Free agency moves fast, so we have to press the accelerator to keep up.
In a break from our previous schedule, we're bringing you Version 4.0 of our mock draft just a week after we dropped Version 3.0, rather than the usual two-week interval. The reason: So much of what happened in the early hours of free agency would seem to shake up the draft priorities of many teams…or at least what we perceive to be their priorities.
The San Francisco 49ers landed Dee Ford – will they still target an edge rusher with the second pick? With Ford and Kwon Alexander and Tevin Coleman and Jason Verrett all headed to the Bay area, do the 49ers even need anything anymore? Maybe they'll trade down from that second spot. Do I still think the other Bay area team, the Oakland Raiders, will target D.K. Metcalf at number four after landing Antonio Brown? Of course not. Besides, the Raiders pick belongs to Carmen this time around and she's probably more level-headed about Metcalf than I am.
So let's run this down for a fourth time, knowing what we know now about how various teams would approach free agency and what that means for their strategies on draft weekend. We've already done three of these, so we've covered the specifics of the available prospects already – Devin White is fast, Cody Ford can play guard or tackle, N'Keal Harry went to ASU, which I keep being told is important for some reason. This time, where appropriate, we're going to focus our attention more on what changed in the last week to affect these selections.
Just because we have to say it, let's put our usual caveat here: Though you are reading this on Buccaneers.com, none of what follows 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.
And with that, I'm on the clock for the Cardinals.
1. Arizona Cardinals: QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma (Scott Smith)
The news here is not free agency but Oklahoma's Pro Day on Wednesday, which the Cardinals did not attend. Methinks they doth protest too much? Maybe. Murray threw and he got on the scale to show he hasn’t shrunk since the Combine, but he didn't run the 40-yard dash. Personally, I don't care, and I don't think the Cardinals will either. Until I see something more convincing about Arizona sticking with Josh Rosen, I'm going to stay with what Carmen did here last time and give Kyler to Kliff Kingsbury, where he'll fit right in.
2. San Francisco 49ers: DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State (Carmen Vitali)
Here’s the thing: Potent edge rushers actually aren’t all that easy to find in this league, contrary to what others in the state of California may think. Much less ones that you can get for relatively cheap on a rookie contract for four years. For this reason, I think the 49ers stay at two and take Bosa, anyway. I feel like the situation might be even more conducive to Bosa now that the defense won’t have to rest entirely on his developing shoulders, too. This takes the pressure off and could make him a better player in the long run.
3. New York Jets: DT Quinnen Williams, Alabama (SS)
The Jets didn’t get Anthony Barr but they did land a stud linebacker in C.J. Mosley and, of course, were the final landing spot for Le’Veon Bell. I don’t think this changes their thinking too much for the draft, and they have a shot here at either Williams or Josh Allen. Carmen has already given them Williams twice (Versions 1.0 and 3.0) while I opted for Allen last time I had the Jets. I’ve changed my mind. Williams helped his stock at the Combine and the Jets opt for inside pressure over the edge rusher.
4. Oakland Raiders: DE Josh Allen, Kentucky (CV)
Glad you’ve come around to my way of thinking, Scott. And you’re right – I do have a more level head on D.K. Metcalf than you…for now. After trading for Antonio Brown, the Raiders can’t possibly entertain a wideout here (right?) so I think they go back to defense and get a pass-rusher. It’s anyone’s guess as to who ends up being better in the league between him and Bosa, but either way the two are widely accepted as two of the best players at the position to come out in this draft. Taking a pass-rusher also has the added benefit of shutting up all those who still can’t resist the Khalil Mack jabs slowly points finger at self.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State (SS)
The Bucs lost Kwon Alexander in free agency (unfortunate, but not surprising) and also added Deone Bucannon (very good, but not terribly surprising, either). Where does that leave them in terms of filling out a linebacking corps that has some other question marks, like Jack Cichy’s knee and Kendell Beckwith’s ankle? I’d say in a pretty uncertain position. So this pick should be LSU’s Devin White, right? I wouldn’t hate it. But I still feel it’s imperative for the Buccaneers to make use of their good position in a draft that is top-heavy in potentially awesome edge rushers. In the long run, I think they can find linebackers more easily than a guy like Sweat, who I’ve secretly been itching to pick for the Bucs for a while now.
6. New York Giants: QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State (CV)
I wanted to trade down with this pick to get more draft capital considering all the dead money New York is incurring because of the OBJ and Landon Collins departures but SOMEONE wouldn’t let me. At this point I have NO idea what the Giants are doing and let’s face it, you don’t either. They need to take the heir to Eli but if they don’t, let the record show that I won’t be surprised.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: WR D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss (SS)
I want a flying car, as was promised by Back to the Future II. We don’t always get what we want. As for the Jaguars, they signed Nick Foles and I get the concept of adding a veteran and also drafting a young guy to develop, but I don’t think that’s what’s happening here. There’s A LOT of guaranteed money in that deal. They’re tied to Foles. Sooooo…HELP HIM OUT. Immediately. The Jaguars have some pretty good receivers, but no really great ones. The only guy who averaged even 13 yards per catch (Donte Moncrief) is now gone. Metcalf blows the lid off for Foles.
8. [TRADE] Miami Dolphins: QB Drew Lock, Missouri (SS)
After all the dust has settled and, for instance, Teddy Bridgewater has decided to stay in New Orleans, the Dolphins are probably the QB-neediest team left. They’re calling everybody from pick five on up and they get a deal here with Detroit, which did a lot of work in free agency and can afford to move down five spots. The cost is a third this year, because the Lions’ second-rounder is too expensive to work in the value chart, plus a second next year because that third isn’t enough. The Dolphins get their man in Missouri’s lock.
9. Buffalo Bills: DT Ed Oliver, Houston (SS)
Buffalo focused on offense in the first blush of free agency, most notably signing three offensive linemen who could step right into the lineup. I think Ty Nsekhe is an underrated pickup as a new starting offensive tackle, so that makes the need to take Jawaan Taylor or Jonah Williams less pressing. Let’s focus instead on replacing the retiring Kyle Williams, a stalwart for so long in Buffalo. I could see Oliver being a riser on draft night.
10. Denver Broncos: LB Devin White, LSU (CV)
This was the thought behind trading up by the Dolphins: They figured the Broncos would take a quarterback here – and I think they would have if Lock was still on the board. But he’s not. And Ed Oliver is off of it, too, which isn’t welcomed news either. BUT – Devin White IS still on the board! And we all know how much I like Devin White. Plus, the Broncos just so happen to have a need at linebacker – even more now that the Bucs grabbed Shaq Barrett, who departed Denver in free agency. Not so terrible news for the Broncos, after all.
11. Cincinnati Bengals: T Jonah Williams, Alabama (SS)
We’re talking about how free agency is affecting these picks so…yeah, let’s just move on. That’s not really the Bengals’ bag. As such, I’ll go back to the pick I made in Version 2.0, Jonah Williams, especially since Cincinnati is getting the very first offensive lineman off the board. They did pick up an O-Lineman in free agency in John Miller but I don’t see how that really changes the priority here.
12. Green Bay Packers: TE Noah Fant, Iowa (CV)
The Packers were a team that ended up addressing most of their glaring needs in free agency. They desperately needed help on the edge and ended up signing a Smith duo in Za’Darius and Preston Smith at outside linebacker, so I don’t think that’s the top priority anymore. Instead, I think they go offense, where they need a tight end and could use another receiving weapon for Aaron Rodgers. I’ve heard a lot about Fant continuing to rise up draft boards and if his blocking and pass-catching ability is as great as everyone seems to think it is, the Pack get a great ‘Y’ addition to their roster.
13. [TRADE] Detroit Lions: DL Rashan Gary, Michigan (CV)
Leave it up to a division rival to take the guy you thought you could still get after trading down. The Lions need a tight end, too, and they could go with Fant’s college teammate T.J. Hockenson here but I think they realize that Rashan Gary is still on the board and address their needs on the defensive line instead with the guy out of the home state. Gary can probably play any position up front, so while their bigger need is edge, it doesn’t hurt to have a guy that can also rotate inside. Plus, the guy is his own agent… so there’s that.
14. Atlanta Falcons: T Jawaan Taylor, Florida (CV)
Scott, you went with this guy last time and even after free agency, this pick still makes the most sense. The Falcons weren’t very active because they had very little money to spend, but they did sign two guards. They released their right tackle and I think that makes room for a young tackle talent to come in and complete the offensive line overhaul. Taylor just so happens to play right tackle and he’s still available so this seems like a no-brainer for Atlanta.
15. Washington Redskins: LB Devin Bush, Michigan (SS)
Washington acquired Case Keenum to be their starting quarterback, but that certainly doesn’t take them out of the running for Daniel Jones, with whom I paired them last time. I just don’t like Jay Gruden coming out and specifically saying they could still take a quarterback. Sounds like a bluff. They still need a long-term solution, but they don’t necessarily have to force it if they’re not in love with Jones. Instead, I think they make a move to restock at linebacker, where they’ve had something of an exodus in recent days.
16. Carolina Panthers: DE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson (CV)
Listen, I’m not excited about Ferrell falling here and going to a team the Bucs have to see twice a year. But the Panthers really need help on the edge and didn’t address it in free agency so I have to think they’re going to try to do something here in the draft. This past Thursday was Clemson’s pro day and there’s no shortage of buzz surrounding their entire defensive line, which was considered the best in college football last season. Considering that, Ferrell may not last this long but if he does, Carolina is happy to take him.
17. New York Giants (from Cleveland): T Cody Ford, Oklahoma (SS)
Well, the Giants did…a lot. They kind of smushed two trades with the Browns together and now Odell Beckham and Olivier Vernon are gone. They’ve got a new starting guard (Kevin Zeitler) and a new starting safety (Jabrill Peppers) with Landon Collins gone. They signed receiver Golden Tate, which seems like more of a slot guy (maybe Sterling Shepard will play outside?). We gave them a quarterback at pick number six. So…maybe we’re back where we started and they still need O-Line help? Sure, why not? They signed Nate Solder last year and have Zeitler and Will Hernandez set at guard but that still leaves two uncertain spots. Ford could end up at either one of them.
18. Minnesota Vikings: OL Chris Lindstrom, Boston College (CV)
Scott took linebacker Devin Bush here last time around because it looked as though Anthony Barr was going to depart in free agency, and for a brief period, he did. He ‘agreed to terms’ with the New York Jets before the free agency signing period officially began and was given a night to sleep on it. It was reported that the signing in turn gave him “cold sweats” and he likened it to “marrying the wrong woman” and yeah, those are actual headlines. He backed out of the deal and Minnesota got to keep its star linebacker. Because of that I think they instead address the offensive line. Lindstrom could be the best interior offensive lineman in the draft and should be able to translate at either guard spot or at center, where he played at BC.
19. Tennessee Titans: TE T.J. Hockenson, Iowa (SS)
The Titans gave Mariota a great slot receiver in former Buc Adam Humphries and they added an edge rusher in Cameron Wake. Wake is 37, so I don’t think that necessarily keeps them from taking a look at a guy like Brian Burns. I was seriously considering Lindstrom here, as they let 2018 signee Josh Kline go after one year, but the Vikings just snapped him up. So Tennessee goes to plan B and gives Mariota another weapon in Hockenson, who is a potentially potent receiver but also a good enough blocker to stay on the field most of the time.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Greedy Williams, LSU (CV)
I know the Steelers addressed wide receiver and cornerback in free agency, signing Donte Moncrief and Steven Nelson. Of course, Moncrief isn’t Antonio Brown who Pittsburgh dealt away to the Oakland Raiders, so I think they could go wideout here, too. But if you’re going to get a guy who you can afford to develop while Moncrief and Smith-Schuster take the receiver reins, you can probably get him later. With cornerback Greedy Williams still on the board, you kind of have to take him and a little cornerback depth never hurt anyone.
21. [TRADE] Kansas City Chiefs: WR N’Keal Harry, Arizona State (SS)
Seattle needs a safety but none of them have been drafted yet and there’s a bit of a glut with Deionte Thompson, Nassir Adderley and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. The Seahawks can easily trade down eight spots and be virtually certain one of them will still be there. For the swap, Seattle gets the second of Kansas City’s two second-round picks (#63) and a sixth-rounder (#201) and gives back #124 in the fourth round. Believe me, it works, trade-value-chart-wise. Kansas City has been losing playmakers around Pat Mahomes and we have to at least acknowledge the possibility that Tyreek Hill will be in roster jeopardy. Harry is insurance in that case, and another weapon either way.
22. Baltimore Ravens: DE Brian Burns, Florida State (CV)
Well the Ravens need a receiver and I thought I would definitely be safe grabbing Harry but Scott Smith swoops in with Kansas City instead. Dang. The Ravens were among the more active teams in free agency, landing Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas and running back Mark Ingram. However, they lost both C.J. Mosley and Terrell Suggs in the process so they’ll desperately need to get some more help in the form of guys who can get after the quarterback. Burns’ size makes him a tricky one to place but wherever he ends up being most effective, Baltimore could use the help.
23. Houston Texans: T Andre Dillard, Washington State (SS)
I guess that means the Chiefs were right to trade up! As for this pick it’s one of the rare ones out of the top six that is staying same from Version 3.0 to 4.0. The Texans had a lot of free agency movement in their secondary, both coming and going. It remains to be seen if they’re better there, but they do have the bodies in place. The offensive line didn’t get any help, though, and lost some depth, and as Carmen pointed out last time around, DeShaun Watson was sacked 62 times in 2018. Sixty-two! Getting him better protection is still job number-one here.
View photos of Daniel Jeremiah's top 50 prospects of the 2019 NFL Draft.
24. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago): RB Josh Jacobs, Alabama (CV)
The Raiders needed a receiver. They got Antonio Brown in a trade and Tyrell Williams in free agency. They needed a safety. They got Lamarcus Joyner and Erik Harris. They somehow still have all three of their first-round picks of 2019 intact, too. Is it possible they’ve had a plan all along? After taking one of the best edge rushers in the draft in Josh Allen at No. 4, they now add arguably the best running back in the draft, too. They even grabbed Trent Brown in free agency, helping out the offensive line so Jacobs should have some holes to run through. This also means the team won’t have to rely on an aging Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin to carry the running game as they get a young back to round out their offense. Plus, they still have another pick before this round is over.
25. Philadelphia Eagles: CB Byron Murphy, Washington (SS)
I gave them a different corner, DeAndre Baker, in Version 2.0 but Murphy was already off the board in that one. This is just getting better for Philly, with the corners falling and the Eagles able to get in at the top of the run on the position. They lost Michael Bennett but added a new piece for the interior D-Line in Malik Jackson. They have that other Jackson, too, to help on offense, as DeSean makes his return to the green. So I think the secondary is still the top issue here.
26. Indianapolis Colts: DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson (CV)
You’ve done it again! Murphy was who you picked for the Colts in 3.0 and I liked that again for Indianapolis given that I don’t think their extension of Pierre Desir will solve their secondary problems. But ok, guess I’ll just take Wilkins here who I took for the Eagles last go around. The Colts need interior help on the defensive line and Wilkins should be an instant starter. He makes for the second player from that now-infamous Clemson defensive line to go in the first round.
27. Oakland Raiders: CB DeAndre Baker, Georgia (SS)
If I keep taking your players right before you intend to do so, Carmen, does that mean I’m “winning” this mock draft? I think so, right? Well, the Raiders have to feel like they’re winning on this Thursday draft evening, with the Joshes Allen and Jacob already in the fold. This almost feels like a bonus, and I think they have to use it on defense. They could use some youth at both linebacker and cornerback but the high-end depth feels better here at corner. Baker starts immediately, especially in a league that plays nickel 60-70% of the snaps.
28. Los Angeles Chargers: T Dalton Risner, Kansas State (CV)
The Chargers addressed linebacker not once but twice in free agency, extending Denzel Perryman and signing former Panther Thomas Davis. Which, good riddance. It means the Bucs will no longer have to see him twice a year. Los Angeles now turns to the offensive line to help protect precious Philip Rivers. And as far as this winning business goes, how about we wait to see who actually gets any of these right, hmm?
29. [TRADE] Seattle Seahawks: S Johnathan Abram, Mississippi State (SS)
It would have been NICE if a safety or two had gone between picks 21 and 29 to make this easier. I mean, the fact that this didn’t happen would seem to suggest the Seahawks were brilliant for trading down, but it leaves me still sifting through the best at the position. Let’s go with one who seems to be the full package in terms of coverage and run support.
30. Green Bay Packers (from New Orleans): OL Erik McCoy, Texas A&M (CV)
Again, the Packers covered a lot of their needs in free agency but I don’t think it would hurt too add more help to the interior of the offensive line to protect Rodgers. He’s not getting younger, but his O-line can. McCoy is a steady riser in this draft, too. He had a great Combine performance that I think clued a lot of people in to his flexibility at either guard or center. Between free agency and having two first-round picks in the draft, Green Bay looks pretty set this offseason.
31. Los Angeles Rams: DT Dexter Lawrence, Clemson (SS)
The Rams didn’t do a ton in free agency – they brought back Dante Fowler and they signed Eric Weddle – but what do you expect? Over the last couple years they’ve been unbelievably active in the free agency and trade markets, adding blue-chip players left and right. It can’t go on forever. This is still a team in win-now mode, which is why I’m resisting the urge to make a value pick with Jeffery Simmons. The Rams don’t want to wait; they’ll take the very large Lawrence to put next to Aaron Donald and occupy blockers.
32. New England Patriots: WR Andy Isabella, Massachusetts (CV)
Reportedly, the Patriots offered former Bucs’ wide receiver Adam Humphries after he had verbally agreed to go to Tennessee. Humphries turned them down, so I think maybe they go after another speedy slot receiver. They get him in Isabella, but watch for the trade down like we did in 3.0. It just seems like a very Patriots move.