After the glory of the NFL Combine and free agency period—and with the event a month away (!)—these are my predictions for the 1st round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
#1. Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
After new coach Kliff Kingsbury saying “I mean, I guess it's more what don't you like? When you watch him play, I mean he can run it, he can throw it, he's a competitor,” regarding Murray, the Cardinals seem destined to select him at #1 overall. Additionally, with the Patriots, Giants, and Chargers, per Fox Sports’ Joel Klatt, zoning in on last year’s quarterback Josh Rosen, it seems even more probable that the Cardinals will ignore the “never abandon a QB after his rookie year” mantra and change the tenor of their franchise.
#2. San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa, Edge, Ohio State
The 49ers made a bevy of splash defensive signings, from OLB Dee Ford to CB Jason Verrett to ILB Kwon Alexander. This unit will only get stronger with Bosa, a player whose greatness is reinforced by NFL.com granting him the “chance to become a Pro Bowl-caliber player.”
#3. New York Jets: Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama
New York, one of my offseason winners, selects the formidable Alabama product—a player whose 4.83-second 40 yard dash was fourth among 300-plus pound defensive linemen since 2003. Although Josh Allen (see below) could be in play here, Williams could be too marvelous of a pick to pass up.
#4. Oakland Raiders: Josh Allen, Edge, Kentucky
After narrowly missing out on Williams, the Raiders bolster one of the few positions in which they didn’t splurge: defensive line.
#5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Devin White, LB, LSU
Having to assuage the loss of the aforementioned Alexander, the Buccaneers select White, a prospect whose stock has skyrocketed since his astounding 4.42-second 40 was the best among all ‘backers.
In 2018, Clelin Ferrell paced Clemson's outstanding defense with 11.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. Now, he hopes to hear his name called by Roger Goodell inside the top 10.
#6. New York Giants: Clelin Ferrell, DL, Clemson
After losing Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon, the Giants’ future largely rests on their two top-20 selections. I was really tempted to have them taking Dwayne Haskins here, but ESPN’s Jordan Raanan alluded to the fact that Big Blue will likely select a premier pass rusher prior to their No. 17 pick. Ferrell missed the bulk of imperative Combine drills, but I think he will be selected over Montez Sweat due to the latter’s heart scare.
#7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan
The Jaguars could be in on vaunted WR DK Metcalf, but I think their acquisition of Chris Conley gives them a young nucleus of receivers to aid nascent QB Nick Foles. Although the Jags’ defense will retain the bulk of its starters, their DTs are somewhat lackluster; Gary can slide in and replace Abry Jones, who compiled only 1 sack last year.
#8. Detroit Lions: Montez Sweat, DL, Mississippi State
Sweat, whose blazing 4.41-second 40 left scouts with their jaws agape, comes off the board to the Lions. This choice would help mitigate the departure of Ezekiel Ansah—who has yet to be signed—and create a dynamic duo of edge rushers alongside newcomer Trey Flowers.
#9. Buffalo Bills: Jawaan Taylor, OL, Florida
Fresh off inking WRs John Brown and Cole Beasley—as well as offensive linemen Mitch Morse, LaAdrian Waddle, Spencer Long and more—the Bills allow Josh Allen to truly develop by taking Taylor. While they could select Jonah Williams, Taylor has become widely thought of as the best OL in this class; his arrival in Buffalo would ameliorate the 2.6 sacks per game allowed by opposing defenses last year.
#10. Denver Broncos: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
In this hypothetical scenario, the Broncos would be astounded by Haskins’ availability at #10 and would take him to sit behind Joe Flacco for a few years. Sure, they could pick Drew Lock—whose stock is augmenting—but I think Denver pegs its QB successor and realizes that tanking for 2019 in the hopes of attaining Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert would waste the roster’s talent.
#11. Cincinnati Bengals: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
Bush, like his Devin inside linebacker counterpart, has seen his draft positioning elevate significantly since his 4.43-second 40 and 40.5-inch vertical jump in Lucas Oil Stadium. With the departure of embattled ‘backer Vontaze Burfict—to, of all places, Oakland—Cincinnati pairs Bush with just-resigned Preston Brown in the middle of its defense.
#12. Green Bay Packers: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
Since the start of March, I thought Hockensen and the Packers was a match made in heaven: with Jimmy Graham and Marcedes Lewis on the decline, Aaron Rodgers could silence his doubters with a clinquant new weapon. Chatter has stirred about Hockensen and Noah Fant—his college tight end running mate—being nearly interchangeable in terms of talent, but I still think Hockensen’s blocking prowess and hype will see him selected earlier.
#13. Miami Dolphins: Jonah Williams, OL, Alabama
Personally, I feel that Ryan Fitzpatrick (and his allure) will serve as an interim QB in Miami—they’ll likely be in a position next year to select the likes of Tagovailoa or Herbert. Miami’s defensive line could use some reinforcing, so they could also take Ed Oliver here.
Ed Oliver was once considered to be #1 overall pick material this April. However, his staggering 53 tackles for loss across three collegiate seasons should still propel him atop draft boards.
#14. Atlanta Falcons: Ed Oliver, DL, Houston
The Falcons did franchise tag Grady Jarrett—we’ll wait to see if they can secure a deal—but, nonetheless, Terrell McClain mustered just 1 sack last year. Further, there has been chatter about moving Oliver to a linebacker position—he apparently discussed such a matter with the Titans—so the 2018 consensus All-American could also complement Riley Duke and Deion Jones.
#15. Washington Redskins: DK Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
Just as with Hockensen and the Packers, I had implored this pick since the Combine’s initial stages. Likewise, with the speedy Jamison Crowder going to the Jets, this selection becomes even more logical. Simply put, I don’t think any of the teams above the Redskins are clamoring for receivers.
#16. Carolina Panthers: Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma
It’s tough to decide if Ford or the aforementioned Jonah Williams will be selected higher as both have seen their stock rise since Indianapolis. In what could be considered a slide for Ford, he joins Trai Turner in Carolina’s offensive line to help protect Cam Newton in an imperative year.
#17. New York Giants: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
In a sense, the Giants’ plan of waiting out for Haskins fails; however, I think they would still be jubilant to see Lock’s name anxiously waiting by the time the 2nd half of the first round transpires. New York selects the Mizzou gunslinger over Daniel Jones, but, if they trade for Josh Rosen, they could nab WR Marquise Brown or CB Greedy Williams.
#18. Minnesota Vikings: Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State
Finding the right fit for the Vikings was admittedly challenging: their receivers are outstanding, their offensive line is solid (and young), their defensive line is among the best in football, and their cornerbacks are phenomenal. However, hard-nosed safety Andrew Sendejo departed U.S. Bank Stadium to play in Philadelphia; Andrew Harris, currently slated to be the starting SS, accumulated 3 interceptions last year. I think that Harris was a surprising player, but the Vikings may not trust him enough to entitle him a starting role; however, Minnesota could nab OL Andre Dillard or DL Christian Wilkins instead.
#19. Tennessee Titans: Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson
I was tempted to follow the trendy selection of Noah Fant to Tennessee—which is coherent considering Delanie Walker’s injury history—but, on the interior of the defensive line, Bennie Logan started 0 games and compiled no sacks in 2018. With this pick, the Titans help to pursue talented AFC South QBs Andrew Luck, Foles and Deshaun Watson while picking a player whose championship pedigree speaks for itself.
#20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
The Steelers had quite an eventful offseason, from witnessing the departures of bonafide yet enigmatic superstars Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown to being surprisingly active in free agency and inking WR Donte Moncrief, CB Steven Nelson and ILB Mark Barron. Pittsburgh still has somewhat of a need at ILB, but with both Devins having been already selected, it would be most wise to bolster their cornerback depth with the lanky Williams, whose 4.37-second 40 yard dash debunked rumors that he lacks elite speed.
Taylor Rapp's 4 sacks and 2 interceptions were key for Washington's #17 ranked defense, per ESPN. Next season, he might not have to venture far from campus whatsoever.
#21. Seattle Seahawks: Taylor Rapp, S, Washington
Seattle would assuredly be disappointed to see Jonathan Abram be taken just 3 picks earlier, but they stay local and offset the loss of longtime defensive leader Earl Thomas by selecting the Husky safety.
#22. Baltimore Ravens: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
The Ravens enter the draft with a dearth of receivers as well as needs at linebacker. However, I think their lack of weapons for Lamar Jackson is more urgent—Willie Snead is currently slated to be their No. 1 receiver—and Brown would provide an instant upgrade at that spot.
#23. Houston Texans: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
This pick might not satiate Texans’ fans potential desire for a cornerback, but I think Houston has solid depth in Jonathan Joseph and the nascent Bradley Roby; coupled with newcomer Tashaun Gipson at safety, their secondary should be able to recuperate sans Tyrann Mathieu and Kareem Jackson. With Ryan Griffin and Jordan Thomas listed as their primary tight ends, Houston would be savvy in picking up Fant, who amassed over 500 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns last season.
#24. Oakland Raiders: Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
After missing out on Le’Veon Bell, the Raiders are desperate for a workhorse to complete their offensive—and holistic—rebuild. I think they could wait to see if Jacobs is taken with their selection three picks later, but in this case they pull the trigger and give Derek Carr the consensus best running back in the class.
#25. Philadelphia Eagles: Andre Dillard, OL, Washington State
Could the Eagles feel the need to improve their cornerback corps by selecting Deandre Baker or Rock Ya-Sin? Sure, but I think their secondary of Sidney Jones, Jalen Mills, Avonte Maddox, Ronald Darby, Rasul Douglas and more is pretty solid. Taking Dillard would give the Eagles a security blanket in case Jason Peters gets injured—it could also ensure that Dillard learns from an offensive tackle pantheon and ultimately becomes the 37-year-old’s replacement.
#26. Indianapolis Colts: Jeffery Simmons, DL, Mississippi State
The Colts didn’t utilize the full extent of their copious amount of cap room, but that doesn’t detract form a squad that is on the rise. Their lone weakness is their defensive line—the addition of vaunted pass rusher Justin Houston should help them pressure opposing QBs—but Simmons could be a solid contributor subsequent to his ACL tear rehab.
#27. Oakland Raiders: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
Having fortified their defensive line and running back core, Mike Mayock gives the Raiders a playmaker to pair with free agent acquisition Lamarcus Joyner.
CB Rock Ya-Sin led the Temple Owls to a 2018 Independence Bowl berth against QB Daniel Jones and the Duke Blue Devils. Now, he looks towards the NFL Draft with arguably the best name of any prospect.
#28. Los Angeles Chargers: Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple
With QB Daniel Jones still available, he could be too tempting for the Bolts to skip; at the same time, Phillip Rivers continues to flourish, and Tyrod Taylor will serve as the current backup. I wouldn’t rule out the selection of Jones here, but bolstering cornerback depth for the Chargers wouldn’t be a bad thing by any means.
#29. Kansas City Chiefs: Dexter Lawrence, DL, Clemson
After swapping Eric Berry for Tyrann Mathieu and trading phenom Dee Ford, the Chiefs add to their defensive line by pairing Lawrence—whose 36 reps on the bench press ranked second out of all prospects—with Chris Jones, who totaled 15.5 sacks in 2018.
#30. Green Bay Packers: Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama
A nimiety of mock drafts are projecting Wilson to be taken in the first round. However, having filled their need at TE 18 picks prior, it makes sense for the Pack to add another linebacker to their 3-4 defense; at the same time, don’t be astounded if a cornerback such as Trayvon Mullen were nabbed.
#31. Los Angeles Rams: Dre’Mont Jones, DL, Ohio State
If Ndamukong Suh departs after a lone season under the lights of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Sean McVay would lose an enormous presence along his defensive line. Jones, who had a pick-six and a fumble recovered for a touchdown in 2018, would help to mitigate the loss of Suh; the Rams could also pick C Garrett Bradbury, about whom Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network has recently raved.
#32. New England Patriots: Riley Ridley, WR, Georgia
The defending champs have a gaping hole—a gorge if you will—at wide receiver after special teams whiz Cordarrelle Patterson joined Matt Nagy in Chicago as well as Chris Hogan still having the prerogative to choose a squad. Although Rob Gronkowski retired several days ago, I think the lack of receivers for Bill Belichick may supersede replacing #87 and his scintillating celebratory spikes.