There will be no player more hotly debated leading up to the 2019 NFL Draft than quarterback Kyler Murray. The Oklahoma Heisman Trophy winner is expected to pursue football, despite being a first-round draft pick by the Oakland Athletics.
If Murray sticks with football, he could change the shape of the first round. Without Murray, there are more teams in the top 15 that need a quarterback than there are good quarterbacks available. But with Murray, that issue is mitigated.
1. Arizona Cardinals: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
The Cardinals controversially hired Kliff Kingsbury, and people quickly proved themselves to be fools thinking he would trade Josh Rosen to take Murray with the first overall pick. That’s not going to happen. What should happen is taking Bosa with the first pick. New defensive coordinator Vance Joseph will know how to unlock Bosa’s potential as a pass rusher and build his defense around the Ohio State star.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Josh Allen, OLB/DE, Kentucky
There are a number of free agent pass rushers the 49ers could pursue this offseason, including Frank Clark, Jadeveon Clowney, Trey Flowers, Dee Ford and Demarcus Lawrence. San Francisco’s top priority should be acquiring one of those players. But if none hit the market, getting a player who can pressure the quarterback is the team’s top draft need.
3. New York Jets: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
The Jets could toy with the idea of adding a playmaker on defense, but getting Williams is just the smarter move. The franchise is dependent on the development of quarterback Sam Darnold under new head coach Adam Gase. If Darnold’s development stalls, it could doom not only he and Gase, but also Jets General Manager Mike Maccagnan. An improved offensive line, with Williams as the key piece, should help Darnold reach his high potential.
4. Oakland Raiders: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
The Raiders should be happy if Williams is still around with the No. 4 pick. In 12 months, Williams went from unknown at Alabama to arguably the top player in the draft, following a season of 71 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks. Oakland needs players who can create pressure on defense, and Williams is a nice fit.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
Yes, the Buccaneers just took cornerbacks in the second round of the 2018 draft. But do they really have a cornerback capable of covering Mike Thomas of the Saints and Julio Jones of the Falcons twice each per season? Williams has the size at 6’3 and the playmaking ability to match up with the NFL’s best.
6. New York Giants: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
At 38, it’s time for Eli Manning to call it a career, or at least be the bridge quarterback for his successor in 2019. The inclusion of Murray actually helps the Giants. It could lighten quarterback trade market, leaving the Giants to pick between Haskins and Murray.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
There is legitimate buzz around Murray, and he could elevate into the top 10 if a couple things happen. Most obviously, he has to commit to football over baseball. If that doesn’t happen, his stock in the draft will drop dramatically. Murray will also have to show teams in meetings he has a good understanding of the game after starting just a season in college. That might be more concerning than his size, which can be schemed around.
8. Detroit Lions: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
The Lions go into the offseason in need to finding at least one high-end pass rusher. Ferrell is arguably the best prospect on the talented Clemson defensive line in this year’s draft. He is experienced and sound technically, so he could help the Lions straight away.
9. Buffalo Bills: Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma
Although some would argue Ole Miss left tackle Greg Little over Ford, the Oklahoma blocker might be a better fit for Buffalo. Ford is more natural on the right side, which would allow the Bills to keep 2017 second-round pick Dion Dawkins on the left side.
10. Denver Broncos: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
Broncos General Manger John Elway needs to hit on a quarterback this offseason after striking out on a few in the draft and unwisely giving Case Keenum too much money last offseason. Lock is a risk because he has a long way to go in developing, but he has the talent to finally break Elway’s bad streak.
11. Cincinnati Bengals: Devin White, LB, LSU
This just seems like one of those picks that will be locked in for much of the draft process the next few months. A linebacker is high on the list of needs for Cincinnati this offseason, and White is the type of player who can set the tone.
12. Green Bay Packers: Jachai Polite, DE/OLB, Florida
It’s evident the Packers need to use this pick on the player they consider to be the best pass rusher available. The way this mock plays out, that is Polite, the talented Florida pass rusher who had 11 sacks this season. Want a quick comparison for Polite? His gameplay reminds me of Trey Flowers of the Patriots.
13. Miami Dolphins: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
The Dolphins are a sneaky winner of Murray intending to play football. That means Jones should drop to them at No. 13. There’s even a chance Lock could too. Either way, the Dolphins are in a better position for a first-round quarterback if Murray is in the draft. A pass rusher could be in play for Miami at this spot as well.
14. Atlanta Falcons: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
Like the Devin White to Cincinnati pick, this one seems pretty locked in right now. It really is the perfect combination of need, fit and value. In Oliver, the Falcons would get one of the draft’s more dynamic defensive linemen in draft. He’s a powerful tackle who will displace blockers with ease and pursue the ball carrier.
15. Washington: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
There are like seven positions on Washington you could say is the team’s biggest need in the offseason. A claim could be made about a quarterback, pass rusher and safety. However, Washington has arguably one of the worst wide receiver groups in the NFL. Brown would immediately assume the spot as the team’s lead wide out.
16. Carolina Panthers: Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan
Alabama safety Deionte Thompson will be an intriguing option for Carolina in the first round, but Gary’s potential is too great to pass up this late in the first round. Gary is the complete package of size and athleticism for an end. He just never quite lived up to the hype at Michigan.
17. Cleveland Browns: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
The Browns are hiring former Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken for the same role in Cleveland. He’s a pass game specialist, but the Browns don’t have a Mike Evans-like receiver on the roster. Metcalf can be that player. He’s a big athlete for the position, and even had a Josh Gordon comparison.
18. Minnesota Vikings: Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
It’s the standing take for the Vikings: Draft the best offensive lineman available with the 18th pick. More than anything, the Vikings need to acquire talent up front and then figure out how it all fits together. Little is the type of talent at tackle that he would push Brian O’Neill into being more of a utility lineman.
19. Tennessee Titans: Brian Burns, DE/OLB, Florida State
The Titans lost Brian Orakpo to retirement, and need a good edge player opposite budding star Harold Landry. Burns is a player who profiles similarly to Orakpo. He’s a lengthy edge player with athleticism. Burns doesn’t have the strength Orakpo does, but he can get there.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
The Steelers would be overjoyed to see Murphy still available with the No. 20 pick. He’s a natural playmaker on the ball, and is willing to come up and make a tackle against the run.
21. Seattle Seahawks: Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
The playoff loss by the Seahawks showed they need to improve the interior of both the offensive and defensive line. From a value standpoint, that’s much easier to do in this draft with a defensive lineman. Simmons is a powerful interior player capable of pushing blockers aside to find the ball. His playing style is somewhat similar to Fletcher Cox of the Eagles.
22. Baltimore Ravens: Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State
If the Ravens are going to fully devote to a heavy run offense with Lamar Jackson, the team has to get better on the interior of the offensive line. Risner should be able to handle left guard for the Ravens, and could even looked at as a center.
23. Houston Texans: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
This pick absolutely needs to be a cornerback or offensive tackle. Finding a blocker for Deshaun Watson should have a priority unless someone like Murphy happens to slip to No. 23. Taylor is a powerful blocker who can drive defenders backward with ease.
24. Oakland Raiders (via Chicago): Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State
Adding Williams and Sweat up front with Arden Key would suddenly give the Raiders are dangerous group of players up front on defense. Sweat is a player who is comfortable rushing from the edge either standing up or with his hand down.
25. Philadelphia Eagles: Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
Maybe this is too reactionary, but the Sunday’s playoff loss to the Saints showed that the Eagles need a true lead running back. Don’t forget that Jay Ajayi, who tore his ACL this season, is a free agent. If there’s a first-round back in the 2019 draft, it is Jacobs.
26. Indianapolis Colts: Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson
A pass rusher and cornerback could be argued as bigger needs for the Colts, but team’s interior defensive linemen still seem more suited for a 3-4 system. Wilkins is a nice fit as an athletic interior defender who can work gaps and get into the backfield.
27. Oakland Raiders (via Dallas): N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
The Raiders need one, or maybe even two wide receivers in the draft this year. Harry would be a nice pickup in the first round. He’s obviously a talent at the position, otherwise he wouldn’t be this high in the draft. But he’s capable of playing in the slot and outside, which would give the Raiders flexibility later in the draft.
28. Los Angeles Chargers: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
At this point of the first round it would be hard to look past Thompson. That’s especially true for the Chargers if they continue to utilize seven defensive backs at a time. Thompson is a rangy coverage safety, but he showed at Alabama last season he’s capable of coming up against the run.
29. New England Patriots: Zach Allen, DE, Boston College
Allen will be a player who intrigues Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. Allen could be used as a true 4-3 end, but in nickel situation be pushed inside. Allen would also give Belichick some versatility with his roster. If Trey Flowers asks for too much money in free agency, and the Patriots want to use their franchise tag on someone else, a player like Allen could help them move on.
30. Los Angeles Rams: Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware
Adderley is the best small-school prospect in the 2019 draft, and the type of player the Rams could target if Lamarcus Joyner departs in free agency. Adderley started four years at Delaware, at both safety and cornerback.
31. Green Bay Packers: (via New Orleans): Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
After weeks of scrutiny for mocking Fant’s teammate T.J. Hockenson here, I’ll relent for now. That’s mostly because as of this writing on early Monday morning Hockenson has yet to declare for the draft. Fant is a nice option for the Packers in case Hockenson doesn’t go pro. He can be Green Bay’s version of Zach Ertz.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson
Mullen is coming off an excellent national title game for Clemson and could find himself in the first round of the draft. He’s a lengthy cornerback who moves smoothly around the field. If Mullen tests well at the NFL Scouting Combine next month, look for his stock to rise quickly.