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Mock Draft - January

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Mock drafts can be a lot of fun but they can also be pointless. For me, this was more about going through the exercise of examining team needs, scheme fits and weighing prospect strengths and weaknesses. Of course, no one knows what’s going to happen with the draft still three months out. However, I did spend a lot of time researching the players and trying to find the best fit for each pick. I even had some fun with trades. Thanks for checking it out. Enjoy!

Big Ten Championship - Ohio State v Wisconsin
Nick Bosa should hear his name very early on Day One of the NFL Draft.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

1. Arizona Cardinals - NICK BOSA, EDGE (Ohio State) New Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury may be the offensive guru but GM Steve Keim still runs the draft. He takes the closest thing to a consensus #1 rated prospect in this year’s class with Bosa. The Cards already have the QB; now they have a cornerstone on their defense for years to come.

2. San Francisco 49ers - JOSH ALLEN, EDGE (Kentucky) Barring a trade back, the Niners do the smart thing and just take the Best Player Available in Allen. He may prove in time to be better than Bosa but the Niners need serious help on defense regardless. They’ll happily scoop up whichever pass rusher Arizona leaves on the board.

3. *TRADE* New York Giants - DWAYNE HASKINS, QB (Ohio State) With the Jets trading up last year to secure the chance to draft their future in Sam Darnold, the Giants put themselves in the unenviable position of having to do the same this year. And they need to make sure they stay in front of the Jaguars to ensure they get their guy. With the Jets looking to recoup the picks they gave up in last year’s trade, the cross-town rivals put their differences aside and make a deal.

The New York Giants make a big move to get their QB of the future.
sbnation.com

4. Oakland Raiders - QUINNEN WILLIAMS, DL (Alabama) The Raiders are stunned the best interior defensive lineman in the draft is still on the board at #4. With the top two Edge Rushers already gone, they know they probably can’t reproduce what they lost by foolishly trading away Khalil Mack. However, they decide to grab Williams who is the best player available and can be the type of penetrating, pocket collapsing defender they sorely need.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - RASHAN GARY, EDGE (Michigan) - The run on Edge defenders keeps going early in this draft. With rumors of the Bucs possibly moving on from Gerald McCoy, new Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles needs someone to come in and be a franchise changing player on that side of the ball. Gary is an athletic freak who can not only rush the passer but set the edge and drop into coverage.

6. *TRADE* Denver Broncos - DREW LOCK, QB (Missouri) - Much has been made of the Broncos’ interest in the senior signal caller from Mizzou. So much in fact that if the Broncos want him, they’re likely going to have to get in front of the Jaguars. The Jets, now playing with house money, have no problem dropping a few more spots to build a team around Darnold. Elway gets his guy.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars - KYLER MURRAY, QB (Oklahoma) One might be inclined to think that getting beaten to the punch twice on picking a QB would have the Jags scrambling, but this isn’t David Caldwell’s first rodeo as GM. Just as he did in 2014 with Blake Bortles, he coveted a quarterback and kept it a secret. This time it’s the Heisman winning passer out of Oklahoma. Caldwell and the rest of the Jags’ brass played this close to the vest and are thrilled to land Murray here.

The Jags stay put and land their franchise QB in Kyler Murray.

8. Detroit Lions - MARQUISE BROWN, WR (Oklahoma) One pick later, the Lions take Murray’s Sooner teammate “Hollywood” Brown to bolster their offense and give Matt Stafford another weapon; one who is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. Brown can play outside or in the slot, giving the Lions offense a key chess piece and someone who may help Stafford get back to being one of the top quarterbacks in the NFC.

9. Buffalo Bills - D.K. METCALF, WR (Mississippi) Second year QB Josh Allen needs weapons and the Bills would be elated to snag the talented prototype out of Ole Miss to be their #1 WR. He has all of the tools (size, speed, catch radius, athleticism) that are needed to excel on Sundays. The only question will be his health. A recent report said he is medically cleared for all football activities after having surgery on his neck in October, but the medical check at the Combine next month will be the real test.

10. New York Jets - MONTEZ SWEAT, EDGE (Mississippi State) After trading down twice and hauling in a boatload of extra picks in the process, the Jets are thrilled to see the Edge rusher who blew up the Senior Bowl practices still on the board at 10. Sweat will fit in nicely with Safety Jamal Adams and DE Leonard Williams and give former Browns DC Gregg Williams a lot of tools to work with in his new home.

11. Cincinnati Bengals - ANDRE DILLARD, OT (Washington State) Another year, another swing at the plate for the Bengals on getting Offensive Line help. Fans might groan at this selection but repetition doesn’t negate necessity and the Bengals have to hope this pick finally pans out. Dillard has the prototypical size and skills to be a Left Tackle in this league and the Bengals need to find that guy to help Andy Dalton stay healthy through all of 2019.

12. Green Bay Packers - JEFFERY SIMMONS, DT (Mississippi State) The Packers decided to go young at Head Coach with the hire of Matt LaFleur but they retained Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine to keep continuity on the defensive side of the ball. Enter Simmons who, if it weren’t for an off-field incident before his days at MSU, might have been the top Defensive Lineman in this draft. Pettine knows the importance of having interior pass rushers and someone who can stop the run on early downs. If they are comfortable with his past, Simmons makes sense.

13. Miami Dolphins - DANIEL JONES, QB (Duke) - With the Dolphins starting over at Head Coach, they have also decided to start over at Quarterback. Out goes the disappointing Ryan Tannehill and in comes Jones, who the Fins love for his athleticism, touch and football IQ. He doesn’t have the strongest arm of this year’s class but they don’t feel that is a dealbreaker in a climate like Miami.

14. Atlanta Falcons - ED OLIVER, DT (Houston) - Oliver was the consensus best player in the nation heading into the 2018 college football season. While his production as a pass rusher dipped a bit in his last season at Houston and scouts have concerns about his lack of ideal size, his production against the run has been near the top in the nation each of the last 3 seasons. The Falcons see him as a guy who could line up along the D line and even at Inside Linebacker, making him versatile enough to take in the top half of the round.

15. Washington Redskins - JAWAAN TAYLOR, OT (Florida) - In 2018, the Redskins went through Offensive Linemen like they were made of tissue paper. With Left Tackle Brandon Scherff expected to be healthy for the 2019 season, the Skins decide to bolster the right side of their line by taking the old school mauler out of Florida.

16. Carolina Panthers - TJ HOCKENSON (Iowa) - With longtime Panthers TE Greg Olsen coming off injury and an uncertain future after 2019, the Panthers decide to draft his eventual replacement in the talented Hawkeye in Hockenson. Tight End may not be a need right now, but it will be very soon.

17. Cleveland Browns - ANDRAEZ “GREEDY” WILLIAMS, CB (LSU) The Browns have a choice to make here. Do they take the fourth best Defensive Lineman in this class in Clemson’s Christian Wilkins, one of the second tier of EDGE rushers in Jachai Polite or Clelin Ferrell, or do they land their top rated Cornerback to pair with former 2018 first round pick, Denzel Ward? With multiple injuries at the position in 2018 and knowledge of how the Browns analytics-driven front office places value on the cornerback position, the selection of Williams makes a lot of sense. At 6’3”, 185 lbs, Greedy is a tall, rangy defender who can play the ball and the receiver very well. He is an ideal fit opposite Ward and should be the next in a long line of great secondary players to come out of LSU.

18. Minnesota Vikings - JONAH WILLIAMS, OT/G (Alabama) In 2018, the Vikings gave up 40 sacks on QB Kirk Cousins, tying them with the Detroit Lions for 10th most in the league. They also struggled to run the football consistently, having only 5 games with over 100 yards rushing compared to 13 the year before. They need help at OL. Williams would provide just that.

19. Tennessee Titans - DEVIN WHITE, LB (LSU) With Brian Orakpo announcing his retirement shortly after the season, the Titans need immediate help in the defensive front 7. Devin White is an electric linebacker who can easily cover the middle of the field and play sideline to sideline in stopping the run.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers - DEVIN BUSH, LB (Michigan) Two linebackers named Devin going back to back? Stranger things have happened and the Steelers have a definite need at the position with Ryan Shazier unlikely to play anytime soon, if ever. The former Wolverine fits the bill as the Steelers look to bolster run support and utilize their ever successful zone-blitz scheme.

21. Seattle Seahawks - CLELIN FERRELL, EDGE (Clemson) - Ferrell is a jack of all trades and a master of none but he has all the measurables you look for in a prototypical Edge rusher. At this point in the draft, the Seahawks understand it’s about getting the best prospect available and bringing him along slowly so that he may one day be a dominant player. Ferrell is just that.

22. Baltimore Ravens - JACHAI POLITE, EDGE (Florida) - The run on Edge rushers is back on as the Ravens select the heir apparent to future Hall of Famer Terrell Suggs. For what Polite lacks in size, he more than makes up for in burst and speed off the edge. He’s got big shoes to fill but Eric DeCosta’s first pick as General Manager has a lot of potential.

23. Houston Texans - NASIR ADDERLEY, SAFETY (Delaware) The Texans may be losing versatile, veteran safety Tyrann Mathieu to free agency but they won’t miss a beat if they grab the best safety prospect in the draft in Adderley. Ideally a free safety, Adderley has outstanding instincts and ability to play the ball. He can also come up and help in run support.

24. Oakland Raiders - JOSH JACOBS, RB (Alabama) With 3 picks in the 1st round, the Raiders can afford to add some sizzle to their steak by selecting the best Running Back in the draft. The pick also fits with Jon Gruden’s old-school approach to team building but is low enough that analytics-driven scouts won’t be up in arms. Jacobs will be a sound addition to a team that needs to find a way to score points while taking pressure off of Derek Carr.

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

25. Philadelphia Eagles - CHRISTIAN WILKINS, DT (Clemson) Before the 2018 season, the Eagles defensive line was ranked as the deepest position group in the league by NFL.com. Now that the season is over, and with Philly looking at $-16 million dollars in cap space heading into 2019, tough decisions loom. As of now, the Eagles may lose DEs Brandon Graham, Chris Long and NT Haloti Ngata. Wilkins would go a long way to making sure they don’t lose out on a ton of production along that unit.

26. Indianapolis Colts - BYRON MURPHY, CB (Washington) The Colts lead the league in cap space and would be wise to re-sign Pierre Desir to a contract extension. But in case they don’t, they can opt to draft his replacement in that secondary with Murphy.

27. Oakland Raiders - JOHNATHAN ABRAM, SAFETY (Mississippi State) With Marcus Gilchrist set to become a free agent, the Raiders decide to go young at the position and select Abrams, who projects best as a Strong Safety at the next level.

28. Los Angeles Chargers - DEXTER LAWRENCE, DT (Clemson) The Chargers are likely moving on from 34 year old Brandon Mebane this offseason. This makes the pick of the other Clemson defensive lineman a no brainer.

29. Kansas City Chiefs - DEANDRE BAKER, CB (Georgia) The Chiefs could easily go Edge Rusher here with a guy like Louisiana Tech’s Jaylon Ferguson if they happen to let Dee Ford walk in free agency. But with their cap space available, I can’t see that happening. It’s more likely that they will need to replace Orlando Scandrick in the secondary. Baker is the best corner on the board at this spot.

30. Green Bay Packers - CODY FORD, OT (Oklahoma) Bryan Bulaga will be a free agent after the 2019 season. The Packers decide to plan ahead and draft his replacement a year early. Fans won’t be happy with this pick but it affords the Pack the ability to bring Ford along slowly. Plus, he’s the best player available who unexpectedly fell into their laps.

31. Los Angeles Rams - DEIONTE THOMPSON, FS (Alabama) As a Super Bowl team, the Rams don’t have many needs but Lamarcus Joyner is a free agent. Drafting Thompson makes the most sense here.

32. New England Patriots - DALTON RISNER, OL (Kansas State) Knowing Belichick, he’d probably love to trade out here but there doesn’t seem to be a QB available that another team would want to come up and snag for that 5th year option. So the Pats do the smart, albeit unsexy thing, and draft the gritty yet versatile lineman out of KSU. He wowed scouts at the Senior Bowl in Mobile and can be plugged in all over the offensive line.

Well, there you have it. Much will change in the coming weeks as we get a better sense of what teams are thinking now that they are conducting staff meetings with scouts and coaches present. The next big draft event will be the NFL Combine in early March, followed shortly by Free Agency on March 13th. Stay tuned, I’ll be back with with more draft content soon!