The 2018 NFL season and Super Bowl LIII are history, which means it’s the first mainstream Mock Draft Monday of the year! To commemorate, we have a 32-pick first-round mock draft for you, including a bonus second round pick for the Buffalo Bills. Without further ado, here are the picks!
1. Arizona Cardinals: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
Many analysts consider Nick Bosa to be the best prospect in the draft, but for my money Williams is right there with him. The Cardinals have a star edge rusher in his prime with Chandler Jones, so Williams makes sense here.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa, ER, Ohio State
That scenario works out for the 49ers, who have a surplus of defensive tackles and a severe lack of edge talent. They snap up Bosa in a heartbeat.
3. New York Jets: Josh Allen, ER, Kentucky
The Jets haven’t had a defender notch more than seven sacks in a season since Muhammad Wilkerson in 2015. Aiming to change that, the Jets add a Josh Allen of their own.
4. Oakland Raiders: Devin White, LB, LSU
The Raiders defense had a dreadful 2018, and they’re in dire need of an Alpha Dog to lead the unit. An edge rusher would be ideal, but the two best are off the board. The team also needs an impact linebacker, and White is the standout talent in an otherwise disappointing group. He has the range and fire that can establish a standard for the team.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
Starting left tackle Donovan Smith is a free agent, and starting right tackle Demar Dotson is 33. Williams can be better than either of them, and that will help Bruce Arians evaluate Jameis Winston and his running backs in 2019.
6. New York Giants: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
We know that Dave Gettleman prioritizes talent over positional value and that he doesn’t like trading picks. This feels a bit unorthodox to me, but Haskins and his 50 passing touchdowns are probably the best type of quarterback prospect the Giants could’ve hoped for in 2019.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
This pick feels like the perfect Doug Marrone decision. Murray’s size and athleticism give him a narrow but exciting skill set. It’s a perfect setup for this team to draft him, claim they’ll maximize his talents, then drop him into a sleep-inducing run-run-pass system.
8. Detroit Lions: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
Matt Patricia finished year one with disappointing results across the board. The best rallying point for a coach is his supposed expertise, and with the Lions losing Ziggy Ansah to free agency, they could call up the championship-caliber Ferrell and his array of pass-rushing moves.
9. Buffalo Bills: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
Not mocking any trades today, otherwise the top ten might’ve been more interesting. Taylor was a dominant right tackle in 2018 for the Gators. His powerful hand fighting, athletic movement, and relatively clean technique make him an easy projection to upgrade Buffalo’s line.
10. Denver Broncos: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
This is the closest “lock” that I can see in a February mock draft. John Elway loves tall, strong-armed pocket passers, and the team is in desperate need of a franchise leader. Lock has some mechanical flaws, but makes plenty of sense for this team.
11. Cincinnati Bengals: Cody Ford, OG/OT, Oklahoma
The Bengals have a solid left-side offensive line between Cordy Glenn, Clint Boling, and second-year lineman Billy Price, but either of their right-side choices could be upgraded. Ford, the 6’4” 338-pound right tackle, would give them a dominant run blocker at guard or tackle.
12. Green Bay Packers: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
I cannot abide Ed Oliver falling any further in this draft. None of those three quarterbacks I mocked above are better players, and I honestly almost tied him to the Bills at pick nine. Oliver is a game-wrecker, and his supposed lack of a true position will work just fine with Mike Pettine’s amorphous defensive scheme.
13. Miami Dolphins: Brian Burns, ER, Florida State
Miami missed out on the top three quarterbacks, and Cameron Wake is a 37-year-old free agent. Burns is a bit of a lightweight at 6’5” and 235 pounds, but he’s wrecked the ACC for three seasons.
14. Atlanta Falcons: Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
The Falcons, returning from an injury-plagued lost season, can afford to choose the best player available to them. Simmons stands 6’4” and 315 pounds, and is equally talented at pass rushing and closing gaps. He needs to answer for an incident where he hit a woman a few years ago, but is otherwise a top prospect in this year’s draft.
15. Washington Redskins: T.J. Hockensen, TE, Iowa
As much as this team needs to find a replacement for 34-year-old Alex Smith, who may never play again after an awful leg injury, drafting the fourth quarterback in a weak class is the wrong way to do it. Better to sign a bridge free agent (Tyrod Taylor) or tank and hope for a better option next year. Instead, let’s give them Hockensen, who can block and catch at a high level, giving the team a fantastic one-two punch with Jordan Reed.
16. Carolina Panthers: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
The Panthers thought it wise to sign Matt Kalil to protect Cam Newton’s blind side. Coincidentally, Newton may now miss the 2019 season with a shoulder injury. The Panthers should reinforce their trenches, and Dillard may be the best pass-protecting left tackle in the draft.
17. Cleveland Browns: Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia
This is a young, high-potential team with plenty of attitude. I love the fit here with Cajuste, who would give the Browns an athletic pass protector to replace the Desmond Harrison - Greg Robinson unit they settled for in 2018.
18. Minnesota Vikings: Elgton Jenkins, OC/OG, Mississippi State
For the Vikings, I’d love to see an upgraded interior offensive line. Jenkins has the length and strength to handle any position between the tackles, and he’ll help Pat Elflein reach his potential.
19. Tennessee Titans: Jachai Polite, ER, Florida
We’re probably close to declaring the Marcus Mariota trial at its conclusion, given his issues with injuries and inconsistent play. But this isn’t the year of the quarterback. It’s the year of edge rushers. Polite, the Gators’ azure blur, will keep upgrading a meager pass rush along with second-year pro Harold Landry.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
At some point, the Steelers have to successfully draft and develop a cornerback, right? Artie Burns didn’t work out, but maybe a selection from DB university can. Williams is a bit mercurial, but his length, athletic ability, and nose for the ball make him the best corner prospect in this year’s draft.
21. Seattle Seahawks: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
It’s a reloading year for the Seahawks, with several major contributors set to enter free agency. The biggest name is center-fielder Earl Thomas, expected to leave after the ugly way his return from a contract holdout ended in an injury. Thompson’s range and ball skills make him an ideal single-high safety, though any player would be challenged to match Thomas’s standard.
22. Baltimore Ravens: Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State
Terrell Suggs is a 36-year-old free agent, and joining him on the open market is Za’Darius Smith, who led the team in sacks last season. While it would be nice to add a weapon for Lamar Jackson, it’s not worth passing on Sweat, the MVP of Senior Bowl week.
23. Houston Texans: Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State
Oi. Get Deshaun Watson some protection this year, before he’s six feet under. The Texans might want to trade up, considering the earlier run on tackles, but Risner is a solid consolation prize. He could play any of four or five positions on the offensive line, allowing the Texans to fix their worst weakness.
24. Oakland Raiders: Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan
It surprised me a bit, but the Raiders ended up with a player I had under consideration at fourth overall. The biggest knock on Gary is a lack of college production—10.5 sacks in three seasons. The 6’5,” 280-pounder is still a rare athletic talent, and playing on the edge may suit him better in the pros.
25. Philadelphia Eagles: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
The Eagles had one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL last year, and several players are headed to free agency. It’s tempting to send a cornerback or safety their way, but I’d rather see them rebuild in the trenches first. Wilkins is 6’4” and 315 pounds of disruptive force, having already torn apart the ACC for four seasons.
26. Indianapolis Colts: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
This Colts roster has very few weaknesses across the board, especially if they re-sign some key free agents. One key upgrade could come at wide receiver. Metcalf would give the Colts a tall, freaky athlete with loads of potential to develop with Andrew Luck.
27. Oakland Raiders: Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, WR, Oklahoma
This pick feels a bit risky, but so were Devin White and Rashan Gary. The Raiders receivers were led by 33-year-old Jordy Nelson, career journeyman Seth Roberts, and a traded Amari Cooper. Brown’s big-play potential could wake up Oakland’s depressing pass offense, even in his rookie year.
28. Los Angeles Chargers: Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
The Chargers came close to a Super Bowl run, but fell short yet again. With Phillip Rivers turning 38, his protection is more important than ever. Little’s physical traits are some of the best in the class, but his knock is a lack of technical development. Chargers offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris has the ability to develop Little into a solid starter.
29. Kansas City Chiefs: Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware
As the Chiefs look to develop a perennial powerhouse around MVP Patrick Mahomes, the first order of business is tackling a dreadful defense. Adderley’s speed, tackling technique, and ball skills can make him the foundation piece of the renovation.
30. Green Bay Packers: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
The Packers already added a major pass-rushing talent earlier in round one. With this pick, they hand Aaron Rodgers a dynamite receiving talent. Fant’s speed and fluidity are exactly what Rodgers needs from his downfield targets, and the added blocking skill will help stabilize Green Bay’s running game.
31. Los Angeles Rams: Chris Lindstrom, OG, Boston College
The Rams came oh-so-close to taking their dream team to a Lombardi Trophy, but it didn’t work out. While the defense will lose several valuable contributors, priority one should be continuing young Jared Goff’s development. Rodger Saffold is a free agent and Austin Blythe was a liability against New England. Lindstrom has the power and athletic ability to lock down a starting guard role.
32. New England Patriots: Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama
Rob Gronkowski could retire at the end of the season, and Dwayne Allen was an afterthought behind him. Replacing arguably the best tight end in NFL history isn’t easy, but if Bill Belichick calls up Nick Saban, I’m sure he’d put in a good word for Smith. His combo of speed and blocking ability would make him a rare talent in any other draft year.
Round two Buffalo Bills: Erik McCoy, OC, Texas A&M
Sure, the Bills already drafted an offensive lineman in the first round. But the top tiers of defensive linemen have been eaten away, and there are plenty of receivers still on the board after round one. The Bills take one of the few remaining top centers—a player who impressed at the Senior Bowl with his anchor, attitude, and movement skills. McCoy can be a longtime starter in the NFL, which is exactly what you want for your pivot.