2019 NFL Mock Draft: Could Four Quarterbacks Go in the Top 15?
The NFL's need for quarterbacks can throw an entire mock draft off. Remember when scouts were "terrified" of this group of signal-callers? Since then, the narrative has changed; expect certain teams to swing hard for a franchise player under center.
Last year, four clubs traded up for a passer. The New York Jets bartered with the Indianapolis Colts in March, ascending three spots to increase their chances of landing a preferred prospect. The Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals and Baltimore Ravens followed suit on draft day.
Although every team seems content with their transactions, Arizona's new head coach Kliff Kingsbury has been keen on Kyler Murray since high school. This leads to the burning question. Will general manager Steve Keim choose a quarterback at No. 1 overall this year? Beyond Arizona's major decision, a few other teams have to find a succession plan at the position.
Consequently, we'll likely see top non-quarterback prospects fall during the selection process. Front-office executives looking to fill out their defense should take advantage—this class features several top-notch edge-rushers and interior linemen.
Our mock draft doesn't include trades, but, based on team needs and the available talent, four quarterbacks went to teams within the first 11 picks. Which prospect took the top spot? Who snuck into the top 15?
1. Arizona Cardinals
The Pick: QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
Most mock drafts will start with Kyler Murray in the top spot. Since we're not including trades, the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner goes to the Cardinals at No. 1.
Don't buy into the buzz that Murray will definitely land in the desert, but it's a strong possibility. According to Fox Sports' Joel Klatt on Undisputed, the New York Giants, Los Angeles Chargers and New England Patriots have each offered a second-round pick for 2018 first-round quarterback Josh Rosen.
Compensated with an extra early-round pick, head coach Kliff Kingsbury can work with a quarterback he praised years ago and the Cardinals can finally lay the foundation for a rebuild that barely broke ground last season.
Conventionally, Arizona should hang on to Rosen. But the front office hit the reset button on head coach Steve Wilks' staff after one year, which suggests a new start. Instead of an arranged bond between Rosen and Kingsbury, the incoming lead skipper could steer this pick.
Kingsbury guided a pass-heavy offense from 2013-18 at Texas Tech. Murray, meanwhile, displayed pinpoint accuracy throwing to all areas of the field at Oklahoma last year, averaging 11.6 yards per attempt with a 69 percent completion rate.
Arizona will take criticism for this selection, but the decision should pay off in the long term.
2. San Francisco 49ers
The Pick: DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State
The San Francisco 49ers have to atone for their overdraft at No. 3 overall two years ago. While Solomon Thomas could develop into a solid rotation player who lines up inside and outside based scheme alignment, their defense still needs consistent production on the edge. General manager John Lynch can solidify the defensive end spots with pass-rushers in a six-week period.
The 49ers traded their 2020 second-round pick to the Kansas City Chiefs for edge-rusher Dee Ford. On the opposite end, Nick Bosa would give this defense another boost in pocket pressure. San Francisco's front line would ooze with talent, with DeForest Buckner wreaking havoc in the middle and Arik Armstead showing moderate improvement last season.
Bosa's junior campaign ended abruptly because of a core muscle injury, but he's shown enough on the collegiate level to become the first non-quarterback selected in this draft. During his sophomore year, he dominated at the line of scrimmage, logging 8.5 sacks and 16 tackles for a loss.
The former Buckeye uses his hands for leverage with the ability to disengage and latch onto ball-carriers in run defense. It's hard to label can't-miss prospects, but he's a complete player at his position.
3. New York Jets
The Pick: EDGE Josh Allen, Kentucky
Here's some advice for general manager Mike Maccagnan: Don't get cute. The Jets re-signed one of their top two pass-rushers in defensive end Henry Anderson. The other, outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins, made a significant leap in sacks from three in 2017 to seven last season.
Can Anderson and Jenkins continue to increase their pass-rushing production? We'll see, but their sack numbers shouldn't deter Maccagnan from Josh Allen. The Kentucky product punished offensive lines for three years on the collegiate level, racking up 31 sacks and 40.5 tackles for a loss since his sophomore term.
Lost in discussions of his dominance near the line of scrimmage, the former Wildcat can also cover short passing lanes. Quarterbacks have to account for his ability to step in front of a throw on quick reads.
Maccagnan may mull over trade offers to acquire more picks, per New York Post's Brian Costello, but Allen would give Gregg Williams' defense an athletic edge-rusher to chase down Bills quarterback Josh Allen and force Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to rethink his age-45 plan.
4. Oakland Raiders
The Pick: DL Quinnen Williams, Alabama
The Oakland Raiders need more than Arden Key rushing the passer, but the front office doesn't have to take a defensive end to address that issue. General manager Mike Mayock talked about interior pressure during the NFL Scouting Combine.
"Over the years, I’ve talked to almost every top quarterback in the NFL, and I’ve asked them all the same question," he said. "What bothers you the most? And almost every top-flight quarterback says immediate pressure up the middle…there’s more emphasis on inside guys. So, it’s at least as equal to the outside guys."
We must deviate from the assumption that a defensive line's top pass-rusher must come off the edge. Mayock understands an elite pocket-pusher can change the game on the inside as well.
Instead of reaching for a defensive end in the fourth overall spot, the Raiders should select the best prospect on the board. Quinnen Williams fits into Mayock's narrative concerning pressure up the middle. He bothered collegiate quarterbacks throughout the 2018 term, logging eight sacks. Also, the Alabama product frequently broke into the backfield to stop the run with 19.5 tackles for a loss.
Williams would add some ferocity to the Raiders pass rush and strengthen a defense that ranked 30th against the run.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Pick: DL Ed Oliver, Houston
Quinnen Williams' rise up draft boards put a dent in Ed Oliver's buzz among interior defensive linemen over the past few months. The Houston product didn't run the 40-yard dash at the combine, but he clocked a 4.73-second time at 281 pounds during his pro day, per ESPN.com's Sam Khan Jr.
Although there were concerns about Oliver's size as a defensive lineman, he shed six pounds between the combine and his pro-day workouts—likely to optimize performance in the speed and agility drills. The Houston product grabbed headlines at an ideal time—less than four weeks before the draft.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians seemed non-committal about defensive lineman Gerald McCoy's future with the team. "From listening to Bucs coach Bruce Arians, it seems like Gerald McCoy’s roster status is in some doubt. 'If he’s here, he’s our starting' DT. Mentions he’s disruptive but not what he was 4 years ago. And there was a mention of if the price matches the productivity."
It's possible the Buccaneers add a younger defensive lineman to replace McCoy, who's going into his age-31 campaign with no dead money left on the remaining three years of his deal.
As displayed at Houston's pro day, Oliver has top-notch quickness for a 280-plus pound lineman. Starting as a true freshman, he's disrupted collegiate backfields for three years, logging 53 tackles for a loss and 13.5 sacks. The former Cougar would provide versatility and a relentless push at the line of scrimmage in Todd Bowles' defense.
6. New York Giants
The Pick: QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
Giants representatives wined and dined Dwayne Haskins before his impressive pro day, per New York Post's Brian Costello. The former Buckeye could go within the top five if a team moves up for him, but he falls to a quarterback-needy club at No. 6.
General manager Dave Gettleman will provide all the necessary quotes to pump up quarterback Eli Manning, who's the unquestioned starter, but the front office must find the next signal-caller to carry the torch.
Manning turned 38 in January, going into a contract year. He showed moderate improvement in the second half of the 2018 campaign. The two-time Super Bowl champion could hold the spot for a year while Haskins prepares to take over the huddle. Big Blue would follow the Chiefs' quarterback model: sit a first-rounder for a season behind an established starter.
Last year, Haskins blossomed under center at Ohio State. He doesn't have the strongest arm in this draft class but shows consistency in accurate ball placement, completing 70 percent of the 590 passes he threw in college. In most cases, the 6'3", 231-pound signal-caller squeezed passes through tight windows and threw with anticipation.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Pick: TE T.J. Hockenson, Iowa
The Jacksonville Jaguars hope to springboard back into playoff contention this year. The front office landed Nick Foles on a four-year, $88 million deal. Now, the offense needs upgrades to maximize the investment at quarterback.
Eric Ebron was the last tight end to enter the league as a top-10 pick in 2014. He's become a major cog in the Indianapolis Colts offense after a slow start in Detroit.
Though it's rare draft territory for a prospect at his position, tight end T.J. Hockenson's pass-catching skills and desire to block will break the mold. He recorded 49 receptions for 760 yards and six touchdowns last season.
Foles and Hockenson have the potential to develop into a special connection. The Jaguars signal-caller played with Zach Ertz in Philadelphia, connecting with him on 18 out of 22 targets for 192 yards and a touchdown during the 2018 postseason. The two-time Pro Bowl tight end also had a 110-yard, two-touchdown performance with Foles under center in Week 16 of the 2018 term.
Hockenson could lead the Jaguars' pass-catching group in receiving yards right out of college. The coaching staff should also use him to supplement pass protection on the end.
8. Detroit Lions
The Pick: CB Greedy Williams, LSU
The Detroit Lions break the ice at cornerback with Greedy Williams. In a division with Aaron Rodgers throwing to Davante Adams and Kirk Cousins throwing to Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, general manager Bob Quinn must strengthen his secondary.
Cornerback Darius Slay performed at All-Pro and Pro Bowl levels over the last two seasons, but 2017 second-rounder Teez Tabor has yet to develop into a consistent starter. The front office released Nevin Lawson, who opened games with the first unit since 2015.
Greedy Williams and Slay could become one of the NFL's top cornerback tandems in the near future. We're already familiar with the veteran's work, recording 11 interceptions over the previous two campaigns. At 6'2", the incoming rookie comes into the league with ideal length. Assuming he adds bulk to his 185-pound frame, the All-American cornerback should be able to handle all upper-echelon wideouts.
RealGM's Jeff Risdon inquired about Williams with a staffer who cited tackling as an issue. "Our cornerbacks need to tackle," he said. However, at this point in the offseason, it's hard to separate chatter from the truth. Secondly, if true, is it the deciding factor for the front office or does his coverage ability outweigh the flaw?
Williams picked off eight passes in two seasons at LSU. He ran 4.37 40-yard dash time but didn't stand out during the position drills at the combine. He also cut his workouts short because of cramps in his calves. Don't allow his underwhelming workouts negate what he's shown on tape. The cover man knows how to sniff out a route and won't allow big plays over the top.
9. Buffalo Bills
The Pick: OT Jawaan Taylor, Florida
The Buffalo Bills need a physical presence in the trenches. In November and December when there's blustery, inclement weather at New Era Field, the offense could use a mauler on the offensive line; Jawaan Taylor fits the bill.
For the most part, Taylor lined up on the right side of Florida's offensive line. He could play the same position in Buffalo. General manager Brandon Beane signed offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe during free agency, but he's headed into his age-34 campaign. The Bills need a long-term solution with upside.
Taylor would hold the edge for running back LeSean McCoy and keep top-level pass-rushers off of Josh Allen. The strong-armed signal-caller would have enough time to deliver deep throws to John Brown and find Cole Beasley in the slot. Assuming 2017 second-round pick Dion Dawkins remains on the blind side, the Bills could bookend their front line with two early-round draft picks.
10. Denver Broncos
The Pick: QB Drew Lock, Missouri
Similar to the Giants, the Denver Broncos select a quarterback in the first round with the intent to sit him at least a year. President of football operations and general manager John Elway will take multiple swings to address the quarterback situation. The first attempt happened before free agency.
The Broncos traded a fourth-round pick to the Ravens for signal-caller Joe Flacco. Elway said he believes the 34-year-old is still in his prime. Anyone who watched him play over the last few seasons knows that's an off-based statement.
Before suffering a hip injury in 2018, Flacco's production had been consistently mediocre since Baltimore's last playoff run under his lead in 2014. He may take the field for one or two solid years before the Broncos send Drew Lock into the huddle.
Like Flacco, Lock can stretch the field with his arm. Though his accuracy drops at times, the Missouri product improved his completion rate every year on the collegiate level and reached 62.9 percent in 2018.
Wideout Emmanuel Sanders only has one year left on his deal, but Lock will have young receivers Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton to target beyond the 2019 campaign.
11. Cincinnati Bengals
The Pick: QB Will Grier, West Virginia
After watching Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and Lamar Jackson produce during their rookie years, clubs may boldly approach addressing the quarterback position.
The Cincinnati Bengals hired head coach Zac Taylor to replace Marvin Lewis, signaling a new era for the franchise. He walks in the door, and signal-caller Andy Dalton has two years left on his deal without dead money owed.
Last April, the Bengals eyed Mason Rudolph before the Pittsburgh Steelers moved up to take him at No. 76. This time, the Bengals snag a signal-caller early. Dalton supporters shouldn't ring the alarm bells yet, but he may not play out his entire contract without strong play under center.
A solid starting quarterback, Dalton's most recent Pro Bowl season dates back to 2016. The Bengals need a passer to elevate the offense whether wideout A.J. Green decides to re-sign or not after the 2019 campaign.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Grier boosted his stock after an impressive pro day. He's started for two programs, Florida and West Virginia, and finished with an impressive 8,556 yards on a 65.7 completion rate, 81 touchdowns and 23 interceptions.
Grier violated the NCAA's performance-enhancing drug policy, which preceded his transfer to West Virginia, but he's kept himself out of trouble and produced on the field since the move. He exploits matchups in the middle of the field with enough arm strength to connect with pass-catchers on deep routes.
It's an ideal situation for Grier and the Bengals. He doesn't have to start right away but looks like a pro-ready quarterback if needed next year.
12. Green Bay Packers
The Pick: WR D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss
Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst can't take Aaron Rodgers for granted. He will turn 36 in December and his skill position options are flaky. Tight end Jimmy Graham experienced some struggles in his first year with the team. The front office drafted three wideouts (J'Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown) on Day 3 last year, but none of them have D.K. Metcalf's upside.
Before Metcalf's impressive combine workouts, he flashed in spurts at Ole Miss. He suffered a broken foot during his freshman term and a season-ending neck injury last year. At the combine, his medical checks didn't raise any red flags. If he can stay healthy, the Packers would have a dynamic, big-play wide receiver capable of putting a smile on Rodgers' face.
At 6'3", 228 pounds, Metcalf ran a 4.33 40-yard time. In college, he ran past defenders, put them into the ground with a stiff-arm and came down with difficult receptions in traffic. The former Rebel's skill set should translate to the pros. Green Bay could poke holes in pass defenses with him and Davante Adams on the opposite side.
13. Miami Dolphins
The Pick: DE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
The Miami Dolphins didn't re-sign pass-rusher Cameron Wake, and they're in talks to send Robert Quinn to the Dallas Cowboys, per Ian Rapoport. Charles Harris, the team's 2017 first-rounder, hasn't left his mark yet, logging 23 solo tackles and three sacks in 27 contests.
According to Rapoport, Montez Sweat's medical exams showed evidence of a heart condition, but it's deemed "low-risk." The Mississippi State product participated in activities during Senior Bowl week and the combine without an issue.
The Dolphins can take the standout SEC pass-rusher and not worry about his ability to play football—for now. Sweat doesn't have the ideal bend for a defensive end, but he's quick off the edge with a blend of power and speed to beat initial blocks. He notched 22.5 sacks over the last two terms and clocked the fastest 40-yard dash time (4.41) for defensive linemen since 2003, per NFL.com's Chase Goodbread.
Miami needs help at defensive end if they want to bring down Tom Brady, Josh Allen and Sam Darnold twice a year.
14. Atlanta Falcons
The Pick: DL Rashan Gary, Michigan
Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn can have some fun with defensive lineman Rashan Gary. At 6'4", 277 pounds, he can rotate with Grady Jarrett and Deadrin Senat on the interior or move outside to rush the passer.
Since his All-Pro campaign, Vic Beasley's pocket-pressure numbers have plummeted. He logged 15.5 sacks in his best year and 10 over the last two terms. The fourth-year veteran heads into a contract year.
If general manager Thomas Dimitroff labels Beasley's 2016 season an outlier, he may look for Gary to fill the pass-rushing void opposite Takkarist McKinley. Physically, the Michigan product can handle inside-outside responsibilities, but production will determine his pro position.
Gary didn't jump off the screen in a majority of his collegiate games, but he comes into the league with a high ceiling. He recorded 18 tackles for a loss and 9 sacks during his sophomore and junior terms.
15. Washington Redskins
The Pick: LB Devin White, LSU
In this mock draft, Arizona chose Murray, which means Rosen will have to find a new home. Based on starting quarterback Case Keenum's 2018 performance, consider the Washington Redskins a suitor for the Cardinals signal-caller.
Using the context above, Washington looks past the quarterback position and toward its defense. Last year, the front office acquired linebacker Reuben Foster after the 49ers waived him, but he's on the Commissioner Exempt List because of an alleged domestic dispute. Mason Foster only has a year left on his deal. The team released Zach Brown in March.
Devin White addresses the inside linebacker spot for at least the next four years. Although he's often compared to Roquan Smith, he doesn't have the Chicago Bears linebacker's athleticism." However, the LSU product thwarts the run with ease, frequently reaches the backfield and wraps up ball-carriers as well as pass-catchers with sound tackling technique.
The 2018 Dick Butkus Award winner can also drop back into short-area coverage to pose a threat in pass defense. He broke up six passes during his last year with the Tigers.
Although White won't accumulate eye-popping sack numbers, he's still capable of collapsing the pocket in blitz packages.
16. Carolina Panthers
The Pick: OT Jonah Williams, Alabama
Jonah Williams drops to the Carolina Panthers at No. 16. He's the second offensive tackle to come off the board. Team needs in the top 15 hurt his placement, but he lands in a perfect spot to start early in his career.
The Panthers parted ways with left tackle Matt Kalil, which leaves an open competition on quarterback Cam Newton's blind side. Taylor Moton opened the season at that spot but moved to the opposite end while Carolina re-signed right tackle Daryl Williams to a one-year deal.
Keep in mind Taylor saw reps at left guard during training camp before Williams suffered a dislocated kneecap and a torn MCL. The Panthers can revisit that idea on the interior to keep the best offensive linemen on the field.
Williams has experience at both tackle spots on the collegiate level. The front office won't have to re-sign Daryl Williams after the 2019 season with Moton and the Alabama product on the roster.
This selection could pay immediate dividends at left tackle. If Moton plays that position in the upcoming season, the incoming rookie could shift to the right side, and the front office can consider a trade for the other Williams. Either way, the Panthers should make room for the All-American offensive tackle.
17. New York Giants (from Cleveland)
The Pick: EDGE Brian Burns, Florida State
The Giants traded their top pass-rusher Olivier Vernon and a fourth-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for guard Kevin Zeitler and a fifth-rounder. The transaction creates a dire need on the edge as, even with Vernon, New York tied New England for 30th in sacks last season.
Big Blue's 2018 third-rounder Lorenzo Carter recorded four sacks, but the defense could use a high-end prospect on the strong side. Brian Burns bulked up to 249 pounds (from 235 during last season) before the combine and looked fluid during the position drills. It's important to note because his bend around the corner of the pocket put him on the college football radar.
Burns' athletic ability and impressive spin moves should draw Gettleman's attention. The Florida State product logged 38.5 tackles for a loss and 23 sacks in three seasons. His agility allows him to track down ball-carriers and make plays in coverage.
Without the bulk, Burns isn't a strong fit here, but his added size should move him up the Giants' draft board. The defense desperately needs the former Seminole's skill set in their front seven.
18. Minnesota Vikings
The Pick: OG Chris Lindstrom, Boston College
Predictably, the Minnesota Vikings take the first interior offensive lineman off the board. Tom Compton (New York Jets) and Nick Easton (New Orleans Saints) signed elsewhere during free agency. Josh Kline joined the group, but he struggled in pass protection with the Tennessee Titans last term, allowing three sacks, per Washington Post's STATs.
If the Vikings acquire Chris Lindstrom, he'd start right away. The Boston College product spent a majority of his collegiate career at right guard. He would likely push Kline to the left side or into a reserve role. The added help in the trenches gives hope for an improved ground attack—assuming running back Dalvin Cook stays healthy this season.
In 2018, defenders stuffed Minnesota's running backs on 21.5 percent of their carries, 2.2 percent higher than the league average, per Football Outsiders. Lindstrom adds toughness to the interior and expands lanes for the tailbacks.
19. Tennessee Titans
The Pick: IOL Garrett Bradbury, North Carolina State
Garrett Bradbury won the Dave Rimington Trophy for Most Outstanding Center in 2018. He also lined up at guard through his first two years at North Carolina State, per NFL.com's Lance Zierlein.
Because of Bradbury's versatility, the Tennessee Titans can give him a shot to earn the starting right guard spot—even though he played on the left as a collegian. If the experiment doesn't work out, the 6'3", 306-pounder can take over for Ben Jones at center after his contract expires at the end of the 2019 term.
The Titans have fared well with a strong ground attack. Bradbury flashed during Senior Bowl week when he drove defensive linemen into the ground at the practices. He's able to use hand technique for leverage and quickness to block defenders, but there's a physical side to his game that's valuable for inline blocking.
In order to see running back Derrick Henry at his best, the Titans need to maintain a strong interior wall to complement his between-the-tackles style.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pick: LB Devin Bush, Michigan
The Steelers signed linebacker Mark Barron, but the 29-year-old seems like a placeholder until he's able to show signs of a bounce-back season after a down year with the Los Angeles Rams.
Pittsburgh takes linebacker Devin Bush who could eventually fill Ryan Shazier's role, who is still recuperating from a 2017 spinal injury. We can't rule out a return for the two-time Pro Bowler, but the Steelers have to look at replacement options—preferably someone comfortable in pass coverage.
At 5'11", 234 pounds, Bush isn't a physically imposing linebacker. Nevertheless, he fits within a "modern-day" NFL defense that needs speed to combat pass-heavy offenses with receiving tight ends and running backs catching out of the backfield.
Bush recorded 10 sacks and 11 pass breakups as a starter over the last two years. He's a three-down defender able to diagnose the run, slip blocks for critical stops and shadow pass-catchers in the middle of the field.
21. Seattle Seahawks
The Pick: WR N'Keal Harry, Arizona State
Seattle Seahawks wideout Doug Baldwin's toughness and willingness to play through injury may have tolled on his body. He underwent knee and shoulder surgeries during the offseason. The 30-year-old is set to undergo another procedure to address a sports hernia in April, which would sideline him for six-to-eight weeks, per head coach Pete Carroll (h/t ESPN.com's Brady Henderson).
In eight seasons, Baldwin has only missed five outings. He could recover in time to take the field Week 1, but there's obvious uncertainty following multiple surgeries. Regardless of his availability, the Seahawks should consider a wide receiver on Day 1 of the draft.
Quarterback Russell Wilson has two proven targets in the passing game: Baldwin and Tyler Lockett, who blossomed in a starting role during the last campaign. With the former going into his age-31 term, general manager John Schneider can act before the two-time Pro Bowler shows decline.
In 2018, the Seahawks established their ground attack, which ranked No. 1 in yards. Assuming that physical theme continues into the next season, Wilson should have room to pick and choose opportunities to attack the perimeter. N'Keal Harry brings size (6'2", 228 lbs), an expansive catch radius for ball placement and moves after the catch.
The Arizona State product is strong enough to fight through press coverage with the stature to pluck contested passes from the air on deeper throws. His playmaking ability would add a new element to the Seahawks offensive attack.
22. Baltimore Ravens
The Pick: WR Hakeem Butler, Iowa State
The Ravens add another tower to the pass-catching group. General manager Eric DeCosta can help Lamar Jackson's development as a passer in the pocket with a 6'5", 227-pound target on the perimeter.
Butler isn't the third-best wideout in this class, but he could flourish in Baltimore with Jackson under center. He's another big target for an inexperienced quarterback with questionable accuracy (58.2 percent). The Ravens signal-caller connected with 6'5", 256-pound tight end Mark Andrews 13 times for 308 yards in seven regular-season starts. The rookie led the team in yards during that period.
In those contests, Jackson managed to escape pressure and toss up a few deep balls to the big Oklahoma product. Butler struggled with some drops on the collegiate level, but he averaged 19.5 yards per catch. If he cuts down on the bobbles, the big-bodied wideout should routinely come down with big catches.
With this selection, Jackson would have two tight ends with soft hands (Hayden Hurst and Andrews) in the seams and Butler on the perimeter. That's a difficult trio to cover downfield.
23. Houston Texans
The Pick: OT, Dalton Risner, Kansas State
Here's the good news for the Houston Texans: Deshaun Watson played a full 16-game season, coming off a torn ACL. On the flip side, he took a league-high 62 sacks. In consecutive offseasons, the front office must focus on the offensive line to protect their quarterback.
According to Aaron Reiss of The Athletic, head coach Bill O'Brien projects Martinas Rankin as an offensive guard, not a tackle. His vision leaves a question mark on the perimeter.
In 2018, Seantrel Henderson started one game at right tackle but suffered a season-ending ankle injury that required surgery. He's only opened 28 contests in five years. The Texans signed Matt Kalil, but he'll likely battle Julie'n Davenport for the starting role on the blind side.
Before Senior Bowl week practices, Dalton Risner talked about his ideal spot on the offensive line: right tackle. He logged a full season at the pivot during his redshirt freshman year.
The Kansas State product has the grit and power to move inside if necessary, but the Texans can plug him into the position he's played since 2016. He's a strong finisher on the perimeter with good lateral movement to move into gaps and pick up blitzers.
24. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas)
The Pick: DE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
At the beginning of the draft evaluation process, Clelin Ferrell had some buzz because of a performance during the CFB National Championship; he blew (Jonah) Williams up on a play, which caught spectators' attention.
Ferrell's draft stock may have slipped behind Montez Sweat because of the Mississippi State product's standout combine performance. Brian Burns also put his best on display in Indianapolis. Meanwhile, the Clemson product didn't participate at his pro day because of a toe injury. In terms of draft chatter, his name doesn't come up often, but he's still a high-end prospect.
The Raiders grab Ferrell at No. 24 overall, and it's the best-case scenario for a pass-rush deficient defense. Ferrell started three years at Clemson and logged 50.5 tackles for a loss and 27 sacks in that span. He won the 2018 Ted Hendricks Award for Defensive End of the Year.
Ferrell would likely move into a starting role. He's 6'4", 264 pounds, an ideal size to play strong-side defensive end in play-caller Paul Guenther's system. The former Tiger uses length and power with a strong push to disrupt action in the backfield.
25. Philadelphia Eagles
The Pick: OT Andre Dillard, Washington State
The Philadelphia Eagles head into the draft without glaring holes on the roster. General manager Howie Roseman could add to the linebacker stable after Jordan Hicks signed with the Cardinals during free agency or look toward the future.
Left tackle Jason Peters has one year left on his deal, and he turned 37 years old in January. The nine-time Pro Bowler suited up for every game last season, but the 2019 campaign will probably go down as his last in Philadelphia. The Eagles don't have a quality, proven commodity behind him on the depth chart.
Andre Dillard lined up on the blind side throughout his collegiate career. More importantly, he played in a pass-heavy offense under former head coach Mike Leach, which helped him polish his pass protection skill set.
At 6'5", 315 pounds, the Washington State product is surprisingly nimble on his feet. Dillard won't have a major issue with spin moves or agile edge-rushers. The coaching staff will need to work with him in run-blocking schemes, but he'll have a year behind Peters to sharpen his technique.
26. Indianapolis Colts
The Pick: WR A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
In 2018, Ebron masked the need for a No. 2 wide receiver to complement T.Y. Hilton. Almost immediately, quarterback Andrew Luck built a strong rapport with him. The fifth-year veteran had a breakout season, logging 66 receptions for 750 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Ebron's production may be sustainable, but the Colts still attempted to fill their hole at wide receiver during free agency. General manager Chris Ballard signed Devin Funchess to a one-year deal. The decision not to invest in him long term suggests the front office could circle back to the position early in the draft.
At No. 26, it's hard to pass on A.J. Brown. He's a disciplined route-runner, who knows how to find the gaps in zone coverage. Despite his muscular frame (6'0", 226 lbs), the former Rebel can evade defenders after the catch. The athletic wideout clocked a 4.49-second 40-yard time at the combine.
Luck could target Brown for chunk plays in the short passing game or hit him in stride when he has a few steps on a defensive back on the perimeter.
27. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago)
The Pick: CB Deandre Baker, Georgia
The Raiders complete an all-defense first round. Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden toss Guenther a cornerback who's known for his tight man coverage.
Deandre Baker isn't the fastest cornerback in this class (4.52-second 40-yard time) and only pushed out 14 reps on the bench press. At 5'11", 193 pounds, scouts may have questions from a physical standpoint, but he performs his duties at a high level. According to Pro Football Focus, he hasn't allowed a touchdown since 2016.
Before the NFL owner's meetings, at a breakfast, Gruden joked about a competitor he faces within the division, per The Athletic's Vic Tafur via Twitter. "Gruden really in awe of [Patrick] Mahomes. 'Take away every QB’s top 20 throws and he would still have the top 20 throws. We need a lot of DB’s and a lot of aspirin.'”
Though lighthearted, there's truth to Gruden's words: The Raiders must build a roster to win the AFC West. Team brass has to stack talent in the secondary to counter Mahomes, Philip Rivers and their offensive weapons downfield.
On the perimeter, Gareon Conley and Baker would pose a tough challenge for any quarterback. They can single-handedly neutralize wideouts with mirror coverage skills.
28. Los Angeles Chargers
The Pick: OT, Kaleb McGary, Washington
Offensive tackle Joe Barksdale manned the Chargers' right tackle spot since 2015, but he couldn't shake a knee ailment last year. Long before the team released him in December, Sam Tevi took over the starting role.
According to Washington Post's STATs, Tevi allowed seven sacks. Quarterback Philip Rivers had to keep his head on a swivel with a backup-level offensive lineman on the right side. Now, general manager Tom Telesco can provide immediate relief.
The Chargers will take a look at 2017 second-rounder Forrest Lamp at tackle, but he's going to compete for a first-unit spot on the interior, per ESPN.com's Eric Williams.
In Williams' tweet, head coach Anthony Lynn said the team is "good" at tackle with Russell Okung and Tevi. Well, the unit must still improve to keep Rivers upright in the pocket.
Kaleb McGary is a walking mountain at 6'7", 317 pounds. He may struggle with quicker pass-rushers, but he has the frame and power to match edge-rushers who rely on brute force to collapse the pocket.
Despite his size, McGary isn't a statue in the trenches. The former Husky will drive a small defender off the line of scrimmage and into the ground. For the Chargers, he's worth at shot at No. 28 overall to strengthen perimeter pass protection. In addition, running backs Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler may find wider alleys on his side of the field.
29. Kansas City Chiefs
The Pick: CB Byron Murphy, Washington
Byron Murphy goes to a defense in the process of a schematic transformation under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. The Chiefs allowed cornerbacks Steven Nelson and Orlando Scandrick to walk. The front office inked Tyrann Mathieu then released Eric Berry at safety.
Murphy will need safety help over the top because he doesn't have the foot quickness to recover if he's beat on a route. However, the Washington product is rarely lost in coverage and uses the sideline to squeeze a pass-catcher's space and shrink windows.
In two seasons, Murphy recorded six interceptions and 20 pass breakups. While his lack of athleticism may pop up as a concern, the cover man's field awareness compensates for any other shortcomings. He's a physical defender, who often challenged ball-carriers, coming up with 58 total tackles last year.
Murphy had a strong combine performance, showing fluid hip movement. The flexibility at the waist translates a cornerback's ability to mirror a wide receiver on pass routes. He also flashed sticky hands that will help him force turnovers on the pro level.
30. Green Bay Packers (from New Orleans)
The Pick: S Taylor Rapp, Washington
Two Huskies go back-to-back with Taylor Rapp off the board at No. 30. Green Bay signed safety Adrian Amos, but the position needs more than one offseason addition.
The Packers traded Ha Ha Clinton-Dix before last year's deadline. Josh Jones played 47.09 percent of the defensive snaps, which is a step backward from 69.49 percent in 2017. He eventually grew frustrated with his reduced role, per ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky.
"I don't just want to get a check and feel like I didn't do nothing for it," he said. "Especially when you know you can be out there, you can contribute to the team. That's what hurts the most. It's tough, trust me. It's real tough."
What changed between Jones' rookie and sophomore seasons? Mike Pettine took over the defensive coordinator position. He didn't use the 2017 second-rounder in a sizable role until November because of the lack of bodies at the position. The coaching staff had to shift Tramon Williams to safety midway through the year.
Brian Gutekunst plugs the hole in the secondary with Rapp. The versatile safety can line up in the box to supplement early-down run defense and lay a big hit on the opposition. Although he's not an ideal cover defender in space, the Washington product can shadow tight ends.
The Packers would have a safety who adds a physical presence in the secondary while able to shift around different spots in the defensive backfield if necessary.
31. Los Angeles Rams
The Pick: DL Dexter Lawrence, Clemson
Rams general manager Les Snead doesn't anticipate nose tackle Ndamukong Suh's return to the team. He cited financial reasons, per ESPN.com's Lindsey Thiry: "Based on the fact that from our budgetary constraints this year, it probably doesn't fit in his desires," Snead said.
In 2018, Suh recorded 36 solo tackles, 4.5 sacks and 19 quarterback hits. He commanded extra attention on the interior, which helped free Aaron Donald, who led the league with 20.5 sacks. The Rams don't have a second-round pick because of the Marcus Peters trade with the Chiefs. As a result, Snead should find Suh's replacement on Day 1.
At 6'4", 342 pounds, Dexter Lawrence can fill that void. He isn't just a massive defensive lineman; the Clemson product can line up across the front line. He logged 50 solo tackles, 18 for a loss of yardage, and 10 sacks over the last three seasons.
Using his 34 ¾" arms, Lawrence latches onto ball-carriers in the trenches. He'll occupy blockers to create opportunities for others and strengthen the Rams' 23rd-ranked run defense.
32. New England Patriots
The Pick: TE Noah Fant, Iowa
In case you missed it, Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement, which leaves a big void to fill in the passing game and perimeter blocking situations for New England. To put his pass-catching production in perspective, the four-time All-Pro tight end led the league in touchdowns (79) since entering the league in 2010.
The Patriots have 12 draft picks; they don't have to address positional need in the first round. But Noah Fant can slide into the starting lineup as a rookie. At 6'4", 249 pounds, he doesn't have Gronkowski's size (few tight ends do), but the Iowa product can haul in passes like a wide receiver.
Fant caught 78 passes for 1,083 yards and 19 touchdowns through three collegiate seasons. Tom Brady can single him out in favorable matchups all over the field. He's quick enough to outrun linebackers and plays with a basketball mentality when attempting to secure the ball in close quarters.
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