When Carmen Vitali and I tried our hands at predicting the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, our first effort was posted hours before Kyler Murray declared he would be focusing on football and a day before Jeffrey Simmons tore an ACL in a workout. That's bad news for the Oakland A's and an awful break from Simmons, the talented defensive tackle from Mississippi State, and those are also the kind of developments that guarantee no two mocks will ever be the same.
The news never stops in the NFL, nor does the speculation. Soon a handful of teams (maybe even the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) will use their franchise tags. Premium wide receivers like Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham could find new addresses. A handful of veteran players such as Glover Quinn, Kurt Coleman and former Buccaneer Vinny Curry have hit the market early. The Eagles and Nick Foles are somewhere around Stage Three or Four of their contract maneuvering, which is of interest to QB-hungry teams.
Developments such as these may or may not directly affect what happens when the draft commences in late April, but they are part of the ever-shifting NFL landscape. And that fluidity is why Carmen and I are going to update our Mock Draft efforts every two weeks. Below you will find Version 2.0, which lands just before the start of the NFL Scouting Combine. Version 3.0 will surely reflect the inevitable impact of that week in Indianapolis.
Two changes from Version 1.0:
1. Carmen and I are going to switch the order of our choices for each version to try to bring a fresh perspective every two weeks. That means I'm going first this time and will thus have the honor of making the Bucs' pick at number five. That is, if the Bucs pick at number five, because…
2. We're also going to allow trades from here on out. If the deal is between one of my spots and one of Carmen's spots, we'll hammer out the details between us. If it's between two spots under the purview of the same picker, we'll just make sure we come up with something fair and reasonable, governed by the famous Draft Value Charts that are still in wide use.
And, before we begin, we must repeat our usual caveat. Though you are reading this on Buccaneers.com, none of this is meant to reflect the strategy or thinking of Jason Licht, Bruce Arians or any others involved in the Buccaneers' actual draft decision-making. These are our guesses, Carmen and Scott. Blame us if you don't like them.
So, off we go. There's no trade in the top spot, so I find myself in the draft room at Cardinals' headquarters in Tempe.
1. Arizona Cardinals: DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State (Scott Smith)
Yeah, yeah, I'm making the same pick Carmen made two weeks ago. At this point, I still think it's the logical choice. I know the Kyler Murray idea is picking up steam and that may be a bigger consideration in, say, Version 4.0 or 5.0. We'll see. For now, I think the Cardinals will stay committed to Josh Rosen, who was recently handed the "keys to the castle" by his King(sbury). There are so many tantalizing defensive linemen here (Quinnen Williams, Josh Allen) but Bosa looks like a carbon copy of his older brother Joey, and that's too good to pass up.
2. [TRADE] Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State (SS)
Full disclosure: The 49ers' front office (i.e. Carmen) initiated this phone call. The Jags' front office (i.e. me) was made aware that the 49ers were open to the idea of trading down and, over the course of several weeks of intense negotiations, came up with a deal. Jacksonville gets the second-overall pick in exchange for the seventh-overall pick, Jacksonville's second-round pick (#38) and Jacksonville's 2020 first-round choice. There is very recent precedence for this deal; in 2016, Philly moved up from #8 to #2 and gave up (to Cleveland) a third and a fourth that year plus a first in 2017 and a second in 2018. So the 2020 first-rounder is a must in this deal. As the Jacksonville G.M., I can reasonably believe that last year was the fluke and the Jaguars will return to contention in 2019, making that future first-rounder a much lower pick. Oh…that means I'm on the clock again. Obviously, you make this move for a quarterback and the Jaguars are finally moving on from Blake Bortles.
3. New York Jets: DE Josh Allen, Kentucky (SS)
Eventually I'll let Carmen make a pick in this draft. For now, I'm channeling the Jets (not like Captain Sully did) and I'm pretty thrilled about the above trade. It only gives me more options. Quinnen Williams is attractive and New York could use some O-Line upgrades as well, but the top need is an edge rusher. The Jets got 39 sacks by committee in 2018 but were 24th in sacks per pass attempt and didn't have one player with more than seven. It pains me to do this because Allen is the player I hope falls to the Buccaneers at number five. He was a beast at Kentucky and I think he will be an immediate force in the NFL.
4. Oakland Raiders: LB Devin White, LSU (Carmen Vitali)
SHEESH. Finally. This was getting to be the Scott Smith show. Although, it was admittedly my own doing with the not-so-subtle hint I dropped about the 49ers being ‘open’ to a trade. More on their plans later. In the last go-around, Scott had the Raiders taking Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary here due to the Raiders shockingly low number of sacks in 2018. Hey, edge rushers are hard to find in this league, just ask Coach Gruden. The top two edge guys already went in the first three picks and I think there’s too much of a drop-off between Allen and Gary while you still have linebacker Devin White on the board. I think White’s aggressiveness both in coverage and at the line make him a do-it-all threat who can bring pressure and patrol underneath. In a draft heavy in defensive linemen, if I’m Oakland, I’m going after the linebacker with your first of THREE picks this round.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson (SS)
Sneak preview of Version 3.0: Carmen takes Devin White first overall. I'm not even sure Devin White's mom is as high on his draft stock as Carmen. She had the Bucs taking him here in Version 1.0, but now he's already off the board so by necessity I will be moving in a different direction. And that direction is back to this draft's sweet spot: defensive linemen and edge rushers. Quinnen Williams remains very tempting and I think Ed Oliver's stock is going to rise steadily between now and the draft, but I want a pure edge rusher in Ferrell. He can fit easily into a 3-4 or a 4-3, and since the Bucs' defensive scheme will be in development all offseason, it's nice to have an impact player who will work with whatever the coaching staff wants to do.
6. New York Giants: QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma (CV)
OR I just did that in order to give you a shot at Quinnen Williams, which you didn’t even take. I don’t hate the Ferrell pick, though. His versatility would be a great addition to the Bucs’ developing defense. Moving onto the Giants – they are already on borrowed time with Eli Manning behind that block of swiss they call an offensive line. While that is undoubtedly their most pressing need, I don’t think there’s any one offensive lineman that you take at sixth overall. Instead, you get Manning’s heir-apparent who can take a redshirt year but also happens to be mobile enough to create holes of his own when his o-line inevitably breaks down should he get the nod.
7. [TRADE] San Francisco 49ers: CB Greedy Williams, LSU (CV)
This was the reason the 49ers were okay with trading down. I know Rashan Gary is still on the board, and there are a multitude of edge rushers San Francisco could be tempted by even at this spot, but they struggled with taking the ball away in 2018 and that’s putting it mildly. They had a total of TWO defensive interceptions all season. TWO! They need a ball hawk opposite Richard Sherman, because no quarterback is dumb enough to throw to his side even now. Williams had six interceptions his redshirt freshman year at LSU. He only had two this past season, but if he can bounce back in a new system, that would serve the Niners well. Forcing opposing offenses to take chances in the secondary, that dismal number of takeaways should hopefully (drastically) improve and that starts with getting a viable outside corner to complement Sherman.
8. Detroit Lions: DE Rashan Gary, Michigan (CV)
Oh, lookie. I’m up again. Detroit was middle of the pack, or pride I suppose in this case, when it came to sacks in 2018 with 43.0. Aside from those sacks, though, the defense wasn’t especially good at getting pressure on the quarterback, otherwise. They were tied for sixth-worst in quarterback hits last season with 77. Therefore, I think that means former Wolverine Rashan Gary doesn’t go very far and helps the Lions out on the edge.
9. [TRADE] Miami Dolphins: QB Drew Lock, Missouri (SS)
The Dolphins have a new coaching staff and are looking for a fresh start under center, so they trade up from pick 13 to snag the big, strong-armed Mizzou passer, whose biggest deficiency seems to be some questionable decision-making. NFL coaches always figure they can coach that out of a quarterback, so the ceiling is high on Lock. According to the Draft Value chart, the move from #13 to #9 is a cost of 200 points, which is the exact value of the #78 overall pick in the third round. And who owns pick #78? You guessed it, Miami. So that pick goes over to Buffalo and I think the Dolphins are forced to sweeten it a bit with their fifth-round pick (#140) because the Bills aren't thrilled with helping a division rival get its quarterback. Since I made this trade with two of my own teams in this mock, I'll explain Buffalo's reasoning below.
10. Denver Broncos: DT Quinnen Williams, Alabama (CV)
So last week, Scott had Missouri quarterback Drew Lock mocked to the Broncos and even after last week’s turn of events, they’d probably be wise to still consider that route. But the Broncos pulled off the first major move of the NFL offseason (in principle) by acquiring the former Ravens e l i t e quarterback and Super Bowl Champion Joe Flacco via trade. The deal and terms can’t officially be processed until the new league year begins March 13 and while it’s ill-advised in my humble opinion (and many, many others for that matter), they may actually believe Flacco is the answer. Which is… something. Therefore, with Williams still on the board, they opt to shore up the interior of their defensive line and grab him at the 10th spot.
11. Cincinnati Bengals: T Jonah Williams, Alabama (SS)
It's when Quinnen Williams goes 10th overall that you realize either this draft is very deep or your mock is coming off the rails. Anyway, what a steal for the Broncos, who are building a frightening defensive line after getting Bradley Chubb last year. And now here the Bengals sit with the opportunity to get their first choice among the offensive tackles and a definite need for O-Line upgrades (as Carmen mentioned in Version 1.0).
12. Green Bay Packers: DE Jachai Polite (CV)
There’s a need for a certified pass rusher in Green Bay, which many a Florida fan will probably attest Polite is. His 6’2, 240-pound frame puts him more as a linebacker by size, so he’d do well in a more 3-4 heavy scheme, which the Packers are. Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine was retained by new head coach Matt LaFleur so his fluid concepts should remain the same making Polite fit to rock those ridiculous cheeseheads.
13. [TRADE] Buffalo Bills: T Jawaan Taylor, Florida (SS)
The Bills were willing to trade down because they were targeting one of the tackles and all the best ones were still on the board, along with some elite D-Line prospects that were likely to (and did) tantalize teams in between those two picks. It worked out just fine, as Taylor is ready to step right into a starting spot on either side of the line. That's good news for the Bills, who may see their starting line decimated by free agency.
14. Atlanta Falcons: DT Ed Oliver, Houston (CV)
I don’t like a world where the Falcons end up with Ed Oliver. Can we start over, Scott?
View photos of the top draft prospects for the 2019 NFL Draft.
15. Washington Redskins: QB Daniel Jones, Duke (SS)
Carmen had Washington in Version 1.0 and I think she kicked the tires on choosing a quarterback before going with the homer ASU receiver pick. I'm going to take the plunge. Jones is probably the last quarterback who will get a first-round grade on Washington's board, and trying to trade all the way up for a Haskins or even a Lock proved too expensive. He was groomed by David Cutcliffe at Duke, he's got prototypical size and he's smart. His Senior Bowl week may not have been perfect, but I don't think it derails him from a first-round selection.
16. Carolina Panthers: DE Montez Sweat (CV)
Scott had the Panthers taking a pass rusher to replace the now-retired Julius Peppers. Sweat had a great Senior Bowl down in Mobile and is every bit the prototypical defensive end build. The fact that there have been FIVE edge defenders that have already gone in this round and we’re just getting to Sweat is kind of crazy. I hate the idea of this guy coming off the edge for a team the Bucs will face twice a year but I don’t think the Panthers are 'sweatin'' this pick.
See? I can do dad jokes, too.
17. Cleveland Browns: T Cody Ford, Oklahoma (SS)
Yeah, but essentially the exact same dad joke, so. Anyway, let's take a moment to point out that the Browns are slotted to pick 17th in this draft, not in the top five. That's due in large part to some astute top-five picks they've made recently, including Baker Mayfield, Denzel Ward and Myles Garrett. Now they're out of the lottery but still find themselves in a great spot. They could really use a tackle, a defensive tackle, a receiver and maybe a cornerback. Had Jeffery Simmons not torn his ACL, I think I would have gone that direction. Instead, I'll help out an O-Line that is stout up the middle but could get better on the edges.
18. Minnesota Vikings: T Dalton Risner, Kansas State (CV)
Dang, I was going to try to grab Ford for Minnesota but Risner isn’t too far of a _fall _and the Vikings need more help to protect their Kirk Cousins investment. As Scott said in 1.0, he impressed at the Senior Bowl, and not just because I was there. People I talked to in Mobile like his physicality and versatility. He could potentially go inside and translate as a guard at the NFL level – which the Vikings also need. Either way, it means that Minnesota is happy to take this guy at No. 18.
19. Tennessee Titans: WR D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss (SS)
Unlike the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, this is something that Carmen and I can agree on. She gave Metcalf to Marcus Mariota and the Titans in Version 1.0 and I'm doing the same here, although in this case he's the first receiver off the board. (N’Keal Harry went to Washington in our last mock.) I'm tempted here by cornerback Byron Murphy and I also understand that Tennessee may dip into a reasonably-good pool of free agent pass-catchers before the draft. Still, it's hard to pass up Metcalf if he drops this far. He's 6-4, 230 and apparently in decent shape, he'll block a corner into oblivion on a running play and he averaged more than 18 yards per catch for Ole Miss. That's kind of freaky.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Byron Murphy, Washington (CV)
MOVIE. I may be able to quote _The Curse of the Black Pearl_line-for-line completely unprompted, but may I point out to you, Mr. Smith (“or Smithy, if you’d like”) that you, yourself, work for a team named after pirates, so don’t act like you’re too good for a well-done Disney classic on the same subject. Moving on, I WILL take Byron Murphy for the Steelers please and thank you. They need the help in the secondary and Murphy could be a great piece in building for the future in Pittsburgh.
21. Seattle Seahawks: EDGE Brian Burns, Florida State (SS)
We didn't have Burns going in our first round in the last draft but I think this is a player whose stock is on the rise. We'll know more after the Combine. I guess the concern is that he weighs in at just 235 pounds on his 6-5 frame, but perhaps he'll have bulked up by then. After all, the pass-rusher they may be trying to replace after free agency, Frank Clark, weighs in at 265. The Seahawks will know how to get the most out of Burns' talents.
22. Baltimore Ravens: S Nasir Adderley, Delaware (CV)
In 1.0, I mocked Adderley to the Seahawks because they’re in need of secondary help – but so are the Ravens. Since you didn’t go that route in Seattle, Scott, I’ll take Adderley for Baltimore and the reasoning is the same. He’s a versatile safety with some nickel corner experience and at 5’11 and 200 pounds, he provides the size you need for a deep safety while also showing the speed needed to mirror slot receivers. We’ll see how he tests at the Combine but after the Senior Bowl, his stock is very much on the rise.
23. Houston Texans: T Andre Dillard, Washington State (SS)
To say that the Texans need help along the offensive line would be a gross understatement. Quarterback Deshaun Watson was sacked 62 times in 2018. 62! Poor guy. Good thing he’s mobile. Dillard is an athletic 300-pounder with nimble feet and he should work well in a fast-paced offense. Houston needs to take what they can get to give Watson some protection on the edge and this issue resolved. If any of what I just wrote sounds familiar that's because I didn't just write it. I cut-and-pasted what Carmen wrote in Version 1.0, except for the italicized part, which I had to change because I picked Dillard instead of Wisconsin's David Edwards. What's a little plagiarism between co-workers?
24. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago): RB Josh Jacobs, Alabama (CV)
Hey, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, which is why I’m going to continue that trend with this pick because I thought it was a fun take to have Gruden drafting a running back in the first round. I’m not sure it has the same effect because it’s one of three this round for the Raiders but it’s close enough. Plus, the offense needs a viable back because it seems the Skittles are finally wearing off on Marshawn Lynch and though his production was up in Oakland from his recent years in Tampa Bay, Doug Martin can’t do it on his own in his eighth NFL season.
25. Philadelphia Eagles: CB Deandre Baker, Georgia (SS)
The pass defense was a consistent problem for the Eagles in 2018, one of the reasons they were unable to defend their first Super Bowl title. That was before Ronald Darby tore an ACL in the last year of his current deal, making him a potential loss in free agency. Baker goes after Williams and Murphy because his relatively slight stature is a mild concern, but he's tenacious and good in press coverage anyway, and plenty of smaller corners succeed in the NFL.
26. Indianapolis Colts: DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson (CV)
I’m sticking with another pick of mine from 1.0 by taking Wilkins for the Colts since Scott didn’t take him for the Eagles. Wilkins is another player from the 2018 National Champion Clemson Tiger defensive line. Those guys were insane and I think they’ll all do well at the NFL level. Wilkins played four years on that line, including 11 games as a true freshman. The Colts do run a 3-4, but at 6’4, 300 pounds, Wilkins could fit in easily at one of the end spots opposite a guy like Denico Autry and complement him well.
27. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas): DE Jaylon Ferguson, Louisiana Tech (SS)
I'm a bit surprised that we made it all the way to Oakland's third pick without adding a pass-rusher. This is a team that had all of 13 sacks in 2018. (As I pointed out last time when I gave them Rashan Gary at #4, Khalil Mack had 12.5 of his own in Chicago.) It's hard to find good pass-rushers, and the early run of blue-chip prospects is over, but I think the Raiders take a chance on a divisive, raw prospect, kind of like New Orleans did last year with Marcus Davenport. Ferguson has a lot to learn to be a stud on the NFL level but those FBS-record 45 sacks he had for Tech weren't a mirage.
28. Los Angeles Chargers: DT Charles Omenihu, Texas (CV)
The Chargers don’t have a ton of pressing needs but given that Scott gave them an offensive tackle in 1.0 fully aware that it probably means they end up with a defensive tackle, I’m going that direction so at least one of us is right (me, I’ll be right). Omenihu was named the Big-12 Defensive Lineman of the Year his senior season in 2018. What’s most impressive about him though is his 6’6, 276-pound frame. That’s a real big guy on the inside but can also fit anywhere on the line in any sort of system.
29. Kansas City Chiefs: G Chris Lindstrom, Boston College (SS)
The Chiefs have needs, like every team, but as Carmen pointed it out in 1.0, they have few pressing needs. That puts them in position to use a first-round pick on a position that often doesn't get a lot of first-round attention: Offensive guard. The Chiefs had a good front line in 2018 but could probably use an upgrade over Cam Erving or Andrew Wylie at right guard. Lindstrom, another player out of that BC O-Line factory, can step right in as a rookie starter. A late first-round pick on a guard to add to an already loaded team – feels like a very Patriots thing to do (see Mankins, Logan).
30. Green Bay Packers (from New Orleans): TE Noah Fant, Iowa (CV)
But Patrick Mahomes is a national treasure who must be protected at all costs, so I like that. I get to pick again for the Packers, which 12-year-old me is telling me to sabotage right now but, journalistic integrity. I already gave them a pass-rusher earlier, so I’ll go to the other side of the ball and grab them a tight end. Fant is one of two Iowa tight ends in this year’s draft class, and they’re probably the top two prospects at the position. Fant has one more year of experience under his belt than T.J. Hockenson, which is why I’m going with him over Teej. Current veteran tight end Jimmy Graham has proved to be in the twilight of his career in Green Bay, so you get another guy to bolster that unit with your second first-round pick if you’re the Pack.
31. Los Angeles Rams: LB Devin Bush, Michigan (SS)
Like the Chiefs, the Rams have a very solid roster with few pressing needs. Bush seems like good value here and L.A. could bring in the eventual (maybe soon) replacement for Mark Barron.
32. New England Patriots: TE T.J. Hockenson, Iowa (CV)
Gronk has to be done, right?