The National Championship is over, all-star games are in full swing and it’s almost Super Bowl week. Now seems like the perfect time to publish my first solo mock draft. The rest of the college writers and I put together our all too early mock draft last year. However, much has changed since. Check out who is rising and who is falling.
1. Arizona Cardinals
Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
Bosa is the best player in this draft class. He is an elite edge prospect and the type of player you don’t pass up drafting. In a division with lots of offensive talent including McVay and Shanahan, having an elite pair of pass rushers is a good strategy to compete.
2. San Francisco 49ers
Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
Allen had a breakout year in the toughest college conference. He put up amazing numbers as he lead Kentucky to a stellar year. He fills a need for the Niners by giving them a differentiated piece on the line. The Niners can’t miss on this pick, with a healthy Jimmy G it may be a while before they pick this high again.
3. New York Jets
Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
Jonah Williams is OT1 in this class, he would have been OT1 in any of the classes in the last few years. Williams started at right tackle as a freshman for Bama. That should tell you all you need to know about his talent. The Jets get a key piece to protect franchise quarterback Sam Darnold, something that will be key if the Adam Gase era is to succeed.
Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
Williams and Bosa might be 1a and 1b in this class in terms of talent. Gruden loads up the Raiders D-Line with an elite prospect who can do it all on the inside. When you face Patrick Mahomes and Phillip Rivers twice a year, you need to generate pressure. With the elite edge prospects gone, Gruden turns to the interior as his source of pressure.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
This is a risky pick, my player comp for Thompson is Ha-Ha Clinton Dix. His performance in the playoff shouldn’t send him tumbling come draft night given that the safety position is one that comes under increased pressure if the players in front of them don’t do their job well. Thompson has elite upside as a coverage safety, somewhere the Bucs desperately need help.
6. New York Giants
Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
Trades probably render this pick meaningless. I think Haskins could go as high as number two overall as a team is sure to panic and trade up. The Giants should make this pick even if they opt to go with Eli next season. Haskins could sit for a season and learn in a way similar to Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississipi State
There are character concerns, however Simmons has been a model citizen since the incident. Talent trumps character in this league and Simmons is very talented. Jacksonville need to get younger on defense, filling the room with young hungry players to help motivate a unit that took a huge backwards step in 2018.
8. Detroit Lions
Ed Oliver, DE/DT, Houston
Whilst corner could be the choice here, the Lions don’t pass on the chance to add a unique piece to a defensive line that desperately needs help. Oliver’s addition should see Ziggy Ansah receive slightly less attention and open up lanes for A’Shawn Robinson who continues to develop well. A strong defensive line was the cornerstone of the Eagles Super Bowl winning defense. The Lions could try to replicate that with the pieces they have and the addition of Oliver.
9. Buffalo Bills
D.K. Metcalfe, WR, Ole Miss
I think the Bills will probably look to drop back a few spots to acquire assets. Especially if Washington are keen to get above the Broncos. However with no trades in this mock they take the number one receiver in this class at nine. Metcalf flashed number one potential this fall as his much hyped team mate A.J Brown failed to show his potential. Any complications related to the neck injury that ended his season could see him slip, but for me he is a perfect target for Josh Allen due to his huge catch radius.
10. Denver Broncos
Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
John Elway needs to hit on a quarterback prospect to save his tenure with the Broncos. After striking out in free agency last year, Elway looks to the draft to find his guy this season. Lock is the type of prospect that will get Elway excited, especially if he has a strong week at the Senior Bowl and performs well on the whiteboard at the combine. We could see a Mayfield like rise for Lock, although I don’t expect him to rise quite as high.
11. Cincinnati Bengals
Devin White, LB, LSU
Under Marvin Lewis, the Bengals linebacker corps were understocked and under loved. Vontez Burfict is coming towards the end of a tumultuous career and the cupboard around him is bare. White is a force in the run game, with possibly the best instincts we’ve seen for some time at the position due to his running back history. That will be key in a division where teams are committed to the run.
12. Green Bay Packers
Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
I almost mocked Burns to the Bucs at five, but thought safety was a more pressing need. Burns comes in to liven up a Packers pass rush that whilst it accumulated sacks in 2018 was terrible in making a meaningful impact on the game. In recent years the Packers have drafted multiple players at a position of serious need, they should do it again with edge rusher and take one here and one in the third or fourth round.
13. Miami Dolphins
Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
This is Murray’s floor in my opinion. I can see teams higher up preferring more traditional style quarterbacks or filling the need in free agency. However the Dolphins are an organisation that really needs to zig whilst other teams zag. The fans have seen multiple failed rebuilds since the Dan Marino era and they are giving up on the Dolphins. Murray could be the perfect candidate to reenergise the football culture in the city.
14. Atlanta Falcons
Clelin Ferrell, EDGE/DE, Clemson
With Oliver, Simmons and Williams off the board, and fourteen being slightly high for Christian Wilkins. The Falcons go with Ferrell to help stock the defense and try to prevent the injury bug affecting them as much as it did this season. Ferrell is a top quality edge rusher who showed up when in mattered as the Tigers won the National Championship this year.
15. Washington Redskins
Kelvin Harmon, WR, NC State
I think the Redskins will chase a free agent quarterback, if they fail a trade up is the next likely possibility. If they were to get a Joe Flacco like talent in free agency, upgrading the receiving corps must become the priority. Harmon is a big bodied receiver who can win over the middle and will take the red zone targets of Jordan Reed who can’t be counted on to be healthy.
16. Carolina Panthers
Chris Lindstrom, iOL, Boston College
This name may come as a surprise, however Lindstrom is probably the number one interior offensive line prospect in this draft. The Panthers desperately need to protect Cam Newton if they want him to last more than a few more years. Newtons incredible rushing ability means he will take more hits than a normal quarterback because of that the Panthers need to limit his sacks, something they haven’t done since his MVP year.
17. Cleveland Browns
Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma
Ford wouldn’t be a direct Joe Thomas replacement as he plays more on the right hand side of the line. However with pass rushers coming off either side, having the second best tackle in this class protecting your quarterback is still good value. Ford is nasty in the run game and has the athleticism to be a top tier tackle. He would reunite with one of his college QB’s in Cleveland.
18. Minnesota Vikings
Dalton Risner, OT/iOL, Kansas State
Risner has seen his stock rise over the second half of the season. He fills an area of desperate need for the Vikings who need to improve in both pass protection and run blocking. Risner’s intangibles are off the chart and he is exactly the kind of presence this Vikings line needs.
19. Tennessee Titans
Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
The Titans are one of the big winners in this mock. The likelihood of 19 being the spot of the first cornerback taken are slim, however with other positions stacked with talent in ways that they haven’t been in recent years corners may fall. Greedy has length and play making ability. He is a great partner for Adoree’ Jackson and would end the failed Malcom Butler experiment.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama
You’re going to see this pick in an awful lot of mock drafts. It makes sense. Wilson is a Steelers type linebacker who consistently makes high effort plays in the run game. His ability in coverage will be important when coming up against the likes of David Njoku twice a season. Wilson has the ability to fulfil the Ryan Shazier shaped whole in the Steelers defence and the character to begin to right the wrongs in the locker room.
21. Seattle Seahawks
Rashan Gary, iDL, Michigan
Rashan Gary is an athletic freak and talented chess piece for the defensive coach on whichever team takes him. He is the type of player who can play outside on early downs and move inside on obvious passing downs. Whether he is the replacement for or a complimentary player to free agent to be Frank Clark, Gary will make a difference in Seattle.
22. Baltimore Ravens
N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
A big body target to help an inaccurate but talented quarterback? You aren’t the only one with some deja vu, Baltimore’s need is the same as Buffalo’s from earlier in this same class. Harry has a huge catch radius and the ability to win jump balls; both qualities that help out young quarterbacks. Harry may not run that quickly in the 40 at the combine, but he gets enough separation on tape. I think he could have an Alshon Jeffrey type of impact on the Ravens.
23. Houston Texans
Yodny Cajuste, OT, WVU
The Texans should be prioritising one thing on offense this offseason. That is to protect Deshaun Watson at all costs. Cajuste is a talented pass blocker who can come in and protect his quarterbacks backside from day one. Some injury troubles late in the season saw his draft stock run out a steam a little, however expect him to rise again as we enter the offseason part of draft season.
24. Raiders via Chicago
TJ Hockenson, TE, Iowa
TJ is a nasty force in the run game with enough ability as a target to make a difference in the passing game. The Raiders could have a strong offensive line if players get healthy and we see a strong sophomore season from last years picks. The addition of Hockenson and paring him with Jared Cook gives the Raiders the ability to make plays in the run game and over the middle of the field.
25. Philadelphia Eagles
Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
The Eagles should run to the podium with this pick if Murphy is still available on draft night. Murphy is the ideal modern NFL cornerback to pair with his college team-mate Sidney Jones IV if the latter is healthy. The Eagles can focus on adding quality playmakers after competing hard in 2018 despite major injuries.
26. Indianapolis Colts
Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida
The Colts outperformed everyone’s expectations this season. Especially on defense, however one area they could beef up is pass rush. It could be argued that a lack of pass rush was the real difference between them and Kansas City in the playoff game. Polite is a player that will make plays off the edge with his elite bend and dip, another pass rushing gem in the AFC South.
27. Raiders via Dallas
Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
The Raiders dip back into the Alabama well with this pick. Jacobs is good enough to be a feature back and will win the starting job with the Raiders if picked here. He has the ability to make a real difference with his uncanny ability to pick up two or three more yards than he should with each carry, something that is sure to help the Raiders avoid passing downs.
28. Los Angeles Chargers
Christian Wilkins, iDL, Clemson
A defensive front with the pass rushing abilities of Wilkins, Ingram and Bosa. Sign me up. The Chargers add a difference maker on the defensive front, a winner throughout his college career and someone who will benefit from the attention given to his outside rushing colleagues as much as they would benefit from him.
29. Kansas City Chiefs
Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
An incredibly talented quarterback, who makes throws on the run that no-one has even seen. Who doesn’t get a shot in overtime in the playoffs because his defense can’t get a stop. That sounds a lot like the 2016 Packers to me. It is in fact the 2018 Chiefs who address a need with a potential shutdown corner. Baker has tested himself against the best in the college game, his transition to the NFL should be better than your average rookie corner.
30. Green Bay Packers via New Orleans
Irv Smith Jnr, TE, Alabama
The Jimmy Graham experiment has been a certified failure. Green Bay needs to add a dynamic tight end who can be a difference maker for Aaron Rodgers on offense. Irv Smith Jnr was a leading target in a dynamic and explosive Alabama offense that includes two receivers who will go in the first round next year. Smith also makes a difference in the running game, using Smith and Marcedes Lewis together will help to get this Green Bay offense rolling once again.
31. New England Patriots
Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
Whether Gronk retires or not, New England needs to add a tight end who can make a difference in the regular season. Fant would become a go to target for Tom Brady and take pressure off Gronk in the regular season, allowing him to go into the postseason healthy and ready to destroy teams. Fant is an athletic playmaker who will win contested catches over the middle of the field.
32. Los Angeles Rams
Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware
The Rams spending spree of recent offseason means they won’t be able to retain all their free agents this offseason. Lamarcus Joyner could be on the way out and Adderley would be a great replacement. A chess piece for Wade Phillips to work with, Adderley is adept at playing at any of the defensive back positions and has ability to make plays all over the defense.
Agree with my selections? Sound off in the comments below.
photo credit: My Fantasy Sports Talk