Indianapolis, Dallas, Los Angeles, and my beloved Philadelphia — welcome! This is the NFL Draft. Sucks to be here, but it gets better quick.
S/o to Kyle for sneaking all the way into my drafts to expose me on the internet following the Eagles loss on Sunday/
— Kyle Crabbs (@GrindingTheTape) January 14, 2019
So: as the legend of Drew Brees continues, the changing of the guard awaits between Mahomes and Brady, and we stare down the barrel of showcase games for NFL Draft prospects, make sure you’re plugged in with TDN. We have four members of staff on location for the Shrine Game, for which practices start today; and all six analysts on staff will be on location for next week’s Senior Bowl as well. It’s gonna be a full few weeks of football, gang.
This is my latest two round mock draft (sorry, Bears fans), and it was executed from my updated Top-100, which is also available for your perusal. As a matter of fact, besides the two QBs selected, the other 30 first-round players are my Top-30 prospects. Should be a few names that surprise you; if you want to talk about who ranked where for why, hit me up on Twitter @BenjaminSolak.
Let’s get crankin’!
Picks 1 – 10
1. Arizona Cardinals
Quinnen Williams, iDL, Alabama
Quinnen at No. 1 to the Cards is a no-brainer, as I see it. He’s my top-ranked player in this class — though I won’t hate if you have Nick Bosa above him; that’s a valid take — and fills an immediate need for Arizona. Slam dunk.
They do need more EDGE help, yes — but they already have the one elite rusher in Chandler Jones, while they’re completely lacking for high-impact rushers from the interior. New HC Kliff Kingsbury might be tempted to go offense early, but he’ll know he needs to load his defense with talent as well. Welcome to the NFL.
2. San Francisco 49ers
Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
All the better for Kyle Shanahan and the Niners if the Cards pass on Bosa. They get the rush help they have desperately needed in the past few seasons.
What with Kliff, Shanny, and McVay in the division — oh, and Brian Schottenheimer — you can imagine that the NFC West team most effective at rushing the passer will hold a critical advantage in interdivisional matchups. Arizona’s still rebuilding, but the Niners could punch at Seattle/LA weight if they beef up that defensive line.
Bosa brings starting potential in Year 1 and will have the early odds for DROY — ton of polish to his game. I’m a little curious about his Combine 3-cone, though.
3. New York Jets
Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
Not a sexy pick for the team who finds themselves at the exact draft slot at which they took Sam Darnold not a year ago — but the right one.
New HC Adam Gase understands the value of protecting his quarterback — at least, he better, after all the difficulty he had keeping Ryan Tannehill upright during his stint in Miami. With his first pick as the Dolphins head coach, Gase grabbed Laremy Tunsil — and while that pick wasn’t the steal many had hoped, it illustrated Gase’s willingness to develop young OL talent. Williams is a plug-and-play bodyman for the Jets’ future at QB.
4. Oakland Raiders
Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
Back-to-back Crimson Tide picks, as the Raiders get Thompson early. Now, drafting a safety at four is a questionable matter of value, though the 2017 crop had enough success to get coaches and GMs to talk themselves into the idea.
If anyone will eschew the value conversation around a top pick at safety, it’s Gruden, who will love Thompson’s playmaking ability, instincts, and willingness to tackle. Mayock is on the horse as well, I’d imagine.
Please miss me with all analysis predicated on a two-game, maybe four/five play stretch during the playoffs, in which Thompson struggled. Dude plays the position in which you’re trying to fix everyone in front of you. Mistakes happen.
I really don’t think Oakland picks an EDGE at almost the exact draft slot at which Khalil Mack was selected. That irony is a little much, even for me.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
“Hey, Coach! Welcome to town. Here’s our franchise QB, super up-and-down, need your help there. Weapons are excellent though; OL could use some work too, we’ll get to that. Anyway, modern linebackers, some young corner and safeties, yeah, good stuff…”
“I’m sorry, what was that? Pass rusher? Am I saying that right? You want to know if we have a pass rusher?”
The Tampa roster is thirsting for an impact EDGE, as all of their current players — Jason Pierre-Paul, Vinny Curry, Carl Nassib — project best as depth pieces in a two-deep. Who’s the starter, the go-to, the homewrecker? Enter Josh Allen, who exploded onto the scene for Kentucky this year, and has the physical profile to develop into a more diverse and deadly rusher with NFL training.
6. New York Giants
Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma
Will the Giants neglect QB at 6? As each day passes toward the NFL Draft, it seems more and more likely — especially once Justin Herbert elected to return to school, when that buzz started to really pick up.
I think Cody Ford is a Top-10 talent at offensive tackle, with unbelievable foot speed and balance for his tremendous size — and if the Giants aren’t going for a new signal-caller, they might as well make life as easy on Eli as possible. An easy life for QB is two things: protection and weapons. They’ve got the firepower, so lock in Ford and things get real interesting for an offense that looked stronger in the back half of 2018.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
There isn’t a single QB in this class — not Dwayne Haskins, Kyler Murray, or Brett Rypien — who makes the Jags as competitive in 2019 as Teddy Bridgewater does. If he becomes available, no hesitation: pull the trigger. You have so many pieces in place. Get real and bring in the QB.
Bridgewater could use an elite weapon like D.K. Metcalf, but I elected to re-up the pass rush after the departure of Dante Fowler at the trade deadline. You already have Yannick Ngakoue, the explosive corner rusher on one side — enter Clelin Ferrell, who has everything but that killer bend on the outside.
Ferrell has added nice physicality to his length and counter move prowess this season, in my viewing of him — he’s everything people wanted Leonard Floyd to be a few years ago, because he actually has NFL size and strength. With early picks in Taven Bryan last season and Ferrell this year, Jacksonville continues to emphasize the importance of a deep, varied pass rush.
8. Detroit Lions
Ed Oliver, iDL, Houston
I have Ed Oliver as the fourth-ranked player on my board, but as I’ve said a few times now: Oliver is gonna be a player that only some teams like. His size (if he hits 280 pounds it’s a huge win) will turn some teams away.
Matt Patricia’s Lions won’t be one of those teams, I’d wager, as Patricia’s defenses in New England loved move pieces they could rush from 4- or 5-technique spots. That screams Oliver, who didn’t enjoy much rush productivity as a 0- to 1-technique for the Cougars. More freedom to slant and penetrate will maximize his first-step prowess, and he’ll remain staunch against the run no matter where he puts his hat.
Damon Harrison, Oliver, Da’Shawn Hand, and a free-agent addition like Brandon Graham or Dee Ford (or Trey Flowers!) is a feisty front four.
9. Buffalo Bills
Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
Lotta B’s in this one, gang.
We’re nine selection into this draft and we’ve only seen one non-trench player leave the board. Yet, it doesn’t even feel like Buffalo is reaching: rather, they’re getting a great fit as Jacksonville went Ferrell, and the quicker, bendier Burns ends up with the Bills.
Buffalo’s defense was the strength of their team this year, while the offense needs some help. Trust me, I know that: I got destroyed in an earlier mock for giving them some dude named Quinnen Williams. But I’m not going to pass up an elite stand-up 9-tech — which they definitely need — just because the Mafia wants a WR one round too early.
Burns will eventually take Jerry Hughes’ spot, but even early on can line up outside Shaq Lawson and juice up Buffalo’s outside pressure.
10. Denver Broncos
Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
I don’t condone the pick, but it’s the best QB on the board — just hope GM John Elway and whoever ends up being his offensive coordinator agree with me.
Haskins will be better after a year of development, and I think he’ll have that time as Denver rebuilds their offensive line and settles under a new head coach. Haskins and second-year WR DaeSean Hamilton could become something fun, given their relative strengths.