Many teams utilize free agency to fill immediate needs. However, often this comes in the form of band-aids rather than long-term answers. One year contracts or long-term deals that are eventually cut into two or three-year additions. The draft is where teams try to find those long-term answers, but also look to replace declining players on high priced contracts.
If I overlooked an aspect of your team’s roster, let me know. If I missed a signing or emerging talent that fills a starting spot, let me know.
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1. Arizona Cardinals - QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
I so wanted to have the Raiders move up to one and go all in on Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, Trent Brown and Kyler Murray. Every report certainly points to the Cardinals taking Murray, but we only have to travel back 365 days to know draft reports at this point in the calendar do not matter. Sam Darnold was written in sharpie as the first pick last March. If you’re going to fire a coach after one season to shift to an offensive-minded play-caller, it makes sense to go all in on the players he wants. Maybe that is the case here.
2. San Francisco 49ers - EDGE Nick Bosa, Ohio St
49ers fans might be upset by another first round pick spent on a front seven player. Don’t be, as Nick Bosa is eerily similar to his brother. Both are great athletes (80th percentile for Joey, 69th percentile for Nick) and both win in similar ways. Their patented move is a slap, swipe rip to flatten out around the corner and get to the quarterback.
3. New York Jets - iDL Quinnen Williams, Alabama
Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen makes sense here as well since the Jets targeted Anthony Barr in free agency and the two could project in similar ways. But if the goal is creating disruption, Williams creates that more regularly than Allen.
4. Oakland Raiders - EDGE Josh Allen, Kentucky
Last year, the Colts dropped down from No. 3 overall to No. 6, partially because they saw six top prospects in this draft, and that slot would ensure one of those names. The Cardinals might do the same thing if they truly are sticking with Josh Rosen (who I still believe in), with the Raiders obviously targeting Kyler Murray. If that does not happen, either Allen or Quinnen Williams would be a big addition at positions of need.
5. Tampa Bay Bucs - EDGE Rashan Gary, Michigan
Rashan Gary won with athleticism in college. Rashan Gary tested in the 95th percentile at the NFL Combine. That part of his game will translate. Todd Bowles and Kacy Rodgers lacked edge talent with the Jets. This might turn it into a strength in their new roles. I know the team has JPP and added Shaq Barrett, but Pierre-Paul’s contract includes no guarantees after the 2019 season and Barrett is on a one-year deal.
6. New York Giants - EDGE Montez Sweat, Miss St
I was a bit surprised that Dave Gettleman went with a running back over an edge rusher last season. He will never stop adding pieces to trenches. I like Lorenzo Carter as a drop edge and Markus Golden is a nice one year shot, but Sweat could lock down the long-term future on the outside. I’d bet on Sweat’s game translating after testing in the 97th percentile. Sweat was reportedly flagged for a heart condition, but let’s not forget Dave Gettleman selected Star Lotulelei when the defensive tackle was sent home from the Combine for possibly a similar reason. I’m no direct, only attempting to connect puzzle pieces.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars - OL Jonah Williams, Alabama
The No. 1 difference, outside of coaching, that Nick Foles will face in his transition from Philadelphia to Jacksonville is offensive line talent and play. The goal will be for Foles to succeed inside of structure. The Jaguars faced a wealth of injuries along their front five last year. Williams could compete to start at many of them.
8. Detroit Lions - iDL Christian Wilkins, Clemson
The Lions added Trey Flowers, yet have a major need in terms of creating disruption. Flowers can be an outside to inside disruptor, but adding a talent like Wilkins who has a chance to win his one on one matchup on every snap, would be a big step in the right direction. Watch his game against Pitt.
9. Buffalo Bills - WR D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss
The Bills attempted to make a huge splash with the Antonio Brown trade. That fell through. The additions of John Brown and Cole Beasley are nice but don’t stop there. Metcalf is an interesting evaluation. He was glued to one side of the field, therefore he was able to focus on releases in just one alignment. All of his routes were based on a vertical plane. Still, size and speed receivers are making a comeback in this draft, and many will view Metcalf as the best.
10. Denver Broncos - QB Drew Lock, Missouri
This will be one of the most common connections in every mock. I’m buying it, as Joe Flacco is a clear bridge.
11. Cincinnati Bengals - LB Devin White, LSU
The Bengals needed an injection of athleticism at linebacker three years ago. White tested in the 94th percentile, is an absolute missile at the second level, but also plays under control when necessary. That’s an important line to toe for a linebacker.
12. Green Bay Packers - LB Devin Bush, Michigan
I was very close to placing Hockenson here. More so than any other position, White and Bush form a clear tier at the top with a large gap to the next group. With the Packers targeting edge rusher in free agency, adding a pillar second level linebacker like Bush makes sense and makes the defense even faster.
13. Miami Dolphins - QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
I know all of the buzz points to a QB in 2020 for the Dolphins. If that’s the case, then adding another OL to set up a future quarterback for success makes sense. But in this scenario, Haskins is on the board, and he’s a quarterback who succeeds inside of structure and consistently showcases smart decision making in the pocket.
14. Atlanta Falcons - iDL Ed Oliver, Houston
Explosiveness. Disruption. Athleticism. Ed Oliver and Dan Quinn are a fantastic match.
15. Washington Redskins - TE T.J. Hockenson, Iowa
Beat writer JP Finlay says those near the organization are on the lookout for a playmaker. While receiver might create conflicting evaluations, almost unanimously Hockenson is viewed as the top tight end. He’s already so comfortable inline and has plenty of examples at winning at multiple levels of the field.
16. Carolina Panthers - EDGE Brian Burns, FSU
Drafts don’t always go according to plan, it would make total sense for the Panthers to attack EDGE and LT in the top two rounds. There are plenty of suitable tackles still available here, namely Dillard, but Burns is a legit top 10 talent. He tested in the 94th percentile and won with athleticism in college. That translates.
17. New York Giants (via CLE) - T Jawaan Taylor, Florida
Maybe this is Daniel Jones. If not, it is clear Dave Gettleman wants to continue to improve his trenches. Taylor certainly fits the big body tackle with good feet that Gettleman has suggested he’s biased towards in the past.
18. Minnesota Vikings - T Andre Dillard, Washington St
Andre Dillard racked up a ton of pass pro reps in college and looked excellent. Then he hit the 20-yard shuttle threshold, instilling more confidence in his evaluation. Full season team success is heavily reliant on offensive line talent, health and continuity. The offensive line was a major factor in limiting the Vikings last season.
19. Tennessee Titans - EDGE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
Brian Orakpo, cupcake baker. Derrick Morgan, free agent. I love Harold Landry’s future thanks to his flexibility and bend around the corner. Pairing him with Ferrell, who understands distance, length and hands would form a great young duo.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers - T Greg Little, Ole Miss
Last year Steelers brass harped on the bloodline of Terrell Edmunds after taking him in the first round. Little’s father played linebacker as was drafted. It’s a little nugget, but with few first round quality EDGEs potentially at this and the Steelers investing on outside corner in free agency, this becomes one of the top needs, unless Matt Feiler is viewed as the long-term starter.
21. Seattle Seahawks - OL Cody Ford, Oklahoma
For a team that invests so much in the running game, the Seahawks could use improvements at a few spots along their offensive line.
22. Baltimore Ravens - iOL Garrett Bradbury, NC St
The Ravens two tackles are locked in. Center deserves an upgrade. Bradbury tested like one of the best athletes at the position, is a fantastic reach blocker and could be fun to watch getting to the second level in the Ravens running game.
23. Houston Texans - T Kaleb McGary, Washington
There’s an argument to be made that not a single Texans offensive lineman should be viewed as a long-term piece to build around. Every one can be improved upon.
24. Oakland Raiders (via CHI) - RB Josh Jacobs, Alabama
It would not be a surprise to see RB be left out of the first round. But I could totally see Mike Mayock loving Jacobs’ evaluation and Gruden buying in to help the “balance” on offense.
25. Philadelphia Eagles - CB Byron Murphy, Washington
The Eagles had to cycle through corners last season, week after week. Many of them now have starting experience, but is there one you can point to and call a long-term answer at the position. Murphy is that.
26. Indianapolis Colts - iDL Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame
Another Ballard homerun. It is clear Ballard weighs in athletic profiles in his evaluations. Tillery, in the 84th percentile, is an outstanding athlete with great bend and flexibility along the interior. He’s fantastic.
27. Oakland Raiders (via DAL) - CB Greedy Williams, LSU
Noah Fant makes a lot of sense here as well. I know Worley drew a pretty hefty tag considering his rocky career over the last few years. But Greedy is an instant upgrade at a pillar position.
28. Los Angeles Chargers - iDL Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio St
Jones didn’t test like a great athlete, but he exhibits fantastic pass rushing qualities. Bend, flexibility, upside. Makes a strength stronger for the Chargers.
29. Kansas City Chiefs - WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma
Close your eyes. Imagine Patrick Mahomes lofting passes to Hollywood Brown downfield. His game is very similar to Desean Jackson.
30. Green Bay Packers (via NO) - TE Noah Fant, Iowa
Not fair. 98th percentile tight end athlete with production to back it up to a team with a need at the position. For their draft slot ESB and MVS performed well, but adding a piece like Fant, especially on the inside, could really help.
31. Los Angeles Rams - iOL Chris Lindstrom, BC
One major key to the Rams success over the last two years has been offensive line health and continuity. That will be tested this year without John Sullivan and Rodger Saffold.
32. New England Patriots - DL Dexter Lawrence, Clemson
There’s a lot of talent still left on the board. Wide receiver, cornerback, etc. But many view Dexter Lawrence as a first-round talent as a massive body who can also press the pocket.