We’re nearly there. Thursday night, Roger Goodell will be greeted by a cacophony of boos to kick off the NFL Draft proceedings down in Nashville, Tennessee.
This has been one of the more memorable draft cycles in recent years for a few reasons. The main reason, of course, is that a guy who was all but on board a minor league baseball bus a few short months ago is the favorite to go number one overall, but it doesn’t stop there. We’ve had risers and fallers in guys like Ed Oliver and Devin White, an intriguing group of quarterbacks behind Kyler Murray, and of course the remaining question of what on Earth is Dave Gettleman planning to do with his two first-round picks?
It’s all going to be a very interesting process to watch unfold as the draft is typically equal parts team building event and soap opera.
For our part, this is going to be our last crack at predicting how things are going to shake out on Thursday night in the first round. As has been the case all offseason, this is an attempt at trying to nail exactly how it all goes down, so trades will be included here as well.
Without further ado, Baltimore Beatdown’s final first round mock draft goes as follows:
1. Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
Arizona can try to smokescreen this up all they want, and they certainly have. Reports indicated that Murray and his agent Erik Burkhardt were both in the facility for his recent top 30 visit (something they’ve tried to refute) as well as one from CBS Sports which indicated they’ll pass on him.
At some point, all the posturing they may do something other than take Murray just makes it seem even more clear that they’re trying to drum up the price on a potential Godfather offer in the unexpected event that one comes their way. Even if it did, they hired Kliff Kingsbury to bring their offense into the new era, and all indications point to Murray being his guy; in that case, Steve Keim has to take him, and hope that it all works out. His job is very much in danger if it doesn’t.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
The skinny on Williams seems to be that a lot of NFL front offices rank him right up there with Nick Bosa as the best player in this class. The two play two different positions, but provide the same function: get after the quarterback.
The Niners definitely need the latter, though they’ve invested a king’s ransom into outside pass rush at the top of the draft over the last few years. To both help facilitate the development of those other guys and fill a need at D-tackle (as well as add a super high-character guy) I have them taking Williams over Bosa to help get Robert Saleh’s defense finally on track.
3. New York Jets: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Similar to last year, a guy the Jets never expected to fall to them at three does so. Mike Maccagnan once again runs to the podium to pick up the guy who many consider to be the best player in the class.
Not only does it fill a need for 2019, but it solves a generational problem for Gang Green who haven’t had a guy that could get after the quarterback since John Abraham. That’s quite the throwback, and injecting a player of Bosa’s caliber into the mix with Leonard Williams and Henry Anderson may take Jets fans back to the days of the sack exchange.
4. Oakland Raiders: Devin White, LB, LSU
“You like football, don’t ya man?” is a question Jon Gruden famously asked pretty much every quarterback who ever appeared on his “QB Camp” show on ESPN. Devin White loves football and Jon Gruden is going to love Devin White.
The inside backer out of LSU is a do-it-all type player who can be plugged into the middle of a defense and instantly be the centerpiece of it. The Raiders are looking for that defensive talisman after moving on from Khalil Mack, and while they play different positions, White has the potential to be that guy for the Silver and Black.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
Bruce Arians may try to sway Jason Licht towards getting some help for Jameis Winston, but Allen is too good of a value proposition at fifth overall. He’s a do-it-all type player similar to Lavonte David, and could learn a thing or two from the veteran while he figures things out in year one.
That would be an especial help to Allen who’s considered a bit of a raw prospect. That’s both good and bad for Tampa Bay because it allowed for him to fall to five, but also presents a bit of a learning curve for the former Wildcat.
6. New York Giants: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
The Giants are the enigma of the draft this season. They’ve shown every indication that they believe Eli Manning is still some sort of long-term answer, which quite frankly is really hard to believe at this point.
Manning will likely be on their roster in 2019, but it’s fair to wonder how long he’ll be the starter, especially if they do pick a quarterback at six. Many believe they do like Haskins and are willing to take him there, which would finally signal the long awaited move into a new era for big blue.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
Nick Foles has shown that when he has time and some good receivers to throw to, he can have some real success from the pocket. The Jags not only want to set him up to do so, but also would like to invest in the offensive line to help get Leonard Fournette going.
Taylor is the draft’s best tackle and has the profile to succeed in both of those facets. Tom Coughlin and Dave Caldwell have a Super Bowl type roster based on talent and players like Foles and Taylor will be key to getting the offense going towards unlocking said potential.
8. Detroit Lions: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
Williams projects to the NFL as a guard which isn’t typically a premium position for the league. With respect to last year though, the Colts definitely don’t have any buyers remorse on Quenton Nelson in the top 10.
Williams may not be on Nelson’s level, but he’ll be the starter from day one. T.J. Lang’s retirement very much opens the door and this pick is a big-time investment into what could be a make-or-break season for Matthew Stafford.
9. TRADE: Cincinnati Bengals (via BUF): Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
Per usual, there’s been no buzz about what the Bengals are interested in doing in the upcoming draft. As a result of that, mocking for them is almost always pure guesswork, even more so than with other teams.
In this case though, it’s tough to imagine they’re still incredibly fired up about what another several years of the Andy Dalton experience may entail for them, especially if a specimen like Lock begins to fall their way. This is also true considering that they just saw how much life an exciting rookie quarterback injected into the fan base of not one but two division rivals last season.
It’s an easy pick swap trade up with Buffalo (who they did business with in the first round last season) to get past Denver who reportedly loves Lock. From there, it’s one more season with the Red Rifle in the picture and then beyond that, Zac Taylor has his guy for the future and the AFC North has yet another young gun to watch out for.
10. Denver Broncos: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
The Broncos just miss out on Lock, who they’d probably love to have behind Joe Flacco to groom. Now, the value to grab somebody to help the veteran on the offensive side doesn’t quite add up either. Enter Oliver.
The former Houston standout is seen by some as a top five type player, whose fall is for the most part attributed to a lack of size. Aaron Donald fell for the same reason and there’s little doubt a defensive head coach like Vic Fangio would love throwing him into the mix with Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, Derek Wolfe and the rest of his defense.
11. Buffalo Bills (via CIN): T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
Buffalo has made some nice investments at pass catcher this season in guys like John Brown and Cole Beasley, but they definitely shouldn’t stop there. Those two guys don’t necessarily have the size to be linchpin type players in a Josh Allen led offense, but Hockenson certainly does.
The former Hawkeye has a huge strike zone and great athleticism to pair with it. Trading back with Cincy and grabbing a nice value pick like this would have Bills fans optimistic about their outlook moving forward with their young QB.
12. Green Bay Packers: Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
The Packers can go any number of directions here, including getting some more help for Aaron Rodgers. With their pick of the litter at receiver and some decent O-Line options, that is very much possible.
However, I have Brian Gutekunst continuing the defensive youth movement he started last year, nabbing up the Uber athlete Burns. Pairing him with Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith would give Mike Pettine all the tools he needs to get after the quarterback for the next several years.
13. Miami Dolphins: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
All but confirmed to be checked out of the race before the 2019 season even begins, all Miami can do is load up on players and create a competitive culture for their presumptive 2020 quarterback to enter into smoothly. Bush is the perfect guy to start with.
Unlike some of the swings the Dolphins have taken in recent years, he’s a super solid inside backer that will likely start from day one and for a long time after. Brian Flores is rebuilding things from the ground up and Bush can be a foundational piece for him.
14. Atlanta Falcons: Cody Ford, OG, Oklahoma
The Falcons were hit hard by the injury bug last season, especially on defense. For that reason, it’s tempting to go in a different direction here, but the value doesn’t quite line up.
Instead, they grab a day one starter on the O-Line who could potentially play tackle, but projects well to the interior. Ford will provide some serious toughness to an offense that would probably like to get back to the power run type scheme that got them to a Super Bowl.
15. Washington Redskins: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
The Redskins strike out on the top three options at the position, but Dan Snyder isn’t going to rest on his laurels here. Whether it’s by acquiring Josh Rosen or reaching on a prospect like Jones in the first, the man wants to sell tickets and won’t be doing so if Case Keenum’s face is printed on them.
This feels like a worst-case scenario for Washington fans who have had a pretty rough go of it the last few seasons, but Jones also isn’t the non-starter that some are making him out to be. He could eventually develop into an Andy Dalton type player which obviously isn’t very exciting, but don’t forget that Jay Gruden helped groom Dalton back in the day and could be the exact right guy to help Jones acclimate to the NFL.
16. Carolina Panthers: Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
The Panthers could go offensive line here, but after just missing out on Ford, I have them looking down to road to Greenville to find their pass rusher of the future. Ferrell is an athletic freak and super high-character guy, fitting in well with what Ron Rivera wants to do.
I also looked at pass catching options here since Greg Olsen is aging and Devin Funchess just left town, but it isn’t the easiest sell considering they just took a round one wideout last year. We’ll see if D.J. Moore is able to develop into a top level guy, but for now, giving him the chance is the first start towards him doing so.
17. New York Giants (via CLE): Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller reported Monday that Sweat’s stock is taking a dive due to medical, and he may fall out of round one completely. Another report that came out Monday (via ESPN’s Todd McShay) was that Dave Gettleman is “crazed” about acquiring a pass rusher, and may do so at sixth overall at the risk of missing out on a quarterback.
I see this as part smokescreen and part truth; if Haskins is sitting there at six I believe Gettleman takes him, but his affinity for pass rushers is well documented. If the hyper-athletic Sweat is still available at 17, I think Big Blue is willing to take the risk.
18. Minnesota Vikings: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
If the Kirk Cousins era is going to bear the fruit the Vikings are hoping for (a Super Bowl ring) then a continued investment in him will be needed. They failed to do so last season by running out a makeshift offensive line and it cost them a playoff spot.
Dillard’s toughness has been called into question, and there are likely better players available to choose from here. However, if you’re all in like Minnesota seems to believe they are, sometimes picking for need can become necessary.
19. Tennessee Titans: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
Metcalf slides a bit compared to where he was being mocked after an unprecedented combine performance, but still lands in the top 20 to a playmaker needy team. Corey Davis was a top five pick a few years ago, but the Titans are still in desperate need of some pass catching help.
The former Ole Miss workout warrior would bring a different element to them in that regard, and would maybe help facilitate Marcus Mariota’s long awaited break out. If not, Tennessee will at least have a more dynamic receiving corps ready for a potential next guy in line.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Rashan Gary, EDGE, Michigan
Standing pat and allowing a great player to fall into their lap is something the Steelers do better than just about anyone. Gary is definitely raw which leads to a bit of a fall here after a ton of top ten consideration early in the process.
Pairing him up with T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward is a great recipe for success on D, even if they’re passing on some needed secondary help. Corner will be a position to watch for that reason of course, but if a high-upside guy like Gary falls this far, you can count on Kevin Colbert to snatch him up at a great value position.
21. TRADE: Oakland Raiders (via SEA): Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
Oakland already grabbed a defensive tone setter and now do the same thing on the other side of the ball by picking Jacobs. They do so by trading with Seattle in order to jump up in front of the Ravens who certainly are in the mix for the Bama battering ram.
Comparisons to Frank Gore and a rock solid character profile seem to suggest Jacobs is going to be a very good player for a very long time. Plus, he alleviates some pressure off of Derek Carr who needs a big time season in 2019 in order to ensure his future with the franchise.
22. Baltimore Ravens: Garrett Bradbury, C, N.C. State
The Ravens have a decent selection of players to choose from here and no shortage of wideouts with only one off the board so far. That one would be Metcalf who is likely their top option in round one, which opens up more possibilities than reaching on a guy to fill a need at wideout.
The fact is that center is maybe the biggest need this team has, and Bradbury is probably a better value at 22 than any of the wide receiver options currently available. As a result, I have Eric DeCosta following in his predecessors footsteps by prioritizing building up the trenches with his first pick.
This is made especially possible with the depth at receiver in this class. I’m still expecting the front office to take several wideouts in this draft, and with a ton of great value/early impact guys still likely to be available on day two, look for them to make at least one (and maybe even two) moves on Friday night to grab some playmakers at that position
23. Houston Texans: Erik McCoy, C, Texas A&M
The Texans were a playoff team and division champion in 2018, but it did feel like they fizzled down the stretch a bit. A big part of that was an inability to protect their franchise savior in Deshaun Watson.
McCoy is a great pick towards helping them do so, with an ability to play all along the interior of the line. There are still a ton of playmakers available on the board and maybe even at higher value, but O-line is such a huge need I simply don’t see them passing up an opportunity to address it with a red star guy.
24. Seattle Seahawks (via OAK): Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
The Seahawks just paid Russell Wilson a ton of money, and here they make an investment towards helping him succeed. They do so by picking a guy who they’ve never had since Wilson has been there.
That is, a super athlete at tight end who can work the middle of the field like Fant. The Jimmy Graham experience was a huge disappointment, and with Fant drawing some comparisons to a healthier Jordan Reed, Seahawks fans should be excited about the idea of trading back to acquire picks and still being able to grab a guy of his caliber.
25. Philadelphia Eagles: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
Wideout isn’t necessarily the biggest need for Philly, but one thing they’re going to feel the need to do is assure that they made the right decision in sticking with Carson Wentz. This of course starts with doing everything they can do to get him back on track to being an MVP candidate.
Hollywood Brown isn’t a perfect prospect by any means, but he has elite speed and can hit the homerun in a similar manner to current Eagle Desean Jackson. That combined with him being a perfect fit in an offense that has the diversity for him to fit into immediately makes him a very nice pickup here for Howie Roseman and company.
26. Indianapolis Colts: Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame
The Colts could go for a playmaker here, but Chris Ballard does seem set on building this team in a conventional fashion. In that sense, Tillery fits his type perfectly.
The former fighting Irishman is versatile in terms of positions he can play along the defensive line, and could potentially fit into several different types of schemes because of it. He’d be a welcome addition into one of the leagues’ quietly more talented defenses.
27. Oakland Raiders (via DAL): N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
Oakland acquired this pick by moving Amari Cooper to Dallas, and here they get a potential replacement for him. Harry has some raw aspects of his game that will need work, but based on the measurables he should very much be a first round pick.
In this scenario the Raiders are all in on Derek Carr, who’s been at his best when given some good options to chuck it to on the outside which Harry could very much develop into. With him, Jacobs, and now White being thrown into the mix, a roster that was gutted over the course of the last year is now suddenly much more intriguing.
28. Los Angeles Chargers: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
The Chargers defense has some super promising pieces that looked great in 2018. The problem is that the puzzle isn’t totally pieced together as evidenced by the romping that New England handed them back in January.
Williams wouldn’t necessarily add more physicality in that regard as he isn’t known for a willingness to tackle, but his coverage skills would still be a welcome addition. This would be a nice value pick and would hopefully make up for the promise shown by Jason Verrett that was ultimately cut short by injuries.
29. TRADE: New England Patriots: A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
Usually, I’d think Bill Belichick would get physically ill at the idea of trading up, but this is a somewhat unique scenario. The Pats have a big time need at wideout still, and Brown is an all around solid player who would fit in well with Tom Brady and Josh McDaniels.
They still have some moves to make (including at tight end), but this move would inject some much needed youth into an aging position group for New England. In the meantime, Brown could work the middle of the field and pick up some of the slack that Gronk is leaving behind as heads for greener pastures.
30. Green Bay Packers: Taylor Rapp, S, Washington
A run on offensive playmakers sees Green Bay miss out on the opportunity to grab some help for Aaron Rodgers in round one. I don’t see them panicking though.
Instead, they stick to their board and get a great player in Rapp who would really help round this defense’s youth movement into form (especially after grabbing Burns earlier on). His speed is a bit of a concern, but his tape shows that he’s fast enough when the pads come on so it wouldn’t be a surprise for him to still wind up in round one.
31. Los Angeles Rams: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
The Rams lost Ndamukong Suh to free agency and haven’t found a replacement for him just yet. They get a long term one to pair with Aaron Donald here.
Wilkins is a high motor guy with great character who would be a great addition to an already strong defense. He should slot in as an instant starter and help the Rams on their quest to get back to the Super Bowl in year 3 of the Sean McVay experience.
32. Seattle Seahawks (via NE): Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware
The Seahawks just acquired this second first rounder in a trade with Kansas City in which they gave up pass rusher Frank Clark. Instead of grabbing a potential Clark replacement, I see them going after a guy who could eventually step up to take over for the departed Earl Thomas.
Adderley has some versatility, and some in fact do see him as a cornerback at the next level. Regardless of what he plays, the Seahawks have shown an ability to develop great players in the secondary, so there’s a great chance that Adderley would be the next in line if this pick were to indeed happen.