down from this pick is also among the worst-kept secrets in the NFL (and the Oliver rumors could be some type of bait to facilitate that trade).
4. Oakland — Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
If General Manager Mike Mayock (it still feels kinda weird to write/say that) finds himself in this position come Thursday evening, he has only two responsibilities:
- Don’t over think this — just sprint to the podium with his/their selection of the best player in this entire draft (Quinnen Williams); and
- Do everything in his/their power to prevent Jon Gruden from trying to use this pick on a wide receiver (I can only imagine the facial contortions he made when he saw DK Metcalf check in at 6'3" and 228 lbs., and then run a 4.33 in the 40-yard dash).
Joking aside (… then again, i’m not actually sure i’m joking about point #2), even Gruden admits the impact a premier defensive lineman — like Warren Sapp, whom he coached in Tampa Bay — can have on an entire team’s success.
5. Tampa Bay — Devin White, LB, LSU
Fun fact: Ourlads.com (my go-to source for NFL depth charts) has 12 starters listed for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. Apparently, new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles plans to run the revolutionary “4–4–4” defense (no word on whether such a scheme was inspired by Moses Malone).
Incorrect depth chart(s) aside, at middle linebacker, the Buccaneers currently have to choose between free agent acquisition Deone Buchanon (who’s not an inside linebacker) and Kendall Beckwith (who has never played an NFL snap and whose career might seriously be in jeopardy due to a disastrous ankle injury suffered in a car accident last year).
So, yeah — that’s why everyone believes Devin White is going to be the guy for Tampa.
6. NY Giants — Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State
Let’s keep it simple. The Giants are not going to take a quarterback with this pick (note to Giants’ fans: before you defenestrate yourselves, scroll down to New York’s other pick).
But rest assured, Giants fans: Dave Gettleman still hates you.
7. Jacksonville — Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
Sorry, I don’t buy the tight end (T.J. Hockensen) hype here. Tom Coughlin still runs the personnel department, which means their first thought will be to upgrade the offensive or defensive line, especially if he can draft a guy with near prototype measurables for a 4–3 defensive end.
And while a lot of people still have Jawaan Taylor pegged here, people around the team believe the Jaguars are going to roll with the guys they already on the offensive line, and/or use later picks to create competition.
8. Detroit — T.J. Hockensen, TE, Iowa
It’s very possible that the Lions 1) try like hell to trade down from this pick, and/or 2) use this pick on the myriad of defensive line talent that would still be available.
But there’s a lot of “connecting the dots” that ties Detroit to T.J. Hockensen — starting with the fact that GM Bob Quinn identified tight end as a position of need, and hasn’t been bashful about attacking identified needs with high draft picks.
9. Buffalo — Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
It’s a simple calculus of Buffalo selecting the best player available (as General Manager Brandon Beane said they would) and a pick matching the MO of (defensive-minded) head coach Sean McDermott.
The Bills already have plenty of guys on the offensive line (although most of them aren’t that great), making this pick a bit too rich to devote there.
10. Denver — Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
If things shake out this way, with a certain Ohio State quarterback still available at this point in the draft, Denver is going to receive lots and lots of phone calls about trading up (and they’re going to be more than happy to pick up said calls and talk about trading back from this pick).
But if a deal doesn’t happen, and if they don’t take a quarterback (Drew Lock?) with this pick, then Devin Bush appears to be their guy.
11. Cincinnati — Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
This is where things should start to get fun (if it hasn’t already), in terms of trade up/down action from teams coveting Dwayne Haskins.
But in mock draft world (where I/we don’t project trades), or in a universe where things unfold in a manner close to the above, the Bengals would be happy to select Haskins. They have a very strong evaluation of him, it’s all but inevitable that they’ll move on from Andy Dalton after this season, and you have to figure offensive-minded head coach Zac Taylor would want to have a quarterback of his choosing in place.
12. Green Bay — Jonah Williams, OL, Alabama
While the Packers (seemingly) shored up their offensive line when they signed Billy Turner (formerly of Denver) to start at right guard, a lot of signs point to Green Bay continuing to fortify their line through this pick, especially if it allows them to find a long-term replacement for right tackle Bryan Bulaga (who’s going to be a free agent at the end of this season).
13. Miami — Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
Did you see Ryan Fitzpatrick recently? After his offseason consisted of steadily gorging on birthday cake (by his own admission), maybe we should start calling him Ryan Fat-zpatrick?
New Head Coach Brian Flores indicated the team is going to emphasize improvements along the offensive line in this upcoming draft, taking a “meat and potatoes” approach to improving this team …
… at least until Fitzpatrick eats those meat(s) and potatoes, too.
14. Atlanta — Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma
My #1 maxim in professional sports, as referenced earlier on: if a team does something that doesn’t really make any sense, the move almost always originated from an impulsive owner.
So, forget the Falcons trying to address the fact that nobody on their team last year had 8 or more sacks, or that they finished last year ranked 31st in overall defensive DVOA.
15. Washington — Brian Burns, OLB, Florida State
There’s more smoke than a Snoop Dogg concert about this pick (yes, i’m still talking about live performances by Snoop Dogg because i’m a grumpy old man, and i’m proud of it).
If the draft breaks this way, the Redskins could very well pick up the phone and consummate a deal with Arizona for Josh Rosen, and upgrade the edge rusher spot opposite of Ryan Kerrigan with Brian Burns.
(Memo to anyone in the Redskins’ front office if they just so happen to be reading this mock: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PICK UP THE PHONE AND MAKE THE DEAL FOR JOSH ROSEN).
However, I also strongly believe that if Dwayne Haskins falls here, Washington doesn’t pass on him. I can also see them trading their additional (compensatory) 3rd round pick to move up to leapfrog Miami and/or Cincinnati to go get Haskins.
(But in case you’re — somehow — still wondering: all things considered, i’d prefer they trade for Josh Rosen).
Update, 4/24: ESPN’s Dianna Russini, straight outta the DMV, is banging the drum loudly about the Redskins’ interest in Haskins. If he’s still here at 15, I would put the odds at 50/50 (at minimum) that they would take Haskins here (again, if he’s available).
16. Carolina — Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
Truth be told, everything you read on the interwebs points to Carolina preferring to use this pick on a pass rusher, considering Julius Peppers was one of only two players on the Panthers to have five or more sacks last year, and he retired this offseason.
But with all the best pass rushers gone, Plan B for the Panthers appears to be upgrading the offensive line, especially with injury-plagued tackle Darryl Williams presently on a one-year deal.
17. NY Giants (from Cleveland) — Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
Everyone is joking about Dave Gettleman over-valuing Daniel Jones (for the record: I could absolutely see the Giants picking Jones at this spot … which would lead me to cackle like Charlie Murphy when Prince challenged him to a game of basketball).
But if you read through the (abundant but well-justified) Gettleman-bashing, I think Drew Lock is the guy he/they really covet.
18. Minnesota — Chris Lindstrom, OL, Boston College
Given the unmitigated disaster that was the second half of the Redskins’ season in 2018, my late fall / early winter of football watching was made ever-so-slightly better by watching Kirk Cousins do Kirk Cousins things with the Minnesota Vikings (win all the games … except the ones that actually matter).
As another team tries to justify the shortcomings of Cousins, continuing to think that “if we just upgrade everything around him, he’ll be amazing!” expect Minnesota to fix their (admittedly porous) offensive line.
When it comes to offensive line prospects, they’ve been kicking tires more than an excited donkey at a car scrap yard, and it would actually make more sense for them to draft an interior lineman, versus a tackle.
19. Tennessee — Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
As the ink finalizes on his retirement papers, and he ventures into the next phase of his career (the fact that he’s opening a cupcake shop couldn’t be any more apropos), I’d just like to reiterate once more, for the record, that Brian Orakpo is one of the 10 most overrated NFL players since the turn of the century.
And since the Titans have replaced Orakpo with free agent acquisitions like Cameron Wake and Eli Harold, they could very well look to upgrade the interior of their defensive line, getting someone who can help take the focus off of Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jurrell Casey.
It certainly helps that Tennessee head coach Mike Vrabel actually recruited Wilkins when the latter was coming out of high school.
20. Pittsburgh — Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple
The Steelers are almost certainly going to miss out on one of the top inside linebackers in the draft class if they remain at this pick … but with 10 picks in their draft “war chest,” they’re a prime candidate to make a move upward in the draft.
If they stand pat, they’ll likely look to address their next biggest need at cornerback. There are whispers on the interwebs that the Steelers — in their continued “march to the beat of their own evaluation drum” — are prepared to make Rock Ya-Sin their pick, meaning he’d be the surprise first cornerback taken in this draft.
Note: selection updated on 4/24
21. Seattle— DK Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
Just as I had previously written that the Seahawks aren’t going to make their pick here anyway, given that they’ve down from their original first round pick five times in the last seven drafts, they actually go and add another first round pick, after trading away DE Frank Clark.
Anywho, Seattle has been doing a lot of homework on wide receivers in the pre-draft process, as Doug Baldwin still aint quite right. And you’d be hard pressed to disagree with them upgrading that position by drafting DK Metcalf.
22. Baltimore — Eric McCoy, Center, Texas A&M
The Ravens taking a center with this pick has been the “buzzy” team-pick-player association here. And the scuttlebutt says that, all things considered, they’d lean towards Eric McCoy over some of the other centers/interior offensive linemen they could instead pick.
Then again, some of the other scuttlebutt also says the Ravens are likely to be one of the teams that tries to trade down — perhaps out of the first round entirely.
23. Houston — Andraez “Greedy” Williams, CB, LSU
Apparently, the Houston Texans would be content with waiting ’til another round to upgrade their tire-fire of a situation along the offensive line, or watch Deshaun Watson spend another season getting his brain beaten in (no team allowed more sacks than the Texans last year).
In fairness, they’d be reaching for an offensive tackle if things were to shake out this way, which would lead them to address their “#1A” priority alongside the offensive line: cornerback.
Houston expects Greedy Williams to be gone at this point, but if he was still available here, they’d likely grab him.
24. Oakland (via Chicago)— Noah Fant, TE, Iowa State
You can only keep Jon Gruden from impulsively drafting a pass catcher for so long. As the saying goes: you can’t stop him — you can only hope to contain him …
… especially considering that, after his binge on wide receivers in the offseason, his tight end depth chart still looks like free agent acquisition Luke Willson (that extra “L” in his last name is apropos of playing for Jon Gruden), followed by Curly, Larry, and Moe.
25. Philadelphia — Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
Memo to everyone: can we stop giving Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz all of these beastly, planet-moving defensive linemen to work with? Speaking on behalf of the contingent of us that would like to see the Eagles not having a single modicum of success for the remainder of time, that would be great.
It’s amazing how every single NFL-type and their uncle all talk about how “games are won in the trenches,” but so few organizations actually focus on building their team in such a manner.
By contrast, the Eagles have smartly done so in recent years … and I hate it. And they could do the same again this year, to fortify their depth along the line behind Fletcher Cox & Malik Jackson (the latter of whom might’ve been the shrewdest free agent acquisition this offseason).
26. Indianapolis — Jonathan Abram, Safety, Mississippi State
I love the idea of pairing free safety Malik Hooker — one of my favorite young players in the NFL (despite my admitted disdain for Ohio State University) with a strong safety who relishes laying down heavy-duty, cast-iron, pile-driving hits around the line of scrimmage like Jonathan Abram.
That would shore up yet another identified position of need for the Colts — don’t forget that many people thought they’d be in the hunt for Landon Collins — and continue Chris Ballard’s restoration of talent in Indianapolis (cleaning up the catastrophe left by former General Manager Ryan Grigson).
27. Oakland (via Dallas) — Jachai Polite, DE, Florida
You know what would’ve been amazing? If Jon Gruden had one of the best edge pass rushers in the NFL on his team.
Just imagine that.
One could only imagine such a world, right?
I mean, such a world would be entirely and purely fictional, right?
Anyway, given that Jachai Polite — he of the “his draft stock is sinking more dramatically than the Titanic in Arctic waters” variety — might be selected earlier on than most people think, it’s not out of the question for Gruden and Mayock to take a gamble on a “some of the screws are loose” player, if he can become one of those mythical pass rushers Gruden always wishes he had.
28. LA Chargers — Jeffrey Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
In a universe where Jeffrey Simmons didn’t tear his ACL during the pre-draft process, we’re talking about him as a lock to be taken among the top 10 picks in this year’s draft. But because of said injury, there’s a possibility — although that possibility grows less and less each day — that he falls down this far into the first round, considering he’s likely to miss the majority (if not entirety) of this upcoming season.
While the Chargers could use reinforcements along their defensive line as soon as yesterday, it’s just really hard to see them passing on this combination of best player available at a position of major identified need.
29. Seattle (from Kansas City) — Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame
Leave it to the Seahawks and Chiefs to consummate the deal that sent Frank Clark to Kansas City (in exchange for the Chiefs’ first round pick), only hours after I originally posted this mock.
Thanks for ruining everything (for me), guys.
With that having been said, Seattle could 1) address their defensive line with this pick, which has been an identified area where they might be inclined to make a pick of this nature; or 2) trade this pick away for even more picks, which is far more likely to happen.
30. Green Bay Packers (via Saints) — Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan
If there’s a player in this draft who best personifies the description of “looks like Tarzan but plays like Jane,” it’d be Rashan Gary. The former #1 recruit in the nation wasn’t even one of the two best players on Michigan’s defense last year, which should set off a sea of red flags.
But, at this point in the draft (and yes, I don’t think it’s unforeseeable to see Gary fall this far), he’s too talented of a prospect for Green Bay to pass up, especially as they look to shore up their needs along the defensive line.
31. Los Angeles Rams — Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
Want to see the NFL world absolutely explode?
That could happen if — or perhaps when? — the Rams potentially draft a running back higher up in the NFL Draft, as they try to both preserve the mileage they’re putting on Todd Gurley (and his suddenly dangerously creaky knees), and even look for his potential replacement (the Rams could potentially get out from Gurley’s current contract after the 2020 season).
32. New England Patriots — Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
I’ll admit, this is almost entirely a speculative pick. At best, I can try and justify this by saying important people on the Patriots attended Daniel Jones’ Pro Day. But that and $3 still gets you little more than a cup of coffee.
(Side note: how are we okay with living in a world in which a medium drip/plain coffee from Starbucks costs almost $3?!? That, among many other reasons, is why I remain a Dunkin’ Donuts loyalist).
Anyway, this is another “why am I even bothering to project this pick” entry, considering the Patriots are just going to trade out of the first round (yet again), especially in a scenario where Jones was to fall this far.