With the 2019 NFL Draft just a month away and the dust settled on free agency, it was time to finally lay out our first mock draft.
One thing to keep in mind as you read this predictive mock is that offense is dominating the NFL.
We saw this with the coaching carousel, as six of eight openings were filled by offensive coaches, and we keep seeing it in each of the recent drafts where quarterbacks, receivers and running backs have all gone higher than prognosticators expected.
In the last 10 years, an average of 8.5 offensive skill players—QBs, RBs and WRs—and 15 offensive prospects have been selected in the first round. So don’t let our big-board rankings, with only seven offensive prospects in the top 20 fool you, teams will prioritize and reach on skill positions and offense in general, as they do every year.
It’s not just trendy to do so, it’s good business, as the offensive side of the ball seems to be getting overpaid more and more these days, so having a franchise QB or LT on rookie contracts could mean significant cap savings.
This is why rebuilding teams in need of an offensive identity, and playoff contenders trying to make that championship jump, found themselves reaching on offensive talent in our mock.
With that, here’s how I see things playing out, with 10 skill players and 17 offensive prospects going in round one.
1) Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
Unless the Cardinals have done an all-time great job of smoke screening everyone, the 2018 Heisman winner is the pick here. If the Cards were, in fact, playing us, they’ll be trading down as someone paid a pretty penny to ensure they could have Murray.
One way or another, it looks like Oklahoma will have another undersized quarterback go first overall.
2) San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
The Niners are in a tough situation having drafted three defensive linemen in round one in the last four years, on top of trading for Dee Ford this offseason, but they still need help in creating pressure off the edge. This is why Bosa is a slam-dunk pick who, with Ford, could match the best pass-rushing duos in the NFC West.
3) New York Jets: Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama
A trade down for the Jets makes almost too much sense, either to the Raiders at four or the Giants at six, depending on who’s most desperate to snatch up the second QB off the board.
The Jets could go with either Williams or Kentucky’s Josh Allen here, and while Allen is a better fit given their need for pass-rushing help outside, Williams is the better player to defeat Tom Brady with his ability to wreak havoc up the middle.
Note: this is a sneaky-important pick for the Broncos if they’re hoping Devin White falls to them at 10, as the Jets selecting Allen could set off a domino allowing Tampa Bay to chose Williams and White to fall.
4) Oakland Raiders: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
The Raiders are seemingly very interested in Murray and may still be interested in another quarterback if he’s gone. With them surrounding Derek Carr with much better offensive talent, the situation’s hard to read, but it feels like they want to add a young arm and have enough draft capital to roll the dice with five first rounders in the next two drafts.
Haskins is a great fit in John Gruden’s quick-timing offense, though they could opt for Drew Lock, who their highly paid HC got to work with the entire week at the Senior Bowl.
5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Devin White, LB, LSU
White blew up The Combine right when the Bucs lost ILB Kwon Alexander in free agency, and ever since then, this seems like a marriage that’s guaranteed to happen. Depending on how Tampa wants to shuffle their linebacking corps, they could opt for Allen—who can play as a strong-side backer in a 4-3—but White just fits too well and could be the heir to greats like Derrick Brooks.
6) New York Giants: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
The Giants are an interesting franchise, especially now that they have two first rounders and could wait to take a signal caller at 17. But messing around at QB isn’t what you do. If you want a top-three guy, you have to take him now, and Lock’s rocket arm is easily the best remaining.
There’s a slight possibility that, once again, the Giants pass on a QB entirely, but sooner or later they’ll have to find someone who can take over for Eli Manning.
7) Jacksonville Jaguars: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
The Jags are all in on Nick Foles and should be looking offense right here, with Metcalf, the top offensive tackles and T.J. Hockenson all in play. Giving Foles a big target like Metcalf, who can be his go-to, contested-ball receiver—like Alshon Jeffrey was for Foles in Philadelphia—is too good to pass up.
8) Detroit Lions: Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky
The Lions get a steal here, as Matt Patricia gets a do-it-all linebacker he can be creative with and a huge weapon to rush quarterbacks off the edge all in one player. This is a perfect fit for Detroit and should be Allen’s floor, who only slipped due to the run on QBs.
9) Buffalo Bills: Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan
Ideally here, the Bills would add talent around their second-year quarterback, Josh Allen, in the form of a WR or an OL, but with Metcalf gone and some key additions in free agency, they can turn their attention to the defensive side.
Gary is perfect for Sean McDermott’s system, with the size he covets and as much upside as anyone in the class.
10) Denver Broncos: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
Whether the Broncos are interested in a quarterback or not, with the top-three gone and Devin White off the board, Denver’s deciding between the first O-lineman off the board, Ed Oliver or Bush.
In Vic Fangio’s defense, having a linebacker who has the freakish athleticism Bush possesses is priority one, and in this loaded draft for defensive linemen, they’ll have plenty of options to add talent in the trenches in the later rounds.
Bush is explosive and sound, he’s a safe pick and could be the Broncos defensive quarterback for the next decade. He might not be an alien in coverage like Roquan Smith, but he’s more complete and NFL ready than the Bears top-10 selection a year ago.
John Elway selecting a linebacker this early would be a huge deviation from how the GM has valued the position in the past, and an important sign that Fangio’s voice carries a lot of weight in Denver’s front office.
11) Cincinnati Bengals: Andre Dillard, LT, Washington State
New head coach Zac Taylor needs to establish an offensive identity on a unit that has been stagnant for too long. Taylor knows how important a talented blind-side protector can be in his scheme and Dillard has the most coveted traits of all—athleticism and the ability to be a high-level pass protector, making this an easy pick.
12) Green Bay Packers: Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
The Packers could go a few different directions but with two first-round picks, they also need to play the board and look at the best remaining talents which are all in the defensive trenches.
Burns has bulked up to 250 pounds, is a superb athlete, with great pass rushing upside and a well-rounded game. He’s a perfect fit and value.
13) Miami Dolphins: Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
Four teams with new head coaches make consecutive selections from 10 through 13, and all will be trying to make culture picks that set the tone for their tenures. Sweat is that kind of guy for Miami, with all the measurables in the world and a tenacious attitude on the field. He’s a great pick for Brian Flores and the Fins to build their defense inside-out.
14) Atlanta Falcons: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
Oliver’s slight fall ends here, where the Falcons are a perfect fit given how they value athleticism over size. The former five-star recruit might be a bit redundant with Grady Jarrett, but the two will be impossible to stop on third down as they destroy pockets from the interior and can be moved around to hunt matchups.
15) Washington Redskins: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
It’s hard to know what the dysfunctional Skins will do here, but it’s clear they don’t have any clarity at quarterback and don’t necessarily value raw arm strength at the position. If that’s the case, Jones could be ranked much higher for Washington than for other teams, as his traits matchup with QBs Jay Gruden’s worked with in the past in Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy, and Alex Smith.
16) Carolina Panthers: Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
The Panthers need bigger, physical defensive ends for their defense to be dominant and Ferrell fits the description perfectly. Surrounded by other future pros at Clemson, Ferrell was the best of the bunch on a dominant defense line, with tremendous play against the run and a knack for getting after the quarterback.
17) New York Giants (via Cleveland Browns): Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
Taylor’s fall ends here—he could easily go as high as seven to Jacksonville—to the Giants, who should be ecstatic to have patched up two huge needs in round one. Taylor is a smooth operator with some grit against the run. If Taylor was a sure-fire left tackle, he would’ve gone much higher, though the Giants should be satisfied as long as he’s a solid right tackle or exceptional guard.
18) Minnesota Vikings: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
The Vikings are desperate for offensive line help, and Williams is the safest of the bunch. Arguably the best offensive lineman in all of college football the last two years, Williams only drops due to a lack of truly-elite traits, but the tape is tremendous, and he’s as safe a selection as there is.
19) Tennessee Titans: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
This is another tone-setting culture pick, as Mike Vrabel gets himself a great blocking tight end who can be a sixth offensive lineman when Derrick Henry gets rolling. The fact that Hockenson can provide a nice safety blanket for Marcus Mariota is another huge bonus in this.
20) Pittsburgh Steelers: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
This is awkward. In the offseason where cousin Antonio Brown forces his way out of town, the Steelers replace him with his much-faster relative.
A receiver isn’t the Steelers biggest need, but with the top linebackers gone and plenty of cornerbacks still remaining, Brown was too good to pass up as Pittsburgh tries to replenish its offensive arsenal.
21) Seattle Seahawks: Johnathan Abram, SS, Mississippi State
The Seahawks are the most independent-thinking NFL front office and, thus, very hard to predict. With Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman, they’ve been good about finding heirs a year before they were forced to, and Kam Chancellor might be next. Abram is a perfect replacement, a recklessly intimidating downhill destroyer at safety, with tremendous athleticism and the ability to cover tight ends. Safeties might go higher than most people expect this year, it’s just a matter of finding good fits.
22) Baltimore Ravens: Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State
Campbell is a bit of a workout warrior, though he was extremely productive over his career, even if he had too many drops. As a weapon in the Ravens offense as they go all-in on the Lamar Jackson experiment, Campbell brings a bunch of added value, as he can be a decoy on jet-sweep fakes, can be used as a runner, a screen dump off weapon, a dynamic returner, and a deep threat all in one.
23) Houston Texans: Dalton Risner, RT, Kansas State
The Texans have to add talent on their offensive line if Deshaun Watson is to reach the next step in his development. This pick came down to Risner or Oklahoma’s Cody Ford, both plug-and-play right tackles who could be elite guards, that versatility gives them more appeal to the Texans who need as much help as they can get.
Risner is the pick because of his multi-year experience, extra length, and off-the-charts intangibles.
24) Oakland Raiders (via Chicago Bears): Chase Winovich, EDGE, Michigan
After going with a quarterback at four, the Raiders need to address some of their other needs and finding a pass rusher is the top priority. With the top six edge rushers all gone, Oakland goes with the highly-productive Winovich, who has a tremendous motor and tested very well at The Combine.
25) Philadelphia Eagles: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
The Eagles need to finally address corner as injuries plagued them recently, and with their known love for prospects out west, they go with Murphy, who’s more complete than Greedy Williams. Murphy is versatile enough to cover inside or outside, has electric feet, plays with an edge, and has superb ball skills. Had he run better than a 4.55, Murphy would’ve been long gone by this point.
26) Indianapolis Colts: Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State
The Colts have only just begun building their team under Frank Reich, and it’s time to add more weapons around T.Y. Hilton.
Butler is a freak athlete for his extremely-rare length, which allows him to make unbelievable contested catches and unreal mid-air adjustments. He hasn’t been too hyped by the media, yet, but the NFL is sure to have noticed.
27) Oakland Raiders (via Dallas Cowboys): Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
Oakland closes out their round one haul by adding a versatile, tough running back, that really helps complete the offense. Jacobs is a tremendous receiver out the backfield with plenty of tread left on his tires and significant upside.
28) Los Angeles Chargers: Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson
The Chargers are trying to add more pieces to go from contenders to champions, whether it be in the AFC West or beyond. To do so, they could add more beef up the middle of their defense to break down pockets when they face Brady or Patrick Mahomes. Wilkins does that and is a fine run defender, as well.
29) Kansas City Chiefs: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
The Chiefs have been known to take risks on character issues before and considering Williams’ concerns are more mild, at this pick, he’s well worth the risk. With KC trying to play aggressively on defense and nursing lots of leads with their dynamic offense, having a potential shut-down cornerback like Williams could be huge.
30) Green Bay Packers (via New Orleans Saints): N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
After going with Burns at 12, the Packers add a nice receiving weapon for Aaron Rodgers. Harry is a phenom as a runner and even returned punts for the Sun Devils. He has soft hands with a big frame to make plays for Rodgers when he scrambles around and has to throw it up for grabs.
31) Los Angeles Rams, Garrett Bradbury: OC, NC State
There isn’t a much better system fit in the entire draft than Bradbury playing for the Rams in their zone-blocking scheme. With starting center John Sullivan gone, Bradbury would be a plug and play starter who could quickly prove to be an upgrade over their former veteran center.
32) New England Patriots: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
With or without Gronk in 2019, the Patriots have to add more targets for Brady in the passing game. Fant is much more of a target than a classic in-line tight end, but he can be a devastating mismatch in the slot for New England, which is how they’ve carved up defenses for years now. In Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels’ hands, the talented Hawkeye could become one of the steals of the draft.