This draft is a fascinating one. The Cardinals may easily take a quarterback for the second straight year. There is a stunningly low amount of information about what teams are thinking. There is an array of defensive talent that could see studs drop way farther than we ever imagined or go way higher than we imagined.
As usual, this mock draft features no trades. And not as per usual, there is no No.1 overall pick. You can read here for that. As of now, that pick shouldn’t change. Josh Rosen is still an Arizona Cardinal.
No.2, San Francisco 49ers: LB Josh Allen, Kentucky
This is a tad high for Allen, I know, and taking him above a potentially generational defensive tackle prospect may be a little confusing. But this is the NFL, and drafting for need is much more common than in the NBA (In the NBA, you throw need out the door 95 percent of the time. Here, not so much).
The 49ers just don’t have room for Williams. With DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas inside, they should be set for the future (Thomas needs to massively improve though. Still, you just can’t take Williams right after taking Thomas, even if you find a taker for him, which may be more likely than we thought based on reports this morning). The ends are occupied by now Dee Ford and Arik Armstead, each who give the 49ers pass rush and some versatility (At least with Ford).
Versatility is the key with Allen. The guy can play anywhere on the field. The 49ers won’t necessarily need him to help out with the pass rush, but he’s a dominating fifth guy to come off a blitz. He’s a run-stopping outside linebacker who can also cover tight ends with ease. Kentucky even had him cover some slot receivers last season.
Allen is an absolute stud. He can legitimately do anything on the defensive end of the field. Plugging him in at outside linebacker makes San Francisco’s front seven very scary with the addition of Kwon Alexander.
No.3, New York Jets: DT Quinnenn Williams, Alabama
The Jets could not be more ecstatic that Williams is here. They have a hole in the middle of their defensive line, and pairing Quinnen with Leonard Williams creates a terrifying combo up front. He’s the closest thing we’ve seen to Aaron Donald, and could be as good as him someday as well.
No.4, Oakland Raiders: LB Devin Bush, Michigan
This is again a bit high, but I love Bush and this serves a need for the Raiders.
The reason I prefer Bush over the other Devin (White) is because of the scheme he played in at Michigan. The Wolverines defensive scheme puts huge trust into anyone playing coverage; it’s a straight man-to-man scheme that isn’t really creative at all; it just relies on its talent. Bush was a massive part of that talent, even as an outside linebacker. He’s a hard-hitter and makes plays. The Raiders need that blue-chipper in the middle of their defense. Bush is it.
I would not be surprised if the Raiders stun everyone and take Murray here. Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden have shown no inclination that they have any idea what they’re doing. There’s been rumors about Gruden’s infatuation with Murray, and it’s certainly known that him and Derek Carr don’t get along that well (If Carr’s contract wasn’t an albatross, I think he would be well gone by now).
Still, I don’t think that’s the right move. Carr needs weapons to be successful, and the Raiders have given him that. If he doesn’t succeed, move on and get your guy next year. If Carr sucks, chances are you’ll be in good enough draft position to get him.
No.5, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
This is perhaps the most surprising pick of this mock draft.
First, the “But they have Jameis Winston!” case is not valid here. Are you trying to tell me that someone who has been benched multiple times, is a good bet to throw five interceptions a game, and has proved nothing in now four (!!!) seasons is a better option than Kyler Murray? Really?
Sorry Bruce Arians, but Winston isn’t fixable. So go get yourself a stud who you can actually develop and who can take advantage of the underrated weapons core.
That’s the bigger picture here. Not only is the Buccaneers weapons core underrated, but the whole roster really is. Kwon Alexander and DeSean Jackson are big losses, but Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and OJ Howard is a fun bin of toys, and the defense still has the likes of Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David and Vernon Hargreaves on it. There’s talent on this team; it should be a lot better than it was last season. A lot of the problem was quarterback. With Murray, you fix that, and if he’s as good as we hope, Tampa Bay is really good really soon.
No.6, New York Giants: QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
The Giants get their hopes up that Murray may somehow fall to them, but end up taking the guy who they’ve been connected to for awhile now.
If the Giants were smart (Hint: They’re not), this wouldn’t be a debate and the Giants would have already announced that they’re taking Haskins. Instead, they continue to think that Eli Manning is a serviceable starter.
But I still think, despite their commitment to Manning, they take Haskins. There’s been a lot of smoke, and the Giants have to know that Manning won’t be able to be whatever below serviceable is much longer. He could be so bad this season that the Giants actually realize he’s not the guy anymore.
Which is why having Haskins for the moment Manning really falls apart, to the extent that the Giants realize it, is the right move.
I have Murray above him because of the star power. Haskins has a fantastic arm and a big body; he’s strong and can withstand hits unlike Murray. The Ben Rothlisberger comps are accurate; he has the ability to evade guys and extend plays but not run.
The decision-making has to be better. That’s Haskins biggest question. The extension of plays is a fantastic skill, but it isn’t one when you made bad decisions when you use it. Because of that, Haskins has some similarities to Jameis Winston. I’d be surprised if he ends up like him though.
No.7, Jacksonville Jaguars: TE T.J. Hockenson, Iowa
Again, it’s high. But the Jaguars can’t afford to make the Nick Foles contract look and be worse than it already is.
The key to Foles’ success in Philadelphia was good coaching and supreme weapons. I don’t believe he’s going to get the first part of that, so loading up on the second part would be ideal.
The Jags don’t have anyone who’s considered an above-average weapon on the roster right now. Marquise Lee has to prove he can stay healthy, and I like Dede Westbrook but don’t see him as even a number two option on a team some day. Keelan Cole isn’t a very reliable target either.
Essentially, the Jaguars have a bunch of third options for their receivers. Hockenson fixes that. He’s a big, tall downfield tight end with immense size who can also run routes in the intermediate range. At 6’5, he’s a pain to tackle and to cover.
No.8, Detroit Lions: DL Rashan Gary, Michigan
For a draft that is loaded with front seven talent, we’ve reached a bit of an odd point at number eight overall.
The Lions need another guy on the edge. They paid up for Trey Flowers, and have Damon Harrison in the middle. To cap off their 3-4 line, Gary would be an explosive addition, and create a menace for opposing offensive lines.
But like a lot of the defensive linemen left in the draft at this point, Gary has issues. A torn labrum is scaring teams off, and he is kind of heavy to play the edge. Some mock drafts have him plummeting close to out of the first round.
So at this point if you’re the Lions, you’re kind of picking your poison. I like Gary more than Ed Oliver, who didn’t live up to nearly the hype we had for him last season and is making a rejuvenated run at a top ten pick. He’s also an inside presence unlike Gary. Montez Sweat would be in play here, but his issues are much more complex and concerning than Gary’s.
No.9, Buffalo Bills: LB Devin White, LSU
The Bills are another linebacker away from having a very scary defense. White fills the hole. It’s not too high for offensive line; Jawaan Taylor has been a popular pick, but White is a higher impact player. He’s a maniac on the field and makes plays. He’s not super rangy and doesn’t really excel in coverage, but can cover tight ends and running backs on screens.
No.10, Denver Broncos: C Garrett Bradbury, NC State
Another bit of a reach. But there’s no middle linebackers that make sense at this point in the draft for Denver, and they sound way too committed to Joe Flacco to pick a quarterback.
Bradbury doesn’t have the ceiling of someone of like Quenton Nelson, but they’re similar in the sense that Bradbury is someone who can come into a situation and be very effective right away. With Matt Paradis in Carolina, Bradbury fills the center hole nicely in Denver.
No.11, Cincinnati Bengals: CB Greedy Williams, LSU
The Bengals could go anywhere on the offensive line, but Greedy Williams is too special to pass on.
There’s nothing to not like about Williams. He’s long, physical and nasty. He’s a ball-hawk that doesn’t have ball-hawk numbers. That’s because no one ever threw at him.
The Bengals secondary is in rough shape aside from Dre Kilpatrick. Pairing Greedy with him establishes at least some competency.
No.12, Green Bay Packers: WR D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss
It’s time for Aaron Rodgers to stop having mediocre weapons.
Metcalf is perhaps the most freakish receiver we have seen in awhile. He’s absolutely shredded and flies down the field. He’s an unguardable deep threat and uses his size to go up and grab balls.
If there’s a problem, it’s the route running. Despite the size, Metcalf doesn’t have good lateral quickness. Short and intermediate routes might be a wash in the playbook for him. You hope that with the athleticism he can figure it out.
No.13, Miami Dolphins: DL Ed Oliver, Houston
This is quite a drop for Oliver, who was the number one overall prospect on most people’s big boards to start the season. After seeing his value tank a bit though, Oliver is suddenly rising up boards again. It’s been reported that the Raiders really like him at number four, and a lot of mocks have him in the top ten.
The Dolphins have some talent on their defense, and Oliver makes their defensive line tenacious. Robert Quinn is an underrated addition, and Akeem Spence is a good space-taker in the middle.
Oliver plays inside; he’s not an edge rusher at all. The problem with Oliver, and the reason I have him falling, is because he’s too big to play on the end and a little too small for in the middle. He’s a weird combo of both; he doesn’t have the burliness of a defensive tackle and doesn’t have the length of an end.
He can’t fall much further because of his ceiling and because of what he can do. I’m just weary of how much of an impact guy he’ll really be.
No.14, Atlanta Falcons: G/T, Jonah Williams, Alabama
Examining the Falcons’ needs made me realize how talented this team is. They really don’t need a lot. Last season was an injury season from hell and it made them appear in much worse shape than they were.
Where they need help is in the trenches. With Alex Mack and Jake Matthews, the Falcons have some anchors on the line. But the guard spots are weak.
Williams can play either. He has great footwork but is a little small to play on the outside, which makes him a great fit for the Falcons.
No.15, Washington Redskins: WR A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
Washington could go a lot of ways with this pick. Quarterback is the sexy route, and rumors have them definitely interested in the possibility of selecting one here or trading up.
I honestly don’t see anything in Daniel Jones. If someone is being compared to Alex Smith, then how is that a good thing? And while I’m higher on Drew Lock, 15th overall is a tad high. Where is the accuracy?
If the Redskins planned to draft a quarterback tonight, then there was no sense in trading for Case Keenum. By making that trade, the Redskins signified that they (stupidly) intend to compete this year. Keenum doesn’t make you good but he does make you decent.
So if Washington intends to compete, they might as well get Keenum some more weapons. Jordan Reed is essentially the number one option on this roster, and he plays anywhere from eight to 12 games a year. We don’t know if Josh Doctson can produce anything. Paul Richardson was a good signing, but he’s a number two option on a good team. The Redskins aren’t that.
Insert A.J. Brown, the other stud Ole Miss receiver. He’s a shifty but not lightning quick slot receiver who can get open over the middle of the field. Brown’s going to be reliable; he’s a safe pick. Getting Keenum, or the next franchise QB, someone like that is critical.
No.16, Carolina Panthers: DL Brian Burns, Florida State
The Panthers have more pressing needs, but letting an edge-rusher like Burns slip by is a tough proposition to pass up. They could use another receiver, or a tackle like Jawaan Taylor (More on him soon), or a cornerback (A little high at this spot).
They have a hole they could plug along the defensive line. Burns is an electric pass-rusher and has length at 6’5. His long arms toss offensive linemen around. He’s nasty, and would make the Panthers front unblockable.
No.17, New York Giants: OT Jawaan Taylor, Florida
The Giants have done an underrated job of rebuilding what was their disastrous offensive line. Taylor is the second to last piece.
In a theoretical addition of Taylor, the Giants grab a physical freak who is terrifying to be lined up across from. He’s insanely strong and moves well. Putting him on a line with Will Hernandez, Kevin Zeitler and Nate Solder puts together a group that Giants fans couldn’t believe would have existed three years ago.
No.18, Minnesota Vikings: OT Andre Dillard, Boston College
The first question I always ask myself when mocking a draft is “What does this team need to improve?”
With the Vikings, the first thing that came to my mind was quarterback.
But obviously the Vikings don’t believe that, and even if they did, they wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.
The offensive line has been up and down for years with Minnesota. They only have two above average linemen at the moment, and one is playing out of position.
Drafting Dillard doesn’t fix the Pat Elflein position problem, but it does improve the line. He’s a tall and strong left tackle who will have Kirk Cousins’ blindside, allowing him more time to throw an interception (Sorry).
No.19, Tennessee Titans: G/T Cody Ford, Oklahoma
Like Jonah Williams, Ford has the ability to play either guard or tackle. Tennessee has a hole at guard on the right side, and it’s really the only weakness on their line. If they plug that, and make sure their weapons stay healthy and perform at a high level, the excuses for Marcus Mariota don’t exist anymore.
No.20, Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Rock Ya-Sin, Temple
Ya-Sin has exploded up draft boards the past couple days; his rise reminds me of Denzel Ward’s last draft. All the sudden it sounds like he is a guaranteed first rounder.
It makes no sense why it took so long for Ya-Sin to shoot up boards. He’s a smaller cornerback who uses his speed and coverage skills to shut guys down. His coverage on the deep ball is a bit in question, but his physical skills should be able to make up for it.
For the Steelers, whose secondary has plagued them over the past few years, this is a perfect pick. Ya-Sin is a stud, and a future lockdown guy.
No.21, Seattle Seahawks: DL Christian Wilkins, Clemson
It’s impossible to pick a favorite out of all the Clemson guys, but Wilkins gets just the slightest edge for an unexplainable reason. Plus, he’s the best fit for the Seahawks.
With Frank Clark now in Kansas City (That was a sweet deal by Seattle, by the way), the Seahawks need a dominate edge presence. Wilkins replaces that production on a rookie contract. I understand he projects better as an inside presence, but Clemson got really creative with him last season and played him on the outside as well. He can do both.
Despite his large size, I’m not sure it matters. Wilkins is a dog, who is going to produce no matter where he is. What better place to go than Seattle to refine or add to your defensive skills?
No.22, Baltimore Ravens: DL Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
Right after Wilkins is picked, the Clemson guys start coming off the board.
Ferrell’s the true pass rusher out of the group, but his ceiling is a little lower than Wilkins’ due to it. Ferrell is long and physical, but isn’t someone who has defined moves or true grace getting to the quarterback. He just kind of finds his way there. Can that possibly be a bad thing?
The Ravens lost a lot in free agency on the defensive side of the ball. Taking Ferrell here replenishes that, even though they still have a long way to go.
No.23, Houston Texans: TE Noah Fant, Iowa
The other Iowa tight end finally comes off the board. Fant’s different than Hockenson in the sense that they aren’t the same mold. Fant’s a big dude rather than a long dude like Hockenson is. If Hockenson is Jimmy Graham, then Fant is Rob Gronkowski (Those are strictly size and not skill/potential comps). Because of that, Fant has lower value. He’s bulky and a lumbers a bit.
That doesn’t mean Fant isn’t destined for success. In Houston, he will at least have a quarterback that can get him the ball if protected well enough. If we haven’t complained about the line in front of DeShaun Watson, we’ve complained the lack of a second option for him aside from Deandre Hopkins. Will Fuller is a streaky target and battles injuries, and we need to see it from Keke Coutee for one more year. In Fant, you’re giving Watson somebody who will get open simply because of his size. He’s that much of a problem for the opposition.
No.24, Oakland Raiders: DL Dexter Lawrence, Clemson
The last of the three Clemson big guns comes off the board, and the Raiders are slowly becoming a force on the defensive end of the field.
Lawrence is a meaty defensive tackle who can play inside of edge rushers Arden Key and Josh Mauro. He’s an excellent run stopper who is quite good at getting to the quarterback at his size, though those skills of his may take longer to develop.
No.25, Philadelphia Eagles: DL Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame
With Timmy Jernigan’s re-signing this morning, it seems less likely that the Eagles could go with a defensive tackle here, and could instead opt for an edge rusher. But, Jernigan is only on a one year deal, so if the Eagles decide to move on from him after next season, Tillery is there to take his place.
Tillery is massive at 6’6. His length and moves make him a force inside.
No.26, Indianapolis Colts: CB Byron Murphy, Washington
Murphy is small slot cornerback whose speed allows him to stay with most receivers. He’s lockdown within the intermediate range of the field. His downfield coverage is questionable, but with Malik Hooker behind him, that’s less of a concern.
The Colts could desperately use upgrades at cornerback. Murphy is someone who could have a Marshon Lattimore-like impact immediately.
No.27, Oakland Raiders: RB Josh Jacobs, Alabama
The Raiders shouldn’t do this, but it seems all too entirely likely to happen. Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock want to make splashes; that’s why we can’t totally rule out Murray for them at number four overall.
I like Isaish Crowell, but there’s a reason he’s been on three teams in five years. Aside from him, Oakland has a bunch of speciality backs who are more useful in the passing game rather than in the running game.
Getting Jacobs helps them replace Marshawn Lynch, who has decided to retire again. Jacobs and Lynch are similar backs; big, powerful runners who plow over dudes, and unlike Lynch, Jacobs could be a reliable option in the passing game.
A cornerback or a reach for a linebacker here is a better option. At this point, the Raiders should trade down.
No.28, Los Angeles Chargers: OL Kaleb McGary, Washington
Some scouting reports have McGary going late in the second round, while others evaluate McGary as one of the better offensive line prospects of the decade.
The later description is a bit much, but McGary is a first round talent and worth a reach. He played tackle at Washington, but the Chargers could use help at guard, and McGary is suited to play both. The reason he could slide is because of that; that teams maybe don’t see him as a tackle and do just as a guard.
He’s a big dude for that spot; so much so that he may be overqualified. That’d be good news for the Chargers.
No.29, Seattle Seahawks: S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida
The Seahawks may find themselves going edge here, or could reach for Washington safety Taylor Rapp instead, but I think Gardner-Johnson is the better prospect on the board.
Gardner-Johnson was a play-maker at Florida as well as a skilled coverage back. As a safety, he surveyed the field while also covering slot receivers in sets where he’d line up as a corner.
The Seahawks secondary has recovered well from the losses it has sustained over the years, but Gardner-Johnson gives them depth behind Tedric Thompson.
No.30, Green Bay Packers: WR Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, Oklahoma
Probably my favorite receiver in the draft, and teams are starting to realize the mistake they are making by giving him a third round grade.
That was where Brown was projected to go until essentially a week and a half ago, when a serious market correction occurred. Now, some mocks have him going in the top 20, which is probably about right.
I’m not sure how much I trust it though. Plus, Brown does have a decently serious foot injury, which was the heart of his fall early in the draft process.
No matter what, with this pick the Packers now have Metcalf and Hollywood amongst their receiving core. That is not a bad duo for Aaron Rodgers, who has been completely depleted of weapons the past two seasons, to work with. Taking two receivers in the first round is a bit much, but people to make Rodgers happy is the Packers biggest need.
No.31, Los Angeles Rams: OL Chris Lindstrom, Boston College
The Rams desperately need help along the offensive line. Lindstrom is another plug-and-play guard who will be effective immediately. His footwork and athleticism makes him play like a tackle at the guard position.
No.32, New England Patriots: WR N’Keal Harry, Arizona State
I wasn’t sure if Harry was going to make it into my first round. Harry’s stock has fell a bit as we’ve approached tonight; he essentially went from possibly the top receiver in the draft to the fourth or fifth best, which makes the Patriots the front-runner for his services.
If Harry doesn’t go here, it sounds like he won’t be in the second round for much longer. He himself has reported that the Cardinals are likely to take him at No.33 with the first pick of the second round. I would be… let’s just say… more than excited about that.
Harry would give the Patriots a deep threat they’ve lacked for awhile. That’s essentially the one thing he is really good at. His size makes him impossible to cover on downfield routes, and he’s a pain to tackle thanks to it and his after-the-catch explosiveness. Harry is like a rich man’s Kelvin Benjamin.
The problem with Harry is that he’s not a very diverse receiver. He’s not a good route runner; the go and deep routes are essentially the only two he can run effectively.
Harry on the Pats puts him in the best position to succeed, and gives him a quarterback who can actually get the ball downfield to him.