AROUND THE NFL

It’s Draft Day!

 

It may rain on Nashville’s big day.  Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

The draft will start tonight in Nashville, and the weather could be an issue.

 

Via the Tennessean, if the weather becomes a significant issue, the draft would likely move inside, to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, located only blocks from the outdoor site of the draft.

 

Lightning becomes the biggest potential concern, given the presence of metal bleachers and thousands of people standing out in the open. Although the league reportedly is prepared to use video screens and the sound system to advise the crowd as to any safety measures, it will be a challenge to get that many people out of harm’s way quickly. At a stadium, it’s not hard to get into the concourse; with that many people on the streets of Nashville, it won’t be easy to clear the area — and there surely will be some who throw caution to the wind and ride it out.

 

The current Weather.com forecast calls for rain, but not thunderstorms, from 8:00 p.m. ET through the balance of the evening. Ultimately, the best indicator of the expected weather will be the radar — and also the human ear.

 

Regardless of the weather, the show surely will go on. The league moved round one to Thursday night with the goal of having all 32 picks made in the prime time. Wherever those picks are officially announced to the millions watching at home, those picks undoubtedly will be made when those picks are expected to be made.

 

We have four Mock Drafts at the bottom of today’s Briefing – three respected ones plus an attempt by the Daily Briefing.  For a consensus look, this from Tyler Lauletta of Business Insider compiles the picks from nine leading Mocks:

 

The 2019 NFL draft will begin Thursday, April 25.

 

We analyzed the mock drafts of nine experts — Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. at ESPN, Chad Reuter, Daniel Jeremiah, and Charley Casserly at NFL.com, Dan Kadar at SB Nation, Ryan Wilson and Chris Trapasso at CBS Sports, Albert Breer at Sports Illustrated, and Danny Kelly at the Ringer — to see if we could find any consensus on how the first round is going to shake out.

 

Take a look below and see how the experts believe the first round will go down, with their thoughts on each pick.

 

1. Arizona Cardinals — Kyler Murray, QB (Oklahoma)

Experts: 9 of 9

 

Other possibilities: N/A

 

Key expert quote: From Kelly: “His diminutive size is the biggest question mark in this draft, but he’s got the playmaking talent, arm strength, and speed to become a superstar.”

 

2. San Francisco 49ers — Nick Bosa, Edge (Ohio State)

Experts: 7 of 9

 

Other possibilities: Quinnen Williams, DL (Alabama)

 

Key expert quote: From Kiper: “Best. Player. Available. Bosa is the No. 1 prospect in this class, and he’ll help off the edge in any defense.”

 

3. New York Jets — Josh Allen, Edge (Kentucky)

Experts: 5 of 9

 

Other possibilities: Nick Bosa, Edge (Ohio State); Ed Oliver, DT (Houston)

 

Key expert quote: From Wilson: “Josh Allen had a fantastic senior season as well as a strong combine and remains one of the best edge rushers in this class. With needs at edge rusher for the Jets, this is a no-brainer.”

 

4. Oakland Raiders — Quinnen Williams, DL (Alabama)

Experts: 5 of 9

 

Other possibilities: Josh Allen, Edge (Kentucky); Montez Sweat, Edge (Mississippi State)

 

Key expert quote: From Kelly: “Slippery interior menace who combines physicality, burst, and violent hands to discard blocks and get into the backfield.”

 

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — TIE: Devin White, LB (LSU), Ed Oliver, DT (Houston)

 

Other possibilities: Quinnen Williams, DL (Alabama); Josh Allen, Edge (Kentucky);

 

(With the closest thing we have to inside info, the DB says Ed Oliver won’t be drafted by the Buccaneers with the fifth pick).

 

6. New York Giants — No consensus

 

Other possibilities: Jonah Williams, OT (Alabama); Montez Sweat, Edge (Mississippi State); Dwayne Haskins, QB (Ohio State); Daniel Jones, QB (Duke)

 

7. Jacksonville Jaguars — Jawaan Taylor, OT (Florida)

Experts: 4 of 9

 

Other possibilities: Montez Sweat, Edge (Mississippi State); Jonah Williams, OT (Alabama); T.J. Hockenson, TE (Iowa)

 

8. Detroit Lions — Montez Sweat, Edge (Mississippi State)

Experts: 3 of 9

 

Other possibilities: T.J. Hockenson, TE (Iowa); Brian Burns, OLB (Florida State); Jonah Williams, OT (Alabama)

 

Key expert quote: From Reuter: “Signing Trey Flowers was a smart move but adding Sweat gives the team a dynamic duo on the outside.”

 

9. Buffalo Bills — Andre Dillard, OT (Washington State)

Experts: 3 of 9

 

Other possibilities: T.J. Hockenson, TE (Iowa); Brian Burns, OLB (Florida State); Jonah Williams, OT (Alabama)

 

10. Denver Broncos — Drew Lock, QB (Missouri)

 

Other possibilities: Devin Bush, LB (Michigan); Devin White, LB (LSU); T.J. Hockenson, TE (Iowa)

 

Key expert quote: From Wilson: “John Elway has reportedly been smitten with Lock since the fall. After back-to-back losing seasons, Elway hopes he’s finally found his long-term franchise quarterback.”

 

11. Cincinnati Bengals — Dwayne Haskins, QB (Ohio State)

Experts: 4 of 9

 

Other possibilities: Devin Bush, LB (Michigan); Devin White, LB (LSU); Jawaan Taylor, OT (Florida)

 

12. Green Bay Packers — T.J. Hockenson, TE (Iowa)

Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson runs from Northern Illinois safety Trayshon Foster, left, after making a reception during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won 33-7. AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Experts: 2 of 9

 

Other possibilities: Noah Fant, TE (Iowa); Brian Burns, OLB (Florida State); Cody Ford, OT (Oklahoma)

 

13. Miami Dolphins — Andre Dillard, OT (Washington State)

Experts: 3 of 9

 

Other possibilities: Christian Wilkins, DT (Clemson); Rashan Gary, DL (Michigan); Jawaan Taylor, OT (Florida)

 

Key expert quote: From Trapasso: “Whichever rookie quarterback takes the reins in 2020 for Miami will be very grateful the Dolphins picked this pass-blocking wizard the year before.”

 

14. Atlanta Falcons — Christian Wilkins, DT (Clemson)

Experts: 3 of 9

 

Other possibilities: Clelin Ferrell, DE (Clemson); Brian Burns, OLB (Florida State); Jonah Williams, OT (Alabama)

 

Key expert quote: From Kiper: “I’m running to the podium if I’m the GM of the Falcons and Wilkins is still available. He could be a steal.”

 

15. Washington Redskins — Drew Lock, QB (Missouri)

Experts: 2 of 9

 

Other possibilities: Devin Bush, LB (Michigan); Marquise Brown, WR (Oklahoma); Daniel Jones, QB (Duke)

 

DB aside – Of course, Lock was already a “consensus” pick of the Broncos, so this exercise kind of breaks down here).

 

16. Carolina Panthers — No consensus

 

Other possibilities: Rashan Gary, DL (Michigan); Cody Ford, OT (Oklahoma); Jawaan Taylor, OT (Florida); Andre Dillard, OT (Washington State); Clelin Ferrell, DE (Clemson)

 

17. New York Giants (via Browns) — Daniel Jones, QB (Duke)

Experts: 3 of 9

 

Other possibilities: Devin White, LB (LSU); Rashan Gary, DL (Michigan); Christian Wilkins, DT (Clemson)

 

Key expert quote: From Trapasso: “The David Cutcliffe connection plays a big role in Jones landing with the Giants to be Eli’s heir apparent.”

 

18. Minnesota Vikings — Cody Ford, OT (Oklahoma)

Experts: 3 of 9

 

Other possibilities: Christian Wilkins, DT (Clemson); Chris Lindstron, G (Boston College); Rashan Gary, DL (Michigan)

 

19. Tennessee Titans — Brian Burns, OLB (Florida State)

Experts: 2 of 9

 

Other possibilities: Rashan Gary, DL (Michigan); Deandre Baker, CB (Georgia); Clelin Ferrell, DE (Clemson)

 

Key expert quote: From Reuter: “Signing Cameron Wake was good for this year but Burns’ skills will be valued in 2020 and beyond.”

 

20. Pittsburgh Steelers — Devin Bush, LB (Michigan)

Experts: 3 of 9

 

Other possibilities: T.J. Hockenson, TE (Iowa); Rock Ya-Sin, CB (Temple); Byron Murphy, CB (Washington)

 

Key expert quote: From Wilson: “The Steelers need help at edge rusher and cornerback but if Bush, with his 4.44 40, is still on the board, they have to take him. He has sideline-to-sideline speed and can wreak havoc in the run game, rush the passer, and smoothly drop into coverage.”

 

21. Seattle Seahawks — Jeffery Simmons, DT (Mississippi State)

Experts: 2 of 9

 

Other possibilities: Rashan Gary, DL (Michigan); Dalton Risner, OT (Kansas State); Jerry Tillery, DT (Notre Dame); Cody Ford, OT (Oklahoma)

 

Key expert quote: From Kelly: “Tremendously athletic interior player who has the talent to go in the top 10, but his history of violence and recent left ACL tear could send him tumbling down draft boards.”

 

22. Baltimore Ravens — D.K. Metcalf, WR (Ole Miss)

Experts: 3 of 9

 

Other possibilities: A.J. Brown, WR (Ole Miss); Clelin Ferrell, DE (Clemson); Erik McCoy, C/G (Texas A&M)

 

Key expert quote: From Wilson: “Metcalf, who blazed a 4.33 40-yard dash time at the combine, has game-changing talent. He would add another dimension to the Ravens’ run-heavy offense.”

 

23. Houston Texans — Greedy Williams, CB (LSU)

Experts: 3 of 9

 

Other possibilities: Erik McCoy, C/G (Texas A&M); Noah Fant, TE (Iowa); Rock Ya-Sin, CB (Temple)

 

24. Oakland Raiders (via Chicago) — Irv Smith Jr., TE (Alabama)

Experts: 2 of 9

 

Other possibilities: Noah Fant, TE (Iowa); Clelin Ferrell, DE (Clemson); Josh Jacobs, RB (Alabama)

 

25. Philadelphia Eagles — Marquise Brown, WR (Oklahoma)

Experts: 2 of 9

 

Other possibilities: Montez Sweat, Edge (Mississippi State); Darnell Savage Jr., S (Maryland); Devin Bush, LB (Michigan)

 

26. Indianapolis Colts — A.J. Brown, WR (Ole Miss)

Experts: 2 of 9

 

Other possibilities: D.K. Metcalf, WR (Ole Miss); Christian Wilkins, DT (Clemson); Lawrence, DT (Clemson)

 

27. Oakland Raiders (via Cowboys) — Byron Murphy, CB (Washington)

Experts: 2 of 9

 

Other possibilities: Deandre Baker, CB (Georgia); Irv Smith Jr., TE (Alabama); Josh Jacobs, RB (Alabama); Clelin Ferrell, DE (Clemson)

 

Key expert quote: From Reuter: “Gareon Conley gets a strong partner in Murphy, who possesses the best ballhawking skills in the class.”

 

28. Los Angeles Chargers — Dexter Lawrence, DT (Clemson)

Experts: 3 of 9

 

Other possibilities: Jeffery Simmons, DT (Mississippi State); Chris Lindstron, G (Boston College); Daniel Jones, QB (Duke)

 

Key expert quote: From Kiper: “I love this fit. Nose tackle is a huge need for the Chargers, and Lawrence is the best one in this class.”

 

29. Kansas City Chiefs — Garrett Bradbury, C (NC State)

Experts: 4 of 9

 

Other possibilities: Nasir Adderlay, S (Delaware); Byron Murphy, CB (Washington); Greedy Williams, CB (LSU)

 

30. Green Bay Packers (via Saints) — Noah Fant, TE (Iowa)

Experts: 2 of 9

 

Other possibilities: Marquise Brown, WR (Oklahoma); Dalton Risner, OT (Kansas State); Taylor Rapp, S (Washington)

 

31. Los Angeles Rams — Elgton Jenkins, C (Mississippi State)

Experts: 2 of 9

 

Other possibilities: Jerry Tillery, DT (Notre Dame); Elgton Jenkins, C (Mississippi State);

 

32. New England Patriots — No consensus

Experts: N/A

 

Other possibilities: Deebo Samuel, WR (South Carolina); A.J. Brown, WR (Ole Miss); Daniel Jones, QB (Duke); Drew Lock, QB (Missouri)

 

NFC NORTH

 

DETROIT

A Kelly Stafford update – she’s back in the hospital.  Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com:

 

Kelly Stafford, the wife of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, returned to the hospital for overnight observation after struggling to taper off steroids following her brain tumor surgery last week.

 

She posted on Instagram on Wednesday that she tried to deal with the headaches and other issues but finally decided to get help.

 

“I was so wrong. The pain got so far ahead of me I couldn’t keep anything down,” Stafford wrote in the post. “Including meds. I ended up in the ER very early this morning, back on steroids and pain medication. At first I felt like I had failed, like I couldn’t handle it. But what I really failed at was listening to my own body.

 

“A lesson I feel like I am going to have to keep reminding myself of.”

 

Kelly Stafford was discharged from the hospital Sunday after going through a 12-hour procedure to remove the tumor last week. Matthew Stafford, according to ESPN Insider Adam Schefter, returned to the Lions facility for workouts Monday.

 

He has been told by the team to take all the time he needs to tend to his wife’s recovery. It is unclear how his plans changed after his wife’s return to the hospital.

 

NFC EAST

 

WASHINGTON

Wow, Daniel Snyder’s son went to high school with QB DWAYNE HASKINS – and Snyder seems to be taking a personal interest in making it happen.  John Breech of CBSSports.com:

 

If you’re hoping to see some drama on the first night of the 2019 NFL Draft, then you might want to keep a close eye on the Redskins, because it seems there’s a good chance we’re going to see something big from them.

 

According to Redskins beat writer Grant Paulsen, team owner Daniel Snyder has “taken over the first round of the draft” for Washington, which means things could get crazy. The last time Snyder decided to take things into his own hands came in 2012, when the Redskins mortgaged their future to trade up and grab Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick. In that deal, Washington sent three first-round selections (2012, 2013 and 2014) to the Rams, along with a 2012 second-round selection, so they could move up and get RG3.

 

It’s worth noting that the Redskins have denied Paulsen’s report, although NFL.com seemed to agree with some of it by pointing out that Snyder will have the most power in the Redskins’ war room on Thursday.

 

To add more intrigue to this story, if Snyder is in control, it appears he’s thinking about making another major RG3-esque move. According to NFL.com, the Redskins are exploring the option of moving up to into the top five of the draft, which would put them in a prime position to grab a quarterback.

 

What would a trade into the top five look like for the Redskins? Our R.J. White gamed out that scenario in his latest mock draft.

 

If Snyder’s plan is to move up that high, things are going to be slightly different from 2012, and that’s because the Redskins are going to have to give up some major compensation to move up that far. Washington currently has the 15th overall pick, which means they’d need to move up 10 spots. The biggest winner of the draft could end up being the team that makes a deal with Washington. As things currently stand, the Cardinals, 49ers, Jets, Raiders and Buccaneers all pick in the top five.

 

You’ll be able to follow the drama as it unfolds on Thursday by watching the live coverage from CBS Sports HQ, where we’ll grades the picks, analyze the trades and break down everything you need to know about what’s happening in real time.

 

The fact that Snyder is getting involved makes a lot of sense, because earlier this week, Redskins senior vice president of player personnel Doug Williams made it sound like the team didn’t really want to trade up in the draft.

 

“Well, I’ve said all along, the chance of trading up is a lot slimmer than trading back,” Williams said. “I’m going to go on the record and say that’s a possibility that we won’t trade up, but there’s a great possibility we’ll trade back if that opportunity came.”

 

 

If Snyder is taking over the first round of the draft, it doesn’t really matter what Williams wants to do, because Snyder is going to do what Snyder wants to do. 

 

If you’re wondering who the Redskins might take if they move up, everything is pointing to a quarterback. According to ESPN.com, the Redskins have a lot of interest in Dwayne Haskins. However, it appears that Daniel Jones could also be in play, according to former NFL scout Greg Gabriel.

 

As for Haskins, he actually has some direct ties to Snyder, which might be one reason why the Redskins owner has decided to take over the first round of the team’s draft. Not only did Haskins attend high school in the DC area with Snyder’s son, but earlier this week, he also revealed that he has a “great relationship” with Snyder.

 

“There’s definitely something there,” Haskins told NFL Network on Monday. “I feel like there’s a great relationship with the Redskins. My mentor Shawn Springs played for the Redskins. Great relationship with [owner] Mr. [Daniel] Snyder and the rest of the Redskins ownership. Whatever team picks me, I’ll be excited to be a part of, but there’s definitely something there in DC.”

 

NFC SOUTH

 

TAMPA BAY

Bruce Arians has some advice for GM Jason Licht.  Kevin Patra of NFL.com:

 

Best Player Available.

 

It’s a tried a true method of stockpiling the top talent possible in the NFL draft. Teams that worry less about “need” and select the best player available give themselves the greatest chance of nailing the selection.

 

There have been countless examples of teams eschewing a perceived need for an undeniable talent who fell into their laps. The Rams had two solid defensive tackles when they took Aaron Donald in 2014. Going further back, Vikings had Cris Carter and Jake Reed at receiver and still swooped up Randy Moss when he fell to them. Heck, if you want to widen the parameters, credit former Lions GM Matt Millen for taking Calvin Johnson No. 2 overall even though he had used his previous 75 first-round picks at receiver.

 

New Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians believes BPA is the only way to go. If that player lines up with your “need,” so be it.

 

“You can’t draft for need,” Arians said this week, via the team’s official website. “You draft for need, you get fired. Draft the best player, and if you’ve got two of them now you’ve got three of them. Just take the best players available for you. Now, if you’ve got four players right there together and one of them is a need, that’s the home run. That’s the home run.”

 

The Bucs own the No. 5 overall pick and have been linked almost exclusively to defensive players — like linebacker Devin White or rusher Josh Allen — a huge need. It’s also a draft loaded with defensive talent.

 

There is a good chance the best player available when the Bucs are on the clock tonight will fill a massive need.

 

And while there have been some rumors about teams trying to move into the top five for a QB — i.e. the Washington Redskins — Arians suggested the Bucs won’t be moving from their pick unless they get bowled over by an offer.

 

NFC WEST

 

ARIZONA

Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com on the suspense surrounding the Cardinals, the first pick and QB KYLER MURRAY with some wonderment on procedural issues:

 

When it comes to the first overall pick, good luck. The networks televising the draft seem to be committed on an ongoing basic to stoking uncertainty, not to getting to the truth. Even though the Cardinals surely know by now what they’ll do once they’re on the clock.

 

If they don’t, they’ve got organizational problems far more serious than a need to find multiple great players tonight.

 

They surely know. Unless coach Kliff Kingsbury is in the dark about the plans (which would be another organizational problem far more serious than a need to find multiple great players tonight), Kingsbury’s agent knows and Kyler Murray, who is represented by the same agent, knows.

 

And if Kingsbury’s agent, Erik Burkhardt, knows that it’s not Murray, Burkhardt needs to get the word out so that Murray doesn’t face the embarrassment of the first pick in the draft being someone other than him, at a time when he’s still the clear favorite to be the pick — even though the odds have dropped.

 

If Murray is going to be the pick, the Cardinals ideally will be hoping that he signs a contract contemporaneous with being picked. A contract that confirms his commitment to football, and that includes a no-baseball clause. While hardly the kind of thing that would prevent Murray from changing his mind about his sport of choice, a no-baseball clause would avoid the kind of offseason flirtations that could get Murray to start musing about revisiting his decision (like he did after taking signing-bonus money from the A’s), if pro football ends up being harder than he expected it to be.

 

So if a contract will be ready to be signed tonight by Murray, it means that the contract will have already been negotiated, finalized, reduced to printed paper, and delivered to Burkhardt for Murray’s signature backstage at the draft.

 

Last week, Cardinals G.M. Steve Keim danced around the possibility that he has spoken to Burkhardt about a no-baseball clause, asking aloud at one point whether it’s legal under the labor deal. Unless Keim truly doesn’t know that it is (and it is), that’s another effort to throw everyone off the scent, so that the Cardinals, the league, and the networks broadcasting the draft can continue to keep everyone guessing, so that we’ll all tune in for the outset of the ultimate reality show in order to find out what the Cardinals will do.

 

Even if the Cardinals already know, Burkhardt already knows, Murray already knows. And even if the people who otherwise would be letting us know what they know about things we don’t know are keeping their knowledge to themselves, because they know it will result in more people clamoring to know at the time they know the draft begins. You know?

 

AFC WEST

 

KANSAS CITY

WR TYREEK HILL dodges formal child abuse charges, but there is always the possibility that NFL Justice could (and should) get involved.  ESPN.com:

 

The Johnson County (Kansas) District Attorney’s office has declined to file charges against Kansas City Chiefs star wide receiver Tyreek Hill or his fiancée, it was announced Wednesday.

 

District Attorney Stephen M. Howe said that although he believes a crime occurred, the evidence in the case doesn’t clearly establish who committed the crime.

 

According to police reports, officers in Overland Park, Kansas, were called to Hill’s home on March 14 to investigate an alleged battery in which a juvenile was a victim. Hill was not listed in the report. Hill’s fiancée, Crystal Espinal, was listed under “others involved.”

 

The Kansas Department of Children and Families has been investigating the alleged battery.

 

“This office has reviewed all the evidence compiled by these agencies and has declined to file charges against Tyreek Hill and Crystal Espinal,” Howe said during a news conference Wednesday. “We are deeply troubled by this situation and are concerned about the health and welfare of the child in question. We believe a crime has occurred. However, the evidence in this case does not conclusively establish who committed this crime.”

 

Officers had previously been called to Hill’s address March 5 to investigate a report of child abuse or neglect. Hill’s name was listed on that report. According to Overland Park police, the case was closed three days later when prosecution was declined.

 

Howe said Hill’s status as a star NFL player had no bearing on his decision and that he has not spoken with the Chiefs organization, which was aware that the investigation was taking place. Hill is still subject to discipline by the NFL.

 

The Chiefs issued a comment late Wednesday acknowledging the district attorney’s decision but declining further comment, citing the ongoing investigation by the Department for Children and Families.

 

Hill participated alongside teammates during the Chiefs’ voluntary offseason conditioning program April 14.

 

“We’re full steam ahead,” coach Andy Reid said about the two-time All-Pro receiver at that time. “I’m not here to judge. I’m here to coach.”

 

Hill, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, caught 87 passes last season and ranked fourth in the NFL in both receiving yardage (1,479) and touchdown receptions (12).

 

While at Oklahoma State, Hill was convicted of domestic assault and battery after punching and choking his girlfriend. He was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to undergo anger management classes. He was dismissed from OSU and finished his collegiate career at West Alabama.

 

He completed probation in 2018, and his conviction was dismissed.

 

So, at the very least, Hill’s fiancée is abusing the child and Hill is not turning her in to preserve the child’s safety.  At the very least.

 

Mike Florio thinks that it is likely, if Roger Goodell is still in the mood to go above and beyond the authorities, that NFL Justice will be very much involved:

 

Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill won’t be prosecuted for hurting his three-year-old child, even though prosecutors believe someone hurt Hill’s three-year-old child. A prosecution won’t occur because both Hill and the boy’s mother, Crystal Espinal, can invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refuse to cooperate with the investigation and, ultimately, to testify at trial.

 

That won’t save Hill from the scrutiny of the NFL.

 

Here’s the key language from the Personal Conduct Policy: “Because the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination does not apply in a workplace investigation, the league will reserve the right to compel a player to cooperate in its investigations even when he is the target of a pending law enforcement investigation or proceeding. A player’s refusal to speak to a league investigator under such circumstances will not preclude an investigation from proceeding or discipline from being imposed.”

 

Given Hill’s history — he pleaded guilty before entering the NFL to assaulting Espinal while she was pregnant — and the age of the child, the NFL should do what the prosecutor couldn’t do. Specifically, the NFL should presume that Hill is guilty, unless and until Hill persuasively convinces the league that he isn’t.

 

If he won’t talk to the league, he’s guilty. If he talks to the league but he tells a story that isn’t believable or consistent, he’s guilty. If Espinal tries to take the blame but does so in a way that, given her clear financial interest in protecting Hill, seems flimsy or not credible, he’s guilty.

 

Indeed, if Hill isn’t guilty he should be committed to bringing to justice whoever injured his child. And it’s fair to assume that Hill and Espinal have circled the wagons to protect each other from potential incarceration.

 

While that apparently will fly in Johnson County, Kansas (some would say the prosecutor should charge both of them with a crime and let a jury sort it all out, if Hill and Espinal both refuse to testify), it won’t fly at 345 Park Avenue. Especially since Hill escaped scrutiny for assaulting Espinal at a time when he was not yet subject to the Personal Conduct Policy.

 

 

THE RAIDERS

Is this serious?  Isn’t the Raiders board under lock and key in the brain of Mike Mayock with access to Jon Gruden?  And now on Draft Day, this “info” leaks out:

 

Could the Oakland Raiders use their first of three draft picks tonight on a quarterback?

 

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday morning that the Oakland brass moved Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins up their boards late this week, per a source informed of the situation.

 

Rapoport added that Haskins impressed the Raiders in his workout and could be a consideration at No. 4.

 

The Raiders have consistently stood behind Derek Carr as the team’s franchise signal-caller, but GM Mike Mayock did note at his pre-draft press conference that like “any other position” Oakland would do its homework on the draft’s QBs.

 

“If we found somebody we liked better, or thought had a bigger upside, you’ve got to do the right thing for the organization,” he said at the time.

 

Might the Raiders believe Haskins provides that bigger upside?

 

Could it be all smoke to get another team to leap higher than No. 4 for a QB, thereby pushing another talented defender down to Oakland? Perhaps.

 

The Washington Redskins are reportedly interested in Haskins. Could Jon Gruden be signaling to his brother’s team in D.C. they better move up higher if they want that signal-caller? Might it just be posturing?

 

It does seem to be designed to make the Redskins seek out the Jets or 49ers as draft partners and give the Raiders their first or second highest rated defender.

– – –

Michael Silver had this insight into the Raiders draft preparations, recounted by Kevin Patra of NFL.com:

 

With the scouts out of the building, the Oakland Raiders are running new general manager Mike Mayock through several pre-draft rehearsals.

 

NFL Network’s Michael Silver reported Tuesday that the team put Mayock through some practice drafts designed to prepare the new GM to make quick decisions under pressure in his first draft with the team.

 

Per Silver, on Monday the team placed Mayock and coach Jon Gruden in one room while coaches and the few remaining personnel people left in the building were in another room. Mayock and Gruden performed the role of the Raiders while those in the other room each acted as managers of different teams.

 

They then went through a mock draft, operating a standard clock used during the draft, with coaches/personnel people playing the roles of other GMs throwing proposed trade scenarios at Mayock over the phone and making picks and decisions for their respective teams while Mayock oversaw the Raiders’ hypothetical operation.

 

It’s not atypical for teams to run through mock drafts with their personnel staffs ahead of the draft to try to get a feel for what other teams might do and what players could fall to their position. It’s slightly different if the main goal, as reported, is to ensure the GM is prepared for the pace of play on Thursday night and into the weekend.

 

The Raiders’ preparation makes sense considering Mayock spent the past 15 years working with NFL Network, not in a draft room.

 

Oakland will run through the test-drive drafts a few more times over the next couple of days, per Silver.

 

As for Mayock’s initial selections in this mock with three first-round selections and an early second-rounder:

 

@MikeSilver

Replying to @MikeSilver

There was one trade in the first round, and with the Raiders’ four highest selections, he chose two players on each side of the ball, without a lot of perceived risks…

 

@MikeSilver

As for the identity of those players he mock drafted… and whether it was a trade up or a trade down… well, let’s  keep that information from leaking out–for I worry that Mayock might not react as well to that type of pressure.

 

A Michigan man made a good point to the DB about the scouts who were sent out of the building.  They probably were folks hired by the previous regime of Reggie McKenzie.  Quite often these guys are on borrowed time anyway, filling out their contracts with information gathering.  But ready to be shuffled out the door anyway after the draft as Mayock hires his guys.

 

AFC NORTH

 

PITTSBURGH

QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER gets his new deal done in time for the draft.  Mike Florio of PorFootballTalk.com has the details.

 

After news broke of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger‘s new deal, we guessed that he’d get a signing bonus of $45 million. We were off a bit, but also right on the money. Sort of.

 

Per a league source, Roethlisberger’s signing bonus will be $37.5 million, and he’ll earn another $2.5 million this year. Added to the $5 million roster bonus earned in March, that’s a grand total of $45 million for 2019.

 

The two extra years of the contract have a value of $68 million, which is higher than the number previously reported. So the new-money average is $34 million — $500,000 more than Aaron Rodgers‘ $33.5 million figure. Given the $17 million Roethliberger was due to make in 2019, the total value of the deal is $85 million over three years, an average of $28.33 million.

 

That beats Kirk Cousins‘ average of $28 million on the three-year deal he signed with the Vikings a year ago. Given Cousins’ relative lack of accomplishments, it’s hard not to wonder whether beating Kirk’s three-year cash was a priority for Roethlisberger.

 

 

THIS AND THAT

 

 

MEL KIPER’s MOCK DRAFT

The last word from Mel Kiper, Jr.:

 

The 2019 NFL draft is finally here, and it’s time for one last first-round mock draft. This is a projection of where I think guys could come off the board based on what I’m hearing, not a reflection of my final rankings. Still, check out my top 300 Big Board and position rankings to see where I have the rest of the class.

 

Trades change the draft every year, and I don’t expect 2019 to be any different. I’m not including trades in my 1-32 projection, but I will note the picks that could see action.

 

1. Arizona Cardinals

Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

I’m sticking with 99.9 percent here. There has just been too much smoke the past two months. Murray could be a star for new coach Kliff Kingsbury.

 

2. San Francisco 49ers

Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State

Bosa is my top-ranked prospect in this class, and the Niners have to improve their edge rush. Easy pick for GM John Lynch.

 

3. New York Jets

Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama

This is a spot to watch for a team trying to trade up. The Jets have holes all over their roster. If they stay at No. 3, they should get pass-rushing help, and they can’t go wrong with Williams or Josh Allen.

 

4. Oakland Raiders

Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky

Jon Gruden would be thrilled — he loves playmakers on both sides of the ball. Allen had 17 sacks and five forced fumbles last season. He’s a force off the edge.

 

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Devin White, ILB, LSU

The fit is too perfect, but keep a close eye on the pass-rushers, too. White is a sideline-to-sideline star.

 

6. New York Giants

Ed Oliver, DT, Houston

No quarterback here, but Oliver would fill a need for the Giants. He could play end in a 3-4 defense.

 

7. Jacksonville Jaguars

T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa Have you seen the Jacksonville tight end depth chart? Nick Foles needs a weapon. The No. 7 pick is another spot to keep an eye on with trades.

 

8. Detroit Lions

Brian Burns, OLB, Florida State

This offseason in Detroit is about giving coach Matt Patricia some defensive pieces with which to work. Burns is a big-time athlete and excellent, ascending edge rusher.

 

9. Buffalo Bills

Jonah Williams, OT/G, Alabama

I wrote Wednesday that I just love the match between Williams and Buffalo. He could play guard or tackle.

 

10. Denver Broncos

Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State

Will there be a trade up to get Haskins? For now, I think Denver makes the most sense. With Joe Flacco in Denver for at least a year, there’s no pressure on Haskins to start immediately. He’s raw, but you can’t teach his accuracy and touch.

 

11. Cincinnati Bengals

Devin Bush, ILB, Michigan

Will Cincinnati pull the trigger on a quarterback here? I’m not so sure. Bush fills a void and could be a steal. Some teams like Bush more than White.

 

12. Green Bay Packers

Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida

Right tackle is a sneaky long-term need in Green Bay. Taylor’s future is at tackle, but he could play guard in Year 1 if needed. He’s a mauler in the running game.

 

13. Miami Dolphins

Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

If Miami really is waiting until 2020 to get a quarterback, GM Chris Grier & Co. should go with the best player available here. Miami has holes at several positions. Wilkins is an underrated pass-rusher, and he’s one of the best locker room guys in this draft.

 

14. Atlanta Falcons

Cody Ford, OT/G, Oklahoma

Ford, who played both tackle and guard in college, could start at right tackle immediately for Atlanta. He plays with an edge — he wants to dominate defenders. I thought about defensive tackle here, too.

 

15. Washington Redskins

Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

This was the toughest pick of the bunch. Remember: I’m not projecting trades here, which could blow up everything. If Lock or Haskins is still on the board at No. 15, though, I expect Washington to go with a quarterback. Lock has a high ceiling.

 

16. Carolina Panthers

Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State

Edge rusher is a clear need for Carolina — Rashan Gary is still available — but Dillard, the best true pass protector in this class, would improve this team. He might play right tackle if he goes here.

 

17. New York Giants (from CLE)

Daniel Jones, QB, Duke | Highlights

Could Jones fall into GM Dave Gettleman’s lap? I like Jones’ potential, but he should sit and learn for a year behind Eli Manning.

 

18. Minnesota Vikings

Chris Lindstrom, G, Boston College

I expect an offensive lineman for Minnesota, and there should still be good options on the board. Lindstrom is my top-ranked guard.

 

19. Tennessee Titans

Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan

Gary is dropping a little bit, but he has all the talent in the world to be an All-Pro player. His issue is consistency. Could Mike Vrabel and Dean Pees get the best out of him?

 

20. Pittsburgh Steelers

Byron Murphy, CB, Washington

If the top two inside linebackers are gone, cornerback makes the most sense for Pittsburgh. Murphy is my top-ranked corner. He tracks the ball in the air well, and he plays faster than his 4.55 40-yard dash.

 

 

21. Seattle Seahawks

Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State

This is great value for Sweat, and Seattle just dealt its best pass-rusher in Frank Clark. GM John Schneider has to address the pass rush with one of these first-round picks.

 

22. Baltimore Ravens

Erik McCoy, C/G, Texas A&M

I expect the Ravens to try to trade down, but their biggest hole is at the interior offensive line. I have picked McCoy to the Ravens in previous mocks, and I’ll stick with it.

 

23. Houston Texans

Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

Houston needs help at offensive tackle, but with Dillard and Ford gone, I’ll move to defensive back. Williams is a polarizing prospect, but he is very talented. The Texans should use their two second-round picks on offensive linemen.

 

24. Oakland Raiders (from CHI)

Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama

Leave it to Gruden to take the first running back off the board. Jacobs is a three-down, explosive player.

 

25. Philadelphia Eagles

Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma

If you’re keeping count, Brown would be the first wide receiver picked. I can see a few 75-yard catch-and-runs in his future with Carson Wentz throwing him the ball. He’d be a teammate of his closest pro comp, Desean Jackson.

 

26. Indianapolis Colts

Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State

If Simmons were healthy, he might be a top-10 pick. He’s extremely talented. But after he tore his ACL in February, Indy could stash him for a few months and see if he’s ready for the playoffs.

 

27. Oakland Raiders (from DAL)

Darnell Savage Jr., S, Maryland

Savage is one of the biggest risers since the combine, a ball hawk who ran a 4.36 40-yard dash in Indianapolis. He’s a Gruden kind of player.

 

28. Los Angeles Chargers

Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

This pick should be interior offensive line or defensive tackle. Lawrence is the best nose tackle in the draft, and the Chargers were gashed up the middle by the Patriots in the playoffs. Lawrence will plug gaps.

 

29. Seattle Seahawks (from KC)

Justin Layne, CB, Michigan State

This is a little bit of a reach on my board — I have a second-round grade on Layne — but he fits the profile that Pete Carroll likes in defensive backs. Layne is 6-foot-2 with a huge wingspan.

 

30. Green Bay Packers (from NO)

Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

Fant would essentially be a 6-foot-4 slot receiver as a rookie, but Aaron Rodgers won’t complain.

 

31. Los Angeles Rams

Garrett Bradbury, C/G, NC State

I thought about defensive line for the Rams, but Bradbury’s versatility to play guard or center is a plus.

 

32. New England Patriots

Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

What are the chances that New England keeps this pick? Bill Belichick & Co. have six selections the first two days. Ferrell is the best edge rusher available, but there’s also a thought inside the league that he could play defensive tackle. We know Belichick likes versatile defenders.

 

 

 

 

 

THE DB’S MOCK DRAFT

 

This is a projection of what teams will do. 

 

1. ARIZONA

Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma: We could be wrong from the get-go as the Cardinals seem to be trying to stir up a trade.  But we think the shiny object of Murray will be too enticing. 

 

2. SAN FRANCISCO

Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State: Again, we’re not sure why Bosa, who showed a lack of compete last year, is cast ahead of some of the others, but we’ll believe the hype that the 49ers love him.

 

3. NEW YORK JETS

Ed Oliver, DL, Houston: Again, we think there are better players available, but we think the same minds that drafted Christian Hackenberg are not to be trusted.

 

4. OAKLAND

Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky: The Raiders choose Josh Allen over Quinnen Williams, edge over interior, to bolster the NFL’s worst pass rush.

 

5. WASHINGTON (projected trade, from Tampa Bay)

Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State: With the endorsement of GM Doug Williams, the Redskins jump in front of division rival Giants to take pure passer Haskins.  Of course, New York will never admit it would have taken Haskins.  Tampa Bay gets Washington’s one next year and some other ammo for 2019.

 

6. NEW YORK GIANTS

Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama: The Giants are glad to see the big man who might be the best player in the draft available to them.

 

7. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa: Nick Foles has done his best work in an offense the emphasizes the tight end.

 

8. DETROIT LIONS

Jonah Williams, OL, Alabama: Seems like the right spot for Williams.

 

9. BUFFALO BILLS

Jawaan Taylor, OL, Florida: Can’t say we are personally enamored with Taylor.

 

10. DENVER BRONCOS

Drew Lock, QB, Missouri: John Elway jumps into the QB fray again.

 

11. TAMPA BAY (projected trade from Cincinnati)

Devin White, LB, LSU: The Buccaneers jump back up four spots and get the guy they would have taken at #1 anyway (and they picked up a first round pick next year).

 

12. GREEN BAY

Devin Bush, LB, Michigan: Back-to-back linebackers named Devin off the board.

 

13. MIAMI DOLPHINS

Garrett Bradbury, OL, NC State: Hard to believe the Dolphins won’t draft a QB, but everyone says that they won’t and who are we to argue.  We do think they could end up with JOSH ROSEN without surrendering this pick.

 

14. ATLANTA

Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson: Why not?

 

15. CINCINNATI (projected trade, from Washington through Tampa Bay)

Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma: The Bengals get the OL they would have drafted at #11.

 

16. CAROLINA PANTHERS

Andre Dillard, OL, Washington State:  Solid pick to help the line.

 

17. NEW YORK GIANTS

Daniel Jones, QB, Duke: The quarterback the Giants will say they wanted all along.

 

18. SEATTLE (projected trade from Minnesota)

Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State: It’s not like the Seahawks to trade up, but they do it without giving up #29.  Sweat is the kind of risky pick (heart condition) that John Schneider loves.  The Vikings were miffed that all their coveted OLs were off the board, so they will take someone from the next level.

 

19. TENNESSEE TITANS

Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State: We love this guy – and the Titans will too.

 

20. PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Byron Murphy, CB, Washington: Burned by the pick of Burns, the Steelers turn to a cornerback.

 

21. MINNESOTA (projected trade with Seattle)

Chris Lindstrom, OL, Boston College: The Vikings like Lindstrom here as a better value than at 18.

 

22. BALTIMORE RAVENS

A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss: The Ravens make A.J. the first receiver off the board, more to follow soon.  We think he sounds the most Ravens-like, but it could be the other Brown, Marquise.

 

23. HOUSTON TEXANS

Dalton Risner, T-G, Kansas State:  The Texans hope he’s a tackle, but they know he will be excellent at guard as a floor.

 

24. OAKLAND RAIDERS

Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma: Pairing Marquise with cousin Antonio proves irresistible for the Raiders braintrust.

 

25. OAKLAND RAIDERS (projected trade with Philadelphia)

Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama: Has any team ever had four first round picks?  We admit we forced this trade to make that happen.  The Raiders get a stud back with Marshawn Lynch gone.  Eagles will slide to #35 and pick up something like a #2 next year and/or #66 in this draft.

 

26. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia: We’re told the Colts need CBs, who doesn’t?

 

27. OAKLAND RAIDERS

Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple:  With Jon Gruden thrilled at the offensive toys that were drafted at 24 and 25, Mike Mayock slides in a Philly guy.

 

28. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

Jeffery Simmons, DL, Mississippi State: Someone is going to roll the dice on Simmons in this range.  Let’s go with the Bolts.

 

29. SEATTLE

Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State: We feel the Seahawks could use more WR punch.  Campbell ups their big-play ante.

 

30. GREEN BAY PACKERS

Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson: The Seahawks might trade down with both picks, but I like the idea of them getting Ferrell here as a Frank Clark replacement.

 

31. LOS ANGELES RAMS

Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan: He has tumbled a bit, so the Rams make the move to arrest his slide here.  Or maybe another slider, in Dexter Lawrence of Clemson.

 

32. NEW ENGLAND

Noah Fant, TE, Iowa: He won’t replace Gronk by himself, but it’s a start.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DANIEL JEREMIAH’S MOCK DRAFT

The DB draft was done before we looked at DJ’s.  We count 28 of the same names.

 

On the eve of the 2019 NFL Draft, here’s my fourth and final look at how teams will pick when Round 1 begins on Thursday in Nashville, Tennessee.

 

This is my seventh year covering the draft for NFL Media and this is by far the most challenging first round I’ve tried to project. There’s more misinformation and less solid info known about teams’ interest in prospects than I can recall encountering in past years. I do expect we’ll see a lot of movement on Thursday, especially in the back half of the opening round. Get your popcorn ready!

 

1 – ARIZONA

Kyler Murray – QB

School: Oklahoma | Year: Junior (RS)

There’s a lot of chatter about the Cardinals being undecided on what they’ll do with the first pick. I’m sticking with Murray as their choice.

 

2 – SAN FRANCISCO

Nick Bosa – Edge

School: Ohio State | Year: Junior

The Niners can’t go wrong with Bosa or Quinnen Williams here, but I think Bosa is a better fit.

 

3 – NEW YORK JETS

Quinnen Williams – DT

School: Alabama | Year: Sophomore (RS)

A lot of options for the Jets between Williams, Ed Oliver, Josh Allen or trading down. I think they’d prefer to trade down. In this case, they take the best player available.

 

4 – OAKLAND

Ed Oliver – DT

School: Houston | Year: Junior

It wouldn’t shock me if Dwayne Haskins is the pick, but the Raiders are desperate for pass-rush help and Oliver can help them in that area.

 

5 – TAMPA BAY

Devin White – LB

School: LSU | Year: Junior

In this scenario, it’ll be a tough call for the Bucs between White and Josh Allen. I’ll give them White to replace Kwon Alexander.

 

6 – NEW YORK GIANTS

Josh Allen – Edge

School: Kentucky | Year: Senior

The Giants need a pass rusher and a quarterback. I’m hearing they’ll look to get a pass rusher first, and they land one of the best available this year in Allen.

 

7 – JACKSONVILLE

T.J. Hockenson – TE

School: Iowa | Year: Sophomore (RS)

This decision could come down to Hockenson vs. Jonah Williams or Jawaan Taylor. However, if you study the great teams Tom Coughlin’s been a part of either as a head coach or member of Bill Parcells’ staff, there’s been a powerful inline tight end on the roster (I’m thinking of guys like Jeremy Shockey and Mark Bavaro). Hockenson will have an impact in the run and pass game.

 

8 – HOUSTON (PROJECTED TRADE WITH DETROIT)

Andre Dillard – OT

School: Washington State | Year: Senior (RS)

There are a lot of rumblings about Detroit and Buffalo looking to trade down, and the Texans are desperate for tackle help. They could afford to part with one of their two second-round picks this year (they hold Picks 54 and 55) as well as a Day 2 pick next year to get up into this range.

 

9 – BUFFALO

Jonah Williams – OG

School: Alabama | Year: Junior

Buffalo would love to trade down, but their offseason has been all about trying to support Josh Allen. Williams is a steady, solid player who will help keep the QB upright.

 

10 – DENVER

Devin Bush – LB

School: Michigan | Year: Junior

The Broncos have done a lot of work on this year’s QB class, but they ultimately address the defensive side of the ball in Round 1. Bush has a chance to be an elite player in this defense.

 

11 – CINCINNATI

Brian Burns – Edge

School: Florida State | Year: Junior

Burns is a polarizing player around the league, but no one doubts that he has the best get-off quickness in the draft. Cincinnati needs help on defense, and Burns fits the bill.

 

12 – GREEN BAY

Jawaan Taylor – OT

School: Florida | Year: Junior

If Andre Dillard were to fall, he’d come into play here. With him off the board, they still are able to address the offensive line. Taylor is a plug-and-play right tackle who will be an upgrade over Bryan Bulaga.

 

13 – MIAMI

Christian Wilkins – DT

School: Clemson | Year: Senior

Dolphins D-line coach Marion Hobby coached Wilkins during his first two seasons at Clemson. He’s one of the safer picks in the draft and fills a need.

 

14 – ATLANTA

Cody Ford – OT

School: Oklahoma | Year: Junior (RS)

The Falcons love Christian Wilkins, but with the Dolphins beating them to the punch, they look to get younger and more talented on the offensive line.

 

15 – WASHINGTON

Dwayne Haskins – QB

School: Ohio State | Year: Sophomore (RS)

There’s a lot of chatter about the Redskins trying to move up for a quarterback. Some believe their target is Haskins, others believe it’s Daniel Jones.

 

16 – CAROLINA

Montez Sweat – Edge

School: Mississippi State | Year: Senior

Sweat will be fascinating to follow on draft day. He’s an elite talent, but some teams are concerned about his heart condition.

 

17 – NEW YORK GIANTS (from Cleveland)

Daniel Jones – QB

School: Duke | Year: Junior (RS)

I can’t rule out Drew Lock here, but Jones has long been associated with the Giants. They get their QB.

 

18 – MINNESOTA

Garrett Bradbury – C

School: N.C. State | Year: Senior (RS)

The Vikings must address the O-line. Bradbury is one of the best center prospects of the last five years, and Pat Elflein would move to guard to clear a spot for him.

 

19 – TENNESSEE

Marquise Brown – WR

School: Oklahoma | Year: Junior

I know some believe Tennessee will go with a D-lineman, but this is a huge year for Marcus Mariota. They give him some more help. However, there have been some rumblings that the Titans could be a surprise entrant into the QB market with Drew Lock as their target.

 

20 – PITTSBURGH

Rock Ya-Sin – CB

School: Temple | Year: Senior

The Steelers need to add playmakers in the secondary. Ya-Sin is probably the safest corner prospect in the draft.

 

21 – SEATTLE

Rashan Gary – Edge

School: Michigan | Year: Junior

There are a lot of teams interested to see where Gary ends up going. It wouldn’t shock me if he went in the top six or if he were to fall toward the bottom of the first round. He goes to a team with a glaring need off the edge after trading Frank Clark to the Chiefs.

 

22 – BALTIMORE

Elgton Jenkins – C

School: Mississippi State | Year: Senior (RS)

I believe the Ravens will try to trade back and recoup the 2019 second-round pick they gave up in the trade to land Lamar Jackson last year. It’s easy to envision Baltimore continuing to reinforce the O-line with a player like Jenkins.

 

23 – DETROIT (PROJECTED TRADE WITH HOUSTON)

Byron Murphy – CB

School: Washington | Year: Sophomore (RS)

Detroit has spent a lot of time evaluating cornerbacks leading up to the draft. They land my top-rated CB after trading down.

 

24 – OAKLAND (from Chicago)

Josh Jacobs – RB

School: Alabama | Year: Junior

Even before the news about Marshawn Lynch retiring (again), the Raiders had a need at the RB position. The question is, do they take Jacobs here or do they wait and find a back in the middle rounds, where there’s still value?

 

25 – PHILADELPHIA

Clelin Ferrell – Edge

School: Clemson | Year: Junior (RS)

I could see the Eagles trading back, but in this scenario, they take the best player available in the trenches and one of the cleaner players in the draft.

 

26 – INDIANAPOLIS

Jeffery Simmons – DT

School: Mississippi State | Year: Junior

 

GM Chris Ballard is big on upside and the Colts have a patient plan that would allow them to wait for Simmons’ eventual impact — he suffered an ACL tear in February — as a top-five talent in this draft.

 

27 – OAKLAND (from Dallas)

Darnell Savage – S

School: Maryland | Year: Senior

There are a bunch of teams picking late in the first round that are looking at safeties, and I think Savage will find his home in this range.

 

28 – LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

Joejuan Williams – CB

School: Vanderbilt | Year: Junior

It would surprise some people to see Williams go this early, but he’s a great fit for coordinator Gus Bradley’s scheme.

 

29 SEATTLE (from Kansas City)

Johnathan Abram – S

School: Mississippi State | Year: Senior

Seattle finds its next version of Kam Chancellor. I also wouldn’t rule out Clemson DT Dexter Lawrence being picked here.

 

30 – GREEN BAY (from New Orleans)

Drew Lock – QB

School: Missouri | Year: Senior

Lock is one of the most difficult players to project in this draft. I could see him going with the sixth pick or falling to the bottom of the first round. Whether it’s the Packers or another team that trades up for him, I don’t see Lock getting out of Round 1.

 

31 – LOS ANGELES RAMS

Chris Lindstrom – OG

School: Boston College | Year: Senior

The Rams need to get some reinforcements for the offensive line and Lindstrom is a perfect fit.

 

32 – NEW ENGLAND

Noah Fant– TE

School: Iowa | Year: Junior

I’ll be surprised if Fant lasts this long, but I could see the Patriots targeting him in a trade-up if he were to slip in the draft.

 

 

TODD McSHAY’s MOCK DRAFT

 

And this from Todd McShay:

 

For my closing mock, I predict picks based on what I’m hearing, showing what I think a team will do, rather than what it should do. And while I didn’t explore any specific trades in the resulting selections, I do expect some picks to change hands when the names start flying Thursday.

 

So ahead of the first round, let’s project the opening 32 picks one last time, starting with a certain athletic quarterback.

 

1. Arizona Cardinals

Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

No change at the top of the board. New coach Kliff Kingsbury wants Murray running this offense, and who wouldn’t? This is a gifted quarterback prospect.

 

2. San Francisco 49ers

Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State

In one of my favorite team/player landing spots, the Niners are gifted the top talent in the class for some much-needed help off the edge. Bosa has the technique, speed and strength to make a difference right out of the gate for San Francisco.

 

3. New York Jets

Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama

There has been a lot of Ed Oliver talk here, but Williams is the best player left on my board. We’re talking about a guy who made 18.5 tackles for loss last season. Easy choice.

 

4. Oakland Raiders

Ed Oliver, DT, Houston

Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther had Geno Atkins plugging the middle of the defensive line during his Bengals days. Now he gets the disruptive Oliver in that same role.

 

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky

All Allen does is pressure opposing quarterbacks, and his 17 sacks last season prove it. Tampa Bay could use a player with closing burst like that coming around the corner of its new 3-4 defense.

 

6. New York Giants

Devin White, ILB, LSU

This defensive unit needs just about everything. And in addition to his great speed, range and instincts, White can be the leader of New York’s rebuilding defense for years to come.

 

7. Jacksonville Jaguars

T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa

Hockenson might just be the most complete player in the draft class, combining speed, size (6-foot-5), athleticism and versatility. He immediately becomes an important asset for Nick Foles as the Jags try to revive their offense.

 

8. Detroit Lions

Brian Burns, OLB, Florida State

It’s possible the Lions opt to trade back here, but they also badly need playmaking pass-rushers, despite signing Trey Flowers. Burns has the versatility and closing burst to produce in the NFL as he did at FSU (24 sacks since 2016).

 

9. Buffalo Bills

Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida

Option 1 is trading out, and Option 2 is drafting Oliver. But assuming neither comes to fruition, the Bills need to keep quarterback Josh Allen clean. The Buffalo offensive line is undergoing a major overhaul, and Taylor would give the unit a building block for the future.

 

10. Denver Broncos

Devin Bush, ILB, Michigan

Just consider the havoc this linebacking group can create with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb coming off the edge and Bush roaming sideline-to-sideline from the middle. Hockenson also could be in play if he’s still on the board at No. 10.

 

11. Cincinnati Bengals

Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama

The Bengals would have loved to add Bush in the middle of the defense, but they also need offensive line help. Williams is an upgrade over Bobby Hart at right tackle. He handles speed off the edge effortlessly and shows pop when run blocking.

 

12. Green Bay Packers

Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

Get. Aaron. Rodgers. Help. The Packers haven’t used a first-round pick on a skill position since taking Rodgers in 2005. Fant would create plenty of mismatches, make difficult catches and tack on extra yardage after the catch.

 

13. Miami Dolphins

Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

Miami needs everything. And considering defensive line coach Marion Hobby worked with Wilkins for a few years at Clemson, this pick makes a lot of sense. The Dolphins were No. 31 in run defense last season.

 

14. Atlanta Falcons

Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma

The Falcons like Oliver, but would they trade up for him? If they stand their ground, getting a mauler with versatility like Ford would limit the numerous hits Matt Ryan took a season ago.

 

15. Washington Redskins

Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State

This works out beautifully for Washington, as the Redskins get their guy without having to move up. Haskins is an extremely accurate pocket passer who could learn behind Case Keenum and Colt McCoy and become an effective franchise QB.

 

16. Carolina Panthers

Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan

Carolina has been looking for edge rushers for a long time. And while the production never really materialized at Michigan, Gary’s athleticism and explosiveness are legit. The Panthers managed just 35 sacks in 2018.

 

17. New York Giants (from Cleveland)

Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

At last, the Giants get a quarterback. Lock brings a big arm, mobility and the ability to make difficult off-balance throws with ease. Under Eli Manning’s tutelage, Lock and White spark some excitement in the Giants’ rebuild.

 

18. Minnesota Vikings

Garrett Bradbury, C, NC State

The Vikings’ line would improve drastically if they moved Pat Elflein to guard and inserted the top center prospect in the class in the middle. Bradbury has great agility and is quick off the ball in run blocking.

 

19. Tennessee Titans

Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma

Brown could slide a little due to his foot injury, but he is an absolute burner. Opposite Corey Davis, he could pile on big gains all season long. Brown can pluck on the run and dash upfield, making defenders miss along the way.

 

20. Pittsburgh Steelers

Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

Yes, he has some tackling concerns, but Williams can turn and run like few others. And while the Steelers signed Steven Nelson, Joe Haden is in a contract year and Artie Burns hasn’t produced.

 

21. Seattle Seahawks

Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State

Some teams are concerned about Sweat’s heart condition, which probably will cause him to fall a bit on Day 1. But he is one of the more talented edge rushers in the class — and Seattle could use one after shipping Frank Clark to Kansas City.

 

22. Baltimore Ravens

Erik McCoy, C/G, Texas A&M

The Ravens will look to trade out of this pick, but they also could use an upgrade at left guard or center in helping protect mobile second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson. McCoy has excellent awareness and athleticism.

 

23. Houston Texans

Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State

Watch for Houston to try to trade up on Thursday night. But considering Houston allowed 62 sacks of Deshaun Watson in 2018, the fact that Dillard allowed just one all season for the Cougars might also be of interest. He has excellent feet.

 

24. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago)

Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama

The Marshawn Lynch era is over in Oakland. Jon Gruden would happily lean on the grinding running game of Isaiah Crowell and Jacobs, a violent runner with good instincts and burst.

 

25. Philadelphia Eagles

Byron Murphy, CB, Washington

Injuries hit the Philly secondary last season — not a single cornerback started at least nine games. Murphy has the ball skills and instincts to really excel in the Eagles’ zone coverage scheme.

 

26. Indianapolis Colts

Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

I have defensive end as my top area of need for the Colts. Ferrell is versatile, has good closing burst off the edge and flashes as a run defender. After picking up 11.5 sacks last season, he’d immediately improve the pass rush.

 

27. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas)

Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple

Gruden loves his physical cornerbacks, and this former wrestler could end up being a very good press corner. Not to mention Daryl Worley is in the final year of his contract.

 

28. Los Angeles Chargers

Daniel Jones, QB, Duke

Jones needs a place where he can develop. Learning behind Philip Rivers and Tyrod Taylor in Los Angeles is a good match for him. While he has good timing as a passer, he needs to work on his poise under pressure.

 

29. Seattle Seahawks (from Kansas City)

Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

Jarran Reed put up 10 sacks last season. Complementing him with the best run-stopper in the draft class makes for an exciting interior line.

 

30. Green Bay Packers (from New Orleans)

Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State

Simmons will sit a year while recovering from a torn ACL, but he’s one of the top prospects when healthy in the entire draft class. Kenny Clark will be a fifth-year option candidate for 2020, so the defensive tackle position could open up (although the Packers are expected to exercise the option).

 

31. Los Angeles Rams

Chris Lindstrom, G, Boston College

Lindstrom would be an excellent replacement for Rodger Saffold at left guard. He impressed at the combine and has the ability to ride speed rushers past the pocket.

 

32. New England Patriots

Darnell Savage Jr., S, Maryland Savage has been one of the draft’s biggest risers over the past couple of weeks. He reads receivers and quarterbacks very well and will step up and make plays on the ball. And I love his aggressiveness in run support.