NFL Mock Draft 2019 – First Round (1.0)
With the 2018-19 NFL season officially in the books, fans across the world eagerly start to look towards the 2019 NFL Draft. While some of the preceding events have already taken place such as the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl, the best has yet to come. The NFL combine is just three weeks away and begins on February 26 and along with the pro days that follow will prove to be an invaluable resource for teams who are looking for as much information as possible on this year’s crop of prospects.
The NFL Draft is one of the most exciting times of the year for some fanbases. One good draft class can turn the fortunes of your franchise around. As fans, one of the only things we can do during the offseason to quench our insatiable thirst for more NFL is to follow the offseason’s happenings from coaching changes, to free agency and finally to the highlight of the offseason, the NFL Draft.
This is only the first of a series of mock drafts that will be updated before the combine, post combine, and post free agency. The days leading up to and following the combine and free agency will present more clarity as far as the athletic profiles of the prospects and team needs are concerned.
The impetus of this mock draft is to try to project what the teams will do, as opposed to what I want or think they should do with their picks. Some of these picks are not always as simple as slotting the best player available to each team, as team needs, scheme, and evaluation types all play correlative factors in determining which prospect’s names they call at the end of April.
1) Arizona Cardinals – Nick Bosa (Edge – Ohio State)
The Cardinals have known who they will be picking for months. Nick Bosa and Chandler Jones form a fearsome pass rushing duo for an Arizona Cardinals defense looking to return to respectability. Some have expressed concerns about Bosa’s fit in a 3-4, but he has the skills to make his living off the edge regardless of scheme.
2) San Francisco 49ers – Quinnen Williams (DT – Alabama)
Quinnen Williams completes and will spearhead what instantly becomes the most intimidating and promising front four in football. The 49ers view this as a dream scenario as they land arguably the most talented player in the draft and the top player on their board.
3) New York Jets – Jachai Polite (Edge – Florida)
Jachai Polite is a beast on the edge with a great first step and is the type of impact player the Jets will be searching for with this pick. I expect Josh Allen to be considered here, but for the Jets to go with the player that tests better, which currently looks like it will be Polite.
4) Oakland Raiders – Josh Allen (Edge – Kentucky)
Oakland wastes no time making this pick and immediately starts counting their lucky stars. Allen is just the type of impact edge rusher the Raiders have craved since dealing Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears. With Mike Mayock helping drive the selection process, the Raiders are expected to go with the best player available with all of their picks.
5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Ed Oliver (DT – Houston)
While it is not a given that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers move on from Gerald McCoy this offseason, his time in Tampa Bay is running out. Oliver will provide the Bucs with options on the front line and will pair with sophomore defensive tackle Vita Vea to form one of the league’s most promising defensive tackle duos for years to come.
6) New York Giants – Dwayne Haskins (QB – Ohio State)
Arguably the only quarterback who deserves to go in the first round, the New York Giants waste no time submitting their selection of Haskins. While Haskins could potentially be an immediate upgrade on Eli Manning, in this scenario he sits behind him and learns before taking the reins in 2020.
7) Jacksonville Jaguars – Clelin Ferrell (Edge – Clemson)
The Jaguars will strongly consider Christian Wilkins here, but consider his teammate Clelin Ferrell too good to pass up. The Jaguars traded away Dante Fowler during the season and need more juice off the edge. Enter Ferrell, who according to PFF racked up 13 sacks and 11 QB hits and will help return the Jaguars to being one of the most feared defenses in all of football.
8) Detroit Lions – Christian Wilkins (DT – Clemson)
The Lions will consider addressing the secondary and the edge here, but Matt Patricia will find it impossible to pass up a player like Wilkins. The type of defender to make everyone around him better, Wilkins will start beside Damon Harrison to form a front two no offensive line wants to face.
9) Buffalo Bills – Greg Little (LT – Ole Miss)
The Bills are in desperate need of playmakers on offense and protection for Josh Allen. With no receivers or running backs worthy of hearing their names called this early in such a loaded draft, the Bills opt for protection. Little looks like the highest floor option at left tackle and is as close to a sure thing this class offers among the offensive linemen. Little has all of the tools to be a dominant blindside protector for Allen for the next decade.
10) Denver Broncos – Drew Lock (QB – Missouri)
The only pick that has seemingly already been leaked is Lock to the Broncos. Lock is not worth a first-round pick, but John Elway will do John Elway. Lock has the tools of an NFL starter, but will likely sit behind Case Keenum until 2020 or until the wheels fall off. Whichever comes first.
11) Cincinnati Bengals – Devin White (MLB – LSU)
With Marvin Lewis ousted from “Who Dey” nation, it would be a mild surprise to see the declining Vontaze Burfict still on the Bengals roster on opening day. With that in mind, new head coach Zac Taylor and owner Mike Brown can finally exhale as the linebacker they considered trading up for is still on the board. White is a terror as an open field tackler and has the gap awareness to live in the backfield as both a pass rusher and run defender. Truly the most exciting linebacker in this entire class, White’s addition signals the dawn of a new day in Cincinnati, Ohio.
12) Green Bay Packers – Zach Allen (Edge – Boston College)
In Allen the Green Bay Packers get a J.J. Watt-like defender who excels against both the run and pass and is always active looking for pass deflections. Allen offers significant upside and projects as being able to play anywhere on the edge. Allen will become an instant starter in Mike Pettine’s versatile defense.
13) Miami Dolphins – Dexter Lawrence (DT – Clemson)
The Dolphins will be forgoing a first-round quarterback this season as they begin the chase for the first overall pick in the 2020 draft. The Dolphins have other needs but opt to address the hole in the middle of their defensive line. The explosive and powerful Lawrence will replace impending free agent William Hayes who left a big hole in the defense when he tore his ACL in Week 3 of the 2018 season.
14) Atlanta Falcons – Rashan Gary (DT/DE – Michigan)
In Rashan Gary the Falcons steal a dynamic prospect who can play anywhere on the defensive line. While the Falcons’ defense will become truly scary if they can re-sign Grady Jarrett, Gary can dominate with or without the franchise tag candidate. The Falcons luck out here as the best player available also fits a need. The Falcons will wait until 45th overall to address their need in the secondary following the release of Robert Alford.
15) Washington – Greedy Williams (CB – LSU)
Washington has needed to address the corner position since trading Kendall Fuller, and will likely wait until the draft to do so. Bookending Josh Norman to start his career is the ideal scenario for the talented corner, who will get the chance to learn and develop as a number one corner at his own pace. Washington will also consider Byron Murphy here, but opt for Williams’ length and upside.
16) Carolina Panthers – Yodny Cajuste (LT – West Virginia)
I expect the Panthers to consider both the edge and wide receiver positions here, but ultimately decide to go with a potential franchise left tackle. Cajuste shines as both a pass protector and a mauler in the run game and is just what the doctor ordered for an offense built around Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey.
17) Cleveland Browns – Byron Murphy (CB – Washington)
In this scenario the Browns opt for the top cornerback on their draft board. Pairing Murphy with Denzel Ward helps to solidify a promising secondary and gives them one of the most exciting players at his position. I expect the Browns to consider a wide receiver here, with Baker Mayfield making a personal plea for former teammate Marquise Brown. Unfazed, John Dorsey assures him he will address the wide receiver position on day two and goes with a corner who just may be the most talented in the entire draft class.
18) Minnesota Vikings – Jonah Williams (LT – Alabama)
The Vikings need to protect their $84 million dollar investment and are thrilled to get their top-rated left tackle at pick 18. While there may be some concern regarding Williams’ long term future on the blindside, he has the tools and tape to be considered the top tackle prospect on some draft boards.
19) Tennessee Titans – A.J. Brown (WR – Ole Miss)
With the 19th pick of the NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans select Ole Miss wide receiver A.J. Brown. An exciting wide receiver who can dominate both inside and out, Brown will add a much need dimension to the Titans offense. The addition of Brown will help elevate Marcus Mariota and give the Titans, arguably, the most talented wide receiver duo in football.
20) Pittsburgh Steelers – Devin Bush (MLB – Michigan)
Pairing Devin Bush with pass rusher extraordinaire T.J. Watt is going to make the Steelers defense must-watch TV. With sideline to sideline burst and plus pass rushing skills, Bush has the talent to man the middle for the Steelers defense for the better part of the next decade.
21) Seattle Seahawks – Deionte Thompson (Safety – Alabama)
The Seahawks are delighted that their top-rated safety and an arguably top-10 talent is still on the board for them at pick 21. With Kam Chancellor retired and Earl Thomas all but certain to sign elsewhere, the Seahawks need to address the safety position.
22) Baltimore Ravens – N’Keal Harry (WR – Arizona State)
While I find it likely that the Baltimore Ravens consider a host of different options here, their decision will likely come down to N’Keal Harry and Marquise Brown. Harry gets the nod here over the diminutive, but explosive wide receiver. Harry is a better downfield target with a larger catch radius that can be utilized to bail out the sometimes inaccurate Lamar Jackson. Harry shows explosiveness in both the screen and short games and is a standout after the catch.
23) Houston Texans – Martez Ivey (T/G – Florida)
The Texans have had their sights set on an offensive lineman for the entire pre-draft process and make Florida’s Martez Ivey their selection with the 23rd pick of the draft. Finding someone to help protect Deshaun Watson is the impetus here, and Ivey presents the versatility to play anywhere on the line, including left tackle. The Texans will consider a few names here including Cody Ford, Dalton Risner, and David Edwards, but opt for the versatile lineman who gives them roster flexibility moving forward into day two.
24) Oakland Raiders (from Bears) – Brian Burns (Edge – Florida State)
Another Mike Mayock driven pick. Mayock will undoubtedly have Burns among his top-20, if not top-15 prospects in this draft and will convince Jon Gruden who wants to address his offense here, that there is a ton of value to be had on day two with the 35th and 66th picks of the draft. In pairing Brian Burns with Josh Allen, the Raiders suddenly boast one of the most fearsome edge duos in the league and have two rookies capable of racking up 10-plus sacks annually.
25) Philadelphia Eagles – Deandre Baker (CB – Georgia)
The Eagles need an upgrade on the outside, and Baker is one of the best corners this draft has to offer. While he may not be ready for it, barring a free agent addition, Baker could be thrust into the number one role right out of the gate for an Eagles team lacking top-end talent at the position. A hard hitter with good ball skills, Baker will quickly become a fan favorite in the “City of Brotherly Love.”
26) Indianapolis Colts – Nasir Adderley (Safety – Delaware)
I expect the Colts to consider addressing the defensive line here, but ultimately decide that adding a playmaker at safety is the path that allows their young defense to take the next step. While the Colts have some favorites, the player they would have really wanted in Jeffrey Simmons comes with too much off-field baggage. Cementing their position is the fact that they project they can still land an impact defensive lineman with the 34th pick of the draft. Adderley is arguably the safety with the greatest upside in this draft class, as a hard-hitting former corner with massive range.
27) Oakland Raiders (from Cowboys) – Johnathan Abram (Safety – Mississippi State)
By this point of the draft, Jon Gruden knows to just bite his tongue and let the man he brought in to help transform the franchise do his thing. Mayock is going to love the safety from Mississippi State. A rugged tackler with the complete package of skills, Abram helps to complete an instant turnaround of the Raiders’ hapless defensive unit.
28) Los Angeles Chargers – Jerry Tillery (DT – Notre Dame)
The Chargers will consider Jeffrey Simmons here, but ultimately decide to go with the player with less baggage, who they also happen to have rated about the same as the Mississippi defensive tackle. At 6’7 and 305 lbs, as per PFF, Tillery amassed 46 quarterback pressures and ranked second in the nation by winning 19.1 percent of his pass rush snaps, a number second in the nation behind Quinnen Williams.
29) Kansas City Chiefs – Jeffery Simmons (DT – Mississippi State)
Simmons is a beast in the middle of the defensive line and has the tools and talent to play in any scheme. This may seem like a peculiar pick due to the Kansas City Chiefs releasing fellow offender Kareem Hunt, but as noted, the release of the star back was due to his not being truthful about the situation. With Tyreek Hill still on the roster and thriving, the Chiefs and Andy Reid are not afraid to take chances if the talent dictates one be given. Simmons will cause havoc in the middle and will instantly strengthen one of the most porous defenses in the league. The Chiefs will look to address the defensive side of the ball on day one and day two unless someone like David Montgomery falls to the end of the second.
30) Green Bay Packers (from Saints) – D’Andre Walker (Edge – Georgia)
Mike Pettine slams the table and tells Brian Gutekunst that Walker is his guy. The Packers consider both Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson here, but with Jimmy Graham coming back for at least one more year they decide that finally giving Aaron Rodgers a defense that can help him contend is the more beneficial move on day one. Mike Pettine whispers sweet nothings about pressure interceptions and convinces his GM that they now have the makings of a playoff-caliber defense.
31) Los Angeles Rams – Khalen Saunders (DT – Western Illinois)
With Ndamukong Suh set to hit free agency and likely to price himself out of L.A., the Rams look to small school Western Illinois for a defensive tackle who has to be seen to be believed. At 320 pounds and capable of moving like he does should be outlawed in the NFL. Putting Saunders beside Aaron Donald is the stuff defensive coordinators’ dreams are made of. Wade Phillips is a happy man.
32) New England Patriots – Jaylon Ferguson (Edge – Louisiana Tech)
The Pats could go in a lot of directions here, but with Rob Gronkowski still undecided on retirement and having three day two picks to work with, the defending champions decide to take the best player available on the defensive side of the ball. Ferguson provides the Patriots with a legitimate threat opposite of Trey Flowers. Ferguson is an athletic pass rusher I noted as having ‘bat out of hell’ explosion and is the type of player that can get even the stoic Bill Belichick excited.