2019 NFL Mock Draft: Could Kyler Murray Slide?
Chaos. Defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "complete disorder and confusion."
Use it in a sentence? Just wait for every story written about the first round of the 2019 NFL draft, because that's what we'll be in for if the Arizona Cardinals are indeed bluffing that they'll take Heisman Trophy-winning former Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray with the No. 1 overall pick on April 25.
Of course, the Cardinals haven't come out and said it. But it's hard to find a national NFL reporter who hasn't been told the team intends to trade 2018 No. 10 overall pick Josh Rosen and draft Murray to replace him.
"Is Josh Rosen our quarterback? Yeah, he is, right now, for sure," Cards general manager Steve Keim said at the combine in February, per ESPN.com's Josh Weinfuss.
You don't include "right now" unless you're unsure Rosen is the long-term solution, or unless you're doing your best to drum up trade interest. But it's possible—arguably even more likely—that Keim and the Cardinals are trying to attract a trade partner not for Rosen but for the pick that would theoretically be used to draft Rosen's replacement.
So here's a "what if" mock draft. What if the Cardinals have executed a state-of-the-art smoke screen? What if Murray isn't the top pick? What if the New York Giants prefer Dwayne Haskins? What if the Oakland Raiders stick with Derek Carr rather than wading into a subpar quarterback draft class? What if the Denver Broncos aren't willing to move up for Murray, or if they prefer Drew Lock or Daniel Jones?
What if Kyler Murray slides right out of the top five?
It'd be chaos—and damn good entertainment.
1. Arizona Cardinals
The Pick: EDGE Nick Bosa, Ohio State
Those not buying the propaganda on Murray can take comfort in the fact they're not alone, and within the media landscape neither am I. Well-connected longtime Cardinals beat writer Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic has been skeptical of the Murray-to-Arizona hype throughout the offseason, and in a recent media mock draft put together by Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com, Somers has the Cards passing on Murray in favor of former Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams in the top spot.
From my perspective it's simple: You don't sacrifice first-, third- and fifth-round draft picks for a quarterback and then give up on him after just 13 starts in a bad offense. The Cardinals would be silly to move on from Rosen this quickly, especially considering that Murray is far from a perfect prospect (he's exceptionally short at 5'10", he has a small college football sample and he could bail for baseball whenever he chooses).
It'd be one thing if there'd been a seismic regime change since the Cardinals took Rosen 10th overall in 2018, but Keim remains the general manager.
My impression is the Cardinals haven't entirely ruled Murray out or made a decision at all about the top pick, which is fair considering time remains on their side. They'd be stupid not to at least test the waters regarding a trade at the top of the draft, which is why the smart approach is to be publicly vague about your intentions. That combined with a successful, leak-free misinformation campaign would make it easy to convince the media (and potentially your counterparts) that Murray is a lock.
That's the best way to manufacture peak value for this pick, but I'm not convinced anybody would be willing to pay up for a trade-up. Only one other team with a top-nine pick needs a quarterback, and the Giants might be fine with "settling" for Haskins if Murray were to go first overall (in fact, they just might prefer Haskins to Murray). Would the Broncos be willing to move up nine spots when Murray doesn't seem like a John Elway-type quarterback? History also indicates he's not Jon Gruden's type either, but more on the Raiders' smoke screen attempts in a few moments.
Bleacher Report NFL draft whiz Matt Miller still has Murray going to Arizona in this spot, but even he says he likes Rosen more than any quarterback in this class (albeit that Murray "has the tools to be amazing"). We're on the same page, except I'm still not willing to believe the Cardinals would be desperate and/or foolish enough to pull the trigger on a Rosen trade/Murray pick, barring a king's ransom for the former.
Maybe I'm giving the Cardinals too much credit, but giving them Bosa over Murray is actually an attempt at optimism.
This could just as easily be Williams, especially considering that the Cardinals already have an elite edge presence with Chandler Jones. Still, there remains hope for Robert Nkemdiche inside, defensive end is a slightly more important position and Bosa is the complete package.
2. San Francisco 49ers
The Pick: EDGE Josh Allen, Kentucky
This draft contains two potential megastar edge-rushers, and the San Francisco 49ers haven't gotten as much as expected out of 2017 No. 3 overall pick Solomon Thomas at defensive end. I wouldn't be surprised if they tried to trade Thomas before he loses value and becomes more expensive in the latter years of his rookie deal and turned their attention to either Bosa or Allen with the second overall pick.
That way, San Francisco would be filling a need while also taking the best available player. And with DeForest Buckner coming off a Pro Bowl season, Allen—who, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, had a two-day meeting with the 49ers last week—is a no-brainer over Williams. He's significantly more versatile and can be used in run defense and coverage as an early-down linebacker, which could come in handy—especially if the Niners keep Thomas around.
The 49ers did spend big bucks on veteran pass-rusher Dee Ford in March, so there's also a chance they try to trade down to fill more pressing needs at cornerback or wide receiver. But I don't see that happening because there are so many quality defensive linemen in this draft and there's no way San Francisco or the New York Jets are taking a quarterback second or third overall.
The Jets are better-suited to trade down from the No. 3 spot.
3. New York Giants (via Trade with New York Jets)
The Pick: QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
New York's football teams have never consummated a trade together, probably because neither wants to be humiliated by giving up a pick that is used to make its geographic rival significantly better. But the Jets are sitting pretty with a new franchise quarterback from last year's draft, and they'd have little reason to stand pat with Bosa and Allen off the board.
They'd be much better off collecting more picks and getting better value for a pass-rusher, pass-catcher or cornerback later in Round 1, and their best offer will probably come from a Giants team that may be paranoid about the Raiders' intentions with the No. 4 selection.
The price tag would be much more injurious for other quarterback-needy teams like the Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins or Washington Redskins, all of whom would have to climb from a much lower step on the ladder and have less draft capital than the Giants in the first place.
So look for the G-Men, who also own the No. 17 overall selection, to surrender both of their Day 2 picks to Gang Green to lock up their quarterback of the future, and look for that quarterback to be Haskins, not Murray.
All indications are the Giants love Haskins, who shares several key traits with Eli Manning and is a prototypical pocket passer with a booming arm. He's a safer pick than Murray, and the Giants typically take the safe route. Plus, he'd be well-suited to spend a year or two learning from Eli Manning, whom the Giants simply won't get over.
4. Oakland Raiders
The Pick: DT Quinnen Williams, Alabama
"Oops!" Dave Gettleman might say in this scenario if the Raiders don't take a quarterback. It's possible the Raiders would take Haskins if available, but I still don't believe they're going to deal Derek Carr or use a top-five pick on a quarterback with Carr on the roster. The former would be foolish, while the latter would be foolisher (let's push to make that a word, just for Oakland's sake).
Let's get real. Carr just turned 28. He's a three-time Pro Bowler, he's two years removed from a heroic season in which he earned a half-dozen MVP votes, and he's under contract for the next four years at a reasonable rate of $21.5 million per season. And per Spotrac, trading him would only save the cap-rich Raiders $7.5 million in 2019, which is practically meaningless this deep into the offseason.
As I noted when I stated my case last month for Carr to remain a Raider, Gruden is known for his appreciation of quarterbacks with prototypical measurables. Kyler Murray does not fit that profile.
It's possible Gruden has evolved. But the Raiders simply have to exercise discipline, stick with the quarterback coming off a season in which he had career highs in completion percentage (68.9) and yards-per-attempt average (7.3) and instead take one of the most enticing interior defensive line prospects of all time.
That might come across as hyperbole, but throw on some Williams tape and you'll understand. The dude simply dominates against the run and as a pass-rusher. He's wildly quick and athletic for a big guy, and he might have the skill set to play multiple roles up front.
That's big for a Raiders team looking to replace Khalil Mack. Not only did the Raiders finish last in the NFL in sacks last season, but they did so by a 17-sack margin. That's not a typo. The next-lowest-ranked teams (the Giants and New England Patriots) recorded 30 team sacks compared to Oakland's 13.
Oakland needs Bosa, Allen or Williams. Gruden can thank the Giants here.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Pick: LB Devin White, LSU
Finally a projection that won't make waves. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been widely linked to White, who is one of the most highly touted off-ball linebacker prospects in years.
For White, we can again use that increasingly important V word. He possesses tremendous versatility, which is key at that position these days. He can be utilized heavily in coverage, in run defense—with his superb sideline-to-sideline quickness—and in the pass rush.
And he happens to fill one of the biggest holes on the Bucs' roster following Kwon Alexander's departure.
This would be a debate if Bosa, Allen or Williams dropped. But with those three off the board, Tampa Bay's choice should be obvious.
Will the Bucs receive trade offers with Murray still available? It's possible, but none of the four teams on deck are likely interested, and with Drew Lock also on the board, I can't see the Broncos offering enough to get out of the 10 spot. Pass on this pick, and White probably doesn't get out of the top 10.
6. Cincinnati Bengals (via Trade with Jets)
The Pick: QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
With the big three defensive linemen gone, Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan—who loves trading down and collecting picks—just might be willing to do that one more time as we move closer to a range of teams that could use a potential franchise quarterback.
That's still a long way to go for a Washington Redskins team that picks 15th and already has Case Keenum, Alex Smith and Colt McCoy on the roster. The Miami Dolphins have too many positions to address in their rebuild to sacrifice the draft capital required to jump from 13th to sixth. And the Broncos might still be willing to hold out to see if Lock might drop to them in the 10th spot.
But what about the Bengals?
Yeah, Cincinnati hasn't traded up in the first round of the draft since it did so to take Ki-Jana Carter first overall in 1995 (bad omen), but the Bengals and their minuscule scouting department love taking high-profile players in the early rounds. They could probably make this swap with the motivated Jets for nothing more than their second-round pick, and it'd give them a chance to regain relevance in a division that has recently left them for dead (again).
Andy Dalton remains under contract for two more years, but the regressing 31-year-old quarterback hasn't gotten it done, and he can be traded or released at any time free of charge. New head coach Zac Taylor has been saying all of the right things about Dalton, but the reality is he's not Taylor's guy, and this could be a watershed offseason for a team that often seems to be allergic to big changes.
So we're going out on a limb by predicting Mike Brown will go out on a limb.
7. Denver Broncos (via Trade with Jacksonville Jaguars)
The Pick: QB Drew Lock, Missouri
With Haskins and Murray finally off the board, the Broncos wouldn't want to be leapfrogged by Miami or Washington. So it would be time to make a move up three spots to lock in Lock.
Denver acquired Joe Flacco earlier this offseason, but John Elway appears to be growing impatient with his quarterback situation, and he has to know that a 34-year-old coming off a fourth consecutive season with a sub-85 passer rating isn't a long-term solution.
Chances are the Broncos will pay Flacco his non-guaranteed $18.5 million salary to bridge the gap and groom a quarterback in 2019, and then they'll give Flacco the boot before his price tag shoots up above $20 million in 2020.
We know Elway loves big quarterbacks with cannon arms. Murray doesn't fit that mold, and Elway has made note of that. But Lock? You're looking at a well-built, 6'4", 228-pounder with arm talent that Colorado coach Mel Tucker recently described as "off the charts."
He needs to improve his footwork and become more consistent, but he has a lot of potential. And considering what the Broncos have encountered under center of late, it's easy to envision Elway pouncing.
8. Detroit Lions
The Pick: EDGE Rashan Gary, Michigan
The Detroit Lions could attempt to trade back, collect some extra picks and grab one of a cluster of second-tier, first-round-worthy pass-rushers at a later stage, but it'd be hard to pass on the locally known Gary, who often flashed his jaw-dropping physical skills 40 miles west of Detroit at the University of Michigan.
The Lions have most of their pieces in place on offense but could use a fresh young face to complement big-money free-agent addition Trey Flowers up front and make life easier on a secondary that will feature new slot cornerback Justin Coleman. But they're also in strong enough shape on D that they can wait for Gary to emerge after a college career that was underwhelming on paper (he had only 9.5 sacks in three years the Wolverines).
Gary's raw athleticism, size (6'4", 277 lbs), speed and upside might give him an edge over Montez Sweat, who also stands out physically and delivered at the combine but has a heart condition that could cause some concern.
9. Buffalo Bills
The Pick: EDGE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
The Buffalo Bills lack a true identity on defense, partly because they're short on defensive playmakers. And their top pass-rusher, Jerry Hughes, is on the wrong side of 30 entering a contract year. So even though they drafted Shaq Lawson in the first round just three years ago, this might be a good time to take advantage of the wacky amount of defensive line talent in this draft and take a guy like Sweat.
He's tall, long and wildly fast. Like, wildly. The man ran a 4.41-second 40-yard dash at 6'6", 260 pounds, setting a combine record for defensive linemen. And unlike Gary he was productive in college, recording back-to-back double-digit-sack campaigns to close out his college career in the SEC.
The heart condition discovered in tests at the combine is something that'll have to be investigated, but it hasn't scared away teams with top-10 picks—including the Bills—from meeting with Sweat. If his medicals check out, this'd make a ton of sense in the No. 9 spot.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Trade with Broncos)
The Pick: OT Jawaan Taylor, Florida
The Jacksonville Jaguars might finally have a steady franchise quarterback. Now it's incumbent upon them to support that quarterback as best they can. That could mean drafting a wide receiver like D.K. Metcalf, a tight end like T.J. Hockenson or an offensive tackle like Jawaan Taylor. All are widely considered the best prospects at their positions, and none would be bad choices.
We're going with Taylor because offensive tackle is a slightly more premium position and good ones are undoubtedly tough to find. Taylor looks like a good one. He's big and strong but also athletic and might be able to shift inside or to left tackle, which could come in handy if 2017 second-round pick Cam Robinson doesn't come through after a rough rookie season and an injury-derailed sophomore campaign.
Regardless, Taylor would provide an immediate upgrade in both the passing and running game on the right side.
The Jags are rebuilding their offense on the fly, and the best approach is to work from the middle out. That trade-back with Denver should increase their Day 2 pick total to four, giving them plenty of opportunities to capitalize on a deep group of pass-catching prospects to help Nick Foles.
11. New York Jets (via Trade with Bengals)
The Pick: EDGE Brian Burns, Florida State
After a pair of trade-downs, it would be time for the Jets to grab one of the remaining pass-rushers. The drop-off from Gary and Sweat to Burns is tiny, but few edge-rushers are worth first-round consideration after Burns, and Gang Green need to get in on the pass-rusher party.
Burns is a rising prospect who is versatile enough to play with his hand in or out of the dirt and should be a good fit with Gregg Williams taking over the Jets defense. He's a strong run defender and an accomplished defensive end with plenty of experience standing up as well.
New York needs an upgrade over Brandon Copeland opposite Jordan Jenkins, because with those two leading the way, the pass rush didn't get the job done in 2018 (the Jets ranked in the bottom 10 in terms of both sack percentage and adjusted sack rated at Football Outsiders).
Burns should make an immediate impact.
12. Green Bay Packers
The Pick: TE T.J. Hockenson, Iowa
The Green Bay Packers have invested so much draft and financial capital into the defense of late that there isn't a lot of room for another first-round, starting-caliber defender. So while Ed Oliver would be a temptation, it makes a lot more sense to give Aaron Rodgers a new weapon to work with as the Packers attempt to revamp their offense under new head coach Matt LaFleur.
The Jimmy Graham experiment didn't pan out last season, and adding Hockenson would enable Green Bay to either part ways with Graham or make life easier on Rodgers by creating some tasty matchups with both the veteran and the rookie on the field at the same time.
Regardless, he'd be the tight of the of the future for a team that lacks depth at pass-catcher in the post-Jordy Nelson/Randall Cobb era. But it's not just about catching passes. A key element of Hockenson's game is his blocking ability, which you know the 35-year-old Rodgers would appreciate. He's a complete package at that position, and he'd have an incredibly high ceiling in LaFleur's offense.
Plus, there's that Iowa connection in Green Bay. Just ask Josh Jackson, Mike Daniels and Bryan Bulaga.
13. Miami Dolphins
The Pick: DL Ed Oliver, Houston
It's hard to imagine Oliver falling any more because he's a top-10 prospect and the rebuilding Dolphins have to be thinking best player available. Quarterback Daniel Jones is a possibility, but Miami might be better off loading up and taking advantage of Oliver's availability now before tanking and finding a quarterback early in next year's draft.
Plus, Oliver would be a tremendous fit in South Florida, where the Dolphins think/hope they have bright young stars at defensive back (Xavien Howard and Minkah Fitzpatrick), linebacker (Raekwon McMillan) and defensive end (Charles Harris) but lack talent and upside at the defensive tackle position.
Oliver would obviously change that in a heartbeat.
The Aaron Donald comparisons became hard to ignore after the undersized but outrageously explosive 21-year-old went viral during an off-the-charts pro day in which he ran a short shuttle at DeSean Jackson-level speed.
With that in mind, there's a good chance that somebody in the top 12 rolls with the best available player and Oliver doesn't fall this far, but edge-rushers still get more love than interior defensive linemen who weren't sack machines at the college level. Oliver wasn't, and that combined with his lack of size could cause him to fall.
That was the case with Donald, who just so happened to be the 13th pick of the 2014 draft.
14. Atlanta Falcons
The Pick: DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson
A lot of mock drafters are giving the Atlanta Falcons an edge-defender here, and for good reason. Atlanta's pass rush was a considerable weakness in 2018. But Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff used first-round picks on pass-rushers Vic Beasley in 2014 and Takkarist McKinley in 2017. He might not be prepared to do so again, especially if that'd be an admission of failure with two young, talented players who remain on the roster.
So instead of rolling with a second-tier edge-rushing prospect, the Falcons might prefer to bolster the defensive front by giving star interior defensive lineman Grady Jarrett a partner inside.
Enter Wilkins, who has often been overshadowed by Williams and Oliver during the predraft process but is also worthy of a top-15 selection after frequently dominating as a four-year presence at Clemson.
Wilkins is a strong, NFL-ready interior rusher who can collect sacks and team up with Jarrett to present a matchup nightmare, which should also help Beasley and McKinley. And early success from the polished 23-year-old could make it easier for the front office to handle Jarrett's contract situation as he prepares to play under the franchise tag in 2019.
15. Washington Redskins
The Pick: QB Daniel Jones, Duke
The Redskins might be without Alex Smith for the entire 2019 season, but they might have been in on a first-round quarterback even if Smith were expected to return sooner. Case Keenum is signed for just one season, and Smith might not start another game until he's 36 years old.
They have too many holes to start chasing quarterbacks with trade-ups, but if Jones falls into their lap midway through Round 1 on April 25, don't expect them to pass.
Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, Washington is slated to spend two days with the three-year ACC starter this week, giving the team a chance to confirm that he's not just big (6'5", 221 lbs), accurate and mobile but also smart.
Those traits could enable Jones to become a strong NFL starter despite a lack of top-end arm strength. The Redskins have to swing the bat.
16. Carolina Panthers
The Pick: EDGE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
It's time. The Carolina Panthers haven't drafted a pure pass-rusher in the first round since taking Julius Peppers second overall in 2002. Seventeen years later, and less than three months after Peppers announced his retirement, it'd be fitting for Carolina to grab the last of half-a-dozen first-round-worthy edge-rushers with the final selection of the top half of Round 1.
Ferrell makes too much sense. He shined in the Carolinas while leading a renowned Clemson pass-rush during two national championship seasons, and his experience and success as both a rusher and run defender make him a superb NFL-ready fit for a team that is in win-now mode.
The Panthers can't afford to wait for a whole lot of development, but Ferrell can contribute on all three downs from the get-go. And that'd be tremendous, because nobody wants to spend a season relying on Bruce Irvin and Mario Addison on the edge.
17. Baltimore Ravens (via Trade with Giants)
The Pick: LB Devin Bush Jr., Michigan
A trade-up would be uncharacteristic for a Baltimore Ravens team that lacks a second-round selection, but with Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley and Za'Darius Smith all gone, Baltimore just might be desperate enough to send one of its two third-round selections as well as a 2010 Day 2 pick to the Giants to move up for the sliding Bush.
After all, Bush might be the last elite defensive prospect remaining on the board, he has the skill set to become a Mosley 2.0 and he played for John Harbaugh's brother Jim at Michigan.
Of course, there's a good chance that Bush won't fall this far in real life. But 10 of our top 16 picks were defenders. One was bound to drop into Baltimore's draft orbit following a rough run through free agency. Edge defenders and pass-rushing defensive linemen usually have more clout than off-ball linebackers, and Bush doesn't have quite as many physical tools as White. So you can see why a slide could be on the table—and why the Ravens might try to take advantage.
We're still talking about the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a guy who stood out in back-to-back seasons with the Wolverines. His physicality makes up for his lack of length, and he has Pro Bowl potential as a Week 1 starter in the pros.
The Ravens might not be able to resist.
18. Minnesota Vikings
The Pick: OL Jonah Williams, Alabama
With their $28-million-a-year quarterback and their ridiculously high-priced and talented defense, the Minnesota Vikings have no choice but to be in win-now mode. And it became obvious as they remained relatively quiet during free agency that they were waiting for the draft to find better protection for their expensive starting signal-caller.
Whether it's Williams, Cody Ford, Andre Dillard or somebody else, the Vikings have to use their first-round selection on an offensive lineman who can make an immediate impact. Williams makes a little more sense in this case because he was a three-year starter at the best college program in the country and should be ready to play a huge role right off the bat.
Ford isn't as experienced, while Dillard might be more of a pure tackle. Ordinarily that'd be a good thing, but the Vikings are still (over)paying left tackle Riley Reiff and they used a second-round pick on right tackle Brian O'Neill last year. They were worse off at guard in 2018, and adding Josh Kline in free agency isn't likely a cure.
Williams could eventually become a star tackle, but he'd provide an immediate boost inside in 2019.
19. Tennessee Titans
The Pick: TE Noah Fant, Iowa
This could be a make-or-break season for Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, which means there's an onus on Tennessee to get the fifth-year signal-caller as much help as possible.
They already have two elite offensive tackles, Hockenson is off the board here and they won't likely take a wide receiver two years after using a top-five pick on Corey Davis. But Fant is one of the most intriguing prospects still available in this spot, and the Titans are in desperate need of a tight end.
Delanie Walker is fighting to get back from the badly broken ankle that cost him most of the 2018 campaign, but Walker will turn 35 in August. Tennessee needs a tight end with a high enough ceiling to replace Walker in the long run but at least complement him for Mariota's sake in 2019. Fant fits that profile.
Hockenson put up bigger overall numbers last season at Iowa, but in their last two seasons together Fant scored twice as many touchdowns (18 to nine). And the exceptionally athletic 21-year-old made waves at the combine with a 4.50-second 40-yard dash at 6'4", 249 pounds.
That's gotta be worth a top-20 selection.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pick: CB Byron Murphy, Washington
The Pittsburgh Steelers probably would take Hockenson or Fant, but with the tight ends off the board, they could address a significant need by taking the first defensive back of the draft all the way down in the No. 20 spot.
I wouldn't fault them for going with Greedy Williams or Deandre Baker either, as Williams, Baker and Murphy are all late-first-round-worthy corners with bright futures. But we're giving them Murphy, who is coming off a four-interception redshirt sophomore season at Washington.
That's important, because the Steelers ranked in the bottom five in the NFL with just eight interceptions on defense in 2018. They need to make more big plays in the secondary, and Murphy has a knack for those.
He's also remarkably polished for a dude with somewhat limited college experience, which oughta be important to a Steelers team trying to remain competitive. And his ability to play inside or outside and defend the run could make him particularly intriguing in Pittsburgh because the Steelers don't have a clear-cut No. 1 corner and their secondary lacks coverage talent in all locations.
21. Oakland Raiders (via Trade with Seattle Seahawks)
The Pick: RB Josh Jacobs, Alabama
The Seattle Seahawks haven't used their own first-round pick since 2011, trading down in the first round in seven consecutive drafts. And there's little reason to believe they'll hold on to this one. Seattle has just four selections in this draft and needs more, while the Raiders have the draft capital to at least jump up a few spots.
With running back a major need and consensus top back Josh Jacobs still on the board, this'd be the perfect trade-up scenario from the No. 24 spot.
The rebuilding Raiders have already strongly addressed wide receiver and the offensive line in free agency. Then they added an elite defensive lineman earlier in this mock, and this isn't a great spot to take a tight end or a pass-rusher. But Jacobs is worthy of a top-25 pick after tearing it up late in his college career at Alabama. The sample isn't huge, but that means he has plenty of tire tread, and the tape reveals he has tremendous vision, patience and top-notch lateral quickness.
The Raiders had a bottom-10 running game last year, and Isaiah Crowell won't fix that all on his own (if at all). They have Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams, but they need another weapon for Carr underneath and in the running game. And Jacobs, who is also a solid pass-catcher, fits the bill.
22. New York Giants (via Trade with Ravens)
The Pick: WR D.K. Metcalf, Mississippi
Imagine how quickly the Giants could change the sour narrative surrounding the organization by joining Saquon Barkley with both Dwayne Haskins and D.K. Metcalf in a matter of hours. A team that already has some quality pieces on the offensive line would immediately possess one of the most promising offensive futures in the league, and this particular pick would make it a hell of a lot easier to forget about that Odell Beckham Jr. fellow.
Metcalf is undoubtedly the most tantalizing offensive weapon in this draft class. Dude is jacked but still rocked the combine with a 4.33-second 40-yard dash and 40.5-inch vertical at 228 pounds.
That'd be tough for the Giants to pass up with the 17th pick, let alone the 22nd selection after our projected trade with Baltimore. Both Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard are better-suited for the slot, leaving Pat Shurmur and Mike Shula low on talent outside in the X and Z spots. Metcalf could fix that overnight.
23. Houston Texans
The Pick: OT Andre Dillard, Washington State
This is the easiest pick of the round. The Houston Texans have to better protect young franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson, who, according to Pro Football Focus, was under pressure more frequently than any other signal-caller in the league while taking an NFL-high 62 sacks last season.
While Cody Ford is a bigger name than Dillard, he might project as a guard in the pros and the Texans have two well-paid veteran guards. Those two—Senio Kelemete and Zach Fulton—struggled in 2018, but they deserve another year to get it together, while it would be hard to justify keeping penalty-plagued turnstile Julie'n Davenport on Watson's blind side. On the right side, Kendall Lamm is gone, and neither Martinas Rankin nor Seantrel Henderson looks like a quality option.
Free-agent addition Matt Kalil is recovering from a knee injury and has struggled for six consecutive seasons, so the Texans need a player who is capable of becoming a long-term answer on the outside.
And Dillard is their best shot in this spot. He's not fully polished and isn't a proven run-blocker, but he was an often-dominant pass-blocker as a three-year starter at Washington State, and he's a hell of an athlete who crushed the combine.
The Texans can't pass that up.
24. Seattle Seahawks (via Trade with Raiders)
The Pick: WR N'Keal Harry, Arizona State
The Seahawks just might trade down multiple times, but with only Metcalf off the board, it would also be hard for a team with a lack of pass-catching depth to resist taking a wide receiver following a trade down to this spot.
That's especially the case considering Doug Baldwin's status. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported last week that the 30-year-old two-time Pro Bowler was "contemplating his future in the NFL" following sports hernia surgery. And while Tyler Lockett has emerged as a strong starter who could become a star, he's a similar receiver to Baldwin. Both are undersized and spend most of their time in the slot.
Seattle needs more size and talent outside, and the 6'2", 228-pound Harry would bring that while also possessing the ability to line up in the slot. He just knows how to get open and is a constant winner on contested catches, which is exactly what improvising quarterback Russell Wilson needs.
Few would fault the Seahawks for standing pat and bringing in Harry, who is ready to make an immediate impact after back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in the Pac-12.
25. Philadelphia Eagles
The Pick: DT Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State
The Philadelphia Eagles are continually building up the trenches, and they're in a tremendous position to try to capitalize on the risk involved with a Simmons pick in Round 1. There's a chance the two-time first-team All-SEC defensive tackle won't be capable of making a tremendous impact as a rookie after suffering a torn ACL in February, but the Eagles can afford to be patient.
That's because Philly already has superstar Fletcher Cox in the middle, with veteran free-agent addition Malik Jackson and third-year seventh-round over-performer Treyvon Hester also bound to play significant roles in 2019.
But Jackson's best days are behind him, and the Eagles famously utilize a deep rotation up front. They'll be able to bring Simmons along slowly, and if he's ready, they could have a massive role for him in 2020 (or even late-2019).
Considering that Simmons was a potential top-10 pick before his injury, this'd be a sensible gamble for an Eagles team that doesn't have too many pressing needs and loves adding talented defensive linemen to the roster.
26. Indianapolis Colts
The Pick: DT Dexter Lawrence, Clemson
The Indianapolis Colts could be tempted to take a cornerback here, but they could be determined to build from the trenches following last year's decision to draft Quenton Nelson early. The next step might be to add a hulking presence to the interior defensive line, and the 6'4", 342-pound Lawrence could immediately form a hell of a duo with versatile, rush-oriented defensive tackle Denico Autry.
Lawrence isn't a strong pass-rusher, but the Colts get penetration from Autry, they have two veteran rushers in Justin Houston and Jabaal Sheard, and don't forget about 2018 second-round pick Tyquan Lewis.
With those guys already on board, a team that undoubtedly wants more sacks might still be better off going with Lawrence over pass-rushing defensive tackle Jerry Tillery. Tillery might be a better pure rusher, but Lawrence is probably a better all-around player, and his massive presence should indirectly help that defense get to the quarterback.
The Colts will likely go the safer route with the best player available.
27. Oakland Raiders
The Pick: CB Greedy Williams, LSU
With a defensive tackle in tow, a running back on board and all the top defensive ends already taken, the natural pick for the Raiders is a cornerback who can work alongside Gareon Conley and Daryl Worley. Oakland lacks depth there, especially with Leon Hall well beyond his prime and still a free agent and Rashaan Melvin gone.
And this would be a great spot to grab a corner. Only Murphy is off the board, while both Greedy Williams and Deandre Baker possess first-round talent.
We're going with Williams because he seems like the type of player the Raiders would drool over after crushing the combine with a 4.37-second 40-yard dash at 6'2", 185 pounds (Baker disappointed with a 4.52 at 5'11", 193 pounds).
Williams will have to become a better tackler, but he has the tools to become a killer shutdown corner and is only a year removed from a six-interception season in the SEC.
Given high ceiling, the Raiders would have a lot of trouble passing on him in this spot.
28. Los Angeles Chargers
The Pick: OT Cody Ford, Oklahoma
With one of the most well-balanced rosters in the NFL, the Chargers have the ability to roll with the best available player in this spot. It's just a happy coincidence Ford could provide an immediate upgrade over either Dan Feeney or Michael Schofield at guard and maybe Sam Tevi at right tackle.
Even if some combination of Feeney, Schofield and 2017 second-rounder Forrest Lamp, who has yet to emerge, were to win battles inside while Tevi retained his starting job outside (and all of that is unlikely), Ford is the kind of versatile offensive lineman any team would love to have as a short-term option in multiple spots while he continues to develop.
That's his floor. His ceiling? The tantalizingly large and athletic third-team All-American would be an option to potentially succeed veteran left tackle Russell Okung, who'll turn 32 this season and will enter a contract year in 2020.
This would be a "thinking ahead" pick for Los Angeles that could also pay immediate dividends.
29. Kansas City Chiefs
The Pick: CB Deandre Baker, Georgia
The Kansas City Chiefs already have two defensive backs who specialize in slot coverage. But with Steven Nelson gone, they could have plenty of trouble if opponents decide to spread 'em out and force Kendall Fuller and Tyrann Mathieu to move inside. They can't rely on newcomer Bashaud Breeland, who has lacked consistency throughout his career.
And so it'd be silly for the Chiefs to pass on Baker, who steadily improved during his four years in college football's toughest conference and is coming off a senior season in which he was a consensus All-American.
Baker would be able to contribute right away, which is critical considering the Chiefs are a Super Bowl contender with major issues on defense.
It would have been nice if he performed better during the pre-draft process, but his sliding stock might be the reason the Chiefs wind up with good value on an experienced, technically strong cover man who, according to PFF, hasn't surrendered a touchdown in coverage since 2016.
30. Green Bay Packers
The Pick: WR A.J. Brown, Mississippi
Earlier in the first round, the Packers—who have already invested heavily in their defense this offseason—added a tight end who could make Aaron Rodgers' life a lot easier. But they still have to replace the departed Randall Cobb in the slot. That won't be simple to do internally, considering the current makeup of the receiving corps features no prototypical slot receivers.
But Brown fits the mold perfectly. He's an ideal "big slot" who is already a master at creating yardage after the catch, which is precisely what Rodgers and the revamped Green Bay offense should be looking for.
We always hear about how Mike McCarthy's system put all the pressure on Rodgers, but Brown is the type of player who takes pressure off quarterbacks. He's tough and reliable, and he's a strong route-runner, which should give him a chance to produce immediately for a team that can't afford to wait.
Brown isn't a speed demon, and he might never be productive outside the slot. But he's a two-time first-team All-SEC pass-catcher who simply gets the job done and should have a bright future in a role that is becoming increasingly important.
He could be the final puzzle piece in Green Bay's semi-overhaul.
31. Los Angeles Rams
The Pick: DT Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame
This was a tough call because the Rams have two awesome choices in this spot. They could attempt to replace departed defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh with former Notre Dame star Jerry Tillery, or they could address an aging and depleted offensive line by adding versatile and pro-ready former Kansas State offensive tackle Dalton Risner.
For us, it came down to the bigger need.
Risner would immediately compete with Joseph Noteboom (a third-round pick in 2018) for the right to replace free-agency departure Rodger Saffold and would eventually have a chance to take over for the 37-year-old Andrew Whitworth at left tackle. But Whitworth is still there, and Noteboom has potential.
On the other hand, Suh is as good as gone, and 2017 regular Ethan Westbrooks (who was essentially replaced by Suh) hasn't been brought back, which leaves a massive hole next to Aaron Donald on the Los Angeles depth chart.
It'd be fun to see an aggressive interior rusher like Tillery develop alongside Donald, and there's little reason to believe he wouldn't be effective right off the bat in that defense, especially on passing downs.
32. New England Patriots
The Pick: S Nasir Adderley, Delaware
The Patriots have more pressing needs than free safety. In fact, free safety isn't a need at all right now. They could bolster a thin receiving corps by adding Marquise Brown here, or they could start the process of replacing Rob Gronkowski by taking Irv Smith Jr.
But the Pats are all about value, and they've got five Day 2 picks in a draft that is deep at the receiver position. I'm not sure they're convinced Gronk is gone for good. Even if they are, that doesn't mean they'd use a first-rounder on the draft's third-best tight end.
Instead, they might decide to think ahead—as smart teams do—and consider that 2019 might be Devin McCourty's final season in Foxborough.
McCourty remains a good player, but the Patriots know when to cut bait. He's expensive, and he'll be 32 in August.
In the meantime, Bill Belichick would have a year to coach up a safety who appears tailor-made for his defense. Adderley can be used in so many ways. He's a former corner who can cover up in the slot and even outside, but he's got the physicality, toughness and athleticism to jump up and make plays in the box.
Somewhat unreliable tape from a second-rate conference might explain why Adderley could drop this far, but Belichick would see the potential. In New England, he'd be used in multiple roles right off the bat before possibly taking over for McCourty down the line.