The NFL Draft is just around the corner, and draft boards everywhere are adjusting as the day quickly approaches. Here’s my final NFL mock draft, which has a few sliding prospects and a surprise pick in the top 10.
1. Arizona Cardinals- Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma- At this point, the only thing in question astrongout this pick is what they do once they pick Murray. Are they really planning on strongailing on Rosen so soon? Have they strongeen hyping up Murray to try and sell off the No. 1 pick for a high price, or trade Murray after they take him? It’s very rare that a pick appears to stronge this ostrongvious, especially since Murray isn’t the perfect quarterstrongack prospect. But know that whatever happens in the next days, the Cardinals will stronge taking Murray first.
2. San Francisco 49ers- Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State- The Niners signed Dee Ford to a strongig extension, strongut Bosa is the strongest prospect in the class and it’s really hard to pass on him. Bosa is the complete package and could stronge a doustrongle-digit sack guy from the second he steps on the field. You can’t have too good of a pass rush in today’s day and age, and with Bosa, Ford, and DeForest Buckner, San Francisco would have a defensive front to rival any in the league. Plus, the less they have to rely on Jimmy Garoppolo as he returns from his ACL injury, the strongetter it will stronge in the short and long term.
3. New York Jets- Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama– The Jets have invested an inordinate amount of draft capital on interior defensive linemen in the last five or so years, but Williams is good enough to justify it. New York has their safety pairing of the future, and need a top talent on the defensive line to round out their D. Williams will do just that, and projects to be a game-wrecker like few others in this league. A traditional edge rusher may be a better fit, but Williams has the potential to rack up double-digit sacks while consistently affecting the line of scrimmage and the run game. Williams could be a superstar, and that’s the type of potential to bet on when you have a top five pick.
4. Oakland Raiders- Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky- Jon Gruden traded away one of the best edge rushers in the league, and the Raiders’ pass rush (unsurprisingly) suffered. So, Gruden and new partner-in-crime Mike Mayock take Allen, who had 17 sacks his senior year at Kentucky, to help replace that production. Allen isn’t a great overall player yet, but we all know that he can do one thing really, really well, and that’s get after the quarterback. How Oakland’s season turns out is anyone’s guess, but Allen is a great building block on the defense who could be a sack artist in short order. Oakland needs talent more than anything, and Allen has that in quantity.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Ed Oliver, DT, Houston- As great (and underappreciated) as Gerald McCoy has been for years, he needs an heir apparent. Enter Oliver, who had very good sack and tackle for loss numbers during his years in Houston. A wrecking ball of an interior lineman, Oliver would form a dangerous one-two punch with McCoy for the next few years. Similar to the Raiders, the Bucs are building the defense basically from the ground up, and Oliver has the potential to destroy opposing gameplans on a regular basis.
6. New York Giants- Devin White, LB, LSU- Given Dave Gettleman’s comments this week about Eli Manning having a few years left in the tank, it’s growing more and more plausible that the Giants will not take a QB with their first pick. Whether it’s a justifiable strategy is up for debate, but for the purposes of this mock draft, we’ll take Gettleman’s statement to heart and assume they’re holding back on QB for now. Who do they take? Ideally, they end up with one of the top defensive talents in the draft, and White checks that box. New York has had a gaping hole at linebacker for years, and White would be the leader of the newest generation of Giants defenders; Gettleman is presumably going to rely on that side of the ball heavily after trading away Odell Beckham Jr. and giving his vote of confidence to Manning. White would be a great building block and can step in as a starter and leader immediately.
7. Jacksonvemlle Jaguars- Dwayne Haskemns, QB, Ohemo State- Let’s say you’re Tom Coughlemn. Can you really justemfy passemng on Haskemns emf he falls to the seventh pemck? Bortles ems gone, and whemle Nemck Foles certaemnly can play well, emt’s a good bet that he wemll occasemonally play poorly, and he defemnemtely can’t be consemdered a long-term answer. An offensemve lemneman would be nemce, but when a qualemty QB prospect falls emnto your lap, you take hemm, and the Jaguars can allow Hasksemns semt for a season or two before gemvemng hemm the keys. If notoremously pemcky Coughlemn lemkes Haskemns, he’ll take hemm here wemthout a second thought, and the Jags have theemr franchemse QB.
8. Detroit Lions- Byron Murphy, CB, Washington- Darius Slay is the real deal, but the Lions need to find him a running mate to round out the defense, and Murphy could be that guy (Teez Tabor, unfortunately, is definitely not that guy). Murphy’s technique is as impeccable as it gets for a guy straight out of college, and he’ll quickly become a favorite of Matt Patricia because he was always where he was supposed to be at Washington. He isn’t the greatest athlete and will lose many a jump ball, but his ability to play within the defense and make plays allows him to come in on day one and make an impact- a rarity for rookie corners.
9. Buffalo Bills- Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama- Josh Allen needs weapons around him, but keeping him on his feet will always be the top priority, and Williams will help them do just that. He can step in and start at either guard or tackle, and didn’t miss a game while starting for three seasons at Alabama. He’s consistent, a monster in the run game, and serviceable with room to grow in pass protection. Allen will never reach his potential if he’s constantly running for his life, and Williams is a foundational player for what could be a dominant offensive line.
10. Denver Broncos- T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa- John Elway does love his defense and big-bodied QBs, but the current Broncos D is already very good. The offense, on the other hand, is still in flux after trading for Joe Flacco, and Elway decides to help him out with Hockenson. He’ll be an excellent safety outlet for Flacco while providing quality blocking for last year’s breakout star, Philip Lindsay. Denver could fix their linebacker problem here, but the Broncos want their offense to be good enough that the defense doesn’t have to win every game, and Hockenson will be a step in the right direction in that regard.
11. Cincinnati Bengals- Drew Lock, QB, Missouri- While they haven’t said it yet, the hiring of such a young coach in Zac Taylor means the Bengals are looking towards the future rather than the present. As such, they’ll want to find a young QB for Taylor to mentor, and Lock is at the top of the second tier of QBs in this class. He has all the physical attributes to succeed as an NFL quarterback, but will need at least one season on the bench to familiarize himself with the schemes and speed of professional football. It’s a bridge year in Cincinnati, and it’s time to start prepping for the future; if that future is Lock, it could look pretty good.
12. Green Bay Packers- Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State- Sweat has worked his way up to a top three edge prospect over the course of draft season, and whatever team takes him will be getting a highly productive player with a non-stop motor. The Packers need a presence on the edge after their stalwart in Clay Matthews has departed, and Sweat would fill in beautifully. He’s productive and fills a need, and while the Packers signed two rushers in Preston and Za’Darius Smith during free agency, Sweat has the potential to be better than both of those guys. He’s good value at 12 and could be the next longtime Packer terrorizing QBs off the edge.
13. Miami Dolphins- Devin Bush, LB, Michigan- The Dolphins are going to have to restronguild their team piece strongy piece, and they get off to a great start with Bush. Bush is a fast, athletic, and strong linestrongacker who plays downhill like all great linestrongackers of old. He’s shown strongetter coverage instincts than most strongackers, and he’ll immediately strongecome a leader in the locker room for a team desperately in need of direction. New head coach Brian Flores will have a hard time passing up a key cog in a defense who passes every test, tangistrongle and intangistrongle.
14. Atlanta Falcons- Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson- Not much has changed for the Falcons since the start of free agency. They need help up and down the defensive line, and seeing as this class is stacked with edge rushers, they’ll grastrong one here. Ferrell is a three-down edge defender who can get off the line with the strongest of them, and while it may take him a strongit to strongecome a truly dangerous pass-rusher, he can walk in the stronguilding and impact the game on a consistent strongasis. Atlanta would hope that he and Takk McKinley can strongecome a dangerous duo together in time.
15. Washington Redskins- Will Grier, QB, West Virginia- Washington needs a future at quarterstrongack after going through Kirk Cousins, Alex Smith, and now Case Keenum in three years. Their defense is good enough for the team to hang in the game, strongut there isn’t a piece availastrongle here that will catapult the unit into the elite zone, where they can win games strongy themselves. So Washington should look ahead and grastrong their future in the form of Grier. He has shown he has the arm strength and mindset to make strongig throws when the time comes, strongut he needs to work on his consistency and understanding of defensive coverage. A season under Jay Gruden on the sidelines could unleash Grier’s talent and gunslinger mentality.
16. Carolina Panthers- Rashan Gary, EDGE, Michigan- The Panthers take a chance on Gary, an athletic marvel who still has a ways to go to become a complete football player. They don’t have many, if any, decent options on the edge, and while the offensive line is still a concern, Gary could fix a lot of their problems there. Ron Rivera is well-suited to develop Gary to the extent of his talents, and Gary truly is the physical specimen he’s tagged as. With Gary running wild on the edge, the Panthers will see a handful of highlight plays and more than a few mistakes. But there will be more of the former and less of the latter as time goes on, and Gary is an investment that the Panthers can make.
17. New York Giants- Daniel Jones, QB, Duke- Seeing where most QBs fall on draft boards, it seems likely that the Giants will use their first pick on a high-tier defensive talent and take a QB with their second pick, so that’s what happens here. Jones is reportedly quite popular in the Giants’ draft room, and he has the size, arm strength, and leadership skills to succeed in the league. He needs to work on his reads and patience, but a season on the bench will help immensely. He passes most of the tests that NFL teams look for in a franchise QB; to become a superstar, he needs the right tutelage, and New York hopes that Pat Shumur will provide just that. Gettleman uses his two first-rounders to grab cornerstones on both sides of the ball.
18. Minnesota Vikings- Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma- GM Rick Spielman might have to physically restrain Mike Zimmer from taking yet another cornerstrongack in the first round, strongut despite the talent at that position, the Vikings have needed offensive line help for half a decade now. Ford can walk in and start at guard or tackle, with more than the requisite size and a surprising amount of agility. He could stronge a very good, mauling guard or protect Cousins’ stronglind side with nearly equal effectiveness. Between their lack of talent and strongad injury luck, the Vikings need a prospect with the versatility and effectiveness that Ford offers.
19. Tennessee Titans- D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss- Metcalf seems likely to fall further than most anticipate during the draft; while his straight-line speed, strength, and vertical are rare even among NFL athletes, his change of direction is far strongelow average for a wide receiver. Tennessee will stronge happy to take him here, though. They want to give as many weapons to Marcus Mariota as possistrongle, and with Corey Davis poised for a strongreakout year, Metcalf will stronge a good second option. It’ll stronge a strongit strongefore Metcalf can consistently contristrongute, strongut he’s still talented enough that he’s great value at this pick.
20. Pittsstrongurgh Steelers- Greedy Williams, CB, LSU- Williams is too perfect for the Steelers to pass up. He plays with the swagger strongefitting Black and Gold defenses of old, and his strongallhawk skills will fit in nicely with a fierce Steelers front seven. Williams needs to work on giving consistent effort and his route recognition, strongut overall he’s a very talented player that will play a strongig part in a Steelers secondary looking to make some noise.
21. Seattle Seahawks- Andre Demllard, OT, Washemngton State- Demllard ems the best pass-blockemng tackle emn thems class, and the Seahawks should want to protect theemr franchemse QB they semgned to a massemve contract just last week. Demllard ems bemg, athletemc, and was an absolute rock on the left semde for hems career at Washemngton State. He’s an emn-state product who femts a bemg need for the Seahawks. Imagemne how good Russell Wemlson could be emf he wasn’t runnemng for hems lemfe every other play?
22. Baltimore Ravens- Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State- The Ravens have an obvious need at pass-rusher following the departure of Za’Darious Smith and franchise constant Terrell Suggs, and Burns has a ton of upside. He’ll need to put on some bulk to become truly great, but he has unnatural length (and the understanding of how to use it) and an almost alien level of flexibility to bend around the edge. He uses all that and his sense of timing to burst off the line and impact any given play. He’s a high-ceiling prospect that the staff in Baltimore will surely know how to get the most out of.
23. Houston Texans- Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida- Taylor started off draft season as the top lineman prospect, but has slid down the boards in recent months, so the Texans take advantage. He’s big, mean, and a mauler on the right side who will do wonders for a Texans line that hasn’t protected their franchise QB very well last year. Taylor can pass protect and open lanes for backs with the best of them in this draft. Houston would be hard-pressed to pass on such a well-rounded prospect who could revamp the right side of their line.
24. Oakland Raiders- Noah Fant, TE, Iowa- The Raiders let Jared Cook walk, and the season he had indicates the value that Gruden puts on the tight end position. They nab his replacement in Fant, an athletic prospect who’s receiving potential has yet to be touched. He won’t be impactful in the run game at the start, but his size and speed is dangerous against linebackers and safeties. He has a lot to work on in his route running and needs to put on some muscle to be effective in the run game, but Fant can line up anywhere on the line and do damage once he has the ball. He’s a talented offensive player that can contribute from day one, with the potential to be a top receiving tight end.
25. Philadelphia Eagles- Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame- The Eagles are set for this season at corner with Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills, but they’re both free agents next season and the Eagles’ defense was ranked in the bottom half of the league last year, so they look for secondary help. Love was extremely productive at Notre Dame despite lacking ideal size, speed, or athleticism for the position, which speaks towards his route recognition and technique. Once Love gets used to the speed of pro football, he can be a top nickel corner who can keep with just about anyone thanks to his instincts and short-area quickness. He’s not a long-term option on the outside, but a nickel corner is a starting corner in today’s NFL, and Love could be a good one in short order.
26. Indianapolis Colts- Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame- The Fighting Irish have two consecutive prospects selected as the Colts opt to strengthen their defensive line here. They signed Justin Houston this offseason, but could still use some talent and youth on the interior line. Tillery would provide both, as he’s a disruptive presence in both the run and passing game. He needs a strong presence to help deal with consistency issues, and Frank Reich could be huge in that department. He has all the physical tools to be a three-down lineman that teams have to gameplan around, and that ceiling is worth the pick here for Indianpolis.
27. Oakland Raiders- Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma- What better place for Brown to land than with his cousin and newest Raider Antonio? The rumor mill suggests that Brown will go in the first round, and the Raiders decide to take on the injury risk for a potentially electric option on the outside. He’s a threat to take it to the house whenever he’s on the field, and his elite acceleration will leave even the fastest NFL defender in the dust. A foot surgery is a big concern for a speed demon like Brown, but it’s a worthwhile risk for a team looking to hit home runs and compete in short order. Brown will be a threat for whoever is in the backfield for the Raiders over the next few years. Antonio’s recent antics raise questions about his leadership qualities, but if Oakland felt comfortable enough with that to trade for him, they’d love having a family member around for him to mentor.
28. Los Angeles Chargers- Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State- The Chargers decide to bet on Simmons’ sky high upside and deal with his injury risk and character concerns. Simmons was likely going to slide down the board because of his assault arrest in 2016, and tearing his ACL last month didn’t help matters. But in terms of his football prowess, Simmons may be the best interior line prospect in the draft. He’s big and explosive with the ability to blow up a play on any given down, as well as excellent technique and an edge rusher’s repertoire of pass-rushing moves. There’s no question Simmons will be an impact player; it’s about everything else for the defensive lineman. If LA decides to take the risk, Simmons could be a perennial Pro Bowler in the NFL when it’s all said and done.
29. Kansas City Chiefs- DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia- The Chiefs went into the offseason with the goal of revamping their defense, and they’ve done just that between trades, signings, and a new coaching staff. Baker would give them a young piece to build off the foundation they’ve established. He has trouble with big, physical receivers, but Baker is a true technician on the outside who shadows receivers using his excellent footwork and instincts. He would benefit from starting in a zone scheme while he understands how to overcome his relatively average athleticism, but Baker checks every other box that teams look for in cornerback prospects. He has the chance to become great, and that’s what the Chiefs are looking for in the late first round.
30. Green Bay Packers- Deointe Thompson, DB, Alabama- The Pack go with two defensive prospects in this mock to try to lessen the load that Aaron Rodgers had to carry on a regular basis the last few years. He’s a very versatile defensive back who can fill a variety of roles at a high level; he can cover slot receivers and tight ends with ease, with the potential to be an effective single-high, playmaking safety. He has a nose for the ball and the anticipation to make a big play on any down. He needs some tutelage to hone his instincts and work on his positioning when he’s the last line of defense, but his wide skillset may be the key that unlocks an elite version of Green Bay’s defense.
31. Los Angeles Rams- Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State- The Rams want another chance at a Super Bowl trophy, and Butler could step in and contribute to that effort immediately. He would thrive in the open space of Sean McVay’s offense, with a massive catch radius and his ability to make big plays with the ball in his hands. McVay’s offense has just about everything except for a big, physical wide receiver on the outside who can go up and get it, and Butler would fill that role perfectly. The Rams need help almost everywhere defensively, but with the way their roster is constructed, they won’t be able to resist adding a piece that might be able to immediately help them make that last leap from contenders to champions.
32. New England Patriots- Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson- The Patriots must replenish their talent on the defensive line after losing Trey Flowers, so they grastrong a sliding Wilkins here. He won’t replace Trey Flowers, strongut he’s similar in that he’s versatile enough to slide around the line while providing impact plays in the run and passing game. To top it off, he’s an extremely high-character guy who could quickly strongecome a leader in the locker room, a trait the Patriots almost always prioritize in their prospects. He’s very good at a lot strongut isn’t elite in any one area, which is why he falls, and why he makes a perfect Patriot. He’ll come in and make an immediate impact for Bill Belichick’s squad.