Todd McShay of ESPN.com has a Mock Draft with 5 DLs off the board to start (and 15 out of his 32).
As the 2018 season enters the stretch run, many NFL teams already are looking ahead to next year and April’s draft.
Sure, a lot will happen between now and April 25. The draft order will shift as teams finish the season. Underclassmen will make their decisions about entering the draft or returning to campus before the Jan. 14 deadline. Free agency and trades will alter team needs over the course of the next four months. Player grades will fluctuate throughout bowl season, pro days and the combine. There are a lot of unknowns.
But that won’t stop us from projecting the Day 1 selections. Here’s our first run at all 32 first-round picks for the 2019 NFL draft.
Note: We used ESPN’s Football Power Index to project what the order will be at the end of the season, with all traded first-round picks accounted for. Underclassmen are denoted below with an asterisk, while third-year sophomores have a double-asterisk designation.
1. Arizona Cardinals
Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State*
The Cards have a lot of needs, but getting the best player in the draft to line up opposite Chandler Jones would be a big step in the right direction. Bosa fits well with Arizona’s 4-3 scheme with his power and length, and Markus Golden hits free agency after the season.
2. San Francisco 49ers
Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan*
The Niners are seeking an edge rusher — among other things — and Gary provides explosive closing burst and elite athleticism. He’s a nightmare to block and would provide a jolt to San Francisco’s defensive line.
3. Oakland Raiders
Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama**
Quinnen is my guy in this class. I love his first step and how disruptive he is in the middle of that Alabama line. Solid both against the run and in the pass rush, Williams would be a great get for the rebuilding Raiders, the first of three Day 1 selections.
4. New York Jets
Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson*
If I’m the Jets, I’m thinking about trading back here to address a multitude of needs, considering they don’t have a second-rounder. But taking Ferrell — who had 10.5 sacks in the regular season off the edge — would go a long way toward checking off one of those boxes.
5. Atlanta Falcons
Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson*
The Falcons plummeted this season all the way from the playoffs to a potential top pick, and I love the idea of using it on Lawrence, a big run-stopper who can fit in next to Grady Jarrett (if he returns to the Falcons). Atlanta has one of the worst rushing defenses in the NFL.
6. Buffalo Bills
Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama*
When you draft a franchise quarterback, you’d better keep him upright. Williams is a plug-and-play option with quick feet and has the versatility to play anywhere on either side of the offensive line in front of 2018 No. 7 pick Josh Allen.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon*
As the first team on the board with a big hole at quarterback (remember, no trades in this mock), it’s no surprise Herbert is the pick here. He has great size and arm strength, but he’ll have to iron out some consistency issues — that is, if he declares for the draft.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Greedy Williams, CB, LSU**
Talk about value. Greedy is my No. 2-ranked prospect but falls all to the way to the Bucs here. With three edge rushers already off the board, Tampa Bay passes up on filling a big need and goes with the best available player to shore up a weak secondary.
9. Detroit Lions
Josh Allen, DE/OLB, Kentucky
Ezekiel Ansah might be done in Detroit, so let’s fill that hole with Allen, who does just about everything. He finished the regular season in the top 10 in college football in sacks, tackles for loss and forced fumbles. He’d be a beast coming off the edge in Motor City.
10. New York Giants
Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State**
The more I watch this kid, the more I think he’s a legitimate first-round talent. The Eli Manning era is nearing an end in New York, and Haskins addresses Big Blue’s most glaring need. You’d have to feel pretty good about an offense featuring Haskins, Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley. Now the Giants just need him to declare for the draft.
11. Cincinnati Bengals
Devin White, LB, LSU*
Hunting for a three-down linebacker? Lucky for Cincy, the best one in the draft is sitting on the board at No. 11. The Bengals really want a explosive playmaker of this caliber at the second level of their defense.
12. Cleveland Browns
Ed Oliver, DT, Houston*
I could definitely see the Browns going offensive line here, but this addresses another area of weakness in a big way. Plus, Cleveland could target a left tackle in free agency. Oliver explodes out of his stance and would provide an upgrade in the interior of the line over pending free agents Trevon Coley and Carl Davis.
13. Washington Redskins
Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma*
Washington will be monitoring Alex Smith’s recovery, and it definitely needs a wide receiver, but the offensive line woes are well-documented. Ford is a nasty mauler who has the versatility to play either right tackle or guard in the NFL.
14. Carolina Panthers
Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss*
Half of the Panthers’ offensive line will enter free agency, and the best replacement on the board is Little. I love his athleticism in the trenches, although he still needs some technique work. But he can certainly develop into a good starting left tackle in the NFL.
15. Green Bay Packers
Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State
The Packers need a wide receiver, but getting the rangy and quick Sweat to come off the edge would do Green Bay well and provide better value. They have two first-rounders, after all, and plenty of wideouts will be on the board when the Packers pick again at No. 32.
16. Philadelphia Eagles
Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
Baker isn’t the biggest or fastest corner, but he shows the best instincts of the bunch and is a ball hawk. And you might have noticed that the defending Super Bowl champions could use a solid cornerback. Let’s see what he does against those big Texas receivers in the Sugar Bowl.
17. Miami Dolphins
Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida*
The Dolphins might look to move on from Ryan Tannehill, but there isn’t a QB available here worth the early pick. So let’s fill another need and get the athletic Taylor to help protect whomever is under center in Miami next season.
18. Denver Broncos
Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma*
Demaryius Thomas is gone and Emmanuel Sanders isn’t getting any younger. Brown is a burner, and the Broncos need help stretching the field, especially out of the slot. The Oklahoma receiver would fit nicely with last year’s picks, Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton, in a dynamic WR group.
19. Indianapolis Colts
Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
Wilkins’ versatility and instinctive play would come in handy for an Indianapolis defensive front looking for some help. He might not have the upside of fellow Clemson linemates Clelin Ferrell and Dexter Lawrence, but he has a great motor and would fit nicely with the Colts.
20. Tennessee Titans
Jachai Polite, OLB, Florida*
Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo will become free agents in the offseason, and Polite would be an immediate factor for Tennessee with his speed and slipperiness. His 11 sacks tied for sixth in the nation during the regular season. Imagine him bookending the linebacker corps with 2018 pick Harold Landry?
21. Baltimore Ravens
Devin Bush, ILB, Michigan*
Rather than reach for a wide receiver for Lamar Jackson, let’s snag this underrated three-down linebacker to slide in if the Ravens decide not to pay up for pending free agent C.J. Mosley (although Bush also could play the weak side too). Bush’s athleticism and instincts would jibe nicely with this superb Baltimore defense.
22. Minnesota Vikings
Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn*
Getting a prospect like this at No. 22 would be robbery. Brown is the type of pass-rushing tackle that Mike Zimmer loves, and Sheldon Richardson’s one-year deal provides an opening in the interior of that Minnesota line.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers
Jaylon Ferguson, DE, Louisiana Tech
Ferguson is rising on draft boards rapidly, and I expect him to shine at January’s Senior Bowl. He can really overwhelm blockers with his speed to power and would be another asset for one of the better pass-rushing teams in the NFL.
24. Seattle Seahawks
Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State*
On talent alone, this would be a heist for a team potentially losing a good deal of its defensive line to free agency in the offseason. But it’s not just talent. Simmons comes with awareness and range, but he also has some off-the-field concerns.
25. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas Cowboys)
Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama*
With Quinnen Williams upgrading their front, the Raiders are freed up to boost the secondary with a real ball hawk in Thompson. It’s a perfect marriage of value (No. 14 in my rankings) and need (Marcus Gilchrist is a free agent after the season, and the unit was weak to begin with).
26. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago Bears)
Noah Fant, TE, Iowa*
Man, it must be nice to have a library of first-round picks. This one, courtesy of the Khalil Mack trade, gets the Raiders a real weapon in the passing game. Jared Cook isn’t signed past this season, and Derek Carr loves his tight ends. Fant is a true matchup problem for opponents.
27. Houston Texans
Michael Deiter, C/G, Wisconsin
The focus of Houston’s offseason should be entirely on upgrading that offensive line to protect Deshaun Watson. Deiter might be a slight reach, but he’s a proven player and anchors well with a good initial push in the running game. He has played all over, but he best projects as a guard or center at the next level.
28. Los Angeles Chargers
Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame
The Chargers definitely want some support in run defense, and this big, versatile lineman can press against the run and occasionally flash as a pass-rusher. Quarterbacks aren’t going to love coming out of the huddle and seeing Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram and Tillery staring them in the face.
29. New England Patriots
Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State*
Trey Flowers, Malcom Brown and Danny Shelton land on the open market after the season, so the Pats’ biggest concern will be shoring up the defensive line. Jones finally put it all together this season and exhibits a good motor and quick first step.
30. Los Angeles Rams
Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State
Free agency could hit the Rams’ defense pretty hard, so a lot of what Sean McVay does with his first-rounder will depend on how it all plays out. But Abram is a powerful finisher on the back end and would soften the potential loss of Lamarcus Joyner.
31. Kansas City Chiefs
Zach Allen, DE, Boston College
We all know the Chiefs need a corner, but I can’t ignore Allen’s potential impact on both the pass rush and run defense. He’s just so quick to the ball. Allen Bailey is a pending free agent off the edge, so there could be an opening.
32. Green Bay Packers (from New Orleans Saints)
A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss*
We’re getting Aaron Rodgers some help. It’s about time! Brown’s ability to go up and get the ball, as well as make tough catches in traffic, would be welcomed on an offense desperately looking for receiving options beyond Davante Adams.