The NFL season is at the midpoint, and the league is a seller’s market before the trade deadline. That means plenty of teams are already looking toward the 2019 NFL Draft.
That’s especially true for the Oakland Raiders, who have stockpiled three first-round picks next year after shipping Amari Cooper off to Dallas and Khalil Mack to Chicago. Despite their obvious tanking nature, the Raiders don’t yet hold the first overall pick in the draft. That currently belongs to the New York Giants, who could finally be in search of Eli Manning’s replacement this offseason.
The Giants are one of the few teams projected to pick in the top 10 that actually need a quarterback. Teams like Arizona, Bufffalo, Cleveland, and San Francisco all have their quarterbacks of the future. That could allow them to rely on the deep group of defensive players instead.
At the midway point of the season, here’s a guess at how the 2019 NFL Draft could shake out. The draft order was determined using Tankathon’s projections after Sunday night’s game.
1. New York Giants: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Herbert has emerged this season as the top quarterback prospect in a draft severely lacking in passers. He’s a big, strong-armed thrower with good athleticism to maneuver around the pocket. The Giants will closely be watching to see if he decides to return for another year at Oregon. If he does, New York could be in trouble.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Bosa’s Ohio State career ended prematurely because of an injury, but he still warrants a high draft pick in April. He’s a relentless pass rusher with excellent hands and bend around the edge.
3. Oakland Raiders: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
With three first-round picks next year, the Raiders have a chance to rebuild the roster in Jon Gruden’s crazed image. That should start with Oliver. He’s had a little bit of an up-and-down junior year, but he’s battled injuries and consistent double and triple teams. For the Raiders he could pair with Maurice Hurst to give them a disruptive combo up the middle.
4. Arizona Cardinals: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
The last LSU cornerback the Cardinals took in the top five turned out to be pretty good. But that player — Patrick Peterson, taken fifth overall in 2008 — is nearing 30 and has been floated as a potential trade chip for Arizona. This season Williams, a redshirt sophomore, has two interceptions even though most teams avoid the side of field he’s on.
5. Buffalo Bills: Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
What good is having Josh Allen at quarterback if he’s going to constantly get pressured or sacked? Instead of going after a big play wide receiver at the top of the draft, Buffalo could start things with Little, a bonafide left tackle prospect with power and athleticism.
6. Cleveland Browns: Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan
Cleveland’s season is rapidly falling apart. That’s thanks in part to overusing a defensive line that clearly tires late in games. A player like Gary could be an asset for Cleveland with his ability to play on the inside or outside. His skill set is too good for him to fall out of the top 10.
7. Indianapolis Colts: Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State
By the time the draft comes around, it’s probable Sweat is considered the best senior player available. Sweat is putting together an All-American season with 8.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss. He’s a long-limbed edge player who is comfortable with his hand down or standing up. He would give the Colts the consistent pass rusher up front they need.
8. New York Jets: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
The same premise for the Bills applies for the Jets. Investing in a future star quarterback in Sam Darnold is smart, but only if he’s kept upright. Starting tackles Kelvin Beachum and Brandon Shell are only under contract through next season, so the Jets could look for a future starter like Williams this offseason.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
It’s no lock that Haskins, a redshirt sophomore, will enter the draft and his play has cooled off a little the last couple of weeks. But he has the raw talent to be a franchise quarterback in the NFL. Quarterback seems to be the only thing holding the Jaguars from taking the next step as a franchise, so Haskins could be the answer.
10. Denver Broncos: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
Don’t get hung up on Baker’s size (5’11 and just under 190 pounds), he just makes plays and has seven career interceptions. Well, at least when offenses throw at him. Baker has great instincts to find the ball, and really excels in off man and zone situations.
11. Tennessee Titans: Josh Allen, DE/OLB, Kentucky
The Titans wisely drafted Harold Landry this year, but they could use another edge player with Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo’s contracts running out at the end of the season. Allen has polished his game this year at Kentucky, and is a complete player. He can play the run, has a nice set of pass rush moves and always finds the ball.
12. Oakland Raiders (via Dallas Cowboys): Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
Thompson has exploded onto the draft radar in his junior season at Alabama. The free safety moves around the field with ease and has great ball skills and anticipation. The Raiders too Obi Melifonwu in the second round in 2017 hoping he’d be the answer at safety. Thompson could be.
13. Detroit Lions: Brian Burns, DE, Florida State
On a disappointing Florida State team, Burns manages to stand out with nine sacks this season. Damon Harrison was traded for, and he has two years left on his contract, so the Lions should start to get better against the run.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
Another redshirt sophomore, Murphy is an all-around cornerback. From his quick feet to handle speedy receivers to his tenacity coming up to stop the run, Murphy can do a little bit of everything.
15. Atlanta Falcons: Dalton Risner, OT, Kansas State
Ryan Schraeder has had several good years for the Falcons, but it starts to look like time for an upgrade. Risner can play anywhere along the line, but he excelled last season at right tackle for Kansas State.
16. Miami Dolphins: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
Jones is getting NFL-style coaching at Duke from head coach David Cutcliffe, a favorite of Peyton Manning’s. Jones has little to no help at Duke, and he’s constantly getting battered behind a porous offensive line. Still, he has good size and arm strength to make difficult throws. Jones is a player who could ascend during the draft process.
17. Philadelphia Eagles: Jeffrey Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
There’s going to be a point in the draft next year where the available talent on defensive line is much better than the draft position. That could start here. Simmons is a potential top-10 player who could slip a little because of class depth. If so, the Eagles could benefit and add someone next to star tackle Fletcher Cox.
18. Baltimore Ravens: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
Again, here’s another example of a potential top-10 defensive lineman being available into the late teens. Williams has had a breakout year at Alabama and excels at getting pressure from over the nose.
19. Green Bay Packers: Jachai Polite, Edge, Florida
Polite is another player whose NFL draft stock has soared this season. The junior pass rusher has seven sacks this season after combining for four his first two years in Gainesville. With Clay Matthews entering free agency after the season the Packers could be looking for his successor.
20. Minnesota Vikings: D’Andre Walker, Edge, Georgia
The Vikings have a tough decision to make on Anthony Barr this offseason, and Walker could be a solid replacement. He doesn’t have Barr’s ability to move in space as much, but he’s very good at creating pressure off the edge.
21. Oakland Raiders (via Chicago Bears): Jalen Jelks, Edge, Oregon
Three first-round picks and all three go on defense? It’s unlikely with Gruden in charge, but it would be the smart play. Gruden has lamented his lack of a pass rush this season, so Jelks could be a target to pair with Arden Key moving forward.
22. Seattle Seahawks: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
In the prospect interview part of the draft process, teams will fall in love with Wilkins. He’s the heart and soul of the loaded Clemson defensive line, and perhaps the best prospect. He’s stout against the run, but a really good athlete who can create pressure up the middle.
23. Houston Texans: Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia
By law a mock draft is required to give the Texans an offensive lineman in an effort to stop Deshaun Watson from further getting killed. Cajuste is a player with experience playing inside and outside, and that versatility could help Houston make a fix up front.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Devin White, LB, LSU
Cincinnati’s run defense is near the bottom in the NFL, and part of the problem is the team’s linebackers. White can slot into multiple linebacker spots, and he has the type of read and react skills to be a standout run stopper.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Amani Oruwariye, CB, Penn State
Joe Haden is approaching 30 and Artie Burns hasn’t lived up to his draft position, so the Steelers could target a cornerback in the draft. At 6’1 and 203 pounds, Oruwariye has great size, but he’s fast enough to handle all types of receivers.
26. Washington: Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame
Josh Norman has come under fire a little bit this season, and Washington’s pass defense is in the bottom third of the league. A player like Love could help in that area. Love has an eye for the football, and this season already has 12 pass breakups for the Fighting Irish.
27. Los Angeles Chargers: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
The massive 345-pound Lawrence would be hard to pass up with a pick this late in the 20s. The Chargers need some help up front, and Lawrence is a player who can occupy multiple blockers, allowing Joey Bosa (when healthy) to get after the quarterback.
28. Carolina Panthers: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
Greg Olsen has unquestionably been a great player for the Panthers, but you really have to wonder about his future as injuries mount up. If he retires after the season the Panthers will have a big need at tight end. Fant may essentially be a massive slot receiver, but he’s a matchup nightmare and has a nose for the end zone.
29. New England Patriots: Raekwon Davis, DL, Alabama
Letting the Patriots land Davis should be illegal, but it could happen with the sheer depth at defensive line in this draft. Bill Belichick could put him anywhere along the line and turn Davis into an effective player for New England.
30. Green Bay Packers (via New Orleans Saints): N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
Look, it’s been fun watching Aaron Rodgers coaching Green Bay’s hodgepodge group of receivers on the field this season, but a player like Harry could be a superstar immediately. He’s a highlight reel wide receiver who will give Rodgers a legit No. 1 target on the outside.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
It’s hard to find a hole on Kansas City’s loaded roster, but linebacker could be a spot where the Chiefs look for an upgrade. Bush is arguably college football’s most athletic linebacker with his sideline-to-sideline speed and is a player who will rack up tackles in the NFL by the bunches.
32. Los Angeles Rams: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
Ndamukong Suh is only on a one-year deal, and the Rams could look for a cheap replacement next to Aaron Donald. Brown does everything pretty well up front, but he really specializes in collapsing the pocket and creating pressure.