Author: Ameya Kulkarni
Mock Draft 1.0; 2019
March is a great month. March Madness is here, NBA regular season is wrapping up, baseball is starting, and most importantly for NFL fans it’s prime mock draft season. Now that the whirlwind that is NFL free agency is over, I’d like to put together an initial mock draft. If there are any more significant trades leading up to the mock draft, I will most likely do another. Just as an FYI for the reader, the picks in this mock draft aren’t what I think the team WILL do, instead it is what I think the team SHOULD do. I also am going to stay away from trades that shake up the draft order since no one really has any idea what’s going to happen when it comes to trading up (also I’m not exactly sure how Jimmy Johnson’s famous draft chart works). Also shout out to Daniel Jeremiah of NFL network as I’m using his big board as the basis of this draft. So without further ado, the Arizona Cardinals are on the clock…..
- Arizona Cardinals: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
This might be a shocker for most folks since the consensus as of right now is that Kyler Murray will be the first pick of the draft. However, I feel that this whole Kyler Murray to the Cardinals thing is a smoke screen and the Cardinals are actually trying to trade down. Kliff Kingsbury would not have taken the job if he didn’t believe in Josh Rosen, and I find it hard to believe that Steve Kiem is ready to give up on his guy after one year. If they do in fact stand pat and stay at 1, I fully expect the Cardinals to go with Bosa. In a division where Goff, Jimmy G and Russell Wilson aren’t going anywhere anytime soon loading up on pass rushers is the way to go. Bosa is the most talented and polished outside pass rusher in the draft. He can win with both quickness and power and his brother’s pedigree certainly doesn’t hurt. Adding him to unit that already includes Chandler Jones will give the Cardinals a top pass for the foreseeable future.
- San Francisco 49ers: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
There are only a few college D-lineman that I’ve seen that were more dominant than Williams was last season (Nick Fairley and Ndamokung Suh come to mind) Williams can rush the passer and stop the run. Solomon Thomas has been a disappointment and Niners just got their on the outside in Dee Ford. Jon Lynch understands from first-hand experience that defense wins championships, and adding Williams fortifies their pass rush for years to come
- New York Jets: Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky
As a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan, I’ve seen this Josh Allen story before through Bud Dupree. Both are similar players in that they rely on their pure speed and athletics rather than any polished pass rush moves. The lack of solid pass rush moves scares me, but no one schemes up blitzes better than Greg Williams. His schemes combined with the presence of Leonard Williams on the inside will allow Allen to thrive and make an impact in this league from day 1.
- Oakland Raiders: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
Is there a more Jon Gruden player in this draft than Christian Wilkins? A 3-time first team All-American with two national championships on his resume, Wilkins is a great player, but even more important he is a winner. After gutting the roster completely, Gruden is looking to put his stamp on the franchise by changing the culture. Who better to help him do this than a guy who Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said might one day be president of the United States
- Tampa Buccaneers: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
As stated earlier, I am staying away from trades in this mock. But that being said look for Tampa to trade down as they can get their guy in the teen as opposed to the top 5. Dillard is the best left tackle in the draft, and hails from a Mike Leach offense. That is important because his Air Raid schemes are similar to Bruce Arians’ passing attack. In order to gain a fair assessment of Winston in his make or break it year the Buccaneers must give time to throw. Adding Dillard to help shore up PFF’s 20th ranked offensive line just might help Winston take that next step.
- New York Giants: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
The Giants desperately need a QB of the future and while Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins might be the safer pick, Murray offers more pizzazz and gives Giants fans someone to be excited about. It’s also no secret that head coach Pat Shurmur likes quarterbacks who can move a little given his history with the likes of Donovan McNabb, Case Keenum and his time as Chip Kelly’s offensive coordinator with the Eagles. Furthermore, the trade of OBJ and the subsequent signing of Golden Tate indicates that the Giants intend to go to more of a short, quick hitting passing game which is the same type of system that Murray excelled in this past season at Oklahoma.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
Once thought to be the best player in this class, Jacksonville gets gets a steal landing Oliver at 7. Concerns about his size and production last year cause him to fall this far, but the fact of the matter is Oliver can really play. He can line up both on the inside and outside and his effort is always on full display. Oliver has the potential to become the next Aaron Donald which only makes this Jacksonville defense even stronger and also makes up for loss of cap casualty Malik Jackson.
- Detroit Lions: Devin White, MLB, LSU
In today’s modern NFL, White is the prototypical linebacker a team would want. With the ability to run sideline to sideline, play in coverage and rush the passer, White is ultimate playmaker for a team in the Detroit Lions that lacks them. The addition of White shores up Detroit’s weak linebacking corps, and pairs him with Jarrad Davis giving them a Patrick Willis/Navarro Bowman type duo for years to come.
- Buffalo Bills: Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
This past season showed that Josh Allen can play. With no talent around him, Allen was productive and showed that he could be a Cam Newton type quarterback. However, without a solid running game, quarterbacks such as Newton and Allen are not nearly as effective since they can’t win a game solely on their arm alone. Adding Jacobs gives the Bills backfield a thunder/lightning combo with LeSean McCoy. Jacobs is also is an excellent route runner and great in open space, which is never a bad thing to have with a young QB in place.
- Denver Broncos: TJ Hockenson, TE, Iowa
With Vic Fangio and offensive line guru Mike Munchak in place, it is clear that the Broncos would like to stick to their run first approach. Hockenson is the best run blocker out of all the tight ends of the draft, yet also has the ability to line up in the slot as a receiver. Quarterback Joe Flacco was at his best in Baltimore when he had Dennis Pitta, and Hockenson reminds me of a more athletic version of Pitta. With the ability to high point the ball in red zone and run after the catch, Hockenson will be an impact player on this Broncos team from day 1.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State
Traditionally, the Bengals have taken the best player on the board and here the choice is either Rashan Gary of Michigan or Sweat. The Bengals opt to take Sweat because of his production and smaller sized personality. While Sweat lacks real polish, he is a freak athletically having run a 4.41 at 260 pounds while also posting 21 reps of the bench press at the combine. By joining the Bengals, Sweat can learn from Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, while also giving the Bengals the best D-line in the division.
- Green Bay Packers: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
The second and in some draft analysts minds the better of the Iowa tight ends falls into the Packers lap at 12. Fant’s pro comparison is Jimmy Graham who coincidentally is on the Packers. However, Graham is not the same player he was when he first entered the league with the Saints. The addition of Fant gives the Packers a player who can dominate the middle of the field vertically and can lineup anywhere on the field. This pick should also please Aaron Rodgers who hasn’t been gifted a highly drafted offensive skill position player in ages.
- Miami Dolphins: Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan
The Dolphins are clearly rebuilding for 2020/2021 so they opt take the best player available in Gary. While the numerical production wasn’t necessary there for Gary, according to Jeremiah, the tape showed that Gary “has a dynamic get-off and flashes power to bull through OT’s with only one arm extended. Additionally, Gary has shown to have the athleticism to drop into coverage and mirror slot receivers which is an important quality to have in Brian Flores multiple defense.
- Atlanta Falcons: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
The Falcons offense has regressed since their breakthrough season in 2016. While Matt Ryan won MVP that year, the hallmark of that team (and almost any great team for that matter) was their rushing attack that ranked 5th in the NFL at 120.5 yards per game. That rushing attack set up the play action off which Matt Ryan thrived. In order to get back to that, the Falcons must get younger and more athletic on the offensive line. Enter Jonah Williams, who at 6’5 305 lbs is an absolute mauler in the run game. As an added plus, Williams is an excellent pass blocker who has proved he can play both tackle sports after transitioning to right tackle this past season in order to protect lefty QB Tua Tagovailoa’s blindside.
- Washington Redskins: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
This is the perfect scenario for the Redskins. Instead of having to reach for Duke’s Daniel Jones at this spot, the best QB in the draft falls to them. Haskins will need time to develop which is why Washington is the perfect spot with Case Keenum entrenched as the starter. Haskins throws a pretty deep ball and throws with velocity and touch. He has a little bit of a gun slinger mentality at times which he got away with in college. If he is to succeed at the next level, Haskins will need to learn to settle for the intermediate throws over the middle of the field as opposed to throwing either short or vertically. He also needs to improve his awareness when the pocket collapses, but all of these issues can be taken care of if he is afforded a year to sit on the bench and learn from Keenum.
- Carolina Panthers: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
The first word that comes to mind when I think of Ferrell is long. Ferrell excelled in college by using his length to beat tackles one on one due to the presence of Clemson’s other stud lineman. In Carolina, Ferrell will be afforded that same opportunity with the presence of Kawann Short inside and Mario Addison (who while not the player he once was is still respectable) on the other side. Ferrell can help a revive a Carolina pass rush that over the past few seasons has regressed a little.
- New York Giants: Jeffrey Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
Had it not been for the torn ACL he suffered in February, Simmons may well have been a top 5 pick. Instead, he falls to the rebuilding Giants at 17 who could use him to anchor their 3-4 defense for years to come after trading Snacks Harrison last year. Simmons has been compared to fellow Bulldog alum Fletcher Cox. Both are large bodies who use their otherworldly size to dominate at the point of attack. If he heals fine from the ACL and the character issues check out (Simmons had an altercation with a woman in 2016) Simmons could be the steal of the draft. Those may be too many what-ifs for most teams, but the Giants have the luxury to take a gamble here by having 2 first round picks.
- Minnesota Vikings: Jawaan Taylor, OT/OF, Florida
Regarded by some as the best offensive lineman in this draft, Taylor falls right into the lap of a Minnesota Vikings team that desperately needs him. The interior of Minnesota’s offensive line combined to allow 18 sacks on the season and coach Mike Zimmer vowed restore the “nasty” mentality in 2019. Taylor has the skills to play both tackle and guard, but Minnesota opts to use his power at the guard spot to help rejuvenate the run game while also shoring up the interior of the offensive line.
- Tennessee Titans: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
The Titans are the definition of an average football team. They have a solid defensive line, solid offensive line, solid running back, and a game manager at quarterback. What this team lacks are playmakers, which is why at 19 the Titans opt for “Hollywood” Brown. The cousin of Antonio Brown, Hollywood Brown was one of the most exciting in college football over the past couple seasons. His breakaway speed was a game changer for Oklahoma, and late in the season their offense lacked the same pop when he was hurt. In the words of Jeremiah, Brown is a “DeSean Jackson clone” who is a threat to take it to the house anytime he touches the ball. Look for the Titans to use him similar to how the Chiefs use Tyreek Hill by finding creative ways to get him the ball in space.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Devin Bush, ILB, Michigan
Everything I said above about LSU’s Devin White applies to Devin Bush. Bush can range from sideline to sideline, provide thump in the run game, blitz the quarterback and play in coverage. That type of do it all MLB is required in Dick LeBeau’s version of the 3-4 defense which the team still runs under Keith Butler. The only knock on Bush is his size which t 5’11 and 233 lbs, is a bit undersized for today’s NFL. However, Bush makes up for his like of size with his unique instincts and production. With the signing of Steven Nelson, Pittsburgh addressed its need for a CB. Now it is time to finally draft Ryan Shazier’s replacement and see if this defense littered with first round picks can finally live up to its potential.
- Seattle Seahawks: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
One of the surprise teams in the NFL last year, the Seahawks were the feel-good story of last season. After cutting ties with half of the Legion of Boom, letting Jimmy Graham walk, and trading away Michael Bennett, last year was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Seattle. However, Pete Carroll showed why he is a great coach and Russell Wilson proved to the world that he is an elite quarterback. Now it is time to finally give Wilson a bonafide weapon on the perimeter. Seattle’s run heavy, down the field passing attack is tailor made for Metcalf’s strengths. His blazing 4.3 speed will make him a contributor right away and given time to develop he has the potential to become the next Julio Jones.
- Baltimore Ravens: Brian Burns, DE/OLB, Florida State
Burns played with his hand in the dirt in college, but he has the athleticism to play standing up at the NFL level. The Ravens have a gaping hole at pass rusher with departures of Z’Darius Smith and Terrell Suggs. Burns is very raw and tends to win with his speed, not power. He lacks the polish and savvy of other pass rushers in this class in this class. Burns needs to bulk up in order to succeed in the NFL but given Baltimore’s track record at developing defensive talent this seems they feel confident that they can mold him into a productive player.
- Houston Texans: Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma
Deshaun Watson has been running for his life for two years now. If the Texans are going to take advantage of their championship window Watson must be able to stay upright. Drafting Ford, who while he lacks ideal size at 6’4 is long and athletic, is a good start. Per Jeremiah, Ford has outstanding change of direction quickness and plays with awareness. Those strengths will help Ford succeed in protecting a mobile quarterback such as Deshaun Watson.
- Oakland Raiders: Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple
The Raiders continue their defensive overhaul picking Sin here to help shore the up the back end of their 32nd ranked defense. He has the speed to line up man to man with receivers in the NFL. Having that ability is important in Paul Guenther’s blitz heavy scheme. His lack of technique will hurt him in early in his career, but he has the speed to make up for it. Overall, with proper coaching Sin can become a quality starter in the NFL for years to come.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
If Murphy were 2 inches taller he would have been picked in the top 10. While he lacks height, Murphy has a ballhawk in coverage, posting 7 interceptions in 87 career targets. He also has 20 career pass breakups, showing that he has the talent to be a top cover corner in the league. Scouts worry about his lack of speed, but with cover safeties in Rasul Douglas and Malcolm Jenkins behind him that shouldn’t be an issue with the Eagles.
- Indianapolis Colts: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
The Colts continue the run of cornerbacks in picking Williams at 26. His style of play and long frame has had him compared to Richard Sherman. Sherman excelled during his years in Seattle as a cover 3 corner. Williams long frame and 4.3 speed give him all the tools to excel in a zone heavy scheme such as Matt Eberflus’s. Combining him with safety Malik Hooker give the Colts the chance to build the leagues next Legion of Boom.
- Oakland Raiders: Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama
After spending their last two picks on defense, the Raiders elect their last first round pick to help their offense. Jon Gruden loves to get his tight ends involved in his offense as seen by Jared Cook’s 896 and 6 TD’s last year. Cook is now on the Saints; the Raiders elect to fill it with Smith. Smith Jr.’s size gives Derek Carr a viable red zone threat. He has also the ability to line up in the slot and given his speed and AB’s presence on the outside, Smith will terrorize opponents over the next few years.
- Los Angeles Chargers: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
The Chargers might have the best roster in football. Littered with talented, high quality players, this team does not have many holes. As a result, the Chargers have the luxury to take a chance on Lawrence. Projected to be a top 20 pick in January, Lawrence mysteriously failed a PED test causing him to miss Clemson’s championship run. At 6-4, 342 lbs, Lawrence is a behemoth of a human being. He plays with power and has an impressive swim move. At his size, he will be a run stopper from day 1. It is unclear how much of his pass rush production was due to being part of a stacked Clemson defensive line, however with Ingram and Bosa he will be afforded the same one on one opportunities he had in college.
- Kansas City Chiefs: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
Baker was the best cornerback in college football this past year. While he may be slight in frame at 5’11 and 193 lbs, he plays with a toughness and effort that is unmatched by the other CB prospects in the first round. Furthermore, his tape is quite impressive, as seen by his ability to lock down the likes of Jerry Jeudy and Emmanuel Hall. Kansas City allowed the second most pass yards last season, and lost Steven Nelson to free agency who was their best cover corner. Baker is a plug and play starter for the Chiefs who could develop into a shutdown corner eventually.
- Green Bay Packers: AJ Brown, WR, Ole Miss
Brown is a smooth player who is fluid both in and out of his routes. He has the ability to line up on the outside, but he will make his money in NFL in the slot. After losing Randall Cobb to free agency, the Packers need to address his loss. Brown can fill his void in the Packers offense as seen by his success in Ole Miss’s quick hitting RPO scheme. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been vocal about modernizing the offense, so Browns success in a new age passing scheme appeals to the Packers as well. He lacks top end speed, but with Adams and now Fant stretching the field vertically that shouldn’t be much of an issue.
- Los Angeles Rams: Garrett Bradbury, C, N.C State
After moving from John Sullivan and seeing Roger Saffold walk, the Rams must address their offensive line in the draft. Bradbury is seen as one of the safer picks in the draft by Jeremiah, so this pick just makes too much sense. According to Jeremiah, Bradbury rarely misses a block and has quick hands. In the run game he “takes good angles up to the second level, and he can adjust in space. Overall, he is a NFL ready center and will allow the Rams offensive line to pick up right where they left off at the end of last season.
- New England Patriots: Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame
Tillery is a Patriots type of player. He’s smart, high character, played in a pro style scheme in college, and still raw enough to be molded into the type of player the team wants. He might not be able to be the next Trey Flowers immediately, but he will immediately be a productive body who can add depth to the defensive line. His tape is very inconsistent, as he is dominant at times (during the Stanford game this year) and average at other times. A teacher such as Bill Belichick should be able to bring the best out in him.