It’s a question that will forever be debated in the National Football League:
Do you draft for need or do you draft for talent?
Sometimes the two line up and it works great, like when the Colts needed a quarterback and grabbed Peyton Manning or when the Colts needed a quarterback and grabbed Andrew Luck.
Sometimes the two line up and it doesn’t work great, like when the Chargers took Ryan Leaf or the Raiders nabbed Jamarcus Russell.
In 2003 the Ravens provided evidence of taking the best player available and drafting for need. Baltimore needed a QB but after missing out on trying to trade up for Byron Leftwich they took future Hall of Fame linebacker Terrell Suggs instead. That worked out great. But then they traded back into the first round for Kyle Boller, which was not nearly as successful.
So, what’s going to be the strategy for franchises in the 2019 NFL Draft? I have no idea. But it’s fun to speculate so let’s do just that with the 2019 NBC 7 Mock NFL Draft?
1) Arizona Cardinals – Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
This is what the Cardinals WILL do but I don’t think it’s what they SHOULD do. Josh Rosen played behind the worst offensive line in football last year and had to deal with Mike McCoy as his offensive coordinator for all of camp and almost half the season. That’s a lot of obstacles to overcome. But AZ has gone too far down the road with Murray and new head coach Kliff Kingsbury wants HIS kind of QB so Murray it is and they’ll look to trade Rosen.
2) San Francisco 49ers – Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
General manager John Lynch played on some of the most dominant defenses ever assembled. He’s going to LOOOOOOVE seeing Bosa sitting there for him to plug into what is already a pretty good front in San Francisco. Most talent evaluators have Bosa as the best overall prospect in this year’s draft class and, even though he missed time with an injury, his performance and skill set won’t get any arguments from me.
3) New York Jets – Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
Last year the Jets got their franchise QB in Sam Darnold. This year they get their franchise defensive lineman. Williams has drawn comparisons to Aaron Donald. Nobody is Aaron Donald, who might be the best interior defensive lineman ever. But this Williams kid could be Fletcher Cox, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
4) Oakland Raiders – Devin White, LB, LSU
If Jon Gruden was running things I’d agree with a lot of the speculation that the Raiders are going to go insane and take a QB here, or maybe even trade up and grab one. But I think Mike Mayock is able to keep Chucky in check and grab the best linebacker available, which happens to be a huge position of need for the Raiders.
5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
Tampa Bay isn’t sure what their future with Gerald McCoy is but odds are he’s not going to be around too much longer. Oliver is not the same kind of player McCoy is but they need to make sure they have some kind of presence on that defensive line moving forward and Oliver was one of the most productive defensive players in the nation.
6) New York Giants – T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
I have no idea what the Giants are doing, which is fitting because the Giants have no idea what they’re doing. They need a QB but I think they’ll look at one later in the 1st round. After trading Odell Beckham Jr. to Cleveland they need someone to catch passes from whoever is throwing them and G.M. Dave Gettleman has been preaching best player available. That’s probably either Hockenson, a tremendous tight end, or Kentucky pass rusher Josh Allen. NY goes with the offensive weapon.
7) Jacksonville Jaguars – Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky
The Jags would be smart to get an offensive lineman to protect Nick Foles and I can see them going that route here. But with Allen on the board they won’t be able to pass up the chance to add another piece to what was supposed to be one of the NFL’s most dominant defenses in 2018 so they take the best player available.
8) Detroit Lions – Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
Matt Patricia loves defensive players. Like, REALLY loves defensive players. Getting Matt Stafford some help, perhaps with TE Noah Fant, would be a possibility here but Bush is a Michigan guy and a really good defensive football player. Plus Detroit could use some help at linebacker so the need and the spot and the player all fit.
9) Buffalo Bills – Jonah Williams, OL, Alabama
The Bills absolutely HAVE to get last year’s 1st round pick, QB Josh Allen, some help. They do that with Williams, one of the top-rated linemen in the class who also played for Buffalo offensive coordinator Brain Daboll so the familiarity is too much of a plus to pass up.
10) Denver Broncos – D.K. Metcalf, WR, Mississippi
They have Joe Flacco, who has the ability to throw the ball waaaaaaaay down the field. What they need now is someone who can go get it. Metcalf is the guy who can go get it. This is probably early for him but he won’t be around when Denver picks again so John Elway either tries to trade down or goes ahead and takes the very large, very fast Metcalf to try and help kick-start his offense.
11) Cincinnati Bengals – Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
The Andy Dalton days have got to be over soon. He only has one year left on his contract and it just never fully worked with him in Cincy. Enter Haskins, who can take a year to learn the system of new head coach Zac Taylor, who was a quarterback and a quarterback coach. He wants his own quarterback. He gets his own quarterback in a guy who already has a big fan base in Ohio.
12) Green Bay Packers – Andre Dillard, OL, Washington State
This is simple. Aaron Rodgers can’t keep getting hurt. Dillard is a pass blocking specialist who can start immediately.
13) TRADE – Arizona Cardinals – Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson (from Miami)
Here’s where things get a little crazy. The Cardinals got their QB so they have to move Rosen. The Dolphins are in desperate need of a QB. Josh Rosen is probably better than what’s left at the position this year. So, Miami sends this pick to Arizona for Rosen and Arizona takes Wilkins because they need serious help in the middle of their defensive line and Wilkins is a monster.
14) Atlanta Falcons – Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
Atlanta could use reinforcements on both the offensive and defensive line. Here I think they go with Ferrell, a guy who spent the majority of Clemson’s national title season in opposing team’s backfields.
15) Washington Redskins – Ryan Finley, QB, N.C. State
I hate saying it because he’s such a good guy and an underrated player but Alex Smith’s football career is over. The Redskins almost HAVE to take a QB here and Finley, while not one of the hot names at the position right now, I think is underrated and a guy who could be a surprisingly good working with a coach like Jay Gruden.
16) Carolina Panthers – Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
Carolina needs to shore up the offensive line. But Greg Olsen keeps getting hurt. Finding his replacement with Fant will give Cam Newton, who has grown to really like throwing to tight ends, another weapon to work with.
17) New York Giants – Jawaan Taylor, OL, Florida
This would be a good spot for the Giants to take Drew Lock or Daniel Jones and have him learn for a year behind Eli Manning but as we established earlier the Giants don’t know what they’re doing. Still under the impression that Eli is a capable NFL quarterback they get Taylor to try and shore up the offensive line that they spent millions and millions of dollars trying to shore up last off-season.
18) Minnesota Vikings – Montez Sweat, DE/OLB, Mississippi St.
The bigger need is probably on the offensive line. But head coach Mike Zimmer loves him some defense. Sweat is one of those athletes with a drastically diverse skill set who Zimmer will be able to game plan around. This is one of those “we don’t exactly need him but darnit he’ll make us a whole lot better” picks that usually works out pretty well.
19) Tennessee Titans – Brian Burns, DE/OLB, Florida St.
Head coach Mike Vrabel is a former linebacker. He likes linebackers, especially ones who can get after the passer. Burns does that with the best in this class and is also good in hunting down running backs. He’ll have a chance to make an immediate impact in Nashville.
20) Pittsburgh Steelers – Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
Forget about losing Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, the biggest issue for the Steelers is they haven’t replaced Ryan Shazier. That guy isn’t available at this spot in the Draft but they also need help in the defensive backfield so they go with the top corner on the board.
21) Seattle Seahawks – Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan
A lot of people have the Seahawks linked to Gary and I agree with them. Pete Carroll always wants defenders with lots of physical tools. Gary certainly fills that description. Plus, if they do end up trading Frank Clark like the rumor mill is claiming then this becomes a position of need.
22) Baltimore Ravens – Chris Lindstrom, OG, Boston College
The Ravens have more pressing needs on the defense but now that they’re 100% committed to Lamar Jackson at QB they’re going to need to do all they can to help him out. Adding Mark Ingram means they’re going to be running the ball a lot again so brining in Lindstrom is a smart, if not sexy, move.
23) Houston Texans – Greg Little, OL, Mississippi
Deshaun Watson is going to get killed unless the Texans do something to help the line. Watson was sacked 62 times in 2018. A lot of those were his fault for trying to make too much happen but still, Houston has got to get better at tackle. Little could help them do that fairly quickly.
24) Oakland Raiders – Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
The Raiders have struggled to run the ball the last couple of years. That has to change if they want to offense to be as potent as it can be. Jacobs was productive in the SEC and should be an immediate starter with the Silver & Black.
25) Philadelphia Eagles – Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma
I could see Philly going several different ways here, including wide receiver. But Carson Wentz has gotten hurt the last two years. They need to make sure they have as much available as they can to protect him.
26) Indianapolis Colts – Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
Indy went from one of the worst rosters in the NFL to winning a playoff game in one season. They have decent starters at corner but could use depth. Murphy is a guy who might push one of the incumbents (Pierre Desir, Quincy Wilson, and Kenny Moore) out of the starting lineup, which is not a bad way to create more depth.
27) Oakland Raiders – Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
Now we’re having fun! Brown is the cousin of recently acquired Antonio Brown and might be every bit as high on himself (maybe it runs in the family). The big problem here is they’re also very similar receivers because both guys are tremendous vertical threats. So is the recently signed Tyrell Williams. But this much speed on the field at once might be too intoxicating for the Raiders to pass up.
28) Chargers – Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina
The Chargers SHOULD add depth to the offensive line or go after a defensive tackle (Dexter Lawrence would be a great pick here). But they love their skill position guys and watching Tyrell Williams leave for the Raiders will make them look hard at Samuel, a guy who was born to play the slot.
29) Kansas City Chiefs – Garrett Bradbury, C, N.C. State
Patrick Mahomes is unreal. Patrick Mahomes needs to be kept upright at all costs. The Chiefs have a small problem at center that could be filled by the large Bradbury, who’s 6’2” and 306 pounds and by most accounts the best available center in the Draft. K.C. might entertain a wideout here, as well, especially with the uncertainty surrounding Tyreek Hill.
30) Green Bay Packers – N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona St.
When he was at his best Aaron Rodgers had Jordy Nelson to throw to. If anyone in this class reminds me of Jordy Nelson it’s N’Keal Harry. They’re about the same size. They ran about the same 40 time. They’re both good route runners who will run through their own parents to make a catch. They both have very good hands. But Harry is even a little more athletic than Nelson was. This would be a fantastic pick for the Pack.
31) Los Angeles Rams – Dexter Lawrence, DL, Clemson
With Ndamukong Suh probably not coming back the Rams get lucky when another mammoth defensive tackle falls in their lap. Lawrence had some issues late in his college career with a PED suspension but L.A. is not shy about bringing in guys with checkered pasts. Putting Lawrence next to Aaron Donald would be a coups.
32) New England Patriots – Jerry Tillery, DL, Notre Dame
If there was one place the Patriots were surprisingly not very good last year it was rushing the passer. Only the Raiders had fewer sacks than the Pats. Tillery is a gigantic human (6’6” and 295 pounds) who got consistent pressure as an interior lineman but might have the quickness to move to the outside. That’s something the Pats like in their linemen because they’ll play 4-3 or 3-4 fronts depending on the opponent.