Todd McShay of ESPN.com has a list of his 32 top prospects, although he doesn’t try to fit them to a team. QB KYLER MURRAY of Oklahoma is on the list, as are a whopping 13 defensive linemen, plus 3 outside linebackers:
Well, the 2018 college football season is over, and Monday’s deadline to declare for the 2019 NFL draft is in the rearview mirror (although a full list of underclassmen who were accepted into the draft class will be sent to teams Friday).
The class is certainly starting to clear up, but there is still a long way to go. So much can still change. Look for more shuffling to come over the next few months as players attend all-star games, the NFL scouting combine (beginning Feb. 26) and work out at pro days.
When we last ran through the Top 32, Auburn’s Derrick Brown and Oregon’s Justin Herbert still inhabited spots — but both highly coveted players will be returning to their respective colleges. Three new players jump into the rankings, including the quarterback drawing all the buzz this week. So where does Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray rank?
Note: Underclassmen — who have all declared — are marked with an asterisk.
1. Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State*
Grade: 95 | Height: 6-foot-4 | Weight: 263 | Previous: 1
An elite talent (with elite bloodlines), Bosa isn’t just a gifted pass-rusher; he always knows where the ball is and is active against the run. He projects best as a 4-3 defensive end in the NFL but is scheme-versatile with his length and power. Bosa had six tackles for loss (TFL) and four sacks in three games before suffering an abdominal injury against TCU on Sept. 15. This isn’t the type of injury that will worry NFL scouts, and he has since withdrawn from school and declared for the draft. In my Mock Draft 1.0 from December, Bosa went No. 1 overall to the Arizona Cardinals.
2. Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama*
Grade: 94 | Height: 6-4 | Weight: 295 | Previous: 2
Williams does a great job with his hands and has a nose for putting pressure on the quarterback with a terrific first step. In 15 games, he had 19.5 TFL (tied for 10th in the country) and eight sacks, along with 12 quarterback hurries. He also is stout against the run. I’m really impressed with how he took his game to another level this season, outperforming more highly touted members of that Alabama front seven. He has real strength in advancing the pass rush while engaged.
3. Devin White, ILB, LSU*
Grade: 94 | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 240 | Previous: 3
A converted running back, White is a physical specimen who moves with explosiveness and control. Always around the ball, he shows good range in coverage, and he won’t have to come off the field much in passing situations. White had 123 tackles (tied for 23rd nationwide), including 12 for loss, while also forcing three fumbles. He posted eight tackles and forced a fumble in LSU’s 40-32 win over UCF in the Fiesta Bowl. You see some of the Vikings’ Eric Kendricks in him.
4. Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State*
Grade: 93 | Height: 6-4 | Weight: 300 | Previous: 16
Simmons plays with a natural leverage at the line. He has above-average awareness, good range and more strength than his frame would suggest, but he certainly can improve his hand usage. The junior had 17 TFL this season. He fits best in a one-gap-heavy scheme and plays a lot of snaps. There is some character history here, though, that teams will take into account.
5. Greedy Williams, CB, LSU*
Grade: 93 | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 184 | Previous: 4
A tall corner with long arms and at his best in press-man coverage, he has great quickness and is smooth for a player with his length. Williams can bait quarterbacks into mistakes, and then he has the closing speed to take advantage; he had two interceptions and nine passes broken up this season for the Tigers. He looks like a play-right-away type when he gets to the next level.
6. Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan*
Grade: 93 | Height: 6-5 | Weight: 283 | Previous: 5
Three years after he arrived in Ann Arbor as the most celebrated recruit in the country, Gary somehow matched the hype. A powerful run defender and edge setter, he has an outstanding combination of size and athleticism to will fit any scheme: explosive, sudden and a nightmare to block. His closing burst, high motor and natural instincts helped him to 3.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss in nine games. He missed three consecutive games earlier in the season with a shoulder injury, but he was productive in his return.
7. Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson*
Grade: 92 | Height: 6-5 | Weight: 265 | Previous: 9
Ferrell has very good, if not elite, physical tools. He grades out as an every-down NFL starter, though he could be used as a 3-4 outside linebacker or a 4-3 defensive end. His hands aren’t overly violent at the line, but they are quick and active. In 13 games, his quick first step helped him to 19.5 TFL (tied for 10th in the country) and 11.5 sacks (tied for sixth).
8. Devin Bush, OLB, Michigan*
Grade: 92 | Height: 5-11 | Weight: 233 | Previous: 10
Bush has good instincts as a pass-rusher, displaying patience and good closing speed when he gets a line to the quarterback. He shows good range and quickness as well as decent tackling ability. However, he is undersized, and he struggles to disengage when a blocker gets into his pads. He has the potential to be a three-down starter in the NFL and is still trending up. In 12 games, he recorded 79 tackles, including nine for loss and five sacks.
9. Ed Oliver, DT, Houston*
Grade: 92 | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 292 | Previous: 7
Oliver missed four consecutive Cougars games with a knee injury and had an explosive exchange with coach Major Applewhite on the sideline in mid-November before returning at the end of the regular season. But on the field, you don’t want to have to block this guy. He explodes out of his stance, has elite initial quickness and is totally disruptive and usually unblockable one-on-one. Oliver has great range and always plays hard. He had 54 tackles, including 14.5 for a loss and three sacks, in eight games.
10. Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky
Grade: 91 | Height: 6-5 | Weight: 260 | Previous: 11
A versatile linebacker with the ability to play on the inside or the outside, regardless of the front, Allen has outstanding range as a run defender with above-average closing speed. He does need to work on his change-of-direction skills in coverage, however. The onetime high school wide receiver finished with 21.5 TFL (tied for sixth in the nation), 17 sacks (second) and five forced fumbles (tied for second) this season, along with four passes broken up and seven QB hurries. He was an absolute beast for the Wildcats, and he will continue to cover box scores at the next level.
11. Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State*
Grade: 91 | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 220 | Previous: 18
Haskins has impressive natural touch and anticipation as a passer, in addition to a high-level arm to drive the ball down the field with accuracy. Based solely on his physical tools, the bar is really high for the Ohio State starter despite a limited college career. He has the talent to ultimately be the first QB off the board. The numbers were eye-popping for the third-year sophomore: 50 passing touchdowns, just eight interceptions, more than 4,800 passing yards and a 70.0 completion percentage.
12. Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama*
Grade: 91 | Height: 6-5 | Weight: 301 | Previous: 12
An immediate starter in Tuscaloosa, Williams progressed as you might expect, going from starter at right tackle and then to left, and he now is squarely on the radar of NFL scouts. After a bad year for offensive tackles in the 2018 draft, Williams could be part of a rebound in 2019. He handles speed off the edge extremely well and is quick out of his stance, but he occasionally fails to finish.
13. Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
Grade: 91 | Height: 6-5 | Weight: 340 | Previous: 13
Lawrence has remarkable agility and athleticism for his size, giving him great range for a run defender. He needs to be better about pad level, but single blockers can’t move him at all. His power is overwhelming, and he looked more fluid this season after dealing with an injury in 2017. He recorded 7.5 TFL on one of the best lines in the country, and there’s a lot of talent here. He was suspended for both College Football Playoff games for failing a drug test with trace amounts of a banned substance, but it should not impact his draft status.
14. Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma
Grade: 91 | Height: 6-4 | Weight: 338 | Previous: 14
Ford is a nasty finisher on a good Sooners offensive line. He is a big, strong tone-setter up front, and he had a great season for Bill Bedenbaugh’s OL unit. I think he could move from tackle to guard at the next level. Ford is flying up boards.
15. Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
Grade: 90 | Height: 5-11 | Weight: 185 | Previous: 15
An instinctive corner, Baker does a good job of reading receivers’ routes in man coverage and is excellent in dealing with route combinations. While not big, he contains well and has no fear mixing it up in run support. Extremely experienced, Baker had a pair of interceptions this season with 82 return yards, and he broke up 10 passes.
16. Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson*
Grade: 90 | Height: 6-4 | Weight: 310 | Previous: 17
At his best in a 3-technique role, Wilkins is scheme-versatile and has experience playing inside and outside — and he wreaks havoc either way. He has great foot speed, and when he doesn’t get home, he gets his hands in passing lanes. Wilkins brought a high motor and excellent awareness to a talented Clemson defensive line, and he projects as a three-down starter in the NFL. With Clemson this season, he had 15 TFL, six sacks, a forced fumble … and a pair of rushing touchdowns.
17. Jachai Polite, OLB, Florida*
Grade: 90 | Height: 6-2 | Weight: 242 | Previous: 26
Polite is a top-tier talent. With fantastic speed and athleticism, he is a force off the edge. Polite is slippery and displays good instincts as a playmaker. In 13 games for the Gators, Polite had 11 sacks (eighth in the nation), 17.5 TFL and six forced fumbles (first).
18. Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame
Grade: 90 | Height: 6-7 | Weight: 305 | Previous: 19
Tillery uses great upper-body strength to press in the run game and flashes upside as an interior pass-rusher. He does play a little high and doesn’t have great closing burst, but that didn’t stop him from dialing up eight sacks, three forced fumbles and 10.5 TFL in 13 games for the Fighting Irish this season.
19. Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss*
Grade: 89 | Height: 6-6 | Weight: 325 | Previous: 21
The onetime top high school offensive tackle in the nation, Little carried it all over into SEC play. A smooth mover for his size, he can be outstanding in pass protection if he gets a little better with his hands. He has good quickness as a run-blocker and takes smart angles, though he’s not a mauler.
20. Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State*
Grade: 89 | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 286 | Previous: 22
Jones has been more consistent with his hands, finishing more frequently than he did over the previous two seasons. He displays a good first step and above-average straight-line speed for his size. But he does lack a consistent plan as a pass-rusher, despite a solid motor and good instincts. Jones had 13 TFL, 8.5 sacks and a pick-six for the Buckeyes in 14 contests.
21. Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State
Grade: 89 | Height: 6-6 | Weight: 241 | Previous: 23
Excellent takeoff quickness and flexibility make Sweat a handful for offensive tackles, who are frequently off balance while trying to slow him down. He has good range against the run, but he struggles if you run right at him. That’s really the issue: He needs to add bulk to his frame. However, his elite speed and strong change-of-direction skills off the edge produced 11.5 sacks (tied for sixth in the nation), 14 TFL and seven QB hurries this season for the Bulldogs.
22. Zach Allen, DE, Boston College
Grade: 88 | Height: 6-5 | Weight: 285 | Previous: 24
He is sudden with his movement, and his quick first step and lateral agility turned into sacks. He also converts speed to power as a pass-rusher, and he is a solid run defender — one of only two linemen who had 100 tackles in 2017. (He had 61 tackles this season, including 15 for a loss and 6.5 sacks.) You see a little of the Saints’ Cameron Jordan in Allen.
23. Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida*
Grade: 88 | Height: 6-5 | Weight: 328 | Previous: 25
Taylor lacks length but shows quickness, often riding faster rushers past the quarterback if he’s able to get his hands on them. He still needs to work on his angles and play with better body control when coming to the second level, but there is pop in his game. He has the athletic ability to develop into a strong zone blocker.
24. Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma*
Grade: 88 | Height: 5-10 | Weight: 195 | Previous: NR
Sure, he has limited experience (only 14 starts), and there’s still that whole might-go-play-baseball thing, but Murray is just an exceptional athlete. I think he is the most athletic quarterback prospect since Michael Vick in terms of quickness and speed. He possesses a quick trigger and good arm strength, and he can process the play extremely fast. His style fits today’s NFL — think Kansas City offense — but his size does leave a lot of questions, including whether he can stay healthy. He threw for 4,361 yards, 42 touchdowns and only seven interceptions (and added another 1,001 yards and 12 scores on the ground) this season for the Sooners, culminating with a Heisman Trophy.
25. Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma*
Grade: 87 | Height: 5-9 | Weight: 168 | Previous: 27
Brown is a burner, and though he lacks ideal size, he has the ability to win vertically and create chunk yardage after the catch. Brown also has soft hands and can pluck the ball away from his body, even while he’s in fifth gear. He will get pushed around a bit at times by bigger press-man corners, but he is a savvy route runner and explodes from the line of scrimmage. Averaging 17.6 yards per catch, Brown had 10 touchdowns and 1,318 yards this season for the Sooners. He went off for 243 yards and two touchdowns on 11 catches against West Virginia near the end of the season, but then he suffered an ankle/foot injury against Texas in the Big 12 championship game.
26. Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama*
Grade: 87 | Height: 6-2 | Weight: 196 | Previous: 8
Thompson fell a bit, not popping as much in the College Football Playoff as he did earlier in the year, but he does have excellent athleticism and speed. He had two interceptions, six passes broken up, three forced fumbles and 78 tackles this season in 15 games. In short, he did a little bit of everything in the Alabama secondary. Thompson has good range and can make plays on the ball when it’s in the air. He’s a real ball hawk.
27. Noah Fant, TE, Iowa*
Grade: 86 | Height: 6-5 | Weight: 241 | Previous: 29
He has the burst to separate regularly from linebackers, and his size creates matchup problems for defensive backs. Fant also has the speed to stretch the field and the quickness to threaten after the catch. He has great body control and is a natural pass-catcher, but his blocking needs work. He lacks the strength to be effective as an in-line blocker, but he does have the frame and quickness to develop into an adequate space blocker. Fant had 39 catches for 519 yards and seven touchdowns in 12 games before declaring for the draft and forgoing the Outback Bowl. T.J. Hockenson, the other Iowa tight end this season, also recently declared for the draft and will join Fant.
28. Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State
Grade: 85 | Height: 6-0 | Weight: 215 | Previous: 30
A hard-hitting strong safety with a very good size-speed combination, Abram can intimidate the opposition. He is a powerful finisher with an explosive closing burst, and he flies to the line of scrimmage in run support. Abram holds up well in the deep-half zone and is very quick. He had 99 tackles — including nine for loss — and two interceptions this season.
29. Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama*
Grade: 85 | Height: 6-4 | Weight: 241 | Previous: 31
Smith was a big part of the Crimson Tide’s electric offense this season. Smith had 44 receptions for 710 yards and seven touchdowns. He wasn’t on the radar in the preseason, but he has a lot of speed and athleticism for a big tight end. He had catches of 76, 68, 47 and 42 yards this season, displaying ability to create after the catch. Smith has average size, but he improved throughout the season as a blocker. He can be a tough matchup, especially when in multiple-TE sets.
30. Jaylon Ferguson, DE, Louisiana Tech
Grade: 85 | Height: 6-5 | Weight: 262 | Previous: 32
Ferguson can overwhelm blockers with his speed to power, exploding off the ball. He has active hands and shows above-average initial quickness. I like the way he sets the edge, fitting best in the NFL as a 4-3 defensive end; but his range and frame put him in the 3-4 outside linebacker conversation as well. He recorded astonishing numbers this season: 17.5 sacks (first in the nation), 26 TFL (second) and a pair of forced fumbles.
31. N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State*
Grade: 84 | Height: 6-4 | Weight: 216 | Previous: NR
A big target with good body control, Harry will go and get it for you, as he consistently rewards his quarterback for throwing him 50-50 balls. Even at 6-foot-4, he is a threat after the catch and regularly runs right through contact. Not a flyer, he is still a dangerous deep threat. Additionally, he isn’t afraid to do the dirty work in the middle of the field, and he is a tough blocker. He was held under 60 yards receiving just twice this season while registering 1,088 yards and nine touchdowns (plus an additional rushing score).
32. JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford*
Grade: 84 | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 225 | Previous: NR
He is a natural pass-catcher and shows above-average body control. His speed and ability to go up and get 50-50 balls make him a real threat in the vertical game, but he also can pick up yards after the catch with hard running. There might not be a ton of explosiveness to him, but he creates separation with savviness and physicality in his routes. Arcega-Whiteside has experience outside and in the slot, and he has shown the ability to block when needed. In all this season, he had 14 trips to the end zone and 1,059 receiving yards.
– – –
R.J. White of CBSSports.com offers a Mock Draft where he foresees moves upward even for this crop of QBs.
In my first mock draft of the year, I had the Jaguars trading up to No. 4 to select Dwayne Haskins. Because mock drafts this early are nothing if not thought experiments to see how the board could fall come April, I wanted to switch things up this time around.
Instead, I had the Jaguars trade up to No. 3.
Who knows if they’re going to fall in love with Haskins over the predraft process? But it’s undeniable that they need to fix the QB position to return to contention, and if that means trading up to ensure they get their guy, that’s what they should do.
Another key change for this mock: Rather than sending Josh Allen to the 49ers at No. 2, I had John Lynch just go BPA and take the guy I think is the only clear blue-chipper outside of NIck Bosa. With those changes at two and three, we’ll see how the mock draft unfolds differently from there.
One guy you won’t find below is Kyler Murray. I’m still not sure he’s going to give up baseball to play football just yet, and without that 100 percent commitment from NFL teams, I don’t expect any team to use a high draft pick on him. That, like everything else associated with mock drafting, is subject to change.
1. Arizona Cardinals
Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State. Bosa has been the clear No. 1 prospect for most, if not all, of the 2018 season, and he would be a great fit opposite Chandler Jones to give the Cardinals a dangerous pass rush. I could also see them auctioning off this pick and targeting offensive line help if they move down. But someone would have to blow them away to pass on Bosa.
2. San Francisco 49ers
Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama. The 49ers would certainly prefer an edge rusher here, but if Williams establishes that he’s leaps and bounds better than the rest of the prospects available, will John Lynch really be able to pass on him for less of a sure thing? We’re still a long ways away from determining who emerges as the cream of the crop, but right now I have a tier drop after Bosa and Williams, and if that’s ultimately what happens, Williams should be in play for the 49ers if Bosa is gone.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars (NYJ mock trade)
Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State. If the Jaguars want to ensure they get their preferred quarterback, this is at least as far as they need to move. Each of the next three teams probably think they’re set at quarterback for 2019, but if Haskins blows the doors off the predraft process, who knows? Unless every quarterback falls flat over the next few months, expect some jockeying at the top of the draft to grab the No. 1 option. With this trade, the Jets help offset the cost it took to move up for Sam Darnold last year.
4. Oakland Raiders
Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky. Allen could have entered the draft last year but the odds were slim that someone would have taken him in the first round. Now, unless he has a terrible predraft season, he’s almost certain to go in the top five after a year where he doubled his sack total (to 14) after adding weight.
5. Miami Dolphins (TB mock trade)
Daniel Jones, QB, Duke. Jones beat up Temple in the Independence Bowl and should be ticketed for a pick in the top half of the first round, but he has the ability to tear up the predraft process and cause a QB-needy team to jump up the board for him. After the Dolphins saw the Bills and Cardinals trade ahead of them and get their quarterbacks last year, they could decide to take the plunge, no matter the report that they’re eyeing 2020 to draft a QB.
6. New York Giants
Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama. The protection on the offensive line was nothing but a rumor for much of 2018, and if the team is going to put themselves in the best position to succeed, addressing those issues should be priority No. 1. Williams doesn’t have the arm length many teams crave, but he makes up for it with his technique. The best part is he doesn’t have to come in as a blindside blocker with the Giants, as he can adjust to the NFL at right tackle before an eventual move to the left side in 2020 if Nate Solder doesn’t live up to his contract.
7. New York Jets (JAC mock trade)
Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson. The Jets would do well to sit at No. 3 and take Allen, but if a QB-needy team bowls them over with a trade offer, why not recoup some of the draft capital they spent trading up for Sam Darnold last year? Ferrell has 36.5 tackles for loss and 21 sacks over his last two seasons, but he’s also an excellent run defender and would give New York a three-down talent on the edge.
8. Detroit Lions
Greedy Williams, CB, LSU. The Lions should have the opportunity to add an impact player to their defensive line, but they also need to boost their talent in the secondary, and one way they can do that is by taking the best corner prospect in this year’s draft. Williams is an excellent man cornerback who still has room to grow, and teams thinking about taking him will hope he has a Patrick Peterson-type ceiling in the NFL.
9. Buffalo Bills
Ed Oliver, DT, Houston. The Bills said goodbye to a fixture on the interior of the defensive line on Sunday in Kyle Williams, so why not use this pick on someone who can be the same thing for the next decade? Oliver is an absolute monster at blowing up inside blocking, as his 53 tackles for loss in three seasons attest. He’s drawn the inevitable Aaron Donald comparisons, and while he has a ways to go to have that type of impact, that’s a pretty nice ceiling on a ninth-overall pick.
10. Denver Broncos
Byron Murphy, CB, Washington. The Broncos will certainly be looking for quarterback help, but they showed last year that they won’t force it if the guy they want isn’t there. Murphy is a smart player capable of handling man-to-man or zone coverage, and his anticipation on routes should have him on the highlight reels often as he chases pick-sixes. Once teams get a good look at him, he could end up getting locked in to the top half of the first round.
11. Cincinnati Bengals
Devin White, MLB, LSU. The Bengals need to find a new piece to build around at linebacker, as Preston Brown is heading into free agency, Vontaze Burfict’s career is in jeopardy due to his seventh concussion and 2018 third-round pick Malik Jefferson hasn’t shown he can take over as “the guy.” The athletic White has everything you want in a middle linebacker, and letting him man the middle while Jefferson tries to play the weak side could take this defense to the next level.
12. Green Bay Packers
Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida. The Packers are going through a coaching transition, but it looks like they’ll be sticking with the 3-4, and that means Polite would be an excellent way to boost their pass rush on the edge. He had 11 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss as a junior before heading to the NFL, and while he probably isn’t a three-down player initially, he addresses the biggest weakness of the Green Bay defense from Day 1.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (MIA mock trade)
Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama. The Buccaneers could try and auction off their pick to the QB-needy teams if they want to address multiple areas with premium picks, and if they move to the middle of the first round, Thompson is someone who makes sense for them. He has the opportunity to be one of the best centerfield prospects in the game, though he can man up when called upon as well. You’re not going to find many with his range at the safety position.
14. Atlanta Falcons
Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan. Gary hasn’t put up massive sack numbers at Michigan, but that’s because that’s not his job. He excels at setting the run on the edge but can still offer some pass-rush talent from the interior. He’d be a great addition to the Falcons defensive line, even if the team signs Grady Jarrett to a contract extension. With a guy as talented as Gary, you’d be wise to just take him and let the rotation shake out however it may.
15. Washington Redskins
Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma. Washington could very well decide to land their quarterback of the future with this pick, but I think it’s more likely they sign an affordable veteran for 2019 and see where they are with Alex Smith next season before potentially diving into the 2020 QB class. Ford would be a massive upgrade at guard for a team that never seems to have enough healthy offensive linemen.
16. Carolina Panthers
Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss. The Panthers just saw what happens when you have major problems on the offensive line, as Cam Newton was limited by a shoulder injury in the second half that ultimately caused him to be shut down early. Daryl Williams and Ryan Kalil are free agents, and Matt Kalil has no business starting even when healthy. The Panthers have to go best offensive lineman available if they care about Newton’s health at all moving forward.
17. Cleveland Browns
Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia. Baker has experience playing in all types of coverages, and while he didn’t post gaudy interception totals at Georgia, his ball skills are top-notch and he’s a disruptive force for receivers trying to make a play. The Browns hit a home run by taking Denzel Ward in last year’s draft, and Baker gives them a nasty 1-2 punch at the position on what could be a dominant defense in 2019.
18. Minnesota Vikings
Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida. Taylor could rocket up boards if he tests well over the next few months, but at bare minimum I expect him to go in the middle of the first round with the crushing need for offensive line around the league. He could develop at tackle or move inside to guard but, surprise, the Vikings need upgrades in both spots. I’d give him a shot at right tackle to start and see how his athleticism translates.
19. Tennessee Titans
Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State. The Titans smartly started building for the future of their edge rush in the last draft by taking Harold Landry, and now they give him a running mate with Brian Orakpo retiring and Derrick Morgan a free agent. There’s no question what you bring Burns in to do: get after the quarterback. He’s an ideal fit for a 3-4 team at his size, but his explosiveness will make him difficult to handle for all but the most athletic of offensive tackles.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State. This isn’t the Steelers’ biggest need, but having Simmons fall out of the top half of the draft would be too big a steal to pass up. He’s disruptive as a penetrator, and while he doesn’t have the size to be a true nose tackle, he was used that way by Mississippi State and has experience dealing with double teams. And he still managed 27.5 tackles for loss in his last two seasons.
21. Seattle Seahawks
Devin Bush, LB, Michigan. K.J. Wright is heading into free agency, leaving the Seahawks with a massive need at the position next to Bobby Wagner. Enter Bush, who can play on all three downs and is a great mover in open space who can chase down the ball-carrier.
22. Baltimore Ravens
Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State. Sweat might not be a prototypical 4-3 defensive end at his size, but that’s where he plays his best and that’s how his NFL team will likely use him. Sweat has posted double-digit sacks in back-to-back seasons and is also a quality run defender, so if you look past his size and slightly advanced age (he’ll be 23 as a rookie), there’s plenty to love.
23. Houston Texans
Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama. With Jacobs declaring for the draft, he should be considered the favorite to be the first running back off the board. The Texans need to do something about their offensive line, but with linemen getting snapped up in the teens in this mock, they’ll fall back on adding the talented Jacobs, who can do everything you need at his position, to an offensive core of Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers (OAK mock trade)
Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia. I think Antonio Brown is getting traded this offseason, and the Raiders seem as good a fit as any. He’s not nearly the salary commitment of an Amari Cooper extension, as the Raiders would be responsible for just $38.9 million over three years. He’d give them a superstar to bring to Las Vegas as well. For Pittsburgh, getting a first-round pick could be worth the huge dead cap hit, especially if they can add a talent like Cajuste who can start at guard and eventually move to tackle.
25. Philadelphia Eagles
N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State. The Eagles could go in a few different directions, but one area of concern is at wide receiver, where they traded for Golden Tate during the season to give them a boost despite him hitting free agency this offseason. Harry is in the mix to be the first player at his position off the board as a potentially dominant outside receiver with great hands. If he has a big combine, he could shoot up the first round projections.
26. Indianapolis Colts
D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss. The Colts surprised some people with their run in 2018 behind a healthy Andrew Luck and an outstanding 2018 draft class. But one place they need to get better is at receiver, where it’s T.Y. Hilton followed by not much else in terms of reliable options. Metcalf’s season was ended early by a neck injury, but his upside as an outside receiver makes him one to watch during the predraft process.
27. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas)
Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama. Who could have guessed when the Raiders traded for this pick that it would end up being so low? Smith is a complete tight end prospect who should be in the mix to be the first guy at his position drafted. Jared Cook seemed to help unlock the Raiders passing game early in the season, but he’s heading into free agency, and adding Smith as his replacement could be a big step toward getting better on offense.
28. Los Angeles Chargers
Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama. The Patriots exposed the Chargers’ defense in the divisional round of the playoffs, and the Chargers desperately need to get better at linebacker so that doesn’t happen again. Wilson should boost the run defense while also offering the ability to cover running backs out of the backfield.
29. New England Patriots
Noah Fant, TE, Iowa. I think this is going to be the last year for Rob Gronkowski, and even it is isn’t the Patriots must know they can’t count on him as a receiving weapon in 2019. Fant would be the future for New England at the tight end position as a 6-foot-5 matchup nightmare who should blow up the combine.
30. Los Angeles Rams
Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson. The Rams only signed Ndamukong Suh to a one-year deal last offseason, and if he leaves in free agency, they should be on the lookout for Lawrence at the end of the first round. He has the size of a pure nose tackle but is able to do more than just occupy space, and he’d join Aaron Donald in giving offensive lines fits on the interior.
31. Kansas City Chiefs
Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson. Wilkins put together another fine performance as a senior to solidify his stock in the first round. Dexter Lawrence may be a more physically imposing presence at his size, but I think teams will value Wilkins’ versatility and technique a little more, and he could go much higher than this. The Chiefs are in danger of losing Allen Bailey in free agency, and replacing him with Wilkins would be a best-case scenario.
32. Denver Broncos (GB mock trade)
Drew Lock, QB, Missouri. If a first-round caliber quarterback is still around as Day 1 draws to a close, you start to see teams angling to trade into one of those late picks and grab him so that they’ll get the benefit of the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. The Broncos are a candidate to take Lock at No. 10, but if they pass and he’s still around late in the first round, I can see them making a move up to get him. They have extra ammunition on Day 3 after trading Demaryius Thomas and Trevor Siemian.