359 days till the 2019 NFL Draft. Now that may seem like a long time away, because it is. However, it is never too early to have some fun with a mock draft. Remember a year ago at this time Sam Darnold was a lock for the top pick and Baker Mayfield was a mid-round prospect so take this mock draft with a gain of salt. Yes there is six projected quarterbacks in this first round mock draft. Will that really happen in a year from now? Probably not.
For the fans who aren’t happy that their team isn’t picking 32 overall, to determine the draft order I used the reverse order of the 2019 Superbowl odds.
1. Bills – Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
Josh Allen is the future at the quarterback position, but he isn’t ready to play anytime soon. The Bills have several holes on both sides of the ball and will likely struggle to consistently score points. With no need to select a quarterback, the Bills can take the best player on the board. Nick Bosa is the younger brother of Chargers’ Joey Bosa, and early belief is Nick could be the better prospect.
2. Jets – Trey Adams, OT, Washington
Much like the Bills, the Jets have their future quarterback in Sam Darnold. Also like the Bills, the Jets have a lot of holes to fill. Darnold is likely to play sooner than later for the Jets, but with Kelvin Beachum and Brandon Shell expected to start as the offensive tackles, he might get hit a lot. Drafting Trey Adams would give Darnold a young blindside protector. Adams was a possible 2018 first round pick before tearing his ACL last season.
3. Dolphins – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
The Dolphins didn’t get a quarterback during the 2018 draft, but if they are picking early in 2019 there will be changes to the team. Head coach Adam Gase will likely be fired and Ryan Tannehill can be released while saving the Dolphins over $13 million against the cap in 2019. The Dolphins could also decide to draft a quarterback and let him sit behind Tannehill for a year before taking over in 2020.
4. Browns – Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
I would be excited for the season if I’m a Browns fan; well that would be if Joe Thomas hadn’t retired. The Browns did a lot to improve the roster this off-season and I believe Baker Mayfield can be the quarterback that ends the Browns’ troubles at the position. However, with Shone Coleman expected to start at left tackle this season, Mayfield better turn in Russell Wilson quick. Drafting Williams in 2019 will give Mayfield a blindside protector and then the Browns can contend for the playoffs next year.
5. Cardinals – Ed Oliver, DL, Houston
While it isn’t obvious, the Cardinals have a lot of holes that need filled. However, they can afford to pass on a talent like Ed Oliver. Robert Nkemdiche has been a bust since being selected as a first round pick in 2016. This time next year the Cardinals will need to decide on whether to exercise the fifth year option on Nkemdiche’s contract. If they select Oliver, expect that option to be declined.
6. Bengals – Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
Much like the Dolphins, if the Bengals are picking this high in the draft it’s a safe bet that there will be changes made. Andy Dalton struggled last season and if he has another down year the Bengals may decide it’s time to move on. The team can release Dalton after the 2018 season and save $16.2 million against the cap. Drew Lock almost entered the 2018 draft but made the smart decision to return to Missouri.
7. Bears – Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
I’m not sure why Vegas is this low on the Bears. They did a lot to improve in the off-season and if Mitchell Trubisky can take the next step the Bears should push for a playoff spot. However, the one spot the Bears didn’t do much to upgrade was at pass rusher opposite of Leonard Floyd. Had Clelin Ferrell entered the 2018 draft, he would have been likely a top 40 pick. Pairing Floyd and Ferrell would give the Bears a scary duo for the next decade.
8. Redskins – DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia
The Redskins have several key players that will be up for contract extensions soon. One player who could be released to save money is Josh Norman. He will be 31 years old for the 2019 season and the Redskins can save $8.5 million against the cap by releasing him. If Norman is released the Redskins will need a new number one cornerback. DeAndre Baker could be that guy.
9. Lions – Dexter Lawrence, DL, Clemson
During the 2018 draft, the Lions spent only one draft pick on the defensive line; a fourth round pick on Da’Shawn Hand. Currently Sylvester Williams and A’Shawn Robinson are projected to be the starting defensive tackles. Dexter Lawrence is a beast and could easily go top five, giving the Lions a huge steal here.
10. Buccaneers – Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
The Buccaneers are another team I’m surprised Vegas isn’t higher on. Both current staring offensive tackles — Donovan Smith and Demar Dotson — could be upgraded. Smith will be a free agent after the 2018 season and could be allowed to walk. While Dotson has one year left on his deal, the Buccaneers can save almost $5 million dollars against the cap by releasing him. If the team moves on from one or both of the tackles, a new starter will need to be found, and Greg Little fits that bill.
11. Colts – Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson
Under new defensive coordinator Matt Eberfius, the Colts are switching to a 4-3 defense but lack players who fit the system. Christian Wilkins likely would have been a top 15 pick and pushed Vita Vea for the first defensive tackle taken had he declared for the 2018 draft. Wilkins would give the Colts a difference maker on defense that they desperately need.
12. Titans – Austin Bryant, EDGE, Clemson
In case you haven’t caught on, Clemson has a very good defensive line unit. While the Titans did get a steal with Harold Landry in the second round, they still need pass rushers. Both Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo will be free agents after the 2018 season. Neither is expected to be retained and the Titans will need a replacement to pair opposite of Landry. Austin Bryant would provide the perfect complementary player to pair with Landry.
13. Ravens – A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
While the Ravens did sign three wide receivers in free agency, all three could be off the roster this time next year. None of the receivers have big guaranteed money for the 2019 season and the Ravens could easily move on from all of them. While the Ravens did draft two receivers this year, neither was selected until day three. If Lamar Jackson is going to succeed he will need as many weapons as possible. Ole Miss WR A.J. Brown should be the first guy off the board at the position.
14. Chiefs – Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan
The Chiefs were so worried about their defense that they spent all six of their 2018 draft picks on that side of the ball. Expect them to do similarly in the 2019 draft. Starting defensive lineman Allen Bailey will be a free agent after the 2018 season and the Chiefs aren’t expected to resign him. Pairing Chris Jones with Rashan Gary would give the Chiefs a great young duo.
15. Broncos – Shea Patterson, QB, Michigan
While Bradley Chubb was the right player to select with the fifth overall pick, the Broncos might regret not selecting a quarterback during the 2018 draft. Case Keenum is only under contract for two years and is clearly viewed as a “bridge” quarterback. Unless Paxton Lynch or Chad Kelly show the Broncos something this season, the team will be looking at quarterbacks early in the 2019 draft. They could be on the market for Shea Patterson, or aggressively try to move up for one of the other QBs.
16. Giants – Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson
Reportedly the Giants couldn’t trade Ereck Flowers for a mid-round pick during the 2018 draft despite the weak offensive tackle class. Flowers is expected to compete for the starting right tackle spot — assuming he makes the roster — with 2017 sixth round pick Adam Bisnowaty. The Giants did a good job improving the left side of the offensive line this off-season but they will need to upgrade the right side in order to squeeze the remaining years out of Eli Manning. Enter yet another Clemson product, Mitch Hyatt.
17. Panthers – Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, SAF, Florida
The Panthers spent the majority of their 2018 draft picks on the defensive side of the ball. However, they didn’t spend a single pick on the safety position. Starting safety Mike Adams will be a free agent after the 2018 season. At age 37, Adams isn’t likely to be retained. Adding a new safety — like Chauncey Gardner-Johnson — to pair with their young cornerback duo of James Bradberry and 2018 second round pick Donte Jackson is critical.
18. Seahawks – Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
Not too long ago the Seahawks secondary was known as “The Legion of Boom” but now it’s know as “The Legion of Who?” The only remaining member of that secondary is Earl Thomas, and he still could get traded this off-season. The Seahawks had nine draft picks and didn’t spend one on a cornerback. Shaquill Griffin is a keeper at cornerback but everyone else is an unknown and can be upgraded. The Seahawks will need to upgrade the cornerback position big time in 2019, and Greedy Williams is a clear upgrade over their corners.
19. Cowboys – Collin Johnson, WR, Texas
I like what the Cowboys did in the 2018 draft. Connor Williams is going to be a steal and the Cowboys will be able to run the ball again like they did in 2016. However, Michael Gallup, Allen Hurns and Terrance Williams is probably the worst wide receiver trio in the league. Adding Collin Johnson would give Dak Prescott a big 6’5” wide receiver to better replace Dez Bryant.
20. Raiders – Bryce Love, RB, Stanford
Currently the Raiders have plenty of running backs on the roster. However, none of them are very good at this point in their career. Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin are both near the end of their careers, while Jalen Richard or DeAndre Washington aren’t every down backs. With the Raiders likely moving on from Lynch and Martin after the season, Bryce Love would step in day one as the starter.
21. Jaguars – Nick Fitzgerald, QB, Mississippi State
Unless you are convinced Tanner Lee has the tools to become a franchise quarterback (no one is), the Jaguars did nothing to improve the quarterback situation. If Blake Bortles takes another step forward in 2018, then the Jaguars will look elsewhere in the draft. However, if Bortles regresses, the Jaguars will be looking for a quarterback early in the 2019 draft. With several already off the board, Nick Fitzgerald is the next man up.
22. Packers via Saints – Raekwon Davis, DL, Alabama
I still can’t believe the Saints traded this pick away so they can select Marcus Davenport. For the Packers, Muhammad Wilkerson is only signed to an one year deal and if he has a big season the team likely won’t match his market value next off-season. Paring Raekwon Davis with Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark would give the Packers a great defensive line.
23. Falcons – David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State
Tevin Coleman will be a free agent after the 2018 season and will likely seek a starting job elsewhere. Meanwhile Devonta Freeman has an easy out in his contract after the 2019 season when he will be 28 years old. Bringing in David Montgomery will keep the running back position a strength for the Falcons while keeping the door open for him as the starter in 2020.
24. Chargers – Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn
Even at age 36, Philip Rivers is still playing at a high level. However, the Chargers have failed to draft a quarterback in the last two drafts. Unless the Chargers think Rivers can play into his mid 40s, they need to find and develop his replacement. Jarrett Stidham will need a big junior season at Auburn in order to be in the first round conversation.
25. Texans – Michael Jackson, CB, Miami
Cornerback may not seem like a need for the Texans, but Johnathan Joseph is basically on an one year deal, Kareem Jackson will be a free agent after the 2018, season and Kevin Johnson’s 2019 fifth year option is only guaranteed for injury. With so much uncertainty at the position, the Texans might be in desperate need for a cornerback entering the 2019 draft. Michael Jackson of Miami would be a good option.
26. 49ers – Josh Allen, LB, Kentucky
Hopefully Reuben Foster is able to play this coming season and can stay out of trouble off the field. However, if he can’t the 49ers lack the talent and depth at the linebacker position. 2018 third round pick Fred Warner is a future starter but he needs help. Josh Allen — no, not THAT Josh Allen — would give the 49ers help filling several roles thanks to his versatility.
27. Steelers – T.J. Edwards, LB, Wisconsin
Seeing Ryan Shazier announcing the Steelers first round pick was the best part of the first day of the draft. However, the Steelers did nothing in the draft to replace Shazier on the field. Shazier isn’t expected to play during the 2018 season, and may never play again. Unless someone steps up or the Steelers can swing a trade, they will need to add a linebacker, like T.J. Edwards, early in the 2019 draft.
28. Packers – Marvell Tell, SAF, USC
While the Packers did a great job improving the secondary during the 2018 draft, starting safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will be a free agent after the season and will need to be resigned. If he isn’t resigned the Packers will have a huge hole to fill. Even if Clinton-Dix is resigned, the depth behind him and Josh Jones is below average. A guy like Marvell Tell could provide that needed depth.
29. Eagles – Michael Deiter, OT, Wisconsin
Halapoulivaati Vaitai did a good job filling in for Jason Peters at the end of last season. However, unless the Eagles think he or rookie rugby start Jordan Mailata can become the long-term replacement for Peters, they need to find their future franchise left tackle. The Eagles can’t risk Carson Wentz’s blindside and health to a pair of back up tackles. Michael Deiter should be a hot name for teams needing help at tackle toward the bottom of the first round.
30. Rams – Joe Jackson, EDGE, Miami
The Rams are going “all in” this season, and understandably so. However, they still have a need for pass rushers. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo was a steal in the fifth round for the Rams but they still need help opposite of him. Imagine if the Rams can bring back Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald for the 2019 season to pair with better pass rushers, like Joe Jackson, on the outside; opposing quarterbacks will have nightmares.
31. Vikings – Anfernee Jennings, LB, Alabama
Much like the Rams, the Vikings are going “all in” this season. The Vikings are facing a tight cap situation next year with several of their key guys up for contract extensions; one of those players is Anthony Barr. The Vikings didn’t draft a linebacker till the seventh round and if Barr leaves as a free agent, linebacker will be a key need entering the 2019 off-season. Anfernee Jennings is the next in a long line of Alabama linebackers marching into the first round of the NFL Draft.
32. Patriots – Jacob Eason, QB, Washington
If Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels can turn Danny Etling into a franchise quarterback then there is nothing they can’t do. However, I don’t believe that to be the case. Tom Brady’s future is probably year-to-year at best. Who knows if the Patriots will take a quarterback in the first round or find their guy in the second or third round. At some point though, the Patriots need to find the heir apparent to Brady. Why not Washington’s Jacob Eason?