Believe it or not, the halfway mark of the NFL regular season is here. The college football regular season is almost over, meaning we’re getting some of their final games on tape before they officially become draft prospects. We won’t know which underclassmen will declare for another couple months but we can still have fun predicting which of them will in the meantime.
The draft order was from using the ESPN standings with the current strength of schedule as the tie-breaker for picks 1-20. Between 21-32 they were my predictions for the 2018 playoffs with strength of schedule as the tie-breaker again.
1.New York Giants
EDGE Nick Bosa, Ohio State
Yes, the Giants need a quarterback. However, with talks that Justin Herbert could return to school there might not be one worth taking for them. However, even with Herbert on the board I don’t think they take him here. The Giants should continue building the roster for their next guy by taking the best player in the draft, Nick Bosa. He is in a class of his own in this draft class making him almost impossible to pass on. If this is the case, Tua Tagovailoa, Jake Fromm or some wildcard could be stepping into a great position in 2020.
2. San Francisco 49ers
EDGE Brian Burns, Florida State
Brian Burns is one of my favorite players in this draft and is ranked in my top 10, but he is not Nick Bosa. That makes this scenario sting a bit for the Niners but they are still getting a fantastic presence off the edge. He will need to add weight to his slimmer frame and show he can move the same way, but his productions speaks for itself. Against some of the top competition he continuously gets in the backfield getting in the face of the passer. Adding him to a line with Deforest Buckner and Solomon Thomas would be scary.
3. Oakland Raiders
S Deionte Thompson, Alabama
For as much criticism as Jon Gruden has rightfully gotten since taking over, he does now own three first round picks. The first of which they take one of the clear cut top players on the board in Deionte Thompson. Watching him more over the past couple weeks, Thompson can really help change a defense. Ideally he would be playing deep where he can use his range and instincts to help create turnovers but he really could play in a bunch of different spots. Obi Melifonwu is already out and Karl Joseph is likely on his way, Thompson would fit right in.
4. Arizona Cardinals
OT Jonah Williams, Alabama
With this selection the Cardinals can’t not take someone to help Josh Rosen, even with two of the top three players still available. If they want interior defensive line help this class is deep enough to wait a round, the same cannot be said about the offensive line class. Rosen has gotten beaten up in his rookie season thanks to their putrid offensive line. Williams can step in as the day 1 left tackle and be an immediate upgrade. Many believe his future will be playing inside but the Arizona front office must know that regardless of the position he plays, he is among the top prospects and will help give Rosen the much needed protection.
5. Buffalo Bills
IDL Quinnen Williams, Alabama
Bummer for the Bills not being able to help out their own young quarterback here but they still manage to get one of the biggest risers in the class. Williams is one of the hottest names in the streets right now, deservedly so. In his first year of full action he is practically unstoppable thanks in part to his gifted athleticism, violent hand usage and unbelievable first step. He may not have the pedigree of Ed Oliver who has been on the radar for what seems like five years, but Williams is a player to know. Going into Sean McDermott’s defense he’ll be the replacement for 13-year veteran Kyle Williams.
6. Cleveland Browns
DT Ed Oliver, Houston
If you thought this defense was tough before, it would be in the makings of being one of the best in the league. Oliver’s stats might not be what you want to see from a player from the AAC but his traits are off the charts. Oliver is often compared to Aaron Donald as a prospect and while he may not live up to those crazy expectations he should still be among the best interior linemen for a long time. Lining him up next to Myles Garrett would be downright unfair.
7. New York Jets
EDGE Jachai Polite, Florida
As many needs as there are on this team, a legit presence on the edge trumps them all. With that being said, this selection comes down to two top ten prospects in Jachai Polite and Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell. Jets can’t go wrong either way but Polite shows more upside which is ultimately the reason why they go with him. After losing some weight to fit in Todd Grantham’s defense, he has dominated the competition all year long. In a two point stance his first step, bend and hip flexibility are all top notch. Polite might not be as safe as Ferrell but he will finally give the Jets the speed rusher they have desperately needed for over a decade.
8. Indianapolis Colts
CB Greedy Williams, LSU
The new regime has done a very good job of trying to rebuild the entire roster around Andrew Luck. Taking players such as Malik Hooker, Marlon Mack, Quentin Nelson and Darius Leonard, among others, have really shown dividends this year. What they are still lacking is help in the secondary. 2017 second round pick Quincy Wilson has not stepped up as expected, so Greedy takes over as the top corner on the depth chart for Indy. Williams is a long, physical corner who shows tremendous ball skills on the outside. This selection would help Hooker so much as he would not have to look over the entire back end of the defense.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars
QB Justin Herbert, Oregon
It’s a shame how a team with so much talent can perform so poorly. While there are a few people that can take blame, no one deserves more than Blake Bortles. Over the past few years it’s been easy to tell that Bortles would not live up to the expectations a third overall pick has but he has shown he didn’t even deserve to be a third round pick. Taking the top quarterback in the draft would be the wise thing to do before the window closes. Herbert may not be a great prospect but he shows a lot of promise and upside. Going to a team with so much talent would really help him ease into things.
10. Denver Broncos
LB Devin White, LSU
The Broncos are another team that could look to add a quarterback in the draft but there are no more worth considering here, causing them to look elsewhere. Instead they take the high-flying linebacker. White has had a tremendous 2018 campaign showing great instincts, tackling ability as well as being the best athlete at the position. With Brandon Marshall possibly moving on after the year they will need someone to take over in the second level and nobody fits better than Devin White.
11. Detroit Lions
EDGE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
Even though it is literally impossible, Matt Patricia should be doing backflips if Ferrell falls to them at the 11th pick. Will Ferrell be the flashiest edge rusher? Maybe not. But his combination of size and ability to both set the edge in the run game and get to the quarterback make him a complete player on the outside. Ezekiel Ansah will be a free agent again and could actually see the open market this time around. Think it’s best to have player of Ferrell’s caliber to replace him rather than going into 2019 with Romeo Okwara and Kerry Hyder as the headliner’s.
12. Oakland Raiders (*from Cowboys)
EDGE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
Maybe with this pick Jon Gruden can stop saying he needs pass rushers after stupidly trading one of the best in the league. Sweat is the fifth edge rusher off the board here but that just shows how good this draft class is at the position. He’s now at 19.5 sacks over the last two seasons, including the nine he has this season. At 6’5 240, Sweat has good size at the position showing the skill-set to be able to defend the run and get to the quarterback. This would be the second instant starter for the Raider defense.
13. Tennessee Titans
IDL Raekwon Davis, Alabama
The Titans did a good job of building up their defense via free agency and the draft last offseason bringing in Malcolm Butler, Rashaan Evans and Harold Landry. What they’re missing is help up front next to Jurrell Casey. Raekwon Davis has freakish size at 6’7 300 pounds who can take up multiple blockers at a time. Davis may not be the athlete Quinnen Williams is but he is a good athlete in his own right showing he can move well laterally when needed. A player like Davis could really help put this unit into the conversation of best up and coming defenses.
14. Atlanta Falcons
IDL Rashan Gary, Michigan
For the second mock draft in a row I have the Falcons taking the young man out of Michigan. Gary hasn’t had the season people had hoped for as he has struggled to get onto the field the past couple of weeks due to injury. The hope was that the production would finally match his potential but that was not the case. Granted, it doesn’t help his case when he faces double and triple teams for majority of the game. Hopefully he can return and show everyone why he was one of the top recruits coming out of high school to ultimately make him a top 15 pick.
15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
CB Trayvon Mullen, Clemson
After taking Jameis Winston with the top pick of the 2015 draft, they are now officially looking for their next one only four seasons later. Unfortunately for them they will have to wait and maybe rely on Fitz Magic for one more season, and we know how that goes… Instead, they patch up their secondary with Mullen. After taking MJ Stewart and Carlton Davis in last year’s draft, they might want to keep it going with taking physical corners at the line of scrimmage and that’s exactly what Mullen is.
16. Philadelphia Eagles
WR Kelvin Harmon, North Carolina State
While writing this, the Eagles just traded for Golden Tate. I do love the trade for him as he will fit perfectly into the offense but he’s on his last year of his deal and will likely walk. In comes Harmon has the chance to be a legitimate top receiver in the league. His combination of size and speed are nice but his ability to make contested catches look easy is my favorite trait. Harmon has run a variety of routes while at NC State and has a great feel for the people around him, often finding soft spots in coverage. Wentz having big bodies to throw to like him, Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert would be unreal down in the red-zone.
17. Miami Dolphins
OL Dalton Risner, Kansas State
The Dolphins are in a spot where they too could be looking for a quarterback next offseason but gut feeling is they try to stick it out with Tannehill again. They have some holes on the roster but the interior of the line could use some work. Risner could definitely stay on the outside in the NFL but he has the traits to be able to kick inside which is what the Dolphins would invision for him. Risner moves really well to be able to move out or to the second level when needed to.
18. Baltimore Ravens
EDGE Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion
They could still work on their offense but after passing on Calvin Ridley last year, they could easily pass on the position again. So instead they take the replacement for Terrell Suggs for when he inevitably retires. Ximines, while not at a well known school, has put up monstrous numbers against his competition. He has racked up 29 sacks throughout his three and a half seasons, including eight in 2018. Also showing the ability to move in space if asked to. There isn’t much behind Suggs to be confident in, Ximines can be the future on the edge.
19. Green Bay Packers
EDGE/LB Josh Allen, Kentucky
Speaking of edge rushers, the good Josh Allen has turned himself into a force after coming back for his senior season. Already at a career high 10 sacks, 14 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles and only 11 tackles short of a new career high in that category. Allen is the definition of a do it all linebacker who would be a great fit in this Pettine defense. If they want him to come off the edge, he can do that. If they want him to play in coverage, he can do that very well at his size.
20. Seattle Seahawks
TE Noah Fant, Iowa
On many boards you will find Noah Fant inside the top 12 so to get him with the 20th pick is an absolute steal. After letting Jimmy Graham walk in free agency they failed to bring in a reliable replacement. Fant is an athletic freak just like Graham and a red zone monster just like Graham as well. If there’s one thing he isn’t like Graham in is his blocking. Not that Fant is an otherworldly blocker but will be an upgrade in this department. I would like to give them some line help on either side but none have the value Fant does here.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
LB Mack Wilson, Alabama
21 picks in, this is the fifth Alabama player taken, which speaks volumes about how good this team is. With the Bengals taking Wilson, it indicates a time to move on from Vontaze Burfict. While Burfict is a fine player, he’s constantly missing games due to injury or suspension. Wilson is a reliable player who can be put right into the middle of this defense.
22. Houston Texans
OT David Edwards, Wisconsin
The Texans are hot right now winning five in a row with a relatively light schedule in front of them. While the team is looking good, the offensive line is not. Deshaun Watson is getting pressured more than any quarterback in the league and with your playoff hopes resting on him, that needs to be fixed. Edwards coming from Wisconsin should be able to take over either tackle spot from the get go.
23. Washington Redskins
CB Byron Murphy, Washington
Washington is surprisingly out in front of this NFC East division resulting in this late pick. But they couldn’t have asked for a better situation as two very good cornerbacks fell to them. After trading Kendall Fuller and with Josh Norman aging, they could use the help behind their stout defensive front. Murphy is the best defensive back in arguably the best secondary in the country. He should be able to take over the second outside spot right away.
24. Carolina Panthers
CB DeAndre Baker, Georgia
The second of the two aforementioned cornerbacks get taken here for Carolina. They already have some corners with James Bradberry and rookie Donte Jackson, but if they take Baker who has really stepped up this year and has shown to be a shutdown outside corner in the SEC, they can keep Jackson in the slot full time. It seems like they don’t value cornerbacks as much as other teams but this would be a good spot to take one.
25. Oakland Raiders (*from Bears)
WR AJ Brown, Ole Miss
With DK Metcalf down for the season with a neck injury, there’s no telling whether or not he will enter the draft. So with the third and final selection for Jon Gruden is the now top receiver from Ole Miss. With no reliable young talent at the position, the Raiders desperately need someone to fill the void and Brown can do that. He only plays in the slot, even as a bigger target, so there may be some work to be done to get him to line up outside as well as far as route running and such.
26. Pittsburgh Steelers
CB Amani Oruwariye, Penn State
Luckily for the Steelers, they found a more than capable replacement for Le’veon Bell in James Conner. That frees them up to look into building the defense and that leads them to Oruwariye. He hasn’t necessarily had the season people were hoping for to become a top-16 prospect but he still finds himself in the back end of the first. Artie Burns has proven not to be a good selection from 2015 and Joe Haden obviously is a shell of what he used to be.
27. Minnesota Vikings
IOL Chris Lindstrom, Boston College
The Vikings have one of the more well-rounded out rosters in the league making this a difficult decision. Looking at the board there isn’t a player that is head and shoulders above the rest so they can try to beef up their interior line. They could look at Wisconsin’s Tyler Biadasz possibly moving from center to guard but because Lindstrom is already a guard, he will easily step into the right guard position that has caused some trouble. Wouldn’t be shocked to see them get some help on the defensive line either.
28. Los Angeles Chargers
IDL Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame
The Chargers finally look like they’re getting through the early injuries and should only get stronger once Joey Bosa returns. Their front is already very good but to have an interior lineman to help take some looks away from Bosa and Melvin Ingram would do wonders for this defense. Tilley has shown the ability to not only take up blockers as a 3-technique but can get to the quarterback too, recording four sacks in one game.
29. Green Bay Packers (*from Saints)
WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma
After taking Josh Allen with their first pick, they bolster their offense taking Hollywood Brown. Davante Adams is a number one receiver but they are lacking the playmaker that can turn anything into a big gain and that’s what Brown is. He has all-world speed who will take the top off the defense allowing the middle of the field to open up for Adams, Graham and St. Brown or whoever the other receiver is. A haul of Jaire Alexander and Brown for Marcus Davenport is not too bad.
30. New England Patriots
WR N’Keal Harry, Arizona State
The Patriots are right back to where they belong ending the questions about if they’re done or not, for now. Yet they do acknowledge that they need some help at the receiver position as they were actively looking for upgrades at the trade deadline. Harry can step on up and become a favorite for Brady’s last years. The lanky receiver has tremendous hands, wide catching radius and elite skills in creating yards after the catch.
31. Kansas City Chiefs
CB Kris Boyd, Texas
The Chiefs were able to get a good return in the Alex Smith deal getting a young nickel corner in Kendall Fuller. That has only done so much for a defense still desperate for secondary help. Kris Boyd is a baller who can step on the outside and man up anyone that lines up across from him. Sticky coverage who will stay on the hip of the receiver, his strength at the line could use some work but his long arms do help for what he lacks in strength.
32. Los Angeles Rams
LB Devin Bush, Michigan
The undefeated Los Angeles Rams don’t have too many needs but there are a couple of spots they can look at. With Suh and the recently traded for Dante Fowler hitting free agency after the year, they could look at replacing them but with a deep draft at both spots, they could take the best linebacker available in Bush. Bush has great athleticism at the position and will likely be a WILL at the next level rather than where he’s playing now at MIKE.