The draft order here is based on the updated Super Bowl odds as of Aug. 28th. It’s technically an impossible draft order, but that’s where we are. If you don’t like where your team is slotted, blame the bookies or put your money where your mouth is…
1. Miami Dolphins: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon. Sure, the Dolphins just traded for Josh Rosen. But he’s been unable to beat out what’s left of Ryan Fitzpatrick, not a good sign for his developmental curve. Herbert has tremendous tools and was highly regarded before deciding to return to Oregon. A strong and healthy season for the Ducks will have him firmly in the conversation to be the No. 1 overall pick.
2. Washington: Grant Delpit, S, LSU. He’s the No. 1 player in the country in my preliminary rankings, a playmaking safety with range and veteran savvy. Washington’s young defense has some promise and a talent like Delpit would give them an even stronger identity as a unit nobody would want to face.
3. New York Giants: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia. The formula here is simple; the Giants got their QB this year in Daniel Jones, now they must protect him and get him weapons. Thomas is an exceptionally sound technician with picture-perfect measurables, plus experience playing both left and right tackle. He’s still just a junior but projects as the best OL prospect in this class.
4. Cincinnati Bengals: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State. Young stepped up in Nick Bosa’s absence and asserted himself as capable of dominating as a pass rusher, a trend I expect to continue for the big Buckeye. Pass rush might not be the Bengals biggest need, but their attraction to Ohio State players trumps more pressing needs and Young is certainly worth the value here.
5. Arizona Cardinals: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa. Epenesa is a natural to replace Terrelle Suggs as the alpha pass rusher for a Cardinals defense in desperate need of a young building block. His power moves consistently dominate from anywhere between a 5- and 9-technique.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama. If the Bucs are picking this high, one reason will be Jameis Winston’s inability to lead them out of the bottom 10. Tagovailoa has No. 1 overall potential if he continues to show the athleticism, touch and leadership he did for the Crimson Tide a year ago.
7. Detroit Lions: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama. Aside from being one of the fastest players in the country, Jeudy runs precise routes and shows sticky hands in traffic. He’s a perfect fit for what the Lions offense needs most: a playmaker on the outside.
8. Buffalo Bills: Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia. Hall surprised many by returning to Virginia and eschewing likely top-25 draft status a year ago. He enters the season firmly atop the CB rankings, a position where the Bills could be in the market for serious reinforcements after the 2019 campaign.
9. Denver Broncos: Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado. The Broncos don’t have to look far to find one of the best weapons in the draft in Shenault. His ability to line up all over the formation gives defenses fits, and his speed makes the sleek Shenault a threat to score from anywhere. The Broncos can use that at a position where they have more questions than answers right now.
10. New York Jets: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU. Reagor is terrifyingly electric with his instant speed and nifty feet. He’s a big play waiting to happen, and he’ll be in this draft range if he proves his hands and concentration can improve. The Jets can use his sizzle factor to help Sam Darnold’s progress for sure.
11. Indianapolis Colts: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn. Before you go defaulting to QB here, understand the Colts really like Jacoby Brissett. They desperately need an impact talent on the defensive line and Brown can be that guy. He’ll be regarded as a potential top-10 prospect with more production in his final season for the Tigers. The physical talent is there.
12. Tennessee Titans: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma. Long and physical with the ball in the air, Lamb has proven he can get open and make difficult catches. Those qualities figure to entice a Titans offense that will be coming up on decision time with Taywan Taylor and Corey Davis at WR.
13. Carolina Panthers: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa. It might not be Carolina’s biggest need, but it’s hard to look past a technically sound tackle with elite feet and exceptional balance. Wirfs projects as an instant starter at either OT spot.
14. Seattle Seahawks: Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State. Of Okudah builds off his tremendous 2018, he’ll be coveted in this range of the draft. A long man-coverage specialist who can tackle, he’d be a nice fit in the rebuild of the former Legion of Boom.
15. San Francisco 49ers: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson. Etienne consistently shows instant speed and burst that is very impressive for a 200-plus pounder. There are times where he’s too fast for his own good, but he’s got time to work on patience and vision. The 49ers can use a weapon to replace the injury bust that has become Jerick McKinnon.
16. Oakland Raiders: Collin Johnson, WR, Texas. Supersized (6-6/215) wideout who plays to his size, Johnson checks a ton of boxes for a team looking for a reliable threat all over the field. He’d make a very nice complementary piece to augment Antonio Brown at WR in Oakland, err, Las Vegas.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Julian Okwara, EDGE, Notre Dame. A more dynamic athlete with better closing burst than his older brother Romeo (of the Lions), Okwara would add another versatile piece to a revamped, young Ravens defensive front. He can play OLB or DE and can even put two hands in the dirt if needed. I expect Okwara’s stock to rise throughout 2019.
18. Houston Texans: A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson. My working comparison for Terrell entering the season is current Texans vet Johnathan Joseph, who is very near the end of his fine long Texans tenure. Stick with what’s working, whoever might be running the Texans once they decide to hire a GM…
Note: the Texans traded this pick to the Dolphins while I was in the process of finishing the mock.
19. Atlanta Falcons: Alton Robinson, EDGE, Syracuse. Robinson can bring speed off the edge and brings length and twitch as a pass rusher. He’ll climb draft boards into this range if he develops more countermoves and improves his hands. He’s a good fit for the Falcons, who can use another dynamic athlete on the defensive front.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars: D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia. Swift is aptly named, with his insane agility and balance at top speed. He’s a great back to pair with Leonard Fournette, and his ability as a receiver can allow both to play together in the Jaguars backfield.
21. Pittsburgh Steelers: Lucas Niang, OT, TCU. Niang fits the Steelers OL profile: huge, nasty and just skilled enough to make it all work despite some oft-sloppy technique. He’s got time to clean that up and solidify himself as a potential Steeler first-rounder.
22. Minnesota Vikings: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama. The latest in the line of Minkah Fitzpatrick and Eddie Jackson of versatile Alabama DBs who can play any spot in the secondary. McKinney would make a nice addition to a Vikings defense with a great starting 11 but scant depth, especially on the back end.
23. Green Bay Packers: Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama. His vertical speed is extremely appealing, but Ruggs has some polish to his receiving game too. Giving Aaron Rodgers an outside downfield threat like Ruggs would revitalize the Packers offense, and he’s proven on jet sweeps and quick screens too.
24. Los Angeles Chargers: Trey Adams, OT, Washington. As long as he can get through the 2019 college season healthy--something he has not done in the last two years--Adams will be heavily coveted. Guys with his length and pass protection technique are rare humans. The Chargers biggest weakness on paper gets filled emphatically, albeit with some risk.
25. Dallas Cowboys: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State. This projection is made on the scenario that Jerry Jones gets tired of Dak Prescott’s lower ceiling and believes his Cowboys need more of a gunslinger to get them over the top. Love has high-end potential and figures to be a draftnik favorite, winds that perennially have Jerry’s ear.
26. Cleveland Browns: Tyler Biadasz, OG, Wisconsin. Biadasz brings the nasty up front and has experience winning with both power and proper technique. He’s an instant starter for a Browns OL that sorely needs reinforcements on the right side.
27. Philadelphia Eagles: Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford. Following the Richard Sherman path of converting from WR to CB with good length and strength, Adebo could wind up being a big riser this year. The Eagles can use his length and football IQ on the outside of the defense.
28. New Orleans Saints: Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue. Hopkins has a lot of Evan Engram to his game, a receiving specialist of a tight end with just enough strength and ability to stay in the way as a blocker to make it work. Just the kind of weapon that can keep the ageless Drew Brees happy for another year or two...
29. Los Angeles Rams: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU. Because it wouldn’t be a top 50 without an LSU DB, and Fulton has the skills to go higher than this with an impressive season in Baton Rouge. The Rams have a volatile CB duo and could use some youthful insurance.
30. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago): Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama. His season is wiped out with a recent ACL injury, but Moses has more than enough evidence on tape to still hear his name called in the first round. He’d look very nice in the second level of the Raiders defense.
31. New England Patriots: Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia. Every scouting report on Fromm mentions his intelligence and poise under pressure prominently. Sounds like a Bill Belichick QB to me, and his more accurate arm and better decision making will attract the coach to make him The Next Tom Brady successor.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame. Thus far in his Irish career, Eichenberg appears to be a quick-setting pass protection specialist. Guess what offense the Chiefs run? This is probably higher than Eichenberg goes with his limited strength, but I like the fit and he’s got potential to play up to this level.