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2019 NFL mock draft: How free agency could affect the 1st round

Here’s how the first round could play out, before team needs shift dramatically when free agency starts this week.

Free agency opens this week, and it will affect the 2019 NFL Draft greatly. Perceived team needs will change by each signing. In turn, a team’s draft focus will shift to other areas.

For now, here’s how the first round could shake out in April:

1. Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

Offseason needs: Offensive line, interior defensive line, wide receiver, tight end

Nothing has happened in the past week to dispel the notion that the Cardinals would take someone other than Murray with the first pick in the draft. In the grand scheme of things, it may seem unwise to take a quarterback with the first pick after using a first-round pick on the position just a year ago. But if general manager Steve Keim is confident Murray is a better fit for coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, that is all the defense he needs.

2. San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State

Offseason needs: Safety, edge defender, wide receiver, cornerback

At the NFL Scouting Combine, I asked 49ers general manager John Lynch to describe what he looks for in the LEO position on his defense. Here’s how he replied:

“The LEO position is really the open-side player. Basically, that’s a guy that can win one-on-one rushes at a high rate. You have to have a guy who can close out games, close out halves. When you have them, they can be a difference-maker.

“I think we’re also looking for powerful players. The great thing about (defensive line coach) Kris Kocurek and what he’s going to do and what we’ve wanted to do and why we were interested in him: He cuts these guys loose. They’re going to be playing with a quick trigger and getting after it. But, those are guys that can get to the quarterback and finish him.”

Sounds a lot like Bosa, doesn’t it?

3. New York Jets: Josh Allen, DE/OLB, Kentucky

Offseason needs: Running back, offensive tackle, edge defender, cornerback

Some have Alabama’s Quinnen Williams here, but I’m holding with Allen for now. While Williams might have the higher rating, Allen isn’t far behind him and fits what the Jets need better.

The real thing to watch with this pick is a potential trade down, especially with a team that wants to get Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins. The Jets would love to recoup some draft capital given up in last year’s deal to move up to take Sam Darnold.

4. Oakland Raiders: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama

Offseason needs: Edge defender, cornerback, running back, right tackle

The Raiders made the big move for wide receiver Antonio Brown and somehow managed to keep all three of their first-round picks. That’s quite the stroke of genius by Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock. With those three picks, and the 35th overall pick, the Raiders can continue reshaping one of the NFL’s worst rosters. That could include Williams, a powerful force in the middle of a defense.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State

Offseason needs: Safety, edge defender, linebacker, offensive line

Last offseason, the Buccaneers signed pass rushers Jason Pierre-Paul and Vinny Curry. Pierre-Paul thrived with 12.5 sacks, while Curry was injured for much of the season and was released after the season. That leaves Tampa Bay potentially looking for a new partner for Pierre-Paul. That could be Sweat, who has the profile of a 4-3 end but the playing style of a 3-4 pass rusher.

6. New York Giants: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State

Offseason needs: Quarterback, offensive tackle, safety, linebacker

The Giants are one of the teams to watch when it comes to a trade for Rosen. Could New York’s pick at No. 37 be enough to land Rosen? If it is, the Giants won’t have to take a quarterback with the sixth pick. For now, without adding a quarterback yet, Haskins makes the most sense for the Giants.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa

Offseason needs: Quarterback, offensive line, tight end, safety

When the Jaguars inevitably sign quarterback Nick Foles in free agency, it’s imperative they smartly build around him. What smarter way than a dependable tight end who can help in the pass and run game? Hockenson is one of this draft’s best prospects because he’s such a good all-around player. He may not be Travis Kelce or Rob Gronkowski, but he has traits of both in his game.

8. Detroit Lions: Devin White, LB, LSU

Offseason needs: Edge defender, tight end, linebacker, guard

Pairing White with Jarrad Davis would give the Lions one of the most imposing pairs of linebackers in the NFL. White is a linebacker who can make plays all over the field, and he is a real student of the game. He’s the type of prospect who will start as a rookie, notch 100 tackles, and make the Pro Bowl.

9. Buffalo Bills: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama

Offseason needs: Offensive line, defensive tackle, wide receiver, cornerback

A lot of what the Bills do with the ninth pick in the draft will be determined by how they handle free agency. If Buffalo signs a couple of veteran offensive linemen, the need to take an offensive lineman in the first round will disappear. If not, a player like Williams is a prime target with the No. 9 pick. He can play on either side of the line, and some even prefer him at guard.

10. Denver Broncos: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston

Offseason needs: Offensive line, cornerback, tight end, linebacker

The Broncos are seeking a replacement for Domata Peko in the middle of their defensive line. While Oliver isn’t a pure nose tackle type of player like Peko, he can give Denver a player up front who can create pressure and help stop the run.

11. Cincinnati Bengals: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida

Offseason needs: Offensive tackle, linebacker, tight end, quarterback

If Taylor is still on the board when the Bengals pick at No. 11, he should be an easy selection. He’s an excellent pass-blocking right tackle, and he has the strength to handle powerful edge rushers. A three-year starter, Taylor is the type of NFL-ready prospect Cincinnati needs.

12. Green Bay Packers: Brian Burns, Edge, Florida State

Offseason needs: Edge defender, tight end, guard, defensive line

Although Iowa tight end Noah Fant would be interesting here, a pass rusher has much more value in the top half of the first round. Burns is a pure speed rusher who had 24 sacks in three seasons at Florida State. He might not offer a lot versus the run, but that’s not what the Packers need.

13. Miami Dolphins: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

Offseason needs: Quarterback, offensive tackle, edge defender, defensive tackle

Ryan Tannehill may have two years left on his contract, but the Dolphins seemed poised to look for an upgrade this offseason. If they don’t add a veteran player in free agency or via a trade, Lock is the obvious choice in the first round. He has a strong arm and won’t hesitate to push the ball down the field.

14. Atlanta Falcons: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

Offseason needs: Defensive tackle, cornerback, guard, tight end

The signing of right tackle Ty Sambrailo eliminates right tackle from the potential needs Atlanta has in the first round. That further points to defensive tackle as being the team’s biggest hole to fill before the season starts. With Oliver and Williams gone, the Falcons could look at Wilkins. He’s an ideal three-technique tackle and would help give Atlanta a formidable duo in the middle along with Grady Jarrett.

15. Washington: DK Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss

Offseason needs: Left guard, wide receiver, safety, edge rusher

Washington is adding quarterback Case Keenum which, I guess, means the team won’t perceive quarterback as a top need this offseason. Good luck! If team president Bruce Allen thinks that, he might be the NFL executive to take a chance on Metcalf’s upside. Someone in the first round will.

16. Carolina Panthers: Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan

Offseason needs: Edge defender, offensive tackle, safety, guard

It’s hard to find a spot in the first half of a draft for a defensive end like Gary, who is better at stopping the run and wasn’t overly productive getting after the quarterback. With Gary, you’re assuming that his ability on the field will match his athleticism. If that happens, a team like Carolina will be the benefactor.

17. Cleveland Browns: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State

Offseason needs: Defensive tackle, offensive tackle, linebacker, cornerback

With all the best defensive tackles gone, the Browns could find their left tackle of the future with Dillard at No. 17. Dillard improved every season at Washington State and excels at handling speed rushers on the edge. He might not start immediately for the Cleveland with Greg Robinson re-signed to a one-year contract, but he can protect Baker Mayfield’s blind side for years to come.

18. Minnesota Vikings: Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma

Offseason needs: Guard, defensive tackle, running back, edge rusher

This might change to a pass rusher if the Vikings do get rid of Everson Griffen, but for now Minnesota needs to improve its offensive line. Ford could slide inside to guard in the NFL, where he can easily take advantage of his stellar run blocker abilities and power.

19. Tennessee Titans: Jachai Polite, edge rusher, Florida

Offseason needs: Wide receiver, edge defender, guard, quarterback

With Brian Orakpo’s retirement and Derrick Morgan entering free agency, the Titans need players who can get after the quarterback. That is Polite’s specialty. He needs to get stronger in the NFL, but he is ready to go getting after the passer.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

Offseason needs: Linebacker, cornerback, tight end, safety, wide receiver

After the Brown trade, the Steelers might consider a wide receiver here to pair with JuJu Smith-Schuster. James Washington should get a considerable bump in targets, but Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown will be tempting. If the Steelers disagree, they could target a cornerback at No. 20. Williams is a speedy athlete with playmaking ability. He just has to play more physical and aggressive in the NFL.

21. Seattle Seahawks: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

Offseason needs: Defensive line, guard, linebacker, tight end

At this point, Ferrell is too good to pass up. At the worst for Seattle, he’s Frank Clark insurance in case the veteran really does end up playing just one more season for the Seahawks.

Ferrell is a consistent pass rusher who finished his career at Clemson with 27 sacks and 50 tackles for loss. He’s also strong against the run, and plays with a good amount of power.

22. Baltimore Ravens: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma

Offseason needs: Edge rusher, wide receiver, linebacker, running back

If the Ravens are serious about getting playmakers for quarterback Lamar Jackson, it has to start with a quality wide receiver. The Ravens showed last season they can scheme run success. But it’s clear that in the passing game, Baltimore needs talent at wide receiver. Brown would immediately assert himself as the Ravens’ lead wideout and give Jackson an excellent deep target.

23. Houston Texans: Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss

Offseason needs: Offensive tackle, cornerback, defensive line, tight end

Deshaun Watson was plastered last season, getting sacked more than 60 times in the regular season and playoffs combined. Little has his flaws — namely his handwork and consistency. But he has the athletic traits teams covet in a left tackle.

24. Oakland Raiders (via Chicago): Byron Murphy, CB, Washington

Offseason needs: Edge defender, cornerback, running back, right tackle

No team in the NFL gave up more yards per attempted pass last season than the Raiders. While a pass rusher should be argued here, a cornerback can’t be ignored. In two seasons at Washington, Murphy had seven interceptions and 20 pass breakups, showing he knows how to play the ball. He is at his best playing off coverage and can handle his own in zone.

25. Philadelphia Eagles: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia

Offseason needs: Cornerback, offensive tackle, running back, defensive line

The Eagles had one of the worst secondaries in the NFL last season. Avonte Maddox looks like a solid player, but Sidney Jones has played just 10 games in two seasons, and Jalen Mills and Rasul Douglas have been inconsistent. Baker is a pro-ready player who likes to get physical with wide receivers on the outside.

26. Indianapolis Colts: Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple

Offseason needs: Defensive end, cornerback, wide receiver, defensive tackle

Although a lot has been made about the Colts needing to find pass rushers in the draft, cornerback can’t be overlooked either. Ya-Sin only played one season of FBS football after beginning his college career at Presbyterian, but he locked receivers down at Temple. He plays with good speed and physicality and will come up and help against the run.

27. Oakland Raiders (via Dallas): Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama

Offseason needs: Edge defender, cornerback, running back, right tackle

The Raiders could double up on former Steelers this offseason by signing running back Le’Veon Bell. If they don’t, the position could be a target early in the draft with Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin hitting free agency. If Jacobs is still there at No. 27, he’d be hard to pass up. He’s the draft’s top running back, with a nice combination of power, agility, and vision.

28. Los Angeles Chargers: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

Offseason needs: Offensive tackle, defensive tackle, linebacker, quarterback

Chargers defensive linemen Brandon Mebane, Darius Philon, and Damion Square are all free agents, leaving Los Angeles with a big need up front. Lawrence is a powerhouse run stopper, but don’t forget that he had 6.5 sacks as a freshman. But with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, the Chargers don’t exactly need pass rushers.

29. Kansas City Chiefs: Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware

Offseason needs: Cornerback, safety, defensive tackle, center

If the Chiefs want a pure safety over a hybrid defensive back like Chauncey Gardner-Johnson of Florida, Adderley is stellar pass coverage safety who actually began his college career at cornerback before playing safety the past two seasons. He’s capable of working in man coverage down in the slot, but he is at his best in single-high safety where he can read the play and break on the ball.

30. Green Bay Packers: (via New Orleans): Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

Offseason needs: Edge defender, tight end, guard, defensive line

The Packers may need interior offensive line help, but Fant could be too talented to pass up. He’s a big pass-catching athlete who would become Aaron Rodgers’ best friend in the red zone. Fant had 19 touchdowns in college and averaged almost 14 yards per catch.

31. Los Angeles Rams: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S/CB, Florida

Offseason needs: Safety, edge defender, guard, offensive tackle

The Rams are poised to lose some players in free agency, with safety Lamarcus Joyner among them. Gardner-Johnson could be an upgrade for the Rams’ secondary. He can play cornerback or safety, and give the Rams a player who can create turnovers. Last season, Gardner-Johnson had four interceptions, and nine for his college career.

32. New England Patriots: Zach Allen, DE, Boston College

Offseason needs: Edge defender, tight end, defensive tackle, wide receiver

Allen is unspectacular as an athlete, but he provides the type of versatility on the defensive line that the Patriots covet. Allen was productive at Boston College, with 199 tackles, 40.5 tackles for loss, and 18.5 sacks. That shows he can set the edge and get into the backfield. Allen isn’t a traditional speed rusher, but the Patriots have proven they can win without that type of player up front.