Our third mock draft has some changes — in fact, some big ones.
The idea of Duke quarterback Daniel Jones going prior to Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins would have felt preposterous not long ago. But we have to keep in mind that pairing up quarterbacks and teams is not strictly a talent-first operation. Think about them as dance partners, and teams have a certain type they’re looking for.
So stave your outrage when you see how high Jones goes here … and how far Haskins drops. And that’s not the only outrage-worthy development: Zero running backs in Round 1! We had a few teams we liked pairing with Alabama’s Joshua Jacobs but ultimately couldn’t pull the trigger.
An immensely handy tool throughout the process was Yahoo Sports’ Terez Paylor’s AFC team needs piece, with his NFC team needs story set to drop next week.
1. Arizona Cardinals — Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray
We’re not sure much has changed. If you’re going to make Kliff Kingsbury your coach, hardly a safe choice immediately after firing a one-year head coach, you might as well get him the QB to fit his system. Yet this is the type of move that requires ownership approval, one might safely assume. So if the Bidwills weren’t in on this wacky idea, Murray likely wouldn’t have been in town recently for a visit.
But! A bit of a teaser: What would happen if they passed on taking him? Chaos ensues? That will be the subject of a story we’re working on for Friday. Stay tuned.
2. San Francisco 49ers — Ohio State EDGE Nick Bosa
So Bosa said some things that could make the locals upset. We’ll see if that has any tangible effect on his status with the 49ers. They reportedly loved him before. On top of that, they’ve invested a lot up front in recent years. They can’t afford to pass on this good a talent here, and edge rush remains a concern.
3. New York Jets — Kentucky EDGE Josh Allen
When Allen was coming out of high school in Montclair, New Jersey — about 10 miles from MetLife Stadium as the crow flies — his dream school for football was Rutgers. When Allen was in high school, the Scarlet Knights were making bowl games. They weren’t interested in his services at the time. So Kentucky swooped in and nabbed the kid. Turned out pretty well for them and for Allen. For Rutgers? Not so much. They are coming off a 1-11 season.
The Jets won’t make the mistake Rutgers did passing on him. The outside pass-rush need is too great, although trading down appears to be general manager Mike Maccagnan’s first choice and we honestly would take Quinnen Williams here. But Allen would be an excellent option nonetheless.
4. Oakland Raiders — Alabama DT Quinnen Williams
The Raiders remain a mystery shrouded in a conundrum. One of the few positions they’re in decent shape is defensive tackle, where they have depth and young talent. But passing on Williams here might be too absurd for even the Raiders to pull off.
If they can’t maneuver elsewhere on the board via this pick, they’ll stick with Williams and we’ll hear afterward that it was Mike Mayock pounding the table for him and — gasp! — Jon Gruden giving his new GM the deciding vote.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — LSU LB Devin White
If a team wants to get ahead of the Giants to get a quarterback, this might be the landing spot. The Bucs traded down last year and twice passed on Derwin James, which feels like the kind of mistake that might haunt a franchise for years. But we could see them move down again if the right offer comes in.
Short of that, one of the worst-kept secrets in this draft cycle has been the connection of the Bucs to White. He fills a need for sure, but this might be a bit too rich at this spot.
6. New York Giants — Michigan EDGE Rashan Gary
Let me preface this by saying I almost mocked them a QB here — and it was not Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins. If you can make it all the way to my No. 17 overall pick explanation, I’ll have more on this there.
Like Allen, Gary is a New Jersey kid who would be coming home in this scenario. Now, that’s no reason why the Giants should draft him, of course, and there’s a question about where best he might fit in James Bettcher’s defense. But there would be enough of a match here to where Gary can be a pressure/energy player up front in a few different spots.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars — Florida OT Jawaan Taylor
Another commonly mocked pairing, and you can see why. The Jaguars couldn’t pass block a year ago, so Taylor would help immensely, even though Washington State’s Andre Dillard might be a touch better in that capacity now. Taylor has the higher ceiling, though, so the Jaguars take another step in remaking their offensive DNA. They once were built to be a power-run team, but that has changed with the offseason acquisitions of QB Nick Foles and pass-friendly coordinator John DeFilippo.
8. Detroit Lions — Iowa TE T.J. Hockenson
Yet another trade-down possibility, the Lions could also stay here and get a very good defensive tone setter, which is still a need after signing Trey Flowers. But I just can’t help but think that Hockenson fits that Matt Patricia/Bob Quinn mold of what they want in a player.
Hockenson is nothing like Eric Ebron as a player, but that’s where fans’ brains are going to go if this pick happens. Hey, I can’t help that.
The Lions could get help for their run game and passing game with Hockenson, and it’s a big position of need. I wouldn’t rule it out.
9. Buffalo Bills — Houston DL Ed Oliver
I was this close to giving them Washington State OT Andre Dillard, but after signing six offensive linemen this offseason it felt like overkill. Instead, we’ll give them a traits-based difference maker in Oliver, who fills a need on a defense that quietly could be one of the five or six best in the NFL before long.
10. Denver Broncos — Missouri QB Drew Lock
We know that John Elway has spent ample time looking at quarterbacks this offseason, even after landing Joe Flacco, and Lock has been one of the players most connected to Denver. I considered other positions of need to help new head coach Vic Fangio reconstruct this defense, but ultimately I leaned on what Paylor wrote on their situation: “finding someone who can spend a year learning under Flacco and take the reins in 2020 should be of the utmost priority.”
Agreed. I am not, ahem, locked in on this one completely, but passing on a QB here likely means Elway is going to have to wait at least a round or two to get another one.
11. Cincinnati Bengals — Mississippi State EDGE Montez Sweat
They’re looking hard at edge players, which is why I am giving them Sweat and not a QB. Yes, in our previous mock draft we have them selecting Dwayne Haskins, and that would make a lot of sense given that Andy Dalton might be headed into his final year with the team. But I just don’t know if that’s the direction they ultimately go, and beefing up a defense that completely fell apart might be the front office’s main thrust up high in the draft.
12. Green Bay Packers — Michigan LB Devin Bush
Bush is a complete package as a linebacker — an undersized one, sure, but a playmaker the likes of which the Packers have not had in a while. Adding an athletic cover player and a seek-and-destroy hitter would be a smart move, even if they need to give Aaron Rodgers more help. Fortunately, with two more picks coming up in the next 32 selections, they don’t need to reach for an offensive fit here.
13. Miami Dolphins — Washington State OT Andre Dillard
They’ve been doing a lot of work on edge rushers, so I can’t rule that spot out. But Dillard would be able to step in as a right tackle right away and give the offense a nice piece at a major position of need. He’s a reliable and highly athletic pass blocker who would be ready to step in Day 1.
They won’t go quarterback here, and I’ve felt that way for a while. It’s less about tanking and more about maybe not being in love with any one of them this high in the draft.
That said, the Dolphins have strong connections with Ohio State (do yourself a favor and read Pete Thamel’s incredible 10-part draft series last year on the Miami scouting department), having drafted Buckeyes each of the past two years and with former Dolphins WR Brian Hartline on the Ohio State coaching staff.
If Miami, which currently has Ryan Fitzpatrick as its starting quarterback, passes on Haskins here it might lend credence to the idea that the media grades on him were more ambitious than the ones some NFL teams are placing on him.
14. Atlanta Falcons — Clemson DT Christian Wilkins
If the Falcons can’t get Ed Oliver, this is a good consolation prize. Wilkins would be a very safe selection who could come in and start and give them a nice piece up front where they’re painfully thin, especially with Grady Jarrett currently unsigned. Wilkins also passes the character test with flying colors, something the Falcons’ front office puts a lot of stock into. An offensive lineman also could be on the menu here.
15. Washington Redskins — Ole Miss WR D.K. Metcalf
Jay Gruden said they need instant-impact players, and Metcalf could be a major weapon if healthy. The Redskins have two veteran tight ends, they spent money last year on a lean speedball in Paul Richardson and they also seem to like the idea of Trey Quinn in the slot. There’s also Josh Doctson in the mix, but who knows about him heading into the final year of his deal. Metcalf has his warts, but he could be the explosive, jump-ball weapon that Jay Gruden needs.
I am also working under the assumption that the Redskins remain the favorites to land Cardinals QB Josh Rosen, which is why I have them bypassing Haskins here.
16. Carolina Panthers — Florida State DE Brian Burns
Burns is an electric edge rusher who needs to bulk but should be able to heat up the pass rush immediately. With the Julius Peppers era over, the Panthers must find solutions to getting to quarterbacks, and this is what Burns does best. GM Marty Hurney has an extremely high slugging percentage with his first-round picks historically, and this would be an excellent choice if it came down to this.
17. Giants (from Cleveland Browns) — Duke QB Daniel Jones
We’d be as skeptical as you might be if Jones is the pick here, as his arm talent and potential upside does not read top-20 selection. That said – going back to our dance-partner theory – it feels like a very Giants-y pick. Jones would be a safe selection, as his smarts and toughness would serve him well in the New York market.
And the Eli Manning comparisons are impossible to ignore, from Jones working with David Cutcliffe to dealing with sub-par offensive line and receiver talent holding him back in college. There’s a lot of smoke coming from the Giants-Jones connection, so we’re pegging him here even with reservations.
18. Minnesota Vikings — Alabama OL Jonah Williams
A few weeks ago, it felt unlikely Williams could fall this far. Now it’s a legit possibility. Williams could start Day 1 at guard or tackle and give Mike Zimmer exactly the kind of smart, versatile, battle-tested offensive lineman to spur the run game. Williams is a perfect fit here.
19. Tennessee Titans — Clemson DT Dexter Lawrence
With Hockenson gone, the Titans could pivot to help up front. An offensive lineman would make sense, but they also could consider help inside on defense. Lawrence would give Mike Vrabel and GM Jon Robinson a Vince Wilfork-esque presence in the middle, which is needed. They need someone to put next to Jurrell Casey, with the idea that Austin Johnson might be in the final year with the team.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers — Clemson DE Clelin Ferrell
This would be their seventh defensive pick in Round 1 in eight years, as they’ve missed on some high picks in recent drafts. Ferrell doesn’t perfectly fit what the Steelers often seek in their edge rushers, as I am not quite convinced he could be as effective playing on his feet. But a Ferrell-T.J. Watt combination would be one of the AFC North’s best and give the Steelers more pass-rush juice than they’ve had in a few years now.
21. Seattle Seahawks — Florida S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson
With Frank Clark possibly on the market, an edge rusher might make sense here. They’ll absolutely be looking to move down considering they have only four total selections in the draft and only one more before the 124th pick. Gardner-Johnson could fill the void at safety in a variety of roles and be a good addition to a secondary that’s in need of a talent boost.
22. Baltimore Ravens — North Carolina State OL Garrett Bradbury
Another team looking hard at edge players, but there ultimately isn’t one here worth reaching for. Instead, the Ravens can fill another problem area with a very Ravens-y choice in Bradbury, a high-floor prospect who could start immediately at center or guard. Investing in Lamar Jackson means the Ravens must insulate him properly, and that goes beyond drafting a bunch of wide receivers or — nerdy football humor alert — another six or seven tight ends.
23. Houston Texans — Oklahoma OL Cody Ford
They’ve added a few pieces at tackle, but it would be surprising if the Texans didn’t add more — perhaps even multiple offensive linemen — to help out a major trouble spot. Ford is big and highly athletic and would be a good fit in an offense that shouldn’t be too schematically different with Deshaun Watson at the helm from what Ford ran at Oklahoma with Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray at the helm. Plus, the Texans need a few more dogs up front, and Ford has that grit they’re looking for — either at tackle or guard.
24. Raiders (from Chicago Bears) — Oklahoma WR Marquise Brown
Wouldn’t this be something? Brown is cousins with Antonio Brown and would give the Raiders an exciting trio of playmakers in the passing game. They could allow his broken foot to heal properly and then use him as an all-over-the-field mismatch piece. The Raiders have brought in a bunch of receivers for pre-draft visits even after trading for Antonio Brown and signing Tyrell Williams, so this wouldn’t be a shock.
25. Philadelphia Eagles — Notre Dame DL Jerry Tillery
Defensive tackle is a big need and Tillery would be a good fit here. He lined up at a number of spots on the line for the Irish and could help replace Michael Bennett’s role outside and inside. The Eagles also have been more liberal-minded on bringing in personalities that don’t fit the cookie-cutter mold, and Tillery’s outside interests away from football likely wouldn’t scare this team away in what is a colorful locker room.
26. Indianapolis Colts — Washington CB Byron Murphy
GM Chris Ballard has done a fantastic job letting the draft come to him and amassing good talent at a lot of spots. Here he lands a potential shutdown guy in a year or two in Murphy, our highest-graded talent at cornerback this draft. Sure, he’s not the fleetest of foot, but in a zone-heavy scheme that’s far less important. He could be a Pro Bowl-level talent in time.
The Colts pick again early in Round 2 and could address other needs, such as defensive tackle, safety and wide receiver. Going best player available here makes a ton of sense.
27. Raiders (from Dallas Cowboys) — LSU CB Greedy Williams
The Raiders are said to be fans of Williams, and he would be the long-levered corner they’ve had trouble finding in the draft since Nnamdi Asomugha. A three-pick haul of Quinnen Williams, Hollywood Brown and Greedy Williams not only would give them some great nicknames with their first-round selections, but also a huge talent upgrade on both sides of the ball.
28. Los Angeles Chargers — Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins
Another scenario we had no idea could materialize not long ago. And honestly, this feels like too far a drop. Ten of the past 11 first-round quarterbacks have gone to teams trading up into that spot, so if Haskins tumbles outside of the first 15 or 20 picks, you easily could see a team move up for one. The Chargers are in great shape now with Philip Rivers and Tyrod Taylor as the top two, so Haskins would be a Year 1 luxury. But could they afford to pass on Haskins at this spot? We say no.
29. Kansas City Chiefs — Georgia CB Deandre Baker
New defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has used a lot of five-DB alignments in the past, and we’re not sure the Chiefs have five starting-caliber defensive backs after trading Eric Murray and losing Steven Nelson. Upgrading the pass rush would be nice, and adding a safety is a must. But Baker here gives them a confident cover man who can help a defense that likely will be giving up a lot of yards but keying on takeaways and defending well in the red zone.
30. Packers (from New Orleans Saints) — Iowa TE Noah Fant
Fant isn’t your typical tight end, and he could add another pass catcher to the mix to help spur the offense. He has big-play ability and would allow the Packers to consider moving on from Jimmy Graham if he’s not deemed a fit any longer. The Packers have dipped into the Iowa program quite a bit over the years (Josh Jackson, Micah Hyde, Mike Daniels, Bryan Bulaga) and could do so again.
31. Los Angeles Rams — Texas A&M C Erik McCoy
The Rams are in an interesting spot here in that they don’t currently select again until late in the third round and there are some holes to fill for the Super Bowl runners-up. One certainly is on the offensive line, where center John Sullivan was let go, and even if the Rams believe 2018 fourth-rounder Brian Allen is ready to take that spot, they could use more depth inside. OG Austin Blythe was exposed by season’s end, and a McCoy-Allen combo could help take over inside at those two spots.
32. New England Patriots — Ole Miss WR A.J. Brown
The Patriots have been doing enough work on receivers to make us believe that they will not be afraid of taking one in this spot, even though the last first-round wideout Bill Belichick selected was Derrick Alexander in 1994 with the Cleveland Browns. Brown has a big frame and was the most polished wideout on an Ole Miss team that also had D.K. Metcalf and DaMarkus Lodge. We could see him fitting the Patriots mold at a position at which they’ve struggled to draft consistently well.
Teams without a first-round pick
48. Browns — Ole Miss OT Greg Little
Midway through last college football season, many had Little pegged as a first-round talent, but scouts have poked a few holes in him since and his stock has dropped a bit. Still, at this phase of the draft, his talent is worth taking a shot on, and he could give the team more insurance at left tackle.
58. Cowboys — Boston College DL Zach Allen
A high-motor rusher who would be a great fit in a Rod Marinelli style defense, Allen has great production in terms of disruption but tested only as an average athlete. That’s the lone reason he’s available here and would be a great pick in Round 2 for the Cowboys, who are still seeking to upgrade on defense.
62. Saints — Notre Dame CB Julian Love
At this phase of the draft, Love would be a steal. Similar to former Iowa DB Desmond King, Love is going to get knocked for his lack of elite size or testing numbers, but who cares? He’s a ballhawk with great positional instincts and would be a very nice addition to a defense that still needs help on the back end.
87. Bears — Auburn CB Jamel Dean
If one of the Bears’ preferred running back choices were not there for them here, we easily could see them taking a corner such as Dean, who has good size and who tested well (always something that attracts the eye of GM Ryan Pace) and who could be a nice addition to a lean secondary if his past health issues are not considered too concerning.
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