2019 NFL Mock Draft: Matt Miller's Latest Picks at Quarter Mark of NFL Season
When the NFL season began a month ago, no one would have believed a mock draft with the San Francisco 49ers in the top five, the New England Patriots in the top 20 and the Cincinnati Bengals and Chicago Bears in the last five picks. And yet, here we are. Welcome to a wild 2018 season so far.
After four weeks of play, some aspects of the 2019 draft class are coming into focus. Team needs are becoming clearer, the draft order is starting to take shape with updated NFL standings and the prospects from the college ranks are nearly halfway through their seasons. That gives us a great time to update the draft order and predictions with a new mock.
Many will only focus on two things here: where their team is drafting and whom it's picking. Remember, this isn't a predicted draft order but instead a look at where teams are drafting as of today. The NFL sets its order based on wins and losses, with a tiebreaker being strength of schedule. Head-to-head victories or losses don't come into play.
Now that the housekeeping is out of the way, here we go.
1. Arizona Cardinals
The Pick: Ed Oliver, DL, Houston
Oliver or Nick Bosa? That's the debate many will be having when it comes time for the first pick of the 2019 draft to be announced. For the Arizona Cardinals, the only winless team in the league, it would be an intense one. Based on the current status of the roster, though, an interior pass rush is what the squad needs most.
Bosa is a fantastic player, but Oliver projects as an Aaron Donald-like interior rusher. With Markus Golden and Chandler Jones already established on the edge, Bosa would be a luxury pick. A dang good one, of course, but not the need Oliver is.
When two prospects are so closely ranked and graded, teams go for the need. That's what the Cardinals do here in getting a truly rare defensive tackle prospect.
2. San Francisco 49ers
The Pick: Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
The top prospect on my big board, Nick Bosa is a special edge-rusher. He is sidelined right now with an abdominal injury that required surgery but will be re-evaluated in November and could get back onto the field for the end of the Buckeyes' season. As long as he's healthy for the NFL Scouting Combine, Bosa is a lock to be a top-three pick.
The 49ers were dealt an unlucky hand this season in losing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to an ACL injury. That could open the door to a top-five pick and a chance to get an elite pass-rusher to round out a defense that hasn't looked great all season long.
A front featuring Bosa, DeForest Buckner and linebackers Reuben Foster and Fred Warner looks pretty terrifying for opposing offenses to deal with.
3. Oakland Raiders
The Pick: Devin White, LB, LSU
When the Oakland Raiders traded Khalil Mack to the Bears, many assumed the team would draft Bosa to replace him. That may happen, but as the draft order stands right now, the Raiders wouldn't have that chance.
Bosa is off the board, but the Raiders can still make a move to improve their defense. LSU's Devin White is a Myles Jack-like prospect with excellent speed, range, instincts and the ability to be a coverage defender in passing situations. This might be considered a reach for some given the position value, but White is the best player on the board at a position of need.
In this situation, the Raiders might also be prime trade partners for any team looking to move up and secure the top quarterback in the draft.
4. New York Jets
The Pick: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
Had the New York Jets signed quarterback Kirk Cousins in free agency, I firmly believe the best move for them would have been trading up to select Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward in the 2018 draft. That didn't happen, but the Jets' need for a cornerback is real even after signing Trumaine Johnson in free agency.
Greedy Williams is an excellent target to round out the secondary. He's long, smart, fast and comes from the same LSU system that produced star safety Jamal Adams. Put Williams alongside Adams, Marcus Maye and Johnson, and the Jets secondary is immediately one of the strongest in the league.
Fans would love to see a pass-rusher here, but after Bosa, there isn't a true edge player on the board at a value in the top five.
5. New York Giants
The Pick: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
This is the first quarterback off the board, and New York Giants fans couldn't be happier.
After bypassing a future franchise passer with the No. 2 pick last year, the Giants have to be thinking about life after Eli Manning. The best way to do that is to use their early selection on the heir apparent. Justin Herbert is that guy.
Herbert has been on a tear at Oregon all season long, showing the high completion percentage (64.7) and athleticism to clearly be the top quarterback in the 2019 class. There will be those who question the scheme at Oregon, but he's shown the accuracy and mobility to excel in an NFL scheme.
6. Indianapolis Colts
The Pick: Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan
You can already see improvement from the Indianapolis Colts under new head coach Frank Reich, but it's apparent they need more talent on both sides of the ball. With a top-six selection, general manager Chris Ballard can make a splash move by acquiring a premium player.
Rashan Gary is the type of athletic difference-maker the Colts don't have on the defensive line. He's a 6'5", 287-pound athlete who has played all over the Michigan front. He's able to stand up and be a power rusher off the edge, line up over the center and be a power player in the running game or penetrate as an inside rusher.
Gary might get knocked for his lack of production, but so far, the tape makes that look more like a situation and scheme issue than an indictment on his talent. The Colts can find a way to use him in one-on-one matchups that will allow him to pressure the quarterback.
7. Houston Texans
The Pick: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
The Houston Texans have a young quarterback to build around in Deshaun Watson and the pieces for a stout defense in place, but the main question is: What to do about the offensive line? The team has spent in free agency and drafted, but that was largely done by previous general manager Rick Smith. It wouldn't be a surprise to see current GM Brian Gaine rebuild the line.
Left tackle Jonah Williams has started every game since he got to Alabama, first as a right tackle before moving to the left side last season. Dating back to his snaps as a true freshman, he's been one of college football's most elite players. There will be some who question his arm length or his strength as a 6'5", 301-pound tackle, but his technique is as good as any blocker coming out of college in the last several drafts.
8. Detroit Lions
The Pick: Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
In the 2018 predraft madness, many evaluators thought the Detroit Lions would look to add an outside pass-rusher in the first round. Instead, the front office went after guard Frank Ragnow to beef up the offensive line. With a top 10 pick in 2019, the Lions can go get a pass-rusher.
Clelin Ferrell is oftentimes overlooked because he plays on a defensive line with so many top-tier teammates, but he's the standout talent of the group. Ferrell is your classic right defensive end with power, athleticism, length and the quickness off the snap to get after the quarterback. In either a stand-up or three-point stance, he's able to affect the edge and is a perfect fit for the Lions' four-man front.
9. Buffalo Bills
The Pick: David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin
With two selections in the first round of the 2018 draft, the Buffalo Bills added starting quarterback Josh Allen and a starting linebacker in Tremaine Edmunds. Now the job is to finish reloading a roster that one scout told me is the worst in the NFL. Addressing the offensive line is next.
In many ways, David Edwards is similar to Mike McGlinchey in last year's draft class. Coming out of a pro-style offense, he's viewed as a plug-and-play right tackle with the tools to potentially see action on the left side in some schemes. That made McGlinchey a top-10 pick and could push Edwards into the top 10 this year as teams look for pass protectors who can make impacts immediately.
The Bills have a good left tackle in Dion Dawkins. Pairing him with Edwards will give Allen and the entire offense a whole new comfort level.
10. Atlanta Falcons
The Pick: Raekwon Davis, DL, Alabama
It's unexpected to see the Atlanta Falcons with a top-10 selection, but head coach Dan Quinn finds himself in this position after a rough start to the season. That could be a blessing in disguise for the front office, as it's able to land a premium talent in Alabama's Raekwon Davis.
Davis, a 6'7", 316-pound athlete, is incredibly versatile on the defensive line. Alabama allows him to play mostly in a 3-4 defensive end role, but he's shown he has the tools to be utilized as an interior rusher as well. Davis isn't an old-school two-gap mauler at end, but he's a new-age threat with the mixture of size, power and athleticism to cause a lot of problems for offensive linemen.
The Falcons, on paper, don't have many needs. Davis would instantly upgrade the defensive line and make the job of the back seven much easier.
11. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pick: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
Watching John Brown and Willie Snead IV make plays against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night, it became clear that Pittsburgh's top need is still a top-tier cornerback.
Joe Haden has been OK, but Artie Burns hasn't lived up to his status as a first-round pick in 2016. The Steelers could use an upgrade at middle linebacker because of the devastating injury to Ryan Shazier, but the best way to fix a defense that has two good young pass-rushers in T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree is to upgrade at cornerback.
Deandre Baker might not set any records in the 40-yard dash, but he's a physical and smart cornerback with the style of play to excel in the Steelers defense. Some may see him as a reach at No. 11 overall, but in terms of need and what's left on the board, this should be the move.
12. Minnesota Vikings
The Pick: Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
Another offensive lineman off the board makes that three in the top 12 selections. Greg Little of Ole Miss in the summer months was projected by many scouts as a potential top-10 pick. The Rebels are off to a rough start, and Little has shown inconsistencies on tape, but he's still a first-half-of-Round 1 talent.
The Minnesota Vikings paid $28 million per year for Kirk Cousins but forget to invest in the offensive line. That's left the team with a weak protection system for the quarterback and a struggling running game. The line isn't a complete waste—there are building blocks—but Minnesota still has a need at left tackle. Adding Little would help plug that hole since the team can't afford to do so via free agency.
13. Cleveland Browns
The Pick: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
It's no doubt weird to see the Cleveland Browns drafting this late in Round 1—it would be the latest earned Round 1 pick for the team since 2003 when they drafted Jeff Faine. Any first round pick from the Browns later than No. 13 overall in the last 15 years all came through trades. And yet here we are with Cleveland at lucky No. 13.
General manager John Dorsey and his staff have turned a few talented players into a competitive roster through trades, free agency and the 2018 draft. Finishing the job means continuing to add best-player-available types while the team has quarterback Baker Mayfield on a rookie contract.
Washington cornerback Byron Murphy would be a perfect match with 2018 first-rounder Denzel Ward. Both are fast, physical and play the ball well. With athletic safeties Damarious Randall and Jabrill Peppers also on the back end, the Browns would have a fast and aggressive secondary to attack the ball while Myles Garrett and Co. get after quarterbacks.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Pick: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
Deionte Thompson is a first-year starter at Alabama, but already the redshirt junior is showing the range and instincts that have scouts comparing him to Malik Hooker when he was a prospect. There is a legal matter—Thompson has a future court date for a felony assault charge that was filed following an alleged attack on a man in March 2017. If Thompson sorts out his legal issue, he should head into the 2019 draft as the top-ranked safety in the group.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need just that. Since it passed on safety prospect Derwin James to select defensive tackle Vita Vea, Tampa Bay still has a massive need for a playmaking safety. The Buccaneers defensive backs make up one of the league's worst secondaries. Adding Thompson would be a first step in turning around that group.
15. Seattle Seahawks
The Pick: Dre'Mont Jones, DL, Ohio State
The rebuild of the Seattle Seahawks is in full swing as the team moves on from the days of a great defense and an inexpensive quarterback to a depth chart dominated by big salaries at a few positions. The Seahawks must find impact starters on rookie deals who can become stars. Especially on defense.
Pass rusher Dre'Mont Jones has been unstoppable on the defensive line for Ohio State. When star defensive end Nick Bosa was injured, Jones assumed the role of the team's best pass-rusher. Even as offenses have keyed on him more, Jones has been able to get through offensive lines and get after the quarterback. In the Seattle defense, he'd be the type of player to fill the Michael Bennett role and create havoc from inside the tackle box.
16. Philadelphia Eagles
The Pick: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
The defending Super Bowl champs have a different look this season and aren't getting some of the breaks that fueled their run to a title last season. The return of quarterback Carson Wentz will only help, but in the offseason the team has to look at ways to improve the talent base and get younger while preparing for the next run toward a trophy.
The wide receiver corps is talented but also expensive. Alshon Jeffery hasn't impacted the team this year because of injury, and while Nelson Agholor is a major part of the offense, he's not a No. 1 threat. In a Doug Pederson offense that's all about spreading defenses out, more weapons are needed.
Marquise Brown is college football's most electric player after the catch. He might be built like a slot receiver at 5'10" and 168 pounds, but his speed and instincts with the ball in his hands would make him valuable in an offense like the Philadelphia Eagles unit that could find ways to get him open.
17. New England Patriots
The Pick: Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn
In the 2018 draft, many assumed the Patriots would use their two first-round picks to trade up for a quarterback in a class that was loaded with prospects. Bill Belichick decided to instead use the picks on a pair of former Georgia Bulldogs and left his roster without a young quarterback to develop behind Tom Brady.
Belichick can right that wrong in 2019 with a top-20 pick and a good prospect on the board in Jarrett Stidham.
Stidham wouldn't be a plug-and-play guy in the New England system, but he doesn't have to be. He's accurate and tough with enough mobility to make plays, but he's also rigid and robotic at times. The Pats have time to work that out of him while setting the team up for success whenever (or if) Brady retires.
18. Los Angeles Chargers
The Pick: Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama
The Los Angeles Chargers are 27th in points allowed per game and 23rd in yards allowed per game. Even if a full-scale change isn't coming on defense, and even if the return of Joey Bosa will help, the Chargers still need an influx of talent.
Linebacker Mack Wilson would bring toughness against the run, athleticism and leadership, all of which is missing from the middle of the defense. He's not your typical Alabama thumper but is in the mold of a Reuben Foster—but with more range and speed.
The Chargers have talent on defense and plenty of big-name starters, but until the product on the field improves, the predictions for 2019's first round will be defense in Los Angeles.
19. Dallas Cowboys
The Pick: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
The best tight end in the class goes to the team most in need of one.
Dak Prescott's chance to become a top-tier quarterback depends on the Dallas Cowboys front office adding talent that fits with his game. That means more short to intermediate targets, more athletes who can make plays after the catch and bigger receivers with large catch radii.
All that fits Fant. He'll keep safeties out of the box and open up the scheme for Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott. And if the team gets production from Allen Hurns and Michael Gallup, they can stretch and spread the field on the outside. That's the recipe for success.
20. Green Bay Packers
The Pick: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
With two picks in the first round, the Green Bay Packers can plug holes and get back on track for another Super Bowl run with Aaron Rodgers in the prime of his career. Step one should be finding Rodgers another threat at wide receiver.
D.K. Metcalf has outshined teammate A.J. Brown—a player many thought was the top receiver heading into the season. Metcalf's size (6'4", 230 lbs), ability to separate and route running make him an intriguing prospect. Depending on how well he runs at the combine, he might be gone before the Packers pick.
It's almost unfair to picture an offense with Rodgers, Metcalf, Davante Adams and Jimmy Graham, but that's a reality for Green Bay.
21. Washington Redskins
The Pick: Taylor Rapp, S, Washington
The Washington Redskins defense is off to an amazing start: It ranks second in points allowed per game and third in yards allowed per game. A large part of that success has been the team's ability to shut down opposing passing games. It could also be that the Redskins have played the Cardinals, Colts and Packers.
On paper, Washington needs more talent in the secondary. The club in April was expected to draft a defensive back early, especially after it traded Kendall Fuller to the Kansas City Chiefs, but it didn't. At No. 21 overall, the front office should be happy to find playmaking safety Taylor Rapp still on the board.
Rapp, a hard-hitting and rangy prospect, would set the tone for the secondary. He can match up with tight ends or drop down into the box to face the run. With more teams running three-safety sets, Rapp could pair with D.J. Swearinger Sr. and Montae Nicholson to form a dominant unit.
22. Denver Broncos
The Pick: Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
A quarterback of the future wouldn't be a shock with Drew Lock and Will Grier on the board, but the Denver Broncos go after a playmaking defensive tackle instead. Classic John Elway.
Derrick Brown hasn't received the hype of Ed Oliver or Rashan Gary, but he's made an impact for Auburn. The 6'5", 325-pound 20-year-old has shown he can stack up the run and get after mobile quarterbacks.
As the Broncos transition and get younger on defense, Brown would be a building block on the defensive line with Bradley Chubb and Von Miller flanking him.
23. Carolina Panthers
The Pick: Kendall Sheffield, CB, Ohio State
In the second round of the 2018 draft, the Carolina Panthers selected Donte Jackson out of LSU. He's a lean, lanky, fast cornerback who's able to run with anyone. If that's the type of corner the team wants, Kendall Sheffield of Ohio State would be an upgraded version of Jackson. While Jackson might be a slot player long-term, Sheffield is showing this season he's an outside starter.
The Panthers still have a need for starting cornerbacks after the Dave Gettleman reign left them short on talent at the key position. It wouldn't be a surprise if they picked a left tackle or wide receiver—both are needs—but looking at what's on the board in this scenario, a cornerback would best fill a need and give value.
24. Tennessee Titans
The Pick: Josh Allen, LB, Kentucky
The Tennessee Titans are winning with a lot of old-school football and a stout defense led by head coach Mike Vrabel. To keep playing the kind of games Vrabel and his staff want to play, the defense has to continue getting younger and faster. The Titans won't have to travel far to find an impact player.
Kentucky's Josh Allen is similar to a player Vrabel coached in Houston: Benardrick McKinney. He's a tall (6'5"), big (260 lbs) linebacker with good athleticism to make plays not only between the tackles but also near the hashes. He's even shown potential as a pass-rusher and could be a triple threat on a defense with a bright future thanks to rookies Rashaan Evans and Harold Landry.
25. Green Bay Packers (via New Orleans Saints)
The Pick: Oshane Ximines, EDGE, Old Dominion
With their own pick in Round 1, the Packers selected a big-play wide receiver to open up the offense. With the pick they acquired from the New Orleans Saints, the Packers get the pass-rusher fans have been clamoring for.
Oshane Ximines isn't someone you should overlook simply because he goes to a small school. In ODU's win over Virginia Tech, Ximines was the best player on the field. He's a fiery pass-rusher with the build (6'4", 255 lbs) and agility to slide right into a stand-up pass rusher role in a 3-4 scheme. And maybe he'll be able to tackle the quarterback without a flag being thrown.
If Ximines is tabbed as the long-term replacement for Clay Matthews, the Packers defense would be in very good hands.
26. Miami Dolphins
The Pick: Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson
At 3-1, the Miami Dolphins are playing much better than expected. Before the season, they were projected to be drafting in the top five and be looking for a quarterback to replace Ryan Tannehill. If the trend holds and they continue to win and earn a late-20s selection, there will be a completely different offseason plan.
One area that has to be addressed regardless of when the Dolphins pick is cornerback. First-round rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick is more of a nickel cornerback or safety, so the need is for an outside cover man to complement Fitz and Co.
Clemson's Trayvon Mullen isn't getting much national hype, but after multiple area scouts referred to him as a potential Round 1 player, it's impossible to overlook the possibility he'll jump for the pros after this season and climb into the top 32.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Pick: A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
No, I'm not predicting a quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and neither should anyone who has watched Blake Bortles play football in the last year. Instead, the Jaguars should focus on getting help around their franchise quarterback.
Brown entered the season as my top-ranked wide receiver, but there are growing concerns about his ability to separate from defenders with size or speed. At 6'1" and 230 pounds, he's playing more like a big slot receiver than a go-to outside threat. In Jacksonville that could work, though.
Brown can win with body positioning on breaking routes and has shown the toughness to excel over the middle. As a secondary target for Bortles, he could be an impact player and a value at pick No. 27.
28. Cincinnati Bengals
The Pick: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
The Bengals got off to a hot start this season, but that might not change the fact that with quarterback Andy Dalton the offense has a ceiling that could limit any playoff run. In many ways, this is a situation similar to what the Chiefs faced with Alex Smith, when the front office decided to go all-in on Patrick Mahomes and his strong-armed skill set.
The Bengals could do the same and go after a big-armed quarterback from a spread offense in Missouri's Lock. Lock doesn't quite have Mahomes' arm strength or Brett Favre-like playmaking ability, but he does have a massive arm and could benefit from sitting under Dalton for a year before taking the reins.
If the Bengals are ever going to break away from their checkdown offense, they might have to move on from Dalton.
29. Oakland Raiders (via Chicago Bears)
The Pick: N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
The Raiders went after a game-changing linebacker with the No. 3 overall pick and get to the offense with pick No. 29.
Jon Gruden adopted a veteran-heavy approach in his first season back as head coach, but that's not paying off. Instead, the team has to get younger and much more athletic, especially on the edges. With no cornerbacks on the board worth drafting in this spot, it's time to go after a receiver under 30 years old who can be an effective complementary piece opposite Amari Cooper.
If Gruden is going to adopt a more modern offense, he needs pieces to spread out defenses. N'Keal Harry has the ability to make big plays after the catch and has the frame (6'4", 213 lbs) to beat defenders over the top. That's what Derek Carr needs on an offense that's trending in the right direction from a personnel standpoint (a good quarterback and two young offensive tackles).
30. Baltimore Ravens
The Pick: Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
John Harbaugh must have heard the calls this summer that a disappointing season could end with his firing. So far the Baltimore Ravens are red-hot, have signature wins over their rivals and feature more loose, exciting play on both sides of the ball. Now the job is to keep it going.
The building block on defense remains veteran pass-rusher Terrell Suggs. Over the years, the team has drafted to complement him or nab potential replacements, but so far no one has emerged. Late in the first round, Mississippi State's Montez Sweat could be a candidate to not only come in and help the pass rush but also take over as the primary threat.
Sweat is a long (6'6", 245 lbs) athlete. He doesn't have Suggs' power or physicality, but he closer fits the edge-rusher mold the Ravens have gone to in recent years with picks like Tim Williams out of Alabama.
31. Kansas City Chiefs
The Pick: Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State
The Kansas City offense is set, but general manager Brett Veach has work to do in rebuilding the defense. With three picks in the first two rounds, it will be possible to make a fast turnaround, but the front office has to hit on those early picks and get away from drafting developmental defenders like Tanoh Kpassagnon and Breeland Speaks.
Cornerback is easily the team's biggest need. Fuller is fine, but the trade of Marcus Peters made a weak group even worse. Now the Chiefs have to find a No. 1 cornerback who can stay on outside receivers and let Fuller play his more natural spot, as a slot corner.
Damon Arnette is a physical, NFL-ready cornerback with the speed and cover tools to be an immediate starter in the Chiefs secondary. He doesn't have the speed of his teammate Sheffield, but he more than makes up for that with his awareness and readiness in terms of technique. He's a lock to be a starter in Kansas City if he's available late in Round 1.
32. Los Angeles Rams
The Pick: Jaylon Ferguson, EDGE, Louisiana Tech
The Los Angeles Rams are finding a way to get after opposing offenses without having a true outside pass-rusher, but that doesn't mean the front office doesn't want to add one in the 2019 draft. With so many edge-rushers already off the board, Les Snead and his scouts can turn to Louisiana Tech's Jaylon Ferguson—one of the best-kept secrets in the draft class.
Ferguson, a 6'5", 262-pound senior, has shown he can get after the quarterback as an impactful edge-rusher. He has perfect size for the base 4-3 defensive end role but is also athletic and smart enough to be a weapon in nickel situations, when he plays more outside the tackle and is asked to crash the edge.
If the Rams can hit on a defensive end in Round 1 and maintain what they're already doing on offense, they will win multiple Super Bowls.