Even in a class dominated by defenders, the quarterbacks still are going to steal the spotlight.
In my final projection prior to the 2019 NFL draft, I have the Cardinals standing pat and selecting Oklahoma’s dynamic dual-threat Heisman Trophy-winner Kyle Murray at No. 1 overall, even though I firmly believe there are members within the organization who believe Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams is the better, safer player.
The action could really get going with the Oakland Raiders at No. 4, with sources telling me that they may take Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins or trade the pick to another club (Washington?) hoping to sneak ahead of the team that I have projected to take the record-breaking Rose Bowl quarterback – the New York Giants.
Polarizing draft grades and desperation for help at quarterback (or pass rusher) could make the 2019 NFL draft one for the record books. It certainly should be entertaining.
1. Arizona Cardinals – Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
Murray has some bust factor to him but he is the most dynamic player in this draft and an ideal fit in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. Expect Josh Rosen to get peddled with the Giants (which have 12 draft selections to play with) a particularly intriguing fit. If the selection is not Murray, sources tell me the Cardinals like Quinnen Williams more than the other defenders.
2. San Francisco – Nick Bosa, OLB, Ohio State
Sure, the 49ers already boast a pretty fearsome front with DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas and shiny new edge rusher Dee Ford but Bosa could turn a team strength into one of the better units in the league.
3. New York Jets – Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
Like the 49ers a pick earlier, the Jets need merely to pick their favorite flavor of the dominant front seven defenders available to them. Oliver’s quickness would seem a terrific fit in new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ ultra-aggressive scheme.
4. Oakland Raiders – Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
Arguably the best player in the draft falling in your lap? Mike Mayock the analyst would have to give the Raiders and their new GM an A for this selection, despite Oakland already possessing a lot of young talent up front. Sources tell me a Dwayne Haskins shocker is not out of the realm of possibility here.
5. Tampa Bay – Devin White, ILB, LSU
Count me among those who believe that the Bucs are going to take big, big strides in Year One under Bruce Arians – mostly because of how he will corral Jameis Winston. Hitting an immediate impact star as the QB of the Bucs’ defense would go a long way in correcting last year’s under-achieving defense, as well.
6. New York Giants – Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
Riddle me this, Gotham. If the QB so often projected to NY – Duke’s Daniel Jones – is being celebrated because of his pro-readiness than why would he make sense with the Giants if the club also believes Eli Manning still can play? Why not select a one-year starter with a greater upside, like Haskins, the best QB from the pocket in this class?
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
Tom Coughlin is a straight-shooter. He believes in size and physicality in the trenches. Hockenson is one of the best blocking tight ends I’ve ever seen coming out of college and he is a terrific receiver, as well. That equates to an ideal fit in Jacksonville’s run-heavy, play-action offense.
8. Detroit Lions – Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky
Dynamic off the edge, better dropping into coverage than most assume and team leader, Allen checks off too many of the boxes Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn appear to be using to let slip any further.
9. Buffalo Bills – Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
The Bills signed FIVE offensive linemen in free agency, which could mean the club no longer has concerns up front and can focus on other positions of concern (receiver) or that they are that desperate for help. Dillard has better feet than any offensive lineman in this draft and has experience in cold weather, making him potentially an ideal fit as Josh Allen’s blindside protector.
10. Denver Broncos – Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
I love the fit of Lock in Denver, though adding a speedy linebacker like Michigan’s Devin Bush is another exciting option. Lock’s arm, mobility and swagger could remind John Elway of himself and the Broncos would have time to make Lock earn the starting role, learning behind a consummate pro in Joe Flacco.
11. Cincinnati Bengals – Devin Bush, ILB, Michigan
Much of the focus nationally has centered on the Bengals replacing Andy Dalton but don’t be surprised if it is instead a changing of the guard at the QB on defense that occurs instead. Bush is faster (and plays smarter) than former starter Vontaze Burfict but offers similar physicality and intensity.
12. Green Bay Packers – Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan
A torn labrum may very well send Gary’s stock slipping but he is just too gifted of an athlete to slip far. Position and scheme versatile and much better than his production suggests, Gary makes a lot of sense for a Packers’ squad looking to get more athletic and physical at the line of scrimmage.
13. Miami Dolphins – Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
If there is a position on Miami’s depth chart more disconcerting than quarterback, it is offensive tackle. With many suggesting that the Dolphins may be eyeing a top pick in 2020 to get one of the prime talents in a much better QB class (Oregon’s Justin Herbert or Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa would look good in teal…), Miami may opt to build up its blockers before adding the premium passer.
14. Atlanta Falcons –Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State
Sweat’s medical red-flags could scare off some but I have a hard time envisioning him getting out of the top 15 – and can you imagine his speed off the edge across from Vic Beasley with Grady Jarrett attacking up the middle? Yeah, so can Dan Quinn.
15. Washington Redskins – Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
Quite frankly, I’m not as high on Jones as most. I do not have a first round grade on him due to his average arm strength. He clearly possesses the size, mobility and I.Q. to be successful, however, and is a clean schematic fit in Jay Gruden’s offense. With Alex Smith ailing, the Redskins are as desperate for QB help as anyone and may, instead, look to trade up for one of the better options.
16. Carolina Panthers – Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma
The Panthers’ top brass traveled the country to see all of the top OTs work out this spring. They are taking a tackle and if Ford – the most versatile offensive lineman in this draft – is still available, GM Marty Hurney (not to mention Cam Newton) should be dancing.
17. New York Giants – Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
How does one replace a dynamic talent like OBJ? Draft a pass-catcher who is even faster. Hollywood meet Broadway.
18. Minnesota Vikings – Garrett Bradbury
The Vikings need help all over the offensive line. Bradbury’s quickness, agility and reliability make him a plug and play option for a team needing it.
19. Tennessee Titans – Brian Burns, OLB, Florida State
Like the Falcons with Sweat, the idea of pairing the bendy Burns with Harold Landry and Jurrell Casey has to be an exciting thought for Titans’ fans.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers – Andraez “Greedy” Williams, CB, LSU
The Steelers have historically prioritized physicality and technique over speed and raw athleticism at cornerback but that has not translated into success in the defensive backfield in recent years. Williams needs to show more commitment in run support but his height, speed and balls-kills are Pro Bowl caliber.
21. Seattle Seahawks – Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
Projecting the Seahawks to pick here may be a waste of time as the club has traded its first pick (either to move down or for a veteran) the past seven years. With the most explosive edge rushers off the board, Seattle may have little choice but to address its other “big” concern along the defensive line – a lack of girth and power. No one is bigger or stronger in this class than Lawrence.
22. Baltimore Ravens – Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
Ferrell may lack the quick-twitch of some of this year’s other top edge rushers but his physicality, length and production makes him exactly the type of player former Ravens’ GM Ozzie Newsome would have loved. It will be fun to see if Eric DeCosta takes a similar approach on draft day.
23. Houston Texans – Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
The Texans’ offensive line was a mess last season and given that young star Deshaun Watson has already missed half of one season due to injury, improving up front should be a top priority. At this point in the draft, Williams – the top blocker on my board – is a potential steal.
24. Oakland Raiders – Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
The timing of Marshawn Lynch’s announced retirement could be one last dismissive statement by the one of the game’s most iconic players and characters. Adding a similarly intense and powerful runner like Jacobs would make a lot of sense for the Raiders.
25. Philadelphia Eagles – Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State
Albeit in a different way, Malcolm Jenkins (like the afore-mentioned Lynch) is an iconic player. The Eagles need to get some youth at safety, however, and Abram’s physicality and tenacity could make him an ideal running mate as Dawkins’ career comes to a close.
26. Indianapolis Colts – Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
In most drafts, Wilkins would probably go in the top 10-15 but he could slide a bit this year as teams foolishly give too much credit to the other dominant players on Clemson’s defensive line and overlook his polished game. Chris Ballard and his Colts staff were big winners a year ago in the draft and would be starting off beautifully this time, as well, if Wilkins fell into their lap.
27. Oakland Raiders – Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
Given how productive Jared Cook was last year for the Raiders, it seems obvious that the club will be looking to add reinforcements to the position now that he’s in New Orleans. Fant is an even better athlete and provides terrific value here.
28. Los Angeles Chargers – Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
As long as the Chargers boast one of the league’s top QBs, RBs and WRs, the team is unlikely to be in position to nab difference-makers along the defensive line very often. Simmons comes with obvious red-flags given his pre-Combine ACL tear and an ugly fight caught in tape prior to playing at Mississippi State but he is a legitimate star talent who is unlikely to slip much further than this.
29. Seattle Seahawks (from Kansas City Chiefs) – Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, Florida
With an impact defensive lineman selected early (albeit not the pass-rusher some fans may be hoping for in this projection), the Seahawks could be looking for an infusion of playmaking ability at receive or at safety. Gardner-Johnson is a ballhawk with the competitiveness Seattle has prioritized in the past.
30. Green Bay Packers – Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State
There likely is no truth to the rumor that the Packers were offering tryouts to Lambeau stadium vendors as reliable pass-catchers to complement Davante Adams but the tight ends and receivers on the roster weren’t offering much help. Campbell offers a Randall Cobb-like threat across the middle that might bring a smile back to Aaron Rodgers’ face.
31. Los Angeles Rams – Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
Too talented to fall out of the first round, Murphy would provide the Rams with terrific depth at cornerback behind the gifted (but not exactly reliable) Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. Like the Chiefs, the Rams would be wise to keep adding to their defense.
32. New England Patriots – Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington
The Patriots are often drafting late in part due to the fact that they restock their roster as well as anyone in the league (although, sure the combination of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady help too). An underrated athlete with the blue collar work ethic and size the Patriots prioritize, he offer terrific value at this point in the draft.