2019 NFL Mock Draft: Predictions for Prospects Vaulting into Opening Round

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistApril 19, 2019

Marquise Brown could still get drafted in the first round despite offseason surgery.
Marquise Brown could still get drafted in the first round despite offseason surgery.Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

For all of the mock drafts typed into existence, practice probably won't make perfect when forecasting Thursday's opening round.

Mock drafts are more about identifying possibilities and intriguing fits than playing spoiler. Even if finding the optimal player-organization pairings, teams don't always make sensible decisions—he wrote while sighing at the latest "Eli Manning is going to play forever" story.

Some trades will also likely shake up Thursday's proceedings, but this following first-round run has each team picking in its current slot. After taking one more stab at predicting the opening 32 picks, let's pinpoint three players who moved up from a previous mock conducted two weeks ago. 

       

2019 NFL Mock Draft: Round 1

1. Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

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

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

4. Oakland Raiders: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Devin White, LB, LSU 

6. New York Giants: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida

8. Detroit Lions: Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State

9. Buffalo Bills: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama

10. Denver Broncos: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston 

11. Cincinnati Bengals: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

12. Green Bay Packers: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa

13. Miami Dolphins: Rashan Gary, EDGE, Michigan

14. Atlanta Falcons: Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State

15. Washington: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke

16. Carolina Panthers: Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma

17. New York Giants (from Cleveland): Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson

18. Minnesota Vikings: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State

19. Tennessee Titans: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU 

21. Seattle Seahawks: Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State

22. Baltimore Ravens: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan 

23. Houston Texans: Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss

24. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago): Byron Murphy, CB, Washington

25. Philadelphia Eagles: Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama

26. Indianapolis Colts: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma

27. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas): Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

28. Los Angeles Chargers: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

29. Kansas City Chiefs: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia

30. Green Bay Packers (from New Orleans): Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple

31. Los Angeles Rams: Garrett Bradbury, C, NC State

32. New England Patriots: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

       

Daniel Jones, QB, Duke

Industry mock drafts are now projecting Daniel Jones to go in the first round.
Industry mock drafts are now projecting Daniel Jones to go in the first round.Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

There's no outcome more inevitable than a tall quarterback with pedestrian collegiate production getting drafted early anyway.

This year presents two candidates to join Blake Bortles, Paxton Lynch, Mitchell Trubisky and Josh Allen as a passer dubiously vaulted into the first round because of his size and arm strength. If Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins swiftly fall off the board, someone is liable to take Drew Lock or Daniel Jones too soon.

Lock has spent most of the draft season as a conceivable target for the Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals, or Washington in the picks No. 10-15 range. Jones, whose middling 6.8 yards per pass attempt last season still represented a personal high at Duke, didn't draw the same buzz as a definitive Day 1 selection.

That appears to be changing. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller had the 6'5" prospect going to Washington in his late-March mock draft. NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah made that optimistic projection look more like a floor by assigning him to the New York Giants (over Haskins) at pick No. 6.

In the words of Pro Football Focus' Steve Palazzolo, Jones "has emerged from intriguing third-round prospect to overrated first-round prospect."

While he started his junior year strong, the Charlotte native faltered down the stretch:

A first-round pick of any kind seems too steep a price, but Washington will be eager to locate a franchise quarterback. With Murray, Haskins and Lock all gone in this simulation, the NFC East squad falls for the prototypical passing prospect. 

       

Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma

The undersized Brown will tantalize NFL teams with blazing speed.
The undersized Brown will tantalize NFL teams with blazing speed.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

After undergoing Lisfranc surgery in January and missing the NFL Scouting Combine, Marquise Brown was in danger of falling out of the first round altogether. He appears to have alleviated some concerns by flashing his trademark speed at a re-check last week. 

Before the injury, the 5'9", 166-pound prospect was poised to become the top wide receiver drafted despite his small stature. A meteoric 40-yard-dash time could have truly propelled his stock into top-10 territory.

He now has a wider range of outcomes, and many onlookers have fallen for Ole Miss' D.K. Metcalf during the offseason. However, Jeremiah still ranks "Hollywood" Brown as his top wideout and No. 16 overall prospect.  

"Brown is a DeSean Jackson clone," Jeremiah wrote. "He has a similar build and the same explosive playmaking skills as the three-time Pro Bowler. He lines up outside and in the slot. He easily defeats press coverage with his quickness—and when corners elect to play off coverage, he eats up their cushion in a hurry."

ESPN's Todd McShay has Washington forgoing Jones for Brown in a collaborative mock draft with Mel Kiper Jr. If they're encouraged by his health records, the Giants or Tennessee Titans could also target him at No. 17 or 19, respectively.

The undersized prospect might be better served joining a contender needing one last spark to ignite an already strong offense. Although the Indianapolis Colts could use a possession receiver to complement T.Y. Hilton, Brown's upside is too tantalizing at this cost.

     

Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence will immediately help an NFL team stop the run.
Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence will immediately help an NFL team stop the run.Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Run-stuffing defensive tackles may be declining in value, but Dexter Lawrence should still pound his way into a first-round nod.

The 6'4", 342-pound prospect rose seven spots to No. 25 in Jeremiah's latest rankings, and Kiper projected the Los Angeles Chargers to snag him at pick No. 28. 

Although not likely to disrupt the passing pocket, Lawrence can clog running lanes from Week 1. During his final season at Clemson, the Tigers ceded 2.4 yards per carry, the lowest average of any Division-I school. 

Not every squad needs to swing for the fences with each selection. There's value in taking a projectable player who will address a specific need, especially since it's one a handful of contenders share. 

Plenty of teams picking near the end of Day 1 can use his services, as four playoff squads finished at the bottom of yards per carry allowed last season.

That list includes the New England Patriots, who have yielded 4.7 and 4.9 yards per run in 2017 and 2018, respectively. A team that employed Vince Wilfork for 11 years could get a golden opportunity to fill his large cleats with Thursday's final pick.

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