Locker Mock Draft 1.0: Murray to Arizona, Metcalf to Redskins
This is how I think the cards will fall in mid-April for just the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Check back in mid-March for another iteration subsequent to the frenzy of free agency. Special thanks to ourlads.com for providing depth charts and nfldraftscout.com for their position rankings.
#1. Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
Several days ago, Cardinals GM Steve Keim conveyed that Josh Rosen is their quarterback “right now.” But that all changes when the Cardinals take the Oklahoma product and once-Athletics commit in Murray. A truly dynamic player with electric speed, Murray continues to draw umpteen comparisons to Russell Wilson. His scenario and the buzz around him reminds me of last year and the discussions with Baker Mayfield: few people thought he would initially be taken #1—and look what happened.
#2. San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa, Edge, Ohio State
With the draft turned on its head, the 49ers make the obvious choice and take the player who many feel will be selected #1 overall. Bosa will join a burgeoning defensive line in Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, and Solomon Thomas.
#3. New York Jets: Josh Allen, Edge, Kentucky
The Jets dramatically ameliorate their defensive line by adding a true star in Allen. With a whopping 17 sacks and 5 forced fumbles as a senior, the 2018 Nagurski and Bednarik award winner will help to expedite Gang Green’s rebuild.
#4. Oakland Raiders: Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama
The Raiders get a true game-wrecker in Williams, who consistently disrupts plays and makes his presence felt. The real question is: will he still have braces by the time they become the Las Vegas Raiders?
#5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
The Buccaneers’ biggest weakness is their secondary. Though some have them taking Josh Jacobs, this running back class is not particularly strong—they could be dark horse players in the Le’Veon Bell sweepstakes. Bucs fans may be clamoring for the selection of Rashan Gary—stay tuned for his destination—but I think their line is solid enough with Jason Pierre-Paul and Gerald McCoy.
#6. New York Giants: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
The Giants select Eli Manning’s successor in Haskins, who came on late to win the 2018 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. He should have ample opportunity to learn under Manning’s tutelage, and he could see some game action if the same fortuitous opportunity opens up as it did for the aforementioned Mayfield. If Eli is abysmal, however, Haskins could become a consistent starter alongside Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. towards the middle of the season.
#7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
Personally, I think that Murray will wind up playing in TIAA Bank Field if he is not taken by the Cardinals. However, the Jags extricate Blake Bortles by selecting Lock, who stays in the black and gold that he donned in Missouri. Another potential selection could be Daniel Jones.
#8. Detroit Lions: Rashan Gary, Edge, Michigan
Gary, despite “slipping,” winds up in Honolulu blue and joins a Lions defense that is often underrated—they earned the #10 mark in terms of yards allowed in 2018. The Lions play in one of the toughest divisions in football, but they can make a name for themselves by selecting the man who played 44 miles away in Ann Arbor.
#9. Buffalo Bills: Jonah Williams, OL, Alabama
The Bills’ offensive line is in need of desperate repair as they attempt to protect second-year signal caller Josh Allen—they also need receivers, so keep an eye on their discussions regarding Antonio Brown. Some may call for the Bills to draft Jawaan Taylor out of Florida, but the consensus All-American gets the upper hand and hears his name called first.
#10. Denver Broncos: Clelin Ferrell, Edge, Clemson
Several mocks have Ferrell going to the Lions, but here the Broncos take the Clemson product and 2018 ACC Defensive Player of the Year rather than a quarterback. However, banking on Joe Flacco’s prowess for a year or two may, in hindsight, turn out to be very ineffective.
#11. Cincinnati Bengals: Devin White, LB, LSU
Chatter has stirred about the Bengals replacing Andy Dalton, but their most immediate necessity is on the other side of the ball. White joins a linebacker corps with new acquisition Preston Brown and should make a hasty impact. This prospect-franchise duo has become nearly as pervasive as Haskins to the Giants.
#12. Green Bay Packers: T.J. Hockensen, TE, Iowa
Hockensen’s stock has risen precipitously since the season ended, and he winds up as Aaron Rodgers’ new toy. With Jimmy Graham and Marcedes Lewis nearing the end of their careers, the acquisition of Hockensen would fill the only arguable hole in the Packers’ explosive offense—even if they don’t obtain Le’Veon Bell or AB.
#13. Miami Dolphins: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
The dynamic between Tannehill and the Dolphins has certainly grown acrimonious. Miami moves on from the oft-injured QB and takes Jones—a different #17. Don’t be astounded if the Dolphins nab a receiver, as rumors have swirled about them separating from DeVante Parker and Danny Amendola.
#14. Atlanta Falcons: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
Once the consensus #1 pick, Oliver lands in pulchritudinous Mercedes-Benz Stadium. This selection could help Atlanta brace the loss of Grady Jarrett in free agency.
#15. Washington Redskins: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
The Redskins select the most awe-inspiring physical specimen—with a 1.6% body fat and a 6’4” frame—in Metcalf, whose stock is rising quickly. Such a pick would complement Josh Doctson, offset the possible loss of Jamison Crowder, and aid an interim quarterback assuming that Alex Smith doesn’t suit up in 2019.
#16. Carolina Panthers: Jawaan Taylor, OL, Florida
Taylor played OT for the Gators in 2018, but the Panthers could slide him to guard to play with Matt Kalil and Trai Turner. Don’t be shocked if the Panthers take Montez Sweat rather than Taylor—their D-line could use some help.
#17. Cleveland Browns: Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson
The Browns may want to give rising star Baker Mayfield more protection, but I think their defensive line is their biggest need (notice a motif?). Wilkins can replace Trevon Coley, a 2017 draftee who has underwhelmed with 2.5 sacks in 2 seasons at DT.
#18. Minnesota Vikings: Jachai Polite, DL, Florida
The Vikings are quite sound offensively, especially if Kirk Cousins has an improved campaign—all of their issues seem to stem internally on that side of the ball. If Anthony Barr leaves via free agency, the star LB can be replaced by Polite, who is projected to go towards the latter stages of the first round.
#19. Tennessee Titans: Montez Sweat, DL, Mississippi State
The hometown Titans play a 4-3 defense, but Sweat could fill Benny Logan’s or DaQuan Jones’ shoes on the interior. Despite some questions about Marcus Mariota’s trajectory, I think Tennessee trusts him enough for this year and bolsters its defense.
#20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
The Steelers take the 2018 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in Bush; scouts have raved over his tendencies despite being under 6’0”. My mouth continued to drop upon witnessing the black and gold not selecting a linebacker last year, but they finally find Ryan Shazier’s successor in Bush. Pittsburgh could also consider a corner here, but I think their more immediate need is at ILB.
#21. Seattle Seahawks: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
Despite being named a 2018 unanimous All-American, Thompson’s stock has dropped faster than John Ross' 40-yard dash time. After a solid Combine showing, I think he can recuperate and fill the void of Earl Thomas, who certainly ruffled some feathers in Seattle.
#22. Baltimore Ravens: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
Subsequent to releasing veteran Michael Crabtree and losing John Brown to free agency, the Ravens need additional weapons to help develop Lamar Jackson as a passer. Brown is a phenomenal deep threat; with such a selection, they can also ridicule their AFC North-rival Steelers by taking Antonio Brown’s cousin.
#23. Houston Texans: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
With Tyrann Mathieu and Kareem Jackson—two elite defenders—potentially departing from Houston’s secondary, Baker could mitigate such a loss and help the Texans recover after laying an egg against Indy in the playoffs.
#24. Oakland Raiders: Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
After fortifying their defensive line 20 picks prior, the Raiders answer the calls of the Black Hole for offensive playmakers by taking the Alabama workhorse. Even if Le’Veon Bell chooses the silver-and-black (which I doubt he will), Jacobs certainly couldn’t hurt a reeling offense in need of a catalyst.
#25. Philadelphia Eagles: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
Having narrowly missing out on Jacobs, who could’ve fit well barring the departure of Jay Ajayi, the Eagles bolster their young secondary—a deficiency that augments considering the likely exit of Ronald Darby and the rising age of stalwart Malcolm Jenkings.
#26. Indianapolis Colts: Dexter Lawrence, DL, Clemson
Lawrence becomes the third Tiger to be taken in the first round and joins a rising Colts defense with Darius Leonard and Malik Hooker. If Andrew Luck proliferates his success and Indy’s offense continues to hum, this team could be a real contender—especially if they sign Le’Veon Bell.
#27. Oakland Raiders: N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
The big-bodied pass catcher with a propensity to juke out entire defenses stays in the west and concludes the Raiders’ spate of first round picks. Jon Gruden ultimately gives more opportunities for Derek Carr to grow and become the franchise QB Oakland needs.
#28. Los Angeles Chargers: Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama
A growing number of pundits have tagged Wilson to the Chargers, as Anthony Lynn’s resurgent squad hopes to return to postseason action in a tougher AFC West. Los Angeles could also ponder taking Jeffery Simmons or Trayvon Mullen.
#29. Kansas City Chiefs: Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson
Patrick Mahomes’ squad’s blaring weakness was its defense, as emphasized by the AFC Championship Game. Mullen can shore up a weak secondary that will only be exacerbated with Steven Nelson and Orlando Scandrick being free agents.
#30. Green Bay Packers: Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma
The Packers utilize their second selection in the primary round to protect Aaron Rodgers and strengthen an already solid offensive line. Green Bay might consider edge rusher Brian Burns here instead.
#31. Los Angeles Rams: Jeffery Simmons, DL, Mississippi State
The reigning NFC champs exhaust their selection on Simmons, who posted a tremendous 18 tackles for loss in 2018 despite tearing his ACL prior to the allure of draft season.
#32. New England Patriots: Riley Ridley, WR, Georgia
Upon perusing New England’s depth chart, their immediate concern by far is wide receiver. After Josh Gordon’s indefinite suspension last year, coupled with Chris Hogan, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Phillip Dorsett potentially leaving as free agents, Tom Brady will be yearning for another pass catcher.