Picks 11 – 21
11. Cincinnati Bengals
Chris Lindstrom, iOL, Boston College
Would sure be easier to tell you who the Bengals were gonna pick if they had, you know, a head coach. If it’s Zac Taylor, you gotta wonder if they’re looking beyond Andy Dalton — we’ll cross that bridge when we get there, though.
For now, I have them returning to the interior offensive line pool that gave them Billy Price in last year’s draft. Price’s rookie season was…well, let’s say up-and-down — but offensive linemen usually take time, so this pick isn’t an indictment on Price. Rather, it’s a concentrated effort to rebuild a position that was neglected woefully during the Marvin Lewis years — and, just maybe, turn the keys of the offense over to talented young RB Joe Mixon.
12. Green Bay Packers
Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida
I’m worried about the Matt LaFleur hire. Feels like a reach. Now, there’s a chance that just new blood will enliven Rodgers and re-open the clearly kinked channels of communication — but that means anyone could have been the hire.
That said, LaFleur’s first big and correct move was retaining DC Mike Pettine, who I think is well on his way to building a strong defense there in Green Bay. Last year, they poured the resources into cornerback; this season, I’d love to see them go after EDGEs with intention in free agency and the draft. It’s no coincidence that Chris Jones started setting records when Dee Ford and Justin Houston warmed up in KC — EDGE pressure begets interior pressure.
Kenny Clark is your stud; help him out with Polite, a wicked quick bender around the outside track who will force offensive to help all but their best tackles. Go back into the deep class in Round 2 or 3 and grab yourself an Oshane Ximines or Chase Winovich.
13. Miami Dolphins
Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
Much like the Cincy pick, this would be fairly easier if I knew anything about the future Dolphins staff — but I don’t! So let’s get frisky.
Murray’s going in the first round if he declares — though things aren’t that cut-and-dry with the Oakland Athletics, from what has been recently rumored.
I have my doubts about Murray’s pro projection: he’s a scramble-first QB with an unbelievable arm; uncomfortable in the pocket and inaccurate when throwing with anticipation, but wonderfully pinpoint when he sees it develop. There’s a lot to figure out there — but there’s also a lot to figure out in Miami, as the Dolphins need a full-scale rebuild. That starts with getting your QB and seeing if he can stick.
If Murray flops, Miami will only be in the exact same spot as they are now, just two years later (and with a better pick).
14. Atlanta Falcons
Jeffery Simmons, iDL, Mississippi State
This is a fit you’ve seen from me before, Atlanta fans — sorry if the lack of novelty turns you off. But it feels too easy: Atlanta needs an over tackle who can play next to Grady Jarrett but still add something to the pass rush, and as much as I’d like Deadrin Senat — a crush of mine from last season — to be that guy, I just don’t see it happening.
Simmons’ past requires some careful evaluation, but if Atlanta feels comfortable bringing him into the building, he’ll add to their laboring pass rush and protect their undersized linebackers from Day 1.
15. Washington Redskins
D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
Took a bit, but we got the top WR off the board here. All the better for the Redskins, who could have a slew of different names playing QB in 2019, and have to make sure the weapons are up to snuff.
Metcalf, who has been benching 100 pounds since he was a first-grader, wins with elite physical ability and developed technique for a redshirt sophomore. Josh Doctson will still get outside reps, but Metcalf/Crowder will become the primary outside/inside duo at wide receiver for Washington; and D.K. will also take over some of the red zone targets TE Jordan Reed no longer warrants.
16. Carolina Panthers
Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware
Wanted to go OL with the Panthers — usually do, for poor Cam’s sake — but I opted for the safety pick. The Panthers may elect to return Eric Reid, who has caught headlines for a bevy of off-field reasons this year; or continue riding Mike Adams, a washed high safety who failed to make impact plays this season; or lean on second-year Rashaan Gaulden, who wasn’t able to play his way into significant snaps in 2018.
Or, swing for the fences on Nasir Adderley, an FCS shooting star who could take over the Senior Bowl next week with his athleticism, range, and ball skills on the fly. Adderley immediately plugs into the deep middle if you want to bump Adams, but has the mirror quickness to tag slots and tight ends as a box safety as well. Great player.
17. Cleveland Browns
Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
The more I consider it, the more I think a double-dip on first-round corners makes sense for the Browns.
EDGE is a trendy pick, but they have a lot of subpackage rushers right now — I think they should retain DT Trevon Coley, for what it’s worth — and while they could fit another guy in there, I think that player can come on Day 2.
More pressing is the need opposite Denzel Ward: another corner who can hang with the heavy Cover 3 responsibilities that likely DC Steve Wilks will deploy. Enter Murphy, one of the most instinctive and ball-hawking Cover 3 corners we’ve seen come out in the past few years. Neither Murphy nor Ward are big dudes, but they’ll produce impact plays in terms of PBUs and INTs — that’s what the modern D is all about.
18. Minnesota Vikings
T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
Hockenson is one of two prospects in this first round (hello, Rams fans!) who we’re carefully watching today as they make their NFL Draft decision. I’ve been told, however, that Hockenson is likely to declare as a redshirt sophomore — and all the power to him. He’s a two-year starter over stud TE Noah Fant (hello, Green Bay fans!) and winner of the Mackey Award. He’s the real freakin’ deal.
If Mike Zimmer and Kevin Stefanski are going to bring the running game back to Minnesota, then Hockenson makes a ton of sense. He’s a vicious run blocker — essentially a sixth offensive lineman — and stupid good on the hoof. Kyle Rudolph has had a long and respected career, but he’s losing effectiveness in his advanced age, and there isn’t much starting potential behind him.
Athleticism, hands across the middle, YAC vision and elusiveness — Hock is the entire package.
19. Tennessee Titans
Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
Though he has fallen down my board, I don’t think Greedy had a terrible season this year — nothing like that. The plays he took off, the half-hearted effort on running plays — it just makes me a little wary. And even when he’s on, he gets grabby downfield when he’s in good position, and I’m still not sure he’s great at playing with his head turned to the ball.
That said, he has man coverage quickness, balance, and length — he completes the young CB duo Tennessee is looking to build with Adoree Jackson, who they selected right around this spot two years ago.
Greedy’s addition lets Adoree slide into the nickel more easily, where Tennessee was weak this season. He also bumps Malcolm Butler off of the starting roster — or at least, he better.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama
A late addition to the 2019 NFL Draft class, Wilson had us lamenting the state of a weak linebacker class when it seemed he wasn’t coming out. Now Wilson declares for the NFL and immediately becomes LB1 and the crown jewel target for the Steelers, who are desperately wanting for an impact, sideline-to-sideline defender in the middle of the field.
Wilson’s sublime explosiveness and tracking ability will help mitigate the terrible loss of Ryan Shazier. He’s also a studly coverage linebacker, which may feed into DC Keith Butler’s worst vice: putting LBs over slot WRs in man coverage.
But hey! Wilson could probably handle it.
21. Seattle Seahawks
David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin
I still think we’re all generally too low on Edwards, who ranks as a Top-20 player on my board for his foot speed, recovery ability, and ability to re-anchor.
Yes, Edwards is still fine-tuning the technique of the position, which he hasn’t played for more than a few years. But you can’t teach length, size, and agility — he has all three in spades, as well as over 30 games starting experience at right tackle for a loaded Wisconsin line.
Seattle’s offensive line is on the come-up after the release of “coach” Tom Cable, but the right bookend Germain Ifedi still leaves too much weakness for comfort. Edwards plugs into the Seahawks run-first (and run-second and pass-third) approach, given the style of play he enjoyed in Wisconsin.