NFL Mock Draft 2019: NFL Combine aftermath [Part 1]

This past weekend, the NFL combine took place in Nashville, Tennessee. The NCAA’s most prominent college players were tested in strength, speed, power, and agility. DK Metcalf, Rashan Gary, Devin White, and other notable players raised their draft stock with this weekend’s performance. This lends the question of who is going where? With the NFL draft coming up on April 25th, a lot can change between now and late April. The Arizona Cardinals, the owners of the first overall pick, have a big decision to make. Do they stick with 2018 first-round pick Josh Rosen, or do they trade him and draft Heisman winner Kyler Murray with the pick? Based on wants and needs, we’re going to break down each projected pick and determine who goes where. We’ll cover the first five below:

*all stats are career stats

1. Arizona Cardinals (3-13)

Needs: Offensive Line, Safety, Wide Receiver, Cornerback, Quarterback

Analysis: Arizona doesn’t need Kyler Murray. They have a good, young QB in Josh Rosen, the former UCLA slinger that admittedly didn’t step in and thrive the way that the Cardinals envisioned. However, any blame for Rosen can be placed on an incredibly inept offensive line unit. The Cardinals can’t assume any offensive lineman in this draft is worth a first overall pick, so they’ll likely pivot to a defensive player like Nick Bosa. If they don’t want defense, this pick could be traded for a haul of picks/players and it could only cost the Cardinals a few draft slots. This pick will really be decided on whether or not the Cardinals brass believe that Rosen can be a franchise play caller. Rumors around the league say that the Washington Redskins have inquired about trading for Rosen. Despite the allure of Murray, the Cardinals have a bunch of holes in their lineup. They had trouble blocking and creating holes for David Johnson, and they need to prepare for Larry Fitzgerald’s eventual departure.

Pick: Kyler Murray (Oklahoma)

Stats: 29 games – 350/519 – 67.4 completion% – 5406 yards – 50TD 14INT

We believe the rumors. The Redskins are looking at a season where Colt McCoy is starting, and pull the trigger for the sophomore Josh Rosen. With the pick, Arizona and head coach Kliff Kingsbury get their quarterback of the future. Murray, despite his short stature, is an electric athlete who can change the course of the game with his legs or his arm. Murray’s performance in the 2nd half of last year showcased all of his abilities, and he was able to dispel criticisms that his competition was weak. In the College Football Playoff semi-final against Alabama, Murray went 19/37 with 308 yards and 2 touchdowns, and that was without his most dangerous wide receiver, Hollywood Brown.

2. San Francisco 49ers (4-12)

Needs: Defense

Analysis: As nice as it would be to draft a marquee receiver for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, the Niners need help on defense. Literally everywhere. Fortunately for them, this is one of the strongest defensive classes we’ve seen in a while. Would we be surprised if they traded back? As tempting as it might be to trade back, the top end quality of the rushers in the top 10 are too good to pass up. Nick Bosa, Josh Allen, Quinnen Williams, or Rashan Gary would be good picks here.

Pick: Nick Bosa (Ohio State)

Stats: 29 games – 47 solo tackles – 77 total tackles – 29.0 tackles for loss – 17.5 sacks – 2 forced fumbles – 1 defensive TD

Nick Bosa is probably the most hyped defensive prospect in this draft. The projected 1st overall pick entering the 2018 season, Bosa’s season was cut short because of a core muscle injury that required surgery. He started on a loaded Buckeyes team as a freshman, and projects to be a more impactful player than his older brother, Joey, who was drafted by the Chargers with the 3rd overall pick. He can play defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, and has the length to play standing up as a pure pass rusher. A projected defensive line with DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas, and Bosa would cause havoc and really improve a struggling defense.

3. New York Jets (4-12)

Needs: Offensive Line, Wide Receiver, Edge Rusher

Analysis: After drafting Sam Darnold with the 3rd overall pick in last year’s draft, the Jets find themselves drafting from the same position this offseason. The Jets still have a bunch of holes to fill on both sides of the ball. On offense, New York could look to draft a lineman, running back, tight end, or wide receiver. On defense, the Jets have long searched for a quality pass rusher capable of getting to the quarterback. I expect that the Jets, despite quality prospects on offense, will pick a defensive lineman. Quinnen Williams, Rashan Gary, Josh Allen, Ed Oliver could all be picks here.

Pick: Quinnen Williams (Alabama) – 26 games – 56 solo tackles – 91 total tackles – 26.0 tackles for loss – 10 sacks

There might not have been a defensive player as impactful as Quinnen Williams in college this past season. The best defensive player on an Alabama squad that consistently ranks in the top 10 in defense had an outstanding year. On numerous occasions, Williams created a ton of pressure rushing up the middle on SEC offensive lines. Despite being double teamed on most plays, Williams got 8 sacks and had 19.5 tackles for loss. The scariest part of Williams is the how quick he is despite his size. The 6’4″ 303 pound defensive lineman has the speed to line up all across the line. The Crimson Tide product ran a 4.89 40 yard dash, blowing away NFL scouts this past weekend. His technique has been lauded by former coach Nick Saban. On the Jets, he’ll be an immediate plug and play lineman who can move across 4 line spots in Gregg Williams new 4-3 scheme. After seeing what Gregg Williams did in Cleveland with Myles Garrett, its not hard to imagine a similar usage with Quinnen Williams.

4. Oakland Raiders (4-12)

Needs: Everything?

Analysis: Well, Jon Gruden better know what he’s doing, because after gutting the roster of talent, the Raiders need help all across the lineup. Trading Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper netted two additional first round draft picks, but also stripped the Black and Silver of any impact receivers or defensive stars. So where does Gruden and company start? There are plenty of impact rushers still on the board at the 4 slot, so they could take someone like Allen, Gary, Oliver, or Montez Sweat, who impressed at the Combine. They could also draft a top wide receiver like DK Metcalf or N’Keal Harry, who can fill the role that Amari Cooper once held before he was traded. For the Raiders, they’ll probably take the “best player available” route, but there could be a situation where the Raiders get blown away by a trade offer from a team looking to select a player they love. If a trade consisting of 2 first round picks fell into the Raiders lap, would they take it? In this mock, we’re going to assume that the Raiders take advantage of their draft position.

Pick: Josh Allen (Kentucky) – 42 games – 121 solo tackles – 220 total tackles – 42.0 tackles for loss – 31.5 sacks – 1 INT – 11 forced fumbles – 2 fumble recoveries

The Raiders find their potential replacement for Mack, drafting a guy who can rush the passer for a team that combined for 13 sacks total, the lowest total in the NFL this year. For a team that lacks impact players on the defensive side of the ball, Allen fulfills a big hole on the Raiders defensive unit. He can play both on the line with a hand in the dirt like a typical defensive end, but he also has the ability to rush from the second level as a hybrid linebacker. He ran a 4.63 40 yard dash, beating Nick Bosa’s 4.79. The Raiders can plug Allen in and just let him rush the passer. The Oakland defense that struggles to create any sort of pressure will get a lot of help from a player of Allen’s talent.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11)

Needs: DE, QB, Cornerback, Safety

Analysis: Despite revamping a defense and seeing positive results, Tampa Bay probably should keep adding on the defensive side of the ball. Another defensive lineman, or a linebacker, should be the focus for this pick. Rashan Gary, Ed Oliver, Montez Sweat, Devin White, and Devin Cook could be potential options. But do the Bucs take advantage of the run on pass-rushers and draft an offensive player? Many experts have noted that the Bucs could get the top tackle in the draft in Jawaan Taylor, the Florida junior? Or how about Dwayne Haskins, the Heisman finalist from Ohio State? DeAndre Baker? Greedy Williams? Lots of choices at the 5th draft slot.

Pick: Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State) – 22 games – 413/590 – 70.0 completion% – 5396 yards – 54 TD’s – 9 INTs

The quarterback carousal ends, and the Bucs draft his replacement. The Jameis Winston era was disappointing, and the lack of development from the former top pick really hurt a promising offense. In Dwayne Hoskins, the Bucs get a quarterback that can effectively distribute the ball effectively, both downfield and on intermediate and short routes. He led the Buckeyes to a bowl win after narrowly missing out on the playoff. His accuracy and solid character would be a welcome addition to a Tampa Bay team that couldn’t trust Winston to make the right decision. Haskins has been praised for his football IQ and his leadership ability, guiding Ohio State through a volatile season that the Zach Smith fiasco, Meyer’s suspension and later retirement, and the loss of Nick Bosa all could have derailed a season filled with optimism. With good pass catchers like Mike Evans and O.J. Howard, a stable quarterback capable of diagnosing the defense and managing the offense could improve the Buccaneers chances of making the playoffs next season.

That’s it for this portion! We’ll post the next 5 picks tomorrow!

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Austen Adcock

Freelance writer, alumni of the University of Mississippi, hockey and baseball connoisseur

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