2019 Mock Rookie Draft - Version IV
John Holler - 4/22/2019
With the final days counting down to the 2019 draft, teams are getting into full bunker mentality, knowing that the players they select – whether hits or misses – will help define their team moving forward.
Nothing is more important to the building of an organization than finding the college talent to help build a long-term foundation – whether that be the first pick of the draft or a seventh-round selection that the team believes it can develop into a star. Many more NFL starters are mid- to late-round picks than are first-round talents, so finding talent throughout the draft is imperative for any organization.
This mock draft doesn’t project trades, although we expect to see several made Thursday night because organizations hard-target players and are willing to give up some later draft capital to get the player they truly covet. If all the picks stay as they are, this is how we see them shaking out.
1. Arizona – Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma. This pick has been much-debated and I can envision a scenario where the Raiders make an offer of 4th, 27th and 35th pick to the Cardinals to move into this spot and give Arizona four of the top 35 picks in the draft by moving down three spots. But, Kliff Kingsbury has professed his love for Murray, which makes it to justify not taking him – although the Cardinals will make history for being the first team in the modern era to ever take quarterbacks in the first round in consecutive years.
2. San Francisco – Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State. The 49ers made a run for Kahlil Mack last year before he was traded to Chicago and teaming up Bosa with DeForest Buckner would give San Francisco a solid 1-2 punch on the edge that will be needed for a team that lacked a consistent pass rush last year and forced opposing QBs into just two interceptions because they couldn’t apply pressure.
3. New York Jets – Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama. New defensive coordinator Gregg Williams inherited a 3-4 defense – which the team has claimed it plans to keep despite Williams operating out of a 4-3 scheme his entire coaching career. In a 3-4 scheme, Kentucky’s Josh Allen may well be the better play here. But, Williams is the best player in the draft in the minds of many and you don’t let the best player slide past you. With no second-round pick, this would be an ideal spot for someone to move into because the Jets will likely be willing to trade down to pile up more draft picks.
4. Oakland – Josh Allen, OLB/DE, Kentucky. The Raiders have made some big improvements to their offense, addressing just about every position on that side of the ball. As a result, defense could get a long look with three first round picks, thanks to the Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper trades. If Williams is still on the board, he’s the pick here, but Allen can help replace some of the production Mack gave the Raiders during his short, but eventful Oakland career. G.M. Mike Mayock, who considers himself to be the smartest guy in the room in any room he’s in, might get cute and try to trade up or trade down. But, if he stays here, Allen is the pick to make to have the most immediate impact.
5. Tampa Bay – Devin White, ILB, LSU. This will be a tough decision for the Bucs. Anyone who wants a QB (Denver, Miami and Washington all qualify there) will likely have to move here, so if they’re going to trade up to get ahead of New York, this is their last chance to do so if they have an inkling who the Giants are looking at. But, the best move is to stay where they’re at and take the best player on the board – who also happens to fill a pressing need.
6. New York Giants – Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State. He’s a one-hit wonder (14 career starts) at OSU, so there are some questions as to whether he can be the franchise QB that replaces Eli Manning. There has been some talk that the Giants might pass on QB here and try to package the 17th pick and other draft compensation to take a QB later in the round. But, they passed on the chance to get their QB of the future last year and, while nobody is complaining about Saquon Barkley, the franchise moving forward will be marked by whether or not they get a QB in this year’s draft and Haskins has the skills to be something special.
7. Jacksonville – Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida. The Jaguars added Nick Foles as their QB to provide a spark to their offense, so the next priority will be to upgrade the offensive line and plugging Taylor in on the right side to replace Jeremy Parnell will help both the Foles and Leonard Fournette. Taylor is the best right tackle in the draft and could be a bookend in that spot for the next decade.
8. Detroit – Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State. The Lions backed up the truck to announce the signing of Trey Flowers to massive deal to replace Ziggy Ansah, but Sweat adds a different dimension with his incredible speed and ability to disrupt plays. He made a lot of money at the Combine and gives Matt Patricia long-term bookends that could immediately transform Detroit’s defense from bad to a buzz saw in a hurry.
9. Buffalo – Ed Oliver, DT, Houston. The Bills could like tight end here with Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson or along the offensive line. But, the team has signed five O-linemen in free agency to help make up for the losses of guard John Miller and tackle Jordan Mills. With the retirement of DT Kyle Williams, Buffalo needs to add a player to their D-line rotation and Oliver is a fast-riser on a lot of draft boards, making him a nice fit here.
10. Denver – Drew Lock, QB, Missouri. G.M. John Elway has swung and missed to find a replacement for Peyton Manning in the draft (Paxton Lynch) and free agency (Case Keenum). The team traded a low-round pick for Joe Flacco, but he isn’t the long-term answer. This pick is far from a certainty, but Lock has been extremely impressive in pre-draft workouts and Elway could be the type of G.M. the sees something of himself in the kid and makes the move.
11. Cincinnati – Devin Bush, ILB. Michigan – The Bengals moved on from Vontaze Burfict, whose combinations of suspensions and concussions have threatened his short-term and long-term future. If Devin White is still on the board at this point, he would likely be the Devin of choice, but Bush jumps out of tape just as much and has the ability to be a big-time pro in the middle of an NFL defense.
12. Green Bay – T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa. The Packers have made some unprecedented noise in free agency, adding help in the secondary and at linebacker. Aaron Rodgers has lost a lot of talent over the last couple of years and the team needs help at more than one spot in the receiver corps. Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf, who wowed scouts at the Combine, but Hockenson is a rare talent and given Rodgers’ history of making plays with tight ends, this can both a value pick and a nice fit for a need since Jimmy Graham isn’t the player he used to be.
13. Miami – Daniel Jones, QB, Duke. The Dolphins traded Ryan Tannehill for pennies on the dollar and currently have Ryan Fitzpatrick as their incumbent starter. Miami’s attempt to sign Teddy Bridgewater spoke to the end of the Tannehill era. They would love it if Lock is still on the board and may even trade up to get him, because this is a bit of a reach for Jones. But, in the QB-centric draft age in which we live, they need to strike while the iron is hot because the time between this pick and the next QB will be awhile.
14. Atlanta – Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan. The Falcons run defense was hideous last year and they had to use the franchise tag on DT Grady Jackson to keep him out of free agency. Even with Jackson locked down for at least one year, the Falcons still need to improve the defensive front that struggled badly last year. If you can’t stop the run, you don’t win in the NFL. The team reunited with DT Rashede Hageman and brought in Adrian Clayborn from the Patriots to help out, but young and Gary brings dividends both in run defense and rushing off the edge.
15. Washington – D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss. If one of the top four QBs remains on the board, a QB could easily (if not likely) be the pick here because Alex Smith may be done and Case Keenum isn’t a long-term answer at the position. But, with all of them gone, they go for the most impactful player on the board and that’s Metcalf. He blew up the Combine with his speed and the team is losing patience with former first-round pick Josh Doctson. With Jamison Crowder gone, there is an immediate opening for Metcalf to step in and make plays.
16. Carolina – Brian Burns, DE/OLB, Florida State. Offensive line is definitely a possibility given how ravaged the team was last season with injuries along the line last season and both of the Kalil brothers are gone. But, the bigger need is an edge rusher. Julius Peppers finally showed his age last season and announced his retirement after 17 seasons. The have a solid interior defensive line and adding an edge rusher of Burns’ caliber would be an immediate upgrade.
17. New York Giants (from Cleveland) – Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson. The Giants are having many shaking their heads about their fire sale of players over the last several months, including Damion Harrison, Olivier Vernon and Odell Beckham. The Giants need an edge rusher and Ferrell is the best available talent at this point in the draft. New York appears to be in full reclamation mode and adding a young D-linemen to build around in the future goes nicely with the heir apparent to Eli Manning on the offensive side with the sixth pick.
18. Minnesota – Jonah Williams, OT/G, Alabama. Any time Mike Zimmer is in a war room, the likelihood of taking a defensive player skyrockets. Both of the remaining Clemson defensive linemen could be a consideration here, but the investment Minnesota has made in Kirk Cousins, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs was often negated in the second half of last season by an offensive line that simply couldn’t hold up. Offensive line has been a problem in Minnesota for the last three years and, while signing Josh Kline helps, it’s not the answer. With Mike Remmers, Nick Easton and Tom Compton all gone, new blood is needed and Williams is a gift pick at this point of the draft because of his talent and versatility.
19. Tennessee – Noah Fant, TE, Iowa. Few players are being linked to teams as much as one of the top tight ends in this year’s draft class is with the Titans because few teams have counted on the tight end in their offense more than Tennessee. Delanie Walker has been the primary receiver in the offense the last five years and Marcus Mariota’s go-to guy. But, he’s 34 years old and coming off a significant ankle injury that ended his 2018 season early. Given how the Titans are built offensively – run the ball and use the tight end extensively in the passing game, this pick has all the signs of a marriage of need and talent because Fant can stretch the field and created mismatches with linebackers and safeties.
20. Pittsburgh – DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia. The Steelers could look in several directions here, but cornerback has been a significant problem the last couple of years and, while the signing of Steven Nelson helps, it doesn’t completely cure the problem because Joe Haden is in the final year of his contract and Artie Burns has been a bust. If Devin Bush is somehow still on the board, they would jump on him, but he’s long since gone to a division rival. Wide receiver is an outside option here, but with no cornerbacks off the board at this point, the Steelers will have their choice, whether it’s Williams or someone else.
21. Seattle – Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson. An edge rusher is needed despite the franchising of Frank Clark, so defensive end is an option here as well. Another area that will get strong consideration is offensive line, where the Seahawks have struggled for the last couple of years and with Russell Wilson now making huge money, keeping him protected takes on even more importance to the franchise’s bottom line. But, the team needs to look at value and, as things stand, getting a solid tackle next to Jarran Reed makes sense. The combination of Sheldon Richardson and Shamar Stephen the last two years brought mixed results for guys on short-term deals. Wilkins could help keep Seattle’s defense one of the stronger units in the NFC.
22. Baltimore – Chris Lindstrom, G, Boston College. This pick could go for an edge rusher if one of the top guys drop, wide receiver (given the loss of Michael Crabtree and John Brown) or linebacker (given the loss of Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley and Za’Darius Smith). But, with the trade of Joe Flacco, the Ravens have fully committed to Lamar Jackson and a run-heavy offense in dire need of interior line help to go along with Marshall Yanda. Cody Ford may be rated higher on some boards, but Lindstrom is a better fit for a power run offense who could step in immediately and upgrade the line as a group.
23. Houston – Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State. No team allowed more sacks (62) than the Texans and Deshaun Watson avoided many more with his mobility. The offensive line has been a mess for some time, but when you’re the worst in the league by a distance, you can’t expect to be a playoff team. Matt Kalil isn’t the answer and it is possible Dillard could step in and immediately give the Texans an upgrade and potentially develop into a bookend left tackle for the next decade.
24. Oakland (from Chicago) – Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama. The Raiders addressed defensive line with their first pick and have been extremely active in free agency. But, whether Marshawn Lynch is back or not, Doug Martin and Isaiah Crowell are not dynamic fixes to the problem at running back. Jacobs could make an immediate impact as a big-play threat and help revitalize a Raiders offense that is going to have a much different look in 2019 before they head to Las Vegas. Cornerback is a possibility here, but the Raiders could likely get a cornerback at No. 27, but lose out on Jacobs if they wait to get past the Eagles and Colts.
25. Philadelphia – Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State. The Eagles have spent most of free agency re-signing their own players, so this is a pick based on talent at the spot the choice is made. Last year, the Eagles secondary was ravaged by injury and, at this point, they have their choice of safeties to line up alongside Malcom Jenkins. Offensive line could be a possibility because Jason Peters is nearing the end of the line and if there is a linebacker the team likes, replacing Jordan Hicks has become a priority. However, Abram can step right in and help out a unit that was forced to go to the back end of the depth chart last season.
26. Indianapolis – Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma. The Colts could look defense here, but they made good strides in the second half of 2018, so the team could be looking there in the first round. But, with Andrew Luck back to his old self, he needs more receiving weapons. The one-year deal signed with Devin Funchess helps, but doesn’t cure the issue. Brown is a talent who could be gone by this point (some scouts rate him as the top receiver prospect in the draft) and he can create mismatch nightmares with his speed. With T.Y. Hilton injured too often, another big-play threat could open up the Colts offense in a big way.
27. Oakland (from Dallas) – Byron Murphy, CB, Washington. The Raiders already addressed defensive line and running back and now get the cornerback some scouts have ranked as the best in this year’s draft class. The Raiders suffered through last season after opting to trade two of their best players last year to get this harvest. While Kahlil Mack still leaves a void, being able to fill needs on the defensive line, backfield and secondary has the potential to make this one of the most prolific drafts in recent Raiders history.
28. Los Angeles Chargers – Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson. The Chargers have different directions they can go with here, but sandwiching Lawrence in between Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram could give the Chargers the most oppressive defensive front in the AFC. They were exposed for their deficiencies by New England in a big way in the playoffs, but haven’t done anything in free agency to fix the problems. Adding a massive interior lineman like Lawrence that can demand double-teams can start that process and make Bosa and Ingram even more dangerous.
29. Kansas City – Greedy Williams, CB, LSU. New defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has a tall order. The Chiefs were riddled over the top routinely last year as their offense forced opponents into shootouts that, when it came down to it in the postseason, proved to be too much. Williams is my No. 1 rated cornerback on the board, but he is versed only in man coverage and needed to go to a team where he would have the freedom to play tight press coverage and do what he does best. He will get burned at times, but will bring a tougher mentality to a Chiefs secondary that was lit up too often last season.
30. Green Bay (from New Orleans) – A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss. The Packers need to shore up several areas, but, as they did with their first selection (tight end T.J. Hockenson), upgrading wide receiver is necessary. In the last two years, they’ve rid themselves of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb and have yet to develop someone to be the complement to Davante Adams. Brown’s production over the last two years (160 receptions, 2,572 yards, 17 touchdowns) has been outstanding and he has the combination of size, strength and speed that should translate quickly to the NFL game.
31. Los Angeles Rams – Garrett Bradbury, C, NC State. The Rams have all the weapons they need to make another run at the Super Bowl they invested so heavily in during last offseason with free agent signings, trades and the draft. They have amassed talent on both sides of the ball and, although they have issues in the secondary that were exposed, the lack of production at tight end (not just now, but for decades) with the Rams has been a weakness that can be addressed. Center John Sullivan is gone and a replacement at the middle of the offensive line is needed and he can provide an immediate
32. New England – Irv Smith Jr, TE, Stanford. The Patriots likely anticipated the retirement of Rob Gronkowski, but his loss to the offense can’t be overestimated. He is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and his rapport with Tom Brady made him one of the most dominant tight ends in the history of the game. Smith has talent, but he’s no Gronk – at least not yet. But, given the key role tight ends have had over the years in New England’s offense, getting a quality replacement is essential – even if means targeting one in the draft, which the Patriots don’t often do.
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