The 2018 NFL Draft is now behind us, which means it's time to get cracking on 2019 NFL Draft preparation.
Here's an extremely early look at how the 2019 draft could play out. Attention was paid to contract situations heading into next offseason, though some assumptions were made that certain star players would stay with their respective teams.
One thing to note is that there is some monster defensive line talent that could be available next year, including four players from Clemson alone. If the teams that drafted new franchise QBs this year struggle to win games in 2018, they should be well-positioned to land a blue-chip defender next year.
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The draft order in this mock was determined by using SportsLine's projections before the 2018 NFL Draft. So if your favorite team is picking too high, please note that we're not taking into account that they aced this past draft and are definitely winning the Super Bowl next year.
1. Cleveland Browns
Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State. It's possible this Bosa has more upside than his brother Joey, who has only dominated as a pass-rusher in his first two years in the league. If Cleveland ends up with the No. 1 pick for a third year straight, they should consider adding an elite defensive lineman like Bosa after passing on Bradley Chubb in 2018.
2. New York Giants
A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss. The Giants will probably want to take a quarterback here, unless Davis Webb or fourth-round pick emerge as a potential long-term starter this year, but which QB will it be? Take your pick of four or five guys at this point. I expect at least one to emerge as a top-of-the-draft type talent, but at this point, let's slot in Brown. He should still shine amidst the Ole Miss program's drama, and the Giants must find talent at receiver next year, especially if Odell Beckham isn't returning.
3. New York Jets
Dexter Lawrence, DL, Clemson. The massive Lawrence is in for a massive season with Clemson. Even if his stats don't come out looking impressive, coaches are going to fall in love with his ability to wreck offensive lines. The Jets have said goodbye to multiple talented linemen in recent years, and here's the guy who could be the next in line for this defense. Leonard Williams will be in his expensive option year in 2019, so this is also insurance that the line will still have some level of talent if Williams walks in 2020.
4. Chicago Bears
Clelin Ferrell, DE/LB, Clemson. This could be an historic class for defensive line talent, including four Clemson defenders who could all do in the first round. I don't see the Bears picking this high after having a great draft, but it's also entirely possible this is a little high to project Ferrell. However, if he has another year like the one he did in 2017, it's hard to see him falling out of the top 10.
5. Cincinnati Bengals
Ed Oliver, DT, Houston. Geno Atkins is a free agent after 2018, and now that he's crossed the age-30 plateau, it's not a lock the Bengals will want to give him a big contract to stay in Cincinnati. Even if he remains, the selection of Oliver would give the Bengals an impossible-to-defend duo in the middle of their defense. The Houston defensive tackle has already racked up 38.5 tackles for loss in two seasons -- what if he gets better as a junior?
6. Miami Dolphins
Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn. If the Dolphins are picking this high, that means they probably didn't get a great season from Ryan Tannehill. He has a $26.6 million cap number in 2019, and releasing him would save more than $13 million. If I have to pick which QB will go first in 2018, I'll roll with the accuracy of Stidham, who completed two-thirds of his passes last season in a year where he looked to take a big step forward. If he grows even more in 2018, he has a good a chance as any QB to go No. 1.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Trey Adams, OT, Washington. The Buccaneers have not got great play from left tackle Donovan Smith, and it's hard to see him being retained in 2019 unless he has a huge season ahead. Adams is likely the most talented blocker in the 2019 class, and if his medicals check out after tearing his ACL last October, he should be the first one off the board.
8. Washington Redskins
DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia. Baker is the like CB1 in the 2019 class at this point, and at his size, he could be a nice weapon covering the slot. The Redskins traded away ace slot corner Kendall Fuller this offseason, and they should be eager to bring in talent at the cornerback position in 2019. This feels like a great pairing of need and talent.
9. Denver Broncos
Drew Lock, QB, Missouri. The Broncos could make a playoff run after an excellent season that included signing Case Keenum and stealing Bradley Chubb at No. 5 overall. But if they land in the top 10 again, it's likely because Keenum turned out to not be the answer at quarterback. No matter; he's signed to a short-term deal, and the opportunity will be there to go all-in on a franchise passer in the 2019 draft. Lock has a big arm but accuracy issues, and if he doesn't take a step forward on that front in 2018, his stock could tank.
10. Buffalo Bills
Ahmmon Richards, WR, Miami. The Bills have a severely lack of depth and elite talent at the receiver position coming out of the 2018 draft, and their No. 1 focus from this point forward should be finding weapons for new franchise quarterback Josh Allen. Richards will have to prove he can stay healthy this year after being limited by a hamstring injury in 2017, but his nearly 20 yards per catch the previous year shows you how much of a threat he can be if 100 percent.
11. Oakland Raiders
Greedy Williams, CB, LSU. The Raiders papered over their cornerback issues this offseason, but they still aren't set up with talent in 2019 and beyond. Andraez "Greedy" Williams burst onto the scene in his redshirt freshman year with an SEC-best six interceptions, and he has the height to match up as a boundary receiver in the NFL. If he has another big year, his projected draft grade will likely be high, so he may want to think about jumping to the NFL.
12. Indianapolis Colts
Rashan Gary, DT, Michigan. If Andrew Luck is still dealing with health issues by the time the 2019 draft rolls around, the Colts will seriously have to think about taking a quarterback here. But assuming his 2018 is better than his 2017, finding impact talent for the team's defense will likely be top priority in next year's draft. Gary has massive upside as an interior pass rusher, something this defense is sorely lacking coming out of the 2018 draft.
13. Arizona Cardinals
Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama. The Cardinals would be smart to sit Josh Rosen out for an entire year, not because he necessarily needs the development, but because he might be damaged beyond repair playing behind this offensive line. Let Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon take the hits, then grab a franchise left tackle in the 2019 draft like Williams, who moved to the blind side in 2017 and showed well there.
14. Seattle Seahawks
Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson. I'm done projecting the Seahawks to invest early draft picks in the offensive line, no matter how bad it gets. But I also think late-round pick Jamarco Jones could be a steal that quickly develops into a starter at tackle. Wilkins is a top-tier talent but fighting several other top defensive lineman (including some on his own team) to emerge as a top-10 overall prospect.
15. Detroit Lions
Raekwon Davis, DT, Alabama. The Lions should almost certainly be expected to use this pick on defense in 2019, and there should be great defensive talent available up and down the first round of the draft. Perfect example: Davis is our fifth defensive tackle off the board, yet he brings a fantastic ability to disrupt the pocket (10 TFL, 8.5 sacks in 2017) and the short passing game at 6-foot-8.
16. Tennessee Titans
David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin. The Titans have to pay Taylor Lewan a massive contract or lose him in free agency after 2018. If they do, it could make Jack Conklin too expensive to keep, maybe even on his $15 million-plus option year in 2020. Here they plan for the future at the position with yet another talented Big Ten lineman in Edwards.
17. Carolina Panthers
Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss. The Panthers are going to be in bad shape on the offensive line heading into next offseason after ignoring the unit entirely in the 2018 draft. Top priority is retaining right tackle Daryl Williams, and almost as important is finding a quality left tackle who can take over for Matt Kalil. Little has the potential to be the top tackle drafted with a great 2018, and he seems like the type who could wow at the combine.
18. San Francisco 49ers
Devin White, LB, LSU. The 49ers passed on addressing their LB issue in Round 1 to take an offensive tackle, which is fine, because you absolutely have to protect your big-money quarterback. But if they're picking in the teens in 2019, they could definitely find some talent at the position. White tallied 133 total tackles in 2017 and led the nation in tackle assists, seeming to be in on every stop for the Tigers.
19. Atlanta Falcons
Beau Benzschawel, G, Wisconsin. Let's go ahead and assume Matt Ryan and Jake Matthews aren't going anywhere. That could leave the Falcons looking for help at guard after not drafting any offensive linemen this year. This likely won't be a particularly good class for interior offensive linemen, but Benzschawel might be worthy of a first-round pick.
20. Los Angeles Chargers
Will Grier, QB, West Virginia. It's likely would have been a Day 2 pick at best had he come out this year, and with a big 2018, he could solidify a place in the first round in 2019, possibly as high as the top of the draft. He would be a great option to apprentice under Philip Rivers for a year before taking over as the next big L.A. quarterback in 2020.
21. Dallas Cowboys
Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina. The Cowboys drafted a nice receiver in Michael Gallup but should still be looking for impact players at the position. The 2019 draft could be a good place to find starting-caliber receivers in Round 1. Samuel missed most of his junior year with a broken leg but still managed six combined TDs (three receiving, one rushing, two as a return man) in three games.
22. Baltimore Ravens
Josh Allen, LB, Kentucky. The Ravens could face a huge need to bring in front-seven talent on the defense next year, with Terrell Suggs possibly calling it a career and C.J. Mosley scheduled for free agency. Allen is a versatile linebacker who could end up attacking from the edge or playing inside at the pro level. Think Haason Reddick from the 2017 draft.
23. Minnesota Vikings
Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn. The Vikings made a great move in signing Sheldon Richardson to add to their ferocious defensive line, but he was only signed on a one-year deal. If he's looking for a bigger contract in 2019, he might have to find it elsewhere. The Vikings could take advantage of the high-end talent at the position by taking a guy like Brown, who had 57 total tackles, including 9.5 for loss, in 2017.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars
Shea Patterson, QB, Michigan. The Jaguars could be shopping for their next franchise QB next year if Blake Bortles doesn't up his game in 2018. Any QB could come in and sit behind Bortles for a year before taking over in 2020. Patterson was ruled eligible for 2018, so he'll get the opportunity to prove he should be a first-round pick in 2019.
25. Green Bay Packers (from NO)
Collin Johnson, WR, Texas. The Packers will probably have two late first-rounders after landing the Saints' pick in a 2018 draft-day deal, and it would be fascinating if they used one on a quarterback to be the Aaron Rodgers to Rodgers' Brett Favre. However, this draft order has them making a deep playoff run, and I'd expect them to then address a more immediate need and chase a Super Bowl. The Packers signaled in this draft that they're looking for size at receiver, and if none of their Day 3 picks looks like a locked-in starter, adding the 6-foot-6 Johnson would make sense.
26. Houston Texans
Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State. The Texans picked up a few nice pieces in the draft, better than could have been expected considering their lack of early picks. Now the priority is re-signing Jadeveon Clowney and Bernardrick McKinney so they can spend this draft looking for talent on the offensive line, particularly at tackle. Dillard had a great year as Luke Falk's blindside blocker, and he could be a guy who wows at the combine on his way to being an early pick.
27. Kansas City Chiefs
Michael Dieter, G, Wisconsin. The Chiefs loaded up on defensive prospects in the 2018 draft, and they should spend next year looking for long-term starters on the offensive line. Dieter is a guy with better upside as a guard than a tackle, but the option is there to try him at tackle first and see if he can eventually replace Eric Fisher. Either way, the Chiefs should be able to land a starter in front of Patrick Mahomes with this pick.
28. Los Angeles Rams
Austin Bryant, DE/LB, Clemson. The Rams stockpiled Day 3 picks in the 2018 draft, using three of their 10 picks on Saturday to take shots on edge rushers. If the position in still a need heading into next year's draft, they could find great talent late in the first round thanks to the depth at edge rusher. Bryant is one of four Clemson defensive lineman taken in this mock draft. Yes, they're that good up front.
29. Green Bay Packers
Joe Jackson, DE/LB, Miami. These projections put Green Bay in the NFC title game, which means a massive season for Aaron Rodgers and probably excellent play from the young corners they landed in the 2018 draft. If they can re-sign Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, that leaves the team looking for talent in the front seven. Jackson had 11.5 tackles for loss last year and would be a fine replacement for impending free agent Clay Matthews.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers
Anfernee Jennings, ILB, Alabama. The Steelers could have used talent both at inside and outside linebacker in the 2018 draft and got nothing at either position. Part of that is where they were picking, as they saw four potential targets, including Rashaan Evans, come off the board ahead of them. Here they get another Alabama linebacker to address the issue, as Jennings should also be a first-round pick if he can show his knee injury from 2017 isn't an issue.
31. Philadelphia Eagles
Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State. The Eagles have Mike Wallace as their latest one-year receiver, but if they want to look more long-term at the position in 2019, Campbell makes a lot of sense. He doesn't have attention-grabbing stats in that Buckeye offense, but he certainly has the potential to be an impact starter at the next level.
32. New England Patriots
Zach Allen, DE, Boston College. I though Sam Hubbard would have been a good pick for the Patriots in the 2018 draft; consider this one in that same vein. Allen is an excellent run defender on the edge, and he's had 25.5 tackles for loss over the last two seasons as well as 100 total tackles in 2017 alone. He could grow as a pass-rusher at the NFL level and give the Patriots a great defensive lineman to build around.