What if the NFL had a draft lottery like the NBA, with a bit of a twist? Instead of the three worst teams having a shot at the first pick, what if every team in the league had an equal chance at the top pick?
It would never happen, of course, but it’s a fun thought exercise to examine team needs with players they might not have a chance at drafting with their original pick. So, we randomized the entire order of the first round to see how teams might draft if they weren’t at their current slots. (To get the order, we just typed the pick number into a list randomizer.)
First up? The Oakland Raiders — who ended up with three picks in the top 12 of the draft.
1. Oakland Raiders: Nick Bosa, Edge Rusher, Ohio State
Original pick: No. 27 (via the Dallas Cowboys)
Sorry, Cowboys fans. You landed the top pick in the draft, but it ended up going to the Raiders because of the Amari Cooper trade. The Raiders only had 13 sacks last year after trading away Khalil Mack — it’s clear they need a ton of help on that side of the ball. They can get arguably the best player in the draft in pass-rushing menace Nick Bosa.
2. Cincinnati Bengals: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
Original pick: No. 11
Cincinnati has a chance to do something exciting for once. The Bengals have been floating in mediocrity since they drafted Andy Dalton in 2011. Now that they’ve been given the second pick in the draft, they can move on to a new quarterback, and era, by selecting Kyler Murray. Similar to our actual mock draft, Murray ends up being the first quarterback off the board.
3. Baltimore Ravens: Josh Allen, Edge Rusher, Kentucky
Original pick: No. 22
Baltimore’s priority in the draft should be surrounding Lamar Jackson with as many weapons as possible, but there aren’t many viable options with the third pick. Instead, the Ravens can add a star edge defender: Kentucky’s Josh Allen, who would be a great replacement for Za’Darius Smith.
4. Miami Dolphins: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
Original pick: No. 13
What better way to start off a rebuild than by drafting one of the premier defensive talents this year? Even with the fourth pick in the draft, Quinnen Williams could be considered a steal. He has the ability to wreck offenses in the run and pass game. He would immediately give new head coach Brian Flores a star player on the defensive line.
5. Green Bay Packers: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
Original pick: No. 12
Green Bay’s revamping of its defensive line continues with the selection of Ed Oliver. Oliver would join Kenny Clark, Mike Daniels, Preston Smith, and Za’Darius Smith, making the Packers one of the most feared defensive lines in the league.
6. Oakland Raiders: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
Original pick: No. 4
The Raiders’ original pick only fell two spots in the randomizer. They already bolstered their edge rush by selecting Bosa, and now they can shore up their secondary by drafting Greedy Williams. Williams, Gareon Conley, and Karl Joseph would give the Raiders a terrific trio of young defensive backs to build around.
7. Philadelphia Eagles: Devin White, LB, LSU
Original pick: No. 25
The Eagles don’t have too many holes to fill, so they can afford to make a bit of a luxury pick. The defense could use an upgrade at linebacker after the loss of Jordan Hicks in free agency. Devin White could start immediately and potentially be an improvement over Hicks, who struggled with injuries during his time in Philadelphia.
8. New England Patriots: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
Original pick: No. 32
Who let this happen? The Patriots were blessed by the randomizer with a top-10 pick and ended up finding the perfect replacement for Rob Gronkowski.
9. Kansas City Chiefs: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
Original pick: No. 29
Sure, the defense still has some holes, but could you imagine adding a mega talent like D.K. Metcalf to the Chiefs’ offense? Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Metcalf would give them an opportunity to score a touchdown every time they touched the ball.
10. Green Bay Packers: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
Original pick: No. 30 (via the New Orleans Saints)
The pick that the Packers received from the Saints in last year’s draft jumps to the top 10 with the help of the randomizer. Here, Green Bay can solidify its front seven by drafting speedy Michigan linebacker Devin Bush.
11. Atlanta Falcons: Brian Burns, Edge Rusher, Florida State
Original pick: No. 14
Atlanta’s dream pick is Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver, but he didn’t fall far enough in this mock draft. The Falcons can still boost their pass rush by selecting Florida State defensive end Brian Burns, who would provide competition to former first-round pick Vic Beasley.
12. Oakland Raiders: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
Original pick: No. 24 (via the Chicago Bears)
After going defense with their first two picks, the Raiders can add an offensive weapon to complete their first round. Noah Fant is the second Iowa tight end to go in the first round and could fill the void left by Jared Cook, who signed with the Saints in free agency.
13. New York Giants: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
Original pick: No. 6
No matter what Dave Gettleman and the Giants might believe, Eli Manning doesn’t have too much time left as the starting quarterback in New York. Their original first-round pick dropped seven spots, but they’re still able to nab the quarterback of the future in Dwayne Haskins.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Montez Sweat, Edge Rusher, Mississippi State
Original pick: No. 5
Tampa Bay needs pass rushers. The Bucs have a solid one in Jason Pierre-Paul, but they could stand to add a young gun early in the draft. Montez Sweat and his 4.41-second 40-yard dash could wreak havoc in Todd Bowles’ aggressive scheme.
15. Minnesota Vikings: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
Original pick: No. 18
The Vikings have needed offensive line help for what seems like an eternity. They might have one longterm keeper in 2018 second-round pick Brian O’Neill, but they need a few more bodies to make life easier on Kirk Cousins. Jonah Williams has the flexibility to play guard before transitioning out to left tackle in the future.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
Original pick: No. 7
Jacksonville has gone all-in on Nick Foles for the next couple of years, so it’d be wise to protect that investment. The Jaguars have a hole at right tackle after cutting Jermey Parnell. Pairing Florida’s Jawaan Taylor with Cam Robinson would give them a strong duo at offensive tackle.
17. New York Jets: Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan
Original pick: No. 3
The Jets’ pick fell out of the top three, but they still have a chance to land a high-upside defensive lineman. Gary isn’t a finished product yet, but his outrageous athleticism (he ran a 4.58 40-yard dash at 277 pounds!) fits in well with Gregg Williams’ aggressive style of defense.
18. Indianapolis Colts: Jerry Tillery, DL, Notre Dame
Original pick: No. 26
Jerry Tillery makes a ton of sense for the Colts. One big thing their defense was missing last season was an impact defensive lineman who can really rush the passer. Tillery is a guy who can play everywhere on the defensive line and be productive from multiple spots.
19. Houston Texans: Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma
Original pick: No. 23
The Texans gave up 62 sacks last season — 62. Their first-round pick almost has to be an offensive lineman if they want to keep getting the most out of young star Deshaun Watson. Cody Ford would be the immediate starter at right tackle. This is a selection that would make sense no matter where they were picking in the draft.
20. Buffalo Bills: A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
Original pick: No. 9
The Bills fell out of the top 10 due to the randomizer, but they can still add a receiver to pair with Josh Allen. Ole Miss’ A.J. Brown is a big bodied, do-it-all receiver who would continue to upgrade the Bills’ receivers room. A.J. Brown, John Brown, and Cole Beasley is a massive improvement from Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones, and Robert Foster.
21. Tennessee Titans: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
Original pick: No. 19
Tennessee could use some help along the defensive front. The Titans have Jurrell Casey and Harold Landry, but another interior presence could take their defense to the next level. Christian Wilkins is a high-motor player who had a ton of production at Clemson during his four-year run there.
22. New York Giants: Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State
Original pick: No. 17 (via the Cleveland Browns)
The Giants did sign Golden Tate, but they need another big-time receiver after trading away Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns. A pass rusher would make sense here too, but pairing a young receiver with a young quarterback isn’t a terrible idea. By drafting Hakeem Butler, they can ensure that Dwayne Haskins will have a solid supporting cast to step into when he takes over for Eli Manning.
23. San Francisco 49ers: N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
Original pick: No. 2
Awful luck for the 49ers. They fell from the second pick to the 23rd and missed out on some stalwart defensive talent. Still, they have a chance to help out quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo as he tries to bounce back from his ACL tear with an elite talent like Arizona State wide receiver N’Keal Harry.
24. Denver Broncos: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
Original pick: No. 10
Denver can still land the player who’s being mocked to them most in our mock draft database. Lock may not be ready to start right now, but that’s not a big deal since the Broncos acquired Joe Flacco in a trade.
25. Los Angeles Chargers: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
Original pick: No. 28
Adding premium secondary talent is never a bad idea. Byron Murphy has the potential to play outside corner and slot corner at the next level. He would also give the Chargers some insurance if Trevor Williams isn’t able to get back to his 2017 level of play.
26. Carolina Panthers: Clelin Ferrell, Edge Rusher, Clemson
Original pick: No. 16
The Panthers have a choice to make on draft day. They can either upgrade their pass protection for Cam Newton, or make a splash on the defensive line. Carolina at least brought back tackle Daryl Williams, so the team might choose to add a defensive end in the first round. The Panthers’ edge depth is thin with the retirement of Julius Peppers; taking Clemson pass rusher Clelin Ferrell would help them start the youth movement on the defensive line.
27. Pittsburgh Steelers: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
Original pick: No. 20
Pittsburgh has tried to patch up its cornerback talent since the days of Ike Taylor, but nothing has really stuck yet. Drafting Deandre Baker to play alongside the recently signed Steven Nelson could finally be the cornerback pairing that the Steelers have been looking for.
28. Seattle Seahawks: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
Original pick: No. 21
The Seahawks’ offensive line took a step forward in their first year without OL coach Tom Cable, but they can still use an injection of talent. Dillard could slide in as the starting right tackle right away before taking over as the left tackle whenever Duane Brown decides to call it quits.
29. Detroit Lions: Amani Oruwariye, CB, Penn State
Original pick: No. 8
The Lions bolstered their defense in a big way by signing former Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers to a monster deal to open the offseason. One hole they still have on their defense is a corner to play with Darius Slay and the newly signed Justin Coleman. Penn State’s Amani Oruwariye can help them fill that void.
30. Arizona Cardinals: Garrett Bradbury, C, NC State
Original pick: No. 1
The randomizer was brutal for the Cardinals, who dropped from the first pick in the draft to the end of the first round. It’s good for Josh Rosen though, because the Cardinals end up missing out on Kyler Murray. Here, they can draft a gift for Rosen and upgrade his offensive line play with Garrett Bradbury.
31. Los Angeles Rams: Chase Winovich, Edge Rusher, Michigan
Original pick: No. 31
The Rams are the only team that kept their original pick when the order was randomized. They can add to their pass rush by picking Michigan’s Chase Winovich. Winovich and Clay Matthews would instantly give the Rams the best hair duo in the league.
32. Washington: Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State
Original pick: No. 15
As their roster is currently constructed, Washington is slated to give Ereck Flowers a chance to start at left guard. Based on his previous playing history, that can’t be a real option for them headed into the season. They get a tough, versatile, technically sound offensive lineman in Dalton Risner who can start from day one.