NFL Mock Draft 2019: Projections for Top Prospects in Unpredictable 1st Round

Ryan McCrystal@@ryan_mccrystalFeatured ColumnistMarch 30, 2019

Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray (1) runs for a touchdown against Kansas during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. Oklahoma won 55-40. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
Alonzo Adams/Associated Press

The 2019 NFL draft is shaping up to be one of the most unpredictable in recent memory, due to so much uncertainty at the top of the first round. 

For the purposes of this mock draft, no trades have been projected. But with as many as four quarterbacks potentially coming off the board in the first round, a flurry of trades seems inevitable. Those moves will only add to the chaos. 

Based on the limited information available at the moment, here's a rundown of how the top 32 picks could play out, followed by a closer look at two key positions which will shape the first round.

If we learn more about how teams are valuing prospects at these positions leading up to the draft, we'll get a more accurate view of how the first round may unfold. 


1. Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

2. San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State

3. New York Jets: Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky

4. Oakland Raiders: Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State 

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Brian Burns, DE, Florida State 

6. New York Giants: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama

8. Detroit Lions: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU 

9. Buffalo Bills:  D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss 

10. Denver Broncos: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

11. Cincinnati Bengals: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State

12. Green Bay Packers: Devin White, LB, LSU 

13. Miami Dolphins: Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan 

14. Atlanta Falcons: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston

15. Washington Redskins: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State

16. Carolina Panthers: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

17. New York Giants (from CLE): Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State

18. Minnesota Vikings: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson 

19. Tennessee Titans: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa 

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma

21. Seattle Seahawks: Garrett Bradbury, OL, NC State

22. Baltimore Ravens: N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State

23. Houston Texans: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida

24. Oakland Raiders (from CHI): Noah Fant, TE, Iowa 

25. Philadelphia Eagles: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington

26. Indianapolis Colts: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia

27. Oakland Raiders (from DAL): Taylor Rapp, SS, Washington

28. Los Angeles Chargers: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

29. Kansas City Chiefs: Chase Winovich, EDGE, Michigan

30. Green Bay Packers (from NO): Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State

31. Los Angeles Rams: Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State

32. New England Patriots: Juan Thornhill, S, Virginia


Where Will the QBs Land?

Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

The reason this draft feels more unpredictable than usual is the mystery of the quarterbacks. 

Arizona owns the No. 1 pick and clearly does not need a QB after drafting Josh Rosen at No. 10 overall last April. However, there has been rampant speculation—which the team has not denied—that Cardinals general manager Steve Keim is considering drafting Kyler Murray with the first pick. 

The reason Arizona may be interested in drafting Murray and trading Rosen, is the presence of new head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

While Kingsbury didn't have much team success during his tenure at Texas Tech, he is widely regarded as one of the most innovative offensive coaches in the game. Allowing him to work with a mobile playmaker such as Murray could unlock aspects of his offense that Rosen isn't capable of executing. 

The flip side to that argument is Keim's long history of acquiring traditional pocket-passers, which describes Rosen perfectly. During the GM's tenure in Arizona as both general manager and a member of the scouting department, he's played a role in the Cardinals acquiring players such as Carson Palmer, Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Lindley, Logan Thomas and many more.

So is Keim willing to ditch his style of quarterback for Kingsbury's? That's the question that will shape the entire first round, because if the answer is no, Murray could fall. 

Despite Murray's obvious talent, not all of the quarterback-needy teams are going to consider a 5'10" signal-caller.

New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman and Denver Broncos president John Elway both need quarterbacks, but they are also old school to a fault. Given their track record as decision-makers, it seems likely they would pass over Murray in favor of Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins or Missouri's Drew Lock—if they even draft a quarterback at all. 

As a result, if Murray doesn't go No. 1, he could slide out of the top 10. 


Where Will the Tight Ends Land?

Doug McSchooler/Associated Press

This is one of the most skilled tight end classes in recent memory, but the wide range in types of talents makes it difficult to guess where each will land at this stage of the process. 

Iowa's T.J. Hockenson is arguably the most well-rounded in this class, and he has a skill set similar to a smaller version of Rob Gronkowski. His ability to impact the passing game but also contribute as a blocker is rare for a tight end prospect these days. For these reasons, some analysts—such as ESPN's Mel Kiperhave predicted he could land in the top 10.

However, Hockenson didn't post blazing numbers in the combine, running a 4.70-second 40-yard dash. If he's selected inside the top 20, the 21-year-old would be the slowest tight end to come off the board that high since the Packers took Bubba Franks at No. 14 in 2000. 

Of course, those numbers don't mean Hockenson won't be successful in the NFL, but it is a trait that appears to be relevant to many NFL teams and could impact where he comes off the board. 

For those teams looking for speed in a tight end, Hockenson's former teammate, Noah Fant, will be high on their list. He ran 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash and could end up being the higher draft selection for that reason. 

Fant and Hockenson are the only tight ends involved in this mock draft, but if they come off the board early, it could cause others to come off the board as well. Alabama's Irv Smith Jr. is among the other first-round candidates, but he is less likely after measuring just 6'2" at the combine.