You know the problem with the NFL Draft? You’ve got all these pundits and talking (or writing) heads huffing & puffing and mocking up who’s taking who, who’s trading down, blah blah blah.
But here’s the thing: None of them (including me) has any idea what’s going to actually happen. Heck, the Oakland Raiders just sent their entire scouting department home because they’re not even sure their own pro scouts know what they’re doing! All I’m saying is, it’s a crapshoot. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar.
So, with the NFL Draft just days away, allow me to add to your overstocked mock draft portfolio and tell you what I think is going to go down. Just remember to take it with a grain of Pink Himalayan salt.
One final note: While I think a few teams (49ers, Dolphins, Jets) would be better served by trading down to stockpile some picks, I’m not brash enough to predict who actually will. So, let’s keep this simple and go straight up, shall we?
1. Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
The absolute worst thing the Cardinals can do here is go halfway. They pulled the trigger on former Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury in the offseason, so their chips are already on the table. Plus, Kingsbury has already said on camera that he’d take Murray #1 overall if he got the chance, so why even think about anyone but Murray here? No disrespect to incumbent Josh Rosen, but Murray is more electric, he’ll bring a different kind of swagger to the desert, and he fits what Kingsbury wants to do on offense better than Rosen does. The Cards have shown they’re willing to take on some risk for a brighter future. Here’s their chance to prove it by trading Rosen and going all-in with Murray at #1.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
After spending big bucks on pass-rusher extraordinaire Dee Ford, stiff-arming the Giants on a potential Buckner-for-Beckham trade, and upgrading their athleticism at LB with Kwon Alexander, the Niners are in an incredible spot of turning a soft defense into a scary one within a year. Depending on who you believe, San Fran may actually prefer Alabama big boy Quinnen Williams here, and I also don’t hate the idea of trading down to collect some more picks. But all things being equal, Bosa makes way too much sense for San Fran to do anything else.
3. New York Jets: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
The Jets need a lot of help in a lot of areas, and they’re another team I think could explore the option of trading down. But as it stands, Williams is the most talented IDL in this draft and he’ll be a force in the middle for Gang Green for a decade. So get used to seeing this sideline snot-bubbler* gobbling up RBs and chasing down Tom Brady twice a year into 2029.
*In case you don’t understand the reference or just enjoy being grossed out, check out my man Quinnen snotting it up right here:
4. Oakland Raiders: Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
Gone are the days where Al Davis closes his beady little eyes and plays pin-the-tail on the most athletic freak in the draft, in which case this pick has Ole Miss WR D.K. Metcalf written all over it. Al’s pumpkin pie hair-cutted son is calling the shots now (sort of) alongside John Gruden and new GM Mike Mayock, so methinks there will be a tad more diligence taken than years’ past. It’s no secret the Raiders need a lot of help off the edge, and Allen provides exactly that. Oakland was dead last in the league with 13 sacks in 2018 (next worst was 30!), so they desperately need to add a guy who had almost twice as many sacks (17) in his senior season than their entire team did.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Devin White, LB, LSU
If Josh Allen is still here at 5, it’s a no-brainer for the Bucs. Allen won’t be, so they go with 1B to Allen’s 1A in LSU game-wrecker White. D-Dub will slide right into the hole vacated by Kwon Alexander to give the Bucs the kind of freakish athleticism they crave at LB. White was the highest-rated LB in college football last year, and he’s the low-risk, high-reward pick the Bucs need to make.
6. New York Giants: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
Should the G-Men take a QB here? Absolutely. Should it be Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins? I think so. But if the Giants have shown us anything this offseason, it’s that they either have no idea what they’re doing, or they just don’t care. Holding onto the belief that noodle-armed Eli Manning can still be a productive starter is like the dude in your business meeting who still references his days as the best special teamer his high school has ever seen. It’s silly and unnecessary. The Giants stay true to form here at take Williams, the best O-lineman in the draft by a country mile, in a futile attempt to protect their goofy, over-the-hill QB for as many years as it takes for Manning’s arm to fall completely off his body.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
A slight nightmare scenario (Slightmare, if you will)for the Jags here, as they would love to have Jonah Williams protecting their newest high-priced asset Nick Foles for years to come. If you look at the numbers, though, James is not all that far behind. The Florida product is not as good a pass blocker as his Alabama counterpart, however the two are almost identical in skill when it comes to run blocking. And even with the addition of Foles, I still expect the Jags to be a run-first team. James is an absolute mauler in the run game and he stays in-state to open all kinds of holes for RB Leonard Fournette.
8. Detroit Lions: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
This is probably a reach at 8, but when you face off against Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen (and Allen Robinson when he’s right) multiple times a year, it’s not a bad idea to shore-up your secondary with the consensus #1 DB in this draft. Only one team (49ers) had fewer INTs than Detroit did in 2018, so it’s time for the Lions to get Greedy. And while Williams regressed slightly from his breakout freshman campaign last year, he still only allowed a completion percentage of 36.4%. Slide him in opposite Darius Slay and you’ve suddenly got something special in the works for 2nd-year coach Matt Patricia.
9. Buffalo Bills: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
It wasn’t that long ago that Oliver seemed like he’d be the #1 overall pick. Then came some questions about his work ethic, a few minor injuries, and one silly tiff with his college coach over wearing a team jacket on the sidelines. If one man’s trash is another’s treasure, Oliver is the day-old banana that the Bills can toss into their smoothie and have it taste like heaven. Oliver will start right away with the departure of long-time Buffalo stalwart Kyle Williams.
10. Denver Broncos: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
For as great a QB as he was in his time, John Elway sure has had a hell of a time finding a franchise QB. Paxton Lynch? Bust. Case Keenum? Whiff. Brock Osweiler? LOL. There’s also Zak Dysert, Trevor Siemian, Chad Kelly, Kevin Hogan… the list is long and it’s ugly as sin. Elway tries one more time at 10 with Lock, who many believe is the best QB in this draft. I hope for Elway’s sake those folks are right.
11. Cincinnati Bengals: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
It was recently reported that Haskins will be holding his draft party at a bowling alley near his home in Gaithersburg, MD. Seems fitting. Haskins led the NCAA last year with over 4800 yards and 50 tudders and by all appearances, he seems to have the highest ceiling of any QB in this draft. And yet, for whatever reason, he’s been bouncing around draft boards like a rookie roller with the bumpers on. I don’t really buy into Haskins as a franchise guy, but the Bengals are desperate because they’ve finally realized what everyone else knew 5 years ago: Andy Dalton is not the answer. The Bengals are a prime candidate for worst team in the NFL heading into 2019, and if they want any hope of retaining stud WR AJ Green past 2020, they need to go in a new direction under center. Haskins provides exactly that.
12. Green Bay Packers: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Mississippi
This one doesn’t quite compute. A flashy, highly-athletic freak and a blue-collar, keep-your-head-down-and-work franchise. But why not? I’ve seen Metcalf all over the place in other mocks, with some believing he’s the next Calvin Johnson worthy of a top-10 (or even top-5) pick, and others placing fair question marks on his effort and route-running. But this makes too much sense to me. The Packers did nothing to replace Randall Cobb in the offseason, so there’s a need. And can you imagine Metcalf lining up opposite Davante Adams and running down deep balls from Aaron Rodgers? Goosebumps.
13. Miami Dolphins: Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
Almost as if someone had let out the sweatiest, most massive flatulence in human history at the Dolphins facility, it was a mass exodus on the defensive side of the ball for Miami this offseason. Seemed like dudes couldn’t wait to leave that place. Questions about a diagnosed heart issue will drop Sweat slightly, but he’s still the same guy who became a viral sensation with his dominance Senior Bowl and the best player from a Bulldogs’ D that was one of the most imposing in recent memory (2nd only to Clemson’s NFL defense in scoring D in 2018). The Fins are in full rebuild mode, and it’s the perfect scenario to bet big on a dude who’ll be uber-focused on proving his doubters wrong.
14. Atlanta Falcons: Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
The Falcons are in a good position here. Based on talent alone, they should be picking way at the bottom of this draft. But a gaggle of injuries derailed their season and here they are, with all kinds of options to boost a roster that’s already really good. I think they go with Ferrell, a dude who had 14 sacks but was overshadowed by the rest of Clemson’s NFL talent on the D-line. Ferrell could very well end up being the best defensive player in this draft, and he’s the ideal fit for Atlanta’s D.
15. Washington Redskins: Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
I’ll be honest: I watch a lot of college football, but I had no idea who Burns was until I saw some clips of his pro day. He was impressive as hell, and he’s the perfect player for Dan Snyder: athletically gifted, absolutely chiseled, and will probably revert right back to the same anonymity he had in college thanks to whatever voodoo magic the ‘Skins keep using to make their best players disappear.
16. Carolina Panthers: Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan
The Panthers could really use some help on offense for Cam Newton, specifically at WR and OL. But with Julius Peppers gone and Gary sitting here at 16, he’s too tempting to pass up. Gary never really lived up to the hype of the #1 recruit in the nation, but he was productive when he wanted to be. Maybe playing for a paycheck will bring out the crazy potential we’ve heard about in Gary, but have only seen in flashes to this point.
17. New York Giants (via Cleveland Browns): Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
Since the Giants seem fully (and foolishly) content at QB for the time being, I think (emphasis: think) they’ll focus their efforts on another point of need in the secondary, the highest rated corner in the country last year and the best player on the board no one knows about.
18. Minnesota Vikings: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
The Vikes need some O-line help, and they get it here. Dillard was an OT at Wazzu, but with unproven guys like Brian O’Neill and Aviante Collins at OT and OG, respectively, Minny could move Dillard wherever he’s needed most. Dillard was the highest rated pass blocker in the country last year, and the Vikings love to sling it around the yard.
19. Tennessee Titans: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
Seems like every year, the Titans are taking a defensive player in the first round. It’s almost like they’re allergic to offense. But they know who they are – a grind it out team who will punish you with their defense, run the ball down your throat, and hope for a miracle play or two from Marcus Mariota. I’d love to see a guy like WR N’Keal Harry or WR Hollywood Brown go here, but that’s just not Mike Vrabel’s style. Bush is an excellent run stopper who blitzes well when the time calls. If he starts catching TDs too, he’ll be Vrabel’s Mona Lisa.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
I have no idea how a guy like Harry hasn’t gotten more love leading up to the draft. Maybe it’s because I live on the West Coast or have a slightly masochistic affinity for mid-tier Pac 12 football, but I didn’t see a better player at WR in the entire country last year. Harry was absolutely dominant, making highlight after highlight. Dude looked at times like a 25-year old playing high school opponents. It was silly. By all accounts the Steelers would like to keep JuJu Smith-Schuster in the slot, so Harry provides the perfect complement on the outside to terrify defenses for years to come.
21. Seattle Seahawks: DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia
The Legion of Boom is no longer in session, but the Seahawks are still who we thought they were: a team than runs the ball more (and better) than anyone, and lives on their defense to create havoc allowing that running game can salt things away. Baker will help do just that. He plays much bigger than his listed 5’1” 190+ lbs, and the 1st-team All-American and reigning Jim Thorpe award winner will inspire plenty flashbacks of Richard Sherman and even Kam Chancellor for ‘Hawks fans.
22. Baltimore Ravens: Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State
I was pretty much set on mocking a WR to the Ravens here from the get-go. They don’t have any glaring needs on defense, and Lamar Jackson’s shiftiness as a runner negates any need on the O-line or in the backfield, at least for Round 1. So what tipped the scales for me on Butler? It’s obvious, isn’t it? Say it with me: B-L-O-C-K-I-N-G. Sexy right? Butler is a monster at 6’6”/225 who is super effective downfield (19 receptions of 20+ yards, most in the NCAA for ’18) and will run down whatever Jackson throws his way. But with the Ravens clearly building their offense on a running foundation, they need a guy on the outside like Butler who’s a willing blocker and can move corners off the line to create huge holes for Jackson. It’s the best of both worlds for Baltimore.
23. Houston Texans: Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma
O-line selections are never going to get the buzz as other positions, but the Texans need one badly and Ford is the best available. Houston might be better off selecting a guy who graded a bit higher than Ford did as run blocker here given their penchant to run the rock (4th most attempts in the NFL last year), but the key here is versatility. Ford only started one year in Norman, but he lined up all over and excelled at every spot. I saw Deshaun Watson nearly get his head taken off way too many times last year, so adding a guy like Ford – whether he plays guard or tackle – will be a welcome addition for Texans fans looking to keep their QB upright for a full year.
24. Oakland Raiders (via Chicago Bears): Rock-Ya Sin, CB, Temple
These feels almost too perfect. The Raiders need help everywhere, but CB is a particular sore spot. Plus, they need some allure heading into Vegas for 2020, and who better than a guy with one of the most alluring names in recent draft history? Seems like Vegas is handing out residencies to anyone these days (See: Backstreet Boys), and no one has ever deserved one at the Hard Rock on the strip than this guy. Rock on, Rock-Ya.
25. Philadelphia Eagles: Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
I’m tempted to toss Philly a safety here, but it’s hard to gauge a need in the secondary. The Eagles had an insane number of guys go down last year, especially on that back end of the D. And for all intents and purposes, the patchwork job they did was nothing short of miraculous. Jacobs is the best RB in a pretty weak class, and it’s high-time Philly finally figured out their revolving door situation in the backfield.
26. Indianapolis Colts: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
Andrew Luck had an amazing comeback season in 2018, and it’s even more impressive considering he was forced to lean on guys like Eric Ebron and Chester Rogers in the passing game (T.Y. Hilton excluded for sake of argument – writer’s license). Indy did sign WR Devin Funchess this offseason, but a game-breaker he is not. Hollywood Brown, on the other hand, is the definition of one. I don’t think Brown takes away from Hilton, either. If the NFL has proved anything over the last few years, it’s that you can never have too many weapons. And seeing Brown fly around that indoor track in Indy catching seeds from Luck is as close to draft porn as you’ll get.
27. Oakland Raiders (via Dallas Cowboys): Taylor Rapp, SS, Washington
Gruden gave new GM Mike Mayock three 1st round picks and essentially told Mayock not to screw it up. For my money, that ends with Rapp in the 1st round. The Huskie product doesn’t put up huge numbers, but he’s the classic case of a guy who does way more for a defense than what’s reflected in the stat sheet. Rapp is smart, tough as nails and an ace tackler. In other words, he’s the epitome of what Gruden and Mayock are looking for, and he’ll be a Raider Nation fan favorite regardless of where the Silver and Black play their games.
28. Los Angeles Chargers: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
The rich get richer. LA already has one of the nastiest defenses in the NFL, so why not add a guy who was rated top-3 in the nation in both run and pass defense by PFF? The Chargers have the best roster in the league, and Wilkins brings the type of toughness and winning culture that could help get this team over the hump in the playoffs.
29. Kansas City Chiefs: Chase Winovich, EDGE, Michigan
What a difference an offseason makes. Sure looked like KC was poised to become the future king in the AFC, didn’t it? Then came along 3 failed 3rd-and-long stops and 2 offsides by Dee Ford vs. New England in the AFC Title Game, followed by nearly every elite player not named Mahomes disappearing from the roster, and suddenly the Chiefs look like just another also-ran. With every elite edge rusher and CB already off the board, KC looks to get back some of the pass rush presence they lost with Winovich, the only dude in the NCAA who PFF gave 90+ grades to in back-to-back years. Plus, he’s got great hair, so there’s that.
30. Green Bay Packers (via New Orleans Saints): Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
I wouldn’t call the Jimmy Graham Experiment a failed one for Green Bay last year, but I’d be willing to bet that the Pack thought they’d get a lot more than 55 receptions and 2 TDs from the former All-Pro. Enter Fant, a versatile and dynamic pass catcher in the mold of Graham. Best case, he teams up with Graham and suddenly Green Bay is unstoppable. Worst case, either JG or Fant don’t produce, but odds are at least one will with Rodgers chucking the pea to them. I like those odds.
31. Los Angeles Rams: Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware
While the addition of Eric Weddle will certainly help, the Rams were oh-so-beatable through the air last year and they could still use some help. Adderley, this year’s highest-graded safety, fits the bill.
32. New England Patriots: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
If Noah Fant is 1A, Hockensen is 1Aa. You could flip-flop the two and be just as happy with either. Hockensen is big (6’5”/243), athletic, and the perfect head-down-type player the Hoodie loves. Tom Brady will no doubt give him every opportunity to flourish, and T.J. won’t be intimidated by his charge of filling the massive football-spiking shoes number 69 – uh, err, 87 – left behind.