By: Rajan Nanavati
Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way: NFL Mock Drafts are basically the internet’s equivalent of rocking chairs — they give you something to do, but they don’t get you anywhere.
But since everyone seems to love them, and since we’re staring squarely into an abyss of six months without any meaningful football, hopefully yet another mock draft — like the one below — will help you get your fix of football, especially after Super Bowl LIII turned out to be such a massive letdown in so many ways.
1. Arizona: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State — At least as of right now, it would be a shock if the Arizona Cardinals didn’t take Nick Bosa with the #1 overall pick. The Ohio State defensive end is considered to be at least on par with his older brother, Joey Bosa, in terms of his overall talent and polish. Arizona could slide him right in to their pass rushing rotation featuring Chandler Jones and Markus Golden.
2. San Francisco: Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky — In an NFL Draft that’s chock-full of defensive line talent, the San Francisco 49ers can’t possibly draft yet another defensive lineman with their top pick, for the fourth year in a row… can they? Let’s stick with “no” as the early word. Instead, the 49ers will take the best (non-defensive line) edge rusher in this draft class.
3. NY Jets: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama — Let’s start with this: if there’s a team that’s looking to make a trade up to go get a quarterback, like — ironically — the New York Jets did with Sam Darnold last year, here’s the spot that’s very likely to be open for the business of trading down. But for the purposes of this mock, it’s hard to see New York — running a 4-3 defense under Gregg Williams — pass on Quinnen Williams.
4. Oakland: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston — New General Manager Mike Mayock already said the Oakland Raiders are basically going to be looking for help all over the defense. And with Jon Gruden lamenting how the team doesn’t have any pass rush (after trading away one of the best pass rushers of this generation), Ed Oliver wreaking havoc up the middle would make sense here.
5. Tampa Bay: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama — Tampa Bay was considered to have a bottom-10 offensive line last year. They could draft Jonah Williams, and start him out playing inside at guard (where many people feel he might be best suited), with the long-term plan of moving him out to right tackle (to replace Demar Dotson).
6. NY Giants: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State — At some point, somebody in the New York Giants’ organization has tostop kidding themselves and pretending this team is going to have a modicum of relevance with Eli Manning under center. Since they’re terrified of pushing Manning out the door prematurely, they can draft Dwayne Haskins as the heir apparent, and sit him on the bench in 2019, until Manning’s contract runs out.
7. Jacksonville: Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma — My early guess is that the Jacksonville Jaguars acquire Nick Foles as their new starting quarterback for next year, and then use their NFL Draft and free agent capital to fix up the rest of the team. In this case, they could draft a fast-rising offensive tackle like Cody Ford, pair him with the returning-from-injury Cam Robinson, and re-commit to the running game by beefing up the offensive line.
8. Detroit: Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan — The defensive line situation for the Detroit Lions could get very ugly this offseason, especially if they can’t bring back free agent Ziggy Ansah. Regardless, they could very well draft someone like RashanGary here, as they could use him in multiple spots along the line. Of course, that’s assuming he’ll be available here; he’s got the type of freakshow athleticism where he’s going to light the NFL Scouting Combine on fire.
9. Buffalo: Jeffrey Simmons, DT, Mississippi State — Buffalo Bills General Manager Brandon Beane is going to stick with a plan of taking the best overall player at the spot he’s picking. Jeffrey Simmons is quickly entrenching himself as a top-10 talent in this year’s draft, and Buffalo could take him as a replacement after the retirement of stalwart defensive lineman Kyle Williams.
10. Denver: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri — Case Keenum will be a free agent at the end of the season, but the Denver Broncos already know he’s not their long-term answer at the position. There’s a lot of smoke connecting Drew Lock with the Broncos, and with a solid outing during the week of Senior Bowl practices, he’s probably secured himself a spot in the top half of the first round.
11. Cincinnati: Devin White, LB, LSU — “Life after Vontaze Burfict” has been a familiar edict in Cincinnati, but there’s thought that the team wants/needs to overhaul their entire group at linebackers, including Burfict. Devin White is a playmaking Swiss Army knife linebacker that’s a building block-type player.
12. Green Bay: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson — Pass rusher continues to be a need for the Green Bay Packers (albeit among other positions). While Clelin Ferrell looks more like a 4-3 edge rusher, there are plenty who think that he can use his explosiveness and polished technique while standing up on the outside in a 3-4 defense.
13. Miami: Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State — After finishing the year ranked 31st against the run and 29th in sacks (the entire team combined for just 31 sacks), Miami will likely focus on giving their defensive line a serious infusion of talent and depth. Montez Sweat had a very impressive week at the Senior Bowl, and might’ve locked up a top-half-of-the-first-round selection.
14. Atlanta: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson — Even if Atlanta re-signs defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (and they’ve given every indication that they’ll do their best to do so), they still need to beef up quality and depth of their defensive line. Wilkins is exactly the type of three-down defensive tackle that NFL teams now covet.
15. Washington: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke — With the (unsurprising) news that Alex Smith likely won’t play for much of the 2019 season (if at all), the Washington Redskins again find themselves with the need for a long-term answer at quarterback. Daniel Jones is a big, “body beautiful” quarterback whom Duke University Head Coach David Cutcliffe has gushed about. But, he might be getting pushed up draft boards, despite questions about his inconsistent accuracy, overall arm strength, and injury history, because of the lack of quarterback talent in this draft.
16. Carolina: Dalton Risner, OT, Kansas State — While Dalton Risner played three years at tackle for Kansas State, a lot of teams see him playing along the interior of the offensive line; specifically at center, where he played as a freshman. With center Ryan Kalil retiring, the Panthers now have a need at that spot.
17. Cleveland: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU — It would be surprising, but not totally unfathomable, to see Andraez“Greedy” Williams fall this far in the NFL Draft. If it were to happen, this pick would be an absolute steal for the Cleveland Browns, adding another blue chip talent to a defensive unit that was among the best in the league against the pass last year.
18. Minnesota: Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss — Among all the things that went wrong for the Minnesota Vikings this year, the biggest one was an issue we saw from the very beginning: their porous offensive line. The Vikings allowed the most pressures of any team in the league last year, and could be parting ways with at least two starting offensive linemen from this past season.
19. Tennessee: Jachai Polite, OLB, Florida — For the second year in a row, nobody on the Tennessee Titans registered more than eight sacks over the course of a season; by comparison, 28 different players around the league had at least eight sacks this year. The Tennessee Titans adding someone like Jachai Polite could bolster their pass rush by pairing him with Harold Landry and replacing the retired Brian Orakpo.
20. Pittsburgh: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia — As a team, the Pittsburgh Steelers picked off opposing quarterbacks just eight times last year, which was both third-fewest in the NFL, and the fewest ever recorded by the Steelers in 69 years. Deandre Baker would be excellent value here, especially with Joe Haden being a potential cap casualty after this season, and with virtually nothing on the roster behind Haden.
21. Seattle: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan — For the first time in a while, we’re mentioning offensive line as a three-alarm glaring need for the Seattle Seahawks (though they could still stand to improve there). Seattle might use the draft to upgrade their defense, including finding a long-term replacement for KJ Wright, given his potential troublesome knee issues.
22. Baltimore: DK Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss — Now that this is officially Lamar Jackson’s offense, Baltimore will do everything to improve the supporting cast around him. Baltimore is particularly sub-par at wide receiver, considering nobody on the team had more than 715 yards or five receiving touchdowns. At 6’3 and 225lbs, DK Metcalf has drawn comparisons to Josh Gordon for his combination of size, speed, and athleticism.
23. Houston: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida — You could’ve literally charged most of the Houston Texans’ offensive line with criminal assault and batttery this season, for the protection — or unmitigated lack thereof — given to Deshaun Watson; he was sacked a league-high 62 times this year. It’s not an exaggeration to say this was one of the worst units in the NFL (at any position), so any influx of talent here would be of help.
24. Oakland (via Chicago): Brian Burns, OLB, Florida State— The irony can’t be restated enough here. Oakland will almost certainly be devoting draft capital to find an edge rusher; in this case, they’d be using a pick they acquired… after trading away an edge rusher. Nonetheless, Brian Burns has the explosion and overall athleticism that will intrigue a lot of teams.
25. Philadelphia: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson — With Tim Jernigan’s immediate future in question due to an injury affecting his back & neck (which the team is still trying to sort through), the Philadelphia Eagles only have Fletcher Cox as a full-time defensive lineman they can count on next season. As a team that’s never afraid to invest along the lines, adding Lawrence — who’d pair very nicely with Cox — would make a lot of sense for them here.
26. Indianapolis: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington — Comparing what Chris Ballard has done with Colts’ draft picks vs. what Ryan Grigson did is like comparing the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with a ketchup stain on a fast food napkin. Adding a no-bullshit cornerback like Byron Murphy would continue to make Indianapolis’ defense one of the most intriguing up-and-coming units in the NFL.
27. Oakland (from Dallas): Noah Fant, TE, Iowa — Tight end Jared Cook led the Oakland Raiders in targets, yards, and receiving touchdowns last year, but he’s a free agent this offseason, and history tells us that you can’t count him to replicate those types of numbers consistently. Keeping in line with building for the long term, Noah Fant has enormous upside as an athletic pass-catching tight end.
28. LA Chargers: Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama — With inside linebacker Denzel Perryman set to be a free agent this offseason, given the fact that he was a disappointment for LA this past season, there’s a fair chance they look for his replacement in the draft. Mack Wilson is another classic seek-and-destroy inside linebacker coming out of Tuscaloosa, and his ability to play in space fits within Gus Bradley’s defensive scheme.
29. Kansas City: Deionte Thompson, Safety, Alabama — While Eric Berry did make it back on the field this year, he’s reportedly going to need offseason surgery on his heel, and he could be a cap casualty after next season. Deionte Thompson’s draft stock is admittedly falling, but teams still love the upside that he presents. He could help provide stability to a secondary that really struggled last year.
30. Green Bay (from New Orleans): TJ Hockenson, TE, Iowa — Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers struggled last year when they had to throw the ball to anyone other than Davante Adams. While Jimmy Graham is still in the team’s plans next year, there’s thought that they could draft someone here now, use him in two-tight end sets this year, and groom him to be Graham’s long-term replacement.
31. LA Rams: Zach Allen, DE, Boston College — Depending on whether you place any stock in the fact that the Los Angeles Rams didn’t do much to pressure Tom Brady in Super Bowl LIII, or the fact that nobody on the Rams not named Aaron Donald had more than five sacks, they still need help in the form of edge pass rushers, even if they do bring back Dante Fowler Jr.
32. New England: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma — New England’s succession plan at quarterback was ruined by Tom Brady demanding that Jimmy Garoppolo be traded (and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise). But at some point, they have to start thinking about life after TB12. Drafting Murray here would allow him to sit and develop behind Brady (at least until Brady runs to Kraft and demands another backup gets traded).