Now that we have a better idea of who is picking where and which prominent players are declaring for the draft, it’s time for a mock draft. There will still be some changes on both fronts, but we know enough to make some decent educated guesses here as to what the teams would do with the picks.
Fret not, fans of teams without a first-round pick. I’ve also taken the liberty to project your first pick following the conclusion of the top 32.
The draft order is based on the post-Week 14 standings via Tankathon.
1. San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State. He’s somewhat redundant with 2017 No. 3 overall pick Solomon Thomas, but that pick hasn’t paid dividends yet. Bosa carries some health risk but he’s a dominating force against both the run and pass. He’s got the potential to make an incredible impact and elevate those around him, including Thomas.
2. Arizona Cardinals: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston. Not their biggest need, but it’s tough to ignore a freak athlete with disruptive ability akin to Aaron Donald. Arizona needs playmakers and there might not be a bigger one than Oliver in this draft regardless of position.
3. Oakland Raiders: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State. He hasn’t declared yet, first and foremost. And while divorcing Derek Carr could be messy, Jon Gruden has shown he doesn’t mind making the wildly unpopular personnel decisions. Haskins' accuracy from the pocket and ability to handle pressure are heads above any other QB in this class and I suspect that will tantalize Gruden enough to make him the pick.
4. Atlanta Falcons: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama: An impact interior presence with a growing all-around game, Williams would fit nicely into the middle of a Falcons defense that could bounce upward quickly with renewed health.
5. New York Jets: Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky: Who better to chase around Buffalo’s Josh Allen than the nation’s top collegiate defensive player in 2018? This Allen has great bend and finishes nicely with both power and body control. The Jets can use two of him.
6. Buffalo Bills: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington: Not the typical top CB in mock drafts, but Murphy has the polished game and mindset to surprise. The thumper and playmaker would be a great fit working with Tredavious White to help build a strong young defense on the rise.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon: Another potential top-flight QB who has yet to declare. His Oregon tape shows a lot of promise but some inconsistent play. The good tape should tantalize a Jaguars team mired below QB purgatory right now.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama. The offense is already potent, but imagine the potential with a legit starting tackle. Williams doesn’t appear to be as high-end as some recent OT prospects but his floor is significantly higher in my eyes. The Bucs cannot afford a miss.
9. New York Giants: Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss. Little has serious high-end potential with his length, feet and smooth movement skills for a big man. If he can improve his hand placement and intensity in delivering blocks, he’ll be paving huge lanes for Saquon Barkley and helping Eli Manning extend his career.
10. Detroit Lions: DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia. Baker is a physical presence with excellent instincts and proven ability to be effective in both man and zone schemes. For a defense like Detroit’s under Matt Patricia, being versatile and smart are invaluable. I just wish he was a little faster.
11. Cincinnati Bengals: Devin White, LB, LSU. A do-it-all linebacker with range, cover skills and exceptional tackling power? Isn’t that exactly what the Bengals need? Yes on both counts. Easiest projection in the entire first round. Will they make it happen?
12. Green Bay Packers: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss. Lots of different options for the Packers as they come off a disappointing transition year. Building around Aaron Rodgers makes a lot of sense, and adding Metcalf to Davante Adams would rejuvenate the All-Pro QB with two excellent weapons that can both work the entire field.
13. Cleveland Browns: Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State. Cleveland’s defense sorely needs a commanding interior presence. Enter Simmons, a standout for his disruptive play but also his snarl against the run. He’s an all-day sucker for blockers and could help Myles Garrett become even more dominant to his flank.
14. Washington: Will Grier, QB, West Virginia. Alex Smith’s injury complication accelerates the replacement plan at QB. Grier has high-end arm talent but must learn to play better under pressure. It’s a risk the Skins almost have to take because the dropoff after Grier is cataclysmic.
15. Carolina Panthers: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU. Admittedly much lower than I expect the talented CB to go, but strange things happen in the actual draft and that carries over to the mock here. I suspect the Panthers would be ecstatic to land the athletically gifted corner to pair with old Tigers mate Donte Jackson and solidify the secondary.
16. Philadelphia Eagles: Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson. A talented pass rusher who can attack inside or outside and works well in concert with his linemates, adding Ferrell to the Eagles front almost seems unfair. The Philly defense needs some youthful reinforcement up front and gets a player here who could go in the top 10.
17. Denver Broncos: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama. Any team needing a rangy ballhawk to anchor the back end of the defense is going to love Thompson. The fact he’s also a great tackler only helps. Denver has bigger needs but Thompson will certainly help against the high-powered passing attacks in KC and LA within the division.
18. Miami Dolphins: Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan. Gary is an enigmatic prospect. He dominated as an upfield attacking DT in his first two Wolverine seasons, but lost some luster by losing weight and playing more on the edge. His upside is precisely what the Dolphins need on their defensive front, especially if Cam Wake leaves as a free agent.
19. Indianapolis Colts: Kelvin Harmon, WR, North Carolina State. The physical Harmon blossomed in 2018, showing more ability to separate down the field. He’s got some Allen Robinson to his game, and the Colts can definitely use that to balance with TY Hilton and Eric Ebron. Andrew Luck would approve.
20. Tennessee Titans: Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama. Tennessee has some odd needs relative to the best available talent in this slot. Wilson reminds me of Bobby Wagner coming out of Utah State, an underexposed player brimming with great all-around potential but not quite realized just yet. The Titans can surely use that.
21. Baltimore Ravens: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma. Transforming the offense to build around Lamar Jackson makes sense. Brown is a playmaker on the outside who is accustomed to working with a mobile QB who likes to extend plays. While small in stature, the speedy Brown offers some of the skills that made Golden Tate a premium talent.
22. Minnesota Vikings: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson. There are times when watching Wilkins attack and flow that I’d swear he’s a safety in a 300-pound body. He can play any role needed along the Vikings front and help make those around him better, too.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers: Amani Oruwariye, CB, Penn State. Big and fairly fluid, Oruwariye is arguably the most instinctive cover man in this draft class. The Steelers struggles in the secondary are in drastic need of someone with his particular set of skills. This is admittedly higher than he’ll likely get drafted. It shouldn’t be...
24. Seattle Seahawks: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa. Fant reminds me a lot of Vernon Davis, a lithe athlete with excellent burst off the line and seam-stretching speed. Giving Russell Wilson a big target who can also keep safeties and LBs away from the line of scrimmage seems an optimal fit for Seattle.
25. Oakland Raiders (from DAL): Zach Allen, DE, Boston College. Allow me to join the chorus who inevitably compares Allen to J.J. Watt. They are indeed quite similar physically, and Allen shows some of the same skills at disengaging and overpowering blockers. Even being a reasonable facsimile is more than enough to justify the talent-poor Raiders bringing in the high-floor Allen.
26. Oakland Raiders (from CHI): Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame. The Raiders have a lot of options here with the Khalil Mack bounty pick. One appealing one is Love, a savvy island corner who has fared well going against faster wideouts despite not having great speed of his own. He could remind Jon Gruden of Ronde Barber, minus the ball skills.
27. Houston Texans: Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma. A heavy-handed brute who has enough length and foot quickness to stick at right tackle, Ford is one of those players who will have some terrible reps early on. The Texans have that at tackle already but not with anyone possessing Ford’s considerable upside. Playing in front of mobile QBs Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray is good preparation for protecting the creative Deshaun Watson, too.
28. Los Angeles Chargers: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn. The Chargers have several pending free agents along the defensive front. Brown is an instant solution as a tall anchor presence inside who can handle a double team and also occasionally collapse the pocket from the inside.
29. New England Patriots: Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State. Freshly declared underclassman Jones isn’t as big as the typical Patriots defensive tackle, but it’s easy to envision Bill Belichick falling in love with his first step and consistent ability to beat the offense to the point of attack.
30. Green Bay Packers (from Saints): Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State. Unusually twitchy for a taller pass rusher, Sweat took a big leap in 2018 and could keep ascending. This pick becomes much more of a priority if Clay Matthews departs. Even if he stays, Sweat bolsters a pass rush that doesn’t generate pressure consistently from the flanks.
31. Los Angeles Rams: Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia. Because Andrew Whitworth (probably) can’t play forever. Because Cajuste is a bona fide butt-kicker in mano-a-mano combat. Because I don’t project trades in mocks at this early juncture of draft season.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson. The Chiefs have a nasty Achilles heel with their underwhelming secondary, leaving them highly vulnerable when playing teams in must-throw mode. I wish Mullen was better with the ball in the air, but he’s got smooth skills at the line and in transition and doesn’t get lost very often.
Teams without 1st rounders:
Dallas Cowboys: Irv Smith, TE, Alabama. An oft-overlooked talent on the loaded, NFL-friendly Crimson Tide offense, Smith could test his way to being selected above where Dallas picks first. He’s a great fit for their need for a dynamic middle-of-the-field receiver.
New Orleans Saints: Chase Winovich, EDGE, Michigan. Winovich really opened eyes in ‘18 with his increased power and more refined hand usage. He’s always had the Kevin Greene gene of a relentless, hyperkinetic edge rusher, a comp which goes far beyond the flowing locks. He’s underrated as a run defender, something that plays into the Saints schematic strength.
Chicago Bears: Anthony Johnson, WR Buffalo. Tough to project a selection in the 90s at this point. Johnson has big-play ability as an outside deep threat. Added bonus--he’s an exceptional blocker for his position. The Bears add a reliable weapon for Mitchell Trubisky.