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NFL mock draft 2019: Clemson will dominate the first round

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The Tigers are loaded, and four defensive linemen could be among the first 32 picks.

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NCAA Football: ACC Championship-Clemson vs Miami Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

There is already an underclassmen declared for the 2019 NFL Draft, and it’s arguably the best prospect in the nation.

In March, defensive tackle Ed Oliver said he was going pro after his junior season at Houston. He’ll have a line of star defensive tackles behind him. A cursory glance toward next year’s draft shows that defensive tackle is the strongest position.

Figuring out where to peg them all was challenging in this initial 2019 mock draft. These early mock drafts aren’t really about getting picks right a year out. My first 2018 mock was a disaster. Instead, they’re more about creating a base on which players to follow during the college football season.

The draft order is based on the latest regular season win projections from the Westgate Superbook (via USA Today) so spare me the complaints and go put your money on it.

1. Cleveland Browns: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

After trading Danny Shelton to the New England Patriots, the Browns could be in the market for a defensive tackle in 2019. Flip a coin on Lawrence and Ed Oliver of Houston. A left tackle will also be considered by the Browns if second-round pick Austin Corbett struggles on the outside.

2. Arizona Cardinals: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston

If the Cardinals want to start running more four-man fronts with new head coach Steve Wilks, they’ll need to bring in the personnel for it. Oliver is going to go into the college football season as the top draft prospect for many.

3. New York Jets: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama

The Jets got their quarterback, now they just need a lot of parts around him. Williams is an impressive blocker and goes into the season as the top tackle prospect.

4. Miami Dolphins: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

There is no obvious top quarterback for the 2019 draft, but Herbert is the front runner. He has an impressive arm and threw for 1,750 yards and 13 touchdowns in just eight games last season.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State

Can you call something a value pick a year before the draft even starts? Sure, this is sort of silly anyway. Besides, if Jason Pierre-Paul happens to struggle in his first season in Tampa there’s an out in his contract after the season. Bosa is just too good to drop any further. He’s in the running with Oliver as being the lead draft prospect.

6. New York Giants: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

The Giants sure do sound committed to seeing if fourth-round pick Kyle Lauletta can be Eli Manning’s successor. Lets assume he is, just for fun. If so, that opens New York to landing Wilkins, a player some like more than teammate Dexter Lawrence.

7. Chicago Bears: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

That’s right, back-to-back Clemson defensive linemen, and three in the top seven picks. Ferrell might have been a first-round pick had he entered this year’s draft.

8. Indianapolis Colts: David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin

Indianapolis smartly drafted two starting guards in Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith in the top 40 this year. But there is still a need at right tackle for the Colts. Wisconsin is loaded on the offensive line next season, and Edwards is arguably the best piece.

9. Buffalo Bills: A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss

Last season Brown set an Ole Miss season record with 1,252 receiving yards to go along with 11 touchdowns. That landed him on the SEC all-conference first team. If Kelvin Benjamin struggles, the Bills could let him walk after the season and draft his replacement.

10. Washington: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

He’s a cornerback, his name is Greedy, and he had six interceptions and 17 passes defended last season. What more do you need to know?

11. Denver Broncos: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

If you’re someone who liked Josh Allen in this year’s draft, Lock is similar in some ways. He’s a big quarterback at 6’4 and 225 pounds and a solid athlete. And like Allen, he’s struggled with accuracy, completing 58.2 percent of his passes last season.

12. Cincinnati Bengals: Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss

This offseason the Bengals added tackle Cordy Glenn and center Billy Price to the offensive line. They could take another season next draft with Little, who will challenge Williams and Edwards as the top tackle prospect.

13. Tennessee Titans: N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State

Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor didn’t produce much in their rookie seasons last year. If they struggle again the Titans could go into the 2019 draft looking for another wide out. Harry is a playmaker who will get some NFL-style coaching from Herm Edwards.

14. Seattle Seahawks: Trey Adams, OT, Washington

Yes, another 12 months of saying the Seahawks need to address their offensive line! Before tearing his ACL last October, Adams was considered by many as a first-round pick and potentially the best left tackle in the draft.

15. Oakland Raiders: Devin White, LB, LSU

We still don’t know the status of NaVorro Bowman at middle linebacker. The on-roster options don’t inspire much optimism either. White collected 133 tackles last season and should be an All-American this season.

16. Detroit Lions: Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan

The Lions didn’t address their pass rush situation, and Ezekiel Ansah is in the final year of his contract. Gary isn’t a traditional speed edge rusher, but he can generate a power rush.

17. Baltimore Ravens: Raekwon Davis, DT, Alabama

At this stage, Davis is too good to pass up and he’s a good fit on a team that runs a lot of odd fronts.

18. Kansas City Chiefs: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia

The Chiefs didn’t draft a cornerback this year until the sixth round, so they may still be looking to find the replacement for Marcus Peters.

19. Houston Texans: Michael Jackson, CB, Miami

Kareem Jackson is a free agent after the season, so the Texans could potentially be in the market for a new cornerback.

20. Dallas Cowboys: Jaquan Johnson, S, Miami

There was a lot of talk during the draft that the Cowboys were in talks to trade for Earl Thomas. If they want to address safety next draft, Johnson was a second-team all-conference player who some thought would go pro.

21. San Francisco 49ers: T.J. Edwards, LB, Wisconsin

Who knows what’s going to happen with Reuben Foster. If his legal troubles persist, the 49ers could seek his replacement. Third-round pick Fred Warner is more of a coverage linebacker while Edwards is good at coming up against the run.

22. Los Angeles Chargers: Shea Patterson, QB, Michigan

A transfer from Ole Miss, Patterson is already being referred to by Michigan coaches as a playmaker. In just seven games last season at Ole Miss, Patterson threw for 2,259 yards and 17 touchdowns. If he can quickly develop under Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, he could end up being one-and-done with the Wolverines.

23. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn

Stidham has to take a step forward in his development this season, but he has the type of raw tools you often see in a quarterback.

24. Carolina Panthers: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

Tight end is always a hard position to project a year out, but Fant looks like a good one. The 6’5, 241-pound junior to be caught 28 passes for 486 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. He could replace Greg Olsen, who turns 34 next March and has been flirting with TV the past few offseasons.

25. Atlanta Falcons: Jeffrey Simmons, DT, Mississippi State

More defensive tackles for the Falcons. It’s like offensive linemen for the Seahawks.

26. Los Angeles Rams: Marvell Tell, S, Southern California

Lamarcus Joyner is playing on the franchise tag this season, and may price himself out of Los Angeles. Tell, who is about to begin his third season starting at USC, has a nose for the ball.

27. Green Bay Packers (via New Orleans Saints): Austin Bryant, Edge, Clemson

Four players from the same defensive line in the first round would probably be some type of record. The Packers didn’t add an edge rusher in the draft, and Bryant is decent at getting after the quarterback.

28. Minnesota Vikings: Josh Allen, Edge, Kentucky

You read that correctly. There’s another Josh Allen in the draft. The Vikings have several high price free agents coming up, including Anthony Barr. Like Barr, Anthony could be converted back to linebacker.

29. Green Bay Packers: Jake Bentley, QB, South Carolina

This one will probably be considered controversial. However, taking a first-round quarterback in 2019 would give the Packers a fifth-year option on a rookie deal. With Aaron Rodgers turning 35 in December, could Green Bay replace him when his contract runs out after the 2019 season.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers: David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State

The drama surrounding Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh isn’t going away. In Montgomery the Steelers may see a running back who can do some of the same things as Bell. At Iowa State last season he had 1,094 yards rushing and 35 receptions for 288 yards.

31. Philadelphia Eagles: Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson

Look, I’m intrigued as anyone by Jordan Mailata, but the Eagles could go into next year’s draft looking for an offensive lineman. Hyatt considered going pro this year, and should be even better with another year of starting experience at Clemson.

32. New England Patriots: Anfernee Jennings, LB, Alabama

An Alabama linebacker just had to land in the first round. Jennings is lined up on the outside, and will go into the draft as a technically sound tackler with solid athleticism.