The wait is almost over. We’re just hours away from the start of the 2019 NFL draft, the most unpredictable draft in years.
The drama! The intrigue!
Will the Cardinals draft Kyler Murray?
Will Jon Gruden trade up for him?
Whose old racist tweets will come to light?
Is Mel Kiper a real living being or an animatronic robot puppet?
No one really knows for sure. Think about it. Have you ever seen Kiper take a sip of water? He’s. Always. Talking.
Anyway, here it is, the one and only Tampa Bay Times mock draft. This is absolutely positively definitely without question how the first round will ... not go down.
What? You wanted accuracy? Accuracy, schmaccuracy.
1. Cardinals: Kyler Murray, quarterback, Oklahoma
The Cardinals have hinted that they’re willing to draft Murray and keep Josh Rosen, their first-round pick from last year. I’m not buying that. There’s no way Kliff Kingsbury starts his NFL coaching career by managing a quarterback controversy. Rosen to the Patriots? The Chargers?
2. 49ers: Nick Bosa, edge rusher, Ohio State
The only sure thing in this draft (besides NFL commissioner Roger Goodell getting booed): the 49ers taking Bosa.
3. Jets: Quinnen Williams, defensive tackle, Alabama
An absolute game-wrecker, Williams was constantly in opponents’ backfields, even after being double-teamed.
4. Raiders: Ed Oliver, defensive tackle, Houston
Can’t rule out Jon Gruden, who is still haunted by not drafting Aaron Rodgers in 2005, from taking a quarterback and nuking this mock draft, either by trading up to No. 1 to take Murray or by using this pick on Dwayne Haskins.
5. Buccaneers: Devin White, linebacker, LSU
Considering the Bucs defense generated pressure at the second-lowest rate last season, a pass rusher like Josh Allen seems like an obvious fit. My guess, though, is that Tampa Bay sees the versatile White as a long-term replacement for Kwon Alexander. A trade down is possible, but the Bucs would have to be overwhelmed to drop outside the top 10.
6. Giants: Josh Allen, edge rusher, Kentucky
After the Giants’ trade of Olivier Vernon to the Browns in March, edge rusher is a glaring need. General manager Dave Gettleman would be ecstatic if Allen, a potential top-three pick, fell to him.
7. Jaguars: Jawaan Taylor, offensive tackle, Florida
How can the Jaguars best help Nick Foles? By selecting an offensive tackle or a tight end? Long-term tackles are harder to find.
8. Lions: Montez Sweat, edge rusher, Mississippi State
At the NFL combine in February, Sweat broke the record for fastest 40-yard dash by a defensive end (4.4 seconds). He could slip to the middle or end of the first round if enough teams are concerned about his heart condition. Detroit also could go cornerback here.
9. Washington (via mock trade with Bills): Dwayne Haskins, quarterback, Ohio State
Washington trades up from No. 15 with its sights set on ruining another young promising quarterback.
10. Broncos: T.J. Hockenson, tight end, Iowa
A strong blocker and solid receiver (he dropped only two passes during his Iowa career), Hockenson would be a valuable weapon in a Joe Flacco-led offense. Michigan linebacker Devin Bush could be in play, too.
11. Bengals: Devin Bush, linebacker, Michigan
ESPN’s Louis Riddick on Bush: “For my money, pound for pound, the best player in this draft is Devin Bush from Michigan, inside linebacker. If you can tell me exactly what his weakness is I can show you a play that tells it’s not a weakness.”
12. Packers: Andre Dillard, offensive tackle, Washington State
Dillard allowed just one sack and two hits last season. Packers also might consider a tight end here, especially if Hockenson falls.
13. Panthers (via mock trade with Dolphins): Jonah Williams, offensive tackle/guard, Alabama
Early in the offseason, some draft analysts had Williams going as high as No. 5 to the Bucs. Though he started 43 straight games at left tackle for the Crimson Tide, ESPN’s Mel Kiper says he lacks the arm length to stay there in the NFL and could move to guard. The Panthers could use him at either spot.
14. Falcons: Christian Wilkins, defensive tackle, Clemson
Atlanta couldn’t generate a consistent pass rush or shut down the run last season. Wilkins could be the cure. At Clemson, he was a menace no matter the play call. He and Grady Jarrett, who will be playing under the franchise tag, would be a nightmare of a pair for offensive lines.
15. Bills (via mock trade with Washington): D.K. Metcalf, receiver, Mississippi
As of now, John Brown, Zay Jones and Cole Beasley are atop Buffalo’s receiving depth chart. Second-year quarterback Josh Allen could use an explosive speedster (Metcalf ran a 4.3 40-yard dash at the combine).
16. Dolphins (via mock trade with Panthers): Brian Burns, edge rusher, Florida State
This might prove to be a bargain. Football Outsiders’ SackSEER model projects that Burns will record more sacks through his first five seasons than the other top edge rushers in his class.
17. Giants: Daniel Jones, quarterback, Duke
After getting their pass rusher with the No. 6 pick, the Giants target Eli Manning’s successor.
18. Vikings: Garrett Bradbury, center, North Carolina State
Minnesota’s biggest need is the interior of its offensive line. Bradbury, who allowed four sacks in his four seasons at NC State, would be an instant upgrade.
19. Titans: Rashan Gary, edge rusher, Michigan
Gary, who generated only 3.5 sacks and 6.5 sacks in nine games last season, is one of the more difficult players to project. Some draft analysts say he has the traits to be dominant and is worthy of a top-10 pick. Others see him as overhyped and grade him as a second rounder.
20. Steelers: Greedy Williams, cornerback, LSU
Allowed a 32.9 completion percentage and a 42.5 passer rating during his college career.
21. Seahawks: Clelin Ferrell, edge rusher, Clemson
Productive over his last two seasons at Clemson — 20 sacks and 38.5 tackles for loss — but was that because he played next to Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins? Football Outsiders suggests he’s overrated. “Ferrell is a thoroughly average draft prospect who probably does not belong in the first two rounds.”
22. Ravens: Marquise Brown, receiver, Oklahoma
Brown is the second coming of DeSean Jackson. The undersized receiver (166 pounds) caught 132 passes for 2,413 yards over the past two seasons, and 20 of those catches resulted in gains of at least 40 yards. Hakeem Butler (his 22.0 yards per catch last season ranked third in the nation) could be a fit here, as well as D.K. Metcalf (if he falls), A.J. Brown and K’Neal Harry.
23: Texans: Cody Ford, offensive tackle/guard, Oklahoma
Ford’s task: protecting the fleet-footed Deshaun Watson, who absorbed more than 100 hits in 2018. Shouldn’t be much of an adjustment for the powerful and versatile lineman. He blocked for Kyler Murray last season and allowed only seven pressures.
24. Raiders: Josh Jacobs, running back, Alabama
Oakland replaces the retiring Marshawn Lynch with the consensus top running back in the draft. Last season, 41 percent of Jacobs’ carries resulted in a first down or touchdown, the highest rate in the nation, according to Pro Football Focus.
25. Broncos (via mock trade with Eagles): Drew Lock, quarterback, Missouri
Pocket passer? Check. Tall? Check. Big arm? Check. Inaccurate? Check. Yep, Lock is John Elway’s preferred type of quarterback.
26. Colts: Deandre Baker, cornerback, Georgia
Allowed only 10 first downs and no touchdowns last season.
27. Raiders: Noah Fant, tight end, Iowa
Fant fills the void left by Jared Cook — the team leader in receptions (68), receiving yards (896) and touchdowns (six) — who signed with the Saints. Bonus: Gruden nabs him before he falls to the Patriots.
28. Chargers: Dexter Lawrence, defensive tackle, Clemson
The 340-pounder is a mountain of a man who can stop the run, but can he rush the passer? That question could cause him to slip to the second round. The Chargers could opt for Mississippi State’s Jeffery Simmons or Notre Dame’s Jerry Tillery.
29. Seahawks: Byron Murphy, cornerback, Washington
Pro Football Focus’ top-ranked corner allowed a 51.2 completion percentage and a 49.2 passer rating over the past two seasons. Could go to the Steelers at No. 20.
30. Packers: Johnathan Abram, safety, Mississippi State
A tone-setting thumper, Abram can blitz, defend the run and cover slot receivers. Likely better suited as a hybrid safety/linebacker who plays close to the line of scrimmage rather than a safety who plays center field.
31. Rams: Chris Lindstrom, offensive guard, Boston College
The Rams could use an edge rusher, but with the best ones off the board, they look to address arguably a greater need: the interior of their offensive line. Lindstrom allowed just four pressures last season.
32. Patriots: Jeffery Simmons, defensive tackle, Mississippi State
If Simmons hadn’t torn his ACL during a workout in February, he likely would have been a top-15 pick.
Statistics in this report are from Football Outsiders, Pro Football Focus and Sports Reference. Contact Thomas Bassinger at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @tometrics.