NFL Mock Draft: Part IV

Welcome back for Part IV of our 6 part series, as we predict what happens at this year’s NFL Draft. Free agency legal tampering period opens today for the NFL, and some moves have already been made, with Oakland reportedly signing former Patriots offensive lineman Trent Brown to the biggest OL contract in league history. Defensive lineman Malik Jackson has reportedly signed with the Eagles, and Eric Weddle seems to be heading to the Rams on a 2 year deal. With that in mind, lets jump ahead to the draft and see what picks teams will make to fill holes in their lineup. You can find the first three segments here: Part I, II, III.

  1. Arizona Cardinals – QB Kyler Murray (Oklahoma)
  2. San Francisco 49’ers – DE Nick Bosa (Ohio State)
  3. New York Jets – DT/DE Quinnen Williams (Alabama)
  4. Oakland Raiders – EDGE Josh Allen (Kentucky)
  5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – QB Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State)
  6. New York Giants – DL Rashan Gary (Michigan)
  7. Jacksonville Jaguars – WR D.K. Metcalf (Mississippi)
  8. Detroit Lions – EDGE Montez Sweat (Mississippi State)
  9. Buffalo Bills – TE T.J. Hockenson (Iowa)
  10. Denver Broncos – QB Drew Lock (Missouri)
  11. Cincinnati Bengals – DL Ed Oliver (Houston)
  12. Green Bay Packers – LB Devin White (LSU)
  13. Miami Dolphins – DL Clellin Ferrell (Clemson)
  14. Atlanta Falcons – OT Jawaan Taylor (Florida)
  15. Washington Redskins – DE Brian Burns (Florida State)

16. Carolina Panthers (7-9)

Needs: QB? , OL, DL, CB, Safety, WR

Analysis: For a team that lost 6 of its last 7, and realistically could have made the playoffs if quarterback Cam Newton was healthy, this team has quite a few holes to fill. The offensive line doesn’t look too strong, given the injury struggles in 2018. Ryan Kalil’s retirement and the general declining play of the rest of the unit contributed to a season where Newton was beat up quite a bit. In addition to a weak offensive line, Newton lacks impact players that can change the dynamic of the offense. No offense to Devin Funchess, but its clear that Greg Olson is the most dangerous weapon for that offense when healthy. Defense is a problem too. A struggling pass defense and lack of pressure on the quarterback are needed. Linebacker Luke Kuechly is only one marquee defensive player on the Panthers, and he needs help in order to buoy this defense.

Pick: OL Greg Little (Mississippi)

The three-year starter at Ole Miss stepped into the vacancy left by All-American Laremy Tunsil and produced wonderfully for the Rebels. The first team All-SEC, 2nd team All-American protected Rebel quarterback Jordan Ta’amu all season, and helped lead the Ole Miss offense to rank in the top 25 in offense in the 2017 and 2018 season. He didn’t allow a sack all year, and only allowed 10 pressures on the quarterback. Keep in mind, this was a lineman on a bad SEC team going up against the likes of Alabama, Auburn, LSU, and Mississippi State. Little immediate starts at either of the tackle positions for the Panthers. Little is arguably the most talented, yet least refined offensive tackle that has come out of the draft in recent years, but if Little can get coached up a bit and embrace his athleticism, he could be an All-Pro within two years. In order to keep Newton upright, the Panthers need to make the wise investment and draft Little.

17. Cleveland Browns (7-8-1)

Analysis: The Browns of old are gone. John Dorsey’s second year at the helm looks a lot brighter than the team he took over last year. Let’s briefly recap what they’ve done:

Added: Baker Mayfield, Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, Damarious Randall, Denzel Ward, Kareem Hunt, Antonio Callaway, Olivier Vernon

So what do they need to take the next step? Newly minted head coach Freddy Kitchens probably doesn’t need to much help offensively at this point (unless they find an offensive lineman they like), so what about on defense? The defensive line could use a secondary weapon to accompany Miles Garrett, and another cornerback opposite Denzel Ward. Personally, I think Dorsey either goes corner or offensive tackle here.

Pick: CB Greedy Williams (LSU)

Stats: 24 games – 49 solo tackles – 71 total tackles – 1.5 tackles for loss – 8 INT’s – 19 passes defended

The Thorpe Trophy runner-up, given to the best secondary player in the country, was pretty impressive in his second campaign as an LSU Tiger. After finishing 4th in the NCAA in 2017 in interceptions, the Shreveport, Louisiana native was rarely thrown at in year 2. Williams only registered two interceptions in 2018, but opposing quarterbacks rarely targeted Williams, and had on average a 41.0 quarterback rating when targeting him. What really makes Williams such a tantalizing prospect is his length. He’s 6’2″, 185 lbs, and ran a 4.37 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine. The Second team All-American should fill in the cornerback slot opposite Ward, giving the Browns arguably the best young secondary in the league that should lock opponents down on a weekly basis.

18. Minnesota Vikings (8-7)

Needs: OL, DL, LB

Analysis: After an incredibly disappointing campaign which saw prized free-agent quarterback Kirk Cousins struggle, the Vikings front office needs to fix a few minor holes on an otherwise strong roster. The offensive line couldn’t open up holes for the running game, and struggled in pass protection. The defense continues to age, and might need a playmaker or two on either the defensive line or on the second level at linebacker. With Anthony Barr and Sheldon Richardson possibly leaving this next summer, do the Vikings draft a contingency plan?

Pick: OL Jonah Williams (Alabama)

Williams is the best lineman on the board, despite his stature that has scouts questioning whether he’s an NFL tackle or guard. The three year starter at Alabama won 2 national championships and thrived in both pass-blocking and punished defenders as a run-blocker. The first-team All-American has the strength, speed, and versatility to slide into any guard or tackle spots and start immediately. A Vikings team that struggled to move the ball all year on the ground should see some improvements by adding Williams.

19. Tennessee Titans (9-7)

Needs: LB, WR, TE, QB?

Analysis: There is a genuine question of whether or not quarterback Marcus Mariota can be a starter in the NFL at this point. After a season playing with an elbow injury that inhibited his ability to hold or throw a football, Mariota enters the final year of his contract. In a make-or-break year, the question with this pick is whether to bolster a defense that lost Brian Orakpo to retirement, or to draft a pass-catcher to complement Corey Davis. Delanie Walker’s injury complicates things. TE Noah Fant would look great in Nashville, but so would N’Keal Harry or AJ Brown. On defense, the Titans could find the MIKE linebacker of the future in Devin Bush.

Pick: A.J. Brown (Mississippi)

Stats: 36 games – 189 receptions – 2984 yards – 15.8 YPC – 19 TD’s

The Starkville, Mississippi native could be exactly what Mariota needs in a prove-it season. A productive receiver in college, Brown projects as a very strong slot receiver or outside guy. Brown looks a lot like Jarvis Landry, a guy who can play outside, but is most dangerous working the middle of the field out of the slot. Brown isn’t the fastest receiver, but he is the best contested pass-catcher in the class by a mile, and has elite yards-after-catch ability. Brown will easily fill the number 2 receiver hole, and if Delanie Walker can return from his devastating leg injury, the Titans offense could be poised for a big year with Mariota behind center.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-6-1)

Needs: DL, LB, CB, Safety, WR

Well, this has been a pretty awful summer for the Steelers. After being embroiled in a heated contract dispute with star running back Le’Veon Bell, the Steelers found themselves with another unhappy player in star wide receiver Antonio Brown. With Bell departing for free agency and Brown being traded to the Raiders for a 3rd and 5th round pick, the Steelers can finally move past all the drama that hindered them this past season. The biggest need is at cornerback after whiffing on 2016 first-round pick Artie Burns. But there could be a possible need at linebacker with Ryan Shazier still out indefinitely. Devin Bush and Deandre Baker are still on the board, so there are choices for the Steelers here.

Pick: CB Deandre Baker (Georgia)

Stats: 36 games – 83 solo tackles – 116 total tackles – 4.0 tackles for loss – 1 sack – 7 INT’s – 23 passes defended – 2 forced fumbles – 1 fumble recovery

The Steelers get a do-everything cornerback that should solidify a weak Pittsburgh secondary. The eye-popping stats that jumps out is the number of tackles that Baker registered in his 3 years at Georgia. Baker thrives as both a run-stuffing force at the line, as well as thriving as a defender in one-on-one scenarios. The difference between Baker and Greedy Williams is that Baker isn’t as strong a pass coverage guy, but is stronger towards the line of scrimmage. Baker is a hammer that willingly helps in run defense, but isn’t as strong while defending the pass. This is a really solid pick for the Steelers, and should play well opposite Joe Haden as Pittsburgh looks to get back on track this summer.

That is it for this segment. Keep a close eye on the next segment, which should be out by Wednesday. Drop us a line or comment on your thoughts.

Austen Adcock

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

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