2019 NFL Mock Draft: Matt Miller's Post-Regular-Season Predictions

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterDecember 31, 2018

2019 NFL Mock Draft: Matt Miller's Post-Regular-Season Predictions

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    The NFL draft order for 2019 is set through the first 20 selections, which means it's time to update the predictions with a new mock draft.

    How will the news that Oregon's Justin Herbert is returning to school for his senior season affect the picks? It's huge and will have a massive impact for fellow quarterbacks Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State), Daniel Jones (Duke) and Drew Lock (Missouri). Each stands to benefit from Herbert's return to Eugene.

    With Herbert out of the draft, expect a class heavy on defensive linemen and edge-rushers. The talent at both positions should create a top 10 full of front-seven defenders. In fact, the first 10 selections could be very short on offensive players.

    Here is a look at the first round.

        

1. Arizona Cardinals

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    The Pick: Edge-Rusher Nick Bosa, Ohio State

    Pencil in Nick Bosa as the pick for whichever team owns the No. 1 overall pick in late April. He's that good—even in a loaded class of pass-rushers and defensive linemen.

    The Cardinals don't have a massive need for Bosa—which might lead to the front office auctioning the pick to the highest bidder—but could build a frightening pass rush duo with Bosa and Chandler Jones crashing off the edge.

    Predicting what the Cardinals will do becomes difficult because there is no guarantee general manager Steve Keim or head coach Steve Wilks will return in 2019. If Keim and Wilks are gone, the new regime may indeed opt for a "best player available" approach. That means Bosa.

2. San Francisco 49ers

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    The Pick: Edge-Rusher Josh Allen, Kentucky

    The San Francisco 49ers lose out on the Nick Bosa sweepstakes but still land an exciting pass-rusher with the No. 2 overall selection.

    Kentucky's Josh Allen dominated the SEC this season with 18.5 tackles for a loss and 14 sacks while showing the length, burst and power on a 6'5", 260-pound frame that will get scouts excited. Barring a wild trade scenario to land Bosa, this is the next best move for a team desperate to add a pass rush.

    Some might argue selecting another defensive lineman in the first round is a bad idea for the 49ers, but the value in this draft class is in the front four. The only other option for San Francisco would be to trade back, potentially out of the top 10, and let a team in need of a quarterback move up to the No. 2 spot. It could then focus on a cornerback or wide receiver need, but it can't reach for a need here.

3. New York Jets

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    The Pick: Defensive Lineman Ed Oliver, Houston

    Do the New York Jets need a defensive lineman?

    It's not the biggest need on the roster, but like the teams selecting ahead of them, the Jets are in a position to draft a premium player. In this class, that means picking a defensive lineman or edge-rusher. With the top edge-rushers gone, Ed Oliver becomes the pick.

    Oliver is a smaller defensive tackle (6'3", 292 lbs) but has excellent quickness and the versatility to play up and down the line. Despite being banged up often in 2018, Oliver showed he can get into the backfield and make plays. Those box-score scouting will see three sacks on his stat sheet but miss how often he was double- and triple-teamed by offensive lines.

    One important aspect to remember is the Jets are expected to fire head coach Todd Bowles, which likely means a change in defensive scheme. If the team opts to trade Leonard Williams—a good but not great defensive tackle who has regressed instead of developed—Oliver will become not only a value but also a need.

4. Oakland Raiders

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    The Pick: Defensive Lineman Quinnen Williams, Alabama

    One of the most dominant players in all of college football finds a new home with the Oakland Raiders.

    In a draft class without Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams would be the type of player considered a No. 1 overall prospect. The only reason he's ranked No. 2 on my board is because of Bosa's ability and impact. For the Raiders, landing Williams can completely change the franchise.

    Oakland's 2018 draft class has performed well, and hitting on an All-Pro-caliber tackle in Williams (and others thanks to trades) would give the team a defensive line with Williams, Maurice Hurst and Arden Key. This is not, of course, the team's biggest need. The Raiders would arguably like to land an outside pass-rusher, but with Bosa and Allen gone, this is the right move for a roster that needs a major makeover.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    The Pick: Edge-Rusher Clelin Ferrell, Clemson

    Another pass-rusher comes off the board, and by now you are realizing this is a ridiculously top-heavy draft of front-four players. That's good news for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are able to land an instant-impact starter.

    Clelin Ferrell has been the most consistent, productive and impressive of the talented defensive linemen at Clemson over his career. He's long (6'4", 265 lbs) and has excellent power in his lower body and hands. He's able to cross up offensive tackles with quickness or move them with power—which makes him a unique prospect because he's close to a finished product in an era when many edge-rushers are projects.

    The Bucs need help across the board on defense, and Ferrell is a prototypical right defensive end for the team's 4-3 base scheme. With the news that Jameis Winston is expected back as the starting quarterback, the defense should get all the Bucs' attention.

6. New York Giants

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    The Pick: Quarterback Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State

    The first quarterback comes off the board, and he's one to be excited about.

    No player in the nation improved their draft stock more in the final month of the regular season than Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins. Throughout wins over Michigan and Northwestern, he showed the arm talent, touch and pocket awareness to be a top-10 selection.

    The Giants can claim they're committed to Eli Manning for the 2019 season, but the long-term plan in New York must be developed. Letting Haskins, a one-year starter at Ohio State, sit and learn from Manning wouldn't be a bad plan. Neither would releasing Manning and letting Haskins take the reins.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    The Pick: Quarterback Daniel Jones, Duke

    The Blake Bortles era is over in Jacksonville with no quarterback on the roster ready to take the job long-term. That puts Jacksonville in a pressure situation to draft or sign a starting quarterback as soon as possible. Given the lack of viable options on the free-agent market, the draft is the way to go.

    If you watch them side by side, Daniel Jones has some comparisons to Carson Wentz. Both are big (Jones is 6'5", 220 lbs; Wentz is 6'5", 237 lbs), mobile and strong-armed and were well-coached in classic, pro-style systems in college. Jones, who played under famed quarterback guru David Cutcliffe, is ready to take a starting job in year one. Which is exactly what Jacksonville needs him to do.

8. Detroit Lions

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    The Pick: Cornerback Greedy Williams, LSU

    Barring a trade of quarterback Matthew Stafford before the draft, the Detroit Lions should go defense first.

    Greedy Williams has excellent quickness and a long 6'3" frame. He's shown coverage skills and the ability to track the ball, but what's most impressive are his instincts in coverage. As head coach Matt Patricia looks to fill out a defensive depth chart, he's missing a cover corner like Williams who can match up with bigger, faster receivers.

    The Lions roster is better than the team's record, but the onus is on Patricia and Co. to bring in players who will respond to his coaching and help push the team over the top in the tough NFC North.

9. Buffalo Bills

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    The Pick: Offensive Tackle Jonah Williams, Alabama

    There is debate among NFL scouts about what position best fits Alabama's Jonah Williams. Some believe he's too light (6'5", 301 lbs) and short-armed to play left tackle and picture him inside at guard or center. Others see his technique and don't care that he's around 305 pounds.

    The Buffalo Bills shouldn't worry about which position he'll play because Williams has the tools to be dominant wherever he lines up.

    Whether it's at left guard, right tackle, center or even left tackle, Williams has excellent instincts, reaction time, quickness and footwork. He's a finished product as an NFL blocker thanks to three seasons of starts at Alabama playing both left and right tackle.

    With Josh Allen looking like a viable franchise quarterback, it's time to build up the offensive line to protect him.

10. Denver Broncos

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    The Pick: Cornerback Trayvon Mullen, Clemson

    A quarterback is the biggest need for Denver long-term, but there is no player on the board with a grade worthy of the 10th pick. That doesn't mean John Elway couldn't fall in love with Missouri's Drew Lock and reach for him here, but he shouldn't. Instead, addressing a defense that's getting older is the best value.

    Trayvon Mullen has traits for days. He's long, fast, fluid and is the ideal matchup against bigger receivers while also playing with the speed to stick in-phase. He's big enough to disrupt routes but smooth enough to run. That's rare, and it is what the Broncos need on the outside of the defense.

11. Cincinnati Bengals

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    The Pick: Linebacker Devin White, LSU

    The Bengals, like many teams, could be looking for a change at quarterback. They also shouldn't force the issue and select a quarterback simply to fill the need. Andy Dalton is serviceable and has taken the team to the playoffs, after all. Instead, they should select a top-five player in Devin White at linebacker to continue to reshape the defense.

    White is one of the most electric players in college football. The former standout high school running back now uses his speed and agility to track down offensive players. Having seen him in person against Georgia, it's shocking to watch his quickness and strength going sideline to sideline. There is some Myles Jack to his game, but White is potentially more aggressive and physical.

12. Green Bay Packers

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    The Pick: Edge-Rusher Jachai Polite, Florida

    A down season for the Green Bay Packers has resulted in a change at head coach, but it could also result in the team landing a legitimate threat as a pass-rusher to fill the biggest need on the depth chart.

    Jachai Polite may be pushed down the board by some teams due to a lack of height—he's listed at 6'2"—but his play is impressive. He has pop in his hands and has shown the quickness and agility to bend on the edge and get after the quarterback. Like a lighter version of Melvin Ingram, Polite uses his lower center of gravity well to turn the corner.

    The Packers hit on Jaire Alexander in last year's draft and have a very good defensive line in place. Adding Polite could take the defense back to a level of respectability.

13. Miami Dolphins

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    The Pick: Defensive Lineman Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State

    The Miami Dolphins' offseason holds a ton of mystery that will ultimately affect the direction of the team throughout the NFL draft. One of the biggest decisions will be if quarterback Ryan Tannehill is back as the starter. Should a quarterback be on the board that the front office likes, this pick could change.

    As it stands now, the most likely non-quarterback selection would come on the defensive line. The Dolphins found building blocks in Minkah Fitzpatrick and Jerome Baker from the 2018 draft but must rebuild the defensive line with penetrating athletes.

    Mississippi State's Jeffery Simmons is an impressive athlete with strong, quick hands and the power to get through the offensive line. If you're looking for a player comparison, he's very similar to Kansas City Chiefs defender Chris Jones.

14. Atlanta Falcons

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    The Pick: Defensive Lineman Rashan Gary, Michigan

    Expect to see this selection predicted often.

    Rashan Gary is an ideal fit in the Atlanta Falcons' scheme under head coach Dan Quinn. At 6'5" and almost 290 pounds, Gary has run the 40-yard dash in the "mid-4.5s" and broad-jumped 10'4", according to Michigan coaching sources. Those are amazing numbers given his build.

    Gary didn't have the amazing statistical season at Michigan that you might expect from a world-class athlete, though he was battling injuries and oftentimes playing out of position as an edge-rusher. In the Falcons' scheme, Gary can move around to find the best matchups as a penetrator and use his power and quickness to become a dominant interior pass-rusher.

15. Washington Redskins

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    The Pick: Quarterback Drew Lock, Missouri

    With the news that Justin Herbert will return to Oregon for his senior season, the player with the most to gain is Missouri's Drew Lock. And now the pressure is on with the Senior Bowl up first as he has a chance to secure a Round 1 grade in a draft with many teams needing a quarterback and few viable options available.

    Lock has a massive arm, good movement skills and the traits teams have fallen in love with in the past. That could easily happen again once scouts get a good look at his skills in Mobile, Alabama, for a week. 

    The Redskins have no answer at quarterback. Alex Smith may never play again after suffering a terrible leg injury, and the team has no long-term plan on the roster behind him. The 2019 offseason will center around finding a franchise quarterback in Washington.

16. Carolina Panthers

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    The Pick: Edge-Rusher Brian Burns, Florida State

    The Carolina Panthers have major needs along the offensive line and at defensive end, which makes the choice in the first round an easy one with Florida State's Brian Burns still on the board. 

    Burns, a long-limbed edge player with a quick twitch and excellent production, doesn't have the rocked up 280-pound physique the Panthers have preferred in the past at defensive end but does have unique speed. As the team starts to move on from veterans like Julius Peppers and get faster on defense, Burns is the right type of pass-rusher to build around.

17. Cleveland Browns

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    The Pick: Cornerback Deandre Baker, Georgia

    The last time Cleveland drafted a Baker, it worked out pretty well. This one will too.

    The Browns have a roster on the rise, and they have a legitimate chance at the playoffs in 2020. To get there, the defense has to find a running mate opposite Denzel Ward at cornerback.

    A lockdown cornerback with excellent size and physicality, Baker took home the Jim Thorpe Award for best defensive back in college football. There are some questions about his ability to run against top-flight NFL wide receivers, which might make him a better fit in a zone scheme, but his film shows enough matchup skills to keep pace with the pros thanks to his technique and length. 

18. Minnesota Vikings

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    The Pick: Offensive Tackle Yodny Cajuste, West Virginia

    The Minnesota Vikings took a step back this season after expectations were high following a deep playoff run last year. To get back on track, the front office has to nail draft picks to build a group around expensive free-agent signing Kirk Cousins at quarterback.

    West Virginia's Yodny Cajuste has excellent athleticism and movement for a left tackle prospect. There will be concerns that he's coming from the Big 12 where blockers don't encounter many top-tier defensive linemen, but his traits are good enough to justify a selection on the first night of the draft.

    The Vikings have a core group that's good enough to compete every year. Now the front office has to round out the roster with starting-quality draft picks. 

19. Tennessee Titans

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    The Pick: Defensive Lineman Raekwon Davis, Alabama

    Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel and general manager Jon Robinson played it somewhat safely and still drafted impact players in 2018 draft when they selected linebacker Rashaan Evans and pass-rusher Harold Landry. That seems to point to a best-player-available approach, which is why defensive lineman Raekwon Davis fits the bill in Round 1.

    Davis, a 6'7" and 306-pound defensive end in the Alabama base 3-4 defense, fits both a three- and four-man front thanks to his size and his athleticism. Davis is also a finished product coming out of the Alabama defense, and that's something both Vrabel and Robinson seemed to value in their first draft together.

    With no wide receiver worth drafting here and the team trying to build up a fierce defense, Davis is a great addition. 

20. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    The Pick: Linebacker Devin Bush, Michigan

    If you want to get faster, smarter and more aggressive at the linebacker position in the 2019 NFL draft, Devin Bush is your man.

    The anchor for a stout Michigan defense all season, Bush has excellent range and instincts. He doesn't have great height at only 5'11", but he has excellent bulk at 240 pounds with a thick lower body to take on blockers and power his hits.

    The Steelers could go a few ways after a disappointing 2018 season, but the lack of impact and speed in the middle of the defense is an area that can and should be addressed immediately.

21. Philadelphia Eagles

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    The Pick: Cornerback Byron Murphy, Washington

    Addressing the positions outside the hashes will be key for the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason. They can start by grabbing a feisty, physical cornerback with excellent instincts and awareness in Byron Murphy.

    There will be teams that view the 5'11", 182-pound Murphy as too slight to hold up on the outside of a defense, but he compares well to both Denzel Ward (5'11", 183 lbs) and Jaire Alexander (5'10", 196 lbs), who were both top-20 picks in the 2018 draft.

    Murphy's ability to lock up inside or outside receivers with speed and toughness makes him one of the best cornerbacks in the entire class. At this point of the draft, he's a steal.

22. Indianapolis Colts

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    The Pick: Wide Receiver N'Keal Harry, Arizona State

    A healthy Andrew Luck has regained his status as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. And he's done so without a great supporting cast. General manager Chris Ballard has done an excellent job rebuilding the roster in a short amount of time. One more draft class and the Colts could be Super Bowl contenders.

    Adding a top-tier wide receiver for Luck has to be a priority this offseason. That may come through free agency, since the Colts are expected to have $122.8 million to spend, but Ballard is the type of general manager who will be thrifty in free agency while looking to add blue-chip players through the draft.

    N'Keal Harry is the WR1 on my board in this draft class. He's big (6'4", 213 lbs) and excellent after the catch. Whether it's on slant routes or comebacks, he's an ideal weapon for Luck thanks to his size, speed and skill.

23. Seattle Seahawks

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    The Pick: Free Safety Deionte Thompson, Alabama

    Three quarterbacks and a load of talented front-four players coming off the board pushes Deionte Thompson right into the laps of the Seattle Seahawks where he will be tabbed as Earl Thomas' replacement. Big shoes to fill.

    Thompson is a first-year starter at Alabama but has shown range and instincts over the top as a true center fielder in the Nick Saban defense. The biggest complaint is that he does have a lean frame, but he will likely fill out over time. His football IQ and awareness cannot be coached or developed, which makes him a plug-and-play starter for Seattle.

24. Baltimore Ravens

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    The Pick: Edge-Rusher Montez Sweat, Mississippi State

    It's unfair that a defense as good as the one in Baltimore could get better through the 2019 NFL draft, but that's what happens with Montez Sweat still on the board.

    A long-limbed, lean pass-rusher expected to be 6'5" and around 245 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine, Sweat has excellent burst off the line and uses his length well to keep blockers off his frame. There have been rumors from scouts that he might be characterized as immature or lazy by coaches, but there's nothing concrete about that yet. His tape and skills are first-round quality. If he shows up and performs well at the combine, he could be drafted well ahead of the end of the first round.

25. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas)

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    The Pick: Edge-Rusher Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion

    The Raiders missed out on the top edge-rusher in the class thanks to a few meaningless wins, but they come back around in Round 1 and still land a promising pass-rusher from Old Dominion. With Quinnen Williams the first pick and now Oshane Ximines, the Raiders' pass rush will be terrifying in 2019.

    Ximines is a small-school player, but his traits and production scream first-rounder. He has the burst off the snap and pop in his hands to succeed against NFL pass-blockers. Depending on the defense the Raiders choose to run, he's a fit as both an outside linebacker and as a hand-in-the-dirt defensive end. His value at the end of Round 1 is exceptional for a team in desperate need of an outside rusher. 

26. Houston Texans

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    The Pick: Tight End Noah Fant, Iowa

    The offensive line is a huge need in Houston, but to fit in the scheme of Bill O'Brien, the Texans can't just draft any lineman and plug him in. That's why players like Greg Little (Ole Miss) aren't considered here. Instead, the Texans look to add another big-play option in the passing game. 

    Iowa's Noah Fant is a versatile playmaker who can line up in the slot or as a true tight end. And coming out of Iowa, he's capable as a blocker and able to impact the game on all three downs. At 6'5" and 241 pounds, he has the size to be a mismatch and the speed to stretch the field. That will open things up for Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins and the rest of the Houston offense.

27. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago)

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    The Pick: Wide Receiver D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss

    With their third and final first-round pick, the Oakland Raiders address the offense and look to find a big-play wide receiver to fill the hole created when Amari Cooper was traded to the Dallas Cowboys. If D.K. Metcalf is healthy, he's that guy.

    Metcalf, who suffered a broken bone in his neck this season, left Ole Miss without great production but a ton of flashes as a legitimate threat thanks to his big body (6'4", 225 lbs) and body control when the ball is in the air. No other player can match his combination as a post-up target and jump-ball player in the class. 

    As the Raiders look to reinvent themselves under Jon Gruden and whomever the new general manager is, adding a deep threat like Metcalf will help get them back to contention.

28. Los Angeles Chargers

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    The Pick: Offensive Tackle Greg Little, Ole Miss

    Take one look at the success of the Los Angeles Chargers this season, and it's easy to see that the roster is in good shape. There are key pieces on defense especially that make the team dangerous for 2019 and beyond. The biggest move this offseason is securing the right pieces to keep Philip Rivers' offense moving at a high level.

    That starts with the offensive line, especially at tackle where the team hasn't invested heavily in recent years. Greg Little, a 6'6" and 325-pound left tackle from Ole Miss, can be an impactful left or right tackle in the NFL thanks to his power, length and toughness.

    The Chargers are one of the NFL's best rosters, and a pick like this only cements a longer run of playoff contention.

29. New England Patriots

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    The Pick: Edge-Rusher Jaylon Ferguson, Louisiana Tech

    Jaylon Ferguson hasn't received the national buzz of the other talented pass-rushers in the class, but he's a name to know as a first-round prospect. The New England Patriots are the perfect team to notice his talent and unleash his skills on the field.

    Ferguson's fit as a stand-up or hand-down pass-rusher is obvious on tape. He's been very productive, notching 45 sacks and 67.5 tackles for a loss in the last four seasons. That fits what the Patriots have started to value more early in the draft—proven players able to contribute right away. That's Ferguson.

    Some will want a quarterback of the future here, and that would not be a surprise if the Patriots feel they are near the end of the Tom Brady era. The major questions would be what type of quarterback the team is looking for and who is left on the board in a weak group of passers.

30. Los Angeles Rams

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    The Pick: Linebacker Mack Wilson, Alabama

    The Rams defense has been built through free agency, trades and the NFL draft but is a unit that cannot be held together for long due to expiring contracts and bloated salaries. That means general manager Les Snead has to hit on draft picks to rebuild this group on the fly.

    The middle of the defense needs to be addressed soon. Mack Wilson has the pedigree coming from Alabama to step right into an NFL defense, but he also has more speed, range and awareness than any of his predecessors from Tuscaloosa showed. He's not a two-down banger. He's a rangy, athletic 'backer with coverage, run-stuffing and pass-rushing traits.

31. Kansas City Chiefs

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    The Pick: Running Back Josh Jacobs, Alabama

    The Chiefs need defense. I know it, you know it, everyone knows it. So why the heck are they drafting a running back? 

    It's simple. The 2019 cornerback class is good, but it lacks depth. There is no player worthy of this selection at cornerback. There could be a pick of a pass-rusher depending on what happens with Dee Ford's contract, but the team selected Breeland Speaks in the second round last year and has high hopes for him.

    After releasing Kareem Hunt, Kansas City slowed down on offense. Andy Reid's offense has always leaned on backs for not just rushing yards but also help in the passing game. That's where a talent like Josh Jacobs comes in. Jacobs, a junior, is a powerful back with excellent hands out of the backfield. He's a too-good-to-be-true fit in Kansas City and a steal at the end of Round 1 should be declare.

32. Green Bay Packers (from New Orleans)

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    The Pick: Tight End Irv Smith Jr., Alabama

    The Green Bay Packers traded back back in last year's first round to accrue an additional first-round pick in 2019. They'll use that to give Aaron Rodgers a young, athletic, exciting three-down threat.

    Irv Smith Jr. is as complete as tight ends come. The Alabama offense has him ready for the role of a blocker, route-runner and receiver from multiple alignments across the field. Tight end might not be Green Bay's biggest need, but the value of Smith is unreal, and he does allow the Packers to get younger (and cheaper) at a valuable position.