- QBs fly off the board earlier than expected, and incumbent passers are on the move in our latest mock draft.
With free agency underway, we’re going to have a little fun with this edition of the mock draft: for the first time, projected (imaginary) trades are incorporated, and two quarterbacks are on the move. I’ve run this mock draft past scouts from different teams, so this reflects their input as well as some ideas of my own:
1. Arizona: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
Alright, alright. I’ll give into the popular draft theory. There’s merit to the idea that an offensive-minded first-year head coach wants to remake a team with his own guy at quarterback, so I could see the Cardinals taking Murray here and the Patriots trading the 32nd pick to Arizona for Josh Rosen, who would benefit from a couple years behind Tom Brady. If Arizona isn’t serious about taking Murray first overall, they’re certainly making enough noise to generate interest from a team that might want to trade up for Murray (maybe Oakland?).
NFL Network analyst Charlie Casserly reported last week that Murray did poorly in his combine interviews. I spoke with a few sources who interacted with Murray at the combine, and I didn’t hear anything to that effect other than Murray is quiet, soft-spoken and doesn’t like the limelight. In that respect it’s not quite fair to compare him to Baker Mayfield, whose charisma and vocal leadership helped make him the top pick of last year’s draft. The only negatives on Murray I heard out of Indianapolis were regarding the infamous interview with Dan Patrick during Super Bowl week, before he had committed fully to the NFL. Murray refused to answer most of Patrick’s questions and his dad shouted out answers from behind the camera, which some evaluators thought was a bad look for the quarterback (but likely not enough to have a major impact on his draft stock).
2. San Francisco: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
The Niners need edge rushers, and Bosa did all he needed to do at the combine.
3. N.Y. Jets: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
The Jets found an inside linebacker (C.J. Mosley) they needed via free agency. Quinnen Williams would provide new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams with a potential star on the interior.
4. Oakland: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
The Raiders are getting aggressive with their roster, and having a quarterback on a rookie contract would help them maintain salary-cap flexibility. If the Raiders don’t trade up for the first pick to take Murray, I think he might go for Lock, whose superior athleticism to Dwayne Haskins makes him a better fit for Jon Gruden (who also coached Lock on the North team at the Senior Bowl, a small connection, but an interesting one).
5. Tampa Bay: Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
The Buccaneers are badly in need of some defensive playmakers, especially in the pass rush. Allen improved more than any prospect during the 2018 college football season, and has the ability to step in and make an impact right away for new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. (But one thing to keep in mind: Despite Bruce Arians’s public support for Jameis Winston, one scout told me that if he had to pick a surprise team to take a quarterback in the first round, it would be Tampa Bay.)
6. N.Y. Giants: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
Haskins sounded polished at the combine, where he was peppered with Giants questions and handled them with confidence. During Giants head coach Pat Shurmur’s combine press conference, Shurmur wouldn’t outright say he’s shopping for Eli Manning’s successor but he did admit, “It’s no mystery [Eli] is closer to 40 than he is 20. [He turned 38 in January.] That’s no mystery. And certainly we’re going to try to do the very best we can to get the best players, especially the one that’s playing quarterback.” Haskins to the Giants is a pick that has remained constant in most of my mock drafts, because there’s no other pick makes as much sense here for New York.
7. Jacksonville: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
With Nick Foles headed to Jacksonville, the quarterback issue is put to rest (or at least put on hold) for the Jaguars. What they need is offensive line help to lead the way for Leonard Fournette. Taylor is a giant right tackle who, at 312 pounds, is about 70 pounds lighter than he was when he arrived in Gainesville. He dominates in the run game and could step in right away and contribute.
8. Detroit: Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
Even after adding Trey Flowers, the Lions still need a pass-rush threat. Along with ideal length, Sweat showed off his athleticism at the combine (including a 4.41-second forty, at 260 pounds).
9. Buffalo: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
One scout explained there are two tiers of defensive linemen in the first round, and if a player in that first tier is available at nine (like Oliver), it’s a good bet Buffalo will draft him. Oliver weighed in at 287 pounds at the combine, which reassured teams who thought he may weigh in under the 280 mark (in fact, his measurements were almost identical to Aaron Donald who was just under 6' 1" and 285 pounds at the 2014 combine).
10. Denver: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
The Broncos have another temporary quarterback solution in Joe Flacco. There’s still a real possibility they could pick a quarterback here if there’s a prospect they really love. Even after adding Kareem Jackson in free agency, cornerback depth has been a problem in Denver, and scouts love the long, ball-hawking Williams.
11. Cincinnati: Devin White, LB, LSU
New Bengals head coach Zac Taylor now has his defensive coordinator, Lou Anarumo, hired from the Giants, and middle linebacker will be one of Anarumo’s biggest needs.
12. Green Bay: Rashan Gary, EDGE, Michigan
Even after adding Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith in free agency, the Packers would do well to add the high-upside Gary with their first of two first-round picks. His collegiate production didn’t match his traits, but there are few prospects with his combination of size, strength and explosive athleticism.
13. Miami: Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
What about a quarterback? For the purposes of this exercise, let’s imagine the Dolphins trade a second-round pick for Derek Carr. However, Miami was one of 10 teams that interviewed Murray at the combine, so they could also be in the mix to trade up for him, or another rookie quarterback since it would be tough to stay at 13 and get the guy they want. The best part of Burns’s combine was that he weighed in at 249 lbs., a big gain from his collegiate playing weight in the 230s.
14. Atlanta: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
If the Falcons don’t reach an agreement with franchise-tagged free agent Grady Jarrett, Wilkins could step in. A four-year starter at Clemson, teams wish Wilkins was more physical, because there are questions on how he plays the run, but in the passing game, he consistently wreaks havoc.
15. Washington: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
With Case Keenum coming in, there’s less pressure to draft a quarterback in Washington (though I still think they’ll be in the running if Josh Rosen is traded). Metcalf is a bit of wild card in the first round, and there are cautionary tales with specimen receivers (like John Ross and Kevin White), but Metcalf could be the kind of weapon Washington needs.
16. Carolina: Garrett Bradbury, C, N.C. State
Carolina is in need of pass rush and offensive line help. If there’s a great edge rusher available here, I think they will go in that direction, but one evaluator told me that, because there are so many great defensive linemen in this draft, teams who don’t have a pressing need for might take one under the “best player available” mantra. That actually makes it harder for teams with a pressing D-line need further down in the first round to get one of their favorite prospects. In this scenario, the Panthers go with Bradbury, a replacement for the recently retired Ryan Kalil.
17. Cleveland: Andrew Dillard, OT, Washington State
Cleveland needs to protect Bare Mayfield’s blindside, and it’s unlikely the long-term answer is Greg Robinson or Desmond Harrison. Dillard is the most athletic OT prospect in this draft.
18. Minnesota: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
The Vikings could use offensive line help here, but at this spot, Hockenson is a great value for another need. Though Kyle Rudolph’s agent said he will not be a cap casualty, the re-signing of Anthony Barr could complicate that. Even if it doesn’t, if Hockenson is available here, I think he’s too good to pass up.
19. Tennessee: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
Bush was the anchor of Michigan’s defense, a team captain who often directed the defense as plays developed. He’d be a long-term pairing alongside last year’s first-round pick, Rashaan Evans.
20. Pittsburgh: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
A versatile and aggressive corner, Murphy would brings ball skills and the ability to cover the slot to a Steelers defense that needs help at corner. An inside linebacker to replace Ryan Shazier’s spot, a hole in Pittsburgh’s defense the past season-plus, is also a possibility.
21. Seattle: Jeffrey Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
Simmons is a bit of a wild card because of his recent ACL tear, and his background will be examined closely—as a high schooler he pleaded no contest to simple assault after striking a woman who was fighting with a family member several times. But a healthy Simmons could be a star in 2020, and the Seahawks could use a tackle to complement Jarran Reed.
22. Baltimore: Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
With only 251 carries in college, Jacobs is as fresh as a running back could be entering the NFL. With his ability in the running and passing game, he’d help make dual-threat QB like Lamar Jackson even more effective.
23. Houston: Cody Ford, OT/G, Oklahoma
Deshaun Watson needs better protection—the Texans offensive line gave up a league-high 62 sacks in 2018—so Houston will look to improve the offensive line here with Ford, a sturdy blocker with the versatility to play guard or tackle.
24. Oakland (from Chicago): Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
With offensive tackle taken care of after the Trent Brown signing, this is a good spot for Oakland to take a pass rusher, which is still the biggest need on this roster.
25. Philadelphia: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
The Eagles secondary was hurt by injuries in 2018, so I expect them to target cornerback as a major need. Scouts love Baker’s instincts in coverage.
26. Indianapolis: Taylor Rapp, S, Washington
Several scouts have mentioned Rapp as an underrated prospect; his play speed and versatility would be a great addition to Matt Eberflus’s young defense.
27. Oakland (via Dallas): Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State
As predicted, Campbell stood out at the combine, and his body of work over four seasons at Ohio State is impressive. Even with Antonio Brown, the Raiders are in need of more receiver help.
28. L.A. Chargers: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
Lawrence is primarily an early-down run-stuffer, but he has a rare combination of size and athleticism and has flashed upside in the pass-rush. His gargantuan body type is really hard to find (6' 4", 350 lbs.), and he will help a Chargers team greatly in need of help on the interior.
29. Kansas City: Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple
Improving the secondary has to be the Chiefs’ main priority in this draft—they finished 31st in passing yards allowed last season. Ya-Sin had an impressive combine and would be a versatile addition to Kansas City’s defense.
30. Green Bay (from New Orleans): Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
Jimmy Graham is 32 and not the player he once was. Fant—the second Iowa tight end in the first round—gives Aaron Rodgers another weapon in the passing game.
31. L.A. Rams: Jaylon Ferguson, EDGE, Louisiana Tech
An evaluator told me Ferguson is the real deal, and an even better C-USA product than last year’s first round edge rusher, Marcus Davenport. (That same evaluator said it was a shame Ferguson couldn’t show off his skills at the combine, after he was disinvited when a background check revealed he was convicted of simple battery during his freshman year after getting into a fight at a McDonald’s.) The FBS all-time sack leader (45) is a productive pass rusher with a variety of moves at his disposal.
32. *Arizona Cardinals (from New England in projected trade for Josh Rosen): Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame
Teams are enamored with his size and length. Tillery was originally recruited as an offensive lineman and is still raw, but he can be dominant at the position.
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