NFL Mock Draft 2019 – First Round (2.0)
With the NFL Draft just days away I am excited to release my final mock draft of the season. There are quite a bit few changes from my first mock from back in February. The first wide receiver taken has changed. Numerous players have dropped out of the first round completely. And we have a new first-overall pick. Once you get past the tape and analytics grind, mock drafting is an extremely enjoyable experience. Every team evaluates prospects differently, and likewise adhere to different strategies when it comes to drafting for need, or based on a best player available philosophy. This mock is an attempt to project what we think NFL teams will do on draft day, not what they could, or should do based on our own personal big boards.
1st overall – Arizona Cardinals – Kyler Murray (QB – Oklahoma)
The Arizona Cardinals look set to draft Kyler Murray. Reports have had this as all but a done deal for months. The Cardinals have yet to jettison Josh Rosen, but actions speak louder than words and their decision to keep him away from the media at the start of voluntary camp spoke volumes. This is not the decision I think is best for the Cardinals as Nick Bosa makes much more sense, especially as it has become apparent that the Cardinals will not be able to recoup a first-round pick for Josh Rosen. However new coach Kliff Kingsbury has long been infatuated with Kyler Murray and he is an ideal fit for his system. Scheme fit questions with the Cardinals going to a 3-4 persisted when it came to Nick Bosa, so this may not be as head scratching of a move as it initially seems on the surface.
2nd overall – San Francisco 49ers – Nick Bosa (Edge – Ohio State)
This is an easy selection for Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch. Bosa is the consensus most talented player in this draft class, and only Quinnen Williams prevents it from being unanimous. Bosa missed the bulk of 2018, but was a terror to opposing offenses in 2017. He received the highest PFF college edge grade ever that year thanks to dominance against both the pass and the run. Bosa is a power rusher that can get to the quarterback with both power and finesse. He tested explosively in agility drills at the combine which included a 95th percentile 20 yard shuttle time. Dee Ford and Nick Bosa with Solomon Thomas, Arik Armstead, and Deforest Buckner rotating snaps in between them will instantly give the 49ers one of the most talented defensive lines in football.
3rd overall – New York Jets – Quinnen Williams (Interior – Alabama)
Sometimes it is better to be lucky. The New York Jets dumbluck their way into Quinnen Williams and have to be thrilled in this scenario. This is a no brainer pick for the Jets as they land a player that is arguably the most talented and dominant in this draft class at any position. Williams provides much needed interior talent with the Jets moving to a 4-3 under new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Leonard and Quinnen Williams give the Jets the makings of an elite defensive line that could make them legitimate contenders for the AFC East title with another key addition or two.
4th overall – Oakland Raiders – Josh Allen (Edge – Kentucky)
Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock are elated to land Josh Allen with the fourth overall pick. Allen will never be the elite of elite type of player that Khalil Mack is, but what he will do is help bring the Raiders defense back to respectability. Rushing the quarterback is Allen’s forte, but he also makes an impact in the run game. An explosive athlete with a good motor, Allen is an every down playmaker that flashes the type of sideline to sideline ability that is rare for an OLB/DE type. Allen will be an instant impact starter for a Raiders team that needs help on defense in the worst way. Ed Oliver will also be considered here, but I expect Gruden to break the tie Mayock has on his board.
5th overall – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Devin White (MLB – LSU)
This is one of the worst kept secrets of draft season. The Buccaneers should select Ed Oliver here, but after letting Kwon Alexander walk in free agency and preparing to move on from LaVonte David after the 2019 season, taking White makes a ton of sense. White is an exciting modern linebacker who has sideline to sideline ability, can stop the run and rush the quarterback. He is not a world beater in coverage, but he is good enough, and will not be tasked with taking on that role enough for it to hurt his evaluation. White jumps off the tape, but does the same in the analytical department. White was sixth in the nation at his position with 33 pressures. His 38 run stops ranked as the third most in the SEC.
6th overall – New York Giants – Ed Oliver (DL – Houston)
Dave Gettleman shows he was serious about passing on a quarterback at sixth overall. Reaching for a quarterback you are not comfortable with is never advisable. Ed Oliver is a fantastic get for the New York Giants. In the mix to go first overall prior to the season, Oliver is long on talent and could easily end up the best player from this draft class. He weighed in much better than expected at the combine, and maintained the explosiveness we saw on tape. Oliver presents a rare blend of skills. He is a high motor speed rusher who presents plus power and elite consistency. The Giants defense is in need of a major talent infusion and landing Oliver is a step in the right direction. Oliver projects to have the most value on the interior, but do not be surprised if he is asked to play defensive end for Gettleman and co.
7th overall – Jacksonville Jaguars – Dwayne Haskins (QB – Ohio State)
At this point in time Tom Coughlin is kicking himself for bidding against himself and signing Nick Foles to a ridiculous contract. Haskins is pro ready and has more talent and upside than Foles. In this scenario he will be asked to sit and learn behind a former Super Bowl MVP but could see starts by the end of the 2019 season. This is a dream scenario for Jacksonville fans who were up in arms over the Foles signing. The Jaguars would have considered Clelin Ferrell and Jawaan Taylor here along with whichever of the names that were mocked before him fell. The Haskins selection signifies a new era for the Jaguars offense.
8th overall – Detroit Lions – Clelin Ferrell (Edge – Clemson)
Clelin Ferrell is a Matt Patricia type of player. Ferrell caused havoc for Clemson as a power rusher and will be tasked with doing much of the same for the Detroit Lions. The Lions will consider both of Ferrell’s interior teammates here with Damon Harrison angling for a new contract, but addressing their edge need is deemed a higher priority. With Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins, and Mitch Trubisky on the schedule twice a year, getting a blue chip rusher makes all too much sense. The Lions defense showed some promise in 2018, and will be able to take some major steps forward with an influx of talent from this draft headed by Ferrell.
9th overall – Buffalo Bills – T.J. Hockenson (Tight End – Iowa)
The Bills biggest needs are at tight end and on the offensive line. Luckily for them, the draft’s best run blocker just may be a tight end. T.J. Hockenson is the most complete tight end prospect since O.J. Howard and simultaneously fills two needs for Buffalo. Noah Fant gets all the hype, but it is Iowa teammate Hockenson who is the better NFL prospect. In fact, despite Fant being viewed as the better receiver, Hockenson averaged more yards after the catch per reception (7.3 to 6.8), and more yards per route run (2.56 to 2.21) in 2018. Hockenson gives Josh Allen a reliable target for the next decade and is a home run pick for an offense lacking talent.
10th overall – Denver Broncos – Montez Sweat (Edge – Mississippi State)
With Joe Flacco now a Denver Bronco, John Elway decides to forgo a quarterback and selects the top player left on his draft board. Montez Sweat joins one of the top pass rushing duos in the league in Von Miller and Bradley Chubb in Denver. His arrival forms a deadly trio of pass rushers that will cause all kinds of havoc in a division that boasts Patrick Mahomes, Philip Rivers, and Derek Carr. Elway goes with the best player available here and picks up the fast rising Sweat. Sweat shot up draft boards with a strong senior bowl week and exceptional NFL combine and is an astute value pick for a general manager known for his questionable draft decisions.
11th overall – Cincinnati Bengals – Devin Bush (MLB – Michigan)
With Devin White already off of the board, the Bengals are thanking their lucky stars that Devin Bush is still there. Vontaze Burfict is gone and Bush will usher in a new age in the middle of the Bengals defense. He answered any athleticism doubts at the NFL combine, and vaulted his draft stock in the process. Like the other Devin, Bush is a sideline to sideline linebacker who can rush the passer and stop the run. Expect the Bengals to consider Jawaan Taylor and Garrett Bradbury here, but Bush makes more sense at this point of the draft. This is an exciting get for the Bengals as they fill a major need and land one of the most exciting players in the class.
12th overall – Green Bay Packers – Jachai Polite (Edge – Florida)
The Green Bay Packers stop Jachai Polite’s slide. Arguably a top five talent based on tape and production, Polite’s draft stock took a mini nose dive after a poor pre-draft process. He helps solidify a pass rush the Packers focused on in free agency with the signings of Za’darius and Preston Smith. Both are talented players in their own right, but Polite is a defensive cornerstone. The Packers will look for him to step in as their most talented option off of the edge, instantly transforming one of the team’s biggest 2018 weaknesses into one of their greatest 2019 strengths. A tenacious speed rusher, Polite and Josh Allen were the only two players in the country with 10-plus sacks and five-plus forced fumbles. Polite completes a massive upgrade to the Packers pass rush.
13th overall – Miami Dolphins – Rashan Gary (Edge – Michigan)
The Miami Dolphins have zero interest in a first-round quarterback in 2019 and are already looking ahead to the 2020 QB crop. With that in mind, Brian Flores happily selects arguably the most talented player in this draft class. An athletic marvel, Rashan Gary put the world on notice by recording the fastest ever 40 for someone 275+ lbs. Gary has supreme talent and lands with a coach with the right mental makeup to extract the most out of Gary’s potential. Gary helps create what is now looking like a solid defensive core that also includes Minkah Fitzpatrick, Xavien Howard, Charles Harris, and Raekwon McMillan. Gary will play on the edge for the Dolphins.
14th overall – Atlanta Falcons – Christian Wilkins (Interior – Clemson)
The Atlanta Falcons jump at the chance to select Christian Wilkins at 14th overall. Wilkins instantly transforms the Falcons pass rush and their defense as a whole. The Falcons are now absolutely loaded along their defensive front. The Falcons will consider options on the offensive line and at cornerback here, but Wilkins is in the top 10 on their draft board and is too good of a value to pass up. If the Falcons can lock Grady Jarrett into a long-term extension they will have locked in one of the best interior duos in the league. If he decides to bolt after his tag season, Christian Wilkins can take over as their top defensive tackle. This pick makes too much sense not to happen in this scenario. Wilkins can dominate in the middle as the top defensive tackle, but having him as your second defensive tackle is going to open massive holes for blitzers.
15th overall – Washington – Greedy Williams (CB – LSU)
One thing we can all be certain of is that Washington will not be selecting a quarterback here unless Dwayne Haskins or Kyler Murray falls. Greedy Williams is a perfect fit for Washington. He gives them a long, speedy corner to learn and play across from Josh Norman before eventually taking over as the number one. He is not ready for that role yet, which is why this is such a good landing spot for Williams. Williams likely solidified himself as the top corner on many boards with his fantastic 4.37 40 time at 6’2. Williams has a future as a hard-hitting, lockdown corner who is good against both the run and pass.
16th overall – Carolina Panthers – Andre Dillard (T – Washington State)
Andre Dillard boosted his draft stock with a great combine. While his arms measured shorter than hoped (33.5″), he may be able to get by on the left side due to his elite athleticism, which is what makes him the pick here over Jawaan Taylor and Jonah Williams. Dillard shines on tape with good feet and lateral movement skills and his testing numbers showed that his skill on tape should indeed be translatable. This is a headsy pick by the Panthers who could have easily opted for right tackle/right guard Jawaan Taylor who is projected to have a higher floor due to his readiness as a mauler in the run game. Dillard, however, is a much better pass protector, and fits the Panthers change in offensive philosophy over recent years. Garrett Bradbury will also be a consideration here.
17th overall – New York Giants – Jawaan Taylor (OL – Florida)
Dave Gettleman feels like a genius. After passing on Jawaan Taylor as sixth overall for Ed Oliver, he is delighted that he is still on the board as 17th overall. He planned to consider Daniel Jones here, but the draft played out differently than he had expected necessitating the pivot. Gettleman has spent countless resources on improving the offensive line situation in New York, and Jawaan Taylor looks like he could be the final piece to the puzzle. Jawaan’s addition is very welcomed by star running back Saquon Barkley, as Taylor is at his best in the run game. He may prove to be a liability in the passing game, but some technique refinement with some scheme-aided help could help him thrive at the right tackle spot. Taylor has great size and strength, and is a monster moving forward, or when he gets his feet set in the seal box. This is a high-upside, low-risk pick at this point of the draft.
18th overall – Minnesota Vikings – Jonah Williams (OL – Alabama)
The Minnesota Vikings are thrilled to land their top-rated offensive tackle at 18th overall. Williams measured in less than ideally to remain at left tackle, but remains one of the best talents at his position in this class. He can play left tackle in the run game, but his pass protection against NFL talent snap after snap is going to cause some issues. With that said, Jonah can play anywhere else on the line and become a pro bowl level player. Williams is great in the run game, and could become a good to great starter on the right side. At guard, however, he possesses elite traits, and that is likely where he will be deployed to start his career in Minnesota. This is a great scheme fit for a team that will look to lean on Dalvin Cook to open up the passing game for them. Williams’ versatility will allow him to play swing tackle in the event of an injury.
19th overall – Tennessee Titans – Brian Burns (Edge – Florida State)
19th overall and making luxury picks? That is the situation the Tennessee Titans find themselves in. Someone like A.J. Brown made a ton of sense here prior to free agency, but with Adam Humphries now in town in a decidedly run-first offense, a wideout makes little sense given the defensive talent still on the board. Burns shot up draft boards after weighing in about 20 lbs. heavier than expected and still testing as a great athlete. Burns is a speed rusher with good explosion which he backed up with a strong combine. Cameron Wake is long in the tooth, and is likely not long for Music City, so the Burns selection helps solidify a tremendous edge rusher situation. Burns did not wow anyone with his run defense, so he may start his career as a rotational pass rusher. That, however, is exactly what the Titans want from him due to their depth at the position. Cornerback will also be considered here, but Burns is too good to pass up at this point of the draft.
20th overall – Pittsburgh Steelers – Byron Murphy (CB – Washington)
With no middle linebackers on the board worthy of the 20th overall pick, the Steelers choose to address the need in their secondary. Murphy is the top-rated corner on the Steelers board and gives them someone who can learn from Joe Haden before taking over for him after the 2019 season. Murphy is a coach’s delight. A sticky corner with range who hits like a safety, Murphy fits the identity the Steelers are attempting to re-establish on defense. Murphy has an aggressive mentality when looking for picks and forced incompletions, and playing with Terell Edmunds behind him will allow him to maintain his style of play. This is a shrewd move for a Steelers team that could have chosen to reach for an offensive player in the wake of Antonio Brown‘s departure.
21st overall – Seattle Seahawks – Deionte Thompson (Safety – Alabama)
Pete Carroll hands this pick in immediately as he cannot believe Thompson, a top-10 prospect on their big board, is still available at 21st overall. The Seahawks have some intriguing pieces in their secondary, but Thompson will quickly step in as the most talented of the group. This is a position of major need with Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas no longer with the team, and in this scenario Thompson also represents the best player available. He is likely not the top safety on every board across the league, but he has the most upside at his position. A safety with extensive range, Thompson has good enough coverage skills to play corner in the NFL. That ,however, would be wasting his talent.
22nd overall – Baltimore Ravens – Marquise Brown (WR – Oklahoma)
The impetus with this pick is to bring in a proven playmaker who can complement Lamar Jackson’s strengths and help to minimize his weaknesses. That means this pick likely comes down to Marquise Brown and N’Keal Harry. The goal is to land a receiver who is explosive in the screen game but also doubles as an NFL-ready deep threat. Harry is the far superior contested catch winner but does not possess the instant separation skills that will make Brown so valuable for a QB like Lamar. The Ravens will look to add more talent to a depleted receivers room on day three.
23rd overall – Houston Texans – Greg Little (LT – Ole Miss)
The Houston Texans go for a home run with this pick. Greg Little has the biggest upside of any tackle prospect in this class, however he also presents a bust floor. My number one ranked tackle prospect, due to his upside as an elite left tackle, Little is the pick here for the Texans over Cody Ford or Garrett Bradbury. The Texans will be spending a lot of their draft picks on the offensive line and are content with this class’ depth at the other positions along the O-line. If the Texans can get Little’s motor running hot, something that is very likely for a player that will be practicing against J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney every week, they may have just got the steal of the draft.
24th overall – Oakland Raiders (from Chicago) – Johnathan Abram (Safety – Mississippi State)
The Raiders get a massive upgrade to their secondary with the addition of Johnathan Abram. Pairing Abram with free agent addition Lamarcus Joyner suddenly gives the Raiders one of the best safety combos in the league. Abram is a rugged tackler with enough range to play deep, and good enough coverage skills to play man in the slot. Abram is an instant impact player due to his complete package of skills. Mike Mayock is thrilled to land his top-rated safety at 24th overall.
25th overall – Philadelphia Eagles – Garrett Bradbury (OL – NC State)
This is a Howie Roseman move if we have ever seen one. Bradbury was a star of the pre-draft process and rose his stock from a solid day two pick to a day one selection. However, in this scenario, he was continuously passed up for tackles (some who may have to shift to guard) who do not have the same level of upside. Bradbury is as close to a sure-thing as this offensive line class presents, and to nab him near the end of the first is a steal of epic proportions. A mauling interior lineman that looks like he will challenge the pancake block leaderboard, Bradbury is an anchor in the passing game and shows ferocity in the running game. This is an excellent pick for the Eagles who have improved their run game by leaps and bounds with the additions of Garrett Bradbury and field-stretching wide receiver DeSean Jackson. The Eagles will look to address their middle linebacker and running back holes on day two.
26th overall – Indianapolis Colts – A.J. Brown (WR – Ole Miss)
This is a great fit for the Indianapolis Colts. They already have a field stretcher in T.Y. Hilton, so getting a versatile receiver who can dominate in the slot as well as after the catch is a match made in heaven. Brown is arguably the most talented receiver in this draft class and gives Andrew Luck a 1a option to Hilton’s 1b. The receiver Brown is most compared to is JuJu Smith-Schuster. Brown had a later breakout age, but tested better athletically, and had better per game numbers as a sophomore and senior. Brown is a high floor, high ceiling receiver who will become a star if this scenario holds true and he gets paired with Andrew Luck.
27th overall – Oakland Raiders (from Dallas) – Jerry Tillery (Interior – Notre Dame)
At this point of the draft, Jon Gruden is red-faced wondering when Mike Mayock is going to select an offensive player. The Raiders need a tight end and a running back, and Mayock has passed on the positions twice. He doesn’t even have time to question Mayock, as he sees him pound the desk and start celebrating with the team scouts. Mayock is in disbelief that he was able to land three of his top 10 rated prospects despite having two picks in the mid-20s. Now of the belief that NFL teams relied on his scouting to create their own big boards, Mayock explains to Jon Gruden that they just selected three players that are going to make multiple Pro Bowls. Tillery is an absolute steal for the Raiders. With the talent to single-handedly take over games, Tillery is likely a top two/three defensive tackle on some team’s big boards.
28th overall – Los Angeles Chargers – Dexter Lawrence (Interior – Clemson)
After narrowly missing out on Jerry Tillery, the Chargers select Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence. Their switch to a 4-3 front under Gus Bradley necessitates an explosive defensive tackle, and the Bolts land the number four ranked interior player on their board. Lawrence can create havoc against both the run and pass and helps complete an intimidating front four for the Chargers. A powerful and athletic defensive tackle, Lawrence will quickly produce his way to commanding double teams, which could potentially help free up Joey Bosa or Melvin Ingram. Lawrence can be special on this defensive line.
29th overall – Kansas City Chiefs – Zach Allen (Edge – Boston College)
With the switch to a 4-3, landing a mainstay on the edge is critical for the Chiefs after letting go of Dee Ford and Justin Houston. Enter Zach Allen. Allen is a tremendous edge prospect whose tape shows a player who likely patterns his game after J.J. Watt. He can line up anywhere on the defensive line and keeps his hands active looking for deflections. Allen beside Chris Jones could become a terrorizing look when one of them lines up inside. The Chiefs are not done upgrading their defensive front and are expected to spend at least one more pick in this area.
30th overall – Green Bay Packers (from Saints) – Jeffery Simmons (Interior – Mississippi State)
With a second pick in the first round, the expectation is that the Packers either trade this pick or make a luxury selection like Noah Fant or Jeffery Simmons. Simmons will have to redshirt the 2019 season, but he was a top-10 prospect on many boards prior to his torn ACL. A bull rushing, pressure creating pocket collapser, Simmons will be an excellent addition to a rebuilt Packers defensive front. Kenny Clark and Jeffery Simmons in the middle, Jachai Polite, Za’Darius Smith, and Preston Smith off of the edge. It is stunning how good their pass rush will look by 2020. Hello new championship window.
31st overall – Los Angeles Rams – Noah Fant (Tight End – Iowa)
Sometimes in the NFL, the rich get richer. With their top defensive tackle targets all already off of the board, this pick comes down to Cody Ford, Yodny Cajuste, or Noah Fant. Despite spending recent draft capital on Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee, Fant is too good of a value to pass up. His addition will add another dimension to the Rams’ offense and also presents the added benefit of keeping him away from the New England Patriots. An excellent receiving tight end prospect who was held back by playing beside this class’ top overall tight end, Fant has immense potential. Blessed with strong hands and great body control, he would be in the top 10 of some receiver boards if he declared at wideout. It may take him a while to reach his potential in a loaded offense like the Rams, but he would instantly give the Los Angeles one of the best offenses in the league.
32nd overall – New England Patriots – Anthony Nelson (Edge – Iowa)
The New England Patriots could go in many directions here, but upgrading their talent on the edge is their priority. Anthony Nelson is a potential steal at this point of the draft. He had an excellent combine and Senior Bowl game and has been one of the biggest risers of the pre-draft process. Nelson is a power rushing pressure creator with great size and elite athleticism for his position. Michael Bennett and Nelson will form a formidable pass rushing duo for a Patriots team that is suddenly intimidating off of the edge. There are a lot of edge prospects for the Pats to choose from, but if they decide to keep this pick, the Iowa product is their most likely target.