2019 NFL Mock Draft: Bold Trade by Broncos Shakes Up First RoundApril 15, 2019
2019 NFL Mock Draft: Bold Trade by Broncos Shakes Up First Round
The big day(s) are getting closer.
Starting on April 25 in Nashville, a new crop of over 250 rookies will enter the pros when the 2019 NFL draft takes place. As is the case in so many years, as we get closer to draft day there are many more questions than answers regarding who is headed where.
Will the Arizona Cardinals take a quarterback inside the top 10 for a second straight year by selecting Oklahoma's Kyler Murray No. 1 overall?
In a draft class filled with talent on the defensive side of the ball, how many pass-rushers will we get taken in the top 10?
Who will be the first players chosen at cornerback and offensive tackle, a pair of premium positions with no clear top prospect in 2019?
And will one of the NFL's QB-needy clubs swing a deal to move up the draft board and grab the signal-caller they want?
This mock draft endeavors to answer all of those questions—including the last one.
The answer is "yes"—and it won't take long at all.
1. Arizona Cardinals
Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
There have been more than a few tea leaves connecting Murray and the Cardinals for some time. And as Sam Hellman wrote for 247Sports, ESPN's Adam Schefter said on Get Up! that the buzz is only going to build after Murray visited with the team last week.
"There was no way that the Arizona Cardinals were not going to come away impressed with their meeting with Kyler Murray in Arizona on Wednesday," Schefter said. "They had dinner with him the night before; obviously there's a history there. You have Kliff Kingsbury, who has a man-crush on Kyler Murray. We've known about that for quite some time. Kliff Kingsbury's agent Erik Burkhardt also happens to represent Kyler Murray, so they have the same agent. There's a lot in common here, but this is a huge decision."
It's a bold move to select a quarterback in the top 10 of the NFL draft two years in a row. And selecting the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner would mean the Josh Rosen era's end before it ever really began.
But Murray's athletic upside is undeniable, and given his seemingly tailor-made fit in Kingsbury's offense, he could drastically accelerate the rebuild in the desert.
2. Denver Broncos (From San Francisco)
Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
This hypothetical trade would be a pricey one—a move up from No. 10 to No. 2 would all but certainly cost John Elway and the Broncos their first-round selection in 2020. Maybe more.
But it's also a possibility.
We know that because after watching big-armed Missouri quarterback Drew Lock at both a regular-season game and January's Senior Bowl, Elway is "smitten" with the 6'4", 228-pounder, per Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post.
We know that while the Broncos acquired Joe Flacco earlier this offseason, the 34-year-old is a short-term fix at best. Given how Flacco has played the past couple of seasons, he may not be any better of a short-term fix than Case Keenum was.
We know that there are no shortage of teams looking for quarterback help this year and that the New York Jets are open to moving back from No. 3.
We know that while passing on Nick Bosa wouldn't be easy for San Francisco, the team already has a ton of draft capital and salary tied up on the defensive line.
And we know that these two franchises have coaching and front-office connections and have a history, whether it's 49ers general manager John Lynch playing in Denver or previous draft-day wheelings and dealings.
In two of the last four drafts, the first two selections have been quarterbacks. Don't rule it out this year.
3. New York Jets
Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
If the first two picks of the 2019 NFL draft play out like this, then New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan would probably pull a hamstring racing to the podium to make the selection.
This is, without question, the dream scenario for Gang Green.
The Jets have one glaring need on defense—help off the edge. And to say that Ohio State's Nick Bosa would help the team in that regard is one lulu of an understatement.
The only thing stopping the 6'4", 266-pound Bosa from going No. 1 to the Arizona Cardinals is the positional importance of quarterbacks. Bosa might not have quite the quickness or athleticism of older brother Joey, but he's stronger and more technically sound.
As someone who watched every snap of both players' collegiate careers, I believe the younger Bosa is a slightly better NFL prospect than the older Bosa was in 2016.
Nick would be the best pass-rusher on the Jets roster from the moment he entered the league.
4. Oakland Raiders
Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
After finishing the 2018 season last in the NFL in sacks with just 13 (fewer than seven players had individually) and failing to address the pass rush in free agency, the Raiders need to prioritize help on the edge.
Missing out on Bosa by a single pick would sting a bit.
But Kentucky's Josh Allen is a decent consolation prize.
After choosing to stay at Kentucky for his senior season, the 6'5", 262-pound Allen responded by exploding for 17 sacks en route to being named SEC Defensive Player of the Year. He also piled up 88 total tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles.
Yes, that's right. Allen had more sacks by himself in 13 games than Oakland had as a team in 16.
Alabama defensive lineman Quinnen Williams would be tempting here, but getting help off the edge is a must for the Raiders early in this draft.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama
As draft-day slides go, Williams' would be a short one.
Alabama's Quinnen Williams is widely regarded as one of the top overall prospects in this class. As Joe Marino wrote for the Draft Network, about the only thing missing from the 6'3", 303-pounder's game is the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
"Quinnen Williams features the same toolbox of traits that we've seen in other recent Alabama defensive lineman but taken to another level across the board," he wrote. "He dominates with a rare blend of quickness, power, flexibility, processing skills and technique that make him primed for a sensational career as a standout playmaker."
Some mock drafts have Williams going No. 1 overall to the Arizona Cardinals. With the Buccaneers moving to a one-gap, attacking 3-4 base defense under new coordinator Todd Bowles, Williams could slot at end in base sets and then kick inside in subpackages…
Wreaking havoc all the while.
6. New York Giants
Devin White, ILB, LSU
Not long ago, just about everyone in the draft community thought that the New York Giants were going to take a quarterback at No. 6 overall. Most thought it would be Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins.
But Haskins' stock has reportedly dropped of late, and Giants GM Dave Gettleman recently gave Eli Manning a vote of confidence—leading to a new school of thought that the Giants won't take a quarterback at No. 6.
Most of the draftniks that have flipped from quarterback for the Giants are now focused on the defensive front. It's a move that makes sense given New York's needs there.
However, if things shake out like this, there's another play that makes even more.
A year ago, the Giants traded for inside linebacker Alec Ogletree, who was mediocre at best in his first season with the team. After a standout career at LSU and a jaw-dropping performance at the combine, Devin White is easily the top prospect at the position this year.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
The Jacksonville Jaguars already addressed the biggest perceived need on the roster by signing free-agent quarterback Nick Foles to a four-year, $88 million pact.
Now the priority is making sure that Foles remains in one piece.
After dropping a second-round pick on Alabama's Cam Robinson in 2017, the Jaguars surely hope he'll be recovered enough from the torn ACL that cost him 14 games last season to hold down Foles' blind side. The right tackle spot, on the other hand, is a question mark.
Florida's Jawaan Taylor could answer that question—emphatically. The long-armed, 6'5", 312-pounder is a classic right tackle prospect—big and powerful. He might not possess the quickness needed to become a star at left tackle, but he has the physical tools to start immediately on the strong side of Jacksonville's offense.
Taylor might not be the best player available overall in this spot, but he would fill a big need.
8. Detroit Lions
Rashan Gary, EDGE, Michigan
The Detroit Lions have already invested heavily in the defensive line this offseason, bringing in Trey Flowers on a five-year, $90 million deal as a replacement of sorts for Ezekiel Ansah.
However, Flowers coming to town isn't a fix-all for the Detroit D-line. So it's time for some home-grown help here.
Rashan Gary's production never quite matched his potential at the University of Michigan. But as Michigan DC Don Brown told the NFL Network, Gary has the physical tools and work ethic to become a star.
"Well, this is an exceptional guy as a person," he said. "Really a fun guy to coach. You like guys when they're upper-level talent, elite talents, but work extremely hard. You never had to ask Rashan to go. In fact, in some cases, you'd be asking him to slow down. But he's a unique talent, that's for sure, and a great young man, so [he's] a lot of fun to be around."
That it's a pick the fanbase would love is just icing on the cake.
9. Buffalo Bills
Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
This is one of the first "crossroads" picks of this draft. The Bills could go in a number of directions. They have needs that could be filled on both the defensive and offensive lines, and quality players are available that could fill them.
It's the player among those options that has the highest ceiling who could get the call.
Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver isn't a finished product by any stretch. But as Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News reported, ESPN's Todd McShay believes that if things break the right way a few years from now, we could look on the 6'2", 287-pounder as one of the steals of the 2019 draft.
"If he's developed properly, he's got a chance to be one of the two or three best players in this draft class," McShay said. "Anywhere past pick three or four I don't think it's a reach at all for Ed Oliver."
Goodbye, Kyle Williams. Hello, Ed Oliver.
10. San Francisco 49ers (from Denver)
Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
Yes, in this scenario the San Francisco 49ers would have passed on the 2019 draft's best edge-rusher in Nick Bosa.
But the trade back would net the 49ers an additional first-rounder in 2020.
And taking Montez Sweat here would be like John Lynch having his cake and eating it too.
This isn't to say that Sweat is the prospect Bosa is. But after racking up 53 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks for the Bulldogs in 2018, Sweat has spent draft season opening the eyes of draftniks and scouts. He was one of the best defensive players in practices at the Senior Bowl and shined at the combine—including a jaw-dropping 4.41-second 40-yard dash at 6'6" and 260 pounds.
Getting both an athletic edge-rusher and an extra first-round pick would set Lynch and the 49ers up as one of Day 1's biggest winners.
11. Cincinnati Bengals
Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
This is a pick that will make some fans in the Queen City happy and others angry.
Never mind the teams picking just behind the Bengals who may have their eyes on the 6'3", 231-pounder after Haskins lit up the Big Ten to the tune of 50 touchdown passes in 2018.
As Geoff Hobson wrote for the Bengals' website, new head coach Zac Taylor gave incumbent quarterback Andy Dalton a vote of confidence at the end of March.
"I have full belief in our quarterback," Taylor said. "Andy has won a lot of games in this league, and so I'm excited. If he had been healthy all season, I would've been excited to see what he did last year, healthy for all the games. I'm excited to work with Andy, full belief in Andy, that he's the right guy for what we want to do."
However, ESPN's Adam Schefter said on Get Up! (via 247Sports) that there's "increasing chatter" that the Bengals are eyeing a successor to the 31-year-old.
An in-state star who could sit behind Dalton in 2019 could be too good to pass up.
12. Green Bay Packers
T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
The Green Bay Packers are coming off their worst season in a decade. The silver lining of their dreadful season is having a pick inside the top 12.
Given the Pack's other needs (including wide receiver and the offensive line), it might seem odd to imagine Green Bay using the high pick on a tight end—especially with Jimmy Graham still on the roster.
But make no mistake—with a healthy Aaron Rodgers back, the Packers are in "win now" mode. Green Bay wants players that can contribute from the moment they arrive in Titletown.
And Iowa's T.J. Hockenson fits that bill to a tee.
It's been a good long while since we saw a tight end prospect as well-rounded as Hockenson entering the NFL. The 6'5", 251-pounder is just as comfortable pulling in passes down the seam as he is running over defenders as a run-blocker.
Hockenson would be a welcome addition—and an immediate contributor.
13. Houston Texans (from Miami)
Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
The Houston Texans have one glaring, overriding need that towers above all others—improving an offensive line that allowed an NFL-high 62 sacks in 2018.
As such, giving up the 23rd pick, one of their consecutive picks in the second round and a Day 3 selection to a Dolphins team looking to stockpile picks as they begin a ground-up rebuild would be an easy sell if it meant adding the player many consider the best left tackle prospect in the class of 2019.
Many draftniks have the 6'4", 302-pounder tabbed as a guard. But per Justin Melo of Draft Wire, Williams is confident he can man the blind side in the pros just as he did at Alabama.
"Not only do I feel like I'm a tackle, but I'm the best tackle in this draft," Williams said. "I believe I've proven that. I'm not a guy that wants to talk about this and beat my chest about what I'm capable of. I feel like my tape has proven this over my career here at Alabama."
I'm not about to argue with a guy that size.
14. Atlanta Falcons
Cody Ford, OT/OG, Oklahoma
The Atlanta Falcons struggled last year both in run blocking and pass protection—struggles that contributed to the team going 7-9 and missing the playoffs.
Upgrading the interior of the offensive line is a priority for the Falcons in 2019, and while edge-rusher might be an even bigger one, an early run at that position could send Atlanta right up the gut.
And right into mammoth offensive lineman Cody Ford of Oklahoma.
A tackle in Norman, Ford is as athletic as he is massive—a 6'4", 329-pound mountain of a man who should be able to kick inside and contribute at guard right away.
It's not all that often that a lineman Ford's size comes along who also has the wheels to be a fit in Atlanta's zone-blocking scheme.
The Falcons should seize the opportunity to add him in an effort to improve a rushing attack that managed just 98.3 yards per game in 2018—27th in the league.
15. Washington Redskins
D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
Nope, not a quarterback.
Maybe it's because the Redskins will be the team that swings a deal for Arizona's Josh Rosen. Maybe it's because Washington will hold out hope that Alex Smith will be able to resume his career at some point.
In any event, whether it's Smith, Rosen, Case Keenum or someone else under center in the nation's capital, unless the Redskins improve the weapons at their disposal, that quarterback is set up to fail. Washington's wideout corps is currently Josh Doctson, Paul Richardson and a whole lot of "who?"
D.K. Metcalf of Ole Miss has been surging up draft boards since putting on a clinic at the combine—he has a combination of size (6'3", a chiseled 228 pounds) and speed (4.33-second 40) that doesn't come along every day.
Metcalf is not a finished product, but if he comes close to realizing his immense potential, he could be a star.
16. Carolina Panthers
Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
The Carolina Panthers have long been known for possessing a deep and talented defensive line. But attrition has taken its toll on that line—especially on the edge. With all due respect to veterans Mario Addison and Bruce Irvin, in 15 combined NFL seasons the pair has combined for just a single 10-sack season.
That need (and a loaded class of edge-rushers) makes Carolina one of the more likely teams to trade up in Round 1 this year. But even if the Panthers stand pat, there should be a couple of options available at 16.
Clemson's Clelin Ferrell doesn't have the athletic upside of some of the pass-rushers who have already come off the board, but the 6'4", 264-pounder is technically sound and was highly productive at the collegiate level, racking up 21 sacks and 37.5 tackles for loss over the past two seasons.
He'd provide Carolina with much-needed depth off the edge from the get-go and challenge for a starting job in fairly short order.
17. New York Giants (from Cleveland)
Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman has insisted for some time now that he isn't pigeonholing the G-Men into taking a quarterback at No. 6—but he did allow that it's likely that at some point in this draft the team will look at the future of the position.
With just one of the "Big Four" from this year's draft class left on the board here, that time is pick No. 17—and the player is Duke's Daniel Jones.
Per Mike Kaye of NJ.com, Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy believes Jones' similar skill set and familiarity with Eli Manning from their time together at David Cutcliffe's QB camp makes the 6'5", 221-pounder a natural successor to Eli.
"I think it would be a really good quarterback room that first year," he said. "Eli can play and Daniel can sit behind him and it would be really good in the room. I think that would be great. Then with the transition, if they draft Daniel to be the successor, you’re talking about a very similar skill set from the pocket. Daniel gives you more as an athlete with the ability to take off when he needs to. I think it would be a great fit for both sides."
Nagy has a point.
18. Minnesota Vikings
Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
There isn't a team in the NFL under more pressure to produce a quick turnaround in 2019 than the Minnesota Vikings, who missed the 2018 playoffs altogether.
Shoddy offensive line play was one of the main causes of that massively disappointing season. The Vikings have already considered kicking Riley Reiff inside, which would open up a hole on the $28 million (per season) blind side of quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Washington State's Andre Dillard is an agile, 6'5", 315-pound three-year starter who showed plus agility and athleticism at both the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine. After playing at pass-wacky WSU, his run blocking needs refinement, but he may be the most NFL-ready pass protector in his class.
That just so happens to be exactly what Cousins and the Vikings need.
19. Tennessee Titans
Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
The Titans could go a few directions at No. 19 overall. The team could add a tight end to succeed Delanie Walker. Upgrade an iffy cadre of wideouts. Trade down and stockpile picks.
But even in a draft class loaded with first-round edge-rushers, the pool of talent is eventually going to dry up. And with veterans Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan both gone, the Titans need to add another talented pass-rusher to pair with second-year pro Harold Landry.
Florida State's Brian Burns is a lanky, lean, 6'5", 249-pounder tailor-made to come off the edge as a rush linebacker in a three-man front like the Titans run. R.J. White of CBS Sports sees it as a near-perfect fit.
"The Titans smartly started building for the future of their edge rush in the last draft by taking Harold Landry, and now they give him a running mate with Brian Orakpo retiring and Derrick Morgan a free agent," he wrote. "There’s no question what you bring Burns in to do: get after the quarterback. He’s an ideal fit for a 3-4 team at his size, but his explosiveness will make him difficult to handle for all but the most athletic of offensive tackles."
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
Devin Bush, ILB, Michigan
It's been a rough year for the Pittsburgh Steelers. They missed the playoffs, tailback Le'Veon Bell sat out due to a contract dispute, and wide receiver Antonio Brown had a contentious falling out with the organization.
This level of dysfunction is very un-Pittsburgh-like.
There's nothing for the Steelers to do now but move forward and start filling needs on the roster. The inside linebacker position has been one since Ryan Shazier got hurt, and while the Steelers added Mark Barron in free agency, the former safety is coming off one of the worst seasons of his NFL career.
At 5'11" and 234 pounds, Devin Bush of Michigan is a tad on the small size for a traditional inside linebacker in the NFL. But we're seeing more and more undersized linebackers thrive as pros—provided they have the range to be sideline-to-sideline forces.
With 4.43-second speed, Bush most assuredly does.
21. Seattle Seahawks
Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
Once you reach the latter half of the first round, trying to forecast a draft becomes next to impossible. For every pick with an obvious fit (like Brian Burns to Tennessee or Devin Bush to Pittsburgh), there's another where several players make sense.
That's the case with Seattle. But were the draft to play out like this, the Seahawks would be hard-pressed not to address the secondary given that the team would have its choice of this year's top prospects at cornerback.
During the Pete Carroll era, the Seahawks have shown an affinity for bigger corners—lanky boundary guys capable of muscling up receivers and high-pointing the ball. At 6'2", Greedy Williams of LSU certainly meets their criteria.
It's admittedly a bit odd Williams hasn't had a single pre-draft visit. But with oodles of film to watch him play in the SEC and a 4.37-second 40 under his belt at the combine, teams such as the Seahawks may just feel Williams is a known commodity—in a good way.
22. Baltimore Ravens
A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
Get ready to be blown away by the biggest secret of the 2019 NFL draft: The Baltimore Ravens need wide receiver help.
I know. You're floored. Take a moment to collect yourself.
Some fans will wonder why it's A.J. Brown of Ole Miss listed here and not Oklahoma burner Marquise Brown. Time to let Lance Zierlein's scouting report at NFL.com state my case for the former Rebel:
"Slot bully with rare combination of brawn and quickness that allows him to separate with both power and foot quickness. Brown has the size and demeanor to take on a relatively heavy workload as a safety blanket for a young quarterback in a ball-control passing attack. He'll see an upgrade in athlete across from him, but he has the feet and body control to uncover and create windows as a premium route-runner."
That ball-control part is the key, as is the size of this Brown (6'0", 226 lbs) relative to the other (5'9", 166 lbs).
23. Miami Dolphins (from Houston)
Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
If the 2019 draft plays out like this, Miami general manager Chris Grier will be doing televised cartwheels. Not only would the Dolphins add an extra second-round pick in their projected trade with Houston, but a mini-slide would drop a potential cornerstone D-lineman into their lap at No. 23.
Christian Wilkins isn't especially explosive upfield, but the 6'3", 315-pounder is a disruptive force with impressive short-area quickness for a man his size. He also has experience playing both defensive end in base sets and tackle in subpackages—experience that will warm the cockles of new head coach Brian Flores, who ran multiple fronts in New England.
The Miami rebuild will begin in the trenches—or at least, it should. The Dolphins need all the help they can get along the defensive front now that Cameron Wake, Andre Branch and Robert Quinn are no longer on the roster.
Getting Wilkins here would mean Christmas in April for Miami.
24. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago)
Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
More than any other team, the Raiders are positioned to drastically remake their roster in the draft thanks to a trio of first-round picks.
Of course, they have to hit on those selections—especially on defense.
Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus believes Murphy would be a slam dunk here, touting the 5'11", 190-pounder as a top-10 overall prospect while singling out the Raiders as a good schematic fit:
"Zone coverage has far more to do with quickness, instincts and reaction time than it does size, length or speed. That's why Murphy's 4.55 40-yard dash at the combine isn't terribly worrisome to me. Two of the game's best zone corners in recent years, Josh Norman (4.66) and Casey Hayward (4.57), ran slower 40s than Murphy at the combine. The elite ones steal back those 1/10ths of a second with how quickly they process route combinations."
That's two defensive starters (and potential difference-makers) so far.
Could general manager Mike Mayock make it three in a few picks?
25. Philadelphia Eagles
Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
If this pick is any indication, the value in the first round lies in the back end. Playoff teams such as the Philadelphia Eagles will have opportunities to add players who can not only help but do so right away.
The Eagles (in theory) have bigger needs than left tackle. But look a little deeper, and the blind side is a potential problem area. Jason Peters made it through all 16 games last season, but asking the 37-year-old to do so for a second consecutive year may be tempting fate. Even if he does, the Eagles need to find his heir apparent soon.
Greg Little of Ole Miss is a 6'5", 310-pound classic left tackle prospect with everything NFL teams covet at the position—length, strength and athleticism. All he needs is some seasoning at the professional level.
As tutors go, you could do a lot worse than a nine-time Pro Bowler in Peters.
26. Indianapolis Colts
N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
Fresh off a season that saw one of the bigger turnarounds in recent memory, the Indianapolis Colts head into the draft as a team without many glaring holes. However, they do need a wide receiver to complement T.Y. Hilton.
This is another potential landing spot for Oklahoma's Marquise Brown. But in this particular draft, Hollywood slides due to concerns about a slight frame that sees him check in below 170 pounds and a foot injury that hounded him this offseason.
The Colts already have a speedy vertical threat in Hilton. What Andrew Luck needs now is a big-bodied pass-catcher who can out-muscle defensive backs and offer a back-shoulder target in the red zone.
At 6'2" and 228 pounds, coming off a 2018 season that saw him haul in 73 passes for 1,088 yards and nine scores (his second consecutive 1,000-yard campaign), Arizona's State's N'Keal Harry would be a solid fit.
27. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas)
Jaylon Ferguson, EDGE, Louisiana Tech
And then there were three. Defenders, that is.
A few offensive players would make sense for Oakland here, whether a lineman such as Kaleb McGary or even Alabama tailback Josh Jacobs. But with Isaiah Crowell in the fold, the Raiders can wait until Day 2 to address the backfield.
The team's nonexistent pass rush remains a massive need even after it added Josh Allen early in the round. So a new battery-mate for Allen it is.
To say that Jaylon Ferguson spent a lot of time in opposing backfields while at Louisiana Tech is an understatement; over a third of his career tackles were for losses. The 6'5", 271-pounder also had an eye-popping 45 sacks during his collegiate career.
No player in NCAA history has more.
Off-field concerns and a so-so showing at his pro day are legitimate reasons for pause, but plenty indicates Ferguson can be a difference-maker in the NFL if you subscribe to the "tape don't lie" school of thought.
28. Los Angeles Chargers
Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame
With Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram III, the Los Angeles Chargers have one of the best one-two punches at defensive end in all the NFL. But the interior of that line is another story, especially after the likely departure of long-time starting three-technique Corey Liuget, who remains a free agent.
Enter Notre Dame's Jerry Tillery.
Tillery is a long, explosive 6'6", 295-pounder who told ESPN's Adam Rittenberg he has his sights set high at the NFL level:
"I don't want to just make it to the NFL, I want to be the best at it. This is obviously a good defensive line class. I don't want to be just among them. I want to be the best one out there, the best one in this league. I want to make a Pro Bowl, I want to win a Super Bowl, I want to wear the gold jacket some day. I want to be great."
I have a feeling the Chargers would be good with that.
29. Kansas City Chiefs
DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia
This would be something of a nightmare scenario for the Chiefs, who traded Dee Ford and released Justin Houston in the offseason—a first round filled with edge-rushers who all get snatched up before the team picks at No. 29.
Them's the breaks, though.
Rather than reach for a pass-rusher here, the Chiefs should instead add a piece to a defensive backfield that needs help every bit as much as the pass rush.
As D. Orlando Ledbetter reported for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker has an opinion about who serves as the best player at his position in this draft class: Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker.
"I know I'm the best cornerback in the draft," he said.
The 5'11", 193-pounder isn't alone in that assessment. Baker was the Jim Thorpe Award winner in 2018 as the best defensive back in college football. In conjunction with Kendall Fuller and newcomer Bashaud Breeland, he would give the Chiefs a trio of starters at corner that's more than serviceable.
30. Green Bay Packers (from New Orleans)
Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State
As mentioned earlier, the Packers are a rarity—an NFL team coming off a rotten season that rightly believes the time to win is now. They could make picks here with an eye toward the future (say an offensive tackle who could serve in a "swing" role during 2019). But more likely than not, they'll be looking to add players who can help the team contend in the NFC North right away.
And just like Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson (the pick at No. 12), Mississippi State's Johnathan Abram can do that. He's a clear upgrade over Josh Jones at strong safety.
Not only is Abram a punishing hitter who can play some nickel linebacker, which would be welcome in Titletown given the team's shaky linebacker corps, but his 4.45-second 40-yard dash at the combine displayed the sort of wheels modern strong safeties need to thrive in today's NFL.
Two picks. Two starters.
31. Los Angeles Rams
Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
After Ndamukong Suh spent one season in L.A. and played relatively well in an ill-fitting role as a one-technique tackle in defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme, the Rams are in the market for a new space-clogger to man the nose.
And man oh man, can Clemson's Dexter Lawrence clog a running lane.
The 6'4", 342-pounder is more than just a big body, though. He moves well for a player his size, piling up 36 total tackles and seven tackles for loss in Clemson's march to the national title last year. That a nose tackle earned universal consideration as a Day 1 prospect at all is a testament to just how promising a player Lawrence is.
It's also possible the Rams would consider a guard here to replace the departed Rodger Saffold, but some promising interior linemen such as Texas A&M's Erik McCoy and Ohio State's Michael Jordan (the other one) may be available when L.A.'s next pick rolls around.
That makes stopping Lawrence's draft-day slide an immensely easy call.
32. New England Patriots
Dalton Risner, OT, Kansas State
It's possible—likely, even—that the Patriots will swing a draft-day trade here. It may be to move up or to slide out of Round 1 altogether. The Pats play more Let's Make a Deal than Monty Hall and Wayne Brady put together.
But if New England does stand pat and make a pick, one available player both fills a need and is tailor-made for head coach Bill Belichick and "The Patriot Way."
After Trent Brown bolted for Oakland in free agency, a hole opened at left tackle in New England. The hope is that second-year pro Isaiah Wynn can step into that void. But Wynn missed his entire rookie season, and depth on the offensive front is an issue even if he is up to the task.
Kansas State's Dalton Risner isn't the most athletic tackle prospect in this year's class. But the 6'5", 312-pounder is technically sound, tough as nails and shined at the Senior Bowl in January. He also has experience playing both tackle and center.
At the very least, he could essentially be a "super sub" capable of filling in just about anywhere on the Patriots' offensive line.