College players are starting to show their true colors on tape. That’s why our 2019 NFL Mock Draft is really starting to take shape.
NFL evaluators come into the beginning of the college football season with a general idea of who they like and dislike, but the tape doesn’t lie. Now that each prospect has had the chance to play several games, the cream is starting to rise to the top of the 2019 NFL Draft class.
Injuries are starting to take a toll as well. No one denies Nick Bosa’s talent, but his inability to get on the field for Ohio State is starting to negatively impact his stock. Rodney Anderson’s knee injury will cost the Oklahoma running back draft position as well. It’s not a fun thing to discuss, but the NFL is a result based business. Guys who can’t stay healthy aren’t of much interest to pro scouts.
The really interesting moves on our draft board come at the quarterback position. We’ve only got three signal callers in our current mock. That number could definitely rise as the season progresses. Teams with need at the NFL’s most important position will have some interesting choices to make in April.
Let’s dive right into our latest mock. A familiar name remains on top no matter who ends up with the No. 1 overall pick.
The Bills may have shocked the Vikings today, but they still have needs all over the field. That means this pick is all about value as opposed to positional need. Oliver is the player with the highest ceiling in this draft.
When you cut on his film you simply see an interior lineman who can wreak havoc on all three downs. In fact, he might be at his best when he’s allowed to rush the passer. He doesn’t get the chance to do that one-on-one at Houston, but you can see his talent working against double and triple teams.
The only question about Oliver is whether or not his motor runs hot enough to help him become the next Aaron Donald. Sean McDermott would love the opportunity to find out. Nick Bosa will get a long look here, but Oliver’s potential is too much to pass up for Buffalo.
The Cardinals drafted Josh Rosen to be their quarterback of the future. The organization would like to protect their investment by giving him a left tackle who can keep him upright. Little is an offensive tackle who flashes Pro Bowl potential.
Some scouts prefer Alabama star Jonah Williams, but we think he’s slightly overrated due to all of the talent that surrounds him. Little has to work a lot harder to make the Ole Miss offense operate smoothly. No. 2 might be a little high to take him in a vacuum, but the Cardinals have a glaring need at tackle. They can’t afford to leave this draft without a top flight option.
Little also has the advantage of being a guy who should be able to play left tackle right away in the NFL. He’s not going to need a year at right tackle to adjust to the sort of edge rushers he’s going to face in the pros. His experience in the SEC will give him enough experience to play adequate football as a rookie.
Another interesting aspect of Little’s game is the fact that he shows real talent as a run blocker as well. He gets to the second level quite often for a left tackle. It’ll be interesting to see whether or not he can make that happen at the NFL level. Drafting Little here is a bit of a reach, but the Cardinals have to find a guy who can protect Rosen for years to come.
Bosa’s stock has dropped a little due to his inability to stay on the field for Ohio State. It’s very likely his brother’s injury issues with the Chargers are negatively impacting his stock as well. Don’t think for a moment that many teams are going to pass on Bosa’s potential.
When he’s right, he is an absolutely dominant edge rusher. He’s arguably a better prospect than his brother was at the same stage. There aren’t many NFL teams who wouldn’t be thrilled to spend a first round pick on a player who turned out to be as good as Joey Bosa.
The thing that pops off the screen when you watch Bosa is his technique. He’s already capable of using his hands to keep offensive lineman off-balance. That’s a skill NFL teams have to teach most prospects.
On one hand, that’s a huge positive. Bosa should be ready to play as a rookie. On the other hand, some teams may wonder just how much better Bosa can be. In the end, teams shouldn’t overthink it. If you have a chance to draft a premier edge rusher you should rush to the podium to make the pick. If Bosa’s medicals check out, he’s going to go in the top three.
We’re listing Lawrence as a defensive tackle at the moment, but we believe there’s a very good chance he ends up as a defensive end at the next level. That’s just how athletic he is. He’d be playing defensive end for almost every school in the country this season.
Clemson just happens to have an embarrassment of riches along the defensive line. They play Lawrence inside because it allows them to get their best four guys on the field at the same time.
The perfect use for Lawrence at the next level would be to play him as a two-way defensive end on first and second down and then slide him inside to rush the passer on obvious passing situations.
No matter where Lawrence is deployed, he’s a disruptive force. Injuries limited his production in 2017, but his tape already looks more explosive this season. Lawrence doesn’t have the resume that Oliver or Bosa can boast, but his ceiling is just as high. Expect to see a lot of teams spend a lot of time evaluating him in the pre-draft process. Not many mock drafts have him this high, but he’s a good bet to continue to rise all the way until April’s big event.
We don’t really expect to see the Seahawks making a pick this high, so now seems like a good time to say we’re relying on Sportsline.com’s Super Bowl odds for our selection order. Regardless, expect Pete Carroll to have a ton of interest in Williams.
The LSU defensive back reminds a lot of people of Richard Sherman. He’s exceptionally tall to be a cover corner. Williams checks in at a legitimate six-foot-three. He’s still painfully thin, but that’s something that can be corrected at the next level.
Lots of people will scream for the Seahawks to take an offensive lineman, and admittedly, that’s the other position we considered. Ultimately, the need to add a high-impact, youthful player in the secondary is just as profound. If Carroll’s defense is going to function at a high level, he has to have elite cover corners. Williams has the potential to be one of the NFL’s best.
In all honesty, it’s pretty tough to stand out on film at LSU. Ed Orgeron’s team has a ton of NFL talent. The fact that Williams repeatedly stands out is a testament to how rare his ability is. Whatever team drafts him is going to end up with a real defensive weapon for a long time.
We’re not sure if you’ve heard, but Jon Gruden believes the Raiders need to acquire more pass rushing. Thanks to the Khalil Mack trade he’s going to have several opportunities April’s draft to add to that part of his defense.
Ferrell isn’t going to make anyone forget about Mack, but he’s a pretty good player in his own right. He doesn’t have the massive upside of his teammate Lawrence, but he’s a better defensive lineman right now. That means he’ll be able to give the Raiders defense an immediate boost.
He’s a classic edge rusher. Ferrell may struggle at times to set the edge against the run, but he’s a nightmare for opposing offensive tackles. He doesn’t have Bosa’s technique or polish, but he can really bend when he’s coming off the edge. Ferrell has the explosive type of athleticism that teams really covet.
The Raiders can’t afford to try to get cute with this draft. They traded a generational pass rusher away in the prime of his career. They have to find replacements in this draft if they want to put their defense in a position to be competitive again in 2019. Ferrell would be a great fit for Gruden’s scheme.
We’re more bullish on the Browns than this pick status would reflect, but if they do get a selection this high, expect them to address the offensive line. Finding a franchise left tackle to protect Baker Mayfield would be a really wise move.
Williams doesn’t have Little’s upside, but it’s hard to imagine a scenario where he isn’t a long-term starter in the NFL. He’s similar to Nate Solder. He’s not someone who is going to make many Pro Bowls, but he’s exactly the sort of player a tackle needy team will massively overpay in free agency.
The Browns obviously have a need at left tackle. The team is still scrambling to find a replacement for Joe Thomas. Williams would give them an above average player at the crucial position. Drafting Williams wouldn’t be a sexy move to go along with Mayfield, but it’s a pick that would really help the young quarterback maximize his own talent.
If there are any questions about Williams it’s his lack of elite athleticism. He’s not stiff, but he isn’t fluid enough to really stay with elite NFL edge rushers. Teams needing a left tackle shouldn’t worry too him about that. This is an easy chance to acquire a quality starter for years to come. That’s very valuable in today’s NFL.
It’s always a little bit dangerous to draft a linebacker who can’t rush the passer this high. With that being said, Devin White is worthy of a high first round pick.
Given everything that NFL teams ask their linebackers to do, it’s reasonable to think teams will start to invest more in the position. Specifically, finding linebackers who can cover offensive players in space is going to become a requirement for teams.
That’s where White really stands out on film. He’s got the speed to run with slot receivers in the SEC. NFL teams might not ask him to do that on a regular basis, but it’s a really interesting option for creative defensive minds. At the very least, White is a linebacker who can stay on the field during every phase of the game. That’s a real luxury for defensive coaches.
Defensive playmakers will always have big value in the NFL and White is a player who can turn games with his athleticism. It’s going to take a creative staff to get the most out of his skill set, but he’s got All-Pro potential. The Redskins would be smart to snap him up.
We’re not condoning the Giants’ foolish decision not to draft a quarterback in 2018, but it could work out in a strange way for Pat Shurmur and company. The fact that so many other teams filled their quarterback needs this season, could leave the Giants with a clear path to take the guy they like most in 2019.
Assuming no one jumps in front of them, Herbert should be the guy they select. He’s got above average mobility and an absolute cannon for an arm. Top-notch arm strength is important for a team that’s going to play in cold weather and wind so frequently.
Herbert’s accuracy is also an underrated part of his game. Oregon doesn’t ask him to make a ton of NFL level throws, but he puts the ball right on the money for his receivers. Doing that for a guy like Odell Beckham Jr. can result in big plays.
A lot of teams are going to think long and hard about making a move or Herbert in the draft. Ultimately, the Giants might be forced to move up to acquire their franchise quarterback. No matter what, they’ll face a nervous wait on draft night.
Taking a wide receiver in the top 10 is always a gamble, but the 49ers are in desperate need of a playmaker on the outside. Jimmy Garoppolo is the future of this offense, but they need to give him enough weapons to succeed.
Brown might be the very definition of a boom or bust prospect. When he’s playing his best football, he can absolute dominate opposing defenders. Unfortunately, Brown’s motor doesn’t always run hot. Hopefully the NFL can bring the best out of him.
We hesitate to say this, but he does remind you a little bit of Laquon Treadwell on film. Things haven’t worked out for his predecessor with the Vikings, but it’s not a talent issue. Big-bodied wide receivers who can stretch the field are always in high-demand. Brown is going to get every opportunity to make an impact at the next level.
The key difference between Brown and Treadwell is the speed that the current Ole Miss star flashes. He can run away from defenders while Treadwell always seemed like more of a possession target. That key difference is why the 49ers will take a chance on Brown if they get the opportunity.
The Colts would certainly like to draft a receiver like A.J. Brown, but in this mock, he comes off the board one pick too early. That means Indianapolis will take a long look at improving their defensive line. Adding a disruptive tackle like Rashan Gary could really transform Frank Reich’s defense.
If the draft were based on talent alone, Gary would go much higher than this. Unfortunately, he doesn’t play up to his potential very often. Watching him on film on a weekly basis must be a maddening exercise for the Michigan coaching staff.
When he’s locked in, he uses his massive frame to move interior offensive lineman around at will. He’s never going to be a great pass rusher, but Gary is the type of defender who can clog the middle against the run. That isn’t a great fit in every defensive system, but it works well for how the Colts want to play.
Gary is a prospect who will really need to ace his pre-draft interviews to solidify his stock. If he engages with decision makers he’ll have a chance to shoot up the draft board. If he comes off as aloof or standoffish, he could fall outside of the first round altogether. Gary will be one of the more volatile names heading into the draft.
No team needs a top flight wide receiver like the Cowboys. It’s hard to imagine Jerry Jones passing on a talent like Harry if he’s available when the Dallas selection comes up.
Herman Edwards’ star player has everything you want to see from a potential No. 1 wideout. He’s got legitimate size at six-foot-four and he also has the ability to run really good routes. That’s why he’s been able to rack up 335 yards receiving and four touchdowns already this season.
The only thing Harry lacks is elite speed. The Cowboys aren’t in a position to pass on him based on one minor flaw. He’s significantly better than anyone else Jason Garrett and company have at the position. At the very least, he has the ability to become a big time red zone threat for Dak Prescott.
Dallas also happens to be a perfect landing spot for Harry. He’ll enter the NFL as a polished receiver capable of producing for an offense right away. This is a selection that makes a ton of sense for both the player and the franchise in question. Harry could evolve into a star for the Cowboys.
Florida State may be off to an awful start this season, but Brian Burns still has the attention of scouts all over the NFL. He’s the one first round talent in this year’s draft class who can function at a high level at both defensive end and outside linebacker.
It wasn’t so long ago that scouts described Khalil Mack in the same way. Burns doesn’t have that kind of potential, but he can still help Jon Gruden’s defense trouble opposing quarterbacks. Specifically, his versatility should really appeal to the Raiders’ controversial head coach.
The real question about Burns is whether or not he has the size to stay on the field against the run. There’s little question about his ability to be a quality edge rusher at the next level. Burns just needs to make sure he can keep enough wait on to stay on the field against the run.
Some team is going to gamble on his talent before the first round is over. Gruden clearly isn’t a coach who is afraid to take a personnel risk. Burns makes a lot of sense in Oakland. He’s got home run potential, but he could also be a big time bust.
The Buccaneers will strongly consider rolling with Ryan Fitzpatrick for a few more seasons, but Jameis Winston’s days in Tampa Bay are clearly numbered. If Jason Licht and company do decide to draft their quarterback of the future, Drew Lock should be the guy.
When you watch Lock on film he can’t but remind you of Josh Allen. He’s got one of the biggest arms we’ve seen in recent memory. The downside is he seems to miss a lot of throws that he really should make. Expect a number of NFL coaches to fall in love with the idea of refining his skills.
Dirk Koetter will certainly be one of them. He also has the sort of receivers on his roster to make up for Lock’s lack of accuracy. Mike Evans has one of the largest catch radii in the NFL. Desean Jackson has the speed to run down balls other receivers can’t think about reaching.
If the Buccaneers do go with a quarterback, don’t expect them to bench Fitzpatrick right away. Instead, they’ll want to give a player like Lock time to develop. This is another spot where the franchise and player could both end up in a really good place with the right pick/development plan.
Cameron Wake cannot continue to dominate opposing offenses forever. That’s why it makes perfect sense for the Dolphins to spend a first round pick on an edge rusher. In this scenario, Raekwon Davis is the best guy left on the board.
He isn’t the most polished player in the draft, but his talent wins out at this spot. Davis is a perfect player to draft and let learn behind guys like Wake and Robert Quinn for a season. That’s not to say he can’t make an impact as a rookie, but the Dolphins would be wise to bring him along slowly.
The real attraction to Davis is that he can be a three-down lineman. He’s got the ability to develop into an excellent pass rusher, but he already has the ability to stop the run. That isn’t the most glamorous part of being a defensive end in today’s game, but it’s still important.
Davis is another prospect who is going to enter the draft with pretty volatile stock. If he goes on a tear for the Crimson Tide down the stretch he could easily crash the top five. If he fades on tape compared to other Alabama defenders he could be had at the end of round one. The smart bet, for now, is to peg him somewhere in between those two outcomes.
If the Texans don’t address the offensive line in a big way this offseason then Deshaun Watson may not survive another season. If Trey Adams is still on the board when their selection comes up, they’re going to give him a long look.
Adams could have been poised for a monster senior season, but back surgery shut him down for the year. That’s obviously going to have a negative impact on his draft status. However, if his medicals check out, there’s still a chance he could climb back into the top 10.
His junior tape is just that good. Adams might be the best combination of potential and polish in this year’s group of tackles. He doesn’t have the upside of Little, but he’s more accomplished as a technician. Similarly he doesn’t quite have the polish that Williams shows on film, but he’s a better athlete.
Add all that up and he’s a great prospect for Bill O’Brien to gamble on. The Texans tried to pay Nate Solder big money last offseason but they came up empty. Spending a high pick on Adams could help Houston solidify their offensive line for years to come. It’s not a low-risk selection, but it’s worth the gamble at No. 16.
The last time the Panthers spent a first round pick on a Boston College defender it worked out pretty well. Zach Allen probably isn’t going to impact Carolina in the same way Luke Kuechly has, but he’s a terrific prospect in his own right.
Allen would give Ron Rivera a terrific successor for Julius Peppers. The Panthers have quality depth on the edge, but the group is starting to get a little long in the tooth. Allen could help Eric Washington’s defense now and later.
The Eagles’ defender doesn’t have Pro Bowl upside, but it’s hard to see a path where he doesn’t become a reliable starter for a significant period of time. That’s excellent value for a No. 17 selection. Some Panthers fans might want to see their team gamble on a little more upside, but Allen’s collegiate production is too good to pass up here.
The only thing that might change the Panthers’ minds here is if a top offensive tackle drops. In this scenario, the top three left tackles are all off the board. That’s why Carolina goes with a sure bet at defensive end.
The Titans certainly may end up with a better pick than this, but if they do play well enough to slide to No. 18, getting Josh Allen would provide them with terrific value. He’d give the Titans a versatile linebacker who can help their defense in multiple phases of the game.
The real attraction to Allen is that he’s an outside linebacker who is capable of rushing the passer. He’s got three sacks for the Wildcats on the young season and his tape shows you he’s capable of more. He’s a classic example of a player who can toggle back and forth between outside linebacker on run downs and defensive end on obvious passing situations.
Don’t think for a moment he is undersized. He checks in at a legitimate 6-foot-5, 240 pounds. He might need to put on a little more weight at the next level, but he’s got the frame to handle it. It’s not unreasonable to think he could get up to 260 after a year or two in the pros.
Undoubtedly, some Titans fans are reading this and wondering why we aren’t projecting an offensive player here. The simple truth is that Tennessee hasn’t shown their hand on who they trust and who they don’t on that side of the ball. Until the organization chooses a firm direction on guys like Marcus Mariota, taking the best available linebacker makes a lot of sense.
This may not be a perfect landing spot for Baker in terms of need, but at some point, his talent is going to force a team’s hand. He’s the second best cornerback in this draft and it’s hard to imagine him dropping outside of the top 20.
While Denver doesn’t have a glaring need at cornerback, adding a quality cover guy like Baker could elevate their defense. They addressed the front seven with Bradley Chubb in 2018, so it makes sense to address the back-end of the unit in 2019. Again, there’s just too much value here to pass up.
Baker is not one of those defensive backs who just keeps the ball away from receivers. He’s a legitimate ball hawk. His aggressive nature might get him beat upon occasion, but he’ll make significantly more big plays than he gives up. Putting him opposite Bradley Roby would give Denver a terrific cornerback duo to build around.
There’s always an outside chance the Broncos could look for a big time offensive weapon here. Someone like Bryce Love or even a quarterback could be tempting. In the end, look for the Broncos to play it safe and move for the most talented prospect on the board.
Running back isn’t the most valuable position in the NFL currently, but every franchise wants to have a home run hitter at the position. With all due respect to Alex Collins, the Ravens could certainly use an upgrade at the position.
Love isn’t just a home run hitter, he’s a complete back. He’s learned how to skillfully run between the tackles at Stanford. He’s certainly a running back that can soak up 20 touches per game without looking any worse for the wear.
Building an offense around Love and Lamar Jackson could turn the Ravens attack from one of the most predictable groups in the NFL to one of the most dynamic. Baltimore has to give Jackson more weapons to make sure he succeeds. The receiver room needs a talent boost as well, but running back is an easier problem to fix via the draft.
For the record, taking a running back at No. 20 is a lot different than taking one at No. 2. Love is good enough to provide value here. If the Ravens really want to change the complexion of their offense in 2019 this is a pick they should make.
The Bengals landed starters with their first two selections of the 2018 draft with center Billy Price and safety Jessie Bates. Jeffery Simmons might not be a starter for Marvin Lewis on Week 1, but he could make a big impact for the Bengals’ defense by the time the playoffs roll around.
Simmons could give Cincinnati an upgrade over Andrew Billings at the nose tackle position. At 6-foot-4, 300 pounds he’s got quality size for the interior now, but he can still add weight to his massive frame. It’s not a stretch to think he could play at something close to 320 by the time his rookie season ends.
Putting him next to Geno Atkins would give the Bengals one of the most dynamic defensive fronts in the league. Not many teams have two defensive tackles who can credibly rush the passer. Atkins has already proven he can do that, and Simmons has the talent to do it as well.
In a perfect world, the Bengals would like to add a top flight defensive end here to replace Michael Johnson. However, that’s not where the value is at this point in the draft. Plucking Simmons at No. 21 would be a coup for Cincinnati.
Yes, this is the same Dakota Allen that featured as a prominent character on Neftlix’s documentary Last Chance U. Since re-enrolling at Texas Tech, he’s been a dynamic force for the Red Raider defense.
The unfortunate injury to Ryan Shazier leaves the Steelers with a massive hole at linebacker. They need to find a player who can patrol the middle against both the run and pass. Bringing Allen into the fold would give Mike Tomlin a linebacker who can cover running backs and tight ends in space.
The knock against Allen is that he doesn’t have the prototypical size to play middle linebacker. The way the game is headed, that sort of size is going to be less and less important in the future. Anyone playing at the second level against the best NFL offenses will need to be able to function in pass coverage. That’s arguably the best part of Allen’s game.
This might be a little too high for the Steelers to draft an inside linebacker, but Allen is too perfect of a fit in their system to ignore. It’s possible Pittsburgh will try to wait and pick him up in round two, but drafting a probable starter in round one is always a good move.
It’s pretty unlikely we’re going to have to wait until the No. 23 pick to see the third quarterback come off the board, but there just aren’t that many teams in the market. Even the Chargers might elect to wait another season before securing Philip Rivers’ successor.
If they do go that route this year, they should return to Rivers’ alma mater, NC State, to make their selection. Finley isn’t the most dynamic guy in the class, but he is the best pro style passer. Letting him sit behind Rivers for a season would be a great way to prepare him to take over the Chargers’ offense in 2020.
It is possible that Rivers will exert his influence to force the Chargers to draft someone more capable of helping him win games in 2019. If that happens, look for Los Angeles to give a strong look at the top guards in the class. Someone like Beau Benzschawel or Nate Herbig could be good fits for Anthony Lynn’s offense.
That isn’t the right call for this franchise though. They should take advantage of the lack of teams looking for quarterback help in this draft to secure a top prospect late in round one. Finley might not be the guy they choose, but he does play the position they need to address.
Haloti Ngata is off to a great start for the Eagles this season, but he’s not going to plug the middle next to Fletcher Cox forever. Drafting a young defensive tackle like Derrick Brown would prepare the Philadelphia front to absorb Ngata’s eventual departure.
Brown is not a guy who’s going to get after the passer a ton early in his career. Instead, look for him to make an immediate impact as a run stuffer. He’s a massive guy for interior lineman to try to move on a regular basis. His Auburn tape isn’t overly consistent, but not many opponents experience a lot of success trying to run the football in Brown’s vicinity.
That actually makes him the perfect complement for Cox. The veteran can feel comfortable trying to get up the field to make plays. Occasionally that gets him out of position. Having a steady space eater like Brown behind him should allow Cox to continue to make big plays.
Don’t rule the possibility of the Eagles jumping at a running back late in the first round. If Love drops this far, the Eagles might make a bold move for him. Jay Ajayi is going to get really expensive next season. It’s unclear whether or not Philly will want to pay that price.
The right move for the Eagles will be to double down on their strong defense. Adding a talent like Brown would be good value at this spot in the draft.
If Clay Matthews keeps accruing personal fouls at his current rate he’ll be forced to retire at the end of the 2018 season. In all seriousness, the Packers do need to start shopping for a long-term replacement for their veteran edge rusher.
Montez Sweat would be an excellent choice. He reminds you a lot of Matthews when you watch him on film. Sweat has the speed to play outside linebacker as well as defensive end. He’ll need to add weight to thrive in the NFL, but his frame should allow him to carry some additional pounds.
What scouts really like about Sweat’s college tape is the motor he plays with. He’s got untapped potential, but he’s already a double-digit sack guy for the Bulldogs. He’s not the sort of player that NFL coaches are going to need to work hard to motivate on a weekly basis.
If the Packers don’t go with a guy like Sweat, it will be because they want a more traditional defensive lineman. Finding a replacement for Muhammad Wilkerson should also be on the team’s shopping list this offseason. We like Sweat’s potential more than the more traditional options available at this point in the mock.
Even before he was lost for the season due to injury, Andy Levitre was the weakest link on the Falcons’ offensive line. Expect Atlanta to try to address the guard spot with one of their top picks in the draft.
Bars isn’t the top guy on most people’s list at the position, but he’s a great fit for what the Falcons like to do on offense. He’s a solid technician who has the feet to move and get to the second level. He isn’t a dominating run blocker, but he really know how to use leverage to his advantage.
The advanced feel he has for the game should allow him to be a plug and play starter from day one. That’s important for a franchise that really wants to maximize Matt Ryan’s ability to win right now. He isn’t old per se, but the Falcons would like to add players capable of helping them right away.
The really nice thing for Atlanta is that their biggest need lines up really well compared to what other teams will be looking for in this draft. It’s hard to imagine more than one guard going off the board before they’re on the clock. That means they should get a quality prospect, at a position of need, without being forced to move up the board.
The Chiefs are scoring more than enough points this season to win a Super Bowl. What they aren’t doing, is stopping opponents from engaging them in shootouts. There’s little doubt the Chiefs will spend significant draft capital on improving their defense this offseason.
The unit could use help all over the place, but the secondary, in particular, could use an infusion of talent. A top cornerback could certainly be a consideration here, but the value lines up best at safety. Kansas City could go in a few different directions, but picking a ball hawk like Johnathan Abram seems like the best choice.
He’s not the biggest safety out there, but his ball skills separate him from the competition. He isn’t going to mash people from the strong safety spot, but he can patrol the deep third of the field from the free safety position. Eric Berry fills that role now, but the two can be on the field a lot together in nickel packages.
It’s also possible the Chiefs could simply start both of them together. What they’d lack in physicality, they’d more than make up for in speed. The truth is Kansas City just needs to add the most defensive talent possible now and worry about fit later. Abram would be solid value late in round one.
Remember, in this mock we had the Packers selecting Montez Sweat with the No. 25 pick they acquired from the Saints. At No. 28, we believe they’ll opt for a different sort of defensive end with Jalen Jelks.
He’s a dynamic edge rusher in his own right, but he’s more of a classic defensive end. He does need to put on weight to battle NFL rushing attacks, but there’s little doubt he can do that at the next level.
It would be up to Jelks to fill in for Muhammad Wilkerson down the line. What scouts really appreciate about Jelks is the speed he can flash when going around the corner. He needs to work a lot on his technique, but the burst and bend are both present on film.
In particular, we like the idea of the Packers doubling down on edge rushers in the same draft. If one hits, they’d be well positioned to transition their defense into a successful future. If both pan out, you could see the foundation for a top 10 unit in the next couple years.
There are other ways the Packers could go here, offensive line for one, but look for Green Bay to work hard to improve the defense this offseason. That’s the best way for Aaron Rodgers to win another Super Bowl before his play starts to decline.
The Vikings front office deserves a lot of credit for the lack of obvious holes on their roster. Mike Zimmer has talent all over the field. Even so, Minnesota could use another physical linebacker to aid their stellar defense.
T.J. Edwards is the best fit of any linebacker still on the board. He doesn’t have the best range in the class, but he makes a ton of plays in the middle. It’s not impossible to think he could get some snaps in place of Ben Gedeon on the weak side as well. For a defense that’s going to get really expensive really quickly, acquiring some cheap depth would make a lot of sense.
Edwards also flashes above average coverage ability on film. That’s not a huge issue for the Vikings considering their talent at safety, but it would give Zimmer even more scheme versatility. That’s bad news for the rest of the NFC North.
Another possibility here is that Minnesota might go for a more natural outside linebacker. Devin Bush or Mack Wilson could be in play here too. In the end, look for the Vikings’ rich defense to simply get richer.
The Jaguars seem prepared to forge ahead with Blake Bortles as their franchise quarterback. That’s not necessarily what we’d recommend, but we’re trying to deal with Jacksonville’s self-imposed reality here. Given Bortles’ issues with accuracy, acquiring receivers with large catch radii seems like a great idea.
Drafting the best tight end in this class could help Bortles be a much more consistent quarterback. A lot of NFL executives think that player is Noah Fant, but we prefer Tommy Sweeney by a narrow margin. What he’s been able to produce at Boston College is pretty impressive given the quarterbacks he’s been forced to play with.
Sweeney isn’t going to blow anyone away with his speed down the seam, but he’s a solid route runner with above average athleticism. He also flashes a really good pair of hands. His proven track record of turning below average throws into big plays should be appealing to the Jags.
If Jacksonville doesn’t go with a tight end, they may opt to go for a jumbo wide receiver instead. Players like David Sills and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside could be in play here as well. Same general concept as adding Sweeney, but a little tougher fit into the Jaguars’ current offensive system.
Trying to figure out what Bill Belichick might do the night before the draft is complicated. Making a guess as to who he might select in September is borderline madness. Nonetheless, we’re going to take a shot here and project Austin Bryant to the Pats.
New England doesn’t like to pay big money for edge rushers, but they’re happy to draft them and play them on rookie contracts. Bryant’s production is a little obscured by all of the talent surrounding him at Clemson.
Some of you might be surprised to see Bryant go off the board before teammate Christian Wilkins. The latter Tiger is capable of playing both defensive tackle and defensive end, but the Patriots need a more classic edge rusher. That’s why they’ll give the nod to the better athlete.
If Belichick doesn’t go with an edge rusher, he could definitely look to add help in the secondary or at wide receiver. In this mock, the value is too strong at defensive end to ignore. We may not have the right guy here, but we’ve correctly pegged the need New England needs to fill.
When you’re the current Super Bowl favorites it’s obvious you don’t have too many roster holes to fill. That allows the Rams to draft from a position of real strength. Even though they already have Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters as their starting corners, adding a young talent to the secondary would make a lot of sense.
Love’s ability to shut down one side of the field has been a big key for Notre Dame’s defensive success this season. He may not have the top measurables in the class, but his tape shows him to be a really steady defender. Love has the ability to play either on the outside or in the slot. That quality will be very attractive to several NFL teams.
In truth, the Rams could go in a bunch of directions here. They really should take the most talented player regardless of position. That could make them a landing spot for a versatile defender like Wilkins. In the end, having top flight corners is too important for their defense to pass on a player like Love.
The best teams in the NFL double down on their positions of strength. Drafting Love would allow the Rams to do just that. Look for Sean McVay and company to scout a lot of cornerbacks ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft.