NFL and College Football Lead Writer
The NFL Combine has come and gone, and as usual the only thing bigger than the future NFL prospects is the media hype that follows. Some guys have gone from overlooked to overrated. While others are falling completely off draft boards. Another thing that follows the Combine are mock drafts. Now that we had a chance to see how some of these athletes measure up against one another it’s time to start projecting which team will pick them in Nashville. So, I decided to take a break from filling out those March brackets to fill out a mock draft. Since it is my first mock of the draft season this version will not include any trades.
- Arizona Cardinals Kyler Murray QB Oklahoma
Kliff Kingsbury may have to put his money where his mouth is since he praised the Heisman Trophy winner last season. “Kyler is a freak,” said the former Texas Tech head coach. “I would take him with the first pick if I could.” Now he has his chance to take the extremely gifted athlete number one overall after Kyler decided to trade in his bat and glove for a football helmet. There are a few holes to the elite prospect, size being the biggest among them, but the NFL has been less concerned with the prototypical height of QBs after the success of players like Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, and Baker Mayfield. Much like Mayfield, Murray will try to become the number one pick after a Heisman winning season at Oklahoma.
2. San Francisco 49ers Nick Bosa DE Ohio State
Nick Bosa suffered a setback in his last season as a Buckeye and decided to play it safe since he was already considered a top prospect in this class. Not much has changed on that front as he is expected to be a top three pick just like his brother Joey was when he was drafted. That pedigree in conjunction with some dominating traits he displayed during his time at Ohio State makes him one of the safest picks in the upcoming draft. Coincidentally the one concern shared between he and his Pro Bowl brother is injury risk.
3. New York Jets Jonah Williams OL Alabama
While he isn’t quite the prospect that Quinton Nelson was last draft class Jonah Williams is the best offering on the offensive line this class. His body make up is more interior lineman than tackle, but he played tackle for Alabama so he could play either at the next level. It makes sense for the Jets to add some protection along the front line for their young QB. The Jets could also take a page out of the Colts’ playbook and trade back to try and add picks while still getting their guy a few picks later. This will likely be a position where trades will be explored in future mock drafts.
4. Oakland Raiders Josh Allen Edge Kentucky
Jon Gruden has the Raiders in full rebuild mode after trading a couple of star players. Among them was Kahlil Mack whose absence was absolutely felt. Josh Allen makes the most sense as the answer for Mack’s absence along the edge of the defense. Allen is a solid all-around prospect that dominated the SEC competition. He has shown the ability to perform well in pass coverage, so he isn’t strictly a pass rush specialist. His versatility makes him a great fit in Oakland and a perfect candidate to be the second defensive player off the board in this class.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Devin White LB Louisiana State
Devin White had an outstanding career at LSU. He displayed the ability to do just about everything a linebacker is asked to do. Then he went out to Indianapolis and had an outstanding performance at the combine cementing his spot among the top linebackers in the class. Tampa Bay would be smart to take him and plug him into the middle of their defense.
6. New York Giants Dwayne Haskins QB Ohio State
This seems to be a perfect spot for the Giants to pick Eli Manning’s successor. Haskins only started one season at Ohio State, but it was a very successful season. He is a pocket passer with good size and arm talent, and he has already been linked with the Giants franchise as a potential target on draft day. The biggest question may not be whether the Giants will take him or not, but rather will they have to trade up to stave off other interested parties.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars D.K. Metcalf WR Ole Miss
The Jaguars figure to solve their QB woes with the addition of Nick Foles from free agency so they need to add some weapons to help justify that move. D.K. Metcalf is one of the more hyped prospects coming out of the combine. He has the size of a TE with legit 4.3 speed. However, there are a couple of knocks on the Ole Miss wideout. One being that has lacks agility after running a slower three cone drill than Tom Brady. The other more concerning issue is his lack of collegiate production. It will be interesting to see if he either turns out to be a “looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane” type of guy, or if he can finally reach his great potential at the next level.
8. Detroit Lions Montez Sweat Edge Mississippi State
Montez Sweat is quickly climbing up draft boards thanks in large part to his phenomenal combine performance. Sweat has the lean body type that leans him toward a pass rush specialist at the pro level. He will need to bulk up some to become an every-down player. At any rate, Sweat recorded one of the fastest forty times ever for a defensive lineman in the modern era of the combine, so he will be a highly coveted commodity. Lions can use him on the edge to bolster a currently underachieving pass rush.
9. Buffalo Bills Quinnen Williams DT Alabama
Not many mock drafts will have this young man falling to ninth, but that’s how it worked out in this edition. Williams probably checks all the boxes for most draft experts with great size and athleticism. If there was one lingering question to his game it would be his overall strength, which is important at his position. He didn’t play weak for Alabama as he had a monster season to boost his draft stock. It’s another run to the podium situation for the Bills as this would be considered a steal of a pick.
10. Denver Broncos Greedy Williams CB Louisiana State
Williams lived up to his first name while playing at LSU with eight interceptions in two seasons. Along with production he also brings size and athleticism to the table. He fits the mold of the taller CB that are coveted in today’s NFL with the tall receivers across the ball. He’s another player that helped his stock at the combine with a 4.37 forty-yard dash. The Broncos need another lockdown corner on the opposite side of the field from Chris Harris.
11. Cincinnati Bengals Ed Oliver DT Houston
Ed Oliver’s stock before the collegiate season began was sky high, some experts were even debating between he and Bosa for the top overall prospect. Unfortunately for Oliver, he suffered a knee injury that would hamper him for most of the season. He also had some minor altercations with the head coach at Houston, and pro scouts don’t like to see that lack of discipline. Add all that to the questions about his small frame and it adds up to him falling out of the top ten… barely. Oliver’s talent will be too much for the Bengals to pass on. They would love to pair him with Geno Atkins for now.
12. Green Bay Packers Brian Burns Edge Florida State
Green Bay was in desperate need for pass rushers after Nick Perry failed to produce the in the fashion he had previously, and Clay Matthews moved on in free agency. The Packers decided to spend some money on a couple of high caliber free agent edge rushers, but they still might want to pick a young fresh talent to add to their depth considering the talent in this year’s class. Brian Burns would be a solid candidate to fill that role for the Packers. He is another lean pass rush specialist with great athleticism. Much like other pass specialist in this class his main concern is trying to add weight and muscle.
13. Miami Dolphins Drew Lock QB Missouri
Drew Lock was a highly touted recruit when he arrived on Missouri’s campus as a Freshman. Early in his career many believed he failed to live up to those high expectations, but I believe he improved a lot over his last two seasons. He was able to reduce his number of interceptions in his senior season, and he proved to be more athletic than many knew at the combine. The Dolphins need someone to groom at QB position, and Lock could very well be their guy.
14. Atlanta Falcons Christian Wilkins DT Clemson
Christian Wilkins was a huge part of a vaunted defensive line during his career at Clemson. While he may not have always been the most talented player on the team, he was undoubtedly the leader of a powerful defensive unit. The Falcons need a DT to go along with Grady Jarrett in the middle of the defensive line, and they have plenty of talented options still left here at their spot. Ultimately, I think Wilkins is the best fit, and he was very productive in college, so I expect the Falcons to covet that part of his game.
15. Washington Redskins Cody Ford OL Oklahoma
Cody Ford had a slightly disappointing combine performance, but as with most offensive lineman, teams should turn off his combine highlights and watch the game film. I don’t suspect Ford will have the fall from grace that his teammate, Orlando Brown, suffered last draft after a lack luster combine. Especially since Brown proved it was much to do about nothing by having a solid rookie season. The Redskins would be happy to add a tenacious blocker like ford to the middle of their line.
16. Carolina Panthers Noah Fant TE Iowa
The Panthers will need to start looking for the heir apparent to Greg Olsen for Cam Newton. Olsen has been injured most of the last few seasons, and his foot won’t improve with age. Noah Fant could be a star in the making with his outstanding athleticism for a TE. He easily fits the mold of the split out TEs that have gained popularity in today’s pass happy NFL. Ironically, his main competition for the top TE spot is his college teammate T.J. Hockenson, who is equally impressive, and could be the choice over Fant.
17. New York Giants Jawaan Taylor OT Florida
The Giants receive the Browns’ first round pick as part of the Odell Beckham Jr. trade. They should be looking to protect their star running back and potential new QB taken early in the draft. Jawaan Taylor has the all prototypical traits scouts want in an offensive tackle; good size, long arms, quick feet, and a nasty streak. Taylor had a solid career at Florida, holding his own against some of the best pass rushers in the nation. However, he will need to work on his technique to become a more consistent blocker at the next level. He will probably be projected to go higher in the draft, but in this mock, it is the Giants’ good fortune to take Taylor at this spot.
18. Minnesota Vikings Garrett Bradbury OL North Carolina State
Garrett Bradbury is another good prospect along the offensive line who is seeing his draft stock rocket up the board. Bradbury became one of the talks of the combine among scouts due to his athleticism and strength. He could be a plug and play Center for whichever team takes him. In this scenario the Vikings take him before other interested parties such as the Titans and Seahawks have the chance.
19. Tennessee Titans Rashan Gary DL Michigan
Gary is another example of a highly recruited player that the on-field production never matched the hype. However, Gary is climbing up draft board due to his great combine performance. Another part of Gary’s game that he offers at the next level is his versatility. Although he will likely play most downs as an edge rusher, he is also capable of putting his hand in the dirt and rushing from the line of scrimmage. The Titans usually favor the more productive collegiate stars in the draft, but in this case, they should make an exception after the Vikings took one their likely main candidates on the offensive line.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers DeAndre Baker CB Georgia
The Steelers may be expected by some to try and fill the void left by Antonio Brown, but they have a good track record of waiting to take their skill players later in the draft. One position they have a bad track record with as of late is CB. The Steelers could right those wrongs by taking a guy like DeAndre Baker. Baker was a standout player at Georgia, winning the Jim Thorpe Award for the best defensive back in the country last season. His playing style lends itself to a man-to-man, press type of corner. Unfortunately, his forty time wasn’t spectacular at the combine, which may hurt his stock a bit.
21. Seattle Seahawks Nasir Adderley S Delaware
Nasir Adderley displayed big talent at a small school during his collegiate career at Delaware. Out of all the safeties in the class he is probably the most well-rounded prospect. Adderley has the range necessary to cover the defensive backfield, while also adding run support whenever necessary. Meanwhile, Seattle is void of true talent at Wither safety position after both Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor exited this offseason. Those two were a big part of what used to be the “Legion of Boom”. Look for Seattle to attempt to regain some of that defensive prominence they once had by solving their issues at safety.
22. Baltimore Ravens Clellin Ferrell Edge Clemson
The Ravens took some punches in the offseason with the departures of Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley, and Za’Darius Smith in free agency. They were also able to recoup some talent with the addition of Earl Thomas, but they still have plenty of holes to fill on the defensive side. Lucky for them Clellin Ferrell falls right into their lap in this mock. Ferrell is a big, productive defensive line prospect from an extremely talented Clemson front line. Some see Ferrell as strictly a 4-3 DE, but I believe he can stand up on the edge and rush the passer as well.
23. Houston Texans Byron Murphy CB Washington
Byron Murphy is a solid cornerback prospect that will likely go somewhere toward the end of the first round. He lacks some size of the prototypical corners that are going early in drafts these days, but he makes up for his lack of size with great instincts and ball hawking ability. His size concerns have led some scout to believe he is better suited as a nickel corner in the slot, but he could excel on the outside or inside. The Texans need help at corner and will jump at the chance to pick him before Oakland or Philadelphia have the chance.
24. Oakland Raiders T.J. Hockenson TE Iowa
T.J. Hockenson goes as the second TE drafted in this mock behind only his Iowa teammate Noah Fant. Both are physical freaks with great receiving talent, but Hockenson may have the edge in blocking ability. Likewise, Fant probably has a slight advantage in overall athleticism. Hockenson is no slouch though and was the more productive receiving TE at Iowa. After trading for Antonio Brown and signing multiple WRs in free agency it’s obvious the Raiders are looking to revamp their offense, and they may need to replace the still unsigned free agent Jared Cook.
25. Philadelphia Eagles Marquise Brown WR Oklahoma
Speaking of Antonio Brown, the Eagles may want to look at his cousin Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. Much like Antonio, he isn’t the big, tall receivers that are typical taken in the first round of NFL draft, but he offers great hands and route running in place of size and straight-line speed. The Eagles should be interested considering they traded for a similar style receiver last season in Golden Tate. Tate didn’t produce as much as the Eagles wanted so he didn’t stick around. Maybe Brown can be the guy they wanted in the first place.
26. Indianapolis Colts K’Neal Harry WR Arizona State
The Colts had a top-notch draft class in 2018 when they had plenty of picks and plenty of needs, so they were able to draft the best player available with each pick. In the upcoming draft they still have plenty of needs, but some are more glaring than others this time around. They need a bona fide wideout to take some of the pressure off TY Hilton. K’Neal Harry is a good sized WR who will fight for the 50/50 balls. He isn’t going to wow any scouts with his combine performance, but his tape speaks volumes. As a matter of fact, I believe Harry is the most complete receiver in the class. Andrew Luck would be happy to have him fighting for deep targets next fall.
27. Oakland Raiders Josh Jacobs RB Alabama
As I mentioned before Gruden and the Raiders are looking to revamp their offense, and one of the most important facets of Gruden’s offense is the power run game. Marshawn may stick around for another season, but he is beyond the twilight of his career at this point. Josh Jacobs probably won’t be blowing by defenses in the NFL with a 4.6 forty time at his pro day. Jacobs is more of a down hill power style of running back. He also has some good cutting ability to go along with his power running style. Since Gruden and new GM Mike Mayock missed out on signing LeVeon Bell, they might decide Jacobs is worth taking at the backend of the first.
28. Los Angeles Chargers Dexter Lawrence DT Clemson
The Chargers could use some help along the interior defensive line to take some of the pressure off their edge rushers. Dexter Lawrence seems to be a good fit for what they need due to his size and athleticism. If this mock were to hold true Lawrence would be the third first rounder drafted from the Clemson Tiger’s defensive line. Lawrence is another case of a heavily recruited player that didn’t always put up the big numbers expected of him. He finished his freshman campaign with seven sacks, but only managed four more over the next two seasons. Yet, his run stuffing abilities may be what teams are after if they take Lawrence in April. The Chargers would be the beneficiary of a talent heavy defensive line class if Lawrence does fall to them at number 28.
29. Kansas City Chiefs Devin Bush LB Michigan
The Chiefs hit a grand slam with the first-round selection of Patrick Mahomes in 2017. At that time, they had a strong defense and a steady paced offense with Alex Smith at the helm. Now things have changed dramatically on both sides of the ball for the Chiefs. Mahomes has the offense running up and down the field, while the defense allowed opposing offenses to do the same. Devin Bush would provide some help in the middle of a struggling defense. He is sound at all aspects of the position, but what sets him apart from other linebackers is his pass coverage ability. His size will concern some teams, but there have been plenty of undersized linebacker to find success in the league. Colts linebacker Darius Leonard drafted early in the second-round last season being the latest example.
30. Green Bay Packers Deebo Samuel WR South Carolina
With the Packers second first round selection they will try to make up for the recent loss of Randall Cobb to free agency. Deebo Samuel compares favorably to Cobb in many ways with his quick routes and ability to run after the catch. The Gamecocks were a different team when Samuel was on the field thanks to his electric returns on special teams, and game breaking plays as a receiver. He is a threat to take it the distance on any catch, and Aaron Rodgers would love to add that type of player back into his offense.
31. Los Angeles Rams Dalton Risner OL Kansas State
The Rams don’t have many holes to fill on their roster, though they have lost a few free agents in the offseason. One of those players that left was Rodger Saffold, who helped the Rams maintain one of the best offensive lines in the league the last few seasons. If the Rams are looking to replace him quick, they may like what they see in Dalton Risner as a prospect. He is another solid interior offensive lineman that would certainly be able to open holes for Todd Gurley and keep Jared Goff upright.
32. New England Patriots Jachai Polite Edge Florida
The Patriots find themselves in familiar draft territory with the last pick of the round. They have been willing to trade up or down so it will be interesting to see if they decide to stay put this time. Jachai Polite’s draft stock blew up this past season after he had a monster season for the Gators, collecting 11 total sacks. Polite has hurt his stock though with some reportedly poor interviews and a poor combine performance overall. The Patriots, however, rarely concern themselves with those things and usually draft talent despite the baggage.