Sure, some players had good weeks at the Senior Bowl, but nobody really vaulted themselves inside the first round. The exception to that might be Mississippi State pass rusher Montez Sweat. He did just enough to move up in the first round a little bit.
Instead of belaboring the Senior Bowl point in this week’s mock draft, we’re going to look at some different directions teams in the top five could go.
1. Arizona Cardinals: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Should Bosa really be the only option for the Cardinals with the first overall pick in the draft? Considering the team will play more of a 3-4 next season under new defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, maybe not.
Chandler Jones obviously has one spot on the outside. There’s also a possibility former first-round pick Haason Reddick could get shifted back outside to his more natural position. None of this even touches on the fact that Bosa is a natural 4-3 end. Bosa remains the pick, but maybe there should be more discussion here about Alabama nose tackle Quinnen Williams.
Options: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
2. San Francisco 49ers: Josh Allen, DE/OLB, Kentucky
If the Cardinals take Williams, it opens up a debate for the 49ers with the second pick in the draft. They could take Bosa with the second pick or the more versatile Allen. Or, if the 49ers decide they don’t like Solomon Thomas, that could open them up to Williams if the Cardinals don’t select him. But if Bosa is gone and they decide to continue on with Thomas, Allen is the natural choice.
Options: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State; Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
3. New York Jets: Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan
The Jets’ pass rush situation is grim. There are several good pass rushers who are free agents this offseason, including Demarcus Lawrence Jadeveon Clowney, Trey Flowers, and Frank Clark. But teams don’t often let those players go. With that in mind, the Jets could turn to the draft to find a pass rusher. If new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams prefers an edge player, Gary is absolutely in play with the third pick. He’s the total package as an end with his athleticism and size combination.
If the Jets go a different route, they could look for a starter on the offensive line or at Quinnen Williams.
Options: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama; Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
4. Oakland Raiders: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
With three first-round picks, options will be the theme of the Raiders’ 2019 draft. That is, except for the team’s first pick. At No. 4 overall, the Raiders should sit back and take the best player available. Without question in this scenario, that is Williams. The Raiders need talent at multiple spots on defense, and Williams knows how to bring pressure straight up the middle.
Options: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston; Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
Todd Bowles, the new defensive coordinator for the Buccaneers, runs a defense that calls for its cornerbacks to play on an island without much help. That could point toward Tampa’s plans with the fifth pick in the draft. Williams, who was just a redshirt sophomore in 2018, is a little raw, but he has a lot of tools. If Bowles can teach him how to jam better, he’s a perfect fit for the defense.
This pick could open up a little bit if the Buccaneers release veteran defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. He’s due $13 million next season, which is a high price tag for an older player on a rebuilding unit. If that’s the case, the Buccaneers could go back-to-back first rounds at defensive tackle after taking Vita Vea last year.
Options: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston; Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
6. New York Giants: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
This is really the first pick in the draft that shouldn’t be up for much debate. The Giants could take Haskins and groom him behind Eli Manning for a season. That’s what the Chiefs did with Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes. Surely Manning won’t be playing in New York after the 2019 season.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
Neither Drew Lock nor Daniel Jones had exceptional Senior Bowl weeks. Lock was the better of the two, but he didn’t have the type of week that guaranteed a spot this high. The Jaguars, instead, could gamble on Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. He may be too expensive to keep in Philadelphia and will have several suitors this offseason.
Williams could be brought in to help protect Foles, and hopefully help kickstart Jacksonville’s running game.
8. Detroit Lions: Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State
This is the first example of the Senior Bowl helping a player vault high in the first round. The eighth pick might be a little too high for Sweat, but lanky pass rushers with athleticism tend to rise on draft weekend. Sweat could be Detroit’s long-term answer as a pass rusher.
9. Buffalo Bills: Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma
Buffalo goes into the offseason needing to rebuild both its offensive and defensive lines. Which is more important? That will be debated over the next couple of months. But with what looks like a franchise quarterback in place in Josh Allen, the offensive line should get the priority.
10. Denver Broncos: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
Lock had a decent Senior Bowl week, but he has question marks — namely, his decision-making and accuracy. The Broncos could be in a similar situation as the Giants. With Case Keenum still under contract, the Broncos could take a high-ceiling quarterback like Lock and have him sit.
11. Cincinnati Bengals: Devin White, LB, LSU
This might be the easy choice for the Bengals, but it is the smart choice. White can transform Cincinnati’s defense, which has been deficient at linebacker for years. White is the modern NFL linebacker. He can fly around the field stopping the run, and he’s athletic enough to handle tight ends by himself.
12. Green Bay Packers: Jachai Polite, DE/OLB, Florida
Like the Bengals, the Packers are a team that needs to get more athletic on defense, especially in the front seven. Polite would give the Packers an explosive athlete on the edge who is capable of creating havoc in the backfield.
13. Miami Dolphins: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
Kyler Murray is an NFL quarterback if he wants to be. Specifically, Murray is an explosive athlete at quarterback that the Dolphins could have fun building their team around. And that’s what it will require to get the most out of Murray in the NFL. He would be wasted simply as a pocket passer who sits back and reads the defense. He can do what Lamar Jackson did for the Ravens last season, but to an even greater degree.
14. Atlanta Falcons: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
This would be another smart, easy choice for a team to make in the first round. Oliver has top-five talent in this draft, but some needs ahead of Atlanta could push him down to the 14th pick. That’s a win for the Falcons, who can maneuver Oliver around on the defensive line and take advantage of his quick first step and ability to close against the run.
15. Washington: Brian Burns, Edge, Florida State
Washington would probably like to see Lock or Murray available with the 15th pick if Alex Smith misses the 2019 season, or perhaps Sweat. If they’re all gone, the next tier of players the team might consider is Duke quarterback Daniel Jones and edge rushers Brian Burns of Florida State and Clelin Ferrell of Clemson. If the choice is a pass rusher, Burns is a better system fit than Ferrell.
16. Carolina Panthers: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
Ferrell landing at No. 16 is sort of a result of the Senior Bowl. Before the Senior Bowl, this could have just as easily been Sweat. But Ferrell shouldn’t have to wait around too long to hear his name called on the first night of the draft. Few pass rushers in this draft have Ferrell’s combination of size, power, and athleticism. He could be a double-digit sack player immediately for a team like the Panthers.
17. Cleveland Browns: Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
Browns general manager John Dorsey has never been afraid of taking players who have had issues off the field. That’s the case for Simmons, who was videotaped hitting a woman while in high school. We’ll see how that will impact Simmons on draft weekend. He has top-10 talent as a bulldozer of a defensive tackle, but some teams might stay away.
18. Minnesota Vikings: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
Ten years ago, a right tackle like Taylor might not have had top-20 value in the draft. But in today’s NFL, good pass rushers come from both sides. That elevates the value of a player like Taylor, who played the majority of his games at Florida on the right side. Taylor is a powerful blocker, but he’s quick enough to pick up speed on the edge.
19. Tennessee Titans: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
The Titans have Corey Davis at wide receiver and really not much else. Brown could help open up Tennessee’s offense as a deep-play threat. That should make life easier for Marcus Mariota as the Titans try to figure out if he can be their franchise quarterback for the long haul.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
Artie Burns, a first-round pick in 2016, hasn’t lived up to the hype for the Steelers and they go into the offseason needing a cornerback. Murphy is a cornerback who knows how to play on the outside and in the slot. He’s best when he can read the quarterback and make a play on the ball.
21. Seattle Seahawks: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
Wilkins is one of the 15 best players in this draft, but he may slide a little bit strictly due to the depth of the position this year. If that happens, some team in the back third of the first round will benefit. In this mock draft, it’s the Seahawks. In Wilkins they get an interior pressure creator who is at his best when he can slip through gaps and utilize his quickness.
22. Baltimore Ravens: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
Baltimore’s ragtag group of wide receivers is decent, but the team sorely lacks a No. 1 target to help accelerate the development of Lamar Jackson. Metcalf is a player who knows how to get open using his size and speed. Fewer run plays might get called for Jackson if he has a target like Metcalf to find.
23. Houston Texans: Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
No quarterback was sacked more in 2018 than Deshaun Watson, who was officially sacked 62 times last season. If that happens to Watson again, it could be disastrous. Although the Texans need cornerback help desperately this offseason, a blocker who can keep Watson upright is just more important.
24. Oakland Raiders (via Chicago): Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
If the Raiders start their first of three picks with a player like Williams, they could keep working up the middle with Bush. Perhaps the fastest linebacker in the draft this year, Bush covers a lot of ground and is the type of linebacker the Raiders just don’t have.
25. Philadelphia Eagles: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
Dillard did well for himself at the Senior Bowl, an event that isn’t always kind to offensive linemen who get forced into constant one-on-one positions in practice. Dillard helped himself not only with his play, but by weighing in at 310 pounds. That should erase any questions about his size as a pro. Bookends of Dillard and Lane Johnson would give the Eagles arguably the most athletic tandem of offensive tackles in the NFL.
26. Indianapolis Colts: Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State
The Colts’ defense has several talented pieces, but it still mostly has the personnel to run a 3-4 instead of a 4-3. A defensive tackle like Jones could help continue the transition to a defense that more properly suits defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus.
27. Oakland Raiders (via Dallas): Zach Allen, DE, Boston College
Here’s another instance of the Senior Bowl effect. Allen was coached by the Raiders at the Senior Bowl, and the team has a focus on ends.
“Are we focused in on defensive ends at [the Senior Bowl]? Of course,” Raiders general manager Mike Mayock said via NBC Sports Bay area. “We’d be dumb if we weren’t. But we need pretty much everything on defense. We’re looking at every position.”
28. Los Angeles Chargers: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
Lawrence has almost mythical size at a listed 6’4 and 350 pounds, and he plays up to his monstrous physique. Lawrence is primarily a run stuffer who occupies multiple gaps and shoves linemen around with ease. He also has some pass rush in his game as a bull rusher. With the Chargers entering the offseason needing defensive linemen, they should target a player like Lawrence or even Jerry Tillery of Notre Dame.
29. Kansas City Chiefs: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
The Chiefs came short of the Super Bowl this year thanks in part to their deficiencies in the secondary. Thompson could be the successor to Eric Berry, who could be an offseason salary cap casualty. Thompson is a middle coverage safety with excellent instincts to play the ball when it’s in the air.
30. Green Bay Packers: (via New Orleans): T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
A month ago, mocking Hockenson in the first round got criticized. Now it’s commonplace in mock drafts. And for good cause. Hockenson is the best tight end in this class thanks to a well-rounded game. He’s a plug-and-play prospect, which is exactly what a team like the Packers needs.
31. Los Angeles Rams: Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware
Adderley didn’t catch a lot of headlines coming out of the Senior Bowl, but the back part of the first round is still his draft range. He’s an excellent coverage safety who will come down and play in the slot. Although he’s not the biggest at 5’11 and 195 pounds, he’ll also come down and play the run with tenacity.
32. New England Patriots: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
Jones may have been the MVP of the Senior Bowl, but the game is largely meaningless compared to the week of practices. According to most accounts, Jones had just an average week of practices. Still, he could hold in the first round, and the Patriots could be his landing spot. Suddenly, the Patriots have a succession plan in place for Tom Brady.
(Oh, and having the Patriots at No. 32 in this week’s mock acts as my Super Bowl prediction.)