One of my first articles on this site, nearly a year ago, was a team-by-team evaluation of the 2018 NFL Draft. This year, my article comes in minutes before the first round. We’ve waited months to see if Kyler Murray can defy the odds to go first or if defense will dominate this draft. I say yes to both. The wait ends at 8 p.m. EST.
Before I release my final mock draft 4.0, here are a few predictions:
- For the fourth straight year, there will be at least FIVE trades on the first night of the draft. In 2016, there were five. In 2017 there were seven. Last year featured six. The trend continues. That said, I don’t predict trades – *cough, cough* expect the Redskins to move up – just picks.
- Despite the rumors, the Jets keep their third pick and strike gold tonight.
- The Giants will be draft night winners IF…they either take Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins sixth and a stud defender like Mississippi State DE Montez Sweat 17th OR if they somehow land Kentucky OLB Josh Allen or LSU ILB Devin White sixth, go either D-Line or O-Line 17th and trade their second-round pick to Arizona for Josh Rosen.
- Finally, over half of the players taken tonight will be on the defensive side of the ball.
Now let’s go…
1) Arizona Cardinals – Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma – This pick is essentially a lock right now. Murray’s a game changer who throws a lot better than his haters want to give him credit for. He doesn’t have the same size but can change the game similarly to how 2015 MVP Cam Newton did.
2) San Francisco 49ers – Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State – Most years would feature Bosa going first overall, but the love story between Arizona’s new coach, Kliff Kingsbury and Murray is too good. The 49ers get their new Justin Smith.
3) New York Jets – Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky – The Jets may quickly have the best Josh Allen in the division (sorry, Buffalo). His ability to get to the quarterback in SEC play and not only sack him, but force turnovers at an absurd rate earns him a pick over Quinnen Williams here.
4) Oakland Raiders – Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama – Absolute stud. I expect Williams to be a pro-bowler his rookie year in the league. He should guarantee that Oakland’s new GM, Mike Mayock, gets at least one of his three first-round picks right.
5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Devin White, ILB, LSU – White’s finally being talked about the same way as the rest of the defensive players at the top of this class. He’s an elite talent, but also the necessary leader Tampa needs to take over as their MLB.
6) New York Giants – Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State – I already mentioned my two scenarios for the Giants above. If Allen or White are somehow available here, I think they take one of them and trade for Rosen. If not, New York lands who I perceive to be the best QB in this draft class.
7) Jacksonville Jaguars – Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida – Some analysts have them taking a weapon here for Foles. More important than giving your new, overpaid, quarterback a target is protecting him. Taylor will do that better than most.
8) Detroit Lions – Devin Bush, ILB, Michigan – The Lions probably need an outside backer more than an inside one, but I think Brian Burns is a bit of a reach at eight. What they get in Bush is a tough, hard-nosed, run-stopping beast who also played his college ball in the same state. Head coach Matt Patricia will get a defensive stud here.
9) Buffalo Bills – Ed Oliver, DL, Houston – The Aaron Donald comparisons are a little premature in my opinion. I’ve seen mocks place him anywhere from third to 18th, but I see Oliver falling right in the middle. He talked about Kyle Williams’s legacy on the Bills’ D-Line earlier this week, well here’s his chance to continue that legacy.
10) Denver Broncos – T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa – Many say Elway takes a quarterback here. I say that his 2019 QB, Joe Flacco, has always thrived when he has a TE he’s comfortable with in the red zone. That TE will be Hockenson for at least a year.
11) Cincinnati Bengals – Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama – If Haskins is off the board there’s no reason to reach for a mediocre QB. Andy Dalton still has plenty left in the tank and the team has been bad at protecting him for a long time. Williams will help to stop that trend.
12) Green Bay Packers – D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss – Metcalf’s stock has plummeted so much lately that many are now calling for his removal from the first round. That’d be crazy to me. His route running needs work, but I don’t see too many corners out there with the size and speed to stop this man on a fly route. Rodgers needs him.
13) Miami Dolphins – Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson – The Miami Dolphins are all-in to get a quarterback…in 2020! For now, Ryan Fitzpatrick is their guy so expect them to start 3-1 and finish 5-11. That should be enough to land them Tua, Justin Herbert or Jake Fromm in a year. This draft will be focused on placing pieces around next year’s QB so he can step in and start winning.
14) Atlanta Falcons – Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan – The Falcons need help on both sides of the line, and Gary is too good to pass up at 14. His upside could be that of a top-five pick, while his downside is a question as well. Worth the risk here.
15) Washington Redskins – Drew Lock, QB, Missouri – My gut tells me the Redskins trade up tonight, but I’m only predicting picks, not trades. If they stay at 15, they need a quarterback, and although I see Lock as having a slightly better career than another Mizzou Tiger named Blaine Gabbert, he’s the third-best option in this class.
16) Carolina Panthers – Brian Burns, OLB, Florida State – Burns could go eighth to Detroit, but if he doesn’t, I see him fitting nicely on the Panthers and making some noise his rookie year.
17) New York Giants (from Cleveland) – Montez Sweat, DE, Miss State – A 6’6”, 260-lb pass rusher who ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at the combine?!? Sign me up! A possible heart condition has lowered Sweat’s stock in the eyes of many, but recent reports say his heart is just fine and make no mistake, he has top-ten talent.
18) Minnesota Vikings – Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State – A safe pick. Dillard and his fellow offensive tackle, Cody Ford, fall into a similar category for me: not a tremendous ceiling, but they will be reliable. Vikes could use help on either side of the line.
19) Tennessee Titans – Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma – Hollywood, meet Nashville. The host of tonight’s draft brings in Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown to give its QB (whether it’s the injury-prone Marcus Mariota or the newly-acquired Ryan Tannehill) a dynamic target.
20) Pittsburgh Steelers – Greedy Williams, CB, LSU – It may not be in a team’s best interest to draft a guy named Greedy after just having to part ways with Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, but the Steelers could get the best cornerback in the draft here. Despite the concerns about Williams’s tackling ability, he can keep up with the best of them.
21) Seattle Seahawks – Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson – Trading Frank Clark to KC put Seattle in the immediate market for a defensive end. Luckily for them, Clemson’s defense will be the gift that won’t stop giving this draft.
22) Baltimore Ravens – N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State – A clear first-round talent who would make Lamar Jackson’s life as a thrower incredibly easier. Harry lining up against Greedy Williams could be fun to watch in the AFC North this season.
23) Houston Texans – Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma – Like Dillard, a safe pick. I love Ford’s hands, and while his feet could be a little quicker, his footwork is good enough to land him here. He’ll give DeShaun Watson some much needed protection.
24) Oakland Raiders (from Chicago) – Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama – After you’re done here, go read Jacobs’s article on The Players’ Tribune. It’ll give a lot of insight as to how and why he “runs angry.” He’s a likeable guy, and oh yea, a stud. Gruden will be asking Marshawn who by September.
25) Philadelphia Eagles – Byron Murphy, CB, Washington – Jacobs would likely be Philadelphia’s top choice here, but I think they’ll miss him by one pick. Murphy should be a consistent d-back in this league, who I project as a high-end #2 corner to a low-end #1.
26) Indianapolis Colts – Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson – That’s right. THREE first-round picks should come off Dabo Swinney’s defensive line tonight. Lawrence probably projected as a top-ten pick early in the fall, and make no mistake, he still has the same ceiling.
27) Oakland Raiders (from Dallas) – Jeffrey Simmons, DT, Miss State – Simmons would undoubtedly go higher here if he wasn’t going to miss the season recovering from a torn ACL. Oakland can afford that due to them having compiled three first-round picks this year. He should make an immediate impact when he joins their D-line in 2020.
28) Los Angeles Chargers – Garrett Bradbury, C, NC State – The Chargers could take Duke QB Daniel Jones here and let him sit for two years under Rivers, but why do that in the first round when you can take an immediate impact player. Bradbury will provide great protection and should instantly have top-level communication with his veteran QB.
29) Seattle Seahawks (from Kansas City) – Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia – Baker would project to me as a mid-level #2 corner on most teams, but in Seattle’s defensive scheme, his ceiling should be amplified. I like the pick here.
30) Green Bay (from New Orleans) – Darnell Savage Jr., S, Maryland – I was tempted to select Noah Fant here and give Rodgers even another weapon, but that Packer defense was dreadful last year. I gave Rodgers Metcalf at 12 so Green Bay should address their ailing safety situation with the hard-hitting Savage Jr. here and solidify a promising secondary that already features Josh Jackson and Jaire Alexander.
31) Los Angeles Rams – Chris Lindstrom, OG, Boston College – Rodger Saffold’s immediate replacement at left guard. The Rams could go with either side of the line here, but Lindstrom should provide plenty of consistency in front of Jared Goff.
32) New England Patriots – Noah Fant, TE, Iowa – Either way, Fant will likely end up playing for a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback come September. He reminds me so much of Aaron Hernandez (on the field) that it’s scary. Brady should have Gronk’s replacement before midnight.