The 2019 NFL Draft is just two weeks away, and this will be my first and only mock draft of the year. I think this is a very deep draft, with most guys outside the top five having the potential to go anywhere from the top ten to out of the first round, so 2019 is as difficult as usual when trying to predict what each team will do.
This is based on what I think will happen, not what I would do. There are no trades in this mock, but if there were, teams like the Seahawks and Ravens would be among the best bets to trade back with teams looking to jump up for players they feel have dropped. Let’s get started with a top five I feel pretty good about.
1. ARI: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
When a coach feels as strongly about a quarterback as Kliff Kingsbury does about Kyler Murray, there isn’t any debate about what to do if put in the position to draft that player. It’s not like the Cardinals need to give up a bunch of drafts picks to trade up to select the Heisman Trophy winner—they have the first pick in the draft and can select the guy Arizona’s new head coach badly wants.
2. SF: Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
The Niners just traded for Dee Ford and have a stacked defensive line with four former first-rounders: Ford, DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, and Solomon Thomas. But you can never use enough pass rushers, and the hope for John Lynch and the Niners is that they won’t be this high in the draft—with the opportunity to get a player like Nick Bosa—again any time soon. Bosa would slide right in as a starter over Thomas, who might be a better fit on the interior.
3. NYJ: Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
If the Jets were able to sign linebacker Anthony Barr, who opted to re-sign in Minnesota after agreeing to a contract with New York, then Quinnen Williams would be the prediction here. However, Allen is a similar player to Barr, and he’s arguably the best overall player in the draft, so this is a great fit in terms of both the draft board and getting a position of need. Also, the Jets are an obvious trade candidate as they look to recoup some picks lost in the trade up for Sam Darnold last year, but they might have trouble finding any takers unless a team really likes one of the remaining quarterbacks.
4. OAK: Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama
While Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock seem to be genuinely optimistic about Derek Carr as their franchise quarterback, I think the Raiders would select Kyler Murray if the Cardinals end up passing on him at No. 1. If not, they’ll likely simply select whomever is left among the consensus top three defenders in the draft. Here, it’s Alabama defensive lineman Quinnen Williams. Keep in mind that earlier this offseason Mayock said that getting pressure up the middle makes quarterbacks more uncomfortable than pressure off the edge, so he’d probably be happy with this pick. I could also see Gruden and Mayock both falling in love with Devin White, but he might be just below the other three defenders on their board.
5. TB: Devin White, LB, LSU
Because their team needs (secondary, offensive line) might not necessarily fit their board, the Bucs are a team that could trade back; but if they stay at No. 5, LSU’s Devin White would likely be at the top of their board. Losing linebacker Kwon Alexander to San Francisco in free agency was tough for the Tampa Bay, but they could be in position to ensure linebacker is a position of strength by adding White to a group that already includes Lavonte David and Deone Bucannon.
6. NYG: Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson
Last year, Giants GM Dave Gettleman wanted to select a guy at number two overall that he could see wearing a gold jacket—Saquon Barkley is certainly off to a good start there—so he might again look to envision whomever he picks as a potential Hall of Famer with another high pick this year. I think Gentleman hopes a team trades above him for a quarterback so that Devin White will be there at No. 6, because that might be the guy outside the consensus top three that can be pictured wearing a gold jacket. But Christian Wilkins has outstanding leadership and personality traits that Gettleman probably really likes.
7. JAX: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
The Jaguars have shown a lot of interest in Jawaan Taylor during the pre-draft process, meeting with him a couple times, and he’d be a good fit to slide right in at right tackle with Cam Robinson manning the left side. Jacksonville wants to put Nick Foles in a position to succeed, and it’d help having a couple of bookends on the offensive line to protect him and open running lanes for Leonard Fournette.
8. DET: Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
Lions GM Bob Quinn is another decision-maker that would like to trade back, but again, this mock doesn’t include any trades. If Detroit stays at No. 8, versatile Florida State edge defender Brian Burns would be an ideal chess piece for Matt Patricia to use on his defense. We’ll see what happens, but Burns to the Lions is one of the pairings I feel best about as things stand.
9. BUF: Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
Last year, the Bills went with a couple of high-upside prospects in the first round with quarterback Josh Allen and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. There aren’t many prospects in this year’s draft with more upside than defensive end Montez Sweat, who would fit nicely in Sean McDermott’s 4-3 defense. Buffalo would start looking like a football version of the Monstars if they pick Sweat.
10. DEN: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
Denver might be a wild-card depending on how they feel about the quarterbacks in this year’s class, but I think John Elway is happy with 34-year-old Joe Flacco moving forward, and he might have his eye toward a stacked 2020 crop of signal-callers. Devin White suffering a drop because of his position would be ideal for the Broncos, but Devin Bush is also probably high on many team’s boards.
11. CIN: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
This might be something I can picture happening just because it’d be pretty cool to have Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins remain in the state of Ohio to play for the Bengals, but it seems like a realistic scenario. While he might be content with Andy Dalton, new Bengals head coach Zac Taylor probably wants his own guy at quarterback. Haskins is a smart, accurate passer that’s going to put the time in, so Taylor might be confident he can run his offense at a high level.
12. GB: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
Wide receivers like D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown were under consideration here, but Aaron Rodgers has seemingly been pretty fed up with young receivers the last couple of years. Instead, Green Bay might add a rookie tight end in T.J. Hockenson; he doesn’t need to have a huge role as a weapon in the passing game in Year 1 but could still contribute as a strong run blocker for a team looking to compete in the NFC this season.
13. MIA: Ed Oliver, DL, Houston
If Brian Burns is here, I think he’d be the pick for Miami. But if not, this could be the spot for Ed Oliver, who might be the most volatile selection of the first night of the draft, with his real value among NFL teams being one of the biggest mysteries as draft night approaches. Brian Flores would figure out how to use the Houston star for his defense.
14. ATL: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
The Falcons don’t have many holes on their roster, and they’ll be getting a bunch of guys back from injury in 2019; but they don’t reach for guys based on positional needs anyway, and cornerback Deandre Baker might be the clear top player on their board at this point. Atlanta hasn’t had to go far to see the former Georgia Bulldog shut receivers down in the SEC.
15. WAS: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
This pick came down to Daniel Jones or Drew Lock, but I like Jones better of the two, and I think most NFL teams agree. While Jay Gruden might see a big arm like the one Lock has as a nice bonus, Jones will do what is asked of him within the offense and can also make more plays with his legs.
16. CAR: Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
The Panthers need an edge rusher on defense, and Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell remaining in Carolina is one of my favorite potential pairings in this mock draft. Ferrell is a player that could go several spots higher or several spots lower than this depending on how teams feel about his upside.
17. NYG: Garrett Bradbury, C, NC State
Dave Gettleman can’t get enough hog mollies on the interior, and he will not hesitate to further strengthen the offensive line if he has someone ranked high on his board. Garrett Bradbury would compete with Jon Halapio for the starting center job, but he’d at least provide depth on the offensive line, where injuries are almost certain to occur.
18. MIN: Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
The Vikings clearly have one of the most talented rosters in football, but the offensive line still must improve to get the most out of the entire roster. Drafting a left tackle like Greg Little would allow Minnesota to upgrade two spots at once, as they could slide current left tackle Riley Reiff over to guard if Little is ready to start as a rookie.
19. TEN: Dexter Lawrence, DL, Clemson
Another pass rusher or a highly-ranked wide receiver could be in the mix for the Titans (perhaps maybe Rashan Gary or D.K. Metcalf), but Dexter Lawrence would give Mike Vrabel’s defense a force in the middle. Tennessee is going to want to run the ball and stop the run, and Lawrence could instantly lift the entire defensive line; he also provides the ability to stay on the field all three downs and get after the quarterback.
20. PIT: A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
The first wide receiver finally goes off the board at No. 20, and it easily could’ve been any of A.J. Brown, Hakeem Butler, and D.K. Metcalf. I think the Steelers might lean toward Brown because he was highly-productive in college, and he offers the versatility to play inside or outside and can run every route. With Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and James Washington, Pittsburgh will have invested high draft capital at a position that will hopefully produce for a decade.
21. SEA: Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan
As stated in the open, these next two teams are obvious candidates to trade back given their history of doing so. However, the Seahawks might see Rashan Gary as having enough upside to remain at No. 21 and select him. Seattle used one of their top 30 visits on Gary, so they are probably intrigued with a guy that’s been seen as a potential top-five pick by some.
22. BAL: Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State
With at least a couple dozen players left that can be selected in this bottom part of the first round, the ideal situation for the Ravens is probably trading back. If not, Baltimore-area native Hakeem Butler could be Lamar Jackson’s top receiver for years. Butler’s big frame should help Jackson feel more comfortable making throws outside the numbers, and the Iowa State star is also a monster after the catch.
23. HOU: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
The Texans need help on the offensive line to give Deshaun Watson time to comfortably sit back in the pocket and get the ball down the field to his playmakers, and Jonah Williams could probably play either tackle or guard from Day 1 (though Williams himself prefers to stay at left tackle). Houston might prefer another tackle in a crowded group at the position, but the former Crimson Tide player should be a safe selection.
24. OAK: Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
There’s a chance the Raiders take another position like cornerback or wide receiver here, while hoping that their top running back on the board will last two more picks with two teams without glaring holes at running back behind them. But if the team really likes Josh Jacobs, they might just pull the trigger and ensure they get their top-rated back in the building. The Raiders probably have a bigger running back need than any other team in the league.
25. PHI: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
The Eagles might want to grab a linebacker like Michigan’s Devin Bush, but ideally, they won’t reach at that position or any other position, and I have Bush going in the top ten in this mock. Again, offensive tackle is a crowded position, so team’s thoughts on guys could vary greatly; if Philadelphia is high on Andre Dillard, they might pull the trigger and ensure Carson Wentz has good protection for years—also keep in mind that Jason Peters is 37 years old and typically misses time because of injuries.
26. IND: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
Byron Murphy is a solid, all-around cornerback and football player that feels like an ideal match for the Colts if he’s available at pick No. 26. Indianapolis might prefer to build up the defensive line, but GM Chris Ballard is a good bet to take best player available, and that might be Murphy.
27. OAK: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
It was tempting to put D.K. Metcalf here after Jon Gruden compared the way he looks to Jim Brown, but with Metcalf and Marquise “Hollywood” Brown both on the board, the Raiders might hope one of them are there at pick No. 35 in the second round. (I do not have Metcalf in the first round because teams might be concerned about his neck injury from last year, but I could certainly see him going as high as the top ten given his talent.) Greedy Williams just sounds like a Jon Gruden name, and I could see Mike Mayock thinking he offers enough upside as a long corner at this point that he’d be an excellent third first-round selection for Oakland.
28. LAC: Dalton Risner, OT, Kansas State
Missouri quarterback Drew Lock might be an option for the Chargers here if available, but the team should bring in more talent and competition on the offensive line as they look to compete for a championship in 2019. Dalton Risner would likely start immediately at right tackle, but he could also kick inside toe guard if necessary.
29. KC: Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame
The Chiefs are obviously a team looking to win it all next season, so they’ll be looking for guys ready to contribute right away. Notre Dame All-American cornerback Julian Love has the skills and versatility to play inside or outside from Day 1 as a rookie.
30. GB: Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma
Oklahoma offensive lineman Cody Ford has shown he can play either tackle or guard, so he could push for a starting job at a few different spots as Green Bay looks to build up the offensive line. A wide receiver or tight end might also be an option for the Packers here, but they might prefer to wait until the second or third round for those positions.
31. LAR: Dre’Mont Jones, DL, Ohio State
With Ndamukong Suh not returning to the Rams, a highly-ranked defensive lineman in a deep draft class should be a decent bet for Los Angeles in the first round. Dre’Mont Jones is a different type of player than Suh, but he’d have the ability to really excel with Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers with him on the defensive line.
32. NE: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
Bill Belichick has a connection with Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, as they coached together in Cleveland with the Browns. If one of the two Iowa tight ends are available at No. 32, Belichick would probably have some inside information before picking one of them. Here, Noah Fant is still available, and he could develop into a big-time weapon for Tom Brady within a year or two.