By Zach Walker
I’m just a little late to the mock party, but not too late to throw my own hat in the mix.
1st: Arizona Cardinals – TRADE CINCINNATI BENGALS – QB Kyler Murray Oklahoma
The Cardinals offseason hype-train approach to the draft and future planning pays off with the trade to Cincinnati. In-state rivalries can be tough, when they are in-division and the teams look to be heading in the opposite directions. As we all witnessed, a young gunslinger can change the fortunes for the future. The Bengals can approach this the same way the Browns did a season ago. No intention to start Murray, allow Andy Dalton to play himself out of the job.
2nd: San Francisco 49ers – DE Nick Bosa – Ohio State
It is just amazing that the 49ers have invested so many first round picks (3) on the defensive line over the past four seasons, and they haven’t hit gold yet, so keep throwing the noodles at the wall and see what’ll stick. After a scrub job of his personal views from his social media, the big pass rusher from Ohio State should be ready to impact the field and get after the quarterbacks of the NFC West.
3rd: New York Jets – OLB Josh Allen – Kentucky
The way the Jets played out the offseason, the players they brought in: Le’Veon Bell, Jamison Crowder, and C.J. Mosley. That’s a quality collar. Weapons for their young quarterback and a signal caller on defense. They need to add some firepower to the defense, and Josh Allen looks to be a nightmare for quarterbacks, at least 7 sacks for his last three seasons, but he hit the turbo button his senior season with 17 sacks. Josh Allen to hunt Josh Allen, the New York media will love that.
4th: Oakland Raiders – DT Quinnen Williams – Alabama
Mike Mayock’s first draft after being the NFL Network’s smartest man on TV, he’ll remember the Rams’ selection of Aaron Donald from a few years back, and recognize a similar Alpha-talent. The violence that Williams works with is intoxicating to watch, and can’t be fun for quarterbacks to have piercing through the center of the line, right into their face. Solid start to a LONG first night for Gruden and Mayock.
5th: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – CB Greedy Williams – LSU
This is not the draft to replace Jameis Winston, that’s next year’s crop. Greedy is a lengthy corner, in that mold that Seattle made work for that run, but the talent is all there. The Bucs can throw Mike Evans at Greedy Williams every day at practice to acclimate him to what the NFL receiver can do to him.
6th: New York Giants – QB Dwayne Haskins – Ohio State
When one knows that parts need to be replaced but can still get use out of the old parts, it’s wise to keep the spare on hand for the immediate replacement. That’s what the plan in New York is. Think of Haskins like this draft’s Mitch Trubisky, or if you’re a cynic (or NFC East fan) Mark Sanchez, one year of production. The Giants need to plan for the future, Eli isn’t going to get hurt so it’s a performance hook that’s needing to be ready for.
7th: Jacksonville Jaguars – DT Ed Oliver – Houston
So it’s Nick Foles now. This team was SO hype last season, and the face plant was as loud. That next step was never taken by Blake Bortles and the Leonard Fournette injury handcuffed this team to the steering wheel of a car rolling backwards down the boat ramp. This is still a good enough roster to make the playoffs in the AFC. Ed Oliver is a consistent operator and would be a welcomed addition to a young defensive unit. A big guy with moves and the attitude to defy his coach when he held zero pull. Bad dude, not to be messed around with, or not drafted.
8th: Detroit Lions – DE Montez Sweat – Mississippi State
Two seasons of solid production out of Sweat at Mississippi State. What helps the back-end of the defense, is the front four. The Lions went out and grabbed Trey Flowers to add the heat, but more is better. Darius Slay and Teez Tabor will look a hell of a lot different when the Lions can get after quarterbacks.
9th: Buffalo Bills – OL Jonah Williams – Alabama
The biggest shock of last season, watching Josh Allen turn on the afterburners and take off. Give the guy an offseason to get better, he’ll get better. That’s the logical theory. Also, surround Allen with better blocking he’ll get the time to throw the ball with better poise and accuracy. Jonah Williams could end up inside but, any and all help… Uh… Helps.
10th: Denver Broncos – CB Byron Murphy – Washington
Another season, another new quarterback for the league’s worse executive to force his loyal fan base to swallow. At least Joe Flacco is easier for people to take in, oh what that ring can do! So at least Elway doesn’t have to blow another first on a quarterback. The Broncos on defense aren’t bad, they need more help behind Von Miller. Another in a line of quality defensive backs from the Chris Petersen- Washington Huskies. Comes with all the accompanying traits: technical, quick, and aggressive.
11th: Cincinnati Bengals – TRADE ARIZONA CARDINALS – OL Greg Little – Ole Miss
The Cardinals don’t need a quarterback, that’s why they drafted one a year ago. Rosen got his ass beaten last season, not quite David Carr levels, but if you’re approaching that territory, you’ve got problems. Offensive line help around Rosen is the play, and they couldn’t do that at one, that’s where the Kingsbury hype of Kyler Murray pays off with the Bengals as a dance partner.
12th: Green Bay Packers – LB Devin White – LSU
After the success of Leighton Vander Esch from a season ago, my theory regarding coverage linebackers was affirmed. It’s all about the tackles. White was a great tackler for the past two seasons in Death Valley. The Packers need defensive help, despite whatever Aaron Rodgers would want them to do.
13th: Miami Dolphins – DL Clelin Ferrell – Clemson
Unfortunately, the Dolphins miss out on Kyler Murray, and from all indications, the Dolphins are going to attempt to organically tank for Tua Tagovailoa, and based on the way Ryan Fitzpatrick showed up at camps for Miami, they could have the inside track to number one in 2020 (though I’d bet Tampa). Clelin Ferrell is a monster producer at the end, and should have little issue picking up the mantle left by Cam Wake.
14th: Atlanta Falcons – DT Dexter Lawrence – Clemson
Another of the Clemson force goes here. The Falcons need help in the middle of their defensive front to give Vic Beasley and Takk Mckinley more freedom to work. Dexter Lawrence is another nightmare. He’s power, just straight line power. Not a deep bucket of tricks, he’s got the power and bullies guards into giving up the goods.
15th: Washington Redskins – QB Daniel Jones – Duke
It really does suck for Alex Smith, that’s really a bad way to check out. Jay Gruden needs a quarterback. It wouldn’t shock me if Washington took Drew Lock, shinier than Jones, but I personally don’t fawn over Lock, throws too much like Cam Newton for my liking. Jones is a movement, power play-action brand pro-style quarterback. Big, tough guy too. Perfect for Gruden.
16th: Carolina Panthers – DL Rashan Gary – Michigan
It’s incredible that Julius Peppers is still around, frickin’ legend. They need to put someone next to Kawaan Short. Gary has the size to play right next to Short in the middle or on his opposite side out on the end, kind of has that Tyrone Crawford ability to his game.
17th: New York Giants – DL Christian Wilkins – Clemson
Here’s the Gettleman selection. The guy has to select defensive linemen. They also have a need, so it’s like a rainbow road for Gettleman. Wilkins is another of the Clemson linemen to emerge in this first round. Wilkins is the leader of the daunting Clemson front four that went back as a unit for one more shot. It worked. And Wilkins is viewed as the working hero who put the money behind him for ultimate glory. That’s some good character traits on display.
18th: Minnesota Vikings – OL Jawaan Taylor – Florida
Man, did Kirk Cousins ever take a relentless beating in 2018. His offensive line was at one point on pace for the worst graded offensive line in league history. If the Vikings don’t get that O-Line sorted, that landmark contract given to Kirk Cousins is going to be a hell of a dark cloud hanging over the franchise for a minute as a reminder of how close they were and let it get away. Taylor is a plug-and-play at guard or right tackle, but they should test the waters out at left tackle, because Cousins needs some time, he’d “Vike” some more time for sure.
19th: Tennessee Titans – DL Jeffery Simmons – Mississippi State
They need some fire on the Titans, something to jump off the page, and Simmons is that. Great production to be matched with his ideal frame and weight. His production stacks up with all the rest of the names already taken. Simmons is a good selection for Vrabel.
20th: Pittsburgh Steelers – LB Devin Bush – Michigan
What a delightful offseason to sit back, relax and enjoy the implosion of the Pittsburgh Steelers. What turmoil, beautiful chaos. While the offense dismantled itself, the defense needs a new leader to carry the flag that Ryan Shazier left behind after his freaky injury. Bush isn’t a big guy, but he dives into the deep end with some awesome speed. He’s a sideline-to-sideline operator.
21st: Seattle Seahawks – S Deionte Thompson – Alabama
The aura left behind by the since vacated “Legion of Boom” is now ripe for the taking, and that a new embodiment needs to roll in. Deionte Thompson is a one year shiner for Saban and the Tide, but the potential was on display all season. His range is undeniable and the ability is ready to kick start the revival.
22nd: Baltimore Ravens – OL Cody Ford – Oklahoma
Ford is as big and strong as a Redwood tree, and if Lamar Jackson is going to use his arm to throw the Ravens to victory this season, they need to make his pocket as comfortable as possible. Ford is a strong guard for the interior of the Ravens’ offensive line.
23rd: Houston Texans – C Garrett Bradbury – N.C. State
Along with Kirk Cousins, Deshaun Watson got thrashed around. The offensive line needs improvement or they’re going to get very accustomed to starting games with Watson in a hoodie on the sidelines. The Texans need to put a “Frederick” next to their Martin (Nick), and Bradbury is a compact, low base center with exceptional movement skills.
24th: Oakland Raiders (CHICAGO) – TE Noah Fant – Iowa
The Raiders got a stud on defense, they landed Antonio Brown, now need to add another weapon for Derek Carr. Fant is a uber-athlete, when he’s got the ball in his hands, he’s Travis Kelce-levels of dangerous in the field. With a weapon like Fant, tight-end screens and quick flats on third downs open up a completely different section of the playbook for the Raiders.
25th: Philadelphia Eagles – OL Chris Lindstrom – Boston College
Lindstrom isn’t the same size Jon Runyan, but Eagles’ lifers will recognize the salt in the game. Lindstrom made money at the Senior Bowl by having his edge on full display. He’s got pedigree too, his father played in the NFL. Lindstrom is a mean streak player, perfect for the Eagles.
26th: Indianapolis Colts – WR N’Keal Harry – Arizona State
The Colts are a LOT closer than people would give credit. They sign Justin Houston to spice up the defense, the rest of the defense is good and young, Malik Hooker, Anthony Walker, and Darius Leonard. Andrew Luck needs more TY Hilton and Jack Doyle to get to the conference championship game. N’Keal Harry is a big frame receiver to mop up red zone targets and really crush on third downs.
27th: Oakland Raiders (DALLAS) – OT Andre Dillard – Washington State
The Raiders need to get serious about keeping Derek Carr upright. Dillard is a smooth smacker, not a punchy tackle. He has a frame to add some bulk over his first few seasons, and the Raiders can have a cornerstone left tackle for their move to Vegas.
28th: Los Angeles Chargers – CB DeAndre Baker – Georgia
What better player to help get past the sour pill of Jason Verrett than DeAndre Baker. Verrett is such a technical player, but his inability to stay on the field was so frustrating. Baker has the EXACT traits as Verrett, but hasn’t missed opportunities by being on the sidelines with injuries.
29th: Kansas City Chiefs – DE Anthony Nelson – Iowa
Nelson is a GIANT, six seven, 270 pounds. Great production, straight power player, using the strength of his strength to peel apart his opposing linemen. He doesn’t contort well, and he doesn’t play particularly low, but his power is intoxicating.
30th: Green Bay Packers (NEW ORLEANS) – WR DK Metcalf – Ole Miss
Oh wouldn’t this just be awesome for the Packers. To grab a PEDIGREE stud receiver in DK Metcalf, son of Chicago Bear Terrence Metcalf. He’s a high risk, high reward prospect, with not much video proof of successes.
31st: Los Angeles Rams – LB Mack Wilson – Alabama
The Rams don’t need too much to get back to the Super Bowl, and based on the score in that game, they aren’t far off from winning that game. Adding a sideline-to-sideline run stuffing defender can lead to a few more difficult down and distances. Mack Wilson has great size, Saban-brand instincts, and great athleticism.
32nd: New England Patriots – TE TJ Hockenson – Iowa
A young replacement for the recently retired Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots need another big time threat to keep the blood of the youth flowing through Tom Brady. Hockenson could blossom into the same brand of new age hybrid movement tight ends.