THE NBA has become a 12-month sport in recent years and the NFL is fast making a push to stay relevant all year round as well. While we are meant to be in the quiet period of the off-season, the past week has been anything but slow. Kareem Hunt is a Brown, Joe Flacco is a Bronco, Demaryius Thomas was released by the Texans and Kyler Murray declared he is all in on pursuing an NFL career. All of these moves impacted how the respective teams will attack the upcoming Draft and the first-round picks below are bound to chop and change 100 times in the next few months. However, I had a stab at determining how the first 32 selections will unfold.
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Pick #1 Arizona Cardinals – Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
The projected creme of the crop in the 2019 class will most likely become an Arizona Cardinal on draft night. Bosa deserves his spot at No. 1 in the first mock and even though he sat out for a portion of the season to get his body right, he is still the best player available.
Pick #2 San Fransisco 49ers – Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
AFTER dominating for his hometown Crimson Tide in 2018, Williams shot towards to the top of draft boards throughout the country. His defensive presence helped Alabama reach the national title game in back-to-back seasons and a 49ers team that was 26th last year in loss of yardage through sacks will happily plug Williams into their front four.
Pick #3 New York Jets – Josh Allen, DE/OLB, Kentucky
THERE are a handful of dominant edge-rushers available in this class and the Jets seem destined to snag one inside the top-3. There’s every chance they opt to trade back and still get someone who can chase the quarterback, but if they hold their spot they’ll pounce on Allen to spearhead their D-line.
Pick #4 Oakland Raiders – Rashan Gary, DE/DT, Michigan
RASHAN Gary didn’t have a junior year to remember and in fact, his collegiate career as a whole didn’t pan out the way he would have liked. However, Gary is an athletic freak and with Khalil Mack/Bruce Irvin no longer in town, he could be a big building block for the Oakland Raiders.
Image from mgoblue.com
Pick #5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
TAMPA’S offensive line is in need of a serious upgrade so it wouldn’t shock me to see Jawaan Taylor or Jonah Williams come off the board here. That being said, with the Bucs playing in an NFC South division that boasts the likes of Julio Jones and Michael Thomas, a corner like Greedy Williams is just as important.
Pick #6 New York Giants – Dwyane Haskins, QB, Ohio State
THIS pick could go a ton of different ways, with a potential trade up to secure a QB for the future. Regardless, of their positioning, it’s highly likely that New York uses this pick to take a signal-caller to take over the reins from Eli Manning as early as 2019. Dwyane Haskins looms at the best quarterback prospect in this class.
Pick #7 Jacksonville Jaguars – Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
DESPITE being linked to Nick Foles in recent times, there are no guarantees the Jags will acquire the former Super Bowl MVP. Either way, they can’t muddle their way through another season of Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler, which will force them to overdraft a quarterback, perhaps Drew Lock.
Pick #8 Detroit Lions – Devin White, ILB, LSU
IN an effort to bolster the athleticism at linebacker, Devin White looks to be an awesome pick here for the Lions. Should they choose to take White over a pass-rusher, then the big-time playmaker would be a nice toy for Matt Patricia to add to his defense strengthening their ability to protect the middle of the field.
Image from tigerrag.com
Pick #9 Buffalo Bills – Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
KYLE Williams’ retirement presents a notable absence on Buffalo’s defensive line and they should be able to address that need with multiple dominant rushers inside the top-10. Ed Oliver is a fine candidate for the Bills’ first pick, who has ‘best player in the draft’ upside.
Pick #10 Denver Broncos – Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
AFTER trading for Joe Flacco, drafting a young QB seems like an unlikely scenario for Denver at No. 10. Addressing their offensive line is arguably the next best option, with Denver somewhat spoilt for choice at this spot. Adding the monstrous Jawaan Taylor to their line should help open up more gaps for Phillip Lindsay in year two.
Pick #11 Cincinnati Bengals – Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
CINCINNATI would be stoked to find Jonah Williams still on the board at the 11th pick. Arguably the best O-lineman in this class, the Bama product would slot nicely into a Bengals unit that has struggled to get things right in the past.
Pick #12 Green Bay Packers – Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
ADDING some punch to their edge game is high up on Clemson’s wishlist this draft period, especially if they lose Clay Matthews. Enter national champion rusher Clelin Ferrell who chalked up 11.5 sacks (sixth most in the nation) for the Tigers this season and forced three fumbles, including a crucial one early in the semi-final against Notre Dame.
Pick #13 Miami Dolphins – Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
I’M not ready to crown Kyler Murray as a future NFL star, but you don’t win a Heisman trophy by accident. Checking in at just 5′ 10″ and 195 pounds (88kgs), the small Oklahoma QB seems destined to be a first-rounder and Miami are ready to start anew, rumoured to be parting ways with Ryan Tannehill after seven seasons.
Pick #14 Atlanta Falcons – Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State
AFTER leading the league in sacks during the 2016 season Vic Beasley Jr has failed to fire since, recording five sacks during each the last two seasons. Whether Atlanta plans to move on from Beasley or not, if former Mississippi State edge rusher Montez Sweat is up for grabs, they’ll likely take him to bolster their D-line.
Pick #15 Washington Redskins – Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
WASHINGTON have their work cut out for them this off-season with a bunch of holes throughout their roster. As Alex Smith recovers from a broken leg, they can’t expect Colt McCoy to save the day, so despite their lack of production in other areas, drafting a young play-caller seems like a wise move. If Haskins, Lock and Murray are off the board Daniel Jones is the next man up.
Pick #16 Carolina Panthers – Jachai Polite, DE, Florida
EDGE rusher and tackle are two of the biggest needs for the Panthers and they may have to move up to snag the exact guy they have their eyes on. That being said, with Julius Peppers already retiring and Mario Addison not getting any younger, Carolina may be happy to just take the best edge prospect left on the board.
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Pick #17 Cleveland Browns – Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
WHILE Baker Mayfield and the offense made headlines for their successes, the Browns’ defense regressed last year. While a sliding Devin White would be a steal for their linebacker corps, adding a national champ to a defensive line that already boasts Myles Garrett is far from a consolation prize.
Pick #18 Minnesota Vikings – Cody Ford, OG, Oklahoma
AT No. 18, there will be a few offensive line pieces that the Vikings will likely be able to choose from. If they want to return to the postseason it’s an area that they desperately need help in and plugging Oklahoma guard Cody Ford in might help stop the game of musical chairs.
Pick #19 Tennessee Titans – Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
BACK-to-back Sooners go off the board with the Titans snagging wideout Marquise Brown. N’Keal Harry and Ole Miss pair A.J. Brown/D.K. Metcalf are tempting and are taller receivers than the 5′ 10″ Brown. However, with the Titans expecting to lineup 6′ 3″ Corey Davis on one side, a speedy, big-time playmaker like Brown will only help Mariota.
Pick #20 Pittsburgh Steelers – Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
IF Antonio Brown really does leave, then the Steelers have Smith-Schuster and later picks to add another receiver. Instead, at No. 20 they should target someone to help on the other side of the ball. The combination of Artie Burns and Joe Haden aren’t going to help Pittsburgh return to the postseason, enter Byron Murphy.
Pick #21 Seattle Seahawks – Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
WITH Earl Thomas seemingly halfway out the door, there’s a chance for Seattle to fill the void quickly by taking Bama safety Deionte Thompson. Taking away his national title game performance, Thompson had a stellar year for the Crimson Tide and the hard-hitting defender shapes as a ready-made replacement.
Pick #22 Baltimore Ravens – Brian Burns, DE, Florida State
DESPITE his ‘slight’ build, Brian Burns racked up 23 sacks during his time as a Seminole. While some worry if he has enough size to play the position, Burns is far more than a speed rusher, with a frame that he can easily add muscle/bulk too. Come Draft night it’s unlikely that he’ll slide to No. 22 given his potentially low floor.
Pick #23 Houston Texans – Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
THIS pick will be all about the O-line for Houston. A Texans team that allowed a league-high 62.0 sacks last season MUST shore up this area if they want to return to the playoffs, so pick 23 will likely be used to take the best of the bunch who is available. In a perfect world, Greg Little will still be on the board, helping to ease their issues.
Pick #24 Oakland Raiders (via Chicago) – Mack Wilson, ILB, Alabama
OAKLAND missed out on drafting Roquan Smith a year ago, so how sweet would it be if they could use the Bears’ pick to land a linebacker? The Raiders aren’t fans of drafting LB’s high, but it’s a position of need for Jon Gruden’s men and after landing Rashan Gary at No. 4 they could have two crucial pillars for their defense.
Pick #25 Philadelphia Eagles – DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia
CORNERBACK is a position of need for the Eagles and if DeAndre Baker was still on the board at their pick they wouldn’t think twice. The Georgia product had a stellar 2017 season and still put up decent numbers in his senior year just gone. He’ll slot in nicely to the gap Philadelphia has a CB.
Pick #26 Indianapolis Colts – N’Keal Harry, WR, Ole Miss
WHAT do you give reigning Comeback Player of the Year Andrew Luck to ensure success continues at the Colts? Another versatile offensive weapon of course. Slotting Harry into a line-up that includes T.Y. Hilton and touchdown machine Eric Ebron gives Indianapolis a formidable offense.
Pick #27 Oakland Raiders (via Dallas) – Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
IF I’m running Oakland and I can address my defensive edge, linebacker issues with my first two picks (maybe even adding a receiver) then I’m taking a chance on Simmons at No. 27. Spoiler alert the Raiders are a long way from being a relevant team, so drafting a player with top-5 upside this late – despite his recent ACL tear – could prove to be a masterstroke once he gets his body right. It’s worth the punt this late anyway.
Pick #28 Los Angeles Chargers – Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
JOEY Bosa, Melvin Ingram AND Dexter Lawrence? Good luck to all the opposing quarterbacks out there who may have to combat all three of these dominant wrecking balls should the Chargers pull the trigger on Lawrence. Linebacker is tempting, but if they can add a force at defensive tackle, watch out.
Image from fansided.com
Pick #29 Kansas City Chiefs – Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State
KC would love for one of the top cornerbacks to slide to No. 29, but in the first SBF mock they have no such luck. They don’t have too many urgent cracks they need to fill across the board, so they can afford to go with a best (defensive) player available approach. Devin Bush is tempting, but I like the versatility Dre’Mont Jones offers.
Pick #30 Green Bay Packers (via New Orleans) – Jaylen Ferguson, DE, Lousiana Tech
IF somehow, someway Jaylen Ferguson slid all the way down to No. 30 it would be a massive get for the Packers. It’s not impossible to think the Louisiana Tech would still be on the board here and he can help a Green Bay team that needs better production from their edge rushers starting day one.
Pick #31 Los Angeles Rams – Devin Bush, OLB, Michigan
A sideline-to-sideline threat at linebacker would be a good way for the Rams to utilise their first-round selection. They, similarly to the Chiefs can afford to target almost any defensive position that Aaron Donald doesn’t play and with their salary cap strain, the more impact a cheap player can have the better.
Pick #32 New England Patriots – Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
I can be talked into believing that Noah Fant isn’t the best tight end on his own collegiate team, but he’s probably the most athletic. Given Rob Gronkowski’s health and age, even if he does decide to come back for another season, the Patriots would be wise to invest some draft capital into his long-term replacement.
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