Friday, March 1, 2019

2019 NFL Mock Draft

Predicting how a draft will play out minutes before it begins is virtually impossible so naturally it's even more difficult almost two months out.

Over the next couple of months, the one certainty is that this 2019 NFL mock draft will change -- perhaps considerably -- with the NFL Scouting Combine underway this weekend and both Pro Days and the start of NFL Free Agency still ahead of us.

As we move closer to the actual draft, we will add rounds to eventually mock all seven rounds.

MORE: Check out our way-too-early 2019 Fantasy Football Mock Draft

For now, here's how the first round of the 2019 NFL draft could play out:

1. Arizona Cardinals (Draft History): Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State Buckeyes

Past comments from new head coach Kliff Kingsbury may lead some to link Kyler Murray to the Cardinals, but it's too soon to throw in the towel on the Josh Rosen era. More than likely, this pick comes down to Bosa, Kentucky's Josh Allen or Alabama's Quinnen Williams. Per PFF College, no edge defender had a higher grade in their history (since 2014) than Bosa did in 2017. With first-round pedigree from his father (John) and brother (Joey), Nick gives the talent-deficient Cardinals a blue-chip prospect.

2. San Francisco 49ers (Draft History): Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky Wildcats

Speaking of PFF grades, Allen tied for the third-highest amongst edge rushers (from 2014-2018) as he recorded 17 sacks, 21.5 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles in 2018. As many high picks as the 49ers have spent on their front seven over the past few seasons, edge rusher remains the team's biggest need.

3. (Projected trade with NYJ) Jacksonville Jaguars (Draft History): Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma Sooners

Except for the 2013 NFL Draft (the Jags took Luke Joeckel second overall that year), there has been a quarterback selected in the top three in 17 of the other 18 NFL Drafts from 2001 to 2018. By trading up to third overall last year (for quarterback Sam Darnold), the Jets should be a willing trade partner for a QB-needy team. Perhaps the Jags will sign Nick Foles in free agency, but if that doesn't happen, the Jags will likely look to replace Blake Bortles with their 2019 first-round pick.

- MORE: Consensus 2019 NFL Free Agency Rankings

4. Oakland Raiders (Draft History): Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama Crimson Tide

Perhaps the Raiders use this pick to move on from Derek Carr, but this is an ideal scenario with Williams, a top-two prospect in this year's draft class, slipping to fourth overall.

- MORE: 2019 NFL Draft Big Board: Top 100 Prospects

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Draft History): Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan Wolverines

More projection than production, the former No. 1 high school recruit in the country has rare athletic gifts with sky-high upside.

6. New York Giants (Draft History): Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State Buckeyes

After passing on a quarterback last year and given the widely-held belief that next year's crop of quarterback prospects is better than this year's, I'm not convinced that Gettleman will pull the trigger on a signal-caller in 2019. That said, there's no denying that Eli Manning's play is holding the team and offense back. If Haskins is still available here, which is far from a lock given the propensity of teams to trade up for QBs, the Giants should at least strongly consider addressing their biggest need here. If they don't, however, I could see the G-Men adding a pass-rusher as Olivier Vernon has been disappointing and only the Raiders (13) recorded fewer sacks than the Giants (30) in 2018.

7. (Projected trade with JAX) New York Jets (Draft History): Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama Crimson Tide

Now that the Jets have their franchise quarterback in place, they should use free agency and the draft to improve his odds for success. A three-year starter (first at RT, then two seasons at LT), Williams may ultimately kick inside at the next level, but there's a good chance that he'll be the first offensive lineman off the board.

* For purposes of this mock, the Jags send their first-round pick this year and next year to the Jets to move up to No. 3. Based on the draft trade chart, the gap between the two picks is 700 points, comparable to the 26th overall pick.

8. Detroit Lions (Draft History): Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State Bulldogs

Over the past four seasons, Ezekiel Ansah has 12-plus sacks twice and four or fewer in the other two seasons. Not only has Ansah missed multiple games in three consecutive seasons, but the soon-to-be 30-year-old edge rusher is about to become an unrestricted free agent. The Lions could go in a few different directions here, but adding a pass-rusher like Sweat or Clemson's Clelin Ferrell would make sense.

9. Buffalo Bills (Draft History): Ed Oliver, DT, Houston Cougars

Many mocks will have the Bills using this pick to help their young quarterback by bolstering their offensive line or receiving corps. If Oliver is available here, however, he would be a great fit as a long-term replacement for the now-retired Kyle Williams.

10. Denver Broncos (Draft History): Greedy Williams, CB, LSU Tigers

I've gone back-and-forth with a pair of LSU Tigers -- Williams and Devin White -- in this spot. And even though there's a trade in place for Joe Flacco, it would be foolish to think that their quarterback problem is solved so perhaps someone like Drew Lock should still be considered here. Cornerback Bradley Roby is set to become a free agent and the ball-hawking Williams will help fill the void.

11. Cincinnati Bengals (Draft History): Devin White, LB, LSU Tigers

Positional value may allow White to slip a little bit, but the Bengals get a nice value here (White is fourth on my top-100 big board) and he fills a position of need for the club. The Butkus Award winner (given to the nation's best collegiate linebacker), White has sideline-to-sideline range and led the SEC in tackles in 2018.

12. Green Bay Packers (Draft History): Jachai Polite, OLB, Florida Gators

About to turn 33 years old (in May), Clay Matthews is an impending free agent that has recorded 7.5 sacks or less in four consecutive seasons. Meanwhile, Nick Perry is a release candidate. With two first-round picks, an edge rusher double-dip could even make sense for the pass rush-needy Packers.

13. Miami Dolphins (Draft History): Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida Gators

Could indirect tanking be in the plans for the 2019 Dolphins in order to target one of the perceived-to-be better 2020 signal-callers? If so, Taylor could fill the void of impending free-agent right tackle Ja'Wuan James to bookend Laremy Tunsil for their future starting quarterback.

14. Atlanta Falcons (Draft History): Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson Tigers

Starring on the nation's best defensive lines, Ferrell is the first of what could/should be three Clemson defensive linemen drafted on Day 1. The ACC Defensive Player of the Year and First-Team AP All-American, Ferrell had 20.0 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks for the national champs last season.

15. Washington Redskins (Draft History): Drew Lock, QB, Missouri Tigers

What will Washington get, if anything, from Alex Smith in 2019 and beyond? In terms of prototypes, Lock has the size, big arm and mobility to make him a first-round quarterback. There was some inconsistency at Mizzou, but some even believe that Lock is a better prospect than Ohio State's Haskins.

16. Carolina Panthers (Draft History): Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State Cougars

Not only is center Ryan Kalil retiring after last season, but right tackle Daryl Williams is currently headed towards unrestricted free agency. Kalil's brother, dubbed Speedbump McGee by Cam Jordan, was a disappointment at left tackle in 2017 before missing all of 2018. It wouldn't be a surprise if he turned out to be a cap casualty, but it should be a priority to better protect Cam Newton, who underwent offseason shoulder surgery.

> Continue to 2019 NFL Mock Draft: Picks 17-32
> For more NFL mocks, check out our NFL Mock Draft Database

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Way-Too-Early 2019 Fantasy Football Mock Draft

With Super Bowl LIII and the 2018 NFL season behind us, it's time to look ahead to the 2019 NFL season and how the early rounds of a fantasy football draft could play out.

Before you're drafting teams for real, there is obviously plenty that will impact the fantasy outlooks of players -- NFL free agency in March, the NFL Draft in April, injuries and/or holdouts over the offseason, etc.

Taking that into consideration, I thought it'd be fun to run through a back-of-the-napkin exercise to map out how the first three rounds of a mock draft would play out if I were the GM for all 12 teams.

[Note: This mock draft uses half-point per reception scoring.]

Round 1

1.01 - Team 1: Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
Despite insisting that he's healthy, there is no chance that Gurley wasn't limited by his knee given his inexplicably-low usage when the games mattered most. That said, he is as good as it gets when healthy. Only 24 years old (turns 25 in August), the versatile back is the focal point of one of the league's most explosive and innovative offenses. Leading the NFL in rushing scores in each of the past two seasons, Gurley has scored 40 total touchdowns -- 30 rushing and 10 receiving -- and racked up 3,924 yards from scrimmage since 2017.

1.02 - Team 2: Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
The second pick in the (real) 2018 NFL Draft, Barkley is the second pick here but there isn't much of a dropoff, if any, from Gurley. In 2018, the rookie led the NFL in YFS (2,028), scored 15 total touchdowns and had a team-high 91 receptions. That said, what gives Gurley the edge over Barkley is the overall offensive potency. With Eli Manning under center in 2018, the Giants were middle of the pack -- 17th in total offense and 16th in scoring offense.

- MORE: Will the Giants draft a QB in 2019 NFL Draft

1.03 - Team 3: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Not only does Elliott have two rushing titles in three seasons, but he has led the NFL in rushing yards per game every year since being a top-four selection by the Cowboys in 2016. Not only has he averaged 21.7 carries per game in his young career, he was much more involved as a receiver in 2018 -- 77 receptions on 95 targets.

1.04 - Team 4: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
If this were a full PPR mock (as opposed to half-PPR scoring), he would be at least one spot higher than this. Breaking Matt Forte's single-season receptions record for a running back, McCaffrey followed up his 80-catch rookie campaign with 107 receptions in 2018. In 2018, he nearly reached the 2,000-YFS mark (1,965) and scored 13 total touchdowns.

1.05 - Team 5: Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
The second-year back saw a significant bump in workload from his rookie season, but he was much more involved in the first four weeks (with Mark Ingram suspended) than the final 12 weeks. Kamara averaged 22.75 touches per game (Weeks 1 to 4) vs. 16.73 (Weeks 5 to 17). In full-PPR scoring formats, he was actually the weekly RB1 in three of the first four weeks of the season. With Ingram set to become an unrestricted free agent, Kamara has legitimate RB1 upside, especially if Ingram signs elsewhere.

1.06 - Team 6: Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
Setting a career high in yards per carry (5.1), Gordon also extended his streak with 12-plus touchdowns to three seasons. That's the good news. The bad news is that MG3 has now missed multiple games in three of his four NFL seasons. It would make sense for this team to pair Gordon with Austin Ekeler, who has stand-alone value even when MG3 is healthy.

1.07 - Team 7: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
Posting career highs in receptions (115) and yards (1,572), Hopkins now has at least 95 catches, 1,375 yards and double-digit touchdowns in three of the past four years including both seasons with Deshaun Watson under center. While Nuk is a safer bet than any of the next tier of running backs, I'd still be tempted to draft my next-ranked running back here given the scarcity of workhorse running backs.

1.08 - Team 8: James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Filling in more than admirably for Le'Veon Bell, Conner is a bonafide first-rounder in 2019 fantasy drafts depending on how the Steelers address the position in free agency and the NFL Draft. Less productive and missing some time in the second half of the season, he was as good as it gets in the first eight games. With four games of 100-plus rushing yards and multiple touchdowns, Conner accounted for 1,085 YFS, 38 receptions and 10 touchdowns in the first eight games of the season.

1.09 - Team 9: Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Mixon has missed multiple games in both of his seasons, but he rushed for 1,168 yards (4.9 YPC) and eight touchdowns in his second season. Mixon added 43/296/1 receiving as well. Mixon closed the season strong with 100-plus rushing yards in three of four games.

1.10 - Team 10: Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
The obvious concern with Jones is the lack of touchdowns -- eight or fewer every year except 2012. Given his combination of size and speed and the overall production of the offense, however, that shouldn't be the case and the good news is it wasn't down the stretch -- all eight of his touchdowns came in the final nine games. With a career-best 10 100-yard games, Jones had 113 catches for 1,677 yards and now has 1,400-plus yards in five consecutive seasons.

1.11 - Team 11: Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers
Many may take Adams (or Michael Thomas, or Antonio Brown, or Odell Beckham) ahead of Jones and an argument could be made for all of them as the next receiver off the board here as well. Unlike Jones, Adams is a red zone machine with double-digit scores in each of the past three seasons and he set career highs across the board last year -- 111 receptions, 1,386 yards and 13 touchdowns. And it has never a bad thing to be the clear-cut No. 1 receiver in an Aaron Rodgers-led offense.

1.12 - Team 12: Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
Thomas has built upon his production each season -- 92/1,137/9 (2016), 104/1,245/5 (2017) and 125/1,405/9 (2018). Even though he ranked 11th in targets (147), his 125 catches led the league (Zach Ertz was second with 116). While he's yet to score double-digit touchdowns in any season, the good news is that only Hopkins (15) had more targets than Thomas (14) from inside the 10-yard line last season.

- Continue reading our 2019 Fantasy Football Mock Draft

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