It’s the eve of the 2019 NFL Draft! The excitement is in the air as all 32 teams hope to improve their rosters starting on Thursday night. How will the draft pan out? I will predict the first 24 selections and let you all vote for the Eagles' pick at No. 25!
1. Arizona Cardinals – EDGE Nick Bosa, Ohio State
WHY: There has been so much discussion regarding this selection, and it is a complicated one as Tony Pauline summed up perfectly at the beginning of last week’s Journey to the Draft podcast.
Some reporters are adamant that the Cardinals are "all in" on Murray, while others believe you may not want to write this selection in pen just yet. At this time a year ago, we were all convinced that the Cleveland Browns were going to take Sam Darnold and not Baker Mayfield, so anything can happen.
One could argue that the Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury to lead an explosive offense, and if he thinks Murray is the guy for the job, then you pick him and figure out what to do with Josh Rosen later. But I have a feeling this may either be a trade by the Cardinals, who ransom the pick to a Murray suitor, or they stay put and take the reported top player on their board, Nick Bosa. There’s too much smoke for me on this one.
OTHER OPTIONS: I’m not doing trades in this mock draft, but that option is on the table. Whether it’s the New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, or another team outside of the top 10, there will be teams interested in moving up for the Heisman Trophy winner. Of course, the possibility certainly exists that the Cardinals do, in fact, take Murray themselves. Quinnen Williams is another player who could make sense, but I think he’s not quite the fit for Arizona that Bosa is.
LATER IN THE DRAFT: Texas A&M center Erik McCoy has started to gain momentum in the media. He fits a need and is properly valued for a team starved for help along the offensive line. He also paid an official visit to the Cardinals, who that hosted all of their first four picks a year ago in the pre-draft process.
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson makes a lot of sense at the top of the second round for this team (if he falls to the 33rd selection, that is). General manager Steve Keim has always valued players who can impact subpackages on defense, and Gardner-Johnson can do that. Keep an eye on a pair of Kingsbury’s former pupils from Texas Tech in receiver Antoine Wesley and linebacker Dakota Allen as a couple of options on Day 3.
2. San Francisco 49ers – DL Quinnen Williams, Alabama
WHY: The 49ers have to be a bit disappointed that they miss out on Bosa, who would slide in perfectly into defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s scheme. If this were to happen, I imagine that the 49ers would auction this pick up to the highest bidder looking to acquire Murray. However, Williams is not a bad consolation prize. They’ve shown plenty of love to the Outland Trophy winner throughout the pre-draft process. In this scenario, I believe Arik Armstead, another former first-round pick, would slide outside to defensive end to replace Solomon Thomas so that Williams can line up inside next to DeForest Buckner, which would help create quite a formidable front.
OTHER OPTIONS: I don’t believe the 49ers would take anyone outside of Williams in this spot. However, the lone situation I see as conceivable would be the selection of Ed Oliver. Why? Oliver could, arguably, be the strongside defensive end in the base defense of Saleh's scheme. I believe they’d take Williams, however, if they stayed at No. 2 overall.
LATER IN THE DRAFT: The 49ers parted ways with veteran receiver Pierre Garçon this offseason, and Deebo Samuel makes a lot of sense for them at the top of round two. Samuel is a great YAC guy because of his competitiveness with the ball in his hands. The 49ers also brought him in for a pre-draft visit despite the fact that they got an extra-close look at him back in January at the Senior Bowl when they coached him for the entire week. Another player who fits that bill is James Madison cornerback Jimmy Moreland, a scrappy small-school player who fits the demeanor they want in the secondary.
3. New York Jets – DL Ed Oliver, Houston
WHY: The Jets have made it known that they want to move down in the first round and pick up more picks. The question is, who will dance with them? Buffalo? Atlanta? Cincinnati? Those teams would make sense if Murray were off the board (in which case the Giants and Raiders would also be possibilities). Part of me believes that’s the cause for all of this late buzz about the Jets and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ apparent infatuation with Oliver. I’m not sold on that rumor, but where there’s smoke ...
OTHER OPTIONS: I get the love for Oliver, who is arguably the best available player, but the Jets are in desperate need for help both off the edge (remember that the team nearly signed Anthony Barr in free agency) and along the offensive line. If they trade down, it seems like those would be the areas they would address. Pauline has reported that the top trade-down targets are Alabama’s Jonah Williams and Washington State’s Andre Dillard. Williams could make sense if there’s a trade with Buffalo, while Dillard would make sense for an Atlanta deal. On the other side of the coin, Josh Allen from Kentucky has been the option I’ve had in penciled for the Jets since this Oliver buzz began about a week ago.
LATER IN THE DRAFT: The Jets will look to surround second-year quarterback Sam Darnold with help, and so mid-round receivers make sense with the team’s current stable of picks. Emanuel Hall reminds me a lot of current Jet Robby Anderson, who is entering a contract year with the team. Terry McLaurin from Ohio State could go a bit earlier than Hall, but also presents a similar skill set with his size and speed combination.
4. Oakland Raiders – QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
WHY: I think the Raiders and Giants would be the two teams most likely to end up with Murray if he’s not a Cardinal. Both teams have multiple first-round picks. It’s a matter of who is willing to give up the most and if they can provide what Arizona (or San Francisco or the Jets) what it wants. The Raiders have been pretty active in keeping tabs on the star quarterback. Insiders believe Oakland has a trick up their sleeves heading into this week. Trading up for Murray could be that trick.
OTHER OPTIONS: I find it hard to believe that the Raiders wouldn’t take Murray if he fell into their lap at fourth overall. If he goes off the board, then any of the first three players (Bosa, Williams, or Oliver) give them plenty of juice up front. Josh Allen from Kentucky gives them a big-time talent off the edge to replace Khalil Mack. Linebacker Devin White fills both a need and gives Mike Mayock a culture-changing player on that side of the ball. As far as the "surprise" that would catch everyone off guard? What about a skill-position player like Josh Jacobs or DK Metcalf? I wouldn’t rule anything out.
LATER IN THE DRAFT: I’ll get into their other first-round choices later, but as for Day 2 of the draft, I like the Raiders to supplement the defensive front, the offensive line, and their secondary. Nasir Adderley, a Philly native, would make sense in the second round as a free safety for new general manager Mike Mayock (a Philly guy) and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther (who is from just outside the city). The team got a close look at him at the Senior Bowl in Mobile as well.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – LB Devin White, LSU
WHY: I’ve been banging this drum for our last couple of F(r)an Mock Drafts because it just makes too much sense. The Bucs lost star linebacker in former LSU standout Kwon Alexander in free agency, so the need is there. The Bucs are in need of more alpha males, particularly on that side of the ball, and White is known as potentially the best leader in the entire draft class. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles went to the Bayou to select culture-changing safety Jamal Adams when he was with the Jets. General manager Jason Licht is not afraid to take a player at a position like linebacker high in the draft either. I think this is a slam-dunk mock draft selection.
OTHER OPTIONS: If he fell to this point, I think the Bucs would consider Ed Oliver, but he’s off the board at this point. The team is switching to a 3-4 scheme under Bowles, so a player like Josh Allen certainly makes a lot of sense as well. Want a dark-horse selection? Offensive tackle, such as the somewhat local Jawaan Taylor, would fit here from a value standpoint.
LATER IN THE DRAFT: This was a team that arguably had the best skill talent in the NFL last year surrounding their quarterbacks, but they lost DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries this offseason. For that reason, Bruce Arians would love Marquise Brown, DK Metcalf, or Parris Campbell because of their raw speed. Pencil in running back Darrell Henderson for the same reason.
6. New York Giants – EDGE Josh Allen, Kentucky
WHY: As more and more time passes, I believe the Giants go with a pass rusher instead of a quarterback here. In this scenario, Allen makes a lot of sense. General manager Dave Gettleman values players with strong character and no off-field red flags, of which Allen has none. The Giants utilize a 3-4 scheme with defensive coordinator James Bettcher, who appears to prioritize length on the edge (Allen has 33.5-inch long arms). Allen also went to high school in Montclair, New Jersey, not far away from MetLife Stadium. This feels like a Gettleman selection.
OTHER OPTIONS: The other options here are the other edge rushers, but I don’t think Gettleman will take either Montez Sweat or Rashan Gary, especially with Allen on the board. Really, in my opinion, this comes down to whether or not the Giants are all in on any of these quarterbacks. The two biggest connections, clearly, are Daniel Jones (whose coach David Cutcliffe tutored Eli Manning in college) or Dwayne Haskins (whose coach Ryan Day worked with Giants coach Pat Shurmur here in Philadelphia under Chip Kelly). Quarterback is certainly on the table here, and perhaps New York has us fooled here and goes with a signal-caller to sit behind Manning.
LATER IN THE DRAFT: We will get to the Giants’ second first-round choice coming up, but later in the draft, I think you’ll see this team try to address several needs. The depth chart needs help in the secondary, up front along the offensive line, in the receiving corps, and (still) on the defensive front.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – T Jonah Williams, Alabama
WHY: It seems like all the buzz is pointing toward the Jaguars taking either an offensive tackle or tight end T.J. Hockenson. Here, I’m going with Williams, who comes off as a Tom Coughlin-type of selection. The team has a mid-round pick who is slated to compete for the starting right tackle job in Will Richardson. I liked Richardson coming out of N.C. State last year, but he doesn’t hold a candle to Williams, who I view as a top-10 talent in this class. He’ll start on the right side opposite former college teammate Cam Robinson, just as he did with the Crimson Tide.
OTHER OPTIONS: I initially was leaning more toward Florida right tackle Jawaan Taylor, who I think fits in perfectly and is arguably a better prospect than Williams. However, Pauline reported on a recent Journey to the Draft podcast that a couple of teams may have flagged Taylor due to a medical issue. That could be a reason why Williams is the selection here, because I think Taylor is also a bit more of the kind of player they covet as a bigger, more powerful blocker. Hockenson fits their model of player as well, and the team has a need at tight end, but that’s a deeper position group in this draft. General manager Dave Caldwell may decide to try and play to the strengths of the class and wait for a tight end.
LATER IN THE DRAFT: Staying at tight end, Jace Sternberger reminds me a lot of Zach Ertz, and he would fit well as a young target for Nick Foles and the Jags' offense. I can’t ignore the fit there for offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.
8. Detroit Lions – LB Devin Bush, Michigan
WHY: The Lions are another team in the top 10 that is openly looking to trade down. If the team is forced to stay put, there are a handful of players I think fit the bill for the eighth overall pick. After careful consideration, I’m leaning toward Bush. The Lions would love to pair another stud next to Jarrad Davis at the second level of the defense, and the local product fits the Lions from a character standpoint.
OTHER OPTIONS: There are a handful of players who I nearly went with in this slot, and at the top of that list was Hockenson. The team did spend some money on the free agent market at the position. I think Christian Wilkins makes sense from a culture standpoint, but I’m not sure he’s the kind of two-gapper that they want up front in the trenches. I don’t know if any of the edge rushers left make sense in this spot either. Bush is the one that checked the most boxes.
LATER IN THE DRAFT: The Lions, under general manager Bob Quinn, have shown in the past that they won’t shy away from prospects who post poor athletic test scores (A’Shawn Robinson and Teez Tabor come to mind, among others). Jaylon Ferguson is a player at a position of need who fits the bill there, and I think he makes plenty of sense for this team on Day 2.
9. Buffalo Bills – DL Christian Wilkins, Clemson
WHY: The Bills look to continue building up Sean McDermott’s defense with the addition of Wilkins up front. He’s got great character (which is important to general manager Brandon Beane), is disruptive, versatile, has been very effective at a high level of competition, and allows the Bills to continue building their team from the inside out, which Beane has gone on the record as saying is essential to him. I like the fit here on both sides.
OTHER OPTIONS: The Bills definitely appear to be a potential landing spot for Ed Oliver, and I’d be shocked if he fell past this spot Thursday night. It’s likely the Bills would have to trade up for him in order to secure his services. Hockenson could be an option here for a team looking to surround second-year quarterback Josh Allen with weapons. I could have gone with an offensive lineman here as well, but the Bills signed a handful of trench players in free agency, allowing them to potentially wait until later in the draft.
LATER IN THE DRAFT: One Alabama player, linebacker Christian Miller, seems like a fit for the Bills (remember that offensive coordinator Brian Daboll was with the Crimson Tide back in 2017), as does Charlotte offensive lineman Nate Davis. The Bills are going to supplement the offensive talent for Allen, so look out for running backs and wide receivers as well throughout the course of the draft.
10. Denver Broncos – TE T.J. Hockenson, Iowa
WHY: Quarterback is undoubtedly a possibility, and up to this point I’ve consistently paired the Broncos with Missouri’s Drew Lock. However, I think it’s more likely that they go elsewhere at this spot. I think they’d love Devin Bush here, but the Lions scooped him up. So now the Broncos go with a rock-solid prospect with Hockenson at a position they’ve had trouble addressing in recent years.
OTHER OPTIONS: There have been numerous reports since January about the Broncos and Lock. Does that mean it will happen at No. 10 overall? In this scenario, the answer is no, but don’t rule out John Elway trading back into the first round for him later. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins, John Elway jersey and all, could also be a possibility.
LATER IN THE DRAFT: Outside of the possibility of trading up for a quarterback, if they don’t pull the trigger in this spot, I think the Broncos will continue adding players to the offensive line and the secondary. Cornerback Isaiah Johnson from Houston would be an intriguing Day 3 selection, while Kansas State’s Dalton Risner gives them another "safe" choice to pair with Hockenson for a team looking to add more good players to their roster.
11. Cincinnati Bengals – EDGE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
WHY: This was a tough one to peg because I think the Bengals could go a handful of ways here. I’m going with Sweat, however. Cincinnati is typically a team that drafts for need. Pass rusher is one of their biggest needs. As Joe Goodberry pointed out, the Bengals have certain thresholds they try to hit across the board, and Sweat fits those marks. The Bengals, typically, have hosted some of their eventual draft targets on visits late in the pre-draft process. That was the case with Sweat. I’m connecting a lot of dots here, but I think the fit makes a lot of sense.
OTHER OPTIONS: There are so many. Quarterback, whether it’s Dwayne Haskins or Drew Lock, could be the pick. Offensive tackle, whether it’s Andre Dillard or Jawaan Taylor, helps fill a huge need. There are a handful of other rushers on the board, whether it’s Brian Burns, Rashan Gary, or Clelin Ferrell. They’re all options. If I had to pick an Option B, I’d lean toward Haskins.
LATER IN THE DRAFT: Pauline connected the Bengals and wide receiver KeeSean Johnson, a likely mid-round choice.
12. Green Bay Packers – T Andre Dillard, Washington State
WHY: The Packers were aggressive in free agency on defense as well as last year’s draft, so I think they’ll look to address the other side of the ball throughout this week. I think they’ll start things off with one of the top tackles, and Dillard has the athleticism that I think they look for up front. Dillard fits the mold of a David Bakhtiari-type for the Packers, who value movement skills in the trenches, especially under new head coach Matt LaFleur. His lack of proven versatility, having lined up only at left tackle, is the only qualm I have with the selection.
OTHER OPTIONS: Even though they brought in some pass rushers this spring, I wouldn’t completely rule out a player like Brian Burns here. This also could be the earliest we see a wide receiver go off the board, whether it’s Marquise Brown or, surprise (!), DK Metcalf from Ole Miss. The Packers have some speed there, but not a game-breaker with the skill set of either of those two options.
LATER IN THE DRAFT: Green Bay has another first-round pick. Could that be a luxury pick like Missouri quarterback Drew Lock? For what it’s worth, he’s a perfect fit for that scheme (which is why I like Lock for another Kyle Shanahan protégé in Denver offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello), and it would be great for him to sit behind a veteran for a couple of seasons. Could Andy Isabella, the speedy receiver from Massachusetts, be in play for Day 2? The Packers could also be a landing spot for mercurial pass rusher Jachai Polite.
13. Miami Dolphins – T Jawaan Taylor, Florida
WHY: I expect the Dolphins to take a trench player in this draft, either on offense or defense. Here, I think they replace one Ju'Wuan with a Jawaan. Ju'Wuan James left the team to sign a big free agent deal with Denver, opening a huge spot on the right side. It just so happens that Jawaan Taylor is a perfect fit at right tackle. This is both great value and a great fit for both sides.
OTHER OPTIONS: The Miami Dolphins, in my opinion, would love any of those Clemson defensive linemen, so Clelin Ferrell and Dexter Lawrence could be in play here. Both have the length and position versatility to stick in head coach Brian Flores’ multiple scheme with Miami. Character is also important to that organization as they try to flip the culture in the building, and all of these guys check that box.
LATER IN THE DRAFT: I’m not sure that he’ll fall out of the first round, but Chris Lindstrom is someone who the Dolphins have paid a lot of attention to during the pre-draft process based off media reports. If you’re looking at pass rushers who make sense, based off the length and ability to play at the point of attack, Jaylon Ferguson and Charles Omenihu could definitely fit.
14. Atlanta Falcons – DT Dexter Lawrence, Clemson
WHY: Atlanta is another team that I expect to address the trenches, either on offense or defense. On the Journey to the Draft podcast, I asked Tony Pauline which team he expects to draft Dexter Lawrence, who he deemed as the "fastest-rising" defensive lineman in the class just a couple of weeks ago. He brought up the Falcons, whom he said are definitely interested in moving up for Ed Oliver. Lawrence slides in next to another former Clemson Tiger in Grady Jarrett and starts as a rookie nose tackle for Dan Quinn.
OTHER OPTIONS: The Falcons are a team with an identity, and Brian Burns has the play personality that fits that identity. I can definitely see them adding the dynamic pass rusher, but I wonder if they’d be scared off by his lack of size. Former first-round pick Vic Beasley has a similar build and has not panned out as the Falcons expected. I do think offensive line is a big possibility as well, and when you look at the linemen they’ve signed in free agency, size and power could be the focus. That puts a player like Jawaan Taylor, if available, or even a Cody Ford from Oklahoma, right in the crosshairs.
LATER IN THE DRAFT: Atlanta has paid a lot of attention to Alabama State’s Tytus Howard this spring, and he’s an offensive lineman who could be in play for them. Cornerback Sean Bunting is a player who Pauline pegged to the Falcons as well, and he reminds me a lot of last year’s second-round pick for the team, Isaiah Oliver.
15. Washington Redskins – QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
WHY: The Alex Smith injury almost forces their hand here, and there’s been a lot connecting Washington to Haskins in recent weeks. The biggest link has been the fact that Haskins went to high school with owner Dan Snyder’s son, giving leadership there some insight into his background and personality. Washington has been connected to several of the quarterbacks, including Daniel Jones, Drew Lock, and Will Grier, but Haskins is the one who I think best suits Jay Gruden’s offense.
OTHER OPTIONS: One of the other quarterbacks could definitely be in play, of course, but what if Washington decides to go elsewhere and try their hand with Case Keenum and Colt McCoy? Well, they’re one of a handful of teams in the first 24 picks that I think could take Greedy Williams, the corner from LSU. They’re also a team I would match up with receivers such as Marquise Brown or DK Metcalf, as the team looks to give more weapons to whoever is lining up under center in 2019. For more of a local flavor, don’t rule out the team trading back to take Maryland safety Darnell Savage.
LATER IN THE DRAFT: Washington could be in the market for a receiver, and N’Keal Harry from Arizona State is a player who fits their brand of football. I’d say the same for A.J. Brown and Hakeem Butler, as Washington has put in work looking at the bigger receivers in this draft class throughout the spring. Cornerbacks Trayvon Mullen and Justin Layne are two other long, athletic corners who are built the way Washington likes them on the perimeter. Washington has also been trending hard towards collecting as many Alabama players as possible, and a guy who makes sense there is safety Deionte Thompson.
16. Carolina Panthers – EDGE Brian Burns, Florida State
WHY: The Panthers are transitioning away from their pure 4-3 defense into a more multiple defensive front, and they have a huge need at pass rusher, so adding a versatile edge player is definitely something they’d look to do. Both Burns and Clelin Ferrell fit the bill there, but I’m giving the edge to the Florida State sack artist.
OTHER OPTIONS: Clelin Ferrell, coming from a military background, could be more in line with Ron Rivera’s ideology away from the field, and that could be enough to push him over the top. An offensive lineman like Cody Ford could be possible, but I believe the Panthers already have a couple of players with similar skillsets to the Oklahoma mauler. This is another team that could be in play to acquire Darnell Savage, the safety from Maryland.
LATER IN THE DRAFT: There has been a lot of media speculation about the Panthers and a quarterback on the second day of the draft, namely West Virginia’s Will Grier, a Charlotte native. Don’t rule out Grier’s blindside protector, Yodny Cajuste, either, as a potential Day 2 selection, while Oklahoma’s left tackle Bobby Evans could be on the board as well.
17. New York Giants – QB Daniel Jones, Duke
WHY: The Giants could be in play for Kyler Murray at the top of the draft, but they stand pat and get a guy they’ve been connected to for some time at 17th overall. Keep this in mind, as Evan Silva explained on Monday, that Gettleman has never traded down, but he’s often traded up. The Giants have plenty of picks, and if he gets an inkling that he could miss out on a quarterback who he likes, he wouldn’t be afraid to move up to secure his services. Jones can sit behind Manning in 2019 as he prepares to take over in 2020.
OTHER OPTIONS: If quarterback is not in the cards for the G-Men this year, I think we could see them go in a couple of ways. Don’t rule out the addition of another pass rusher, namely Clelin Ferrell in this spot. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if Gettleman double-dipped at that position. Cody Ford from Oklahoma is the type of "hogmolly" that gets Gettleman excited in the trenches with his skill set. Byron Murphy is also the kind of man coverage corner who could play for defensive coordinator James Bettcher.
LATER IN THE DRAFT: The Giants play a 3-4 scheme but Bettcher loves to line up in subpackages, so adding versatile defensive backs is a must for one of the thinner secondaries in the league. Players such as Mike Edwards from Kentucky, Will Harris from Boston College, Trayvon Mullen from Clemson, and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson from Florida all fit the bill here.
18. Minnesota Vikings – TE Noah Fant, Iowa
WHY: This is just me connecting some dots. The Vikings clearly value athleticism in the NFL Draft. Fant has that in spades. The Vikings don’t have an immediate need for a three-down player at tight end, but veteran Kyle Rudolph is entering a contract year. General manager Rick Spielman has also said in recent years that he has connections in the Iowa program, so he may be able to garner some quality information on Fant. Could that help the dynamic pass catcher? In this case, maybe. Maybe not. I’m betting on the former, as the Vikings provide another boost to their offense and decide to wait on offensive line help again.
OTHER OPTIONS: Everyone and their mother seems to be projecting offensive linemen to the Vikings, and for good reason. Either Garrett Bradbury, Cody Ford, or Kaleb McGary all make sense here in this spot. Want a sleeper selection? How about Kentucky's Lonnie Johnson? He fits the profile of a Mike Zimmer corner.
LATER IN THE DRAFT: Defensive lineman Anthony Nelson from Iowa has Mike Zimmer written all over him, and he fits for all the same reasons that Fant does. Offensive linemen across the draft will all make sense for this team as well.
19. Tennessee Titans – EDGE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
WHY: Tennessee took pass rusher Harold Landry last year in the second round, but he’s a much different player than Ferrell, who is more of a plug-and-play-type of prospect due to his abilities against the run. Ferrell also is a versatile player who can fit in well in that multiple defensive front. Head coach Mike Vrabel, who was at the Clemson Pro Day and worked out that entire defensive line, would definitely be able to use a player with his skill set after losing Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan this offseason.
OTHER OPTIONS: Jason La Canfora reported that the Titans were one of the teams that was very intrigued by Josh Jacobs, the running back from Alabama. An offensive lineman like Garrett Bradbury or Cody Ford would fit in nicely as well, particularly at either guard spot. Michigan’s Rashan Gary could also be in play for the Titans.
LATER IN THE DRAFT: The Titans are one of the teams that have shown the most interest in Deebo Samuel, the versatile receiver from South Carolina. BYU linebacker Sione Takitaki has been a focus for them as well.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers – CB Lonnie Johnson, Kentucky
WHY: The Steelers aren’t afraid to go off the board a little bit when it comes to the first round of the draft. They did it a year ago with Terrell Edmunds, the safety from Virginia Tech, and I think they could do it again with this pick, which has been a bit of a trendy selection for them in recent weeks. The Steelers want to continue adding players at the corner spot. Johnson has the height, weight, and speed profile teams look for on the perimeter in today’s NFL. The tape may not match the measurables, but he’s a very intriguing prospect because of the tools and his character away from the field.
OTHER OPTIONS: The Steelers would love an opportunity to get one of the two Devins at linebacker, but they’re obviously long gone. Could they dip a bit deeper in the draft for a player like Mack Wilson? What about one of the other corners such as Rock Ya-Sin from Temple? Could Chase Winovich, the pass rusher from Michigan, be the selection (ahead of his teammate, Rashan Gary)? With every receiver still on the board, you know they could be looking at a replacement for Antonio Brown as well.
LATER IN THE DRAFT: Wide receiver David Sills fits the profile as a player they’d target, and he’s a name I’d watch out for with this team on Day 3. If they don’t go cornerback on Day 1, look for all of these Day 2 cornerbacks such as Justin Layne (Michigan State), Amani Oruwariye (Penn State), Sean Bunting (Central Michigan), and David Long (Michigan) to be in their sights.
21. Seattle Seahawks – EDGE Rashan Gary, Michigan
WHY: The Seahawks made huge headlines this week, trading star pass rusher Frank Clark to the Kansas City Chiefs for a first-round pick. This opens things up for them to take a talented player in Gary, who has loads of physical tools, positional versatility, and the upside that Pete Carroll loves along the defensive line. Even without the Clark trade, I would have penciled Gary into this spot for Seattle.
OTHER OPTIONS: The Seahawks could decide to go with a pure interior disruptor, opening the door for a player like Jerry Tillery from Notre Dame or Dre’Mont Jones from Ohio State. Both players are the kind of long, athletic interior players who Carroll tends to target up front. The same can be said here for Jeffery Simmons, the talented defensive tackle from Mississippi State. He’d probably be my runner-up for this spot. I could absolutely see the Seahawks making that call on Thursday night ... maybe with their new first-round pick courtesy of Kansas City?
LATER IN THE DRAFT: The Seahawks will certainly continue to find physical, downhill runners. They’d be one of the teams I’d keep an eye on with Rodney Anderson from Oklahoma along with Devine Ozigbo from Nebraska. Juan Thornhill, the safety from Virginia, is absolutely an option for this franchise as well, whether that’s later in the first round or potentially on Day 2.
22. Baltimore Ravens – WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma
WHY: The logic makes a lot of sense here. Yes, the Ravens will be a running team with Lamar Jackson at quarterback. But adding a legitimate speed threat to make defenses play for loading the box is a great way to keep opponents honest. Brown also has the versatility to be used in a variety of ways in a creative run game designed by offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Baltimore has been linked to receivers throughout the draft process, and Brown has gained a lot of momentum for the first round as the draft has drawn closer, despite not being able to work out due to a foot injury.
OTHER OPTIONS: The Ravens lost a lot of defensive firepower this offseason, so addressing the front seven is definitely a possibility. Jeffery Simmons wouldn’t help them in 2019 due to his ACL injury, but he’s certainly the kind of player who could make sense for them with his versatility inside. This could be a sneaky landing spot for Chase Winovich out of Michigan as well. If they decide Brown isn’t their guy at wide receiver, DK Metcalf could be the target. Peter King mentioned in his mock draft that he wouldn’t be shocked at all to see Erik McCoy, the center from Texas A&M, go off the board in this spot.
LATER IN THE DRAFT: Hakeem Butler is a player who makes sense as a receiver with timed speed but the size and physicality that matches up with their ideal playing style as well as with the AFC North. Justin Layne, the cornerback from Michigan State, could also be a second-round target for the team.
23. Houston Texans – CB Greedy Williams, LSU
WHY: I had trouble pegging a team for Williams, who hasn’t garnered a ton of buzz lately, mainly because he has been on as many pre-draft visits as I have this year. Lance Zierlein from NFL.com was on the Journey to the Draft podcast last week, and he offered great insight on his hometown Texans, saying that offensive line isn’t the only position they’ll target early. In fact, Lance believes the Texans could take two cornerbacks in the first handful of selections, and that they’ll trend more toward prospects with great height/weight/speed profiles. That is what put Williams in the crosshairs for me at this spot, especially with Lonnie Johnson off the board. Justin Layne from Michigan State would fit the criteria as well.
OTHER OPTIONS: As I mentioned, Justin Layne could be a possibility here with the specs that Zierlein laid out, but what about the offensive line? Cody Ford could help Deshaun Watson, as could Garrett Bradbury, who may just be too good to pass up. Washington right tackle Kaleb McGary is a talented, tough player as well.
LATER IN THE DRAFT: Like with Minnesota, throw in all of the offensive linemen and tall, long corners into this bucket for the Texans. They’re all on the table.
24. Oakland Raiders – RB Josh Jacobs, Alabama
WHY: In Peter King’s Mock Draft, he had the Raiders trading up for Josh Jacobs, and it makes sense for them to be targeting him especially with the news that Marshawn Lynch is going to retire for a second time. Jacobs is the type of back who Jon Gruden likes with his physical, aggressive style downhill. He can impact the passing game well enough to be warranted as a first-round pick. He’s got the character and personality that Mike Mayock relishes. The team has a ton of picks, so spending a high one on a running back may not seem as big of a deal for the analytically driven as well. It makes a lot of sense.
OTHER OPTIONS: Zierlein said in the interview from last week’s podcast that he believes the biggest positions for the Raiders to target in this draft are defensive line, offensive guard, linebacker, and a secondary option at wide receiver. With that in mind, Cody Ford from Oklahoma (a powerful people-mover built in the mold of Kelechi Osemele, who the team traded this spring), DK Metcalf (the kind of big, explosive X receiver who Mayock said he was looking for at the Combine), and Jeffery Simmons (who wouldn’t have to play right away but is a classic "best player available" option) all make sense.
LATER IN THE DRAFT: Keep an eye on Adderley for the Raiders.
25. Philadelphia Eagles – ????
It's time for you to make the call.
Fran Duffy is the producer of the Emmy-nominated Eagles Game Plan show which can be seen every gameday during the season on NBC10 in Philadelphia. He is also the host of two Eagles-related podcasts, Eagle Eye in the Sky, which examines the team from an X's and O's angle each and every week as well as the Journey to the Draft podcast, which covers college football and the NFL Draft all year round. Fran also authors the Eagle Eye in the Sky column, which runs four times a week during the football season to serve as a recap for the previous game and to preview the upcoming matchup. Prior to joining the Eagles in 2011, Duffy was the head video coordinator for the Temple University football team under former head coach Al Golden. In that role, he spent thousands of hours shooting, logging, and assisting with the breakdown of the All-22 film from the team’s games, practices, and opponents.