- Our second projection of the first round remains heavy on defense, but a couple of QB-needy teams find their passers.
1. San Francisco: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
A scout told me last week there's a good chance Bosa will be the first pick, as long as he can perform athletically at some point before the draft. The 49ers have their quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo, and a trade down is possible if another team falls in love with one of the quarterbacks. Scouts say Bosa is nearly identical to his older brother, Chargers pass rusher Joey Bosa, and the 49ers are desperate for a playmaker on the edge.
2. Arizona: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
The redshirt sophomore has picked up a ton of buzz recently, enough for him to leapfrog Ed Oliver as the other top interior defensive line prospect. Williams has had a breakout year in his first season as a full-time starter, and has proven himself against top-level competition in the SEC. He's made himself at home in opponent's backfield because of his quick get-off and impressive use of his hands. Teams might question whether the 19-year-old is ready for the NFL from a maturity standpoint, but there aren't many questions about his play on the field.
3. Oakland: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
Oliver returned to the field last Friday after missing four straight games with a knee injury, but he re-aggravated the injury in the second quarter and had to sit out the second half. Oliver said after the game that he plans to play in Houston’s bowl game, but even if he misses his last collegiate game, Oliver has likely done enough to cement himself as a top-five pick. Some scouts are worried about his transition to the NFL because double-team blocks overwhelmed him at times, and the offensive line talent in the American Athletic Conference is marginal compared to power-five talent. Still. He would provide a promising start to Jon Gruden’s defensive rebuild.
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4. N.Y. Jets: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
The Jets could use any premiere player to pair with Leonard Williams up front. But it’s been years since they had a true pass-rush threat coming off the edge, and Ferrell would provide just that.
5. N.Y. Giants: Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan
It would be a homecoming for the New Jersey native, who has as much raw talent as any player in this draft and the ability to play the edge or inside. Durability was an issue for Gary this season, but the reward could be huge with one of the draft’s boom-or-bust prospects.
6. Jacksonville: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
The Jaguars have moved on from offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, and Blake Bortles might be next. But while QB remains a question, the Jaguars are clearly built to do their damage in the ground game. Williams was a left tackle for the Tide, but he’d more likely step in as a high-ceiling right guard (where A.J. Cann is a pending free agent) in Jacksonville.
7. Atlanta: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
Despite their investments in the defensive line, the Falcons’s front four hasn’t been nearly disruptive enough in 2018. Wilkins would be a little redundant with Grady Jarrett, but he’s a rare mover for 315-pounder and there’s no such thing as too much interior pressure in a division with Drew Brees.
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8. Detroit: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
Teez Tabor has struggled badly this season, wearing a bright target on his chest across from Darius Slay. The long, ball-hawking Williams would upgrade one of Detroit’s major weaknesses on defense.
9. Buffalo: Devin White, LB, LSU
Sean McDermott oversaw the glory days of Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis in Carolina. Pairing White with 2018 first-rounder Tremaine Edmunds would immediately give Buffalo one of the most physically gifted (if exceedingly raw) linebacker pairings in football.
10. Tampa Bay: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
The Bucs will have a decision to make on Jameis Winston this offseason, though one roster-building path would be to keep him on his fifth-year option year (2019) as a bridge guy, giving a developmental QB a year to develop before stepping in as an economical option under center. Herbert, who was drawing Carson Wentz comps earlier this season, is currently the favorite to be the first QB off the board.
11. Green Bay: Jeffrey Simmons, DL, Mississippi State
His background will be examined closely, and he’s at risk of being taken off many draft boards. But there’s no doubting Simmons’s ability on the field—“if he didn’t have [off-field red flags], he is a top-10 pick all day long,” one scout told us. Simmons is versatile and, between explosive athleticism and masterful hands, often unblockable.
12. Cleveland: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
A year ago, Vita Vea went 12th overall as primarily an early-down player. Lawrence has a similar blend of mass (350 pounds) and rare athleticism, but has flashed more upside in the pass-rush. If nothing else, Lawrence would fill the run-stuffer void left when the Browns traded Danny Shelton last offseason.
13. Miami: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
Xavier Howard has looked like a star at times in 2018, but the Dolphins are still thin at cornerback. Baker doesn’t have Greedy Williams’s length, but he might be the best pure cover man in this draft class.
14. Denver: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
He’s a polarizing prospect after the up-and-down season the Buckeyes have had in Haskins’s only year as a starter, but his talent is undeniable. He has the size, arm strength and athleticism to be developed into a franchise QB.
15. Philadelphia: Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
Jason Peters is 37 in January and a potential cap casualty. It’s a draft short on premium offensive linemen, and Little might be the only one who profiles as a potential franchise left tackle.
16. Cincinnati: Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky
The Bengals’ pass rush has been non-existent this season, exposing their conservative play on the back end. No matter who they tab as their next defensive coordinator, the Bengals are in desperate need of a pass-rushing presence, and there’s one in nearby Lexington, a rapidly improving force on the edge.
17. Tennessee: Dre’Mont Jones, DL, Ohio State
He’s still raw, but Jones can be molded a number of different ways as a 290-pounder who moves like a much smaller man. He’d be a nice, high-upside piece for Mike Vrabel and Dean Pees to develop.
18. Indianapolis: Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State
The Colts are still in mid-rebuild with their defense, and Sweat is the kind of lanky, flexible edge-bender that is always in demand. In a defense loaded with rising young talents, Indy can take a chance on a boom-or-bust pick in Sweat.
19. Seattle: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
The best safety in the draft, Thompson is having a breakout season as a redshirt freshman. Nick Saban defensive backs are always coached up, and Thompson has the kind of instincts and range to step into Earl Thomas’s old spot in Seattle’s secondary.
20. Carolina: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
Brown is a 325-pounder who explodes off the snap and consistently disrupts the backfield. Pairing Brown with Kawann Short up front could allow Carolina to recapture the old magic they had with Short and Star Lotulelei.
21. Washington: AJ Brown, WR, Ole Miss
Washington is loaded with complementary weapons around Jordan Reed. Brown has the size and strength to develop into a physical, catch-and-run possession threat they don’t have right now.
22. Oakland (via Dallas): Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
The Raiders need to rebuild the defense at every level, and the instinctive Bush would be an immediate leader for the new-look Raiders.
23. Baltimore: N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
The Ravens have been rotating in a series of veteran receivers, but haven’t had a true No. 1 in years. Harry is a big downfield threat with an enormous catch radius, the kind of playmaker who could make beautiful music with Lamar Jackson over the next five years.
24. Pittsburgh: Amani Oruwariye, CB, Penn State
The Steelers have been looking for more consistency at cornerback, and Orunwariye has been a rock in Penn State’s secondary, with the size and ball skills to become a quality boundary corner.
25. Minnesota: Zach Allen, DL, Boston College
A high-motor pass rusher who can also play inside, Allen would fit nicely in the Vikings’ D-line rotation.
26. Houston: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
A versatile and aggressive corner, Murphy would brings ball skills and the ability to cover the slot to an aging Houston secondary. He’s on the small side but more than willing to step up in run support.
27. Oakland (via Chicago): Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
Jared Cook is a free agent next winter, so the Raiders could be in the market for a tight end. But even if Cook is retained, Fant is a raw but athletically gifted receiving weapon who could add some flexibility to Jon Gruden’s two-tight end looks. Fant is a fringe first-rounder at best, but could rise as the likely top TE prospect in this class.
28. L.A. Chargers: Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson
Jason Verrett missed another season, and the Chargers need to upgrade across from Casey Hayward with Desmond King covering the slot. Mullen has the size and speed to be developed into a top-flight corner.
29. New England: Jachai Polite, DE/OLB, Florida
Aside from Trey Flowers, the Patriots have been rolling out a middling groupd of pass rushers. Polite would provide a more explosive presence coming off the edge, especially as he improves his technique.
30. L.A. Rams: Brian Burns, DE/OLB, Florida State
Even if they retain Dante Fowler as a free agent, the Rams are in need of edge-rushing help. Burns is long, flexible and quick coming around the edge, though he also might be a little too light (220 pounds) to set the edge in the run game.
31. Kansas City: Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame
At this point he’s on the fringe of the first round, but Love is enjoying a breakout season in South Bend and would be a logical fit for a Chiefs defense looking to solidify on the back end.
32. Green Bay (via New Orleans): Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama
The Packers have invested heavily in the secondary the past couple drafts (and were happy enough with their young safeties to move Ha Ha Clinton-Dix). Wilson is a rising prospect who could provide an immediate upgrade in the linebacking corps.
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