Hello, draft fans. Welcome back to the journey.
If this is your first time on The Draft Network, let this mock draft serve as a welcoming into the 2018 college football and NFL seasons, and of course an on-ramp to the highway that will end with the final pick of the 2019 NFL Draft.
I've been tasked -- or honored, however you want to look at it -- with providing the very first mock draft for TDN, one that will certainly have quite a few shifts by the time the first team goes on the clock next spring. Though the picks might shift positions or change names completely between now and then, mocks are still a good exercise to get the imagination flowing and to give both college football and NFL fans a heads up for which college football names might be headed their NFL team's way a year from now.
The order of the draft below is via the latest odds to win the Super Bowl from lowest to highest, so you can't say I hate your favorite team -- blame Vegas. More important than the prospect fits, though I believe I've chosen some nice fits for certain teams, is the recognition of the players' names. These are some of the top names going into the college football season, both from a national media perspective and from some of my own scouting that I've done over the summer.
But enough small talk. Let's get to it.
Here's my version 1.0 mock draft for the 2019 NFL Draft season.
No. 1 - New York Jets
PICK: Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
Much like his brother, Joey, was just a few years ago, Nick Bosa is the prized edge defender of this draft class. His size, motor and talent are just about everything you could ask for in an age where defenders are rotating all along defensive lines. Bosa can line up inside and out for 3-4 and 4-3 alignments, and with health on his side he has the potential to dominate the next level for years to come.
No. 2 - Miami Dolphins
PICK: Brian Lewerke, QB, Michigan State
If the Miami Dolphins are going to be picking No. 2 overall in next year's draft, they can't have much faith in Ryan Tannehill, either due to performance or lack of health. That means they'll likely be in the quarterback market. If you ask me, the best one on my radar right now is Brian Lewerke from Michigan State. Our resident Big10 analyst, Kyle Crabbs, turned me on to Lewerke and I like a lot of what I see. He has a pretty strong arm, but even better than that is his natural touch and accuracy on passes. He thrives in a lot of the "can't teach" areas of playing quarterback.
No. 3 - Chicago Bears
PICK: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
If Ed Oliver isn't going No. 1 of No. 2 overall, it doesn't matter what the order of your mock draft is, he has to be a lock to go No. 3.
Oliver has been on the NFL's radar for a long time now after recording 22 tackles for loss as a true freshman two years ago. He's a smaller defensive tackle at just 280 pounds, but if he can get his weight up and stay pretty close to as explosive and as quick as he is now, we all know interior pressure is being emphasized in the NFL more and more for good reasons. Oliver will be next as the talk of the league.
No. 4 - Cincinnati Bengals
PICK: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
Much like the Dolphins, if the Bengals are picking this high, they'll likely need a franchise-type piece. It probably won't be at quarterback, as they seem to have trust in Dalton, and with Bosa and Oliver gone I would expect them to keep the trench theme of this draft going with the top offensive tackle in the class.
Jonah Williams has gone up against some tough competition over the last two years and he's stood his ground against basically all of them. He has the size, strength and quick feet to potentially be an impact right away at left tackle in the NFL.
No. 5 - Buffalo Bills
PICK: Dalton Risner, OT, Kansas State
Risner is one of the most versatile offensive linemen in this draft, it seems. He's played center, offensive guard and offensive tackle already during his K-State career, and the expectation is for him to play out at tackle again in 2018 after a stellar 2017 campaign.
He's a mean interior offensive lineman who knows hows to anchor well and shows good feet when moving around the line. There's a bit of a consistency risk due to him never really starting in the same spot for very long, but each position change has been an upgrade to a higher-ceiling spot, almost as if he's climbing the positional ladder along the offensive line. He's been up to the challenge each time thus far. I expect it to continue in 2018.
No. 6 - Arizona Cardinals
PICK: Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State
This is the part of the mock draft where we start to identify prospects who are raw in terms of how much game film they have and even the kind of game film they've produced, but within that film lies some serious flashes of potential.
At 6-foot-5, 231 pounds, Burns shows good size an speed around the edge. His weight being that low is a concern, but he's put on decent weight each year while at Florida State, and if he comes into the season more around the 235-240 mark with even more production on the edge, then we're talking about a guy who could get drafted in this kind of range. The NFL covets pass rushers of Burns' mold.
No. 7 - Cleveland Browns
PICK: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
The Browns have solidified the depth on their defense in almost every spot other than cornerback (though Denzel Ward will help), and if they're picking this high in 2019 they'll likely have a chance to grab the best one in this class.
At 6-foot-1, Williams has the ideal length to play as an outside cornerback in the NFL. As just a redshirt freshman in 2017, he showed savviness and intelligence for the position that usually only comes with years of experience. Williams has the instincts to play man coverage tight and has the mindset and ball skills to grab takeaways. That's the total package as an outside cornerback.
No. 8 - Washington Redskins
PICK: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
Let me just go ahead and address the narrative now because I'm sure you'll hear it a million times this draft season. Drew Lock and last year's Josh Allen both have big arms yet lower accuracy totals, and thus you're going to hear their names linked together for many months.
What Lock does have similar to Allen is that arm potential that will be highly coveted come draft time. Lock's system at Missouri is very predetermined, so you wont see him scan the field much. He has plenty of tape showing he can make just about every throw in the book, but making them at a more consistent level is a negative that will follow him all the way until draft day if we don't see better accuracy in 2018.
If we do, he's a Top 10 lock (ha) because of what he can do.
No. 9 - Indianapolis Colts
PICK: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
Here we are years later and the Colts will likely go into the 2019 offseason still cleaning up from the mess general manager Ryan Grigson left for the now general manager Chris Ballard. Ballard has done a nice job putting pieces in place, but without Andrew Luck no one really knows how the plan is coming along.
Regardless, the Colts will still need a top pass rusher come next year and Ferrell is about as consistent as they come for a 4-3 system like the Colts run. He has the frame, size and speed to be a force on all three downs, just not as high of a ceiling as guys like Bosa and Oliver.
No. 10 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
PICK: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
I'm a guy who covers the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and even I couldn't tell you where the Bucs are going to be come 2019. Everything is on the table for assets they may need. They may need a new coach, a new quarterback, a new offensive line. But they have addressed all of those things somewhat recently.
What they haven't addressed is a safety to play next to Justin Evans. If the Bucs can get their hands on Deionte Thompson, they'll have two of the most versatile, range-y safeties in the league at young ages. Thompson isn't being talked about enough right now, mostly due to the fact that he barely played in 2017. But when he came in he showed flashes of a safety who can cover deep and come up and lay hits -- the total package.
No. 11 - Seattle Seahawks
PICK: Raekwon Davis, DT, Alabama
It really is a bummer how things ended up playing out with Malik McDowell. That guy had some of the best flashes I've seen from an interior defensive lineman coming out of college. But his time in Seattle (and maybe in football) is no more, and so Seattle must move on.
If they're still looking to replace what they wanted in youth and talent from the position McDowell was drafted for, Alabama's Raekwon Davis would fit perfectly. He's an excellent run stopper right now with the size (6-foot-7) to also be a force in pass rush. If he puts it all together he could be scary.
No. 12 - Detroit Lions
PICK: Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
Simmons, like Davis above, has ideal size to play on the interior and be a force in both the run and pass games. He need some work on his pass rush moves, but when his motor is going at full speed (which it often is) it's only a matter of time before he breaks off any block and gets to the man with the ball. He can play multiple positions on the defensive line and also has the potential of a Top 15 pick.
No. 13 - Baltimore Ravens
PICK: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
Fellow Rebels wide receiver A.J. Brown is the one getting most of the hype, but at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, Metcalf has better size and even has some better plays than Brown, though not as much production yet, as Metcalf is just a redshirt sophomore.
The Ravens have been trying to find a steady top wide receiver for years now, and it doesn't look like they addressed that the way they needed to this offseason. Metcalf could be their solution next offseason.
No. 14 - Tennessee Titans
PICK: Ahmmon Richards, WR, Miami
Even though I liked what the Titans did when they selected Corey Davis No. 5 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, they'll likely still need a running mate next to him, as Rishard Matthews is an unrestricted free agent in 2019.
Richards has been putting on a show down in Miami since his true freshman season, and as long as he stays healthy in 2018, expect much of the same and his stock to rise as one of the best playmakers in this class.
No. 15 - Denver Broncos
PICK: Rashan Gary, DT, Michigan
There is a chance that Rashan Gary could end up going a lot higher than No. 15 overall, but he has some work to do before he gets there.
Gary is one heck of an athlete for a man his size at 6-foot-4, 281 pounds. Right now his game is actually more suited for an interior defensive line position, but Gary has said he wants to stay as an edge player, and if he wants to get draft high at that position he's going to have to show more pass rush moves and more consistency with getting pressure on the edge.
Regardless, he's pretty versatile, which could be used well in Denver's front.
No. 16 - Carolina Panthers
PICK: Trey Adams, OT, Washington
Men that are 6-foot-7 and nearly 330 pounds should not be able to move with the strength and flexibility that Adams can. He's smart in how he approaches pass rushers and often knows how to counter what they do best. He isn't the fastest guy when shuffling long distances, as you would expect for a man that big, but he deals with it well. Unfortunately I think the Panthers are going to be begging for a guy like Adams come draft weekend.
No. 17 - Dallas Cowboys
PICK: Kelvin Harmon, WR, N.C. State
Kelvin Harmon has been nicknamed "Little Julio" by some, referencing Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons. I wouldn't quite go that far, but there is a lot to love about what Harmon brings to the table.
At 6-foot-3, 212 pounds, he has the ideal size to be an outside receiver. He also knows how to win in one-on-one situations, can catch through traffic and does most of his best work at the sideline. Another 1,000-yard season for him could make him a Top 15 prospect.
No. 18 - New York Giants
PICK: Shea Patterson, QB, Michigan
It's going to be an interesting year for Shea Patterson, as it will be his first since transferring from Ole Miss to Michigan. Patterson had a plethora of weapons to throw to at Mississippi, and he won't have that same type of cast of UM. However, Patterson does have a smooth arm with good power, velocity, accuracy and instincts for the quarterback position. Eli Manning isn't going to be around forever, and I think the Giants pull the trigger on his replacement in 2019.
No. 19 - Kansas City Chiefs
PICK: Amani Oruwariye, CB, Penn State
The Chiefs may have made the right move getting rid of Marcus Petters, if Peters truly wanted out of Kansas City -- if he didn't they're dumb -- but they're going to realize just how much they miss a guy like him, who can play as a lockdown cornerback, in 2018.
Oruwariye is a tough name to say and an even tougher cornerback to play against. He's strong, can help against the run and handles big receivers on the outside in man coverage. He need to work on his hands in press, mainly getting them in the right position, having power with them and being consistent with disrupting a wide receiver early on in his route. If he can do that, he can be a nice press cornerback at the next level.
No. 20 - Oakland Raiders
PICK: Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
If Sweat plays to his athletic profile of 6-foot-4, 241 pounds, he might not be here for Oakland to snatch up. But, if he is, he would be a nice edge addition for them. He is sound his his technique when stopping the run, but needs to get stronger, either by putting on more weight or just focusing on that in the weight room. Added strength will complete his game as a run stopper and as an edge setter, and will also aid how quickly he can get off blocks in pass rush with those long arms.
No. 21 - Jacksonville Jaguars
PICK: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Some mock drafts will show Herbert going much higher than this, but with limited success in the time he's played I'm not ready to put him any higher than this to a spot where I like him going.
I know I'm not alone here, but I think Bortles is going to have quite the cool-down year from the mistake free 2017 we saw a year ago. I think that will be about all the Jaguars' front office wants to handle of him and they'll bring a guy in who they hope can execute a pass/run offense like Bortles but more consistently in both areas.
No. 22 - Los Angeles Chargers
PICK: Levonta Taylor, CB, Florida State
As much as it pains me to say this, the Chargers can no longer count on Jason Verrett to be an outside cornerback for them anymore. This 2018 season is about to be his third straight year with a season ending injury; they have to pick up some help at the cornerback position. They have Desmond King, but he's not fast enough to play as a full-time outside cornerback.
In comes Levonta Taylor. Taylor is of the same kind of mold Verrett is, we just have to wait and see if he can stack a second good season on the one he had in 2017. He's a smaller cornerback at 5-foot-10 and under 190 pounds, but he doesn't let that affect him too much and plays even bigger receivers well enough to be a potential late first round pick.
No. 23 - Atlanta Falcons
PICK: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
The Atlanta Falcons have one of the best rosters top-to-bottom in the NFL and with that comes luxury picks in the draft.
The one position on offense where they aren't excellent is at tight end, and if they get their hands on Iowa's Noah Fant, they'll likely have the most complete offense in the entire league.
Fant is an athletic freak. At 6-foot-4, 232 pounds, Fant allegedly has a 42.5-inch vertical jump. As a first-time starter last seasons, he averaged over 16 yards per catch with 11 touchdowns.
No. 24 - San Francisco 49ers
PICK: Jaquan Johnson, S, Miami
The 49ers moving on from safety Eric Reid without much of a backup plan was a bit odd, but that's what happened and that's the situation they're likely still going to be in come the 2019 NFL draft.
If that's the case, a player like Jaquan Johnson would be perfect for them. Johnson has the ability to play as a free or strong safety, though he's best as a free safety. He has a knack for making plays on the ball whether that be interceptions or forcing fumbles. He has the skillset worthy of a late first round safety.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Even though I still like Jaquan Johnson as a late first round player, 49ers fans gave me a little education on their safety situation since I put out this mock, and I wrote about that here.
No. 25 - Houston Texans
PICK: Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
As a former 5-star recruit, Little's name in the spotlight is no surprise. But where he does has the potential to be a Top 32 pick, he is still raw. His technique is all over the place where it comes to both footwork and where he consistently puts his hands on defenders. Some of that may just be from lack of playing time, which will certainly help to have another year as a starter in 2018. His size, strength and how well he moves for his size (6-foot-5, 325 pounds) are what NFL teams are going to want in a first round offensive lineman, but he's not a finished product.
No. 26 - Green Bay Packers (via NO)
PICK: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
As of right now, the Packers have back-to-back first round picks for the deal they made in the 2018 draft with the New Orleans Saints which allowed the Saints to trade up and select Marcus Davenport.
With their first pick, I have them selecting one of the most electric players in college football, Oklahoma's Marquise Brown -- or "Hollywood", as most call him.
With no more Jordy Nelson and the team likely moving on from Randall Cobb at some point, they're going to need a player who can stretch the field opposite Davante Adams. Brown can be that guy.
No. 27 - Green Bay Packers
PICK: Anfernee Jennings, EDGE, Alabama
Speaking of replacement picks, Clay Matthews isn't getting any younger and the Packers really have yet to draft the guy who is going to hopefully be the impact player Matthews has been for them when he eventually drops off in production.
Jennings, at 6-foot-2, 265 pounds, has the size and athleticism to play the same type of role Matthews has for many years in Green Bay. Jennings can be that top stand-up edge rusher for the Packers, and selecting him in 2019 could allow Jennings to learn from Matthews while he's still there.
No. 28 - Minnesota Vikings
PICK: Rashard Lawrence, DT, LSU
The Vikings, like the Falcons, have a very solid roster top-to-bottom. That means their first round pick in 2019 is shaping up to be a luxury.
With Sheldon Richardson on an expensive one-year deal for 2018, if they decide not to bring him back they can address his position by drafting Rashard Larwence from LSU. Lawrence has some of the quickest, most violent hands in the class and they make him one of the best interior pass rushers going into the season.
No. 29 - Los Angeles Rams
PICK: Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama
After moving on from Alec Ogletree, the Rams have yet to really plug in his replacement. Mark Barron is fine as a safety/linebacker hybrid, but they need a true linebacker with athleticism and a higher ceiling than Ogletree had.
Mack Wilson might be long gone before this pick, due to the potential he shows with speed, athletic ability and instincts for taking the ball away at an ideal size of 6-foot, 230 pounds. If he is here, he'd be a great fit for this Rams defense, which plays fast and aggressive.
No. 30 - Pittsburgh Steelers
PICK: Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma
2018 will likely be the last year of Le'Veon Bell in Pittsburgh due to the fact the Steelers have dug themselves a hole by franchise tagging him over and over and therefore driving his price up to continue to play with them.
If they let him walk, they'll be on the lookout for his replacement, and if they can get their hands on a guy like Rodney Anderson I think they would be very pleased. At 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, Anderson might be the top back in this class. All he needs is another year of improved vision and production and he'll be rewarded for it in the draft.
No. 31 - Philadelphia Eagles
PICK: Jalen Jelks, EDGE, Oregon
The Eagles are coming off a year where they had one of the best rosters in football and it ended up winning them a championship -- without their starting quarterback, even.
I image there are going to be some pieces that have to be moved between now and the 2019 draft, and even with the losses of Vinny Curry and Beau Allen already, they could stand to pick up another good defensive line piece to keep that rotation as one of the best of the league. Jelks has the size to play both inside and out and would be a good versatile pieces for Jim Schwartz' defense -- if he's even still their defensive coordinator in 2019 and not a head coach elsewhere.
No. 32 - New England Patriots
PICK: Robert Landers, DT, Ohio State
The Patriots, though they still have the highest odds to win the Super Bowl in 2018, do not have that great of a roster -- Tom Brady makes up for a lot of it.
Their defensive line especially needs work. I have faith that Derek Rivers can be a solid edge player for them, but they need an interior defensive line presence who can rush the passer.
I like Robert Landers here to fill that role. Landers isn't being talked about much due to Ohio State's heavy rotation of defensive linemen over the past few years. But, in a full-time role in 2018, expect to hear his name often.