AROUND THE NFL
Do you think these 23 teams gave Charlie Casserly of NFL.com the straight scoop because he once was part of the scouting brotherhood? This from NFL.com:
Kyler Murray is rumored to be the first quarterback and player off the board when the 2019 NFL Draft kicks off and the Arizona Cardinals are on the clock on Thursday night. But do all teams value the Oklahoma QB so highly?
According to a poll of 23 teams conducted by NFL Network’s Charley Casserly, Murray is considered the top quarterback in this draft by 17 organizations.
Meanwhile, Missouri’s Drew Lock earned three first-place votes, two teams see Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins as the top signal-caller available and just one of the 23 clubs polled sees Duke’s Daniel Jones as the best QB in the draft.
“That’s the biggest change here as we got more teams in it. Lock began to gain some steam, and you can see from the overall rankings, 2 (Haskins), 3 (Lock) and 4 (Jones) are all together,” Casserly said Tuesday on Path to the Draft on NFL Network. “Indicative of these guys can go anywhere in any order in the draft. Most people aren’t enamored with this quarterback class. That’s what I’m finding out.”
When it comes to the top player on teams’ boards, 24 clubs polled by Casserly were mostly split between Ohio State’s Nick Bosa and Alabama’s Quinnen Williams. Bosa received 11 first-place votes, while Williams got 9.5.
“When people talk about why Bosa over Williams, pass rusher. They feel he’s a better pass rusher than Williams and we’re going to give an edge to the pass rusher,” Casserly said. “But these guys are neck and neck for the top player in the draft.”
Also considered the top player in the draft is Murray, who received 2.5 first-place votes in Casserly’s poll.
The Vikings are talking up QB KIRK COUSINS. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com seems to have some doubts:
The Vikings nearly got to the Super Bowl without Kirk Cousins. With him, they failed to make it to the playoffs.
But the organization still believes in its franchise quarterback, who is under contract to the franchise for two more years.
“I’ve never seen a guy work at it as hard as he does,” G.M. Rick Spielman said at his pre-draft press conference on Tuesday, via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “He was the first one in the building [for offseason workouts]. “He is nonstop all afternoon into that film room. . . . There is no one as professional as Kirk Cousins is in the way he approaches this job.”
That’s great, but in a results-driven business, the results simply weren’t there. And while the inability of the offensive line to give him time to throw and the failure of former offensive coordinator John DeFillippo to complement Cousins’ passing skills with a running game can be blamed for the team’s struggles when it comes to scoring points, Cousins and his $84 million contract make him the obvious and easy target for criticism.
This year, the Vikings believe that their offense will perform more efficiently. Regardless, the challenge will fall to Cousins to make big plays in key moments, especially when performing under bright lights. The Vikings will appear in prime time on five occasions in 2019 (unless they’re flexed out of a Week 16 Sunday night game at the Chargers), and if the Vikings will have a chance to appear in significant games come January, they’ll need to win more of their significant games from September through December.
If they don’t, 2020 could end up being a lame-duck season for a quarterback who supersized contract comes with outsized expectations.
So while it’s good that he’s working hard now, that hard work needs to translate to enough victories to deliver a postseason berth, or the verdict will be that he’s guilty of not living up to the high bar that comes with a $28 million per year deal.
The Cowboys have picked up their fifth-year option on RB EZEKIEL ELLIOTT.
Donovan McNabb soldiers on, firm in his belief that his criticism of QB CARSON WENTZ was proper for a respected member of the media to deal out. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com:
Former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb recently had a strong assessment of current quarterback Carson Wentz. Despite the negative reaction in some circle to his comments, McNabb sees no reason to say he’s sorry.
“Do I need to apologize for anything?” McNabb told Jon Marks and Ike Reese of 94 WIP. “Absolutely not.”
McNabb said he was simply doing what he now does.
“What people fail to realize, when you have a job to do as an analyst or someone asks you a question — people want media members to be honest,” McNabb said. “All I was doing was being an analyst and being honest in my comments. It’s nothing personal to Carson. I respect his game, I love Carson as a quarterback. When I do come to the games, I introduce my son to him. I respect the way he prepares himself, I respect the way he plays. But in the game of football, in the game of life, if you’re not doing your job and you’re not healthy enough to be on the field, they will look to replace. People understand what I was saying, but the fact that I said it, it became an issue and that’s a problem.”
McNabb is right, generally speaking. But when former players who made their names with a specific team begin calling out current members of that team, things can quickly get dicey. Because the current players and the former and current fans will take that criticism more personally.
Eagles tackle Lane Johnson took it very personally, using multiple snake emojis and suggesting that McNabb isn’t respected by the locker room.
“I don’t play Twitter war games with kids,” McNabb said regarding Johnson. “I’m not gonna go personal with him. There is no battle back and forth. I’ll tell you if you played great. But when I go to a job . . . I’m gonna call it by the way I see it. It’s nothing personal.”
Again, he’s right — generally speaking. But he needs to know that it’s one thing for him to criticize the Giants, Cowboys, or Washington. It’s a very different thing for him to criticize the Eagles.
Because even though he says it’s not personal for the person sending the message, it’s very personal for the recipient.
Serious question, does McNabb now have a “media” job?
The Saints have picked up their fifth year option on DT SHELDON RANKINS.
With a top league exec already admitting he wishes he had a “do over” on Tampa Bay’s schedule, Bruce Arians fires a salvo. Jenna Laine of ESPN.com:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians is not at all happy about his team’s 2019 regular-season schedule that was released last week, so much so that he reached out to the NFL league office to voice his displeasure.
The Bucs will go seven straight weeks without a home game, with two West Coast trips and a trip to London in that span. They’ll face the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 4, New Orleans Saints in Week 5 and Carolina Panthers in Week 6 (in London). After a bye week, they’ll play at the Tennessee Titans in Week 8 and at the Seattle Seahawks in Week 9.
“Am I happy about it? Hell, no,” Arians told reporters Tuesday. “I think it’s ridiculous, and I voiced my opinion to the people in New York.”
This comes on the heels of Mike North, the NFL’s senior director of broadcast planning and scheduling, telling Sirius XM NFL Radio hosts Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt that he wishes he could redo the Bucs’ schedule.
“If we had to do-over, if we had a redo, I’d love to take another shot at that Tampa Bay schedule,” North said. “I’m not sure that’s really fair to their fans. I’m hopeful that we didn’t do something to the Buccaneers that they feel like was really unfair.”
A big reason the Bucs are gone for so long is because the London game is considered a home game, despite not being played at Raymond James Stadium. A stipulation for Tampa’s being awarded the Super Bowl in 2021 was that the Bucs would give up a home game to play internationally, team sources told ESPN.
“They didn’t do us any favors,” Arians said. “Make it a chip on your shoulder and just say, ‘Hey, this is what it is. This is the schedule. We’ll show up, and we’ll play.'”
Quarterback Jameis Winston is trying to see the positives.
“We are going to play ball. Like I said, we get a great opportunity to go out there and showcase our ability,” Winston said. “We don’t care. It doesn’t matter if we are in the Walmart parking lot. We’ve got to play. That is our job.”
It’s not often you see a salary squabble and trade demand from a kicker, but that’s what the 49ers have on their hands with PK ROBBIE GOULD. Phil Rogers at Forbes.com:
The 49ers say Robbie Gould isn’t really available but the Bears aren’t taking them at their word, and probably would be willing to send San Francisco a draft pick to acquire the unhappy kicker.
A trade between the Bears and 49ers would solve the biggest void on a serious Super Bowl contender and spare the Niners from the embarrassing spectacle of seeing their placekicker sit out training camp. Gould has broken off contract negotiations with the team and is threatening a rare placekicker holdout, saying he won’t kick until the regular season.
Gould apparently hasn’t gotten over how close it seemed he was to a reunion with the Bears when San Francisco General Manager John Lynch ended his free agency by assigning him the franchise tag. So much for thoughts of domestic tranquility.
The 36-year-old kicker grew up in Mill Hall, Pa., and attended Penn State but settled in Chicago with his wife, Lauren, during an 11-season run with the Bears. She was waiting tables at a bar near Wrigley Field, Hi-Tops, whe they met. They still live in Chicago with their children and even attended the Bears’ Wild Card Round loss to Philadelphia last January at Soldier Field.
That 16-15 loss ended with a missed, 43-yard field goal by kicker Cody Parkey, who has since been released.
Signing Gould had looked like an ideal situation until the 49ers took him off the market, and since have signed three young kickers (Elliott Fry, Chris Blewitt and Redford Jones) to compete in OTA workouts and training camp.
The Chiefs forgo a first round pick to land DL FRANK CLARK from the Seahawks. Some reviews collected at ArrowheadPride.com:
Seahawks get the best of Kansas City in Frank Clark trade | Pro Football Focus
At pick 29 they were likely going to have a chance at some subset of Greedy Williams, Byron Murphy, DeAndre Baker, David Long and Rock Ya-Sin to bolster that group. Now, with their highest picks sitting at Nos. 61 and 63, Kansas City will have a harder time acquiring starting-caliber talent this weekend, with trading up (usually a poor choice analytically) or trading for a veteran (where the pickings are slim) their best choices.
How Frank Clark trade affects 2019 NFL Draft: Options for the Seahawks in Round 1, Chiefs in Round 2 | CBS Sports
If the Chiefs want to add to their secondary — even after signing Tyrann Mathieu — Notre Dame’s disruptive cornerback Julian Love could be available late in Round 2. Staying at corner, Central Michigan’s Sean Bunting shot up draft boards after a big combine. He’d make sense. Florida’s Chauncey Gardner-Johnson would give the Chiefs two slot matchup safeties, and CGJ has impressive range from center field. If Alabama’s springy safety Deionte Thompson were to be available when the Chiefs go on the clock in the second round, he’d be a smart pick too.
Chiefs deal draft picks for Seahawks’ Frank Clark | Yahoo! Sports
After a year in which the Chiefs finished 12-4 and fell a few plays short of the Super Bowl, Kansas City was willing to surrender draft assets for Clark as a part of its ongoing effort to go all-in on 2020, due to the club’s desire to put the best team possible around reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes right before he likely signs a mega-deal next offseason.
Chiefs’ defense can challenge Patriots with addition of Frank Clark | ESPN
Dig deeper and it’s easy to see why the Chiefs have realistic hopes that Clark can be the final piece that allows them to have a competent defense and to outlast the New England Patriots and their other competitors in the AFC race for the Super Bowl.
RB MARSHAWN LYNCH has apparently said farewell to football before the Raiders say farewell to Oakland. ESPN.com:
Marshawn Lynch is reportedly walking away from the NFL.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Lynch is not planning to play football again. Lynch spent the last two seasons with the Raiders and is not under contract for the 2019 season.
Lynch has stepped away from the game in the past. He announced his retirement on the same day as Super Bowl 50 in 2016, but reversed course the next year and the Seahawks traded him to the Raiders in April 2017.
That change of heart means that one can’t rule out Lynch’s plans changing in the future. Going back to play in his hometown was the impetus for his earlier course correction, however, and the expectation is that there won’t be a team in Oakland beyond the 2019 season. That and his age — Lynch turned 33 this week — are reasons to think this retirement has a better chance of sticking.
The Raiders signed Isaiah Crowell as a free agent to go with Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington and Chris Warren at running back. They could add to that group in this week’s draft.
Word leaks from Pittsburgh (or BEN ROETHILSIBERGER’s agents) that the Steelers QB could have a new deal by the time The Commish is booed for the first time tomorrow night. ESPN.com:
The Pittsburgh Steelers are working to complete a contract extension for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger before the NFL draft begins Thursday night, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Tuesday.
Roethlisberger, who was drafted by the Steelers in 2004, is heading into the final season of the four-year, $87.6 million extension he signed in 2015.
The two sides have been talking since the end of the 2018 season and are getting closer to having a new deal in place, a source told ESPN.
Roethlisberger, who turned 37 on March 2, has two Super Bowl victories and ranks sixth in career passing yards (56,194) and seventh in touchdowns (363). He led the NFL in passing yards in 2018 with 5,129. The Steelers never have had a losing season with him at quarterback, and he is among the franchise leaders in career games played with 216.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson became the highest-paid player in the NFL when he signed a four-year, $140 million contract extension last week.
RB CHRIS JOHNSON is going to retire – as a Titan. Jim Wyatt at TitansOnline.com:
First, Chris Johnson wants to get one thing straight – he’s still fast, and he could still perform at a high level in the NFL if given the opportunity.
“I feel like if I trained the right way, I’d still be in the 4.2s,” said the former Titans running back, who was clocked at a time of 4.24 at the NFL Combine in 2008.
And yes, the guy who became known simply as “CJ2K” insists he could still rack up yards in the NFL even after being out of the league for a year.
“I know for sure I’d get 1,000 yards if I laced them up,” a smiling Johnson said on Tuesday night. “Shoot, that’s not even a question. You put me in an offense where I’m the starting back, there’s no way I wouldn’t get 1,000 yards. I could still do it, but it’s time to move on to the next situation.”
The next situation for Johnson is to officially retire from the NFL – as a Titan.
Johnson, the electrifying back who played for the Titans from 2008-2013, will sign a one-day contract to retire from the NFL as a Titan on Wednesday in Nashville. Johnson announced his retirement from the league in November, but he said he wanted to go out as a Titan. Johnson played one season with the Jets (2014) and three seasons with the Cardinals (2015-17) after leaving Tennessee, a place he said felt like home after being drafted in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft out of East Carolina.
Johnson traveled to Nashville on Tuesday, and he’ll be at Saint Thomas Sports Park to sign his one-day contract on Wednesday morning, the day before the NFL Draft.
WR JOSH GORDON wants to play for the Patriots, if he can get out of NFL jail. Kevin Duffy of the Boston Herald:
Josh Gordon’s future in the NFL remains uncertain, but if he’s playing in 2019 it’ll be as a member of the Patriots.
The talented receiver signed his restricted free-agent tender, according to the league transaction wire.
Gordon, who remains indefinitely suspended by the league, will earn $2.025 million on the one-year deal.
The 28-year-old Gordon emerged as a difference-maker with the Patriots a year ago, destroying defenses after the catch. He became the first New England receiver to average 18 yards per catch since David Patten in 2004. Gordon’s season was cut short in late December when he was suspended for violating the terms of his reinstatement under the league’s substance abuse policy.
The NFL has not yet announced if Gordon’s suspension will carry over into the 2019 season.
“The first thing right now is the focus on Josh himself as a young man and what he needs to do to get his life on the right track,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said at the annual league meeting in March. “That’s what our focus is. We have resources supporting that. That’s our hope — to make sure he gets on the right track. Once he gets on the right track, we’ll get to that place (of suspension discussion). I think right now, he’s had a complete focus on, ‘I’ve got to keep myself off the field in the right place before I can get back on the field.’”
Gordon has been training in Florida throughout the offseason.
THIS AND THAT
WILL BRINSON’S MOCK DRAFT
Will Brinson of CBSSports.com offers this Wednesday Mock:
All right, here we go. It’s the last NFL mock draft of the 2019 season for me. The actual draft is going down in less than 48 hours and I couldn’t possibly be less confident with this rendition. I think there are a few facets of it that will actually play out in fairly accurate fashion, including the quarterbacks in this group dropping a lot further than people think.
I also believe we’ll see a bunch of trade backs in the later part of the draft. The teams who have the late picks in the first round (Seattle, Baltimore, New England, etc.) love to move back, and there will be players falling further than people expect once we get through the first half of the round. This will be doubly true with the quarterbacks.
I’m also rolling with the Josh Rosen train in Arizona. I don’t think the Cardinals see the value in Kyler Murray with the first overall pick, which means they’re going to go in a different direction at No. 1. I wouldn’t be surprised by a trade down at all, but I don’t think there’s a partner there.
Actually, finding anyone to trade up early in this draft is almost impossible. I wanted to move the Jets and Lions down but there’s not a viable jump out there. I think we see tons of moves, but I don’t think those moves come early. Most of the teams out there are going to be forced into playing the hand they’re dealt and trying to best suss out the draft board as it heads their way.
No, I didn’t forget to mock anyone that you think is a first-round pick either (ahem, D.K. Metcalf). It’s just tough in this draft — there are 25-30 guys who could go as early as No. 10, or not end up actually going in the first round of the draft. Don’t be surprised by anything that happens in this draft. Thursday is going to be wild.
And you can watch all of the wildness of the 2019 NFL Draft here, with grades and analysis of all the picks and trades (if they do happen) coming during our live coverage on CBS Sports HQ from Thursday through Saturday. Download the CBS Sports app for free on mobile or connected TV device for yet another way to watch.
1. ARIZONA CARDINALS
Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama: I’m just not buying that the Cardinals are going to take way less value on a Josh Rosen trade when he can run the Air Raid. Give me the defensive stud.
2. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State: Easy choice here for San Francisco. I kind of want Bosa to go No. 1 just to see all the options for the 49ers here instead.
3. NEW YORK JETS
Ed Oliver, DL, Houston: The Jets would love to trade down and while I think Murray falling helps them, I don’t see anyone actually willing to do it so they take the best player available.
4. OAKLAND RAIDERS
Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma: The pressure is on Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden here, but they can’t pass up Murray’s talent when he falls to No. 4.
5. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Devin White, LB, LSU: Moving down would be fine for the Bucs, but they don’t see enough to get off the option of taking White here.
6. NEW YORK GIANTS
Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky: Going back and forth between Allen and Bush here for Dave Gettleman, but I think landing a coveted pass rusher would push him over the top if he was debating.
7. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa: Jags could def go with offensive line here but I love the idea of them improving their blocking and their weapons for Nick Foles in one fell swoop.
8. DETROIT LIONS
Jonah Williams, OL, Alabama: The Lions are officially the most difficult team to mock for this year. Edge rush could be a big spot here but I’m going to give them a hog molly instead.
9. BUFFALO BILLS
Jawaan Taylor, OL, Florida: Feels like an easy choice if Taylor is still on the board as the Bills badly need help on the offensive line.
10. DENVER BRONCOS
Devin Bush, LB, Michigan: If he makes it this far, Bush should be a layup for Denver. Ignore the QB noise — Vic Fangio defenses key on the LB position, and Bush would help in a big way.
11. CINCINNATI BENGALS
Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma: The Bengals could take a quarterback, but they need more infrastructure in place first and have to improve the line.
12. ATLANTA FALCONS (MOCK TRADE WITH GREEN BAY)
Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson: Green Bay’s shown a willingness to move down; the Falcons have been willing to move up. Atlanta badly wants 1-2 of the top defensive lineman so they make a move here knowing Miami is lurking.
13. MIAMI DOLPHINS
Garrett Bradbury, OL, NC State: The Dolphins want to recreate their culture and find 10-year players: Clemson or Bama guys would fit but Bradbury gives them an anchor in the middle of the line.
14. GREEN BAY PACKERS (MOCK TRADE WITH ATLANTA)
Noah Fant, TE, Iowa: Great deal for the Packers as they get their initial target anyway and add a lethal weapon in the passing game.
15. WASHINGTON REDSKINS
Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State: The Redskins SHOULDN’T take a quarterback, because they have many more issues, but I can see them thinking they only way to save their jobs is to take one.
16. CAROLINA PANTHERS
Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State: Love this pick from a need, fit, value perspective. Carolina has to get pass rushers.
17. NEW YORK GIANTS
Dexter Lawrence, DL, Clemson: The Seahawks are looking to take it back to 2013 by trading Wilson and using these picks on defense and suddenly they’ve got a stud up front.
18. MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Andre Dillard, OL, Washington State: The Vikings have to get an offensive lineman with their first pick and Dillard here is a godsend.
19. TENNESSEE TITANS
Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State: The heart condition is a concern, but the Titans need to get some pass rush help and Sweat here is a nice pull.
20. PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Byron Murphy, CB, Washington: The Steelers would love a linebacker here, but there’s just no real way to trade up for one so they settle for a top corner.
21. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
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.
22. BALTIMORE RAVENS
Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State: Another team that could trade down, but instead they decide to grab a wide receiver who is capable of playing all over the field and exploding for big gains.
23. HOUSTON TEXANS
Chris Lindstrom, OL, Boston College: The Texans have to take an offensive lineman in the first round. It’s almost impossible to see them doing anything else.
24. OAKLAND RAIDERS
Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan: Long play by the Raiders with this news that Gary is hurt. They got value with Maurice Hurst last season and dip back into the Michigan well.
25. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Jeffery Simmons, DL, Mississippi State: Howie Roseman isn’t afraid to grab a redshirt guy and Simmons is great value here.
26. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State: The Colts want big, physical humans who dominate their position. Butler is just that and has a ton of upside playing next to T.Y. Hilton.
27. OAKLAND RAIDERS
Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma: I’m so here for a) Jon Gruden planning to go defense and then going offense, and b) Antonio Brown AND Marquise Brown.
28. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Kaleb McGary, OL, Washington: They’ve seen a lot of success when they have a strong offensive line, so why not double down here?
29. DENVER BRONCOS (MOCK TRADE WITH SEATTLE)
Drew Lock, QB, Missouri: Dreamscape for John Elway to go with a defensive player AND come back into the first round and get his quarterback.
30. GREEN BAY PACKERS
Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama: Aaron Rodgers plus Davante Adams plus Hakeem Butler? That will play nicely.
31. LOS ANGELES RAMS
Erik McCoy, OL, Texas A&M: If the Rams stand pat they almost certainly need to roll with an offensive lineman here to keep things in good shape for Jared Goff moving forward.
32. NEW YORK GIANTS (MOCK TRADE WITH NEW ENGLAND)
Daniel Jones, QB, Duke: This doesn’t feel like a combo of teams that would work together, but the Patriots love to trade back and Gettleman can win the day if he comes out of the first round with two defensive linemen AND a quarterback of the future.
CHARLES DAVIS’ MOCK DRAFT
This from Charles Davis is posted at NFL.com:
The 2019 NFL Draft is just days away, and while there is plenty of chatter (and conversational evidence) that five (?!) QBs might be taken Thursday night in Nashville, I’m not totally convinced. We will all know by Round 1’s end on April 25. But for now, here’s how I see things shaking out.
NOTE: This mock draft was updated after the news broke on Tuesday that the Seahawks are trading Frank Clark to the Chiefs for a package of picks that includes Kansas City’s first-rounder (No. 29 overall) this year.
1 – ARIZONA
Kyler Murray – QB
School: Oklahoma | Year: Junior (RS)
Plenty of chatter that the Cardinals will now NOT take this terrific playmaker with the top choice, and may trade the selection. I believe they will weigh their options, but ultimately stay at No. 1 overall, moving forward with an innovative rookie head coach and a do-everything rookie QB.
2 – SAN FRANCISCO
Nick Bosa – Edge
School: Ohio State | Year: Junior
Big-time pass rusher off the edge who can move inside in sub packages, too. Bosa LOVES the game and plays each snap accordingly.
3 – NEW YORK JETS
Quinnen Williams – DT
School: Alabama | Year: Sophomore (RS)
Yes, the Jets are open for business with this pick, but if they stick, pairing this star from Alabama with DL Leonard Williams will make new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams VERY happy.
4 – OAKLAND
Josh Allen – Edge
School: Kentucky | Year: Senior
In addition to all of the college football awards he collected last season, he could have won “most improved” as well. His game will just keep getting better. However, if the Raiders are indeed planning a surprise pick here, I would keep an eye on linebacker Devin White.
5 – TAMPA BAY
Devin White – LB
School: LSU | Year: Junior
With new coordinator Todd Bowles overhauling the defense, the Bucs can’t turn down the best inside linebacker in the draft.
6 – NEW YORK GIANTS
Rashan Gary – Edge
School: Michigan | Year: Junior
Yes, this could be a quarterback, but my vibe says no. The Giants need help on both the offensive and defensive lines, and they start by adding a strong edge rusher who’s a Jersey kid in Gary, despite any concerns about the shoulder injury he’s been dealing with dating back to his college career.
7 – JACKSONVILLE
Jawaan Taylor – OT
School: Florida | Year: Junior
The Jags want to get back to running the ball and throwing off of play-action — a formula that led them to an AFC title game in 2017. This fierce Gator helps achieve that in a big way.
8 – DETROIT
Ed Oliver – DT
School: Houston | Year: Junior
People keep talking about his size being an issue, but the Lions envision his quickness and skills wreaking havoc in the pocket.
9 – BUFFALO
T.J. Hockenson – TE
School: Iowa | Year: Sophomore (RS)
This could easily be a top offensive lineman in order to protect young quarterback Josh Allen, but the top tight end on many boards would also protect Allen, both by blocking (mauler) and in the passing game (excellent receiver).
10 – DENVER
Drew Lock – QB
School: Missouri | Year: Senior
John Elway can’t resist this big-armed thrower who improved greatly in his last year at Mizzou. Lock will get a chance to learn behind Joe Flacco for a season or more before inheriting the QB1 job.
11 – CINCINNATI
Dwayne Haskins – QB
School: Ohio State | Year: Sophomore (RS)
Anytime there’s a new head coach, there’s speculation about a new QB. With Andy Dalton not receiving an extension this offseason, this pick makes sense.
12 – GREEN BAY
Noah Fant – TE
School: Iowa | Year: Junior
The Packers have some good TEs already in Jimmy Graham and Marcedes Lewis, but both are firmly in their 30s. My top-rated TE can be special for a long time.
13 – MIAMI
Clelin Ferrell – Edge
School: Clemson | Year: Junior (RS)
Keep hearing the Dolphins are waiting until 2020 to select a QB. They’ll ride with Ryan Fitzpatrick for at least a year, and pick Ferrell to help build a foundation for Brian Flores’ defense.
14 – ATLANTA
Christian Wilkins – DT
School: Clemson | Year: Senior
The Falcons’ best defensive lineman, Grady Jarrett, needs a running mate inside; the winner of the Campbell Trophy (academic Heisman) fits the bill. Pretty darn good on the football field, as well. A CB could be in play, too.
15 – WASHINGTON
Brian Burns – Edge
School: Florida State | Year: Junior
Many are thinking QB here, and that’s certainly a possibility. But, the selection of Burns gives Washington a pass rusher who can complement, and benefit from, the fellas from ‘Bama inside ( Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne). Veteran edge rusher Ryan Kerrigan also applauds the pick.
16 – CAROLINA
Andre Dillard – OT
School: Washington State | Year: Senior (RS)
The best pass-protecting offensive tackle in the 2019 draft, Dillard can plug in at LT and allow the Panthers to utilize Taylor Moton’s power inside at guard.
17 – NEW YORK GIANTS
Jonah Williams – OG
School: Alabama | Year: Junior
Williams was a skilled left tackle in college and he can stay in that spot in the NFL. I like him better inside at guard, but wherever he plays, he’ll start from Day 1.
18 – MINNESOTA
Cody Ford – OG
School: Oklahoma | Year: Junior (RS)
Brass will address the team’s biggest need, helping the O-line with the All-American from Oklahoma, who can play tackle or move inside to guard.
19 – TENNESSEE
Jeffery Simmons – DT
School: Mississippi State | Year: Junior
While no one likes to wait to unwrap their presents, Simmons’ rehab from ACL surgery will require some patience. But once he’s 100%, he will pair well with DL Jurrell Casey. A top-10 value in my book.
20 – PITTSBURGH
Greedy Williams – CB
School: LSU | Year: Sophomore (RS)
The buzz on this Steelers pick is that they’re likely to go CB. The question is, which one? In this case, it’s the lengthy guy from the Bayou, who possesses great speed and excellent ball skills.
21 – SEATTLE
Montez Sweat – Edge
School: Mississippi State | Year: Senior
With a big void at DE now that the Seahawks have agreed to trade Frank Clark to the Chiefs, Sweat’s awfully attractive for a team that values speed at every position on defense.
22 – BALTIMORE
Marquise Brown – WR
School: Oklahoma | Year: Junior
Head coach John Harbaugh wants a ” tough guy” at WR. He won’t mind a blazer who will bring a little “Hollywood” to the “Charm City.”
23 – HOUSTON
Greg Little – OT
School: Mississippi | Year: Junior
The Texans must protect their franchise QB Deshaun Watson. He was hit way too often last year.
24 – OAKLAND (from Chicago)
Josh Jacobs – RB
School: Alabama | Year: Junior
A lead runner is a big-time need in Oakland. In Jon Gruden’s offense, Jacobs can be his new “Charlie Garner,” a terrific combo back who creates big plays in the run and pass games.
25 – PHILADELPHIA
Johnathan Abram – S
School: Mississippi State | Year: Senior
The Eagles are thinking about the future at safety with Rodney McLeod coming off injury and due to hit free agency in 2020. Abram will be a hard-hitting tone-setter in the secondary.
26 – INDIANAPOLIS
Dexter Lawrence – DT
School: Clemson | Year: Junior
The defensive front gets the call here, and fits a need, too. Division rivals Tennessee, Jacksonville and Houston all like to run the ball, and with big, powerful backs. Lawrence ups the power ratio to combat those attacks.
27 – OAKLAND (from Dallas)
Byron Murphy – CB
School: Washington | Year: Sophomore (RS)
My pick for the most instinctive CB in the draft, and the Raiders have a strong need for defensive playmakers at all levels. If they choose to go offense here, think tight end, and Irv Smith Jr. is still available.
28 – LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Rock Ya-Sin – CB
School: Temple | Year: Senior
Tough and loves to get in a receiver’s face. Also, did I mention that he’s tough? The secondary keeps getting stronger for the Bolts. I could also see them taking safety Taylor Rapp here to complement All-Pro Derwin James.
29 – SEATTLE (from Kansas City)
Deandre Baker – CB
School: Georgia | Year: Senior
The Seahawks continue to build a new Legion of Boom. Baker will likely be upset that other CBs were drafted before him, but he can use that as continued motivation. He’s a true competitor who contests every ball in his area, and that feistiness will be very familiar to Seattle fans.
30 – GREEN BAY (from New Orleans)
Devin Bush – LB
School: Michigan | Year: Junior
The Packers cannot believe their incredible fortune that this outstanding defender lasted this long in the first round, as he could have easily been a top-15 pick.
31 – LOS ANGELES RAMS
Garrett Bradbury – C
School: N.C. State | Year: Senior (RS)
John Sullivan performed very well in the pivot, but the Rams declined his contract option for 2019. Second-year player Brian Allen is currently penciled in to start, but that could change if Bradbury is available at No. 31. If L.A. wants defense, DT Jerry Tillery could work well next to Aaron Donald, and would allow the best defender in the league to continue to destroy offenses without being overly occupied by offensive linemen.
32 – NEW ENGLAND
Dalton Risner – OT
School: Kansas State | Year: Senior (RS)
The Patriots could easily trade this pick to a QB-needy team that wants to jump back into Round 1, but if New England stays put here, Risner could be the franchise’s next Logan Mankins. Versatile, and accomplished, he can play tackle, guard or center.
ESPN.com has a list of 50 fun facts about members of the draft class here. We culled out our 20 favorites below:
4. Kentucky cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. was originally supposed to play at Ohio State, but an ACT score he needed to count to be academically eligible had his last name spelled J-O-H-N-N-S-O-N, which negated the score. He ended up in junior college for three years before ultimately playing for the Wildcats. Lonnie said it was a computer mishap.
8. JJ Arcega-Whiteside, a highly regarded receiver at Stanford, was born in Zaragoza, Spain, and his parents were professional basketball players in Europe.
9. The Bosa family can join the Manning family as the only families in NFL history with a father and two sons who were first-round picks. Ohio State DE Nick Bosa is the younger brother of the Los Angeles Chargers’ Joey Bosa. Their father, John Bosa, and uncle, Eric Kumerow, were defensive ends for the Miami Dolphins in the 1980s.
12. Parris Campbell’s speed is well known since the Ohio State wide receiver dazzled with a 4.31 time in the 40-yard dash at the combine. But he is also the state of Ohio’s high school indoor track 60-yard-dash record-holder (6.85 seconds).
16. A two-time state champion wrestler, Temple cornerback Rock Ya-Sin got his nickname from his wrestling coach. His real first name is Abdurrahman.
17. When drafted, Penn State RB Miles Sanders will become the 14th player from Woodland Hills High School in Pittsburgh to play in the NFL. Jason Taylor and Rob Gronkowski are also on the list.
21. Arizona State wide receiver N’Keal Harry and Washington corner Byron Murphy are good friends, meeting when they were freshmen in high school. They played together during their sophomore high school season, and Harry actually lived with Murphy for a few months during that year.
23. Wide receiver Greg Dortch missed the last month of his 2017 season at Wake Forest after he punctured his small intestine diving onto a pylon. Before he went to the hospital for surgery, he scored two more touchdowns in that game.
24. Most people probably assumed Boston College defensive end Wyatt Ray would have been a musician rather than NFL player; he is a grandson of jazz musician Nat King Cole and nephew of singer Natalie Cole.
26. Devin White owns seven horses. Ricky Bobby was his first, but the LSU linebacker’s favorite is Daisy Mae.
28. Remember the 13-year-old seventh-grade QB who got national attention by committing to USC in 2010? It was David Sills V. But when USC and then West Virginia wanted him to change positions, he became a wide receiver for the Mountaineers.
30. What makes Auburn corner Jamel Dean’s 4.30 40 time (fastest among all CBs this year and second-fastest overall) even more impressive? He tore his right ACL, the meniscus in his right knee and his left ACL over his high school and college football careers.
31. Offensive tackle Maurice Simba of Concordia was separated from his parents for 15 years after they left the Democratic Republic of the Congo for Montreal when he was 3 years old. He was raised by his grandparents before being reunited with his parents in 2012.
32. During the 2017 offseason, USC inside linebacker Cameron Smith worked on a vineyard that specializes in pinot noir.
33. UNC offensive tackle William Sweet created a compression sleeve to reduce swelling after one has ACL surgery and is attempting to patent it.
36. It remains to be seen who will pass-protect for Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray in the NFL. But in high school, it was a pair of offensive linemen who are also in this draft class: Ole Miss’ Greg Little and Oklahoma’s Bobby Evans.
37. West Virginia linebacker David Long Jr. is a son of David Long Sr., a former pro heavyweight boxer. The elder Long went 12-5-2 and once fought Deontay Wilder.
48. Washington corner Byron Murphy was a standout high school basketball player, but that shouldn’t be a surprise — his uncle is Mike Bibby, a former NBA point guard.
49. When he was 15 years old, Azeez Al-Shaair (ILB at Florida Atlantic) saved his two younger brothers and niece from a kitchen blaze that burned his grandmother’s house down.
50. BYU defensive end Corbin Kaufusi’s mother, Michelle, became the first female mayor of Provo, Utah, in January 2018.