Though many of us loathe to admit it, we all miss the National Football League, and as a result, we can’t help but give into the guilty pleasure that are Mock Drafts. Partially due to the obscenely long wait from the Super Bowl to the NFL Draft (nearly three months in this case), one simply can’t help but indulge themselves as to where they think each prospect will wind up, who will go earlier than expected, and who will fall. Of course, there’s always an added emphasis on who our own team will select, and if that selection will in fact improve our franchise. However, at the end of the day, we just want to be right, and that whoever’s nuanced Mock we consult (be it Mel Kiper Jr’s, Todd McShay’s, Daniel Jeremiah’s, or Matt Miller’s just to name a few), we simply search for some kind of affirmation that we’re actually on the same page with the experts. And yes, we’re well aware that Mock Drafts are largely ridiculous, and very much ado about nothing. However, we’ll say it again: they’re a guilty pleasure. We here at Oracle Sports simply couldn’t help but make one of our own (which should tell you that we’ve had a lot of time on our hands of late), complete with our own, original, honest opinion on the prospects and why we think they’ll be heading where. By no means do we profess ourselves to be in league with scouts, or coaches, or agents, or the relatives of these players. We’re just f@#$%^& around, folks, so enjoy!!!
1.) Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
Arguably the worst kept secret in the months leading up to this Draft, is the fact that new Cardinals’ Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury has openly waxed poetic about Kyler Murray on multiple occasions. Consider the fact that the Offense that he’s expected to run will mirror that from his days leading Texas Tech, then the 2018 Heisman is the obvious selection. Yes, Arizona traded up to select a Quarterback in the form of Josh Rosen a year ago, but General Manager Steve Keim was quick to dissolve the previous regime, so trading the former No. 10 Overall Pick wouldn’t necessarily be shocking. However, whom he sends the former UCLA Product to (and for what in return), will further shape this Draft, particularly in the mid-to-late parts of the First Round. In the meantime, Murray’s film, production, and intangibles scream No. One Overall, and his surprising measurables at the Combine simply confirmed it. The Russell Wilson comparisons are legit, folks, for this is the type of electrifying talent that can certainly jump-start a rebuilding project, no matter the size of the package. Believe it or not, coming in at just under 5′-11″ makes a world of difference for scouts…
2.) San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
We’re well aware that the 49ers have selected a plethora of Defensive Linemen early in recent Drafts, with varying degrees of success to show for it (Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas, just to name a few). We’re also well aware that Bosa missed all but three games of the 2018 campaign with a core muscle injury. We’re also very aware that San Francisco traded for former Chiefs’ Edge Rusher Dee Ford during Free Agency. However, with Kyle Shanahan making changes to his Defensive Coaching Staff, there is no guarantee that some of the more underachieving members of their Defensive Line will be in the Bay Area much longer, and selecting Bosa not only gives this unit some much needed teeth in their Pass-Rush, but insurance in the event that Ford bombs. Remember, the extension he signed upon being traded essentially has just one year guaranteed on it, meaning the Niners can cut bait with him rather painlessly if need be. If comparisons to his older brother, Joey, are indeed accurate, then San Francisco could potentially have a fearsome front to combat the likes of Russell Wilson, Jared Goff, and likely Kyler Murray in the NFC West.
3.) New York Jets: Josh Allen, Edge, Kentucky
With a brand-new Coaching Staff supplied with a massive war chest to spend during Free Agency, the Jets did a pretty damn good job of filling the litany of holes across their roster. New Head Coach Adam Gase and General Manager Mike Maccagnan improved the roster in a number of ways, signing the likes of former Pro Bowl talents such as Le’Veon Bell, Kelechi Osemele, and C.J. Mosely over the past month. While the supporting cast around Sophomore Quarterback Sam Darnold has certainly been bolstered, there remains one need that they’ve neglected, and that’s an Edge-Rusher. Allen was the most productive player of that position in a conference stocked with them, racking up a staggering 21.5 Tackles for Loss and 17.0 Sacks this past season at Kentucky. With Gang Green expected to remain in a 3-4 alignment under Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams, this kid is a natural fit both rushing the passer and playing in space. Ironically, the former Wildcat is a younger (and cheaper) version of the player that New York nearly landed in Free Agency, Anthony Barr. However, don’t be surprised if the Jets don’t keep this pick, for they are also a prime candidate to trade down and acquire more picks, due to having traded up to select Darnold a year ago. Any team looking to get in front of their crosstown rivals to choose a Quarterback will likely be calling Maccagnan on Draft Night.
4.) Oakland Raiders: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
Another team that addressed just about all of their holes via Free Agency (and there were plenty of them), the Raiders have thus far telegraphed their intent of taking a top-tier Pass-Rusher, which is needed after actually completing a full season and registering an anemic THIRTEEN Sacks. Then again, that’s what happens when you inexplicably trade away a former Defensive Player of the Year, Khalil Mack, but we’re not going to dwell on that… While Jon Gruden and new General Manager Mike Mayock will likely break into a dance number if either Bosa or Allen fall to them, Williams may just end up being the better choice. After all, in an era in which Aaron Donald has dominated from the interior of the Defensive Line, who says the rush has to come from the edges? Williams exploded onto the scene in 2018, logging 19.5 Tackles for Loss and 8.0 Sacks for an Alabama Defense that wasn’t quite as loaded as in past seasons. Oakland needs playmakers up front, and with the first of three picks in Round One, they’re almost guaranteed to select one here.
5.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Devin White, LB, LSU
If you ask us, the most inspiring coaching hire of the Offseason was the Buccaneers coaxing Bruce Arians out of retirement. While there is still plenty of offensive talent for the 66-year old guru to play with, the Defense is in a state of transition with former Jets’ Head Coach Todd Bowles expected to move towards a 3-4 scheme as their new Defensive Coordinator. Tampa Bay gave up the second-most points in the league in 2018 (29.0 P/G), and reinforcements are sorely needed, particularly after they let Linebacker Kwon Alexander skip his way to San Francisco in Free Agency. There is a glaring hole in the middle of this unit, and the rangy, hard-hitting White, whom some scouts rate as the top overall prospect in this Draft, should make an immediate impact, while serving as a clear upgrade over his predecessor. Defensive Line is also a very real possibility here, but after selecting Nose Tackle Vita Vea (who has yet to live up to his billing) last year at No. 12 Overall, it’s likely that they’ll approach other areas of need in 2019. Think Derrick Brooks 2.0, folks…
6.) New York Giants: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
Now this is where you can expect things to get interesting. With General Manager Dave Gettleman instituting a bona fide teardown of the roster, and longtime Quarterback Eli Manning expected to be put out to pasture following this upcoming campaign, the Giants absolutely NEED to find a Franchise Quarterback, whether one is available at this point or not. In the most obvious case of hindsight, they should have selected one a year ago when they possessed the No. Two Overall Pick, and instead chose to take Saquon Barkley. In the eyes of the rabid New York Media and the Fan Base, Gettleman needs to right that wrong. Granted, some other QB-needy team could very well trade up with Big Blue’s crosstown rivals and take Haskins off the board, or Gettleman can continue to confound us all, and tab an Edge Rusher, which certainly fits his profile, and wait to grab a passer with his second pick in Round One (obtained from the Browns in the Odell Beckham Jr. Trade). Don’t discount New York acquiring the aforementioned Rosen from the Cardinals either. With that said, Haskins checks many of the boxes when evaluating Quarterbacks, though the fact that he spent only one season as the starter at Ohio State may place some doubt in the minds of the Giants’ Brass. However, 50 Touchdowns and 4,831 Passing Yards in the Big Ten is hardly something to scoff at.
7.) Jacksonville Jaguars: Jawaan Taylor, T, Florida
After following up a surprise trip to the AFC Championship Game, the Jaguars authored an unsurprising collapse in 2018, thanks in large part to their Front Office’s misplaced belief in Blake Bortles. After moving on from the much-maligned Quarterback just one year into a three-year extension, Jacksonville (hopefully) acquired his successor in signing former Super Bowl LII Hero, Nick Foles. While it remains to be seen just how much of an upgrade the veteran passer is over his predecessor, the need to surround him with an improved Supporting Cast is paramount. Doug Marrone, David Caldwell, and Tom Coughlin have been fairly conservative since forming this team’s brain trust, and selecting a home grown talent like Taylor makes a lot of sense for a team that suffered too many injuries on the offensive side of the football, particularly in the trenches. If they want to get Leonard Fournette rolling again and get the most out of Foles, then the Jags could do a lot worse than choosing a mauler at Right Tackle such as Taylor. Remember, due to releasing Bortles and in turn signing Foles, this team is up against the Salary Cap in a major way, leaving the only feasible manner of adding talent at this point being through the Draft.
8.) Detroit Lions: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
In Year Two of the Bob Quinn/Matt Patricia Era in the Motor City, the two former Patriots continue to evolve the Lions into a proverbial New England Midwest. After a rough start, Patricia did a solid job of improving the Defense in 2018, with Detroit ranking 10th in Total Yards Allowed (335.0 Y/G), and that was before signing former Pats’ Edge Rusher Trey Flowers (57 TKL, 9 TFL, 7.5 SK, 3 FF in 2018) in Free Agency. Now the focus needs to shift to the Offense, where getting Matthew Stafford back on track needs to be the top priority. Quinn did a solid job of adding pieces around his Quarterback via Free Agency, with a clear emphasis towards getting more physical in the trenches. Selecting Hockenson kills two birds with one stone; the versatile Tight End is the steadiest at his position in this class at exploiting the intermediate areas of the field (49 REC, 760 YDS, 6 TD in 2018), and as an Iowa product, you know he’s gonna block in the running game. We know that they signed Jesse James to a modest contract a month ago, but new Offensive Coordinator Darren Bevell figures to utilize more Two-TE Sets, and this kid has the potential to be the Lions’ version of Rob Gronkowski.
9.) Buffalo Bills: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
Another team that launched an assault in Free Agency, filling many of their myriad of holes with quality starters, the Bills have placed themselves in a position to simply pick the best player available. Lucky for Sean McDermott and Co. taking Oliver also addresses a need as well; longtime Defensive Tackle Kyle Williams retired after a disappointing 6-10 campaign, leaving a void in the middle of the Defense. Reports of Oliver potentially sliding are very real, even if the problems he faced in 2018 (I.E. constant Double-Teams, and an inept Head Coach) were out of his control. The versatile Defensive Lineman should take to Buffalo’s scheme rather quickly, likely lining up in multiple positions and paying immediate dividends. Remember, the two-time All-American and 2017 AAC Defensive Player of the Year posted 53.0 Tackles for Loss and 13.5 Sacks in three seasons at Houston.
10.) Denver Broncos: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but John Elway is on a quest for a Quarterback. After a slew of failed attempts at unearthing a Franchise Signal-Caller, and after trading for Joe Flacco back in late February, the Broncos are expected to once again select a passer early in this Draft, and very well may trade up to do so. Anyone who thinks that Flacco is intended to serve as anything other than a bridge to a young gun is smoking something out there in the Rocky Mountains, and if they can’t move up for someone like the aforementioned Haskins, then Lock is the likeliest of choices here at No. Ten. While he was far from the most consistent of Quarterbacks throughout his four years starting at Missouri, Lock possesses stellar physical traits, and should benefit greatly from sitting out his rookie campaign, and ease his way into the scheme. Plus, the Broncos have question marks all over their Offense, not to mention a new Coaching Staff with a new system to incorporate. If Elway is in fact sold on Lock, then he’ll likely be available here, but the more important question is whether or not he’ll be patient enough to let him develop. Does he even have the time left to do so?
11.) Cincinnati Bengals: Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State
After suffering a slow death over the past few years, the Bengals finally hit their nadir in going 6-10 in 2018, which finally brought an end to the Marvin Lewis Era. Incoming Head Coach Zac Taylor has quite a rebuilding project on his hands, and if rumors are correct, moving on from foundational pieces such as Pro Bowl Receiver A.J. Green and Quarterback Andy Dalton would certainly hasten the process. While they’d probably seriously consider selecting either Haskins or Lock were they to fall this far, there simply isn’t a Quarterback left on the board to warrant taking at No. Eleven. After all, the Defense needs to be overhauled too, particularly up front where a unit that ranked 30th in Points Allowed (413.7 Y/G) and dead-last in Total Defense (28.4 P/G), could really use reinforcements. Fortunately, this Draft is loaded with top-tier defensive talent, and Sweat provides excellent value here. A minor heart condition has dropped his stock a bit, but the Edge Rusher’s strong production (22.5 Sacks and 30.0 Tackles for Loss in two seasons) coupled with an outrageous performance at the Combine should ensure he stays in the top half of Round One. Cincinnati had just Thirty-Four Sacks in 2018 (28th Overall), and needs to get younger up front, and this kid makes a world of sense.
12.) Green Bay Packers: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
Another team that was in dire need of a revolution after years spent in decline, the Packers also hired a Sean McVay disciple, tabbing former Titans’ Offensive Coordinator Matt LaFleur to helm their rebuild. While his expertise is steeped on the offensive side of the football, ironically, the biggest area of renovation is the Defense, which Green Bay has actively addressed throughout Free Agency. However, there still remains a glaring hole in the middle of their Linebacking Corps, which is problematic for a unit expected to continue using a 3-4 alignment after retaining the services of Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine. Devin Bush is the logical choice here, where the Middle Linebacker should prove a seamless fit for this scheme. Starting each of the past two seasons for Michigan’s stout Defense, Bush is a hard-hitting tackler who is equally adept at coming up and filling the hole as he is dropping back into coverage and shadowing Tailbacks and Tight Ends. It’s been years since the Packers have had a Defense capable of holding their own, and selecting this kid would be a great way of bringing this unit together.
13.) Miami Dolphins: Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan
The second consecutive Michigan product comes off the board to a team that is very much a question mark in this Draft. Reports out of Miami have them contemplating a number of paths to begin this rebuilding project that has long been coming. If you believe that the Dolphins are looking towards next year’s crop of Quarterbacks, which at this point makes plenty of sense with three passers already off the board, and a new Head Coach looking to bring that Patriots formula for success down to South Beach (in the form of Brian Flores), then this team should likely go best player available at No. Thirteen. With Flores’ pedigree steeped in Defense, Gary should make for a solid (if unspectacular) selection. While some have criticized his lack of production at Michigan (9.5 Sacks and 23.0 Tackles for Loss in three seasons), his freakish display of athleticism at the Combine coupled with his versatility should afford Flores carte blanche to line him up anywhere along the Defensive Front. Given that Miami let longtime Edge Rusher Cameron Wake walk in Free Agency, and then traded their leading Sacker, Robert Quinn a few weeks ago, calling Gary’s name would be a smart step towards assuaging the glaring weakness created in terms of rushing the passer.
14.) Atlanta Falcons: Brian Burns, Edge, Florida State
The run on defenders continues as the Falcons look to further the development of their Defense. After proving to be a strength for them in 2017, this unit was absolutely decimated by injuries last season, slumping to 25th in Points Allowed (26.4 P/G) and 28th in Total Defense (384.5). In Franchising Defensive Tackle Grady Jarrett (6.0 Sacks, 8.0 Tackles for Loss in 2018), it’s clear that Dan Quinn wishes to keep as much talent up front as possible. However, Atlanta is still in dire need of a menacing presence on the Edge, someone with the necessary speed and quickness to bend the corner and hit the Quarterback. At this point, there is nobody better suited to fill that role than Burns, who as a pure Edge Rusher, may just be the best in the Draft. However, the concerns over his playing weight (235 lbs), initially gave Scouts pause, though he helped squash those doubts by showing up to the Combine significantly heavier (nearly 260 lbs), and didn’t appear to sacrifice much (if any) of his athleticism and explosion at all. Burns’ upside is substantial, and in Quinn’s scheme, which emphasizes speed and quickness, there is a high probability that he becomes the player that Vic Beasley was supposed to be.
15.) Washington Redskins: A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
What the Redskins do here is truly anyone’s guess at this point. Washington has been linked to multiple Quarterbacks after the potential career-ending injury to Alex Smith, whom just a year ago they had traded for with the intention of being their Franchise Quarterback for at least the next two years. To fill the void in the short term, they acquired Case Keenum, who despite his recent starting experience, is viewed as little more than a stopgap solution at this point of his career. Jay Gruden and Co. have also been one of the teams thought to be in talks with the Cardinals over a potential trade for Josh Rosen, or even trading up in general to select either Haskins or Lock. Even Daniel Jones has been projected to go here as well. However, while the scouts have certainly cooled on the Duke product, this team could seriously use a shot in the arm in the passing game, particularly at Receiver with Josh Doctson struggling to live up to his First Round billing and Jamison Crowder departing in Free Agency. We’re guessing that the ‘Skins will land their Quarterback via trade, and what better way to help him than by gifting him a young Wideout to grow with? That’s why we’re granting them A.J. Brown, the far more polished of the two Receivers coming out of Ole Miss. While not the freakish specimen that his teammate D.K. Metcalf is, the Rebel has topped 75 Receptions and 1,250 Yards in each of the past two seasons. Furthermore, he’s the kind of precise route-runner with soft hands that Gruden prefers in his system. The Head Coach has recently proclaimed the need to select someone “who can make an immediate impact”, and this kid fits the bill.
16.) Carolina Panthers: Jonah Williams, T, Alabama
You’d be hard-pressed to find a team that had a more catastrophic second half of the season than the Panthers, who squandered a promising 6-2 start to the campaign by losing all but one of their final eight outings. With needs in the trenches on both sides of the football, Carolina could go in any number of directions, but with most of the premium Defenders gone at this juncture, it becomes incumbent that they mend the wounds along their Offensive Line. With Cam Newton undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, the need to protect their Franchise Quarterback has never been greater, and the fact that a talent such as Williams has fallen to them should be considered a blessing. Arguably the top Offensive Lineman in this Draft, the Alabama product is expected to slip due to his arms being shorter than scouts would like for a Tackle. As ridiculous as that sounds, scouts do get rather hung up on these things… However, you’ll find no better technician in this Draft, whom Ron Rivera will be able to deploy at virtually any position along the Line. A factor in both Pass-Protection and the Running Game, this kid should provide an immediate upgrade at Right Tackle, and could even be a Pro Bowler if he were to kick inside to Guard as expected.
17.) New York Giants: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
In acquiring this pick from the Cleveland Browns in that shocking trade that sent Odell Beckham Jr. away from the Big Apple, Dave Gettleman can now indulge his fascination with Defensive Ends. After all, he satisfied the rabid New York Media and Big Blue’s Fan Base by selecting the aforementioned Haskins at No. Six Overall, so now he’s free to do his thing… Let’s keep in mind that the Giants’ General Manager has been prepping a rebuild along the Defensive Line for a while now, trading away Pro Bowl Nose Tackle Damon Harrison midseason, well before packaging Edge Rusher Olivier Vernon to the Browns in a separate deal a month ago. Obviously, this creates another glaring need, but once again, this Draft is flush with defenders in the trenches, and New York is fortunate that the proverbial well hasn’t dried up quite yet, with Clelin Ferrell still on the board. A three-year starter on arguably the finest Defensive Line in College Football, the Clemson product was nothing short of productive in his career as a Tiger, compiling 50.5 Tackles for Loss and 27.0 Sacks since 2015. A factor against both the Pass and the Run, this kid is the kind of old-school Defensive End that Gettleman would’ve rushed to select in his previous years as the Panthers’ General Manager.
18.) Minnesota Vikings: Garrett Bradbury, G, North Carolina State
After advancing all the way to the NFC Championship Game in 2017, the Vikings went all in and acquired former Redskins’ Quarterback Kirk Cousins with the hopes of finally getting over the hump and hoisting the franchise’s first Lombardi Trophy. However, things did NOT go according to plan for Minnesota, who missed the Playoffs altogether, finishing 8-7-1. While Cousins certainly had his moments, the Offense as a whole was woefully unbalanced, with the lack of any semblance of a rushing attack hampering their ability to stay on the field. Eventually, this cost Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo his job, and while the playcalling was a factor in their struggles, so was the play of the Offensive Line, particularly at Guard. Fortunately, Mike Zimmer should have his choice of Interior Linemen, with the hopes of rekindling the balance on Offense that was so vital to their success two years ago. Garrett Bradbury would make for an ideal fit, having played all three interior positions along North Carolina State’s Offensive Line over the past three years. He earned All-American honors at Center in 2018, though would make for a seamless fit at either Guard position for the Vikings.
19.) Tennessee Titans: Chris Lindstrom, G, Boston College
Everything that we just said about the previous selection applies to the Titans here at No. Nineteen, for this is a team that is in dire need of upgrading their play in the interior of their Offensive Line. Curiously, it wasn’t long ago that this used to be a true strength for Tennessee, but after locking up their tandem of Pro Bowl bookend Tackles, Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin, their play at Guard took a major step back, creating a massive debilitating effect on the Offense. Now in his fifth year as the Starting Quarterback, time is running out for Marcus Mariota to make good on his billing as the No. Two Overall Pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, and the brain trust of Mike Vrabel and Jon Robinson must do everything in their power to protect their prized asset, otherwise he’ll never reach his lofty potential. Selecting a mauler in the running game like Chris Lindstrom should go a long way towards reestablishing this group as one of the nastiest in football, while further providing lanes for fellow fifth-year playmaker, Derrick Henry, who came on late last season, to explode through. Vrabel was hired in large part to insert some sorely-needed toughness into this team, and tabbing the Boston College product is an excellent way to do so.
20.) Pittsburgh Steelers: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
We’d imagine that fewer organizations are happier to turn their attention to the NFL Draft than the Steelers, who over the past year have endured a plethora of drama from some of their most notable players (I.E. Antonio Brown and Le’Von Bell), ultimately parting ways with both over the last few weeks time. For a perennial playoff contender still possessing a solid base of talent, Pittsburgh likely won’t reach to replace either Brown or Bell here, though would be far better suited addressing some of the more persistent issues that have plagued them in recent years, and no, we’re not referring to contract disputes. It’s rare that the top-rated Cornerback comes off the board this late, but that’s got more to do with the staggering amount of Defensive Linemen available than anything, which should make Mike Tomlin a very happy man. Selecting Williams, a tall, long, and aggressive Corner would immediately improve Pittsburgh’s flailing corps of Defensive Backs, for the 6′-3″ LSU Product captured Eight Interceptions and deflected Nineteen Passes over the past two seasons in Baton Rouge. His unique Size/Speed Ratio should provide this defense with a real asset in an AFC North that has the likes of A.J. Green and suddenly Odell Beckham Jr. to contend with.
21.) Seattle Seahawks: D.K. Metcalf, WR , Ole Miss
While they could certainly stand to improve their habitually underperforming Offensive Line, the Seahawks have proven in the past that they’re not afraid to be unconventional when it comes to the NFL Draft. Pete Carroll and John Schneider certainly stick to their guns, evidenced by last year’s questionable choice of selecting Rashad Penny at No. Twenty-Seven, when the general consensus had the Tailback going much later. With Russell Wilson in the midst of negotiating a hefty extension, Seattle would do well to supply their Franchise Quarterback with more weapons, particularly in the passing game. Tyler Lockett (57 REC, 965 YDS, 10 TD) came on last year, and despite injuries, Doug Baldwin (50 REC, 618 YDS, 5 TD) remains productive. So why not bring some freakish size and athleticism to the table with D.K. Metcalf? The Ole Miss product was far from the most productive in his three years in college (67 REC, 1,228 YDS, 14 TD in three seasons), and missed much of this past season due to a neck injury. However, his shocking performance at the Combine absolutely turned heads, and if he can remain healthy, his upside is greater than that of just about any other Receiver in this Draft. We would imagine that the addition of Metcalf would only serve to hasten negotiations with Wilson.
22.) Baltimore Ravens: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
Where Baltimore goes in this brand new era post-Ozzie Newsome is really anyone’s guess. We’re going to go out on a limb and state that this pick will NOT be an Alabama player… The Ravens lost a wealth of talent on both sides of the football this Offseason, though figure to focus their plans on building around Sophomore Quarterback Lamar Jackson, who served as the driving force behind their trek to an AFC North Title, and their return to the Playoffs after a three-year hiatus. New General Manager Eric DaCosta did a commendable job of filling holes in Free Agency by adding veterans such as Earl Thomas and Mark Ingram, but there are still a number of glaring weaknesses to be addressed, particularly at Receiver and Edge Rusher. With just about all of the upper-tier Defensive Linemen gone at this point, and Metcalf coming off the board beforehand, we think it would be prudent for them to supply their Quarterback with a legitimate weapon, and Marquise Brown fits the bill. After letting John Brown walk in Free Agency, this Offense sorely needs a vertical threat that can stretch the field, and though he missed the majority of offseason testing due to a foot injury, the film shows a shifty, burner at Receiver that can take the top off a Defense when he gets his hands on the football (132 REC, 2,413 YDS, 18.3 Y/R, 17 TD in two seasons). For their first pick of a new era, Baltimore could do a lot worse than “Hollywood” Brown…
23.) Houston Texans: Andre Dillard, T, Washington State
After a slow start to the 2018 campaign, the Texans caught fire en route to claiming the AFC South (11-5), though their season quickly came to an end in the AFC Wild Card, at the hands of division rival Indianapolis no less. Sophomore Quarterback Deshaun Watson was nothing short of sensational in his first fully healthy season as Houston’s starter, accounting for Thirty-One Total Touchdowns and 4,716 Total Yards. However, he was also sacked a league-worst Sixty-Two times, which means that Bill O’Brien and Co. MUST find a way to better protect their Franchise Quarterback. After all, let’s not forget that he missed the entire second half of his promising Rookie Season with a torn ACL. A mess for much of 2019, the Texans’ Offensive Line needs reinforcements, and at this point of the Draft, Andre Dillard is arguably the best option. While scouts have questioned his strength and toughness, there is no Tackle in the Draft better suited for Pass-Protection that the Washington State product. Dillard is exceptionally light on his feet, exhibiting an agility to mirror oncoming rushers on the edge. Granted, he’s not going to maul anyone in the Running Game, but what Houston needs is someone that can occupy defenders on the edges long enough to afford Watson a few more seconds to make a play.
24.) Oakland Raiders: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
With their second First Round Pick, this one acquired in the trade that sent Khalil Mack to the Bears, the Raiders would no doubt prefer to keep bolstering their porous Defense. With the wellspring of Defensive Linemen depleted for now, there are other areas that can be addressed, particularly in the Secondary where they were nearly as inept as they were rushing the passer; Oakland forced just Seventeen Turnovers last season (22nd Overall), while relinquishing the most Passing Touchdowns in the league (36), and ranking dead-last in Net Yards per Attempt allowed (7.8). All this came despite opponents passing the ball against them fewer than any other team. This is where selecting a promising Cornerback can help, and Byron Murphy fits the bill perfectly. Gareon Conley came on late last season (37 TKL, 3 INT, 15 PD, 1 TD in 2018), but he needs help, and this Washington product has the speed, aggressiveness, and ball-skills to make an immediate impact opposite the Junior Cornerback. Murphy racked up Fifty-Eight Tackles, Four Interceptions, and Thirteen Deflected Passes last season for a Huskies’ Defense that ranked tops in the Pac-12.
25.) Philadelphia Eagles: Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State
After an uneven defense of their Super Bowl Title ended in controversial fashion in the NFC Division Round, the Eagles have been aggressively reloading in an attempt of making a third consecutive trip to the Playoffs. Granted, much of what they do will be predicated on the sustained health of their Franchise Quarterback, Carson Wentz, but from our vantage point, this team needs to clean things up on the back end of their Defense, which suffered a rash of injuries a year ago. Seriously, folks, Doug Pederson was literally signing Defensive Backs off the street at one point, and asking Jim Schwartz to perform miracles. While we’re very tempted to gift them a Cornerback, Philadelphia has spent a lot of assets on that position of late, be it via the Draft, Trade, or Free Agency. Reinforcements are clearly needed though, particularly after giving up the third-most passing yards in the league a year ago (269.3 Y/G), and only registering Ten Interceptions (25th Overall). Instead of a Cornerback, how about a Safety like Johnathan Abram? A tone-setter in Centerfield, who won’t hesitate to come up and the lay the wood to a Tight End or Tailback, the Mississippi State product is a physically-imposing presence (99 TKL, 9.0 TFL, 3.0 SK, 2 INT, 5 PD, 1 FF), who also brings an attitude to the Gridiron that the Fan Base in Philadelphia should appreciate. With veteran Safety Malcolm Jenkins now 31-years of age, this selection would be a prudent one for the Eagles.
26.) Indianapolis Colts: Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
Despite possessing the most Cap Space in the league entering Free Agency, the Colts have largely stood pat, choosing instead to keep their talent in house, as General Manager Chris Ballard and Head Coach Frank Reich look to continue to further bolster this team the old-fashioned way: by drafting and developing talent. Indianapolis struck gold on multiple occasions in 2018, landing All-Pro Guard Quenton Nelson after trading down to No. Six Overall, and landing Defensive Rookie of the Year, Darius Leonard, in the Second Round. Picking at No. Twenty-Six, this team doesn’t have any glaring needs, though they could get deeper and more athletic along the Defensive Line. This is where Ballard’s patience could really pay off in selecting a force like Jeffery Simmons. Granted, Simmons tore his ACL during preparation for the Combine, and likely won’t be available until the latter stages of the season if at all. However, before the unfortunate injury, the Mississippi State product was projected as a Top-10 Pick, with some scouts preferring him to his more heralded counterparts in this Draft. A three-year starter for the Bulldogs, the 6′-4″, 300 lbs Simmons racked up 33.0 Tackles for Loss, Seven Sacks, and Five Forced Fumbles as a collegiate athlete, and will likely be a terror in the trenches for any team patient enough to let him heal for a year. Indianapolis fielded a Top-10 Defense in Points Allowed (21.5 P/G) and against the Run (101.9 Y/G), but only mustered Thirty-Eight Sacks (20th Overall). Give him time and this guy will rectify that matter…
27.) Oakland Raiders: Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
It only took twenty-seven picks, but the first Running Back is off the board, folks, and unsurprisingly, it’s Josh Jacobs. This is Oakland’s third First Round Pick, and the one that they acquired from the Cowboys in the Amari Cooper Trade. While it’s certainly tempting to dip back into the pool of Defensive Linemen once again, the fact remains that the Raiders also still need playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. Gruden and Mayock have done a remarkable job of renovating the Receiving Corps with the likes of Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams, while also adding a road-grading Left Tackle in the form of Trent Brown, and most recently veteran Tailback Isaiah Crowell. After ranking 25th in Rushing Offense (101.8 Y/G) in 2018, we have them taking Jacobs, who figures to be a consistent producer at the professional level. Now we know the old adages regarding Alabama Tailbacks, but this kid has light wear and tear on his body, having racked up only 251 carries in three years in Tuscaloosa. He thrived in a platoon-like system in 2018, rushing for 640 Yards and Eleven Touchdowns, while also proving to be an underrated receiver out of the Backfield (20 REC, 247 YDS, 3 TD). Sturdily built at 5′-10″ and 216 lbs, he has the size and explosiveness (5.9 Y/C in three seasons) to bring some balance back to this Offense. No, he’s not Saquon Barkley or Ezekiel Elliott, but we imagine that he’ll serve as a clear upgrade over Doug Martin…
28.) Los Angeles Chargers: Cody Ford, T, Oklahoma
After four years of underachieving and missing the Playoffs, the Chargers finally seemed to put it all together in 2018, going 12-4 and advancing to the AFC Division Round, where they met their end at Gillette Stadium against the eventual Super Bowl Champions. A quick look at their roster won’t reveal any glaring needs, though Anthony Lynn’s charges could stand to improve in the trenches, particularly along the Offensive Line, which is paramount with their veteran Quarterback, Philip Rivers, turning 38-years of age this season. While it’s tempting to gift them a potential successor under Center, we think it makes far more sense to preserve what he has left, and Cody Ford is arguably the best Lineman available at this point of the Draft. Simply a massive human being (6′-4″, 338 lbs), the Oklahoma product is conditioned to operate within an up-tempo attack, which is precisely what Los Angeles prefers to run. While he’s listed as a Tackle, the popular consensus is that he has the requisite traits to potentially dominate at Guard, where he would be a boon for their Running Game, which despite the presence of Pro Bowl Tailback Melvin Gordon (175 CAR, 885 YDS, 10 TD in 2018) could stand to improve (117.1 Y/G, 15th Overall). Given his pedigree, Lynn would prefer to run the football more often, and with Rivers aging into the twilight of his career, we figure that they should borrow a page from the Patriots’ book and take the pressure off of their Quarterback by pounding the rock. After all, it worked for Tom Brady last year…
29.) Green Bay Packers: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
With their second pick in the First Round, this one derived from last year’s trade with the Saints, the Packers and Matt LaFleur succumb to the urge to gift Aaron Rodgers a quality weapon. With the likes of A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, and Marquise Brown all off the board, the well of Receivers is running dry at this stage of the Draft, though who says that they need to look at Receivers for Rodgers to throw the football to? Insert Noah Fant. The other Tight End from Iowa, Fant is the best pure receiving Tight End in this class, and while he’s not the in-line blocker that his teammate T.J. Hockenson is, he is a potential nightmare for opposing Linebackers given his speed and soft hands. Totaling Sixty-Nine Catches for 1,013 Yards, and Eighteen Touchdowns over the last two seasons with the Hawkeyes, this kid has proven deadly when flexed out into the Slot. Jimmy Graham (55 REC, 636 YDS, 2 TD in 2018) was supposed to be that kind of factor for the Packers, but has been largely underwhelming since being signed in Free Agency a year ago. It’s been ages since Rodgers has had a legitimate weapon at Tight End, and the addition of Fant would only serve to further flesh out this long overdue renovation of the Packers’ Offense.
30.) Kansas City Chiefs: DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia
After falling in heartbreaking fashion to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, the Kansas City Chiefs have thus far taken an interesting approach towards getting over the proverbial hump. As high-powered as their Offense was (35.3 P/G, 1st Overall), with MVP Patrick Mahomes (66.0%, 5,097 YDS, 8.13 NY/A, 50 TD, 12 INT, 82.0 QBR) torching defenses in just his second season in the NFL, their Defense was oftentimes abysmal, ranking 24th in Points Allowed (26.3 P/G) and 31st in Total Defense (405.5 Y/G). The Secondary was an unmitigated disaster throughout the term, with an underperforming unit of Defensive Backs permitting the second-most Passing Yards in the league (273.4 Y/G). Needless to say, changes were sorely needed and have have been made; Andy Reid fired Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton and replaced him with his old chum Steve Spagnuolo, whose expected change in scheme necessitated parting ways with their most threatening Edge Rushers, Dee Ford (55 TKL, 13.0 TFL, 13.0 SK, 7 FF in 2018) and Justin Houston (37 TKL, 8.0 TFL, 9.0 SK, 5 FF in 2018), with former All-Pro Safety Eric Berry also being released after missing most of the last two seasons with a torn Achilles. As if they didn’t need reinforcements already, Kansas City is now in dire need of adding talent to their Defense, and with most of the premium talent gone at this point of the Draft, DeAndre Baker provides good value at a position of need. An aggressive, physical Corner with solid ball-skills (7 INT in three years) and a willingness to come up and make the tackle, the Georgia product should be a solid fit for Spagnuolo’s zone-based scheme.
31.) Los Angeles Rams: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
The rapid improvement of the Los Angeles Rams under Sean McVay over the past two seasons has been one of the more intriguing stories in the NFL, with their trip to last year’s Super Bowl further validating the remarkable job that the young offensive guru has managed in that time. However, the Rams came up short against the Patriots, and have been left to sort out just how they can remain among the contenders in the competitive NFC. Simply put, Los Angeles was built to win last year, with the litany of Offseason Acquisitions made with 2018 in mind. So where does that leave them in 2019? Veterans were once again added on short deals, with Clay Matthews and Eric Weddle joining the Defense, though there is a rather large question mark in the middle of the Defensive Line that needs to be addressed, and his name is Ndamukong Suh. The former All-Pro was brought in on a lucrative, one-year deal in 2018, and has yet to resign with the club or take his talents anywhere else for that matter since the advent of Free Agency over a month ago. He’ll be 32-years old next year, and while he certainly had his moments last season, he wasn’t quite the dominant force that he had been previously in his career. So instead of haggling over his next contract, why not just pick his replacement? This leads us to Christian Wilkins, the leader of Clemson’s vaunted Defensive Line. A four-year starter with the Tigers, the versatile All-American was nothing short of productive in college (40.5 TFL, 16.0 SK since 2015), and would be a seamless fit next to two-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald (59 TKL, 25.0 TFL, 20.5 SK, 4 FF in 2018). Oh, and did we mention that he would provide the Rams with a much younger, and more importantly, cheaper alternative to Suh?
32.) New England Patriots: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
And with the final pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots select… This is indeed a familiar spot for the Pats to be in, and one that they’ve frequently utilized as a bargaining chip, oftentimes moving down to collect more assets. However, while they could certainly once again go that route, Bill Belichick and Co. have a whopping THIRTEEN PICKS in this Draft already, and in an Offseason in which they’ve parted ways with more players than usual, also happen to have many holes to fill. After all, Rob Gronkowski recently ended his Hall of Fame career, retiring abruptly once Free Agency began. As tempting as it would be to gift them a potential replacement at Tight End, there is also the matter of finding an heir to their soon-to-be 42-year old Quarterback, Tom Brady. After trading away Jimmy Garoppolo midway through the 2017 campaign, New England have been without a legitimate candidate to replace Brady, and have been fortunate that the six-time Super Bowl Champion has remained healthy during that span. Instead of trading down, wouldn’t it be the most New England thing ever to take a flier on a young Quarterback like Daniel Jones? Think about this for a moment, folks… Jones checks off just about every box for what Belichick looks for in Quarterbacks; he has the size (6′-5″, 220 lbs), starting experience (three years), accuracy and smarts to fit into Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels’ system, and has furthermore been groomed within an NFL-style Offense tutored by none other than David Cutcliffe, the same man responsible for mentoring a young Peyton Manning and Eli Manning. Also, Jones is mobile, rushing for 1,323 Yards and Seventeen Touchdowns at Duke. Call us crazy, but this one may just work out…