While typically I am not a fan of projecting trades in NFL mock drafts, it is a way of life, so they will be included in this projection. The NFL’s draft value chart will be utilized, and each forecasted trade will be explained. Hint: There aren’t many of them.
Suspected trades could include: Oakland moving into the No. 2 spot for Nick Bosa, if Kyler Murray goes No. 1. Seattle now has the ammo to move into the top 10, although having a major shortage of picks could compel a move down to collect bodies. As always, the way quarterback selections unfold in the top 10 will dictate the willingness teams to move into position for one vs. waiting to see whether their choice will make it.
1) Arizona Cardinals | QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
The Cardinals will admit defeat in the Josh Rosen experiment and trade him during or slightly before the draft to enable a selection of Murray. A month ago, I scoffed at the idea. Rookie head coach Kliff Kingsbury will get his guy, and embattled general manager Steve Keim can buy himself one more year before he officially has a dragon breathing down his neck. Murray will fit nicely into Kingsbury’s Air Raid system and immediately excite the fan base. … Even though all of this is predicated on the trade of Rosen, stranger things have happened atop the NFL draft!
2) San Francisco 49ers | DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State
Despite Bosa missing time in 2018 due to injury, he remains the best bet for the top spot. With Arizona deviating and taking Murray, San Francisco will happily welcome Bosa’s skills to the West Coast. He could anchor one end of the line, while Solomon Thomas and Dee Ford can rotate at the other spot to accent each other’s skills vs. the run and pass, respectively. Bosa can even play standing from the linebacker spot.
3) New York Jets | OLB Josh Allen, Kentucky
New defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will keep the 3-4 base defense in place, despite playing a 4-3 with Cleveland and the Rams. New York has the defensive bodies in place for this to make sense, but the team desperately needs an edge rusher. Anthony Barr changed his mind and returned to Minnesota, which stung, but he’s not irreplaceable. Insert the dynamic Allen for a natural fit to improve this defense’s ability to pressure quarterbacks.
4) Oakland Raiders | DT Quinnen Williams, Alabama
For the record, my confidence in this pick is not as high as others seem to exhibit. The one-year wonder in Tuscaloosa, Williams should transition well to the pros — I’m not concerned about that part of it. The Raiders just have so many holes to fill. I can see in what is a deep defensive line class, Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock falling in love with LSU linebacker Devin White. Considering this defense tallied an embarrassingly low 13 sacks in 2018, improving the forward push with Williams is only logical without a trade up for Bosa. Williams is versatile and has the potential to become a perennial all-pro as a 3-technique.
5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers | LB Devin White, LSU
Speaking of White, the Buccaneers need to replace Kwon Alexander something fierce. It doesn’t get much fiercer than White, and he would be an immediate upgrade to a defense that allowed 29 points per game in 2018. Here’s where I get a little iffy on the pick: If the Raiders chose White, Tampa then goes Williams here. The switch to the 3-4 defense means Gerald McCoy is likely gone, and reports have Tampa Bay desperately trying to trade him. The move would put Williams on the outside, which was his natural position at Alabama before moving inside following Da’Ron Payne’s departure for the NFL. Alabama runs a 3-4 base but mixes in 4-3 elements; Williams fits both alignments. Oddly, Tampa brass may prefer Oakland makes the decision for the Bucs.
6) New York Giants | QB Drew Lock, Missouri
Forget what the team says about being competitive in 2019 … this is a rebuild. Eli Manning could serve as the starter for as long as it takes before Lock is deemed ready enough, much like Kurt Warner did for nearly a half season during Eli’s rookie year. This team has so little talent that one could argue in a number of directions, primarily wide receiver, defensive line and cornerback. However, with 12 total selections in this draft, New York can retool the defense and receiving corps after it lands Lock.
7) Jacksonville Jaguars | OT Jawaan Taylor, Florida
A year following the Jaguars being a game away from the Super Bowl, this team was caught with its pants down and exposed for not having enough offensive line depth. Jacksonville also was missing a quarterback, and it seemingly resolved the issue with the addition of Nick Foles. The line needs help, especially along the right side. Enter Taylor into the mix. He played right tackle at Florida but has the traits to swing to the left side if Cam Robinson (knee) cannot return to form. Right tackles typically don’t go this early in drafts, so don’t be shocked if Jacksonville asks Robinson to move to the right side. Either way, this team is a playmaker or two away from contending in February.
8) Detroit Lions | DT Ed Oliver, Houston
Detroit has several options, including trading out of the pick. Unless a team, such as Miami, Washington or possibly Oakland, picking after Denver is dying to trade up for Dwayne Haskins, it doesn’t seem likely the Lions move out of this spot. Defensive tackle is fine on the surface but lacks depth. Cornerback is a huge need opposite Darius Slay, although anyone would be a reach right here. There’s always the love for a local guy in Rashan Gary, and Montez Sweat’s skills could be tough to pass up. Sweat being 6-foot-6 and only 260, it’s tough to see him playing with enough leverage as a 4-3 end. He profiles best as a 3-4 stand-up guy. For now, I’ll pencil in Oliver. His presence takes pressure off of Trey Flowers and allows Matt Patricia to rotate the interior of the line while gaining a hint of pass-rushing potential.
9) Buffalo Bills | TE T.J. Hockenson, Iowa
There is a ton of talent within the front seven of this defense, and adding another freak, like Rashan Gary, is absolutely in play. So is being a trading partner with Miami or Washington, if either team is looking to leapfrog Denver for a quarterback. The Bills could use a cornerback, and while Montez Sweat will be tough to ignore, adding another weapon for Josh Allen is a priority. Hockenson profiles as an elite tight end and helps round out a decent but not special offseason of additions to the passing game (John Brown, Tyler Kroft, Cole Beasley).
10) Denver Broncos | QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
He has everything John Elway will want in a franchise quarterback and can learn for a year behind Joe Flacco. If Denver isn’t competitive with the former Raven slinging it, expect a change to the rookie to provide a spark. Denver simply cannot wait for another quarterback and is in position to take its shot on the guy many pundits label No. 1 at the position. It would be stunning if Elway waited until 2020 to take a chance on landing Justin Herbert. The ’20 class is better than this year’s, but we’re not talking but a huge margin. If one had to rank 2019-20 prospects into one class, it likely would include only Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa in the top five.
11) Cincinnati Bengals | DE Rashan Gary, Michigan
Cincy has a bunch of problems to address in this draft, and trading out isn’t an unrealistic option. The Bengals currently have 11 picks, including five in the sixth round alone, so wise drafting can make an impact. Gary is just that. He could start immediately and offers a little bit of everything to bolster this line. The knock on Gary has been a lack of production in the sacks department, despite being an athletic monster. Proper coaching should help him turn the proverbial corner.
12) Green Bay Packers | TE Noah Fant, Iowa
After several defensive moves during free agency’s opening days, the Packers should turn their attention to giving more help to Aaron Rodgers. Iowa already has produced a tight end in this first round, so why not another? Fant might be slightly early here, and one could argue the bigger need is along the either line.
13) Miami Dolphins | WR D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss
If you believe reports about Miami waiting a year to find its franchise quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick is the guy in 2019. Miami’s biggest need is, of course, quarterback. The Dolphins can wait. It while the Dolphins have plenty of needs on defense, as well as up front on offense, a big-time receiver is essential. It also will help keep the restless fan base on the right side of the ledge. A freakish athletic specimen, Metcalf will be given effectively a free pass to get up to speed as a rookie. His development will help set the stage for an incoming rookie QB in 2020, and it also addresses a massive need.
14) Atlanta Falcons | DE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
Yeah, yeah … I know. He wasn’t right for a 4-3 end spot a few picks ago. At some point, a slide has to end. He’s a top-10 talent with a few issues, so 14th overall isn’t a bad spot. Vic Beasley will return in 2019 but has become mostly a draft bust and is unlikely to stick around beyond this upcoming season. Adrian Clayborn is 31 in July and signed a one-year deal. Sweat isn’t an ideal guy for a 4-3 end spot because of his height and slight frame. Usually those guys (think Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis) are short (less than 6-foot-4) and extremely bendy to make the corner and turn up the field. Sweat also has the heart condition to be monitored. At any rate, Dan Quinn should get the most out of him, even if it is as a situational player in 2019.
15) Washington Redskins | OLB Brian Burns, Florida State
Let us assume Case Keenum is indeed the 2019 starter and is serviceable. Washington is admittedly in a win-now mode, and what is the best way to cover for a struggling offense? A stout defense. Washington doesn’t have to score a lot of points — just more than their opponents. The loss of edge presence Preston Smith to the Packers needs to be addressed, and the hyper-athletic Burns is the guy to do it.
16) Carolina Panthers | OL Jonah Williams, Alabama
Here’s the catch … does Carolina view Williams as a guard or tackle? If it is the latter, Taylor Moton could kick inside. If the former, Williams would be a nice anchor along the left side of the line. Moton’s versatility helps a great deal. Protecting Cam Newton is paramount. There’s a chance Williams falls past due to this positional question mark, which would make Washington State’s Andre Dillard the next most likely pick.
17) New York Giants (from Browns) | CB Greedy Williams, LSU
New York could use help on the edge and at wide receiver, but no need is more glaring than a starting-caliber corner opposite Janoris Jenkins. Williams, Deandre Baker and Byron Murphy tend to be interchangeable based on where one looks for an opinion, but the blend of size, speed and upside should endear Williams to the Big Apple in no time.
18) Minnesota Vikings | DT Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
He isn’t a true pass-rushing demon, but Ferrell’s all-around game will be a boon to this front seven. He’s much better in the 4-3 and could provide insurance against Everson Griffen’s personal issues as well as provide a future option to replace him. Griffen is 32 in the 2020 season, and his dead-cap hit will be only $800,000, saving Minnesota $13.1 million should he be released.
19) Tennessee Titans | DT Dexter Lawrence, Clemson
Tennessee has only six picks, so a trade down is absolutely in play. Austin Johnson, a second-round pick in 2016, is slated to hit the open market in March of 2020. Lawrence adds a mountain of beef in the middle and may remind Titans head coach Mike Vrabel of former Patriot Vince Wilfork.
20) Pittsburgh Steelers | LB Devin Bush, Michigan
Cornerback could be an option, and inside linebacker is more likely than an edge guy. Bush profiles better as a 4-3 guy than an inside 3-4 ‘backer, although he is rangy enough to make the move.
21) Arizona Cardinals | OT Andre Dillard, Washington State
Projected trade: ARI sends No. 33 and No. 65 to SEA for No. 21
Dillard could be an immediate upgrade over D.J. Humphries. However, with north of $9 million committed to Humphries in cap space, and a matching dead-money hit for cutting him, Dillard could be asked to work at guard in 2019. Even though Arizona traded for Marcus Gilbert, the right tackle has injury concerns and is 31.
22) Baltimore Ravens | WR A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
The 6-foot-1, 226-pounder gives Lamar Jackson a large-framed target with No. 1 potential. Baltimore needs help at linebacker, which probably will have to wait, especially since the brass has openly stated the desire for Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams to step up. Guard could be in play, too, based on Marshal Yanda’s situation, and pass-rushing help is a priority. Adding someone with WR1 upside is important, since this receiving corps lacks experience and a viable top dog.
23) Houston Texans | OG Cody Ford, Oklahoma
Houston has to improve the pass protection after giving up 62 sacks last year. The former Sooner can play inside and out, with guard being the best spot for him. The Texans have a pair of veteran journeymen at guard, and Ford could press for a starting spot on Day 1.
24) Oakland Raiders (from Bears) | RB Josh Jacobs, Alabama
He has all of the tools to be Gruden’s horse. This pick could go to cornerback, even with the addition of Nevin Lawson. There is always the chance Oakland trades out or goes for another pick along the defensive line. Jacobs has the size (5-foot-10, 220 pounds) and determined style to be a bell cow in an offense sorely lacking a competent ground game.
25) Philadelphia Eagles | CB Deandre Baker, Georgia
Not exactly a need, but there isn’t anyone clearly suited for a 25th pick at middle linebacker or left tackle. Trading out is realistic. The selection of Baker would cover Philly’s butt if Ronald Darby cannot get it on track after two injury-shortened seasons. Darby is operating under a one-year deal.
26) Indianapolis Colts | DL Christian Wilkins, Clemson
Receiver and linebacker are also of interest, but a massive man capable of rushing the QB and playing run-stuffer is too good to pass up. Wilkins is versatile and has experience inside and out. He’s a great 3-technique tackle but may struggle if asked to handle multiple gaps at once.
27) Oakland Raiders (from Cowboys) | CB Rock Ya-Sin, Temple
This pick screams Mike Mayock. Long, fast enough, good size, coachable and plenty of upside for more. Plus, Oakland needs help on the back end. There could be a trade involved, and tight end remains a huge need. So does a pure-play pass rusher. Jaylon Ferguson could be an interesting hybrid guy, but he fits a 3-4 much better than the 4-3 in Oakland.
28) Los Angeles Chargers | OT Kaleb McGary, Washington
Some scouts see him as a guard, but he is a natural right tackle and could be an upgrade for the Bolts. Defensive line help, and a long-term plan to replace Thomas Davis at outside linebacker could be a factor if LA isn’t convinced 2018 second-rounder Uchenna Nwosu is the guy. Could they take a chance on injured defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons?
29) Seattle Seahawks (from Chiefs) | OLB Jaylon Ferguson, Louisiana Tech
A reach in many ways, Ferguson’s raw skills will help inject a pressure off the end in a front seven that is now extremely desperate for all of the help it can get after trade DE Frank Clark to acquire this pick. Seattle could use both of its first-round picks to move up into the top 10.
30) Green Bay Packers (from Saints) | DL Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame
Tramon Williams at free safety is a borrowed-time situation. Mike Daniels (31) and Dean Lowry will both be free agent defensive ends next year, and nose tackle Kenny Clark has a fifth-year option looming. Even still, with all of this, and the addition of pass rushers, Green Bay will look to the future with the addition of the former Golden Domer. Tillery (shoulder) played through an injury in 2018 and may miss most of the summer, but that’s not a big deal. He won’t be required to shine until 2020.
31) Los Angeles Rams | C Garrett Bradbury, North Carolina State
Extremely talented and versatile, Bradbury can play guard as well as pivot. The Rams lost center John Sullivan, and Brian Allen may not be the answer to replace him. Left tackle is in play with Andrew Whitworth being long in the tooth, and injured defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons (knee) could be a target as a luxury pick.
32) New England Patriots | TE Irv Smith Jr., Alabama
Remember how good Gronk was as a rookie? Smith probably won’t come close to that level of play in Year 1, and he won’t have to while still making an impact. Coming off of a one-year career as a collegiate weapon, Smith was coached by Nick Saban, a close friend of Bill Belichick. Defensive line and offensive tackle deserve consideration.
33) Seattle Seahawks (from Cardinals*) | WR N’Keal Harry, Arizona State
More defensive line depth is important, but after locking up Russell Wilson, he needs additional weapons. The big-bodied Harry will help off-set any injury issues between Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett, providing needed size to the receiving corps.
34) Indianapolis Colts (from Jets) | WR Parris Campbell, Ohio State
This could be Deebo Samuel, due to his size. Campbell is considerably bigger than Marquise Brown, which separates him for me. It will be tough to consistently cover both Campbell and T.Y. Hilton down the field.
35) Oakland Raiders | OG Chris Lindstrom, Boston College
Denzelle Good isn’t the right answer to any question a starting line wants asked of it, so it’s time to address the front five for an immediate starter.
36) San Francisco 49ers | WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma
San Fran needs to improve its receiving corps in a desperate way. While Brown may never develop into being a true WR1, you can’t teach his speed and big-play potential in a play-action system. There’s some DeSean Jackson going on here.
37) New York Giants | DE Zach Allen, Boston College
Adding rotational perimeter depth is a worthwhile target for the Giants’ third selection. Trading down could be in play, and so could WR.
38) Jacksonville Jaguars | WR Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
It’s time to add a potential WR1 to the mix, because it’s obvious Jacksonville doesn’t have one on its roster. Dede Westbrook has a chance to shine, although he will need help.
39) Tampa Bay Buccaneers | CB Byron Murphy, Washington
He provides considerable upside and also provides insurance against Vernon Hargreaves. Tampa moving to a man scheme under Todd Bowles fits perfectly for Murphy’s style.
40) Buffalo Bills | OL Dalton Risner, Kansas State
A right tackle or possible guard/center, Risner can add immediate depth. Right tackle Ty Nsekhe is 33 years old and may not survive his two-year deal, while left guard is an open competition.
41) Denver Broncos | SS Johnathan Abram | Mississippi State
This one is bound to change in the update. Abram would be a nice fit for Vic Fangio’s system, but Will Parks may have the upper hand at starting opposite Justin Simmons. DL and ILB could be in play.
42) Cincinnati Bengals | OT Greg Little, Ole Miss
Little gives Cincinnati a chance to groom him for a year and adds depth in case Bobby Hart finally convinces the Bengals he shouldn’t be in a starting lineup. Linebacker could be in the cards with this pick.
43) Detroit Lions | OG Erik McCoy, Texas A&M
He could compete for the starting right guard job from Day 1, and even if he loses out, both of his primary competitors are free agents after 2019.
44) Green Bay Packers | ILB Mack Wilson, Alabama
Inside ‘backer isn’t a pressing need for 2019, but with Green Bay facing a new contract for Blake Martinez in 2020, it remains to be seen if they can afford him (sixth-least ’20 cap space). Fellow ILB Oren Burks is mostly untested, too.
45) Miami Dolphins* | QB Daniel Jones, Duke
Projected trade: MIA trades No. 48 and No. 151 to ATL for No. 45
Rather than wait for 2020, Miami makes a small move to get ahead of Washington for Jones. He can be redshirted behind Fitzpatrick in 2019, or at least until Fitz inevitably implodes for a trio of picks in a game.
46) Washington Redskins | WR Riley Ridley, Georgia
Still without a quarterback, Washington rides out Case Keenum in 2019. The receiving cupboard is barren, making Ridley a wise investment to fill a major need. Hakeem Butler could be in play if the brass prefers his size, but Ridley is the smarter choice.
47) Carolina Panthers | DE Jachai Polite, Florida
Questions about his football intelligence and character could make Polite a risky choice. There’s no doubting his ability to get to the passer, and Carolina is thirsty for a presence off the edge.
48) Atlanta Falcons * | RB Miles Sanders, Penn State
Projected trade: MIA trades No. 48 and No. 151 to ATL for No. 45
Sanders is a luxury pick of sorts for the win-now Falcons. Ito Smith underwhelmed last year. Tevin Coleman is gone, and Devonta Freeman hasn’t been able to stay healthy of late. Atlanta has a reasonable out of Freeman’s deal after 2019. Backup OL help or more defensive line attention is possible.
49) Cleveland Browns | SS Taylor Rapp, Washington
Morgan Burnett is a stopgap as a one-year rental. Rapp is talented and heady enough to work his way into the starting lineup as a rookie if Burnett struggles.
50) Minnesota Vikings | SS Darnell Savage, Maryland
A little light in the pants for an NFL strong safety, Savage still hits hard enough and plays well in the box to grab the attention of Mike Zimmer.
51) Tennessee Titans | OLB D’Andre Walker, Georgia
Walker offers a dynamic edge player with the ability to contribute situationally in 2019 and work his way into a more substantial role going forward.
52) Pittsburgh Steelers | CB Justin Layne, Michigan State
Pittsburgh needs corner help now and for the future as Joe Haden enters the final year of his deal. The Steelers added more man coverage into the mix last year, increasing the split to nearly 50-50. Layne is all about the press-man scheme.
53) Philadelphia Eagles (from Ravens) | DT Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio State
Retooling in the trenches and building more depth is a way of life in Philly. Jones brings inside quickness to help the pass rush.
54) Houston Texans (from Seahawks) | RB David Montgomery, Iowa State
Lamar Miller continues to be just a dude and needs an heir apparent, as well as immediate help. D’Onta Foreman was slow to return from a torn Achilles and may never be the same, so insurance and long-term security is sensible.
55) Houston Texans | CB Trayvon Mullen, Clemson
Mullen’s draft grade is all over the map, but this is a decent place to take a chance on his potential. He’ll need some coaching up; after the additions of Bradley Roby and Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Houston may not ask anything of him in 2019.
56) New England Patriots (from Bears) | FS Deionte Thompson, Alabama
Not an immediate need, but the rangy Thompson can be groomed for a year and mix into expanded coverage. There has been talk of Devin McCourty possibly returning sooner than later. The Patriots could go QB or WR here.
57) Philadelphia Eagles | OLB Vosean Joseph, Florida
The tape shows highs and lows without much in the middle. Joseph translates best to a weakside linebacker in the NFL.
58) Dallas Cowboys | FS Nasir Adderley, Delaware
Will he fall this far? Doubtful. It’s a deep class at safety, which should leave Dallas with a quality choice if it isn’t Adderley.
59) Indianapolis Colts | CB Lonnie Johnson Jr., Kentucky
The top three corners are set, making Johnson a depth pick. He can be brought up to speed and offers necessary depth in case of an injury. WR may be a factor here.
60) Los Angeles Chargers | OT Tytus Howard, Alabama State
Sam Tevi didn’t get it done in the playoffs, and Howard could compete at right tackle. If nothing else, he will be a worthwhile project with a chance to kick to left tackle one day.
61) Kansas City Chiefs | FS Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida
There’s a big hole in the secondary alongside Tyrann Mathieu. Gardner-Johnson is versatile and could even slide in at cornerback in a pinch.
62) New Orleans Saints | FS Juan Thornhill, Virginia
Thornhill could play in “buffalo” packages (three safeties) as a rook with Chris Banjo best utilized on special teams. Marcus Williams has FS locked down for now, however. Despite Michael Thomas being a monster and Tre’Quan Smith flashing potential, New Orleans could use another WR option for Drew Brees.
63) Kansas City Chiefs (from Rams) | OLB Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion
Despite adding Frank Clark via trade, more pass rush never hurts. A project with a quality 3-4 OLB profile, Ximines will help fill the void of losing Justin Houston and Dee Ford.
64) New England Patriots | WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford
Take 34 at replacing Tom Brady will have to wait. There is no secret the Pats need more help in the passing game, and adding Arcega-Whiteside’s size will immediately help. He has the smarts Bill Belichick covets.