1. Arizona Cardinals: Nick Bosa – EDGE – Ohio State
Arizona holds the first overall pick after a 3-13 season. Kliff Kingsbury was hired to replace incumbent Steve Wilks and has the luxury of already having a franchise quarterback in place with Josh Rosen. There are some rumors swirling since Kingsbury is on tape stating that he would make Kyler Murray the first overall selection if it was up to him. Keep in mind this was back in October when Kingsbury was still at Texas Tech preparing to face Murray and Oklahoma. Right now they are simply rumors and I am not putting much stock in them.
Defensive coordinator Al Holcomb was fired as well but former Broncos head coach Vance Joseph was hired to take over the defense. Joseph ran a 4-3 while he was the DC in Miami so I anticipate Arizona staying in that scheme. Former Ohio State defensive end, Nick Bosa, provides the edge rusher that a defense can lean on in any scheme so he fits here while filling a big need. Bosa would be a safe pick (if that actually exists) for a first-year head coach with a lot of controversy surrounding him out of the gate.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Quinnen Williams – DT – Alabama
The 49ers have a top ten pick for the fourth straight season. The defensive line was addressed in 2016 and 2017 with DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas respectively.
Arik Armstead was taken with the 17th overall pick in 2015. Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams should be the final piece to the puzzle for San Francisco in the trenches. If I have learned anything from years of playing and analyzing football, it is that games are won in the trenches.
3. New York Jets: Jonah Williams – OT – Alabama
Sam Darnold was sacked 30 times in 2018 so one focal point for the Jets has to be to protect their second-year quarterback. The 2018 All-American tackle from the University of Alabama can start from day one at the left tackle spot. Kelvin Beachum has one more year left on his contract and most likely won’t be cut due to his contract structure. Beachum could move inside or flip to right tackle for 2019.
4. TBD Raiders: Josh Allen – EDGE – Kentucky
Oakland…or wherever they are playing in 2019, has three first round picks this year, the first being their own fourth overall selection. Everyone is well aware of the Khalil Mack trade and the gaping hole that left in the Raider defense. New general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden should see eye-to-eye on bringing in Allen who could supplant Frostee Rucker and start opposite of Arden Key in Paul Guenther’s 4-3.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Greg Little – OT – Ole Miss
Former Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians has officially been named the head coach for the Bucs and he has a bit of work to do. First thing’s first, he must find someone to protect Jameis Winston. 2015 second round pick Donovan Smith is set to hit free agency but Greg Little would be an upgrade anyway.
6. New York Giants: Dwayne Haskins – QB – Ohio State
The 2019 quarterback class is weak, to say the least, especially with Justin Herbert returning to Oregon. It got a bit of a boost when 2018 Heisman winner Kyler Murray declared for the NFL Draft, seemingly walking away from professional baseball.
Eli Manning‘s replacement probably should have been taken last year but Saquon Barkley was too hard to pass up. Haskins has some issues in his game but at this point in time in the process, he should still be the first signal caller off of the board. The tools are there for the 2018 Heisman finalist to be successful at the next level.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Greedy Williams – CB – LSU
Jacksonville could easily trade up with one of the teams in the top five to leapfrog New York and take Haskins or this could be a potential landing spot for Murray but with the recent antics of Jalen Ramsey, his future in Jacksonville is ambiguous at best. Andraez “Greedy” Williams is the top corner prospect in this class and would contribute immediately. He could also replace Ramsey if Jacksonville chooses to not pick up his fifth-year option and let him walk after this next season.
8. Detroit Lions: Clelin Ferrell – EDGE – Clemson
Last year Detroit inked Ezekiel Ansah to a one year deal but after hitting IR, the Lions are likely ready to move on. Clelin Ferrell returned for his senior year with Clemson and will be an early draftee come late April. Ferrell can learn from defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni who specializes in the defensive line.
9. Buffalo Bills: D.K. Metcalf – WR – Ole Miss
Sammy Watkins didn’t work out, Kelvin Benjamin didn’t work out, and the emerging Zay Jones needs a running mate. The Ole Miss receiver had his 2018 cut short due to a neck injury. Metcalf was off to a promising season with 569 yards and 5 touchdowns in 7 games. Metcalf has impressive ball skills for his size (6’4″, 225 lbs) and has great release off the line of scrimmage. He could be the perfect weapon for Josh Allen to take the Bills offense to another level.
10. Denver Broncos: Deionte Thompson – S – Alabama
Denver ranked 20th in pass defense this season and some of that could be contributed to the loss of Aqib Talib when he was traded to the Rams and then in the middle of the season Chris Harris was sent to IR after suffering a season-ending injury in week 13. However, if you look at the safety play from the Broncos this year you will probably understand why the pass defense struggled.
Deionte Thompson is a physical safety who shows no fear, especially when helping out in the run game which Denver also needs to address after finishing in the 21st spot for run defense. Thompson was second in total tackles on Alabama’s national runner-up squad so Thompson can be brought in to help shore up both the pass and run defense for new Denver head coach Vic Fangio.
11. Cincinnati Bengals: Ed Oliver – DT – Houston
For the first time since 2003, the Bengals will have a new head coach on their sideline. Los Angeles Rams quarterback coach Zac Taylor has been linked to the opening but with the Rams still in the playoffs, nothing is official. Whoever ends up with the job, they are inheriting the league’s worst overall defense. Geno Atkins is aging and there is a strong possibility he could be released after the 2019 season.
Andrew Billings started every single game at nose tackle in 2018 after making his first start in week 9 of 2017 and is coming into his own. Oliver earned third-team All-American honors and was once considered to be a legitimate top pick. He could still shoot up draft boards during the draft process and earn that spot back but right now he lands in Cincy’s lap.
12. Green Bay Packers: Rashan Gary – DE – Michigan
The Packers struggled in 2018 on both sides of the ball. Obviously, with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, they will always have a chance. However, Rodgers cannot play defense and the Packers desperately need help on that side of the ball. Green Bay ranked 22nd in rush defense and bringing in Michigan’s Rashan Gary, who is a force in the run game, would be a major help.
Gary registered 11.5 tackles for loss in 2017 as a sophomore and had 6.5 tackles for loss in 2018 before a shoulder injury ended his season. Kenny Clark missed the last three games due to injury but with Clark in the middle and Gary setting the edge, the Packers would have a nice combination on the defensive line.
Muhammad Wilkerson started the first three games of 2018 until landing on IR so if Green Bay decides to bring him back, there could be an immediate change for the defense in 2019.
13. Miami Dolphins: Jachai Polite – EDGE – Florida
The Miami Dolphins totaled 31 sacks on the entire year, good (or bad) enough for 29th in the league. Robert Quinn led the team with 6.5 and 36-year-old Cameron Wake was right behind with 6 sacks. Wake is also a pending free agent but the Dolphins have to get younger and better in the pass rush.
2017 first rounder Charles Harris hasn’t lived up to expectations yet and could possibly be running out of time with a coaching change coming. Florida’s Polite is quick off the ball and possesses the speed to get around tackles to pressure opposing quarterbacks. He lacks elite power and needs coaching up on some fundamentals but there is little doubt he can make it in the NFL.
14. Atlanta Falcons: Jeffery Simmons – DT – Mississippi State
Takkarist McKinley has been in the news recently with questions surrounding his mental health so this selection could easily be another edge rusher which Atlanta has seemed to need the last handful of years. Vic Beasley has had an up and down career but is still young enough to figure things out.
Grady Jarrett could test free agency and Terrell McClain has been quite the journeyman in his eight-year career. McClain’s contract also happens to be up. 2018 third rounder Deadrin Senat could step into one defensive tackle position but another needs to be filled. Even if Jarrett is brought back, Thomas Dimitroff needs to bring in some more help to improve ATL’s 25th ranked run defense.
Mississippi State product Jeffery Simmons is one of my favorite prospects in this draft. He has a high motor, can fight through double teams, and is dangerous in the passing game and the run game.
15. Washington Redskins: Drew Lock – QB – Missouri
The Redskins finished the year with Mark Sanchez, Colt McCoy, and Josh Johnson after losing Alex Smith to a gruesome leg injury. There is a very real legitimate possibility we will never see Smith play again so Washington needs to find a quarterback. Drew Lock may not be day-one ready but his ceiling is high. There is a pretty decent crop of free agent talent in the quarterback pool this year that could serve as bridges until Lock can take over full-time.
16. Carolina Panthers: N’Keal Harry – WR – Arizona State
It might be time for Carolina to move on from underachieving Devin Funchess as he has never eclipsed 1,000 yards and was third in receiving yards this year for the Panthers. Last year Carolina took Maryland’s D.J. Moore in the first round. A perfect compliment to Moore is Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry.
The big-bodied receiver provides an athletic target who can make a 5-yard hitch into a big impact play any given moment. He would be a great addition to Carolina’s offense. Cam Newton would have Harry, Moore, Christian McCaffrey, Greg Olsen, and Ian Thomas. That is a good recipe for a bounce-back season for Newton.
17. Cleveland Browns: Byron Murphy – CB – Washington
Cleveland took a lot of flak last year for “reaching” on Denzel Ward at number four. Well, it turns out that John Dorsey does know what he is doing. Pairing Ward with Byron Murphy would elevate Cleveland to another tier on the defensive side of the ball.
18. Minnesota Vikings: Devin White – LB – LSU
The Vikings were arguably the most disappointing team of 2018. Signing Kirk Cousins to a big contract a year after falling one game short of the Super Bowl propelled them to the top of many contender lists. Anthony Barr is most likely walking away from Minnesota to see what else is out there so that will be a big piece missing from the defense. LSU’s White could step in and take over where Barr left off and allow the defense to not miss a beat.
19. Tennessee Titans: Damien Harris – HB – Alabama
Finally, we saw Derrick Henry take what appears to be the next step although he needs to have someone to take reps. More and more teams are moving toward a running back by committee philosophy. Tennessee should add another ‘Bama running back to the mix and create a scare backfield to help relieve pressure from Marcus Mariota. That offensive line can dominate defenses and allow Henry and Harris to run roughshod.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kris Boyd – CB – Texas
Kris Boyd is a big corner who can shut down AFC North receivers. Artie Burns hasn’t developed the way the Steelers had planned but bringing in Boyd can create competition and push Burns for playing time.
21. Seattle Seahawks: Dalton Risner – OL – Kansas State
Seattle has to protect Russell Wilson to build upon their surprising 2018. Risner is versatile and can play any position on the line but right tackle would be his best position. He is not getting too much love right now but the former Wildcat can step right in and start at right tackle. Similar to Braden Smith of the Colts or Brian O’Neill of the Vikings from last year. Underrated rookies who came in and played well right away. Dalton Risner can be that for the Seahawks.
22. Baltimore Ravens: Montez Sweat – EDGE – Mississippi State
The Ravens and their fanbase are more than likely waving goodbye to living legend Terrell Suggs. They need to find a youthful pass rusher anyway and Sweat can be the next generation Ravens defensive star.
23. Houston Texans: Noah Fant – TE – Iowa
Deshaun Watson struggled mightily in his first playoff appearance. Houston must address the offensive line but sitting there for the taking is an athletic tight end who can cause mismatches and help protect Watson.
24. Raiders (From Chicago): JJ Arcega-Whiteside – WR – Stanford
The Raiders second first-round pick comes from Chicago and the Mack trade. They must replace Amari Cooper, another piece traded away, at the receiver position. Stanford’s JJ Arcega-Whiteside flashed absolute greatness for the Cardinal. He ended the year with 14 touchdowns and had over 1,000 receiving yards. Arcega-Whiteside’s playmaking ability is exactly what the Raiders need to bring in for Derek Carr.
25. Philadelphia Eagles: Zach Allen – DE – Boston College
The Eagles created some magic again this year but fell a bit short in the Divisional round. They are losing Brandon Graham and Chris Long to free agency but both were past their primes and needed to be replaced with someone younger. Allen can fit in perfectly on the Eagles defensive line to aid in stopping opponents run game.
26. Indianapolis Colts: A.J. Brown – WR – Ole Miss
The Colts have a bunch of cap space and have been discussed as a potential trading partner for Antonio Brown. If a trade like that does take place, I would imagine this pick goes along with it but if it doesn’t take place, the Colts take another Brown to play opposite of T.Y. Hilton. The Ole Miss receiver is coming off a 1,300-yard season and would be an immediate contender for offensive rookie of the year.
27. Oakland Raiders (From Dallas): David Montgomery – HB – Iowa State
The third first-round pick for Mayock and Gruden and it’s used to find another offensive weapon. Iowa State’s Montgomery is a touchdown machine, finding the endzone 24 times the last two years in Ames. He can also be utilized in the passing game, so a true three-down back. First round running backs are often debated and scrutinized but the Raiders need someone in the backfield, yesterday.
28. Los Angeles Chargers: David Edwards – OT – Wisconsin
The offensive line of the Chargers took a huge step in 2018 and is on the right path to being one of the best in the league. Adding a franchise tackle must be on the top of their list and the Badger’s David Edwards can play either side of the line.
29. New England Patriots: Juan Thornhill – S – Virginia
The Patriots are one of the four final teams left in the playoffs so this spot, along with the next three, is not set in stone yet. Regardless, the Patriots need to find a new safety and Thornhill would be a great fit.
30. Los Angeles Rams: DeAndre Baker – CB – Georgia
This pick might seem crazy with Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters in town but Talib is no spring chicken and with the way Peters has played this year, do not be surprised if the Rams decide to make their relationship with Peters a short one.
31. Kansas City Chiefs: Christian Wilkins – DT – Clemson
The Chiefs must improve on defense. They looked better the last few weeks but adding national champion Christian Wilkins to play opposite of Chris Jones could be exactly what the doctor ordered. The Kansas City run defense was second to last in 2018 and Wilkins would boost the front seven immediately.
32. Green Bay Packers (From New Orleans): Jaquan Johnson – S – Miami (FL)
Green Bay’s second selection of the first round comes via New Orleans who traded up last year to get Marcus Davenport. Green Bay takes the replacement for the departing Ha Ha Clinton Dix. Johnson is physical and a good athlete on the back end of the defense. He has the Cane edge to him and could bring the swagger back to the Packer defense.