Giants will grab a QB ... but not with their first pick
FILE - In this March 2, 2019, file photo, Duke quarterback Daniel Jones runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis. Jones is a possible pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)
The NFL Draft is an inexact science, which is a nice way of calling it an educated guessing game. Between mock drafts, smokescreens, TV analyst debates and social media reports, there is now so much draft information (and misinformation) out there that it can be excruciatingly difficult to decipher just how the event might actually play out.
We all know that every draft has its fair share of surprises, and this year is no different, with anticipation and unpredictability at an all-time high. In fact, this is by far the most challenging first round I’ve tried to project in recent memory.
As always though, I’m here to offer some insights and opinions on this year’s first round with the release of my 2019 final mock draft, which has become an annual staple of the Times News for the past 19 years and has been ranked as one of the most accurate mock drafts in the industry over the past eight years according to www.thehuddlereport.com.
So, without further ado, here’s how I see things unfolding tonight — before the first trade blows it all up:
1. Arizona Cardinals – Kyler Murray (QB, Oklahoma)
All signs point to Kyler Murray being Arizona’s selection, but it’s certainly not a slam dunk pick. Kliff Kingsbury has been courting Murray for years, dating back to his days as Texas Tech’s head coach, and Murray would be a perfect fit for his new-age offense. However, there’s one big problem – Josh Rosen. After burning a top-10 pick just last year on their “quarterback of the future,” Arizona will have to figure out a plan with Rosen (which could actually materialize during the draft itself). If they shock the world by passing on Murray, it would make for the biggest smokescreen in the history of the NFL draft. In that case, Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams or Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa would be the selection. However, for the second straight year, the top overall pick of the draft goes to a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback from Oklahoma.
2. San Francisco 49’ers – Nick Bosa (DE, Ohio State)
San Francisco is sitting at a perfect spot here, as they’ll be able to get one of the top two players in this year’s draft (Nick Bosa or Quinnen Williams). The 49’ers reportedly love both players, but Bosa can be a difference maker at a premium position from day one and can bookend a defensive line with Dee Ford that would give the 49’ers a pass rush they haven’t seen in years.
3. New York Jets – Quinnen Williams (DT, Alabama)
This is where the draft starts to get interesting. I feel the Jets would really love to trade down a few picks, since they don’t have a second round selection; however, are they really willing pass up an opportunity to select one of three impact defensive players (Quinnen Williams, Ed Oliver or Josh Allen)? Josh Allen would undoubtedly fill the biggest need as an edge rusher in New York’s 3-4 defense, but the Jets are said to be infatuated with Williams and Oliver. Williams may be the best player in the draft, and although he doesn’t fill a huge need, he would form a nice D-line tandem with Leonard Williams (no relation).
4. Oakland Raiders – Ed Oliver (DT, Houston)
There’ll be no “Mayock Mock Draft” this year, as the former NFL Network draft guru is now in charge of the Raiders war room with three first round selections of his own. While quarterbacks might be tempting (especially if Arizona passes on Murray), it is hard to fathom Oakland passing on an impact defensive player for its front seven. I feel this pick will ultimately come down to Quinnen Williams, Ed Oliver, or Josh Allen. I am very tempted to put Allen here, since the Raiders finished dead last in sacks a season ago, and Allen will give them the most bang for their buck. However, the Raiders are said to love Oliver and Mayock may see this undersized defensive tackle as his very own version of Aaron Donald.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Devin White (LB, LSU)
The Buccaneers are sitting in a dream spot, as they should be able to land an impact defensive player with this pick. Tampa Bay apparently loves Devin White, Ed Oliver and Josh Allen, and they may just wait to see who happens to fall to them. White would be a perfect replacement for Kwon Alexander, Oliver could be the next Gerald McCoy, and Allen would be a perfect fit as an edge-rusher in Tampa Bay’s new 4-3 defense. All would make perfect sense for Tampa Bay, but I’ll go with White, who seems to be the leader in the clubhouse. This could also be a trade-up spot for someone looking to get ahead of the Giants for a possible quarterback.
6. New York Giants – Josh Allen (DE/OLB, Kentucky)
A lot of mock drafts have the Giants taking a quarterback here, but I’m not sold on it. The value with the sixth pick clearly dictates that defense is the way to go, and there are three elite defenders that would make a ton of sense here: Ed Oliver, Devin White and Josh Allen. I’ve had all three mocked to the Giants at various points in the process, but the Giants seem hell-bent on improving their pass rush more than anything else. Allen had made a living of pressuring quarterbacks and will give the Giants a true “sack artist” on the edge. As for Eli’s successor, stay tuned, as the Giants pick later in round one.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – T.J. Hockenson (TE, Iowa)
The Jaguars biggest need is at right tackle and Jawaan Taylor and Jonah Williams will be staring them right in the face when Jacksonville is on the clock. Almost every mock draft out there has one of these two tackles going here, but I’m starting to get wind that the Jaguars might be looking to address their offensive line later in the draft. If that’s the case, a defensive lineman like Christian Wilkins or a stud tight end like T.J. Hockenson might be in play. However, when you sign Nick Foles to a monster contract, you might as well give him some weapons.
8. * PROJECTED TRADE * Washington Redskins (from Detroit Lions) – Dwayne Haskins (QB, Ohio State)
Very rarely do I predict trades in my mock drafts, but this is one that may have some traction. The Detroit Lions are desperate to trade down and I can definitely see them sliding down 4-8 spots. Washington is a team that may be interested in moving up for a quarterback (to get ahead of Denver, Cincinnati and Miami), and Dwayne Haskins might be the target. Whether it’s trading for Josh Rosen or selecting Haskins, Drew Lock or Daniel Jones, I think the Redskins need to come out of day one with their next quarterback in the fold. If Detroit stays at #8, I would probably look at an edge rusher or T.J. Hockenson to the Lions.
9. Buffalo Bills – Christian Wilkins (DT, Clemson)
Buffalo should look to address the trenches with this pick whether on the defensive line (Wilkins or Montez Sweat) or offensive line (Jonah Williams, Jawaan Taylor or Andrew Dillard). Let’s face it, Buffalo’s offensive line is a train-wreck, but the Bills signed six O-linemen in free agency this offseason, so they may want to see what they have there. With the retirement of Kyle Williams, the Bills could certainly use some interior help on the defensive line, and Christian Wilkins could be plug-and-play replacement.
10. Denver Broncos – Devin Bush (LB, Michigan)
Lots of chatter about Denver selecting a quarterback here (possibly Dwayne Haskins or Drew Lock), but I’m hearing the Broncos will not be taking a quarterback with the tenth pick. Denver has its starter (for now) in Joe Flacco, so instead the Broncos go in a different direction. There is no perfect player on the board for Vic Fangio’s defense, but how good would Devin Bush look next to edge-rushers Von Miller and Bradley Chubb? However, if Denver orchestrates a trade for later in the draft, the quarterback position could certainly come back into play.
11. Cincinnati Bengals – Andre Dillard (OT, Washington State)
The two key areas that the Bengals need to address immediately in this draft are linebacker and offensive line. They may have a shot at getting Devin Bush, and if he’s on the board, I think the pick would make a ton of sense. However, knowing how the Bengals operate, Mike Brown puts more value in upgrading premium positions early, thus making offensive line more of a priority. Cincinnati may just have its pick of litter at offensive tackle, and there are three possible candidates: Jawaan Taylor, Jonah Williams and Andre Dillard. Taylor and Williams are ranked higher on most big boards, but my gut is telling me Dillard, who I think is the best left tackle prospect of the three.
12. Green Bay Packers – Jonah Williams (OT/G, Alabama)
Green Bay could go a few different directions with this pick, but this could be the area of the draft where we start a run on offensive linemen. Tight end T.J. Hockenson would be a nice security blanket for Aaron Rodgers (although I don’t believe he falls this far). Rashan Gary and Montez Sweat would be solid options, but both carry health risks that may cause them to slide. The value available may point towards the offensive line and Jonah Williams (short arms or not) could be perfect replacement for Bryan Bulaga in 2020 and beyond.
13. Miami Dolphins – Jawaan Taylor (OT, Florida)
Yet another spot where a quarterback can come into play, but I have to believe that Miami is emphasizing the signal callers in next year’s draft class over this year’s. That being said, why not start planning for the future and stockpiling weapons? Right tackle is a huge area of need for the Dolphins (unless you know something that I don’t know about Zach Sterup). The best right tackle candidate in this year’s crop of tackles is Jawaan Taylor, so I might as well just stay in-state with the pick. If the Dolphins opt for defense, a defensive end like Clelin Ferrell, Rashan Gary or Montez Sweat would make the most sense.
14. Atlanta Falcons – Montez Sweat (DE, Mississippi State)
I have to believe that the Falcons would love to land Christian Wilkins here, but unless they move up to select him, I don’t believe he’ll be available. Offensive line is also still an area of need, even after adding two guards in free agency, so I wouldn’t totally discount an offensive tackle with this pick. However, I’m hearing that Atlanta’s first round pick will be used on the defensive side of the ball, and Montez Sweat is the best defensive lineman left on my board. Sweat would be a hometown pick that grew up less than 30 minutes from Atlanta, so as long as the Falcons are okay with his medicals (heart condition), this pick would be a slam dunk.
15. * PROJECTED TRADE * Detroit Lions (from Washington Redskins) – Brian Burns (DE/OLB, Florida State)
If this trade materializes, the Lions slide back seven slots, get additional draft compensation, and get a player that I think was on their radar with the eighth overall pick. Selecting Brian Burns in the top ten would have been a slight reach, but definitely not here. Detroit also gets to pick before Carolina, which has Burns squarely on its radar. Burns has high-character, works extremely hard and was a team captain at Florida State, all which should be very appealing to the Lions decision makers. I was very tempted to mock T.J. Hockenson to the Lions as well, and additional edge rushers (Rashan Gary, Montez Sweat) can’t be ruled out.
16. Carolina Panthers – Cody Ford (OT/G, Oklahoma)
I imagine the Panthers have their sights set on a top-tier offensive lineman, or else Cam Newton is going to be running for his life again this season. If Andre Dillard or Jonah Williams somehow fall to them, it would be a no-brainer, but Cody Ford is an absolute mauler and wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize. Brian Burns is also a very popular match to Carolina, and a cornerback like Byron Murphy would also probably be considered here.
17. New York Giants (from Cleveland Browns) – Daniel Jones (QB, Duke)
…and this is why the Giants shouldn’t reach for a quarterback with the sixth overall pick. It is no secret that the Giants must start preparing for life without Eli Manning, and if reports about their enthusiasm for Daniel Jones are real, New York just might pull the trigger here. Drew Lock might also be on the board, and he’d be a realistic option as well. However, if none of the quarterbacks whet their appetite, the Giants might just resort to what’s worked for them in the past and draft another pass rusher like Clelin Ferrell or Montez Sweat.
18. Minnesota Vikings – Garrett Bradbury (C/G, North Carolina State)
I have to believe that the Vikings are zeroing in on offensive linemen with their first round selection, and unless one of the top three tackles fall, they’ll look to address the interior with this pick. That’s okay though because this year’s crop of interior lineman might be even better than the offensive tackles. Arguably, guard is Minnesota’s top priority, and Bradbury is an athletic lineman who would be an ideal fit for what the Vikings want to do in their outside zone scheme.
19. Tennessee Titans – Erik McCoy (C/G, Texas A&M)
Some might consider this a slight reach, but the Titans need to make sure that Marcus Mariota is protected (he hasn’t played a full season in his NFL career). Last year, interior linemen (Frank Ragnow and Billy Price) went back-to-back and the same thing could happen this year. Tennessee could also consider some defensive tackles with this pick and Mike Vrabel apparently loves Christian Wilkins. Quarterback Drew Lock’s name has also been floated around the Titans, as shocking as that may seem.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers – Rock Ya-Sin (CB, Temple)
Pittsburgh’s defense has taken a major step backwards ever since it lost Ryan Shazier, so I have to believe the Steelers would love to have an opportunity to select Devin Bush. However, I don’t think that’ll be a possibility unless the Steelers trade up in the draft. Pittsburgh also has a need at cornerback, and even though they haven’t had much success drafting corners recently, they can’t stop trying. Byron Murphy is the top cornerback on the board, but Mike Tomlin is rumored to really love Rock Ya-Sin.
21. Seattle Seahawks – Rashan Gary (DE, Michigan)
Prior to trading Frank Clark to Kansas City, Seattle had only four picks in this year’s draft, so there was no way they were going to keep this pick. However, after jettisoning Clark, the Seahawks now have two first round picks to play around with, and they need to find Clark’s replacement with one of those two selections. Gary is probably the most polarizing prospect in this year’s draft, as he could go anywhere from picks 7-28, depending on how teams view his shoulder injury. If Montez Sweat starts to slide down the draft board, he’d be an ideal choice as well. They can also use a safety and wide receiver, but let’s revisit those positions with their next pick.
22. Baltimore Ravens – Clelin Ferrell (DE, Clemson)
This is a very popular spot to mock a wide receiver (Marquise Brown or D.K. Metcalf), since the Ravens cupboard is pretty bare without Michael Crabtree and John Brown around. However, I’m not enamored with this year’s wide receiver class and I’m not sure the Ravens are either. Baltimore also lost Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith in free agency, and Ferrell is the type of aggressive player that the Ravens typically covet. My only concern is if Ferrell will last this long, as I can see him going as early as #13 to Miami.
23. Houston Texans – Chris Lindstrom (G, Boston College)
Houston planned on pursuing Trent Brown in free agency, but whiffed, so I wouldn’t rule out the Texans trading up in the first round to secure their tackle of choice. The interior of Houston’s offensive line is short on talent, and a blue-collar mauler like Lindstrom could be just what the doctor ordered. Houston needs to find better blocking quickly or else Deshawn Watson might get killed. If Houston chooses to pass on upgrading the offensive line (which would be dumb in my opinion), cornerback would probably be the next logical position of need and there will be a host of them available in late round one (Byron Murphy, Greedy Williams, DeAndre Baker and Rock Ya-Sin).
24. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago Bears) – Josh Jacobs (RB, Alabama)
Marshawn Lynch retired from the NFL yesterday, which leaves a glaring hole in the Oakland backfield. John Gruden loves to run the football, but he currently doesn’t have a viable running back on his roster. Josh Jacobs is a power runner with loads of potential, so if Oakland wants to draft a running back with one of its three first round picks, Jacobs is the logical choice. Tight end and cornerback are also positions that Oakland needs to upgrade, but they have one more pick in the round to address those needs.
25. Philadelphia Eagles – Jeffery Simmons (DT, Mississippi State)
The Eagles could go in a number of different directions with this pick, but I think they could really use a disruptor next to Fletcher Cox, along with Malik Jackson. Without a doubt, Simmons is the draft’s most high-risk, high-reward player. He may not even play in 2019 (torn ACL), but the Eagles are one team that can take the risk this late in round one (just like they did with Sidney Jones in 2017). Dexter Lawrence and Jerry Tillery are other defensive tackle options, but they have nowhere near the upside that Simmons does as a top-five talent prior to his injury. Other options for the Eagles to consider are a guard (Chris Lindstrom), a wide receiver (Marquis Brown) or a cornerback.
26. Indianapolis Colts – Johnathan Abram (S, Mississippi State)
Indianapolis struck gold in last year’s draft by drafting Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard in the first two rounds respectively. Leonard helped turned their defensive fortunes around considerably, but more help is still needed. The Colts reportedly wanted to address their safety situation earlier in the offseason, but never got around to it. Abram is the top safety in this year’s class, if they want to hone in on the position. If not, cornerback is also a big need, as well as the defensive line.
27. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas Cowboys) – Noah Fant (TE, Iowa)
With tight end Jared Cook, their leading receiver last season, gone in free agency, the Raiders could have an opportunity to draft his potential replacement. Scouts see Fant as an upgrade from Cook when it comes to athleticism as a pass-catching tight end, and that is exactly what is needed in John Gruden’s quick-strike offense. However, with three first round picks and a move to Las Vegas on the horizon, would it really surprise anyone if the Raiders drafted Derek Carr’s replacement?
28. Los Angeles Chargers – Byron Murphy (CB, Washington)
The Chargers have a shutdown cornerback in Casey Hayward, but they have a huge hole opposite him. Several different cornerbacks can be mocked to Los Angeles here, but I think Murphy would be the one that fits best in Gus Bradley’s Cover-3 system. I also wouldn’t completely rule out a defensive tackle such as Dexter Lawrence, as the Chargers are known to be looking for upgrades in the trenches.
29. Seattle Seahawks (from Kansas City Chiefs) – Darnell Savage Jr. (S, Maryland)
Seattle could look to trade one of its two first round selections to acquire more picks, but if the Seahawks decide to stay in the first round, safety is definitely a position they could look to address. Seattle is one of those teams that marches to the beat of its own drum and drafts players that no one saw coming. That being said, I’ll throw out two names that aren’t being regarded as first round picks that could potentially be on Seattle’s radar – safeties Darnell Savage and Nasir Adderley (Delaware). This might also be an area where wide receiver D.K. Metcalf could come into play.
30. Green Bay Packers (from New Orleans Saints) – Marquise Brown (WR, Oklahoma)
With its second pick in the first round, Green Bay will look for value. Should any of the three defensive linemen with health concerns (Rashan Gary, Montez Sweat or Jeffery Simmons) suffer a draft day freefall to this late in the first round, the Packers should run to the podium with the card. However, another position that could seek an upgrade is at wide receiver. Hollywood Brown would add an element of speed to the Packers offense and could help alleviate the loss of Randall Cob. Anytime you can give Aaron Rodgers more weapons to work with is never a bad thing.
31. * PROJECTED TRADE * Denver Broncos (from Los Angeles Rams) – Drew Lock (QB, Missouri)
This is the point of the draft where teams seeking a quarterback try to trade back into the first round. We saw it happen last year with Lamar Jackson (Baltimore) and we could see it again if one of the four top signal callers is still on the board. The Rams want to trade out of this pick because they don’t have a second round choice. Denver, who was apparently smitten with Drew Lock early in the draft process, might be one of those teams looking to move up. He might not have been worth a top-ten pick to John Elway, but perhaps a late round selection on a signal caller is more feasible.
32. New England Patriots – Dexter Lawrence (DT, Clemson)
Don’t be surprised if the Patriots traded this pick to move either up or down the draft board, but if they make a first round selection, why not look to draft Vince Wilfork 2.0. Lawrence is a mountain of a man (340 pounds) that can defend the run and push the pocket. He may not fill an immediate need, but is the type of player Bill Belichick looks to steal late in drafts. New England can also look to provide Tom Brady with more weapons, so a wide receiver (D.K. Metcalf) or tight end (Irv Smith Jr.) would certainly make sense. However, with two second round picks, the Patriots might be more willing to wait on those positions.