2019 NFL Mock Draft: Matt Miller's Post-Combine Predictions
INDIANAPOLIS — For prospective NFL players, the scouting combine is focused on medical evaluations, interviews, on-field positional work and athletic testing. For those of us in the media, it's about making new connections with NFL decision-makers and revisiting existing friends and contacts in the league.
The result of a week of late-night conversations is a treasure trove of information. Some of that intel must be taken with a grain of salt or vetted before it can be used, but there are also enough nuggets of information to help inform where teams will go in the offseason.
Armed with new intel and updated player rankings, it's time to look at a fresh Round 1 mock draft.
1. Arizona Cardinals
The Pick: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
After the NFL Scouting Combine, mock drafts shift from "what I think will happen" to "what I'm hearing will happen." Throughout the week in Indianapolis, I didn't run into one agent, scout, coach or general manager who thought anyone but Kyler Murray would be the top overall pick.
Then-Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury recruited Murray to be his quarterback out of high school, as he's the perfect fit for what Kingsbury wants to do offensively. If the Arizona Cardinals are brave enough to hire a head coach whose college alma mater fired him for failing to win games, they have to give him the right pieces to run his offense.
What does this mean for Josh Rosen, who Arizona traded up to select last year? The Cardinals can trade him to the Giants or Redskins and recoup some picks while moving on with the quarterback Kingsbury prefers.
2. San Francisco 49ers
The Pick: Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
If the Cardinals select Murray at No. 1, the San Francisco 49ers would be ecstatic. Without having to trade, general manager John Lynch could snag the best player in the 2019 draft class and fill his team's biggest need at edge-rusher.
Nick Bosa is the top overall player on my big board. He's powerful, explosive, technically sound and productive coming out of Ohio State. Yes, he missed much of this past season with a core muscle injury, but he showed in Indianapolis that he's back to being the dominant pass-rusher we came to expect.
The biggest key for Bosa will be medicals. If teams clear him after an ACL injury in high school and the core injury this past season, he's a lock for the top overall spot on my board come late April.
3. New York Jets
The Pick: Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama
The New York Jets are expected to be one of the league's biggest spenders this offseason, according to agents and rival team officials. With a potential signing at edge-rusher (Dante Fowler Jr. or Trey Flowers) and perhaps Le'Veon Bell at running back, they'd be poised to take the best player available at No. 3 overall.
Could Quinnen Williams coexist with 2015 No. 6 pick Leonard Williams? When the latter becomes a free agent after the 2019 season, will the Jets break the bank to pay him? Given his lack of production and rumors that he might be traded, it seems doubtful.
Pairing the two for one season and then moving forward with a player some NFL scouts called "the next Aaron Donald" is a good plan for the Jets.
4. Oakland Raiders
The Pick: Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
NFL sources often link the Oakland Raiders to Kyler Murray, but with the Heisman Trophy winner off the board here, the smartest move is to draft the best pass-rusher available.
Josh Allen is athletic, productive and a great person off the field, according to team officials who spoke to him at the combine. That's the trifecta every evaluator looks for, which is why Allen figures to be a top-five pick.
The Raiders have numerous needs, but none like the hole they created at pass-rusher by trading Khalil Mack. Instead of paying exorbitant money for a free agent—which is what they wanted to avoid with Mack—drafting an inexpensive edge-rusher to have under contract for the next five years is the correct team-building move.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Pick: Rashan Gary, EDGE, Michigan
Will new Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians insist on spending the No. 5 pick on an offensive player to help struggling incumbent quarterback Jameis Winston? That's one conversation many scouts were having in Indianapolis, even though the Bucs already have big talents at wide receiver (Mike Evans) and tight end (O.J. Howard).
If they take the best player regardless of position, look no further than Michigan edge-rusher Rashan Gary, who shined at the combine. At 277 pounds, he rocked a 4.58-second 40-yard dash and impressed in field work.
As a versatile piece along the defensive line, Gary can play outside at defensive end or come inside and rush from the interior in sub-packages. With a massive need for a pass rush, Arians and general manager Jason Licht should take one look at this edge class and go for Gary.
6. New York Giants
The Pick: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
One of the loudest rumors at the scouting combine was how well Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins was doing in interviews with teams. One team executive who sat in on an interview with him said: "He's smart, poised, confident. He's everything you want mentally."
The New York Giants need a quarterback of the future, and by all accounts, they want someone to learn behind Eli Manning for a short time much like Patrick Mahomes did with Alex Smith. Drafting a smart, talented quarterback who could benefit from some acclimation time in the NFL after only starting one year at Ohio State would help the Giants transition into their post-Manning era.
One thing to watch here is what happens to Odell Beckham Jr., who could reportedly be moved for a first-round pick, according to rumors floating around at the combine. If so, the Giants would have the ammunition to move up if so desired, or they could use any picks they get for Beckham to continue filling holes while still getting a quarterback of the future.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Pick: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
The Jacksonville Jaguars have long been rumored as the favorite to land quarterback Nick Foles in free agency. Assuming that happens, the Jaguars can use the No. 7 overall pick on building the supporting cast for their new signal-caller.
Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf set the combine on fire with a 4.33-second run in the 40-yard dash at 6'3" and 228 pounds. He didn't perform as well in agility drills (three-cone and short shuttle), but he'll have a chance to improve upon that at his pro day, where I'm told he will work out.
With his size, strength and speed, Metcalf could be damn near unstoppable. He could be a game-changer for the Jaguars offense, making this a team that can win consistently with Foles under center.
8. Detroit Lions
The Pick: Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
This isn't just about the hype after Sweat ran faster than Odell Beckham Jr. at the combine, breaking the modern defensive line 40-yard-dash record.
In my most recent big board update, Sweat slotted in at No. 12 overall. Heading into the combine, NFL teams believed he could test well. Paired with his excellent showing at the Senior Bowl in January, Sweat's stock continues to rise.
The Detroit Lions are expected to move on from Ezekiel Ansah and face the prospect of a depth chart lacking at edge-rusher. With the class's hottest name on the board available to fill the Lions' biggest need, general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia would likely jump at the chance to make him a building block on the outside of the defense.
9. Buffalo Bills
The Pick: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
As more teams stack their NFL draft boards, evaluators say Florida's Jawaan Taylor is the consensus top tackle in the 2019 class.
Taylor, who played right tackle at Florida, is seen as a plug-and-play protector on the right side. Now that Khalil Mack and Von Miller are rushing off the right-hand side of offensive lines, there is value in that. Much like Mike McGlinchey going at No. 9 overall last year, Taylor could go in the top 10 as a right tackle.
The Buffalo Bills have a number of needs and could prefer a wide receiver, tight end or pass-rusher here, but protecting quarterback Josh Allen has to be atop the front office's list of priorities this offseason.
10. Denver Broncos
The Pick: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
A move that's been rumored since before the Senior Bowl in late January comes to life.
Don't overthink the Denver Broncos adding Joe Flacco to the quarterback room, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. According to multiple sources, the plan is for the Broncos to have a veteran (Flacco) in place to mentor a young quarterback, which is where Drew Lock comes in.
General manager John Elway needs to win, but he also needs to find his quarterback of the future. Flacco might offer insurance in case Lock isn't available at No. 10, but with the run on edge-rushers happening in front of Denver's selection, it's looking more and more likely that Lock will be here.
11. Cincinnati Bengals
The Pick: Ed Oliver, DL, Houston
Heading into the combine, scouts and decision-makers wondered where Ed Oliver would play and what he would weigh in at. He reportedly turned down requests to work out at linebacker and didn't run the 40-yard dash or do agility drills due to a hamstring injury. He did, however, weigh in at a strong 287 pounds.
At 6'2", that might end conversations about where Oliver plays.
The Cincinnati Bengals desperately need to add speed on defense, whether at edge-rusher, linebacker, defensive tackle or in the secondary. That means the front office can select the best defensive player available, which would be Oliver.
With Geno Atkins getting older and the Bengals in need of an interior rusher, Oliver is a perfect fit here.
12. Green Bay Packers
The Pick: Devin White, LB, LSU
Devin White set a combine record for linebackers with his 4.4-second 40-yard dash. He isn't just a speed player, either, after showing improved instincts and play strength in his 2018 season.
At No. 12 overall, he'd be a steal for the Green Bay Packers.
Edge-rusher is the Packers' biggest need, but they could spend the No. 30 overall pick on a stand-up rusher. The need on the edge only slightly outweighs Green Bay's need at linebacker this offseason.
White's speed, instincts and three-down ability are exactly what the Packers lack.
13. Miami Dolphins
The Pick: Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
Clelin Farrell struggled in agility drills and chose not to run for teams at the combine, which will send teams back to his tape. He could shine at his pro day and undo any damage he did in Indianapolis, but for now, he slips behind Montez Sweat and becomes the fourth-ranked edge-rusher in this year's class.
The Dolphins could be in the mix for a quarterback, but the word around the NFL is that they aren't likely to reach for for Daniel Jones of Duke here. Instead, the Dolphins may become serious players for free-agent signal-caller Teddy Bridgewater and then draft a quarterback next year.
Since Miami's biggest need is at edge-rusher, betting on one of the most productive and impactful defenders in college football over the last two seasons is a win at No. 13.
14. Atlanta Falcons
The Pick: Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
Brian Burns had one of the most exciting performances at this year's combine. After rumors circulated that he weighed in the 220s during the season, he came in at 249 pounds while running the 40 in 4.53 seconds and the three-cone drill in 7.01 seconds.
Burns fits what the Falcons need up front. After using the franchise tag Monday on defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, per Schefter, the Falcons need to fill the void on the outside that Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley have yet to impact.
McKinley has obvious talent, but Beasley's future with the team seems in doubt after head coach Dan Quinn said "by the end of the spring, he'll either love me or hate me" during his combine media presser. If Beasley is on the way out, Burns is the type of athletic pass-rusher the Falcons will need.
15. Washington Redskins
The Pick: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
What? Not a quarterback?
In this scenario, the Redskins will be the favorite to land Josh Rosen from the Cardinals for a Day 2 pick package. With Rosen on board, a strong offensive line and 2018 second-round running back Derrius Guice ready to make his debut, the front office can look to upgrade from aging Vernon Davis and oft-injured Jordan Reed at tight end.
T.J. Hockenson didn't run a blazing 40 at the combine, but his all-around game is what head coach Jay Gruden needs. It's also what Rosen will need to open up the Washington offense.
16. Carolina Panthers
The Pick: Jonah Williams, OL, Alabama
It's imperative for the Carolina Panthers to bolster their offensive line this offseason. If Cam Newton is healthy enough to play in 2019, the front office must protect him better up front.
Jonah Williams was a three-year starter at Alabama—one at right tackle as a true freshman and two on the left side—and was nearly flawless in that time. He's experienced, has sound technical ability and his arm length measured in above 33 inches, which is generally the NFL threshold for tackles.
Some still see Williams as an interior player in the NFL, which might work best for the Panthers. If Carolina plugs him in at left guard or center to keep inside pressure off Newton, he'll have All-Pro potential.
17. Cleveland Browns
The Pick: A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
After signing Kareem Hunt at running back, re-signing Greg Robinson at left tackle and answering many needs with a stellar 2018 draft class, the Cleveland Browns enter the 2019 draft with few immediate needs.
Finding better boundary players on both sides of the ball is one area of potential improvement.
Ole Miss wide receiver A.J. Brown fits well with what the Browns are doing offensively under Freddie Kitchens. Brown has excellent route-running skills, impressive speed (4.49 seconds) and great physicality at 226 pounds on his 6'0" frame.
While he often played as a slot receiver in college, that was more a product of the system at Ole Miss. He also has the ability to win on the outside of the formation. That's where the Browns can use him while letting Jarvis Landry and David Njoku get more one-on-one looks.
18. Minnesota Vikings
The Pick: Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma
The Minnesota Vikings have to go into the 2019 offseason determined to improve the offensive line. With Oklahoma starting right tackle Cody Ford available at No. 18, he would be a no-brainer solution for general manager Rick Spielman.
Ford, who some think might move inside to guard, was a powerful and athletic right tackle in both the run and pass game at Oklahoma. At 6'4" and 329 pounds, he has the ideal build for the right side.
At the combine, he showed he has the agility and technique to come in and lock down either the right guard or right tackle spot to keep Kirk Cousins clean.
19. Tennessee Titans
The Pick: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
Following a dominant performance at the combine, Noah Fant is back in the conversation as a top-20 pick. For the Tennessee Titans—who might ship this pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for Antonio Brown—Fant is an easy answer to their passing-game woes.
The Titans are rumored to want defensive line help, but with an ACL injury expected to keep Mississippi State's Jeffery Simmons out of the first round, they could instead bolster their offense to give fifth-year quarterback Marcus Mariota the best possible chance to succeed before his contract runs out.
To properly evaluate Mariota, the Titans have to get a solid supporting cast around him.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pick: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
2016 first-round pick Artie Burns hasn't worked out for the Steelers, which puts cornerback near the top of their needs. Finding speed, length and someone who can step in as a starter from day one is key.
In this scenario, the Steelers are in line to snag the best cornerback, LSU's Greedy Williams, at No. 20 due to the run on quarterbacks and edge-rushers.
After running a 4.37-second 40 at 6'2" and 185 pounds, Williams fits the mold of the fast, long plug-and-play starter the Steelers are desperate for.
21. Seattle Seahawks
The Pick: Taylor Rapp, S, Washington
The best safety in the draft falls to the perfect team for him.
Taylor Rapp is a Minkah Fitzpatrick-type player who can line up at multiple spots in the secondary. With the Seattle Seahawks likely to move on from Earl Thomas, Rapp can take his place.
Rapp's tape was by far the best of any safety in the 2019 draft class. He's a hitter with range and instincts. He's also a great athlete, which was on display at the combine with his 6.82-second three-cone time and a blistering 3.99 seconds in the short shuttle.
Combined with two years of great tape, those times could push Rapp higher than No. 21 overall.
22. Baltimore Ravens
The Pick: Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
The Baltimore Ravens released Alex Collins on Friday following an arrest, which only made them weaker at running back. If head coach John Harbaugh expects to keep defenses from keying on quarterback Lamar Jackson with six and seven defensive backs on the field, the Ravens must bolster their backfield.
Alabama's Josh Jacobs is a power back with moves and soft hands. He's a flawless receiver out of the backfield, and he has the patience, vision and agility to be a featured back in the Ravens' scheme.
Jacobs is an easy answer to the issue of defenses adjusting for Jackson and will make the Baltimore offense much more well-rounded from the jump.
23. Houston Texans
The Pick: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
The Houston Texans may go forward with Julie'n Davenport and Seantrel Henderson at offensive tackle, but that isn't the best plan to protect quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Washington State's Andre Dillard is an athletic masterpiece in the passing game. There are concerns about his power play in the run game—mostly thanks to his coaching at Washington State—but he has all of the tools and athleticism to get better when asked to move defenders in the run.
The Texans have weapons. Now they must protect Watson.
24. Oakland Raiders (via CHI)
The Pick: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
This pick is from Chicago as part of the Khalil Mack trade, so the Raiders may seek to replace either Mack or wide receiver Amari Cooper here. However, they also have a pressing need at cornerback.
Byron Murphy didn't run as well as hoped at the combine (4.55-second 40) at 5'11" and 190 pounds. He may have bulked up to meet the NFL's wishes for a bigger frame, which caused him to lose speed. He will have a chance to run faster at his pro day, which could push him back up higher in Round 1.
If he's still on the board at No. 24, the Raiders could use him opposite Gareon Conley and have a dynamic young duo at cornerback to build upon.
25. Philadelphia Eagles
The Pick: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
A Lisfranc surgery kept Marquise Brown from competing at the combine, but it hasn't kept scouts from talking about his game. If healthy, many believe Brown would have been the first receiver off the board.
One director of scouting even told me Brown would have gone ahead of D.K. Metcalf if he was healthy and tested as well as expected. That's great news for the Eagles, who could look to move on from Nelson Agholor and need another option at wide receiver.
Offensive line depth could be a need, but the Eagles are signing many of their free agents there to keep the group together. With Brandon Graham back at defensive end and the offensive line intact, receiver becomes the biggest need. Brown is the best player left on the board to fill it.
26. Indianapolis Colts
The Pick: Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson
Every now and then, a player is an ideal fit for a team and is also slotted to be drafted where they pick. That's the case for Christian Wilkins and the Indianapolis Colts.
Wilkins, who played 3-technique at Clemson, is the kind of interior pass-rusher missing from the Indianapolis defense. Depending on what the Colts do with their NFL-high $106.4 million in projected salary-cap space (via Over the Cap), Wilkins would also fill the team's biggest need.
Grabbing a high-impact, high-character player who can be a day one starter is the exact type of move general manager Chris Ballard would make.
27. Oakland Raiders (via DAL)
The Pick: Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State
Thanks to the Dallas Cowboys' trade for Amari Cooper, the Raiders have yet another pick in the first round. Could they move this pick for disgruntled Steelers receiver Antonio Brown?
Since this mock draft isn't projecting trades, the Raiders will keep this pick, but don't rule out head coach Jon Gruden and general manafer Mike Mayock swinging for the fences to add talent.
If the Raiders do stay put at No. 27, look for them to select the best player available in the middle of the field if the top wide receivers are gone. The team has struggled for years to stop tight ends and crossing routes, with 2016 first-rounder Karl Joseph doing little to help solve those problems as of yet.
Johnathan Abram is like Atlanta Falcons safety Keanu Neal all over again. He's powerful, fast, smart and has the right tools to dominate the middle in coverage and take away the run.
28. Los Angeles Chargers
The Pick: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
Is this the year the Los Angeles Chargers finally draft their quarterback of the future?
Without an offensive tackle worth drafting at No. 28, this does become the right time to draft Philip Rivers' heir apparent. Duke's Daniel Jones has football smarts, promising technique and plenty of production in a pro-style offense under head coach David Cutcliffe to excite teams.
There has long been debate about whether Rivers would accept the role of mentor to his future replacement, but the Chargers cannot get caught in an Eli Manning-esque situation with a regressing quarterback and no answer on their roster.
29. Kansas City Chiefs
The Pick: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
The Kansas City Chiefs' needs on defense are obvious, but where the front office goes in Round 1 is harder to peg.
Will general manager Brett Veach trade Dee Ford, creating a need at edge-rusher? Will the Chiefs go for broke to sign a safety like Earl Thomas in free agency? Or do they just sit tight and draft the best cornerback available?
That's what happens in this mock draft with Georgia's Deandre Baker, who has the physicality, technique and quickness to excel in the Chiefs defense. His ability against the run and how tough he can be at the line of scrimmage is especially exciting.
Baker might not have elite speed, which is why he's on the board at No. 29, but he is good enough to win against the best in the SEC. He could be a No. 1 cornerback for the Chiefs.
30. Green Bay Packers (via NO)
The Pick: Jaylon Ferguson, EDGE, Louisiana Tech
After grabbing linebacker Devin White at No. 12, the Packers have a chance to add a pass-rusher at No. 30.
The NFL rescinded Jaylon Ferguson's combine invite due to a conviction for simple battery as a freshman following a fight at a McDonald's, but that is not expected to hurt his stock. Scouts will see his NCAA-record 45 sacks, his NFL-ready technique and his high motor and fall in love with a player who hasn't been in trouble since the issue four years ago.
The Packers have to walk away from this draft with help on the edge. Ferguson is an ideal 3-4 rusher fit for the team toward the end of Round 1.
31. Los Angeles Rams
The Pick: Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware
Lamarcus Joyner goes out, Nasir Adderley comes in.
The Rams will likely lose one of their best coverage players in free agency, but they can replace him at No. 31 with a prospect who has more potential as a playmaker in the safety or nickel role. Adderley's experience as a safety and cornerback makes him intriguing to a team expected to flip over much of its defense.
The Rams are hard to predict because of the uncertainty surrounding Dante Fowler Jr. and Ndamukong Suh, but the smart money is on the front office focusing on the secondary due to the expected lack of edge-rushers available at the end of Round 1.
32. New England Patriots
The Pick: Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson
The New England Patriots could go a number of different directions at the end of the first round.
With Rob Gronkowski's future up in the air, they may eye Alabama tight end Irv Smith. If Trey Flowers leaves in free agency, pass-rusher will be a need. But head coach Bill Belichick loves defensive backs, and the Patriots have to get younger at cornerback.
Trayvon Mullen didn't see a ton of targets in college since ACC quarterbacks avoided him, but when he was challenged, he made plays like the interception and sack that helped clinch a national title for the Tigers against Alabama. Mullen's size (6'1", 199 pounds) and speed (4.46-second 40) are intriguing enough without his playmaking skills.