Hallelujah! The draft is 31 days away! You only have to endure a few more iterations of this mock draft before the real thing unfolds. We’ll make it through this together. This mock draft took into account some pro day news, like which teams have shown interest (real or smokescreen) in certain players, free-agency fallout, and a recent retirement.
1. Arizona: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
At the owners’ meeting in Phoenix, Kliff Kingsbury fed into the hype even more by elaborating exactly what he likes about Murray as a player: “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. ... He's one of the better dual threat players to ever play.”
3. *PROJECTED TRADE* N.Y. Giants (from N.Y. Jets): Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
History shows us that quarterback rise in the draft. Here, we're projecting that the Giants will trade their sixth overall pick to the Jets along with their second-round pick (37th overall) and their 2020 first-round pick to trade up to three spots to ensure they get their guy. (I ran the scenario by a source who said that package of picks would probably get the job done.) I’m not buying the report that the Giants aren’t interested in Haskins. I ran that idea by several scouts from different teams and each thought it was nonsense. New York brought a large contingent to his pro day, had dinner with him the night before and will be bringing him out to New Jersey for a visit. Haskins is more mobile than Eli Manning, and I think it would be crazy for the Giants to pass on him and wait another year to draft a quarterback.
4. Oakland: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
I’m sticking with this prediction. The Raiders are getting aggressive with their roster, and having a quarterback on a rookie contract would help them maintain salary-cap flexibility. Our Albert Breer reported that the Raiders will work out Murray and Haskins, which makes it clear they are putting in the time to scout the quarterbacks in this draft. If the Raiders don’t trade up for the first pick to take Murray, I think Gruden might go for Lock, who Gruden coached on the North team at the Senior Bowl, a small connection, but an interesting one. I reported last week that I spoke to a player on the Senior Bowl North team roster who said that Gruden “loved” Lock. It’s a small piece of evidence, sure, but it’s interesting.
5. Tampa Bay: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
Williams would provide new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles with a potential star and long-term replacement for Gerald McCoy.
6. *PROJECTED TRADE* N.Y. Jets (from N.Y. Giants): Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
The Jets are badly in need of some defensive playmakers, especially in the pass rush. They failed to get Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr in free agency, so this need is still very much a priority. 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 in Gregg Williams defense.
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: Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan
The Bills addressed the offensive line struggles by adding three O-linemen in free agency. They could definitely still decide to use this pick on an offensive tackle, like Alabama’s Jonah Williams, but I think they’ll go for defensive line help here. Gary can play outside and move inside on passing downs. His collegiate production didn’t match his traits, but there are few prospects with his combination of size, strength and explosive athleticism.
10. Denver: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
Denver took care of its cornerback needs in free agency with the addition of Kareem Jackson and Bryce Callahan. They might use this pick on a tight end, but the interest they are showing in quarterbacks—Denver is hosting Murray, Haskins, Lock and Jones for pre-draft visits—leads me to think they might draft a passer with this pick.
11. Cincinnati: Devin White, LB, LSU
The Bengals released linebacker Vontaze Burfict and didn’t do much to address the position in free agency. While his instincts at the position are still coming along (White was thought to be a better prospect at running back when he arrived at LSU), White has a chance to be a star at the next level.
12. Green Bay: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
Green Bay took care of some major pass-rushing needs in free agency with Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith, so their attention turns to helping out Aaron Rodgers. Hockenson is an athletic receiving threat as well as a very good blocker.
13. Miami: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
Miami found their bridge quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick, and could very well be in the mix to trade up for a quarterback if there is a guy they love. “I would say all options are on the table,” Dolphins GM Chris Grier said Monday while attending the owners meetings in Phoenix. “I wouldn't say that we wouldn't [trade up]. We also know that that's the key for any franchise moving forward. So if there is a guy there that we like this year that we feel we need to go be aggressive, yeah, we'll be aggressive, trying to do it. But you know we'll also be smart about it. There is also a limit to what you should do as far as being smart about it.”
Miami was one of 10 teams that interviewed Murray at the combine and they stayed in Norman to work him out after his pro day. In this scenario we'll project that they don't trade up, taking a talented interior defensive lineman. 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).
14. Atlanta: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
Atlanta’s defense was decimated by injuries last year, one of the biggest reasons for their disappointing 2018 season. The Falcons are working on reaching an agreement with franchise-tagged free agent Grady Jarrett. A four-year starter at Clemson, teams wish Wilkins was more physical playing the run, but in the passing game, he consistently wreaks havoc.
15. Washington: Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
With Case Keenum coming in, there’s less pressure to draft a quarterback in Washington (though I think they could be in the running if Josh Rosen is traded). After losing Preston Smith in free agency to the Packers, Washington needs an edge rushing replacement, and they’ll get that with Burns.
16. Carolina: Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
The Panthers signed Bruce Irvin in free agency but the 31-year-old is on a one-year deal. Carolina could use youth at the position. Ferrell gets to quarterbacks and is strong against the run.
17. N.Y. Giants (from Cleveland): DK Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
Odell Beckham Jr. is gone to Cleveland, so the Giants use one of the picks gained in that deal on a big, fast wideout with the potential to become the team’s No. 1 receiver.
18. Minnesota: Jonah Williams, OT/G, Alabama
The Vikings need to protect Kirk Cousins and open up rushing lanes for Dalvin Cook. Williams can provide an upgrade at right tackle or at guard.
19. Tennessee: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
Bush was the anchor of Michigan’s defense. Starter Wesley Woodyard turns 33 in July, and Bush would be a long-term pairing with last year’s first-round pick, Rashaan Evans.
20. Pittsburgh: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
The Steelers signed former Chiefs corner Steven Nelson in free agency, but still need depth at the position. Williams is long, speedy and instinctive, but he’s knocked for his willingness to tackle. An inside linebacker to fill Ryan Shazier’s old spot, a hole in Pittsburgh’s defense the past season-plus, is also a possibility here.
21. Seattle: Taylor Rapp, S, Washington
Several scouts have mentioned Rapp as an underrated prospect; his play speed and versatility would be a great addition to Seattle’s defense, which just lost Earl Thomas to the Ravens.
22. Baltimore: Garrett Bradbury, C, N.C. State
Bradbury stood out at the Senior Bowl and then followed up with a solid combine performance. The Ravens could use a upgrade at center, and Bradbury is a great value here.
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): Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
Running back is a big unknown for the Raiders right now, with Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin both currently unsigned. With only 251 career 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 Derek Carr (or whoever is playing quarterback next season in Oakland).
25. Philadelphia: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
The Eagles secondary was hurt by injuries in 2018, so I expect them to target cornerback depth as a major need. Scouts love Baker’s instincts in coverage.
26. Indianapolis: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
The Colts added Devin Funchess in free agency, but adding the speedy Brown across from T.Y. Hilton would give them a second deep threat and put opposing defenses in a bind.
27. Oakland (from Dallas): Jaylon Ferguson, EDGE, Louisiana Tech
Oakland goes defense with its third pick in this draft. An evaluator told me Ferguson is the real deal, and an even better prospect than last year’s first-round edge rusher from Conference-USA, 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 sacks leader (45) is a productive pass rusher with a variety of moves at his disposal.
28. L.A. Chargers: Will Grier, QB, West Virginia
The Chargers will meet with Grier before the draft, and I could see them taking a chance on him as a possible successor to Philip Rivers.
29. Kansas City: Lonnie Johnson, CB, Kentucky
Improving the secondary has to be the Chiefs’ main priority in this draft—they finished 31st in passing yards allowed last season. Johnson has an impressive blenf of size (6' 2") and athleticism.
30. Green Bay (from New Orleans): 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. But a healthy Simmons could be a star in 2020, and with pass-rush talent already added to the roster, Green Bay can now afford to wait.
31. L.A. Rams: 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 if Ndamukong Suh doesn’t return, Lawrence could fill a hole on the interior.
32. New England: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
With Rob Gronkowski now retired, it’s no secret New England needs to add a tight end. Their current depth chart at the position might be the worst in the league: Stephen Anderson, Matt LaCosse, Jacob Hollister, Ryan Izzo. Fant—the second Iowa tight end in the first round — needs to improve as a blocker, but is a legitimate receiving threat.
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