There is arguably no harder position to project than the 2019 NFL Draft than quarterback. That’s due in part to there not being an obvious superstar, franchise quarterback like we saw in 2018.
It also doesn’t help that few teams at the top of the draft need a quarterback. As the draft order stands right now, not a single team picking in the top five needs a quarterback (unless Jon Gruden and the Raiders go really nuts). There’s also some strange speculation about what teams like the Giants or Buccaneers could do with their current starting quarterbacks.
All of this is to say that a player like Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins could land anywhere in the first round. Which is assuming he goes pro and doesn’t follow Justin Herbert’s lead and stay in college another year.
Here’s how things could play out in April:
1. Arizona Cardinals: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
The Cardinals are apparently going to fire head coach Steve Wilks after just one season. Regarding the first pick in the draft, it doesn’t matter. It also doesn’t matter who the Cardinals replace him with or what scheme they run. Bosa should be the pick. He’s the best player in the draft and would give the Cardinals a great pass rush duo with Chandler Jones, who is signed through 2021.
2. Oakland Raiders: Josh Allen, DE/OLB, Kentucky
In last week’s mock draft, the choice was Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. But considering the team just took interior linemen P.J. Hall and Maurice Hurst in the 2018 draft, maybe they won’t place a high need on a penetrating tackle. If that’s the case, Allen would slot in as an edge rusher for the Raiders.
3. San Francisco 49ers: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
The 49ers will be in a bad spot if Bosa and Allen are gone. If that’s the case, they should trade down. Sure, Rashan Gary of Michigan is intriguing, but he’s far too similar to players San Francisco already has on the roster. Williams could be San Francisco’s long term fix in pass defense.
4. New York Jets: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
Alabama has been, without question, the best team in college football for a decade. All you need to know about Williams’ talent is that he started as a true freshman for the Crimson Tide. His first season was at right tackle before moving to the left side. The same thing could happen for the Jets, where left tackle Kelvin Beachum has one more year on his contract.
5. Detroit Lions: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
A’Shawn Robinson and Damon Harrison are good players for the Lions, but they need a defensive tackle who can shoot a gap. That’s Williams’ specialty and he’s the best player available in this mock draft scenario. If Josh Allen were available it would be a more difficult choice.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
Some think the Buccaneers should take a cornerback here, but don’t forget the team took cornerbacks in the second round this year. That could lead them to a left tackle like Little. He’s an athletic blocker who could help keep Jameis Winston upright while Tampa figures out if he can be their franchise quarterback.
7. Buffalo Bills: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
Maybe Josh Allen leads the Bills in rushing because he doesn’t have good receivers. Through 16 weeks no Bills receiver has 500 yards on the season. The team’s third-most productive receiver is Kelvin Benjamin, who isn’t even on the team anymore. Metcalf is a massive receiver at 6’4 and 230 pounds, and would give Allen a legitimate No. 1 pass catcher.
8. New York Giants: Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan
Maybe the Giants are serious about starting Eli Manning in 2019. It’s sort of crazy, sure. There’s two ways that could benefit the Giants. Firstly, it would delay the quarterback choice until 2020 when the quarterback class will be much stronger. Secondly, the team will have two years of development on Kyle Lauletta, whom the team spent a fourth-round pick on. If the Giants don’t go quarterback, a pass rusher is arguably the team’s biggest need. Gary is a combination of size at 6’4 and 285 pounds and athleticism.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
As expected, Haskins received a first-round grade from the NFL draft advisory committee. That’s only because the committee doesn’t dish out a higher grade. Haskins is a top 10 player in this draft, and the best quarterback.
10. Atlanta Falcons: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
Any free fall Oliver has in the draft won’t go deeper than where the Falcons are picking. He’s the best player available in his mock, and he’s the type of defensive lineman the Falcons need. He can chew up blocks, push the pocket and his pass rushing should get better.
11. Carolina Panthers: Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
With the best edge rushers all gone, the Panthers may have to figure out how to pressure the quarterback up the middle. Simmons has a good first step hit a gap, and has advanced pass rush moves for an interior player.
12. Cincinnati Bengals: Devin White, LB, LSU
In a division where the Ravens run the ball more than any team in the NFL, and the Browns and Steelers both have good up-and-coming running backs, it’s clear the Bengals need a linebacker who can stop the run. That has been White’s specialty at LSU, where he has pulled in 248 tackles the last two seasons.
13. Denver Broncos: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
This could be a spot for a quarterback to come off the board. Who knows what John Elways thinks of the position right now. If he decides to not use a first-round pick on one, cornerback is arguably Denver’s biggest need. Murphy isn’t far behind Williams in terms of draft grade, and could give the Broncos a playmaker at cornerback.
14. Green Bay Packers: Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State
The Packers have racked up 43 sacks this season, but that is thanks more to defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s scheme than the players in it. The Packers lack a true standout pass rusher, especially considering Clay Matthews’ declining play and pending free agency. Sweat is someone who can come in and play on the edge standing up or with his hand down.
15. Miami Dolphins: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
If the Giants pass on a quarterback in the first round, a player like Herbert could slide down the board. That could benefit Miami, which needs a franchise quarterback. Ryan Tannehill has been decent for Miami, but the team can be built around Herbert. Maybe with a better quarterback the Dolphins will stop finishing between 6-10 and 8-8 almost every season.
Update: Herbert won’t be entering this year’s draft. He announced that he’ll be staying at Oregon for his senior season.
16. Washington: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
Alex Smith’s future is uncertain. If Smith’s gruesome leg injury prevents him from returning, Washington could take Lock and have its own potential franchise quarterback. Lock was closely coached NFL principles this season by offensive coordinator Derek Dooley, so the jump to the NFL might not be a huge challenge for him.
17. Cleveland Browns: N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
An offensive tackle will be a popular choice for the Browns, but the line has played really well since former No. 2 overall pick Greg Robinson moved in at left tackle. The Browns could be content with him there. If so, the team could round out its receiver group with a player like Harry.
18. Philadelphia Eagles: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
At this point, the Eagles just need anyone with a pulse at cornerback. Baker is the type of experienced cornerback who can come in and start immediately.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
It’s apparent watching Pittsburgh that they just need athleticism in the middle of the defense. Bush is a little undersized at 5’11 and around 225 pounds, but he flies around the field and makes plays.
20. Tennessee Titans: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
Jurrell Casey has been great for years for the Titans, but they badly need a partner next to him on the inside of the defense. Brown is a powerful defensive tackle who can work a gap or play over the nose.
21. Minnesota Vikings: Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma
Any offensive lineman will do for the Vikings. Ford is arguably the best offensive lineman available at No. 21 and would give Minnesota a player who can work at tackle or guard.
22. Indianapolis Colts: Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State
Colts General Manager Chris Ballard had a loaded draft in 2018 with a handful of contributing players. But he didn’t take an interior defensive lineman in 11 picks, and it looks like the Colts’ biggest need. Jones is an active defensive lineman who specializes in creating pressure.
23. Seattle Seahawks: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
The Seahawks need to add to the pass rush this offseason to keep some of the pressure off of Frank Clark. Ferrell isn’t the most versatile pass rusher, but he’s a sound all-around player on the edge.
24. Baltimore Ravens: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
Thompson has top 20 value, and is the draft’s top ballhawking safety. If he slips to where Baltimore is picking he deserves a long look. Thompson is the type of rangy coverage safety the Ravens need.
25. Oakland Raiders (via Dallas Cowboys): Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
If the Raiders take Brown, and they need talent at wide receiver, this would be Jon Gruden after the pick: “This guy, man, they call him Hollywood. Man, he’s like a movie star. He’s fast, man.” He would then proceed to smack a reporter with a pool noodle.
26. Houston Texans: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
How many sure thing offensive linemen do the Texans actually have right now? Center Nick Martin might be the only truly safe player up front for Houston. Their guards are decent, Julie’n Davenport remains a project at left tackle and right tackle Kendall Lamm is more of a backup.
27. Oakland Raiders (via Chicago Bears): Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
If the Raiders decide to take an edge rusher at the top of the draft, they can rely the strength of the interior lineman class later in the first round. Wilkins is a disruptive player up the middle and would give the Raiders a leader on defense.
28. Los Angeles Chargers: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
Back-to-back Clemson defensive tackles could happen in the 2019 draft. Lawrence is a huge run stuffer in the middle. Although that’s sort of a dying position, the Chargers will have a need up front after the season. The Chargers should take a quarterback at some point in the 2019 draft, maybe just not in the first round.
29. New England Patriots: Zach Allen, DE, Boston College
Trey Flowers has become a good player for the Patriots, but New England needs another edge player who can get after the quarterback. Allen is a powerful edge player who can drive blockers backward and get after the passer.
30. Los Angeles Rams: Jachai Polite, OLB/DE, Florida
The Rams should take whomever is the best pass rusher available when they pick in the first round. Polite would be a replacement, and upgrade, over Dante Fowler.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson
It’s clear the Chiefs need to find some talent at cornerback this offseason. That will be tough considering where they’ll be picking. Mullen is a little raw, but at 6’1 he has good length to play on the outside.
32. Green Bay Packers (via New Orleans Saints): T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
Different week, a different tight end option for the Packers. It will be intriguing to double dip on pass rushers, but Hockenson could become Aaron Rodgers’ go-to target in the short and middle game.