NFL fans, April is finally here, which can only mean one thing: the draft is near! Now that we have been through the main wave of free agency, we have a better picture of where teams will be looking in the draft. As you will see, a lot has changed from the first mock draft I created. Even more changes will likely occur by the time the draft comes around, but here is how I see things playing out:
1. Arizona - Kyler Murray, QB (Oklahoma)
For those who follow the NFL closely, we have all seen the viral video of Cardinals’ head coach Kliff Kingsbury saying he’d draft Murray number one overall when he was still the head coach at Texas Tech. At first, I believed it was more of a rumor that he’d be interested in Murray, especially considering the organization just took Josh Rosen in last year’s draft. Now it looks like that rumor may become a reality, as multiple teams have reportedly shown interest in trading for Rosen. If this happens, Murray may be the offensive spark the Cardinals desperately need.
2. San Francisco - Nick Bosa, Edge (Ohio State)
The 49ers would be absolutely thrilled if the Cardinals decide to draft Murray. If that happens, the top player in the draft would fall right into their lap. Not only is Bosa the top prospect in the draft, he fills a major hole in this San Francisco defense off the edge. He would give the 49ers a new face of their defense and a future Pro Bowl-caliber player.
3. New York Jets - Josh Allen, Edge (Kentucky)
The Jets are another team that would be very happy with Arizona’s decision to draft Murray because it would allow them to fill a major need in their defense at the edge. Allen has a lot of upside, and I believe that he will eventually have the chance to carve an even better career than Bosa. He is great off the edge and also gives the Jets an outside linebacker who can drop into coverage and play man-to-man coverage on more athletic tight ends.
4. Oakland - Quinnen Williams, DT (Alabama)
Oakland is a team that has been very busy this offseason and has the luxury of multiple first round picks. Along with those multiple picks, they have multiple needs to fill. I have them going with the best available player with this pick. This works out well because Williams will also fill a huge need on the defensive interior. He gives the Silver and Black a new face of their defense after trading Khalil Mack last season, as well as an interior linemen who is great both as a pass rusher and a run stopper.
5. Tampa Bay - Devin White, LB (LSU)
The Buccaneers are a team that has many holes to fill. This is especially true on the defensive side of the ball. While they could go in multiple directions, I see linebacker as their biggest need after the departure of Kwon Alexander. White would be a great fit for this defense as he is the best linebacker in this class, can be an immediate leader on this defense, and has the potential to be a future Pro Bowl-caliber player.
6. New York Giants - Dwayne Haskins, QB (Ohio State)
Although it looks like they are keeping their trust in Eli Manning for now, the Giants will still need a QB of the future. Haskins is the best quarterback available and would give them much needed improvement at the position. Even though Eli is the starter for now, I can easily see Haskins taking the job from him as a rookie if they struggle to start the season. If he lives up to expectations, Haskins and Saquon Barkley can be a nice young duo for years to come for the Giants.
7. Jacksonville - Jawaan Taylor, OT (Florida)
Now that the Jaguars have signed their starting quarterback in Nick Foles, they need to add some much needed help on the offensive line to protect him. Taylor has risen up the draft boards, becoming the top offensive lineman in the draft. He should slide right into the starting right tackle spot and can hopefully give Foles the time he needs to work some of the magic he did with the Eagles.
8. Detroit - Montez Sweat, Edge (Mississippi State)
Detroit is another team that has many needs to fill on the defensive side of the ball. One of their biggest needs is a dynamic pass rusher. Sweat is a name that has risen up many draft boards since the combine, even being projected higher than this, because of this, the Lions should feel very lucky to have him fall to this spot. Sweat was found to have a heart condition but it was said to be low-risk, so if he can stay healthy, I believe he can truly be a force in the league.
9. Buffalo - Jonah Williams, OT (Alabama)
The Bills are a team with many holes to fill. Of all the needs they’ve had over the past few seasons, they finally seem to have found their franchise quarterback in Josh Allen. That said, their top priority should be to get him some protection. Williams is the best available offensive lineman at this spot and gives them a much needed upgrade at offensive tackle. The good thing about Williams is that he could also possibly move inside to guard if they need him to.
10. Denver - Drew Lock, QB (Missouri)
Denver made a huge move this offseason, trading for quarterback Joe Flacco from the Baltimore Ravens. Although Flacco has proven himself to be a quality starter in the league, they still need a quarterback of the future. Drew Lock is reportedly a name John Elway has been very high on. Lock would benefit tremendously from learning behind a veteran quarterback like Flacco. They could also be in a similar position as the Ravens last season where Lock could come in and start as a rookie if Flacco were to get hurt or struggle.
11. Cincinnati - Andre Dillard, OT (Washington State)
The Bengals are another team who could be in the quarterback market for this year’s draft. However, I see them sticking with Andy Dalton for at least one more season. If they do, they will need some much needed improvement on a very mediocre offensive line. Dillard is an intriguing prospect who has jumped up a lot of boards in the past month. He would likely be an immediate starter at tackle and can hopefully give Dalton more time to throw.
12. Green Bay - T.J. Hockenson, TE (Iowa)
After a disappointing 2018 season, the Packers must add some more weapons to help Aaron Rodgers. One way to achieve this: snag a reliable tight end since Jimmy Graham hasn’t quite worked out the way they expected him to. Hockenson is the best tight end in this class and would be a great fit in this offense. He is a threat in the passing game as a dynamic route runner, but what sets him apart is that he is an outstanding blocker. If Graham doesn’t perform well again, Hockenson will immediately become the TE1 and can provide solid production as a rookie.
13. Miami - Clelin Ferrell, Edge (Clemson)
The Dolphins are a team that should be in the quarterback market in this year’s draft. Unfortunately, I don’t see any first round worthy quarterbacks left at this spot. I could see them possibly trading up to get a quarterback, but if they don’t, edge rusher is another huge need. Ferrell is the best available at the position and would provide them an instant starter.
14. Atlanta - Ed Oliver, DT (Houston)
Atlanta should be overjoyed that Oliver is still on the board at this spot. I say this because he is easily a top-eight prospect in this class. He falls here due to the needs of other teams and is a great addition for Atlanta. Oliver will finally give them the disruptive interior defensive lineman they have been looking for the past couple seasons and will be a Pro Bowl caliber player if he lives up to his expectations.
15. Washington - D.K. Metcalf, WR (Ole Miss)
If I’m Washington, I’m sprinting this pick up to the podium and not thinking twice. Metcalf is another player who is a top-eight prospect based on ability but will fall due to team needs. He put on a show at the NFL combine, showing that he is a physical freak. Metcalf will immediately be the best player on this offense and give Case Keenum (or whoever is at QB) a huge threat in the deep passing game.
16. Carolina - Greedy Williams, CB (LSU)
The Panthers are a team who, in my opinion, are just a few pieces away from being a true contender in the NFC. One spot that they could improve at is in the secondary, especially at cornerback. Greedy Williams is a fast, athletic corner who can be an immediate impact player in this defense. I see him being a Week One starter who can be a solid corner for years to come.
17. New York Giants (via Cleveland) - Rashan Gary, Edge (Michigan)
The Giants acquired this pick in the blockbuster trade that send star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns. After they acquired their quarterback of the future with their first pick, I see them using this pick to improve the defensive side of the ball. Gary is one of the best players available at this spot and would give the Giants some much needed improvement off the edge. He could also play inside as a true defensive linemen if the Giants needed him to.
18. Minnesota - Cody Ford, OL (Indiana)
The Vikings were another team that had a very disappointing season based on expectations. They made a big move last season signing quarterback Kirk Cousins, but he wasn’t able to perform they way he was expected. This is largely due to their offensive line failed to protect him. Ford would be a great addition to their offensive line as he could start inside at guard or play tackle, depending on where they wanted to use him.
19. Tennessee - Noah Fant, TE (Iowa)
After being in contention in the AFC South for a part of last season, the Titans struggled down the stretch, proving that they just didn’t have enough offensive firepower. Quarterback Marcus Mariota has a few seasons under his belt but has yet to be able to truly take off performance-wise. They must get him some weapons to throw to during the draft. Tight end Noah Fant could be the solution to their problems as he is a fast, athletic tight end who is a great vertical threat in the passing game.
20. Pittsburgh - Devin Bush Jr., LB (Michigan)
The Steelers are yet another team that failed to live up to expectations in 2018. Going into 2019, things will be a lot different as they lost Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell (officially). Luckily, they have enough weapons on offense to fill those voids. Their biggest concern should still be on the defensive side of the ball. Bush should be a no-brainer at this spot in the draft as they will be lucky if he falls this far. He would give them an upgrade at the inside linebacker position since they’ve been searching for a replacement after the unfortunate loss of Ryan Shazier.
21. Seattle - Brian Burns, Edge (Florida State)
The Seahawks made the playoffs last season but simply didn’t have enough firepower, falling to the Dallas Cowboys in the Wildcard round. One thing that has changed with Seattle is their defense has been steadily declining. A true edge rusher is a position that could truly benefit this defense. Burns would be a steal at this spot seeing as how he could be drafted as high as the top ten. He would give this defense an immediate starter on the edge and a huge threat as a pass rusher.
22. Baltimore - A.J. Brown, WR (Ole Miss)
Baltimore benefited tremendously last season from the emergence of rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson. Now that they have shown he is their franchise quarterback, they must get him more weapons to throw to. Brown is my WR2 in this draft class who gives Jackson a true deep threat. If Brown lives up to expectations, he will be the Ravens WR1 as a rookie.
23. Houston - Dalton Risner, OT (Kansas State)
After winning the AFC South last season, the Texans were knocked out in the Wildcard round by the Colts. Deshaun Watson has proven himself to be one of the better young quarterbacks in the league and has one of the top wide receivers in Deandre Hopkins. However, that connection only works if Watson has time to throw the ball. Risner is the best tackle left at this spot and would be an immediate starter.
24. Oakland (via Chicago) - Byron Murphy, CB (Washington)
After taking Williams with their first pick, the Raiders use their second first round pick, acquired in the Khalil Mack trade, to continue improving their defense. Oakland needs some major help at the cornerback position, and Murphy will be an immediate starter in this secondary. Murphy is great in coverage and is also very good in run support. I could easily see him being the best corner in this class when it’s all said and done.
25. Philadelphia - Deandre Baker, CB (Georgia)
In 2018, the Eagles made a strong push at the end of the season to make the playoffs. Unfortunately, they fell short of making a second straight Super Bowl run, falling to the Saints in the Divisional round. They are left with several holes to fill this offseason, especially on defense. Their biggest area of concern should be at cornerback. Baker is the only first round worthy corner left at this spot. I believe he could come in and play right away and potentially be a starter as a rookie.
26. Indianapolis - Christian Wilkins, DT (Clemson)
The Colts had a strong 2018 season with the return of Andrew Luck. While their offense looked solid for the most part, there are some needs that need to be filled on the defensive side of the ball. The biggest of these needs is at the defensive tackle position. Wilkins was a force on the interior of a very good Clemson defensive line. He would be an immediate starter for the Colts and would give them a defensive tackle who can clog up the gaps in the run game. Also, he’s very effective at rushing the passer.
27. Oakland (via Dallas) - Mack Wilson, LB (Alabama)
The Raiders have yet another first round pick here which was acquired from the trade that sent star wide receiver Amari Cooper to Dallas. The additions of Williams at #4 and Murphy at #24 will give them solid improvement on the defensive side of the ball. Now they just need another linebacker to help this defense.Enter Wilson. He is the best linebacker available at this spot and will play a major factor in the rotation. He will likely sit behind newly acquired Brandon Marshall at middle linebacker, but could possibly come into the lineup as a weakside linebacker.
28. Los Angeles Chargers - Jeffery Simmons, DT (Mississippi State)
The Chargers were one of the hottest teams in football last season. They came just short in the playoffs, losing in the Divisional round to the Patriots. They were solid as a whole team last season but still have a few needs to fill, and defensive tackle is the biggest need. Simmons may be a risky pick here due to his recent ACL injury, but his ceiling is far too high to pass up. If not for the injury, Simmons would be an almost guaranteed top 15-20 pick, if not higher. Once he is healthy, Simmons will be an immediate starter on the interior for this defense.
29. Kansas City - Hakeem Butler, WR (Iowa State)
Kansas City was another team that was a lot better than expected. This was largely due to their offense, led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes having a breakout season, earning him the NFL MVP award. However, you can always add talent to an offense. The Chiefs will need another receiver, especially with the unknown future of Tyreek Hill. Even if Hill does return, Butler gives the Chiefs a tall, athletic deep threat to help spread the ball around the field.
30. Green Bay - Nasir Adderley, S (Delaware)
Green Bay received their second first round pick via trade from the New Orleans Saints. Utilizing their first pick on an offensive weapon, they will use this one on the defensive side of the ball. After losing Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the Packers will need a new safety for their defense. Adderley is this year’s small school prospect that has risen up boards and would be an immediate starter alongside newly acquired Adrian Amos.
31. Los Angeles Rams - Garrett Bradbury, OL (NC State)
After an outstanding 2018 season, the Rams were defeated in a very sloppy game by the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Although they are still a very good team, they have multiple needs to fill. One of their biggest needs will be at center after the departure of John Sullivan. Bradbury would be a steal at this pick as he is the best interior offensive lineman in this class. He would be an immediate starter at center and could possibly slide to guard if they ever needed him to.
32. New England Patriots - Irv Smith Jr., TE (Alabama)
After losing the Super Bowl to the Eagles in the previous season, the Patriots came back in 2018 with a vengeance and reclaimed their spot at the top of the NFL. Although they still always have a chance as long as Tom Brady is suiting up, the Patriots lost a key part of their offense this offseason. Tight end Rob Gronkowski decided to retire, leaving them with some big shoes to fill. Irv Smith Jr. may not be on Gronk’s level yet, but he would be a great fit in this offense as he would give Brady a solid tight end threat to throw to, especially in the vertical passing game.