The 2018 regular season has been put to bed, so now it's officially 2019 NFL Draft season. For the 20 teams that missed the playoffs, the focus turns toward upgrading rosters through free agency, the draft ... and trades.
That's right, the T-word. Since there's a 0.0 percent chance the top 20 picks as they stand now will be with the exact same teams by the time Day 1 of the draft is a wrap, why wouldn't we include trades where they make sense when it comes to building a mock draft?
The problem is that this early in the game, it's impossible to get a read on where particular players will land, what teams will do in free agency, etc. So most people ignore trading when building a mock this early. But I'm not most people. I'm the guy who spends an insane amount of time building a seven-round mock draft complete with trades all the way down.
So while I'll acknowledge that the first week of January is too early to project most trades, I think there's one notable exception: the quarterback position. Teams jockey for QBs at the top of the draft more than anything else, because there's nothing more critical to building a winner than finding the right franchise quarterback. So even this early, I think we can look for a trade that makes sense for the top QB on the board. You can find my mock trade in the No. 4 spot below.
1. Arizona Cardinals
Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State. Bosa has been the clear No. 1 prospect for most, if not all, of the 2018 season, and he would be a great fit opposite Chandler Jones to give the Cardinals a dangerous pass rush. I could also see them auctioning off this pick and targeting offensive line help if they move down. But someone would have to blow them away to pass on Bosa.
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2. San Francisco 49ers
Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky. Allen could have entered the draft last year but the odds were slim that someone would have taken him in the first round. Now, unless he has a terrible predraft season, he's almost certain to go in the top five after a year where he doubled his sack total (to 14) after adding weight.
3. New York Jets
Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama. With the path to more playing time cleared, Williams exploded as a sophomore, racking up 18 tackles for loss and eight sacks. He'd be a great fit in a 4-3 or 3-4 alignment, and the scheme the Jets will run is in flux after Todd Bowles was relieved of his duties following the season. It doesn't matter how the Jets line up; "Q" is capable of wreaking havoc wherever you put him.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (OAK mock trade)
Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State. Yes, the Bucs say they're sticking with Jameis Winston at QB next year, but it's possible they fall in love with Haskins during the predraft process and target him at No. 5. There's also going to be multiple teams in the 7-15 range jockeying to trade up for him even if the Bucs aren't in. Ultimately, the Giants are behind the eight ball without a third-round pick, while the Jaguars have two thirds, which makes it easier to package a Day 2 pick this year with No. 7 and a 2020 pick to hop to No. 4 for the talented Ohio State signal-caller.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Greedy Williams, CB, LSU. The Bucs slid into the top five at the buzzer in Week 17, and that sets them up well to land the top corner in the draft to replace Brent Grimes, who's a free agent. Williams has excellent coverage skills and should only get better as he develops. The Cardinals made LSU corner Patrick Peterson the No. 5 pick eight years ago, and the Bucs would be wise to to tap that same well here.
6. New York Giants
Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama. The protection on the offensive line was nothing but a rumor for much of 2018, and if the team is going to put themselves in the best position to succeed, addressing those issues should be priority No. 1. Williams doesn't have the arm length many teams crave, but he makes up for it with his technique. The best part is he doesn't have to come in as a blindside blocker with the Giants, as he can adjust to the NFL at right tackle before an eventual move to the left side in 2020 if Nate Solder doesn't live up to his contract.
7. Oakland Raiders (JAC mock trade)
Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson. The Raiders are stocked with draft picks as they look to rebuild the organization under Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock. But since it's clear the rebuild is in full-force, why not trade down for more picks? The good news for the Raiders is that the draft is replete with impact defensive linemen, so they can feel comfortable trading back from No. 4 if a Bosa or Allen is off the board and still getting a huge talent. Ferrell has 36.5 tackles for loss and 21 sacks over his last two seasons, but he's also an excellent run defender and would give Oakland a three-down talent on the line.
8. Detroit Lions
Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan. Gary hasn't put up massive sack numbers at Michigan, but that's because that's not his job. He excels at setting the run on the edge but can still offer some pass-rush talent from the interior, and he would give Matt Patricia another versatile piece on an underrated defensive line as someone who can play end on rush downs and potentially move inside in pass-rush situations. If your D-line features Gary, Da'Shawn Hand, Damon Harrison and A'Shawn Robinson, you're doing something right.
9. Buffalo Bills
Ed Oliver, DT, Houston. The Bills said goodbye to a fixture on the interior of the defensive line on Sunday in Kyle Williams, so why not use this pick on someone who can be the same thing for the next decade? Oliver is an absolute monster at blowing up inside blocking, as his 53 tackles for loss in three seasons attest. He's drawn the inevitable Aaron Donald comparisons, and while he has a ways to go to have that type of impact, that's a pretty nice ceiling on a ninth-overall pick.
10. Denver Broncos
Drew Lock, QB, Missouri. Some look at Drew Lock and see Patrick Mahomes. Others see Paxton Lynch. Or Jay Cutler. Or Josh Allen. Or even Matthew Stafford, by our own Chris Trapasso. Which comparison is closest? The only thing that matters is what Broncos brass sees when they look at Lock, and we know they are in fact looking, with John Elway recently scouting the Missouri quarterback. The Broncos decided to pass on Josh Allen and Josh Rosen last year, but I think they take the plunge at QB in the 2019 draft.
11. Cincinnati Bengals
Devin White, MLB, LSU. The Bengals need to find a new piece to build around at linebacker, as Preston Brown is heading into free agency, Vontaze Burfict's career is in jeopardy due to his seventh concussion and 2018 third-round pick Malik Jefferson hasn't shown he can take over as "the guy." The athletic White has everything you want in a middle linebacker, and letting him man the middle while Jefferson tries to play the weak side could take this defense to the next level.
12. Green Bay Packers
Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida. The Packers are going through a coaching transition, and it's impossible to say what their defense will look like in Week 1. But if they stick to the 3-4, Polite would be an excellent way to boost their pass rush on the edge. He had 11 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss as a junior before heading to the NFL, and while he probably isn't a three-down player initially, he addresses the biggest weakness of the Green Bay defense from Day One.
13. Miami Dolphins
Daniel Jones, QB, Duke. The Dolphins are in the midst of a transition period after sacking Adam Gase, and GM Chris Grier refused to give Ryan Tannehill a vote of confidence after the season. I think the Dolphins are ready to blow it up on offense, and the most likely scenario will see them bring in a cheap veteran to compete with a first-round pick like Jones, who beat up Temple in the Independence Bowl and should be ticketed for a pick in the top half of the first round.
14. Atlanta Falcons
Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia. Baker has experience playing in all types of coverages, and while he didn't post gaudy interception totals at Georgia, his ball skills are top-notch and he's a disruptive force for receivers trying to make a play. The Falcons will be healthier next year on defense (how can they not be?) but the cornerback position is one that needs to be addressed after the team's awful numbers against the pass.
15. Washington Redskins
Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama. Washington has issues to address at safety, and with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix just a rental as he enters free agency, the team will feel pretty lucky if Thompson is still available at No. 15. He has the opportunity to be one of the best centerfield prospects in the game, though he can man up when called upon as well. You're not going to find many with his range at the safety position.
16. Carolina Panthers
Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss. The Panthers just saw what happens when you have major problems on the offensive line, as Cam Newton was limited by a shoulder injury in the second half that ultimately caused him to be shut down early. Daryl Williams and Ryan Kalil are free agents, and Matt Kalil has no business starting even when healthy. The Panthers have to go best offensive lineman available if they care about Newton's health at all moving forward.
17. Cleveland Browns
Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State. Defensive tackle isn't the Browns' biggest need, but having Simmons fall out of the top half of the draft would be too big a steal to pass up. He's disruptive as a penetrator, and while he doesn't have the size to be a true nose tackle, he was used that way by Mississippi State and has experience dealing with double teams. And he still managed 27.5 tackles for loss in his last two seasons. A defensive interior featuring Simmons and Larry Ogunjobi just isn't fair for opposing offensive lines.
18. Minnesota Vikings
Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida. Taylor could rocket up boards if he tests well over the next few months, but at bare minimum I expect him to go in the middle of the first round with the crushing need for offensive line around the league. He could develop at tackle or move inside to guard but, surprise, the Vikings need upgrades in both spots. I'd give him a shot at right tackle to start and see how his athleticism translates.
19. Tennessee Titans
Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State. The Titans smartly started building for the future of their edge rush in the last draft by taking Harold Landry, and now they give him a running mate with Brian Orakpo retiring and Derrick Morgan a free agent. There's no question what you bring Burns in to do: get after the quarterback. He's an ideal fit for a 3-4 team at his size, but his explosiveness will make him difficult to handle for all but the most athletic of offensive tackles.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
Byron Murphy, CB, Washington. The Steelers must find another capable cornerback to play alongside Joe Haden if the defense is going to take the next step. Murphy is a smart player capable of handling man-to-man or zone coverage, and his anticipation on routes should have him on the highlight reels often as he chases pick-sixes. Once teams get a good look at him, we could see him jump well beyond this spot in the first round.
21. Philadelphia Eagles
Devin Bush, LB, Michigan. The Eagles will ideally find a quality cornerback like Baker or Murphy with their pick, but winning their way into the playoffs may have put them out of range for either. Jordan Hicks has been a foundational player when healthy, but he's had trouble staying on the field and may not be worth bringing back in free agency. Enter Bush, who can play on all three downs and is a great mover in open space who can chase down the ball-carrier.
22. Indianapolis Colts
Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State. Sweat might not be a prototypical 4-3 defensive end at his size, but that's where he plays his best and that's how his NFL team will likely use him. The Colts showed last year they're not scared by undersized 4-3 DEs, taking Kemoko Turay in the second round when many expected him to go to a 3-4 team. Sweat has posted double-digit sacks in back-to-back seasons and is also a quality run defender, so if you look past his size and slightly advanced age (he'll be 23 as a rookie), there's plenty to love.
23. Seattle Seahawks
Zach Allen, EDGE, Boston College. I can't see the Seahawks letting Frank Clark walk, but even if he returns the team has to do more on the defensive line. Allen is a monster as a run defender who wins more with power than finesse, and while he has three straight seasons with double-digit tackles for loss, the prominent sack numbers haven't been there. He's still a fine base end who can kick inside in pass-rushing situations.
24. Los Angeles Chargers
Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson. Wilkins put together another fine performance as a senior to solidify his stock in the first round. Dexter Lawrence may be a more physically imposing presence at his size, but I think teams will value Wilkins' versatility and technique a little more. The Chargers need more talent on the line between Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, but the good news is the late first round should be prime space to find it.
25. Oakland Raiders (via Dallas)
D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss. The Raiders must find a No. 1 receiver after trading Amari Cooper for this pick, and while there isn't anyone worthy of the team's first first-rounder, there should be multiple talented pass-catchers vying for position in the bottom half of the first round. Metcalf's season was ended early by a neck injury, but his upside as an outside receiver gives him the edge as the best at his position heading into the predraft process.
26. Baltimore Ravens
Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn. The Ravens should look to boost their talent on the defensive line in the first round considering the caliber of the position in this draft class. Brown would be an interesting piece on the Ravens' versatile front, and with his athleticism the team can move him around and take advantage of his developing skills.
27. Houston Texans
Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia. The Texans absolutely have to make upgrading at tackle their No. 1 priority this offseason after Deshaun Watson was sacked an NFL-worst 62 times during the regular season. The best option will likely be to trade up into the teens in order to get an unquestioned first-round talent, but if the Texans stay put, Cajuste is one guy who could emerge as a first-rounder as a left tackle prospect.
28. Oakland Raiders (via Chicago)
A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss. Why stop at one Ole Miss receiver when you can have two? The Raiders' depth chart at receiver is abysmal, so if Gruden and Mayock are committed to building around Derek Carr, I can see them tapping the receiver well twice late in the first round to give him the best chance to succeed. Brown and Metcalf should complement each other well at the NFL level. The Raiders also picked up an extra Day 2 pick by trading down earlier, and they can focus on addressing other needs at that point.
29. New England Patriots
Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson. The Patriots declined the 2019 options of Malcom Brown and Danny Shelton last offseason, and the team will need someone to play next to Lawrence Guy. Trey Flowers also bounces to the inside on pass-rush downs, but he's a free agent as well. Lawrence would step in as the huge presence on the line that the team was looking for out of Brown and Shelton, but one with more upside.
30. Los Angeles Rams
Oshane Ximines, EDGE, Old Dominion. The Rams went into the season with questions about their edge rush capabilities, and while they totaled 41 sacks, exactly half of that total came from defensive lineman Aaron Donald, with Ndamukong Suh next on the team at 4.5 sacks. Ximines would bring that pass-rush ability at outside linebacker that would make the Rams' front even harder for offensive lines to defend.
31. Kansas City Chiefs
Amani Oruwariye, CB, Penn State. The Chiefs should be looking to bring in talent all over the defense this offseason after hitting the jackpot at quarterback, and one spot that bears attention is cornerback, where Kendall Fuller can handle the slot but a pressing need exists on the outside. That's where Oruwariye comes in as a cover corner who can handle man coverage on the outside with his size and ball skills.
32. Green Bay Packers (via New Orleans)
Dre'Mont Jones, DL, Ohio State. The Packers should have plenty of options to boost the edge rush with their first first-round pick, and here they should have a similar wealth of options to play on the interior of the defensive line after signing Muhammad Wilkerson to only a one-year deal last offseason. Pick your favorite out of Jones, Raekwon Davis or Jerry Tillery, but I'll take Jones thanks to his upside.