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2019 NFL mock draft: The best defensive draft in years is almost here

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Brian Burns and several star defensive linemen headline this year’s draft.

Something unique could happen in the 2019 NFL Draft. In draft the last few years, players on offense have been the hot commodity.

In 2018, seven of the first 10 picks were on offense, including the first three selections. It was seven out of 10 in 2017 and 2015 as well, and five out of 10 in 2016. You have to go all the way back to 2010 when there were more players on defense taken in the top 10 than on offense.

That year’s first round — this was the Tim Tebow year — featured 18 players on defense in the top 32. The 2019 NFL Draft should be similar. In this week’s mock draft, five of the first six picks are on defense.

1. Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

Offseason needs: Interior defensive line, wide receiver, tight end, slot cornerback

In the lead up to the draft, the Cardinals are putting in the work on Murray, Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa, and Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. If the Cardinals don’t know who they’re picking yet, they will soon.

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

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

Like the Cardinals, the 49ers are doing their due diligence on the draft’s top players, including a visit with Mississippi State pass rusher Montez Sweat. Still, unless there’s a trade, Bosa is the best choice for the 49ers. He can play opposite Dee Ford, and the 49ers could finally fix their longstanding pass rush issues.

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

Offseason needs: Offensive tackle, edge defender, cornerback, center

The debate for the Jets on draft night will be about Allen, Williams, and moving down. In an ideal world, that list would include an elite offensive tackle to protect Sam Darnold. Without one, though, the Jets could target Allen for defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ defense. Allen is the type of player who can fix a lot of problems for New York’s defense. He can cover tight ends and running backs, and is a capable pass rusher.

4. Oakland Raiders: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama

Offseason needs: Edge defender, cornerback, running back, linebacker

The draft for the Raiders needs to be about taking the best players and adding talent to an improved roster. With that edict, it should be an easy choice with Williams on the board. Sure, he was essentially a one-year player at Alabama, but his skill level is high.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Devin White, LB, LSU

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

There has been a lot of talk connecting the Buccaneers to Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver. While he’s a very good player, it’s hard to see the value while Tampa Bay still has Gerald McCoy on the roster. White is an excellent player in his own right, and he could star on the team’s defense for years.

6. New York Giants: Brian Burns, Edge, Florida State

Offseason needs: Quarterback, offensive tackle, linebacker, edge rusher

It seems like the talk of the Giants and Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins has settled down recently. Maybe that means New York doubles up on defenders with its two first-round picks. Maybe it means the Giants will take Duke’s Daniel Jones at No. 17. Maybe it’s all been an elaborate smoke screen and no one actually knows anything.

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

Offseason needs: Offensive tackle, tight end, safety, guard

Although it might be smart for the Jaguars to take a quarterback here, chances are Dave Caldwell and Tom Coughlin in the team’s front office don’t agree after signing Nick Foles. Instead, they could use their first pick in the draft to surround Foles with talent. Hockenson would be the perfect safety blanket and would help out in run blocking.

8. Detroit Lions: Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State

Offseason needs: Tight end, linebacker, guard, wide receiver, defensive end

With Hockenson gone, the Lions could look for another pass rusher after signing Trey Flowers in free agency. In this scenario, Sweat is the best one available. The lean and lanky end put out impressive film in two years at Mississippi State.

9. Buffalo Bills: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston

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

As we get closer to the draft, it seems like Oliver’s stock is on the rise. So much so, the Bills might be lucky if he’s around at No. 9. If he is, the pick is a no-brainer. If he’s not, the Bills could look for an offensive tackle like Jawaan Taylor of Florida or Cody Ford of Oklahoma.

10. Denver Broncos: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

Offseason needs: Linebacker, tight end, cornerback, defensive tackle

There continues to be plenty of talk about this pick being a quarterback, whether it’s Haskins or even Drew Lock of Missouri. Haskins can be argued. It would be hard to say the same about Lock. If the Broncos don’t take a quarterback here, and White is gone, Fant makes sense. Newly acquired quarterback Joe Flacco knows how to make good use out of tight ends, justifying using a top-10 pick on one.

11. Cincinnati Bengals: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State

Offseason needs: Linebacker, tight end, quarterback, offensive tackle

Haskins is the player I think the Bengals are coveting in this draft. Or at least they should be. Andy Dalton has been nothing but average throughout his career, and Haskins has the toolset of a franchise quarterback.

12. Green Bay Packers: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama

Offseason needs: Tight end, safety, defensive line, offensive line

This is a tough spot for the Packers with the top two tight ends and best defensive linemen all gone. If that situation plays out, the Packers could look toward the offensive line at No. 12. Although Williams played left tackle at Alabama last season, projections for his position in the NFL are all over the place. He could play at right tackle for Green Bay, or even move inside.

13. Miami Dolphins: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida

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

This isn’t a fun pick like a quarterback, or a sexy one like a pass rusher. But Taylor is a rock-solid player who could step into the spot vacated by Ja’Wuan James at right tackle. As the Dolphins start a rebuild in earnest, a dependable player like Taylor has high value.

14. Atlanta Falcons: Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan

Offseason needs: Defensive tackle, cornerback, tight end, pass rusher

The speculation about this pick has been about a defensive tackle throughout the offseason. But why not a player who can move inside to tackle, or hold down a spot on the edge? Gary’s college stats may have been unspectacular, but he could do a lot in Dan Quinn’s defense.

15. Washington: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

Offseason needs: Left guard, wide receiver, edge rusher, offensive tackle

Lock is singularly the most difficult player to place in a mock draft. His smallish hands and erratic play should, theoretically, eliminate him from the discussion in the first round. However, we’ve seen time and again, NFL teams love to gamble on big-armed quarterbacks in the draft. Washington and Bruce Allen could be that team this year.

16. Carolina Panthers: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

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

Although an offensive lineman shouldn’t be overlooked by the Panthers at No. 16, it would be hard to take something other than a pass rusher. That’s especially the case if Ferrell is still available. In fact, you have to wonder if the Panthers will get antsy and try to move up to make sure they get one of the draft’s top pass rushers.

17. New York Giants (via Cleveland Browns): Devin Bush, LB, Michigan

Offseason needs: Quarterback, offensive tackle, linebacker, edge rusher

A defense with the addition of Bush and Burns would be a strong step forward for the Giants. Suddenly, they’d have an athletic front seven capable of rushing the quarterback and covering a lot of space. While it does push the need for a quarterback back a year, it takes advantage of this draft’s strengths on the defensive side of the ball.

18. Minnesota Vikings: Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma

Offseason needs: Guard, defensive tackle, tight end, offensive tackle

It’s apparent that Minnesota will go into the draft needing to bolster its offensive line. A player like Ford may not have a spot at left tackle in the NFL, but he is a powerful right tackle who could also be looked at on the inside.

19. Tennessee Titans: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

Offseason needs: Guard, tight end, nose tackle, edge defender

Wilkins doesn’t fit the biggest needs for the Titans, but he would be hard to pass up if he’s on the board at No. 19. He can play multiple spots on the defensive line, but his best role is a three-technique tackle creating pressure.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington

Offseason needs: Cornerback, tight end, safety, wide receiver

With Joe Haden down to his final contract year in Pittsburgh and Artie Burns failing to live up to his first-round draft placement a few years ago, the Steelers will be taking at least one cornerback in the draft. That could happen as early as the first round with a player like Murphy. He’s tough and physical, and the fans would absolutely love him.

21. Seattle Seahawks: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss

Offseason needs: Defensive line, guard, safety, wide receiver

With injuries starting to pile up for Doug Baldwin, the Seahawks could target a wide receiver at some point in this draft. Metcalf may be limited in his route running, but he’s an excellent big-body target who has the speed to stretch the defense. The Seahawks may love to run the ball more than any other team, but Metcalf could really develop with Russell Wilson throwing him the ball.

22. Baltimore Ravens: Garrett Bradbury, OL, North Carolina State

Offseason needs: Edge rusher, wide receiver, linebacker

If one of the edge rushers drops to here, look for that to be the target for Baltimore. If not, a reliable blocker like Bradbury could be in play. The NC State standout can line up at center or guard. With Marshal Yanda entering the last year of his contract, the Ravens will have to start rebuilding the interior of their offensive line soon.

23. Houston Texans: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State

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

If Dillard is around when the Texans pick, he’s an easy choice. Getting a starting left tackle with the 23rd pick would be a coup. It’s possible, though. Dillard gets a lot of praise as being the draft’s top pass blocker, but his run blocking leaves a little to be desired. Regardless, that’s something Houston can work on. The team needs offensive line talent in a bad way.

24. Oakland Raiders (via Chicago): Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

Offseason needs: Edge defender, cornerback, running back, linebacker

The draft grades for Williams are all over the place, but a corner with his size and speed will be attractive for plenty of teams. Jon Gruden showed last year with Arden Key that he’s willing to gamble on traits over skills. He could do it again this year with Williams.

25. Philadelphia Eagles: Chris Lindstrom, G, Boston College

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

Lindstrom is the kind of plug-and-play prospect a playoff team like Philadelphia should be after in this draft. Don’t forget, it was just last month that Jason Kelce flirted with retirement before ultimately deciding to re-sign with the Eagles. If Philadelphia is concerned about that happening after this season, Lindstrom is at the least some insurance. Don’t put it past Lindstrom to push for a starting guard job, though.

26. Indianapolis Colts: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

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

Although Lawrence may not provide much as a pass rusher in the NFL, he’s a physically gifted defensive tackle who drives blockers into the backfield. Lawrence may be in the 340-pound range, but he’s quick off the snap and has the power to occupy multiple blockers.

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

Offseason needs: Edge defender, cornerback, running back, linebacker

I’m continuing to hold strong on Jacobs being a first-round running back and an excellent fit for Oakland. Isaiah Crowell is more of a backup at this stage, and Jacobs has the ability to be a work horse back in the NFL.

28. Los Angeles Chargers: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, DB, Florida

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

The Chargers experimented last season playing as many as seven defensive backs at a time. In fact, in a game against the Ravens, the team fielded seven defensive backs on 58 of 59 plays. If that’s the scheme for Gus Bradley, he needs more bodies. There might be cornerbacks or safeties better than Gardner-Johnson, but there isn’t a player who can do both as well as he can.

29. Kansas City Chiefs: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma

Offseason needs: Edge rusher, cornerback, defensive tackle, center

Hmmm...

Just try to imagine an offense with Brown and Tyreek Hill. Or imagine Brown being the replacement if Hill happens to be released following his latest alleged off-field incident.

30. Green Bay Packers: (via New Orleans): Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware

Offseason needs: Tight end, safety, defensive line, offensive line

Signing Adrian Amos was a good play by the Packers, but they still need some help at safety. A player like Adderley excels in dropping in coverage and playing the ball. In Green Bay, he could fill that role while Amos plays a more versatile role.

31. Los Angeles Rams: Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State

Offseason needs: Linebacker, guard, cornerback, defensive line

This pick was very nearly Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons. General manager Les Snead has shown in the past he’s willing to gamble on elite talent, and that’s what Simmons would exemplify, even if does sit out a year due to injury. But if the Rams play it safer, you can’t play it any more safe than Risner. He’s an experienced, multi-positional standout the Rams could consider at several spots on the offensive line.

32. New England Patriots: A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss

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

There are a number of directions the Patriots go at No. 32. They’d probably prefer is one of the pass rushers goes into free fall. If that doesn’t happen, Bill Belichick can find a skill position player on offense, whether it’s a wide receiver or a tight end. This week it’s a wide receiver. Brown played in the slot a lot at Ole Miss, but has the game and skillset to move to the outside in the NFL.