It’s almost officially draft season and with bowl games and all-star games to follow, so let’s take a look at the pre bowl game first round mock draft. Yes, most likely this will change another couple hundred times before April, but what’s the fun in knowing the outcome now?
In the picks below, I did my best to think like the NFL team on the board and to make a logical pick based on team needs.
1.Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU. He’s an Ohio kid and the son of an ex-player and college coach. The pedigree is there. Can he do the unthinkable and win Cincy?
2. NY Giants: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama. I’m not sold in Daniel Jones but if we are going to give the kid a fair shake he needs an improved offense and this is the first step.
3. Washington Redskins: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia. Trent Williams wants out so you bring Andrew Thomas in. That simple. Funny thing is, I think his impact in the NFL is somewhere between Trent Williams and Jason Peters. Safest pick in this draft. If he can’t play tackle, which would absolutely floor me, he’s a Pro-Bowl level guard for a decade; easily.
4. Miami Dolphins: Chase Young, EDGE, Ohio State. I highly doubt he’s going back to school. Everyone knows the NFL stands for Not For Long, so Mr. Young, I advise you to strike while it’s hot.
5. Detroit Lions: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson. If he stays at safety, I believe he can have a Kam Chancellor type impact. If he moves to LB, then I think he has a skill set that we have never really seen before at this size from a converted safety. Matt Patricia likes to play a variety of defensive packages, and this kid offers Patricia and company the ability to get a little bit more creative.
6. Arizona Cardinals: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa. Nobody can throw the ball when they’re getting hit. Yes, Murray is a good running QB but keep him clean as much as possible, and Wirfs is an athletic wonder at 320 pounds to match this uptempo offensive unit and style.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State. Jeffrey Okudah is best described as “Jalen Ramsey’s little football brother” because that what his film feels like. This kid is one of the most solid and safest picks in this class. Might be the best man cover corner in the draft.
8. Atlanta Falcons: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa. The Falcons are a mess. They have an offensive core, but if anyone outside of Atlanta can name 3 defensive starters I’d be shocked. Epenesa is a big-body with a kick that provides upfield pressure. Instant impact for Atlanta.
9. NY Jets: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma. Much like Daniel Jones, in order to really give Sam Darnold a realistic shot he needs an upgraded offense. Lamb gives them a vertical threat to replace Robby Anderson (his contract expires this offseason).
10. LA Chargers: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama. No matter who the QB is they need to be protected. He’s still developing in the passing game with his footwork, but his run game dominance is hard to ignore. The Chargers feature multiple backs it seems like a logical fit.
11. Denver Broncos: Grant Delpit, S, LSU. He’s an instant starter. Set and forget for about a decade at safety. He’s that good. He’s a winner and battle tested in the SEC. Everyone has a school, or maybe a couple schools, where they value that schools players a little more for whatever reason; LSU is one of those schools for me.
12. Carolina Panthers: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama. The Panthers have a tendency to draft a guy that a first seems like an odd fit or maybe a bit of a reach, but let it play out and you’ll see it wasn’t so odd after all.
13. Philadelphia Eagles: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU. The Eagles got torched by Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins. To be fair, the Eagles have been torched by every QB they’ve faced it seems this season. I told you I like LSU players. I’ll put LSU’s talent in perspective, Fulton is the second best corner on his team. The best is a freshman named Derek Stingley, Jr; grandson of Darryl Stingley.
14. Oakland Raiders: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama. Derek Carr may or may not be part of the transition to Las Vegas; either way they need to help out the passing game. The Raiders lack WR depth because they put all their eggs in Antonio Brown’s basket and they got burned. Ruggs is a positive step towards building WR depth. He’s a blazer that Jon Gruden should love take a shot downfield with.
15. Indianapolis Colts: Derrick Brown, IDL, Auburn. The Colts get a Top 5 Talent at 15 overall. Phenomenal value pick that comes in an immediate start. Could he be the piece the defense needs to take the step to the next level? I vote yes, a resounding yes. Is he the Rookie in the Pro Bowl from this class? It’s not far fetched.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tua Tagovailoa QB, Alabama. Bruce Arians is famous for saying: No risk it, no biscuit. The known QB-whisperer takes a chance on Tua and his dicey medical record. This pick is the definition of no risk it, no biscuit and given the play of Jameis Winston Tua makes sense. If Tua can rebound medically, Ariana might have hit a lotto ticket.
17. Cleveland Browns: Alex Leatherwood OT, Alabama. I’m not sure where the Browns offense went wrong this season, but upstairs they think it starts with getting Baker Mayfield more protection. Leatherwood has started at guard and tackle for the Crimson Tide allowing the Browns to potentially play musical chairs with Leatherwood until they find their favorite OL combo.
18. Oakland Raiders: Trevon Diggs CB, Alabama. Just as the Raiders need to add quality players at WR they need to do it in the defensive backfield as well. Diggs offers good size and is athletic enough that you don’t need to worry about leaving him 1-on-1. He upgrades that defense instantly.
19. Tennessee Titans: Austin Jackson, OT, Southern Cal. Jackson is kind of a fast riser and/or late bloomer depending on how you look at it. He started 12 games in 2018 at OT but did not land on the all conference team. However, early this season Jackson started to live up to that Top 50 Recruit status he had in high school. As the season went on, scouts started to catch on. Jackson has improved his level of play every week and he just really popped this year on film. Given the Titans commitment to Derrick Henry and some uncertainty upfront front Jackson could start Day 1.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars: Tee Higgins WR, Clemson. DJ Chark really came on this year and Dede Westbrook is proving to be reliable in the slot, but Tee Higgins could be that true WR1 they’ve been missing.
21. Dallas Cowboys: Javon Kinlaw, IDL, South Carolina. Javon Kinlaw is the best player available at this point and looks like the piece they need on the interior as he resembles a small mountain.
22. Miami Dolphins: Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama. Moses missed the entire season due to a knee injury. You’re really judging him off his 2018 season; which is his only as a starter but he landed on the Butkus Award finalist list. Are you starting to see the questions with Dylan Moses? His athleticism is off the charts and as a high school recruit the big debate was whether or not he was a RB or LB.
23. Miami Dolphins: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU. Smart kid as he has made the All-Academic SEC list in 2017 and 2018. Big, fast, strong and according to the LSU his drive/motor is unmatched. Better than Arden Key and Barkevious Mingo. Dolphins get back-to-back defensive keys for the Brian Flores Era.
24. Minnesota Vikings: Raekwon Davis, IDL, Alabama. Mike Zimmer is a defensive guy. The Vikings have reestablished their run game with a healthy Dalvin Cook and now shift their focus to shutting down the run for a long time. At 6ft7 and nearly 310 pounds Davis can play inside or outside depending on how Minnesota wants to use him.
25. Buffalo Bills: Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford. Teams have been avoiding Tre White all year and attacking the other side of the Buffalo defense. With the Bills selecting Adebo that game plan is no longer an option.
26. Kansas City Chiefs: D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia. No more backfield by committee. Swift is a smaller version of Marlon Mack. He’s an extremely patient runner that will bring the boom when he meets a tackler; often times making defenders forget about his wiggle and burst.
27. Green Bay Packers: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado. One of the best playmakers in this draft is Laviska Shenault and Matt LaFleur is just the guy to dial up some creative ways to get him the ball. Picture Dez Bryant size with the skills of JuJu Smith-Schuster. Seems like the perfect big play guy to compliment Davante Adams and Aaron Jones.
28. Seattle Seahawks: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State. Gross-Matos is the kind of kid you root for, as he lost his father at age two and his brother at age 11. He is a long player that knows how to use his length to his advantage as his keeps his pad low for a guy with his build/frame. He makes more plays on effort and going until the whistle than some guys do all season long on their natural ability.
29. New England Patriots: Julian Okwara, EDGE, Notre Dame. The Patriots have been rotating a flurry of guys of the EDGE this year but they’ve found a full-time problem for offenses as his game continues to grow. He will mix in with a veteran group that will allow him to play to his strengths of rushing the passer early on.
30. New Orleans Saints: Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma. Teddy Bridgewater more than did his thing this year filling in for Drew Brees and has played his way to a big deal somewhere else as the starter. If Brees retires and Bridgewater leaves via free agency, then Sean Payton walks into the perfect signal caller for his creative mind. Jalen Hurts. While Hurts is not Lamar Jackson he is a more than adequate runner. However, they are nearly identical in terms of height and weight. Hurts comes into one of the best offenses in football; which allows Sean Payton to really put his Rookie QB in a position to thrive early in his career.
31. Baltimore Ravens: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma. Murray is the type of player that will ‘wow’ you with his sideline-to-sideline range; which is demonstrated on film as he almost never gets beat by the offense to the outside. He can chase down everything. Think of him as having a Lavonte David type of impact as a sideline-to-sideline LB.
32. San Francisco 49ers: Tyler Biadasz, IOL, Wisconsin. He fits the Midwest theme they have going with Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern IL), George Kittle (Iowa), Raheem Mostert (Purdue) and Tevin Coleman (Indiana). The run game is the foundation of the 49ers success and by adding Biadasz they will continue on with that identity. Biadasz has been the battery that makes the Wisconsin OL go for the last few years, and the Wisconsin OL has been regarded as one of the best, if not the best, during that time frame.