While the free agency period hasn’t officially closed, it’s probably fair to say that most of the big moves have been made. While trades can still take place, most teams have now turned their attention towards the upcoming NFL draft.
As needs are typically filled during free agency, projecting how a franchise may approach the draft following their signings can be complicated. Some teams will still look at positions of need and try to fill them with higher picks, while other front offices select the best player available no matter what.
Regardless, now that many players are officially off of the market, let’s take a look at the first round of the draft and see which prospects from the pool of prospective rookies might hear their names called on the first night:
1. Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
Pretty much all the buzz has pointed to this pick taking place since Murray turned his back on baseball and committed to becoming an NFL quarterback just a few months ago. Murray isn’t even the consensus top quarterback in this class, but he is a fit for what Kliff Kingsbury wants to do, so it would make perfect sense for them to wash their hands of the Josh Rosen experience and go all in on what their splash hire will need to succeed.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
There’s some talk the Niners would be more interested in Quinnen Williams after acquiring Dee Ford to pair with all the first round picks they’ve already made at EDGE over the past few years. John Lynch should be more concerned with getting picks right after a rough start though, and grabbing the best player in this years’ draft is a good way to do so.
3. New York Jets: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
The Jets would definitely love to trade back here, but the way the quarterback market unfolded makes that a bit less feasible for Mike Maccagnan. He goes BPA in this scenario as well with Williams adding some serious power to the middle of a defense that’s already added C.J. Mosley to its second level.
4. Oakland Raiders: Devin White, LB, LSU
All the chatter surrounding White is that he’s going to go much higher than people expect. It makes some sense as he’s a day one difference maker who would be a captain on the defensive side for the Silver and Black during the next decade plus.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
The Bucs would have to love this as an arguably top three type player falls to them at #5. Allen is a bit raw but his athleticism will make up for that as he learns his craft under Todd Bowles.
6. New York Giants: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
It’s difficult to tell what’s going on with the Giants right now. Rumors persist that they’re A) committed to Eli Manning, B) they want to bring in someone young behind him a-la Alex Smith to Pat Mahomes and just about everything in between. It all seems like a bunch of smoke; if Haskins is there it’s a no brainer they should pick him.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
The Jags are all in on Nick Foles and they’ll have to keep him upright. Taylor is the best pure tackle in this class so bookending their line with he and Cam Robsinson is a solid formula.
8. Detroit Lions: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
Williams can play both tackle and guard, and with T.J. Lang’s retirement, this pick would be a nice addition to Detroit’s line. His versatility is a huge plus here.
9. TRADE: Washington Redskins (via BUF): Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
I’m not buying that the Skins are cool with rolling into 2019 with Case Keenum and Colt McCoy, and with Lock falling a bit here, I could definitely see them leap frogging the Broncos to go and get him. He would immediately be the most physically impressive Redskins quarterback since RG3, and I’d expect him to both get some real game time this season and inject some hope into a pretty dejected fan base.
10. Denver Broncos: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
John Elway misses out on a guy to groom behind Joe Flacco so he picks the perfect target for him: a big, athletic, sure handed tight end who the veteran will certainly get a lot of use out of this season.
11. Cincinnati Bengals: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
One of the draft’s best players falls out of the top ten presumably due to his size, and the Bengals wisely snap him up to groom behind a similar player in Geno Atkins.
12. Green Bay Packers: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
The Packers MO is usually just to choke up on the bat and try to slap a double, but I have them swinging for the fences with this one. Some of their free agency moves suggest Brian Gutekunst is tired of this admittedly stagnant organization continuing to play things so safe, and picking Metcalf would signal a shift away from that as well as providing a unicorn on the outside for Aaron Rodgers to sling it to.
13. Miami Dolphins: Rashan Gary, EDGE, Michigan
Gary is basically a pure traits guy, and with Miami not trying to compete this season, he’ll have a year to learn how to refine his game under Brian Flores and his defensive staff.
14. Atlanta Falcons: Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
The Falcons were ravaged by injuries on defense in 2018. Adding Sweat into the pass rushing mix beside the guys they have coming back on defense could make them very competitive this fall.
15. Buffalo Bills (via WAS): Cody Ford, G, Oklahoma
No matter what you think of Josh Allen, the Bills are all in on him. As a result, I’m expecting the best offensive player on the board to be the pick here and Ford would be an immediate starter along Buffalo’s line this season.
16. Carolina Panthers: Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
Burns is one of the many freaky edge guys in this class, and the Panthers could use some more athleticism up front with the departure of Thomas Davis.
17. New York Giants (via CLE): Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
Big Blue grabbed their future offensive captain in Haskins earlier and now do the same with Bush on the other side of the ball. Similar to White, he’s an unexpected riser who could be plugged into a need position for New York from day one.
18. Minnesota Vikings: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
This may be a bit of a reach but the Vikings have a short window here with Kirk Cousins and Dillard fills a huge need. It’s tough to find serious needs for them other than O-Line so it would make sense to take the best guy available at that position.
19. Tennessee Titans: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
The second Iowa tight end comes off the board in round 1, providing Marcus Mariota with a much needed athletic target to work the middle of the field. Fant has drawn some Jordan Reed comparisons and would be the perfect eventual replacement to the aging Delanie Walker.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
As much as Pittsburgh has swung and missed on this position, it still remains a big need, and they shouldn’t let their past preclude them from taking a high upside type player. Greedy certainly is that, and could learn behind a consummate pro in Joe Haden to eventually take over as CB1.
21. TRADE: Oakland Raiders (via SEA): Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
The Raiders jump up past Baltimore, grabbing the best running back in the class to give Jon Gruden another weapon. Jacobs would alleviate some of the pressure from Derek Carr, who needs a bounce back 2019 campaign.
22. Baltimore Ravens: A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
D.K. Metcalf has all the athletic traits that suggest he may be a dominant NFL receiver, but his teammate has the skills and production that suggest he will be a very good one at the absolute least. Baltimore fans have been clamoring for a top target who has hands, route running, and a large catch radius; Brown has all of these tools, and comparisons to JuJu Smith-Schuster and Anquan Boldin will no doubt excite Ravens fans who don’t want to see Lamar Jackson be left without great receiving talent like Joe Flacco was at times.
23. Houston Texans: Taylor Rapp, S, Washington
The Honey Badger has left the building, and the best safety prospect of the 2019 class is his replacement. The Texans still need O-Line help, but Rapp is the pick if all the top options are gone by this point.
24. Seattle Seahawks (via OAK): Garrett Bradbury, C, N.C. State
The Seahawks have felt the ramifications of the Max Unger for Jimmy Graham trade over the last four years. Bradbury would solidify the middle in front of Russell Wilson for the next several years at least.
25. Philadelphia Eagles: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
This feels like a quintessential Howie Roseman pick. Getting healthier in the secondary will help them, but so would picking Murphy who could step in as a starter for the Eagles defense and provide some more athleticism and youth on the back end.
26. Indianapolis Colts: Hollywood Brown, WR, Oklahoma
Having already brought in the big and lumbering Devin Funchess, the Colts round out their receiving corps with an explosive track star for Andrew Luck to chuck it deep to.
27. Oakland Raiders (via DAL): Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
The Raiders already gave their front line a huge boost with Devin White now backing it, and this time they make an addition that adds a ton of juice and athleticism. Ferrell may even be a steal at this point, and with him, White, and Josh Jacobs in the mix, Jon Gruden may actually make a serious impact in his last year in Oakland.
28. Los Angeles Chargers: Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware
The Chargers made a huge addition to their secondary last year in the first round with Derwin James, and now go grab the rangy Adderley to pair up with him.
29. Kansas City Chiefs: Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple
The Chiefs are all in and need to turn their defense around in a hurry. Rock is a strong and smart player from a tough Temple program and would be a welcome addition to a D that was last seen getting torched by Tom Brady.
30. Green Bay Packers (via NO): Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
The Packers definitely need to win this season and Simmons won’t have a good chance of helping them do so after tearing his ACL in February. His upside is too good to pass up at 30 though, and so I have Green Bay jumping on him after just missing out on Ed Oliver earlier.
31. Los Angeles Rams: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
The Rams clearly need some depth at corner after Aqib Talib was in and out of the lineup and Marcus Peters struggled with consistently. Baker would give them a more long term plan at the position and provide some nastiness to pair up with those other two guys.
32. New England Patriots: N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
The Pats don’t typically swing on skill guys high in the draft, but they bucked that trend last year with the Sony Michel pick. I have them doing it again this season with a massive need at wideout as well as a need for size in their receiving corps with the departure of Gronk.