The NFL playoffs are here, meaning all but a dozen of the league’s 32 teams can turn their focus to the 2019 offseason. With that, we finally have an official order for the first 20 selections in the 2019 NFL Draft to help us make better mock picks.
The Cardinals are locked into No. 1 overall after posting the worst record (3-13) in 2018. The Raiders know their first of three first-rounders, their original pick, will be No. 4.
The Class of 2019 has high-quality depth early at edge-rusher and wide receiver. The quarterbacks aren’t perceived as being strong as a whole, but there are at least four teams desperate enough to take one.
Given what we know now in terms of team needs and prospect stock, with plenty more changes to come, here’s how Sporting News sees the first round playing out.
NFL mock draft 2019
1. Arizona Cardinals
Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
The Cardinals were a good pass-rushing team in 2018 with one-and-done coach Steve Wilks thanks to another monster season from Chandler Jones. Arizona could fill plenty of other positions but can’t go wrong bookending Jones with Bosa, who has more disruptive upside than older brother Joey.
2. San Francisco 49ers
Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
The 49ers haven’t gotten the desired results yet from 2017 third overall pick Solomon Thomas, but they finally saw an explosion from 2016 seventh overall pick DeForest Buckner. Although end is more pressing than tackle, it’s hard to pass on Williams as another interior pass-rush force to flank Buckner, especially given his massive frame (6-4, 295 pounds) and Aaron Donald-like upside.
3. New York Jets
Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
The Jets also could use some edge pass-rush help, but the theme of 2019 looks to be helping Sam Darnold turn the corner from promising rookie QB to sensational sophomore passer. His weapons are better than you think, and wideout is a reach here, so instead they give him a smooth pass protector who also is big enough (6-5, 301 pounds) to pave the way in the running game.
4. Oakland Raiders
Josh Allen, DE/OLB, Kentucky
Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock might sing a duet of “Return of the Mack” if Allen continues his trajectory as a potentially dominant pro edge pass-rusher in the pre-draft process. Allen is loaded with moves to get to the quarterback and has the athleticism to help in second-level coverage.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
The Bucs whiffed in not taking a secondary game-changer in safety Derwin James last season. They can’t afford to ignore the back end again this early to help combat the big, fast receivers in the NFC South. Williams is a long, lean cornerback (6-3, 184 pounds) who has rare speed, quickness and agility for his size. He’s not the most physical player, but he’s fundamentally sound in coverage, and he uses his length well at the line to break up routes.
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6. New York Giants
Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
With Justin Herbert staying at Oregon, Haskins, should he come out early as expected, can make a beeline to being the first QB off the board to succeed Eli Manning. Haskins cemented his stock late in the Buckeyes’ season, when he had some jaw-dropping games with his big arm and downfield accuracy. He has ideal size as a strong pocket passer (6-3, 220 pounds) with the right dose of athleticism.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Will Grier, QB, West Virginia
The Jaguars are a competent, young quarterback away from getting back on track, given they’re still loaded defensively and have the power of Leonard Fournette in the backfield. That’s a pretty good situation for the fearless Grier (6-2, 215 pounds), who is the kind of passer and personality Jacksonville needs as the new face of its franchise.
8. Detroit Lions
Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
Ferrell is at the top of the Tigers’ defensive line prospects because his size (6-5, 260 pounds) gives him a good baseline as an outside run-stopper to add to his explosiveness as a pass-rusher. He’s the kind of versatile player out of whom Matt Patricia can get the most, and he also fits the Lions’ top need.
9. Buffalo Bills
Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
The Bills could consider some wide receiver or offensive line help here for Josh Allen, but it would be hard for Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott to pass on Oliver if he’s still on the board. Venerable Kyle Williams retired, and 2018 free-agent pickup Star Lotulelei was a big bust in his first season with the team. Oliver has slipped behind Quinnen Williams with his inside pop, but he’s still worthy of the top 10.
10. Denver Broncos
Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
John Elway can’t try to plug his most important position with Case Keenum or another recycled backup-type option again. He needs to dive into a first-rounder with hopes for much better success than Paxton Lynch in 2016. Elway already has had a good scouting look at Lock, who has a big arm to go with ideal size (6-4, 225 pounds). Lock also has the fearlessness and elusiveness NFL teams like in an aggressive, downfield passer.
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11. Cincinnati Bengals
Devin White, ILB, LSU
The Bengals have been a mess against the run mostly because of the injuries and ineffectiveness from their linebacker corps. They need an athlete who can cover a ton of ground against the run and also help them with their weak intermediate coverage. White is easily the rangiest defender in the 2019 class.
12. Green Bay Packers
Jachai Polite, OLB, Florida
The Packers, should they keep their base 3-4 under Mike Pettine with a new head coach, desperately need to add a special edge pass-rusher. Although a little undersized at 6-2, 242 pounds, Polite’s speed and athleticism are off the charts as a freak who channels some of former Gator Jevon Kearse.
13. Miami Dolphins
Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
Jones made the right call to leave the Blue Devils early after getting all the necessary pro-style tutelage from David Cutcliffe, who also served as a mentor to Peyton and Eli Manning. Jones (6-5, 220 pounds) is smart, athletic and accurate, and he is very coachable to put all his skills together. The Dolphins are about to move on from Ryan Tannehill right along with Adam Gase.
14. Atlanta Falcons
Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
The Falcons’ safety and linebacker injuries were only a partial reason for their pass defense woes in 2018. They struggled in downfield coverage away from Desmond Trufant. Staying in state for Baker, he can give them the smart, physical, press coverage presence they need to better handle the likes of Mike Evans and Michael Thomas.
15. Washington Redskins
A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
The Redskins fielded one of the worst receiving corps in the NFL in 2018, which was further marred by injuries to Paul Richardson and Jamison Crowder. Brown (6-1, 230 pounds) fits the profile as a No. 1 as a strong-handed, reliable route runner who is tough enough to make big plays after the catch, even in traffic.
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16. Carolina Panthers
Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
The Panthers should be thrilled if Thompson falls to them, more for the position he plays than his talent. They had some of the worst safety play in the NFL in 2018, mostly in awful coverage of tight ends. Thompson (6-2, 196 pounds) is the rangy playmaker they need to clean up against the pass, and he’s solid in run support, too.
17. Cleveland Browns
D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
While his college teammate (Brown) is the shorter, scrappier playmaker, Metcalf is the classic size-speed prospect at 6-4, 230 pounds. That’s the kind of outside No. 1 the Browns’ offense needs to push the ball better both downfield and in the red zone with Baker Mayfield.
18. Minnesota Vikings
Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
The Vikings suffered from shaky pass protection in 2018, which contributed to Kirk Cousins’ first season as their starting quarterback ending with a thud. Little (6-5, 325 pounds) has the agility and athleticism to lock down the blind side.
19. Tennessee Titans
N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
The Titans saw how special Corey Davis could be in their passing game, but they really a second outside threat to stretch the field. Harry (6-4, 216 pounds) would provide another big matchup nightmare through the red zone.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
The Steelers have Joe Haden holding down one outside spot, but they could use another smooth, fluid cover man. What Murphy gives up in size and press potential (5-11, 170 pounds) he makes up for in speed, aggressiveness and ball-hawking skills.
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21. Philadelphia Eagles
Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
The Eagles need to rebuild their defensive line, and getting Simmons to flank fellow former Bulldog Fletcher Cox inside would be a good start. Simmons (6-3, 301 pounds) has great quickness with which to disrupt plays in the backfield.
22. Indianapolis Colts
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford
The Colts can go back to the Cardinal to get Andrew Luck a steady, outside target to complement the big-play ability of go-to wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. Arcega-Whiteside (6-3, 225 pounds) can both stretch the field as a deep threat and fight to win battles in the red zone.
23. Seattle Seahawks
Rashan Gary, DT, Michigan
The Seahawks have had great returns from former Wolverine end Frank Clark, and Jarran Reed has revved up the pass rush inside. But even though they could use some offensive line help, it’s hard to pass on the versatile Gary, who can channel much of former Seahawk Michael Bennett.
24. Los Angeles Chargers
Raekwon Davis, DT, Alabama
Davis (6-7, 306 pounds) provides a nice blend of power and athleticism, balancing out his impressive frame with a quick, compact push. His wingspan is attractive, as he can add some inside pass-rush pop to complement what Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram do off the edge.
25. Oakland Raiders (from Cowboys)
Juan Thornhill, S, Virginia
Thornhill has the great size (6-0, 210 pounds), smarts and coverage skills the Raiders could use at the position. He cleans up well against the run, and what he lacks in terms of top-end athleticism, he compensates for with his discipline and knowledge of multiple schemes and positions.
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26. Baltimore Ravens
Montez Sweat, OLB, Mississippi State
Sweat’s size (6-6, 241 pounds) and relentless productivity as an edge pass-rusher makes him the ideal successor to Terrell Suggs in the Ravens’ steadfast 3-4 scheme.
27. Houston Texans
David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin
Edwards is the typical high-level Badgers offensive line prospect because he’s a tremendous athlete for his size (6-7, 315) and can also push around defenders in the running game. He could start at left or right tackle right away and be a huge immediate upgrade for Deshaun Watson’s edge pass protection.
28. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago Bears)
Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
The Raiders may not be in rolling into Vegas yet in 2019, but they could use some “Hollywood” in the downfield passing game. This is a pick the late Al Davis would love, as Brown is the classic speedy threat built to consistently make big plays before and after the catch.
29. New England Patriots
Kelvin Harmon, WR, N.C. State
The Patriots tried to make things work with Josh Gordon as their speedy, quick outside No. 1. They can find a strong replacement here in Harmon (6-3, 214 pounds), who also is a savvy route-runner and blocker to meet New England’s high standards of versatility and execution.
30. Los Angeles Rams
Brian Burns, OLB, Florida State
The Rams need a dynamic edge pass-rusher to add punch to Wade Phillips’ front seven given their limited returns from midseason acquisition Dante Fowler Jr. Donald had half of their 41 sacks, and their outside linebackers provided little production. Burns can change that; he is coming off 15.5 sacks in his final Seminoles season.
31. Kansas City Chiefs
David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State
Montgomery (5-11, 216 pounds) has steadily emerged as a strong, all-around feature back prospect; he finishes runs strong and has shown some good hands and wiggle as a receiver. His college coach Matt Campbell has even likened Montgomery on the field to the back the Chiefs need to replace, Kareem Hunt.
32. Green Bay Packers (from Saints)
Zach Allen, DE, Boston College
Once the Packers grab an edge-rusher at outside linebacker, they can go after Allen (6-5, 280 pounds), who would fit as a five-technique end under Pettine. He’s a big, smart, strong, high-effort player who excels at stopping the run, and he has room to grow as a pass-rusher.