Mike Tagliere’s NFL Mock Draft 2019 – First Round (1.0)
Even though we’re roughly three months away from the NFL Draft, it’s good for us to walk through the exercise of a simulated draft. Things are going to change every few weeks as we get more information, but when doing these mock drafts, we’re going to realize that just because a team has holes at certain positions, it doesn’t mean they’ll be choosing the player you’d like them to, simply because there may be a void of talent at that position and they don’t want to reach. When we notice things like that, it could point us to where the team will look in free agency, especially if they’re a team who’s built to contend right now.
We’ll be releasing a new mock draft as more information becomes available to ensure you’re always in the know about your favorite team. The biggest swings in the mock drafts will include: Free Agency, NFL Combine, Pre-Draft Trades, and more film-watching to determine talent-level of the players being drafted and scheme fit. With that, let’s get into the 2019 NFL Mock Draft 1.0.
1. Arizona Cardinals – Nick Bosa (DE – Ohio State)
Would it shock me if the Cardinals traded out of this pick? No, they have plenty of holes on their roster and need to completely rebuild the offensive line. But here’s the thing… when you’re rebuilding, you need to acquire talent that lasts for a long time. Edge-rushers last a long time and just happen to be one of the most important positions on the field. While watching Bosa, it’s easy to confuse him for his brother (Joey) who we’ve seen play at a Pro Bowl level. He has excellent closing speed and putting him opposite Chandler Jones in Vance Joseph’s new 3-4 scheme should make everyone around them look better. He’d be better suited for a 4-3 defense but if you can’t make his talent work in your scheme, it’s probably time to change your scheme.
2. San Francisco 49ers – Quinnen Williams (DT – Alabama)
The 49ers aren’t losing much this offseason in free agency and their offense showed competence with undrafted Nick Mullens under center. They need to focus on defense in this draft and while there are bigger needs, it’s not a time to reach for a linebacker or cornerback. Instead, they snag Williams, who is a force up the middle of the field. Putting him alongside DeForest Buckner would give them one of the best defensive tackle combos in the league. They’ll need to address linebacker and cornerback later in the draft, but if they stay at No. 2, it’s hard to see them passing on Williams.
3. New York Jets – Clelin Ferrell (DE – Clemson)
Some may see this as a reach, but the Jets will be transitioning into a 4-3 defense under new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. They have a lot of talent up the middle with Leonard Williams and Mike Pennel, but lack pressure on the edge. Ferrell is built to be an every-down player, which is what you want when selecting in the top-three. They can likely get him a little bit later, so nobody should be shocked if they traded back, but Ferrell would boost the pass-rush.
4. Oakland Raiders – Rashan Gary (DE – Michigan)
This seems like an ideal spot for the Raiders to snag an offensive tackle, but they’d have to admit their mistakes by doing that. After drafting Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker last year who were both terrible in their rookie years, they have some decisions to make. Fortunately for them, they have three first-round picks. They won’t get an elite edge-rusher with picks 24 and 27, however. Gary was playing out of position at Michigan and is believed to be a better edge-rusher than the defensive tackle he was listed as. They need to find someone to replace Khalil Mack and he’s likely the highest 4-3 edge-rusher on their board.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jonah Williams (OT – Alabama)
If you’ve watched the Bucs over the last few years, you know that Jameis Winston makes some bad decisions when pressured. The offensive line has been atrocious for quite some time and they now have an excuse to move on from left tackle Donovan Smith, as he’s set to be an unrestricted free agent. The Bucs have many other needs, but as many have realized, there is a shortage of solid offensive tackles in the NFL and prospects like Williams won’t last until the second-round.
6. New York Giants – Dwayne Haskins (QB – Ohio State)
The Giants continue to say they won’t rush to select a quarterback, but at this point, there’s no “generational talent” that’s a lock like Saquon Barkley was last year, so they have no excuse here. Haskins is a pocket passer, which creates the same issue as Eli Manning, as the offensive line isn’t where it needs to be. Fortunately, Haskins won’t be tripped by a shoelace, as he’s built similarly to Ben Roethlisberger (though he’s a shorter version). A quarterback who completed 70 percent of his passes throwing to Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, and Barkley? Yes, please. He’ll likely be the backup to start the year with his limited experience, but will take over when Manning… well, you know.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – Kyler Murray (QB – Oklahoma)
The quarterback run has begun. Free agency can change this pick quite a bit, as the Jaguars could be interested in someone like Nick Foles or Teddy Bridgewater. It’s expected that the Jaguars will release Blake Bortles, creating a clear need at the game’s most important position. Let’s be honest, even if they retained Bortles, it’s a clear need. While I’m not a fan of drafting Murray this high, it makes sense for their team. They still have an elite defense and he can help mask some of the offensive line holes with his mobility while opening things up for Leonard Fournette.
8. Detroit Lions – Josh Allen (OLB/DE – Kentucky)
He falls further than most think as he’s just not a great scheme fit with the teams at the top of the draft. The Lions have lacked play-makers on the back end of their front-seven, as Ezekiel Ansah has missed a ton of time due to injury and is now an unrestricted free agent, and Jarrad Davis isn’t the difference-maker they’d hoped he’d be. They have very little depth at defensive end/outside linebacker, so they’ll almost certainly be drafting an edge-rusher here, it’s just a matter of who is highest on their board. While I don’t see Allen as a game-changer, he should give them a boost.
9. Buffalo Bills – D.K. Metcalf (WR – Ole Miss)
The Bills already told us they were looking for an alpha wide receiver when they traded for big-bodied Kelvin Benjamin just over a year ago. Unfortunately, they didn’t consult with anyone who actually watched Benjamin play football the past couple years, as he was out of shape, didn’t create separation, and was best used as a tight end in the red zone. Fortunately, Metcalf is the type of player they wanted. He moves extremely well for a player who is 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds and has a ceiling as high as you’d like. He’d provide a big target for the inaccurate Josh Allen, as he high-points the ball very well. The only concern with him is medical, as he suffered a season-ending neck injury in 2018. Provided he’s cleared, Metcalf should be looked at as a top-10 prospect.
10. Denver Broncos – Drew Lock (QB – Missouri)
After swinging and missing on Case Keenum and then cutting Chad Kelly due to an off-the-field incident, John Elway and the Broncos brass take a swing at a future franchise quarterback. He fits the traditional pocket-passer mold, even if I don’t walk away extremely impressed with his game. With the talent they have on the defensive side of the ball, the Broncos may not be picking inside the top-10 for long, so they need to take a chance on one of the quarterbacks, and my bet would be on Lock if he’s there. If they decided to pass on quarterback, I’d highly expect them to go with the top-ranked cornerback on their board.
11. Cincinnati Bengals – Devin White (ILB – LSU)
We don’t know what scheme the Bengals will run just yet, but one thing we do know for certain is that they need linebacker help. White is far-and-away the best inside linebacker available in this draft class. There are inconsistencies, but he flashes what could be a dominant player at times. With Vontaze Burfict getting suspended and/or hurt every other game, it’s time for the Bengals to move on from the troubled linebacker.
12. Green Bay Packers – Montez Sweat (OLB/DE – Mississippi State)
It’s not very often you see the Packers with a pick this high, so they need to make the most of it. Wide receiver is extremely appealing considering the lack of talent around Davante Adams and the likely loss of Randall Cobb, but Aaron Rodgers will make-do with the options they have. Clay Matthews is an unrestricted free agent and he’s been trending in the wrong direction for a few years, while Nick Perry took a slight step back last year. In a division that’s loaded with quarterbacks, the Packers need to get some pressure.
13. Miami Dolphins – Daniel Jones (QB – Duke)
As of right now, the Dolphins are the biggest wildcard in the first-round and they can change the entire landscape of it. We have no idea what defensive scheme Brian Flores will run, we don’t know if they’ll be able to retain multiple starters slated to be free agents, and we don’t know if they’ll cut Ryan Tannehill, though it does appear likely considering his $26.2 million cap hit. Because of that, we’ll go with the “safe” choice of a quarterback. Every year, it seems analysts refuse to believe four quarterbacks will be drafted in the first-round, but at the most important position on a potentially cheap contract, it’s very likely to happen. There are definitely some areas of Jones’ game that need improvement, but he made some great NFL-level throws while at Duke. If he throws well at the Combine, he’ll go in the first-round.
14. Atlanta Falcons – Brian Burns (OLB/DE – Florida State)
A lot of stock in this pick is riding on the Falcons getting defensive tackle Grady Jarrett under contract, as he’s slated to be a free agent. If they weren’t able to retain him, it’d be Ed Oliver going to them with this pick. But we’re assuming they get him under contract. With the lack of production out of Vic Beasley, the Falcons need to bolster the edge and Burns is a versatile athlete who’s got the speed to get to the quarterback. While size seems to be a big question-mark (listed at 235 pounds), I’d expect him to put on some weight prior to the NFL Combine.
15. Washington Redskins – Greedy Williams (CB – LSU)
We know that Alex Smith is slated to miss the entire 2019 season, so some will plug in a quarterback to the Redskins, but it’s tough to do that, especially when you consider it’s not an especially talented group and four have already come off the board. Instead, they bolster their secondary that allowed the 10th-most yardage and sixth-most touchdowns to opposing wide receivers in 2018. Williams would work well with Josh Norman, as he doesn’t have the chops to handle opposing No. 1 wide receivers in a shadow role just yet. The Redskins keep their cornerbacks to their own sides, which should make Williams’ adjustment to the NFL a tad easier.
16. Carolina Panthers – Yodny Cajuste (OT – West Virginia)
The Panthers must stop neglecting their left tackle position. While some may have other tackles ahead of Cajuste on their board, I believe he’s the guy for their team. He plays quick for a guy that’s 6-foot-5 and 321 pounds, which will help with the mis-direction plays they ran quite often in 2018. He has great bend in his knees when pass-blocking and will always find someone to block when he’s run-blocking. While he may not be this high on some boards, I expect him to be come draft time.
17. Cleveland Browns – Ed Oliver (DT – Houston)
The Browns are jumping up and down in their war room when Oliver falls to them at No. 17. Him working opposite Larry Ogunjobi would be a nasty force up the middle of the field. The Browns could use another cornerback, but by adding another force to the front-four, it’ll help out the defenders in the secondary. If the Browns want to get aggressive here, they could go wide receiver, but Oliver is too good to pass-up.
18. Minnesota Vikings – Cody Ford (OT/OG – Oklahoma)
In case you haven’t heard, the Vikings have some issues on their offensive line. While Ford played right tackle on the college level, he’s going to make an even better guard in the NFL. He’s a big guy (6-foot-4, 340 pounds) who is hard to move and one who understands how to seal an edge with his body positioning. He may not test well at the NFL Combine athletically, but he’s someone who can play.
19. Tennessee Titans – Jachai Polite (OLB/DE – Florida)
He’s a good fit for a 3-4 defense due to his lack of size (6-foot-2, 242 pounds) to play on the edge in a 4-3 defense. With Polite and last year’s second-round pick Harold Landry playing as the outside linebackers, the team would hope to have the position solidified for years to come. The Titans need to replace the recently-retired Brian Orakpo, as he was the best outside linebacker they had.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers – Deandre Baker (CB – Georgia)
This will come down to whichever cornerback they feel most comfortable with, so I tried picking the one who played more man-coverage, as the Steelers played man-coverage 52.2 percent of the time, which ranked as the third-most in the league. Baker looks bigger than the 5-foot-11 he’s listed at and would come in to replace Artie Burns, who was benched last year for Coty Sensabaugh. Pairing Baker with Joe Haden and Mike Hilton would give them a rock-solid trio of cornerbacks. Taking an outside linebacker here would feel like too much of a reach considering who’s available, even if it is a need.
21. Seattle Seahawks – Jawaan Taylor (OT – Florida)
The Seahawks saw the impact that Duane Brown had at left tackle, so why not add another tackle to the mix to replace the inconsistent Germain Ifedi. It’d be natural for Taylor, too, as he played right tackle at Florida. He’s a better run-blocker than pass-blocker and the Seahawks averaged 32.8 rushing attempts per game in 2018, the second-most in the league. If they decide to go defense, cornerback would make a lot of sense, and Byron Murphy is still on the board.
22. Baltimore Ravens – Marquise Brown (WR – Oklahoma)
The Ravens are a team with limited holes, but they’re all on offense. Instead of searching for the alpha No. 1 receiver, the Ravens choose to go with a player who can make yardage after the catch so that Lamar Jackson doesn’t have to rely on precision when passing. On top of that, if Jackson scrambles and buys time for Brown, there’s no defender in the league who can hang with him for more than a few seconds. He’d be the guy they’d be replacing John Brown with, who is slated to be a free agent.
23. Houston Texans – Greg Little (OT – Ole Miss)
Unless there are six offensive tackles off the board, it’s likely we see the Texans get the highest-graded one on their board with this pick. After not having a first- or second-round pick last year, the Texans were unable to identify any pieces to help with their shoddy offensive line. While I still believe Little has a ways to go before he is a standout player in the NFL, his body-type and ceiling are what the Texans need in order to protect Deshaun Watson, who was sacked an NFL-high 61 times in 2018.
24. Oakland Raiders (from Bears) – A.J. Brown (WR – Ole Miss)
After snagging a defensive piece with their first pick, the Raiders move back over to the offense and try to find a wide receiver to replace Amari Cooper. The Raiders can only hope that Brown is good enough to be a legitimate No. 1 receiver, because that’s the price they paid. Brown played alongside D.K. Metcalf at Ole Miss and some will use that as a negative against him, but Brown is a completely different receiver who can play a possession role from any spot on the field.
25. Philadelphia Eagles – Byron Murphy (CB – Washington)
We saw the decimated secondary of the Eagles fight the entire season and did quite well when you consider they were without their three starting cornerbacks. The issue is that their starters weren’t playing very well to begin with. Jalen Mills has been a mixed bag, Sidney Jones doesn’t look the part, and Ronald Darby is set to be a free agent. Murphy is actually my favorite cornerback in the draft, especially for a team who’s as zone-heavy as the Eagles are. Eagles fans should be excited if he falls to them.
26. Indianapolis Colts – N’Keal Harry (WR – Arizona State)
After watching the Colts continually pass on wide receivers early in last year’s draft, it’s tough to say they’ll take one here, but after watching the lack of options available to Andrew Luck for another full season, it’s time to get him some more help. While T.Y. Hilton is great at what he does, Harris is the ying to Hilton’s yang. He’s rock-solid with the ball in his hands and is great at catching the ball in contested situations. Luck hasn’t even had a receiver he could just throw it up to and hope for the best, but Harry could be that guy. He’s not the next-highest wide receiver on my list, but it appears he’s highly regarded in the draft community. If the Colts lose either of the two defensive tackles (Margus Hunt, Al Woods) in free agency, they could go that way and look at wide receivers in the second-round.
27. Oakland Raiders (from Cowboys) – Deionte Thompson (S – Alabama)
We don’t know if the Raiders plan to re-sign Marcus Gilchrist, but if they don’t, they have a clear need at safety. Coming out of the Alabama defense, it’s possible that Thompson goes before this spot in the draft, but the Raiders would be happy to snag him here. He’s not the best tackler, but he flies into the picture and takes excellent routes to the ball.
28. Los Angeles Chargers – Jeffery Simmons (DT – Mississippi State)
There’s a lot up in the air with the defensive tackle position for the Chargers, as three of the tackles in their rotation are set to be free agents, while Corey Liuget‘s contract expires after the 2019 season. A lot of analysts are expecting Simmons to go inside the top-15, but the off-the-field incident he had hitting a woman in 2016 will likely negatively affect his draft stock. He’s a talented three-down player who would fill a void for the Chargers if they look past his off-the-field concerns.
29. Kansas City Chiefs – Tre Lamar (ILB – Clemson)
Yes, I’m fully aware the Chiefs invested in Anthony Hitchens and then drafted Dorian O’Daniel last year, but that doesn’t mean it was right. Hitchens was horrendous against the run and was below replacement-level. With how close this team was to a Super Bowl, they need players who can help them win now, regardless of what contracts you have to live with. Lamar can cover both tight ends and running backs in the pass-game, which helps considering the Chiefs allowed the most receiving touchdowns to running backs, as well as the sixth-most receiving yards. He also has experience in big games, which certainly doesn’t hurt when it’s Super Bowl or bust.
30. Green Bay Packers (from Saints) – Noah Fant (TE – Iowa)
The Packers are rumored to retain Jimmy Graham for another season, but that shouldn’t stop them from selecting a tight end in this draft. Graham is under contract for just one more season, and it’s very rare for a rookie tight end to make an immediate impact. Fant is more of a big wide receiver than a tight end, but that’ll work for the Packers, as not many linebackers can keep up with his speed.
31. Los Angeles Rams – Devin Bush (LB – Michigan)
There’s some concern about Bush’s size at his listed 5-foot-11 and 233 pounds, but there’s no concern about the fight in him. He hits hard and has the range to cover running backs, as well as tight ends. He’s someone it’ll be interesting to see how he’s handled in the draft because the instincts and will are there, but size is the only thing that would drop him lower than this.
32. New England Patriots – T.J. Hockenson (TE – Iowa)
We’ve been hearing a lot of talk about Rob Gronkowski retiring after this season, and while Tom Brady has squashed his retirement talks, Gronkowski has not done the same. Because of that, the Patriots must fill an important spot on their roster. Hockenson is more of a traditional tight end who can play in-line and contribute in more than just the passing-game, making him the ideal target.