There are only four games left for each team, and it is now bowl season in college. The season flew by but that only means draft season is coming in hot and I’m here to get you all ready.
Over the past couple weeks, more and more draft eligible prospects have been declaring for the draft. However, one of the big names we are still not sure about is Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert. With all signs pointing to him returning, he will be the big name off of this list.
The draft order was from using the ESPN standings with the current strength of schedule as the tie-breaker (not head-to-head) for picks 1-20. Between 21-32 were my predictions for the 2018 playoffs with strength of schedule as the tie-breaker again.
1. San Francisco 49ers
EDGE Nick Bosa, Ohio State
It doesn’t get any easier than this and with the 49ers on an easy path for this first selection, be ready to see this name attached to them until draft day. Even with missing majority of the season with an abdominal injury, which has no long term concern, he is easily the best prospect there is and it comes at a position of need for San Fran. They have built that defensive front for quite a while now but it still misses that key piece off the edge. With Bosa filling that spot alongside former first rounders Deforest Buckner, Solomon Thomas and Arik Armstead it becomes a unit offensive linemen will struggle with.
2. Oakland Raiders
IDL Quinnen Williams, Alabama
If Jon Gruden was able to get Nick Bosa after making that Khalil Mack trade it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. But with him off the board for their pick, it’s just the kicker to a bad trade. With that being said, Quinnen Williams is not a bad consolation prize. He is a force on the interior using he strength, athleticism and outstanding technique to create disruption on almost any given play. He will really showcase his skills on the biggest stages in the college football playoffs. After getting a steal in Maurice Hurst in last year’s draft, putting these two together, in addition to PJ Hall, creates a foundation for Jon Gruden’s defense.
3. New York Jets
EDGE Josh Allen, Kentucky
As a long time, suffering Jets fan, I did not take this fake selection lightly. Having gone over their many needs on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball, this pick could have been many different players.
With Jonah Williams they get their potential left tackle of the future to protect their most important investment. With their top cornerback they can start a real New Jack City in the secondary. On the edge, they get what they have needed since John Abraham left over a decade ago. Ideally, it would be for the best to trade back a few spots but since they have to stay in this spot, they go with Josh Allen here. What he provides on the defense is unlike anything the others at this position can. He grew into one of the best pass rushers in the country in a years time taking down the quarterback 14 times, while also having the ability to play in space. Allen should only continue to improve as a rusher while he perfects his craft as a pro. If he does participate in the Senior Bowl and puts on a show, it would be a crazy rise that leads to him potentially being the third pick in the draft.
4. Arizona Cardinals
OT Jonah Williams, Alabama
If we thought the Jets had a bad offensive line, the Cardinals are in an even worse spot. So after falling two spots after a win on Sunday they get to patch it up a little bit with Jonah Williams. He can step right in and lock down the blindside for Josh Rosen. There seems to be a legitimate concern in league circles about his size to play tackle but it shouldn’t stop the Cardinals. He is the best lineman in the draft who is technically savvy and has plus athleticism to boot at the tackle position. Worst case he needs to be moved inside where he could still make a big difference facing Aaron Donald twice a year.
5. New York Giants
EDGE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
This very easily could have been a quarterback but they are getting an edge rusher here instead. This is a bit different from the last draft in that there were good options available to them when they selected. This time around, any of these quarterbacks would be a reach and not necessarily ready to take over this team. Continue to build the team and make sure you get the guy you want in 2020. Ferrell has a very high floor and should be an impact player for a long time. The feeling is that they will plan to move on from Olivier Vernon after the season leaving them with not much talent on the edge. They were interested in Bradley Chubb last year so one could only assume they would be interested in these edge rushers as well.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars
QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
To be clear, Dwayne Haskins should go back to school for another season but with this draft class not being all that great at the position, it’s tough to fault him if he does declare. Rather than being in a class with Fromm, Tagovailoa and Herbert in 2020, he becomes the face of the 2019 class.
Haskins declares after an amazing season, getting an invite to New York for the Heisman ceremony. However, there are parts of his game that could use work, such as dealing with pressure. The first time seeing this was against Penn State who really rattled Haskins, seemingly to only get off passes immediately after hiking the ball. But when he does have a clean pocket he has great mechanics with often pinpoint accuracy to all parts of the field. Haskins isn’t ready to start right away so if they could get a veteran in place to lead the way for the time being, it may be best for his future.
7. Detroit Lions
EDGE Jachai Polite, Florida
Lions have a big need a pass rusher with so many names on the board. Going with Jachai Polite is the best option for them. Being a Florida Gators fan has allowed me to watch Polite on practically a weekly basis. His first step off the line is one of the best in the draft and as great as his athleticism is off the edge, he does have some power to his game. There have been multiple occasions where he just pushes the lineman yards back to make a play. His play against the run isn’t quite on par but that’s not to say he is a liability. There will need to be improvements there but Polite will be able to make an instant impact as a pass rusher no matter where he goes.
8. Atlanta Falcons
IDL Ed Oliver, Houston
Ed Oliver falling this far is a result of two quarterbacks going in the top six, by no means is this because of the whole jacket fiasco. There should be no concerns about Oliver when it comes to his off field questions. Of this somehow happens, this is a dream scenario for Dan Quinn and this defense. Atlanta already have one of the better interior linemen in Grady Jarrett, so adding an athletic freak next to him like Oliver wouldn’t be fair to the rest of the league. His production hasn’t been what we would have liked to see against lesser competition but it wasn’t bad to the point where you should overlook his traits because they are so off the charts it shouldn’t be too big of a deal.
9. Buffalo Bills
CB Greedy Williams, LSU
They could have filled a void at wide receiver here but considering the depth of the receiver class and Greedy’s value, they cannot pass on his talent. Teaming him up with former first rounder and LSU alum, Tre White, would make this one of the best young secondaries in the sport. Greedy is a long corner with tremendous ball skills. In his sophomore year he picked off seven passes and because of his elite status opposing teams didn’t really look his way in 2018, outside of the Alabama game. Even so, he was still able to get two interceptions and nine passes defensed.
10. Green Bay Packers
EDGE Brian Burns, Florida State
Green Bay is not used to being in the top ten but with an all around disappointing season here they are. They take advantage of this opportunity by taking Burns who could step right in as their top edge talent. Clay Matthews just isn’t the guy he once was, Nick Perry is just a guy with a lot of money and Kyler Fackrell is closer to a Calvin Pace 10 sack season than a legitimate 10 sack season with pro bowl considerations. Whether it’s Pettine or McCarthy’s replacement running the defense, it would be beneficial to bring in a player like Burns whose ceiling is astronomical as a pass rusher.
11. Cleveland Browns
CB Byron Murphy, Washington
The second head coaching vacancy is in Cleveland, making it harder to know what to look for. But one thing we do know is that John Dorsey likes his scrappy, sticky corners in coverage. If they want another Denzel Ward, this is the closest you’ll get in this draft. Albeit, Murphy doesn’t have the same type of speed as Ward but he is a nuisance in coverage for the receiver. He always knows his surroundings with an amazing click-and-close on the ball. If Cleveland decides to keep Gregg Williams around as the defensive coordinator, he would have the ability to do almost anything he wants with his defense knowing he could rely on Ward and Murphy in coverage.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
FS Deionte Thompson, Alabama
No matter where the Buccaneers are drafting, you will see them selecting a defensive back in almost every single mock draft until their pick is announced. They get a lot of grief for not selecting Derwin James when they had the chance and the feeling here should be they won’t make that mistake again. Thompson shouldn’t fall this far yet here he is. His range is almost Earl Thomas like, which is scary to think about. His instincts in the back allow him to make plays all over the field. Having a player like Thompson will help cover up some of the deficiencies in the secondary.
13. Cincinnati Bengals
LB Devin White, LSU
A selection that has been made by me before but it makes so much sense. White is the best linebacker in the class and they have to get some more speed on that defense. With Burfict in his contract year, it’s time to move on and bring in someone that excels in ways Burfict can’t. White’s athleticism is through the roof, being compared to Roquan Smith. The former running back has played this new position at a high level and is getting better week after week. His ability to move around traffic at a high speed will excite many teams, the Bengals just need to pounce on it.
14. Miami Dolphins
QB Will Grier, West Virginia
The second quarterback off the board will also go down to Florida. Ryan Tannehill just isn’t the answer. At 30 years old he’s just an average quarterback who won’t be able to carry the Dolphins to where they ultimately want to get to.
Will Grier comes in as an experienced passer who had a career season for the Mountaineers in 2018. Grier is an accurate passer who shows great touch and anticipation to all levels. What hurts him is throwing off platforms too often and sometimes taking too long to go through reads. In the West Virginia offense he didn’t always have to dissect a defense for too long, getting the ball out quick. Gase has struggled at times as a head coach but he is still a bright offensive mind that will know how to work with Grier to develop him, if given the chance of course.
15. Indianapolis Colts
WR Kelvin Harmon, NC State
The Colts are in the midst of a surprising 2018 season. With Andrew Luck playing how he did pre-injury and the young players stepping up sooner than expected, the Colts will likely be selecting outside of the top-10. General manager Chris Ballard has worked wonders since taking over this team prior to the 2017 draft and Frank Reich looks to be the right hire after being spurned by Josh McDaniels.
So to keep this train moving the get a receiver to line up opposite of TY Hilton and a reliable target for Luck. Harmon is the best receiver in the class and would be able to keep some attention away from Hilton. He is a big receiver who is amazing in contention, using his frame to box out defenders for the what looks like an easy pitch-and-catch.
16. Carolina Panthers
TE Noah Fant, Iowa
The spiraling Panthers are now without their starting tight end, Greg Olsen. With this latest injury, it’s hard to imagine Olsen being able to play much longer due to constantly being held out of game action. Fant steps in and fits the athleticism all around this offense. Fant could easily become Cam’s best friend seeing that he can do it all at the position. Sure, he may not be on the level of OJ Howard in terms of blocking but as a receiving threat, there might not be one better from the last several years. No matter where you want to line him up, Fant can be a mismatch as he is too fast for linebackers and too big and physical for safeties. (Except for Jamal Adams of course).
17. Philadelphia Eagles
CB DeAndre Baker, Georgia
For the past few weeks, the Eagles have had wide receivers practicing at the cornerback position. That’s how bad it has gotten for the reigning Super Bowl champs. Granted, it’s not because of poor play by every corner, but with so many injuries at the position, potential loss of some to free agency and actual poor play by others, this is their biggest need. Baker has had a very good 2018 season, being nominated for the Jim Thorpe award (top defensive back in the nation). He has ball skills bringing in seven interceptions over the last three years, but it’s his physicality with receivers that stands out. With his experience he could step on the field early for this defense.
18. Washington Redskins
C Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin
It’s tough to see what Washington is going through at the quarterback position. Losing their top two guys and relegating to Mark Sanchez obviously isn’t ideal for them but rather than getting the future replacement for whoever is starting for them, get someone to help protect them. They lost Spencer Long to the Jets in the offseason and while he wasn’t particularly amazing for them (or the Jets for that matter), they still need someone to take that spot. Biadasz is the best interior lineman in the class and should fill in nicely next to a healthy Brandon Scherff and Trent Williams.
19. Tennessee Titans
IDL Raekwon Davis, Alabama
Another selection that has been made for this team before but it’s good value at a position of need, so why stray away from it? They could look at more help on the offensive side of the ball or maybe more edge help but Davis playing alongside Jurrell Casey and growing in this defense with players like Harold Landry, Rashaan Evans and Adoree Jackson could potentially pay huge dividends in the next couple of years for Mike Vrabel. By the looks of it, they want more athletic players than Davis on the defensive side but in this particular instance, they should just go with the best player.
20. Denver Broncos
CB Trayvon Mullen, Clemson
This would be a prime position to take a quarterback but if I’m John Elway, someone who has struggled with quarterback selections, I’m staying away until there is a more concrete prospect available to me. Case Keenum hasn’t been the 2017 version of himself he also hasn’t been pre-2017. Build the team around him for the time being and that defense and running game will make them playoff contenders again. The cornerback situation gets dicey with Bradley Roby and Chris Harris becoming free agents each of the next two years, respectively. Mullen comes in being the physical type who isn’t afraid of contact. Fits more of the mold Talib was for them hopefully getting back to the No Fly Zone mantra.
21. Minnesota Vikings
OL Dalton Risner, Kansas State
Their situation is similar to the Jaguars to an extent. Relatively disappointing season yet not having too many needs on the roster. The one positional group that it keeps coming back to in these mock drafts is the offensive line. Risner has the flexibility to play wherever you need him to. If right tackle needs to be replaced, he’s your guy. Interior line needs a change, call up Risner. He should be at worst a solid contributor no matter where he is every Sunday.
22. Baltimore Ravens
WR DK Metcalf, Ole Miss
The Ravens decided to pass on Calvin Ridley last year for an aging tight end who might be behind another rookie on the depth chart. That’s not the greatest look, so now they make up for it in taking DK Metcalf. This could be a massive reach if the medicals on him aren’t very clear, but on from a pure talent perspective, he could be the best receiver in the class. He is better than anything they currently have on the roster and their best one is a free agent in March. Metcalf has a big frame and used it very well. His separation skills are probably the best in the draft and has enough deep speed to get on top of the defense. If everything comes back clear, Metcalf should be the pick here.
23. Seattle Seahawks
TE Irv Smith Jr., Alabama
Seahawks are surprisingly having a very good season despite losing all of the legion of boom and some other players. Russell Wilson is having another great season despite not having the greatest offensive line or a legitimate tight end threat. We can fill one of those spots here with Irv Smith. Let’s kill the notion that he is the next OJ Howard because he isn’t. He isn’t the blocker OJ was, he doesn’t have the size of Howard either, but what he does have is exceptional speed at the position. Being utilized a little more with Tua at quarterback should help his stock, but it’s his athleticism at the position that can really help Wilson. He won’t “Moss” defensive backs like Jace Sternberger or Kaden Smith but he doesn’t need to in order to make an impact.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
CB Bryce Hall, Virginia
This was not an easy decision, seeing that the defense could really use a linebacker and a defensive back. After going back and forth, Bryce Hall is the pick for them. The converted wide receiver has had a great season showing he could develop into an even better cornerback as he gets more experience and coaching. His ball skills translate from being a former receiver and recognizes routes very well. One area that was better than I thought was his tackling. He wasn’t afraid to get physical and take a hit, leading him to be utilized as a blitzed quite often as well. He’d fit the Pittsburgh mold very well.
25. Oakland Raiders (*from Cowboys)
EDGE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
The two trades Gruden made earlier this year didn’t really pay off by the looks of it. Amari Cooper has been a different receiver since the move, Khalil Mack has transformed Chicago into one of the best defenses in the league, and both first round picks they received for 2019 are in the mid-20s at the moment. Not ideal for Oakland but they get some much needed help on the edge with Montez Sweat falling to their second pick. He is coming off a great career with Mississippi State, recording 22 sacks over the last two seasons.
26. Oakland Raiders (*from Bears)
WR N’Keal Harry, Arizona State
Last but not least the get their replacement for Amari Cooper. Harry is already declared and has said he won’t participate in Arizona State’s bowl game to reduce the risk of injury. So we’ve seen the last of him on the playing field but what he’s left us with should be good enough to sneak into the first round. The route tree will need to be extended and it would be nice to see more separation in the beginning of his routes but his ability to create yards after the catch is off the charts. That alone will make him a target for many teams.
27. New England Patriots
LB Devin Bush, Michigan
With the surprising news that Mack Wilson is planning to return to Alabama for his senior year, there is one less linebacker on the market. So with him gone, they have to turn somewhere else and it just so happens to be the next best linebacker in the draft. Devin Bush really improves a linebacker core here that is desperate for it. A fantastic athlete that will probably get pushed down boards due to being under six feet tall. Because of that he may struggle initially with shedding blocks at the next level but his IQ and athleticism will make a player like Bush is coveted around the league.
28. Kansas City Chiefs
CB Amani Oruwariye, Penn State
Surrounding the stunning Kareem Hunt video, you may think this is a good time for the first running back to come off the board. That won’t be the case here for a few reasons, but the top reason is that the secondary still needs a lot of help. Even with Kendall Fuller joining the team this season, it’s been a struggle to stop opposing passing offenses and what could ultimately be their downfall in the playoffs. Oruwariye is a fifth year senior, with over 30 games under his belt but only starting for the first time this year. He has great size and strength to battle against physical opponents but also has good enough feet to follow the quicker receivers if needed. Place Fuller in the slot with Oruwariye on the outside and they have something going in the secondary.
29. Los Angeles Chargers
IDL Rashan Gary, Michigan
The Chargers are a very talented team but the could still use help up front with Bosa and Ingram. Gary was playing on the edge for Michigan but the thought is that he will move inside in the NFL where he could really take advantage of his incredible athletic ability for a player at his size. He should be able to take some pressure off the two outside guys up the middle allowing them to take shorter paths to the quarterback. One of the main questions with Gary has been his production, only racking up 9.5 sacks over his three years. Part of that seems that he wasn’t properly utilized while at Michigan so the best bet would be if he can move to the 3-technique more often.
30. Los Angeles Rams
EDGE Chase Winovich, Michigan
Yes, the Rams have the best record in the league but they do not own the last selection in this mock draft. Instead, they lose in the hypothetical conference championship. They have a few ways to go, but ultimately select the man playing with his hair on fire out of Michigan. When watching tape on Maurice Hurst last season I remember seeing this guy with long blonde hair wondering who he was and why he wasn’t getting talked about. One year later, he is a fringe first round player. He isn’t the most athletically gifted player off the edge, but what he does have is a high understanding of the game, great technique and the sheer will to succeed, always playing like his hair is on fire.
31. Houston Texans
OT David Edwards, Wisconsin
The Texans are on a run with winning nine straight games after starting 0-3 and that run could honestly lead them all the way to the Super Bowl. But one run that needs to stop is the running Deshaun Watson is doing from defenders. He is constantly being chased down by defenders easily getting past his front. They have to take the best offensive lineman on their board, it doesn’t matter who else is on the board. The need is so big, they cannot ignore it. If that’s what they end up doing, this happens to be David Edwards. They could look at someone like Yodny Cajuste from West Virginia as well but the technique that Edwards brings along with him from Wisconsin is a big plus. He’s a good athlete being a former tight end, but has great functional strength to his game as well.
32. Green Bay Packers (*from Saints)
WR Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
Wanting to go wide receiver here there were a couple different players to choose from. With Marquise Brown getting injured and AJ Brown being mocked here before, I decided to go with Deebo Samuel. After writing about him last week for the NFL Draft Cheat Sheet, I dove into some more tape on him and he is a player that should make an impact early in the NFL. He has a resemblance to Randall Cobb, who just so happens to be a free agent after this season. The next offensive coordinator should be able to have fun with him as he could line up inside or out and be used in a multitude of ways. His route running and playmaking ability after the catch would allow him to get on Aaron Rodgers’ good side right away. And if for some reason he doesn’t see the field right away on offense, he will immediately be the best return specialist on the team.