With the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine (March 1-4 on NFL Network) getting underway this week, here's my first mock for Round 1 of this year's draft.
If the Cardinals are pushing their chips all the way in on new head coach Kliff Kingsbury -- and yes, they should -- they've got to let him make this pick. If Josh Rosen is the ideal guy for his offense, great. But even putting Kingsbury's glowing October comments about Murray aside, I think the Oklahoma quarterback is the perfect plug-and-play for the new coach's scheme.
Bosa's the most polished pass rusher in this draft, and is widely viewed as the top prospect in this class. San Francisco would be thrilled to see Bosa slip out of the top spot.
Allen was a standout performer in the SEC, but most GMs I've spoken to say he's just scratching the surface. He's one of those prospects who is expected to light the NFL Scouting Combine on fire with his athleticism. Just wait for his height, weight and 40 time. The Jets have needs on both sides of the ball. Get as many great players as possible this offseason.
Viewed by many as a surefire NFL stud, Williams moved all along the Alabama defensive line and showed a combination of pass-rushing and run-stuffing skills that has many NFL GMs licking their chops. The
Raiders have three first-round selections. They can swing for the fences here or go with a guy everyone expects to make an immediate impact and be a franchise cornerstone. I'd roll with the latter.
With 2018 starting tackles Donovan Smith (a pending free agent who's not expected be franchise-tagged) and Demar Dotson not long-term answers, don't be shocked if the first pick of the Bruce Arians era in Tampa Bay is a tackle who can protect the quarterback's blind side.
The Giants passed on a quarterback in the top 10 a year ago and got a generational talent at running back. The hope is that New York never has a draft pick this high again. If the G-Men like Haskins -- a Jersey-born kid who threw 50 touchdowns against top competition in his one full year as a starter -- they should snag him, and let him eventually take the torch from Eli.
If either Murray or Haskins is on the board, all bets are off. But I really do think the Jaguars -- with the John DeFilippo connection -- are the front-runners in the Nick Foles sweepstakes. If that's the case, and things shake out this way, Gary could be the guy. An athletic dynamo -- The Athletic's Bruce Feldman had him listed at No. 1 in his annual "Freaks" column last July -- and a two-time All-Big Ten Academic honoree, Gary has unlimited potential and will dominate at the combine.
One of my favorite names in this draft is also one of my favorite prospects. Tall, lean, high-energy from the jump, Sweat could have left after his junior year, but he stayed in Starkville and had an outstanding senior campaign that earned him All-America honors. With Ziggy Ansah set to hit free agency, the Lions need pressure off the edge.
The retirement of Kyle Williams leaves a giant hole in the middle of Buffalo's defensive line. Oliver suffered an injury and had an apparent conflict with his coach during his last season at Houston, but he has long been viewed as a surefire top-10 NFL prospect. Buffalo would be a great landing spot.
A math-camp whiz kid who ended up opting for football over numbers, Lawrence is a disruptive force who has a college coach in Dabo Swinney doing all he can to clear Lawrence's name after it made its way into headlines with a failed drug test for a performance-enhancing substance, which led to him being suspended for the College Football Playoff.
Ferrell is a long, athletic and powerful pass rusher who dominated the ACC over the past two seasons. When I asked a scout recently for the word that came to mind regarding Ferrell, he said "leadership." Love that.
White could go in the top five when all is said and done, but I think No. 12 to Green Bay would be a great fit. The
Packers feel very strongly about their young defensive backfield, but they could use some more talent in the front seven. An NFL scout told me there's a chance White could end up being as good out of the gate as Patrick Willis. If that's the case, sign me up.
The 2019 quarterback class might not be as bright and shiny as last year's, but there's definitely talent in the first round. Jones, the Senior Bowl MVP who has great NFL size and maturity, was coached at Duke by David Cutcliffe -- the same man who guided Peyton and Eli Manning during their respective college careers. The Dolphins turn the page with a new coach and quarterback.
The Falcons' roster was ravaged by injuries a season ago, and they have free agents at many key positions. I wouldn't be shocked if Atlanta added Wilkins -- the third defensive lineman out of Clemson in my top 15 -- if he's on the board at 14. His college numbers are absurd from the DT spot: 208 total tackles, 45 tackles for loss, 17 sacks and 56 quarterback pressures across four seasons, with two national championships as cherries on top.
Jon Gruden had Lock on his team in the Senior Bowl for a week, but I'd think the fit in Washington with Jon's brother, Jay, might be an even better one. Offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell, senior offensive assistant Matt Cavanaugh, Gruden, and offensive line coach Bill Callahan would all be tremendous assets for a young quarterback. With the team's future unknown at the position, scooping up a talented thrower like Lock this late in the first round could be a major score.
I've seen several mock drafts with Hockenson in the top 10, and I'm cool with that. If he slips to 16, he becomes the heir apparent to Greg Olsen and an immediate contributor to an offense that has added two talented players with first-round picks in the past two drafts (D.J. Moore and Christian McCaffrey). He's apparently as good a blocker as he is a pass catcher.
It's hard not to know and like Baker's game if you watch SEC football on Saturdays. With much better play speed than track speed, he logged seven interceptions in his time at Georgia and went two years without surrendering a touchdown. Denzel Ward and Baker could form a nice little defensive back duo for the Dawg Pound.
The Vikings will address the offensive line in the draft (likely multiple times) and in free agency. Williams is considered "undersized" at 302 pounds, but has wonderful technique. He'd be an immediate starter in Minnesota.
Two Iowa tight ends could go in the first round of this year's draft. Fant is more of a natural athlete and potentially a better receiving tight end than Hockenson, a guy many pundits have rated higher.
The Steelers will look to address their defensive backfield in both free agency and the draft. Murphy is a stellar athlete, who -- beyond starring for Washington at cornerback -- was a stud wide receiver and hoops player in high school.
Polite is a 6-foot-2, 245-pound edge rusher who can simply get to the quarterback. Pass rush is a glaring need in Seattle, especially if impending free agent Frank Clark leaves town.
If the Lamar Jackson era is going to work, the Ravens need playmakers who fit his style and as much O-line stability as possible. Bradbury won't wow anyone at the combine with his athletic workouts, but he's projected to be a Day 1 starter in the NFL at one of the three interior offensive line positions. Solid pass blocker, great run blocker. Perfect Raven.
Houston's offensive line really struggled at times in the 2018 season. Dillard is a good pass blocker and should be an immediate starter at the next level.
I could see the Raiders choosing to beef up their defense with at least two of their three first-round picks. Wilson is a solid linebacker prospect, with great size, athleticism, big-game experience and coaching at Alabama. He's projected anywhere from the mid-first to the second round. I like him right at 24 to Oakland.
Philly struck gold drafting a defensive tackle out of Starkville seven years ago in Fletcher Cox and could do the same in 2019. Simmons' draft stock is a curiosity at the moment, coming off the news that he suffered a torn ACL during his pre-draft training. Just how much that -- and a 2016 arrest spawning from a highly publicized video of him getting into a physical altercation with a woman -- impacts his stock has yet to be seen.
Jacobs ranked 144th in the nation in 2018 with 640 rushing yards, though a limited college workload means he still has plenty of tread on his tires. A groin ailment might keep him from completely showing his wares in Indy, but it's a safe bet Alabama's pro day will draw an NFL decision-maker or 32. He has all the measurables pro teams covet, can return kicks and comes in with a great reputation as a teammate.
This is the pick the Raiders got in exchange for Amari Cooper. Why not scoop up a receiver who has some serious top-end speed? Metcalf is the son of Terrence Metcalf, who spent seven seasons as a guard in the NFL, and the nephew of three-time All-Pro Eric Metcalf. The pedigree is for real. The production could be, as well.
Teams seem to be a lot higher on Grier than folks in the mock draft world. Los Angeles could take Grier here, and get him for four years with the fifth-year option in his contract. No one is pushing Philip Rivers out the door any time soon, but having Grier -- who I believe will see his stock rise the most of any QB at the combine -- waiting in the wings would be wise.
The Chiefs will look to add some depth to a defense that was both ravaged by injuries and beaten badly in big games. Adderley is a 6-foot tall ballhawking safety who had 11 interceptions while starring in college. If you want your connections, Chiefs GM Brett Veach is a Delaware Blue Hen through and through. If anyone knows the program, it's the man making the pick for Kansas City.
The Packers have a new offensive-minded head coach, a new offensive coordinator and a quarterback whose weapons at wide receiver left a little to be desired. My colleague Tom Pelissero reported last week that Brown had Lisfranc surgery, which will keep the wide receiver from participating in drills at the combine and Oklahoma's pro day. But in an era where everyone is looking for the next Tyreek Hill, a guy with Brown's speed and playmaking ability should still go in the first round.
Burns is an explosive pass rusher, who, despite a "skinny" frame, seems to get to the quarterback and shed blockers. Los Angeles has decisions to make on several free agents, including Dante Fowler. Burns could make a difference immediately.
The Patriots' defense put on a show in the Super Bowl, but will always keep adding to the depth chart. Jones was coached in college by Greg Schiano, who reportedly will replace Brian Flores on the New England staff, and had a productive three seasons playing across the Ohio State defensive line.