With the playoffs set, most of the football world will turn its eyes toward the 2019 NFL draft in April. In that regard, draft season is here. The Arizona Cardinals secured the first overall pick and it should be an easy choice even if head coach Steve Wilks is fired.
This week’s mock is loaded with lineman on both sides of the ball. Fifteen defensive linemen go in the first 32 picks, which speaks to the strength of the 2019 draft. But this iteration also contains five offensive tackles, some you may be seeing in the first round for the first time.
1. Arizona Cardinals: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Writing for The Players Tribune on Sunday, Bosa offered a little more detail into the season-ending abdominal injury he suffered on Sept. 15. While his injury history should be a red flag, it’s not such that it should stop the Cardinals from drafting him at No. 1.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Josh Allen, DE/OLB, Kentucky
Allen going this high will be dependent on him having a great showing at the NFL Scouting Combine in a couple months. If his timing numbers are off, the 49ers will have a tough decision to make. Would they really Alabama’s Quinnen Williams after taking DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead recently?
3. New York Jets: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
This week’s mock draft is always one of the harder ones of the year because it is coach firing season. The Jets fired Todd Bowles on Sunday night, but kept general manager Mike Maccagnan. Maccagnan’s offseason priority should be clear: Do everything you can to make sure Sam Darnold becomes a franchise quarterback. Building a solid offensive line in front of him will help.
4. Oakland Raiders: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
Williams is arguably the best prospect in the draft. He certainly looked like it in Alabama’s Orange Bowl win over Oklahoma on Saturday. So while the Raiders will go into the offseason with greater needs, they cannot pass over Williams.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
The Buccaneers finished the season losing four consecutive games, and also fired their head coach on Sunday night while keeping their GM. While their head coaching future is cloudy, it’s clear the Buccaneers need talent in the secondary. Williams has size at 6’3 and has 28 pass breakups the last two seasons.
6. New York Giants: Dwayne Haskins, QB Ohio State
The Giants taking Haskins is truly dependent on what happens with Eli Manning. If he’s back as the starter in 2019, the Giants shouldn’t take Haskins. They should instead just take a quarterback in 2020 when the the quarterback class, right now, looks much stronger. But if the Giants want to move on from Manning now, Haskins needs to be the pick.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
The Jaguars are in some trouble after Justin Herbert announced he was going back to Oregon. That leaves Jacksonville to consider moving up to get Haskins, take a second tier quarterback way too high or go after a free agent. If it’s the latter, the Jaguars could look to the offensive line where Little could step in at either tackle spot.
8. Detroit Lions: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
Ferrell was dominant in Clemson’s Cotton Bowl win over Notre Dame, forcing and recovering a fumble, getting a sack and generally creating havoc for much of the game. The Lions’ major need this offseason is a defensive end, and Ferrell fits the scheme in Detroit nicely.
9. Buffalo Bills: Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan
With the two best offensive linemen gone, the Bills could look for a pass rusher or wide receiver with the ninth pick in the draft. A pass rusher carries more value, so Gary is the choice for now. He’s a strong end who can push blockers back into the pocket and create pressure.
10. Denver Broncos: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
Here’s a bombshell for you, and more fallout of Herbert going to back to school. Lock is a big-armed and moderately athletic quarterback, so he does fit John Elway’s mold at the position. But it’s quite a leap for Lock to get into the top 10 of the draft.
11. Cincinnati Bengals: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
The Bengals are one of the worst teams in the NFL this season at stopping the run, giving up 137.8 yards per game on the ground. If Oliver is on the board, he is easily the best player available and helps fix a problem for the Bengals. This is a sprint to the podium type of choice.
12. Green Bay Packers: Jachai Polite, DE, Florida
The Packers need a pass rusher in a big way. Polite is coming off a big season at Florida that included 11 sacks and 16 tackles for loss. Polite is a terror around the edge and closes on the quarterback violently.
13. Miami Dolphins: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
The Dolphins are another team that is in a weird spot at quarterback. If Ryan Tannehill is back, Miami should at least bring in veteran competition. After that, Miami needs an interior defensive lineman who can create pressure and stop the run. That’s what the massive Brown is capable of doing.
14. Atlanta Falcons: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
The Falcons did pretty well the last time they took a Clemson defensive tackle in the draft when they stole Grady Jarrett in the fifth round in 2015. Wilkins isn’t as great of a value choice at No. 14, but he fits a need for Atlanta and would be a fast fan favorite.
15. Washington: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
Hey look, another team with a quarterback situation that’s up in the air. But with no viable first-round quarterback prospects left, Washington could turn to the defense. Murphy reportedly received a second-round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Committee, but that’s far too conservative of a grade. Murphy attacks the ball as well as any cornerback in the 2019 draft.
16. Carolina Panthers: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
By winning on Sunday, the Panthers went from drafting in the top 10 all the way down to No. 16. Still, starter talent will be available in the teens for the Panthers. Picking here is actually advantageous for Carolina. Thompson fills arguably the team’s biggest need other than pass rusher and he’s easily the best safety in the draft.
17. Cleveland Browns: Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
Sunday’s season finale showed what most have known all of 2018: Cleveland’s run defense needs work. Simmons is a player who can plug the middle of the Browns’ defense next to Larry Ogunjobi and help keep Cleveland’s linebackers clean.
18. Minnesota Vikings: Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma
Minnesota’s offensive line is pretty not great. With the team committed to Kirk Cousins on a massive contract, it may as well try and help him with a better offensive lineman. Ford is a right tackle by trade, but he has the size and aggressive playing style to move inside if needed.
19. Tennessee Titans: Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State
It was evident this season that the Titans needed help on the offensive line. If head coach Mike Vrabel takes a page out of mentor Bill Belichick’s playbook, he could look for a versatile lineman who he can slot into multiple positions in search of the best group. Risner is that player this year. He should go into the NFL capable of playing any position except center.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Devin White, LB, LSU
In a move that would make the rest of the NFL throw its hands up in a fit of rage, the Steelers could land the draft’s best pure linebacker with the 20th pick. White is instincts and aggression and would help fix a defense that needs playmakers and leaders in the back seven.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
Thanks to injuries and poor play, you might be able to start for the Eagles at cornerback right now. Baker, who started two and a half seasons at Georgia, is a feisty and smart corner who doesn’t mind coming up and making a play against the run. He could start immediately for a lot of teams.
22. Indianapolis Colts: Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State
The Colts could have a nice pair of building blocks on defense with Sweat and linebacker Darius Leonard. Sweat is a pass rusher who explodes out of his stance and uses his length to push blockers backward. The Colts need a good pure pass rusher, and Sweat could produce for them straight away.
23. Seattle Seahawks: Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State
Jones announced a couple weeks ago he was entering the draft, but still intends to play in the Rose Bowl. The gap-shooting tackle nearly went pro last year but smartly returned to Ohio State and had a season of 40 tackles and 8.5 sacks.
24. Oakland Raiders (via Dallas): D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
After trading Amari Cooper, the Raiders lack a wide receiver who can a long-term star. Metcalf, at 6’4 and 230 pounds, has that potential. He went pro with two seasons of eligibility left at Ole Miss, so he’s a little raw, especially as a route runner. But he’s aggressive at the catch point, and can make some highlight reel grabs.
25. Baltimore Ravens: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
Don’t let Brown’s zero reception Orange Bowl fool you, he has first-round talent. He’s a burner of a wide receiver who can break things open over the top. The play action that Baltimore could run with Lamar Jackson and a speed receiver like Brown could be special.
26. Houston Texans: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
Dillard has the athletic profile to be a first round offensive tackle. Dillard is a pass rush specialist with good feet and the ability to mirror speed rushers on the edge. While he needs to bulk up a fair bit, his footwork is among the best in this year’s draft.
27. New England Patriots: Zach Allen, DE, Boston College
Trey Flowers is a good defensive end for the Patriots, but they don’t have much besides him. Adrian Clayborn is more of a run defense edge player and Derek Rivers just got his first career sack in Week 17 this season. Allen is a player who excels versus the run and pass and would be a good three-down player for New England.
28. Oakland Raiders (via Chicago): Brian Burns, DE/OLB, Florida State
The Raiders look like they got a keeper in third-round pick Arden Key but could use another pass rusher going into next season. Burns can stand up or play with his hand in the dirt and offer speed off the edge for the Raiders.
29. Los Angeles Chargers: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
Taylor announced on Sunday that he will enter the draft, and he could wind up in the first round. A team like the Chargers could use him too. Russell Okung will be 31 next season, and Los Angeles could look for a long-term fix at tackle.
30. Los Angeles Rams: Jaylon Ferguson, DE, Louisiana Tech
If the Rams actually hold onto this pick instead of trading it for a veteran, they need a player on defense who can make an impact immediately. Ferguson, the NCAA career sack leader, is that type of prospect. He plays with great hand technique, and can set the edge against the run.
31. Green Bay Packers: (via New Orleans): T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
Hockenson, a redshirt sophomore, is being coy about his intentions regarding the 2019 draft. If he does go pro, Hockenson is arguably the best tight end in the draft. He leads Iowa in receptions and receiving yards, and he’s equally as good as a blocker. He can be a nice check-down target for Aaron Rodgers, who seems to need all the help he can get.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson
Mullen has said that if he’s projected to be a first- or second-round pick that he’ll probably enter the draft. At 6’2 and 190 pounds, Mullen has NFL size and the Chiefs certainly need talent in the secondary.