A year ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers found themselves on the clock at pick number seven in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. The two teams picking before them, Denver and Indianapolis had cleaned the board of the two remaining players who, at least among consensus opinion, were clearly a notch above the rest of the non-QB prospects. That would be North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb and Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson.
We will never know for sure if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' draft room held the same opinion about Chubb and Nelson, relative to the rest of the field. We do know that both of those players delivered on their lofty draft status with outstanding rookie seasons that would have helped any team they joined. We also know that, after those two picks were announced, the Buccaneers chose to accept a trade offer from the quarterback-hungry Buffalo Bills, moving back five spots and picking up a pair of second-round selections.
It is a fair conjecture, then, that the Buccaneers were waiting to see if a Chubb or Nelson-type of prospect lasted until the seventh pick and, when that didn't happen, were faced with a crowded board of similarly-desirable options. Perhaps Tampa Bay made the move believing it was essentially guaranteed of getting a player it was excited about even after a small move down the board. In the end, the Bucs landed Vita Vea, the enormous but agile defensive tackle out of Washington, and he ended his rookie season on a promising run after being slowed early by injury.
It is entirely possible that a scenario like the one imagined above will develop for the Buccaneers in the 2019 draft, in which they currently hold the fifth-overall pick. Last year, the Bills used the pick they got from Tampa Bay to select Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen. Coincidentally, it is the selection of another player named Josh Allen in this mock draft that prompted us to pull the trigger on another trade for the Buccaneers. And, again, they reaped the benefits when another QB-hungry team kept calling.
Will it work out this time? Keep reading to see how far down the Bucs moved and which player they ended up with after the deal, as Carmen Vitali and I present the sixth version of our alternating-pick mock draft. In fact, you may be surprised about where Tampa Bay ended up picking, and how.
You're probably skimming this paragraph because we include it in every mock draft version, but it must be said: 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.
I'm on the clock for the Cardinals and, for at least another week, I'm sticking with conventional wisdom. Let's go.
1. Arizona Cardinals: QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma (Scott Smith)
This is the fourth straight mock draft in which we've given Murray to Arizona, and that's been the consensus opinion for about six weeks now. That said, I am definitely starting to waiver on this as the draft draws near and Josh Rosen remains a Cardinal. No, the Cards don't have to deal Rosen in order to draft Murray, and they could adopt the bold strategy of waiting to see if his value is higher a year from now, but I would feel a lot better about this prediction if Rosen has moved on.
2. San Francisco 49ers: EDGE Nick Bosa, Ohio State (Carmen Vitali)
I’m going to go ahead and admit I’m making this selection based solely off the fact that EVERYONE seems to be making this assumption. I know the 49ers need an edge rusher and Bosa is considered the best in this stacked class by draft experts who spend more time delving into the particulars than I do. So, I’m not overthinking this. Death, taxes and Nick Bosa to the Niners.
3. New York Jets: DT Quinnen Williams, Alabama (SS)
Except for Version 2.0, in which I put Josh Allen here, we've stayed strong on this pick for the last two months. Williams is a special talent and in today's NFL its arguably more impactful to have a player who can get pressure up the middle than off the edges.
4. Oakland Raiders: EDGE Josh Allen, Kentucky (CV)
Speaking of not overthinking things, the Raiders need an edge rusher and with Bosa gone, they go to presumably the next-best talent. Allen is touted as the best outside linebacker in the draft and for good reason. The guy had 17.0 sacks in 2018, which were the most by an SEC player since the conference started recognizing sacks as an official stat in 2000. He won both the Bronco Nagurski and Chuck Bednarik Awards last season, given to the country’s best defensive player and was a consensus All-American. At 6-foot-5, 260, he has everything anyone (including Jon Gruden) could want in a pass rusher.
5. [TRADE] Miami Dolphins: QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State (SS)
I was hoping that either Williams or Allen would drop to this spot but, just like the 2018 scenario described above, they disappeared with the last two picks. So now I’m looking at a board that includes linebackers Devin White and Devin Bush as well as defensive linemen/edge rushers Ed Oliver, Montez Sweat, Rashan Gary, Clelin Ferrell and Brian Burns. So I tell my assistant to return the exploratory call that Miami’s Chris Grier put in a couple minutes ago and we get down to business. I know Miami wants to trade up from #13 specifically to get a QB, which means I only have to worry about picks 6-12. That’s seven picks and I’m fairly certain at least one of them will be an offensive lineman. We could even see a tight end and/or a receiver go in that span. That means I feel good that I’ll get one of the seven players I listed above. I swing the deal and acquire Miami’s second and third-round picks (#48 and #78). I give back a fifth (#145) but still come out ahead on the draft value chart.
6. New York Giants: T Jawaan Taylor, Florida (CV)
I did whatever the writing equivalent of throwing a dart at a board and seeing where it lands was for this pick. As I’ve stated before, I have NO idea what the Giants are thinking and you don’t either. With Haskins and Murray gone, I think they abandon the quarterback for now, whether for better or worse, and instead look into shoring up a depleted offensive line. This can both help preserve the mediocrity that is Eli Manning and hopefully open some actual running lanes for Saquon Barkley, though his 2,000+ yards from scrimmage last year doesn’t suggest he needs them.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: WR D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss (SS)
You think you could try again and throw that dart at the other side of the board, since I was all prepared to take Taylor here for the Jaguars. With him gone, I’ll go away from the offensive line and return to the pick I made for Jacksonville in Version 4.0. For those very few out there who did not commit that article to memory, I’ll repeat what I said then: the Jags have a new multi-millionaire quarterback and a decent
arrangement of good receivers. I just don’t see a great one, or a big-play producer. That’s what Metcalf is. He may not be the sharpest route runner just yet but he’ll get on you and then by you with a quickness.
8. Detroit Lions: DL Ed Oliver, Houston (CV)
Blame your butterfly-effect of a trade, Scott. I don’t hate Metcalf to the Jags though, for the record. The Lions, on the other hand, are ecstatic to see that Oliver is still on the board. They grabbed defensive end Trey Flowers in free agency to help on the edge, so now they help the pass rush from the interior with a freak of an athlete in Oliver. I foresee Oliver being able to play all along the defensive line with his speed and athleticism. If you take into account he was actually being used as a nose tackle for a majority of last season, what he has the potential to do from the one or three-technique at the NFL level could be downright scary. You can count on him to draw double teams every time, giving big NFC North offensive lines equally big problems to contend with.
9. [TRADE] Tampa Bay Buccaneers: LB Devin White, LSU (SS)
Oh boy, I am wheeling and dealing! See, I know I said I was fine with any of those seven players falling to me at #13, but I can also admit that White was my number-one choice. When three more picks go by and he’s still on the board, I have to at least try to make a move. Why does Buffalo listen when I call? Because they could really use either an offensive or defensive linemen (or a receiver) and while several of those players I mentioned before are still available, so are such blockers as Jonah Williams, Cody Ford and Andre Dillard. The difference in picks nine and 13 on the trade value chart is 200 points, and you know which pick is valued at exactly 200? I’ll tell you: #78, which I acquired from Miami about a half-hour ago! Boom. So I’ve turned a fifth-round pick into an extra second-rounder and still gotten the player I was going to take at #5. Nice. (By the way, the only thing I blame on the butterfly effect is the creation of perhaps the worst movie I’ve ever seen, A Sound of Thunder.)
10. Denver Broncos: QB Drew Lock, Missouri (CV)
You know there was an actual Butterfly Effect movie (with a sequel!), right? It starred a young Ashton Kutcher and admittedly wasn’t very good either but I digress. Color me IMPRESSED with your wheeling and dealing for the Bucs. That extra second rounder should come in handy. You know what else should come in handy? An extra quarterback waiting in the wings for when the Broncos inevitably find out Joe Flacco isn’t the answer to their quarterback problems. Why they thought he was in the first place still remains a concern but they can right the ship by taking Lock off the board at number 10.
11. Cincinnati Bengals: T Jonah Williams, Florida (SS)
I’ve already picked Williams in Versions 2.0 and 4.0, so I don’t feel like I have to explain myself again. I’d rather use this space to answer your question: Yes, I am aware of the Ashton Kutcher vehicle centered around the butterfly effect and while it’s mildly bad it’s not as aggressively stupid as A Sound of Thunder. Check it out if you don’t believe me, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
12. Green Bay Packers: DL Rashan Gary, Michigan (CV)
Pass. Which is what the Packers don’t do on a guy that could help anywhere on the defensive line. The fact that he falls to 12 is a bonus and no doubt influenced by the fact that in a scarce draft for quarterbacks, three have still gone in the top 10. I could have had the Packers go with a tight end in one of the guys out of Iowa, but I’m not sure I wanted to condemn either of them to the apparent pit of despair that is the Aaron Rodgers-led offense in Green Bay. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t take a more-than-professionally-appropriate amount of joy from reading that scathing report on the Packers’ football soap opera under Mike McCarthy from Bleacher Report.
13. [TRADE] Buffalo Bills: DE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State (SS)
Article or no, I assume you were being facetious about the horror of being a tight end in an Aaron Rodgers-led offense. As for the Bills, this works out well as Sweat is a pass-rusher with a high-ceiling and a good chance at going in the top 10 if things fall a little differently. Buffalo needs an edge rusher opposite Jerry Hughes as I’m not sure how much longer they can realistically expect to get five-to-10 sacks out of Lorenzo Alexander.
14. Atlanta Falcons: OL Jonah Williams, Alabama (CV)
I know that a lot of people are projecting Williams to be fit in at guard at the next level, which the Falcons could definitely use, but they could also use a tackle. And to be honest, I really like Williams’ insistence that he wants to play tackle, despite his arm measurements. The horror! The reality is, he still managed to be one of the best left tackles in college football last year on an Alabama team that made it to the National Championship again. That’s as close to NFL experience that exists in college, so I don’t think NFL defensive ends scare him all that much. But even if they do get the better of him, the Falcons are more-than-happy kicking him inside.
15. Washington Redskins: LB Devin Bush, Michigan (SS)
Carmen gave Washington Drew Lock in Version 5.0, but Lock didn't make it to this spot this time around. Will they consider Daniel Jones? Maybe, but as I noted in Version 4.0, I feel like Jay Gruden is trying his hand at misinformation with his comments about the position. Speaking of Version 4.0, I gave Washington Devin Bush in that one and I'm going back to it here given the losses of Zach Brown (self-inflicted) and Preston Smith (Packers-inflicted).
16. Carolina Panthers: T Andre Dillard, Washington State (CV)
The Panthers need more help along their offensive line and giving Cam Newton more time to get through his progressions before he inevitably takes off running. That mobility requires tackles that can move and Dillard is one of those. His four years as the Cougars’ starting left tackle helps, too.
View photos from week two of offseason training.
17. New York Giants: QB Daniel Jones, Duke (SS)
I gave the Giants an offensive linemen here last time but in this mock draft Carmen had the address that need in a big way at pick number six…instead of taking a quarterback. So let's just flip the whole process and give them the quarterback here. I think NFL scouts may be a bit higher on Jones than the national media and we all know how QBs tend to rise in the draft. And maybe taking Jones here instead of Haskins or Lock at #6 makes it more feasible that they play out the string with Eli while their young quarterback learns the pro game.
18. Minnesota Vikings: OL Chris Lindstrom, Boston College (CV)
I really, really like this guy and though he has most of his experience at center, he’s projected as a guard at the NFL level. The Vikings want to shore their offensive line up on the other side after bringing in Josh Kline in free agency. They have to protect their fully guaranteed investment in Kirk Cousins for the length of his contract and they’ve been doing a decent job so far. Cousins was sacked 40 times last year, which ranks middle of the pack. With the additions to the O-line this offseason, Cousins should be even more insulated in 2019.
19. Tennessee Titans: TE T.J. Hockenson, Iowa (SS)
This draft has really worked out well for the Titans, because both Iowa tight ends (Hockenson and Noah Fant) are considered potential top-15 picks but both are still on the board here at 19 and they get their
choice. That's great for the Titans, who would surely have the situation thoroughly scouted and would know which one they want. It's not so great for me because I have to guess which one they want. I'll say Hockenson because he's already such a powerful blocker and his pass-catching ceiling could be equal to Fant's.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Byron Murphy, Washington (CV)
The Steelers need a lot of help in the secondary and this seems to be where they should start. Murphy’s stock has risen so much in the draft that where many people thought LSU’s Greedy Williams would be the first corner taken, they’ve instead elected to take Byron Murphy now. He’s drawn comps to Asante Samuel from draft analysts and while his 5’11 stature might be a concern, his instincts make up for it.
21. Seattle Seahawks: LB Brian Burns, Florida State (SS)
The Seahawks need a safety, probably, but there seems to be a lot of depth there and little consensus on the order in which they should be drafted. So I think they can circle back to that position in a later round and instead use this premium pick on a pass-rusher who may or may not actually make it this far. The Seahawks already have a couple good pass rushers but their defense at its best could bring those guys at you in waves.
22. Baltimore Ravens: WR N’Keal Harry, Arizona State (CV)
The Ravens need a big-time receiver so Lamar Jackson won’t have to do it all on his own. Harry fits the bill and his strength lies in his ability to make contested catches. At 6’2, he’s not the tallest of receivers but he wins the ball anyway, playing very physical on the outside. I know there’s a lot of hype around both Ohio State’s Parris Campbell after his blazing 40-yard dash at the Combine and Oklahoma State’s Marquise Brown but I’m sticking with Harry to be the second receiver off the board.
23. Houston Texans: T Cody Ford, Oklahoma (SS)
I gave the Ravens a perfectly good receiving option in Version 5.0 with Parris Campbell but of course Carmen has to change it to an ASU guy. Shocking. As for the Texans, we all know they've got to give Deshaun Watson better protection. I was actually hoping to get Dillard, since there's some concern Ford might be better at guard at the next level and the Texans really need the help more at tackle. Hopefully, Ford can stick on the outside.
24. Oakland Raiders: RB Josh Jacobs, Alabama (CV)
The Raiders got their edge rusher with their first pick and now look to the offense where they have a significant need at running back. Methinks they’re going to be a pass-heavy team with the likes of Antonio Brown in the mix now but they’ll need some sort of ground game to round it out when AB is triple-teamed and Derek Carr is under duress. I just don’t think Doug Martin or the aging Marshawn Lynch who is not (?) retired aren’t going to be able to get it done for Oakland in 2019. This spot seems a perfectly good one to take the first running back in the draft.
25. Philadelphia Eagles: CB Greedy Williams (SS)
This is our sixth mock draft. In the first five, the LSU cornerback has gone eighth, seventh, 15th, 20th and 21st. Now he's slid even farther, but I'll stop that here, where we have consistently paired the Eagles with a cornerback…well, at least I have. Carmen has given them defensive help at other positions during her turns. I'm not sure why Williams is sliding so consistently, but I think the Eagles would be happy if he did.
View photos of Charley Casserly's latest mock draft.
26. Indianapolis Colts: DL Christian Wilkins, Clemson (CV)
It’s unlikely Wilkins falls this far either. He’s touted as a potential top 15 pick but the Colts sure as heck aren’t complaining. They have one of the best offensive lines in the league, giving up the least amount of sacks of anyone. That leaves the other side of the trenches and a complement for Denico Autry to bring Indianapolis’ defensive line now up to snuff.
27. Oakland Raiders: CB DeAndre Baker, Georgia (SS)
Well, the Raiders haul in this version has now fallen exactly as it did in 4.0: Josh Allen, Josh Jacobs and now Baker. Oakland could really use help just about everywhere on defense and I thought about taking the first safety off the board but they did sign Lamarcus Joyner so I'll grab the best remaining corner instead and put him directly into the starting lineup.
28. Los Angeles Chargers: OL Garrett Bradbury, NC State (CV)
The Chargers could go any number of ways in the draft, mostly because they don’t have any real glaring needs. This is a good team and I think they can reinforce the protection around the elite Philip Rivers (despite his insistence on spelling his name with only one ‘l’) with their first pick and be sitting pretty for 2019.
29. Kansas City Chiefs: WR Parris Campbell, Ohio State (SS)
I had KC trading up two versions ago to get a wide receiver, but this is probably better, as there is a decent amount of depth to sort through at the back of this round and the top of the next. Kansas City gets the next Michael Thomas and Patrick Mahomes gets even more dangerous, if that's possible.
30. Green Bay Packers: TE Noah Fant, Iowa (CV)
I think Baker Mayfield has the claim on dangerous, no? Anyway, the Packers get their second pick of the first round and get the other tight end from Iowa in Noah Fant. Which one goes first is anyone’s guess but I don’t think any team is disappointed with either, much less the Packers who need tight end help desperately.
31. Los Angeles Rams: DT Dexter Lawrence, Clemson (SS)
I notice that the other Clemson lineman, Clelin Ferrell is still on the board, and that's tempting, but I think the Rams need the interior-line help more. This is the third straight draft in which we've given the Rams Lawrence, which seems like surprising consistency for the 31st pick.
32. [TRADE] New York Giants: WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma (CV)
And here I have New England trading out of the bottom spot and the Giants trading up five spots in an effort to replace Odell Beckham Jr. with one of the draft’s promising young receivers. Metcalf, Harry and Campbell are all gone so they want their shot to grab Brown before it’s too late. It costs them their fifth and sixth round picks (it works with the draft value chart, I promise) but it gives them three first-rounders in total to start the rebuild, which is what I have to assume they are doing.