It’s officially the week of Thanksgiving which means family, food and more fanbases turning their attention to the NFL Draft with the likelihood of not making the playoffs becoming a reality. On the college side, only one week in the regular season remains before Conference Championship Games and Bowl Season is upon us.
While truly predicting what will happen next April is near-impossible at this point, the film resume of the prospects is almost complete and NFL team needs are becoming clear. With that in mind, here’s my latest projection as to how things could play out.
1. San Francisco 49ers
PICK: Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
In what is shaping up to be a lost season for the 49ers with franchise QB Jimmy Garoppolo suffering a season-ending knee injury in Week 3, coming away with the No. 1 overall pick and adding a piece like Bosa is a strong consolation prize.
San Francisco is in need of pass rush off the edge and Bosa is a blue chip talent that has the makings of a dynamic edge rusher in the NFL. He can be that Khalil Mack/Von Miller/Myles Garrett type of game-changing presence.
2. Arizona Cardinals
PICK: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
We’ve seen plenty of supremely talented defensive lineman produced at Alabama in recent years, but Williams is special. Watching him on tape this season reveals one of the most unblockable defensive lineman my eyes have ever seen. His combination of size, quickness, length, power, technique and flexibility is rare and he lives in the backfield.
The Cardinals have needs on top of needs but adding an interior presence like Williams starts building a defensive identity in the desert.
3. Oakland Raiders
PICK: Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
Averaging less than one sack per game, the Raiders’ pass rush is non-existent. The duo of Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack is history and the time has come for Oakland to build its next arsenal of pass rushers.
Enter Ferrel who has racked up 10.5 sacks for Clemson already this season after 9.5 in 2017. His length, power, hand technique and variety of moves profiles him as an impact pass rusher in the NFL.
4. New York Jets
PICK: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
In trading up for quarterback Sam Darnold in last year’s draft, the Jets went all-in on the young passer in hopes of landing a franchise quarterback. Like most rookie quarterbacks, Darnold has been up and down but his flashes have been really exciting.
In order for Darnold to take the next step, improving the infrastructure around him is paramount. Williams is the best offensive lineman in the draft and his polished technique and play strength should make him an immediate starter.
5. New York Giants
PICK: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
This would be a dream scenario. While Herbert isn’t perfect, he’s likely the best chance of landing a true franchise passer in this year’s draft. There are some rumblings that he may not declare but the likelihood of him being a top-10 draft pick is considerably high which would make staying in school a major shock.
Herbert’s physical traits and flashes with ball placement are special although he needs plenty of development in terms of processing defenses and overall consistency. Given the weapons New York already has in the mix, this could be an ideal landing spot for Herbert to get acclimated.
6. Buffalo Bills
PICK: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
Yea, the Bills need to get better on offense but there isn’t an offensive prospect worthy of drafting at No. 6 in this scenario and Oliver is the type of dynamic talent that Buffalo would be wise to add. His athletic ability and burst is special. His hand usage and power overwhelm opponents. His range and motor is otherworldly. His flexibility and agility don’t make sense for his size. Oliver has the upside to be the face of an NFL defense and become one of the top defensive playmakers in the NFL
A young defensive nucleus of Oliver up front, Tremaine Edmunds on the second level and Tre White in the secondary would be the envy of the league.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
PICK: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
Tampa Bay’s defensive struggles continue and Thompson is the type of talent that can impact the unit in all the right ways. First off, his versatility to function at a high level in single high coverage, split zones and man coverage affords more scheme multiplicity.
The Bucs are also allergic to creating turnovers on defense and Thompson’s range, ball skills and versatility on the back end would enable the Bucs to be more aggressive with its pressure packages knowing Thompson is lurking in the secondary. Thompson is the game-changing defensive back Tampa Bay is severely lacking.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars
PICK: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
From the AFC Championship game to a 3-7 record, Jacksonville finds itself trending towards a top-10 draft pick. That type of inconsistency is what you get with a ground and pound offensive philosophy with a bumbling quarterback in Blake Bortles to rely on when production is needed in the passing game.
Haskins isn’t perfect, but he is young and offers and exciting arm. Misplaced in Urban Meyer’s offense that typically features a dual-threat passer, Haskins has the makings of a surgeon from the pocket given some of his flashes this season at Ohio State. It’s time for the Jags to identify a new course and quarterback and Haskins could breathe life into the offense.
9. Cleveland Browns
PICK: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
Denzel Ward looks like a star but Cleveland desperately needs a viable cover man opposite of him. The way things have played out, Cleveland can sprint to the podium to snag the best corner in the draft.
In terms of size, length, fluidity, ball skills and versatility, Williams emphatically checks the boxes. There is another level of consistency for Williams to achieve, but his ceiling is incredibly high should everything come together.
10. Detroit Lions
PICK: Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
With Ziggy Ansah playing under the franchise tag this season, his future with the team is uncertain beyond this year and he’s struggled with injuries. It’s time for Detroit to get serious about rebuilding its arsenal of edge rushers and Allen has immense potential.
Racking up 17.5 tackles for loss, 13 sacks and 5 forced fumbles for Kentucky this season, Allen is running circles around SEC offensive tackles. His burst and bend off the edge is special and his ceiling is incredibly high given the growth he can have in terms of developing pass rush counters.
11. Atlanta Falcons
PICK: Tyler Biadasz, iOL, Wisconsin
There are plenty of question marks when it comes to the Falcons interior offensive line and drafting Biadasz could solve a lot of them.
Just a redshirt sophomore, Biadasz is a game-changing interior blocker that comes with the coveted Wisconsin pedigree. He offers incredible play strength, mobility and football intelligence that destines him for a career littered with Pro Bowl Honors.