2019 NFL Mock Draft: Why Kyler Murray doesn't make first round grade yet, plus a new tight end for Patriots
Kyler Murray may be a trailblazing QB in the NFL, but he isn't blazing any trails in this mock draft
Spoiler alert: You aren't going to find Oklahoma's Kyler Murray in this mock draft. I'm a huge fan of Murray's, so much so that this year, but I have a difficult time accepting the idea that an NFL team will make him a first-round draft pick. The reasoning for this is quite simple.
The NFL never has before.
Oklahoma lists Murray as 5-foot-10. That could be a bit generous, or he could have been wearing extremely long cleats that day. Still, even if his listed height is accurate, he would still be a trailblazer if he were taken in the first round.
Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, there have been 107 quarterbacks selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Only one of them measured in below 6-foot, and that was Johnny Manziel at 5-foot-11 and 3/4 inches at the NFL combine that season. Aside from Manziel, the only other QB to be even as short as 6-foot was Mike Vick.
Now, the NFL is changing. It's trying to become more like the college game on offense by spacing defenses out. We're seeing a return of shorter players in the game, and it's possible that Murray could be the first experiment with a "short" QB in these new NFL offenses. I'm just not going to predict it happens this year until there's more information out there indicating it will, and in early February, only a couple of days after the Super Bowl, I haven't heard enough to convince me it will.
As for who will be chosen in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, I'd bet 32 other guys will be -- starting with Nick Bosa.
1. Arizona Cardinals
Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State. This has to be one of the deepest drafts at the defensive line position in the history of the game, and even if he missed nearly the entire 2018 season, Bosa will excel at the combine and in team workouts, solidifying himself as the top pick in this draft.
2. San Francisco 49ers
Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky. Allen seemingly came out of nowhere this season to emerge as a top NFL Draft choice. The former two-star recruit had solid campaigns as a sophomore and junior, and then blew up with 17 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss this past year. It's possible that concerns about his run defense hurt his stock, but in my mind, his ability to go get the QB will outweigh everything else.
3. New York Jets
Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson. I have a feeling Ferrell will do nothing but climb draft boards over the next couple of months. He can get off the edge to rush the passer, and set the edge against the run. He's also terrific pursuing the run from the backside. Maybe a better fit for a 4-3 than a 3-4, which will help with Gregg Williams switching the team's base scheme this offseason.
4. Oakland Raiders
Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama. Jon Gruden has a lot of work to do to fix the Raiders, and he has three first-round picks to help him do that. To start, he'll take the best offensive lineman in this class to protect his QB -- whoever that ends up being.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Greedy Williams, CB, LSU. Brent Grimes will be 36 by the time the 2019 NFL season begins. Tampa needs a corner, and it needs one badly. So it drafts the best one available in this class.
6. New York Giants
Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State. The Giants took a lot of flak for taking a RB with the No. 2 pick in last year's draft instead of one of the available QBs, but it works out well for them as they end up getting the best QB in the 2019 class anyway. This pick seems so obvious that it will almost assuredly not happen.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Daniel Jones, QB, Duke. I don't think Daniel Jones is the kind of talent that should be taken in the first 10 picks of an NFL Draft, but he's a QB, and no position is overdrafted more than QB. He has a lot of the same athletic traits that made Blake Bortles attractive to the Jaguars, and he also has a chance to be a more effective passer than Bortles was.
8. Detroit Lions
Devin White, LB, LSU. The Lions could go any number of directions here, and a part of me wonders if they'd be tempted to take Michigan's Rashan Gary. It would make sense, but I think Devin White makes more sense. Won't help much rushing the passer, but he'll do wonders for Detroit's rush defense. Reminds me of Roquan Smith, who the Bears took with this same pick last season.
9. Buffalo Bills
Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama. Williams is a player that likely goes earlier than this in most drafts, but again, the defensive line position is so deep this season. Not that Buffalo will complain about him falling this far. They have a big gap in the middle of their defensive line that they need to fill, and Williams will be an excellent start.
10. Denver Broncos
Drew Lock, QB, Missouri. Last year I looked at Josh Allen as the QB John Elway was most likely to fall in love with. This year that QB is Drew Lock. Big arm, good frame, and questionable accuracy. Still, even if he's not perfect, it's not like the Broncos can rely on Case Keenum to get them where they want to go.
11. Cincinnati Bengals
Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss. I don't know that Little will ever be an All-Pro tackle in the NFL, but I'm fairly confident he'll be a reliable starter on an offensive line for years to come. The Bengals could use that.
12. Green Bay Packers
Cody Ford, OG, Oklahoma. Ford is not a finished product, but I have no doubt there are plenty of NFL offensive line coaches who would love to get the chance to mold him into one. And if he can keep Aaron Rodgers upright, that'd be cool too.
13. Miami Dolphins
Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson. It'll be interesting to see how Dexter Lawrence's PED suspension affects his draft stock. Considering Julian Edelman just won the Super Bowl MVP, I'm going to say it won't. And Brian Flores will be happy to take an uber-talented player to anchor his new defensive line in Miami.
14. Atlanta Falcons
Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson. I have Wilkins projected as the third member of the Clemson defensive line to go in the top 15, which should make you weep for the poor souls tasked with blocking these monsters on the college level the last few years. The Falcons could use a lot of help on defense, and Wilkins is talented enough to help in a lot of areas.
15. Washington Redskins
D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss. Do you know who Washington's leading receiver was in 2018? It was tight end Jordan Reed. Amongst wideouts it was Josh Doctson, who caught 44 passes for 532 yards. This team is in desperate need of playmakers outside, and Metcalf is a physical freak with the talent of somebody who could be a top receiver in the game at some point.
16. Carolina Panthers
Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan. There is debate as to whether Gary is better suited on the inside of the defensive line or as an edge rusher. At Michigan he was mostly used as a former, but I'm somebody who sees a player with the traits of someone who could be quite successful at the latter as well. The Panthers will gladly take this kind of talent at this spot in the draft and figure out the rest later.
17. Cleveland Browns
Ed Oliver, DT, Houston. If we were basing this on nothing more than bobbleheads given out as Heisman promotions, Oliver would be the No. 1 pick. He certainly has the talent to be, but as an interior lineman, he won't be as sexy in the draft. He has a lot of traits that make you think he could be an Aaron Donald type player, with his explosion off the ball and ability to penetrate a backfield. My concern with Oliver is his motor. When he's on he's fantastic, but he's not always on.
18. Minnesota Vikings
Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida. Taylor is a classic result of development and good coaching. He didn't arrive at Florida as a highly-touted prospect, but he was a three-year starter for the Gators and one who improved nearly every season, culminating in a terrific junior season. The Vikings need to improve their offensive line, and Taylor is somebody who could start at right tackle in Week 1.
19. Tennessee Titans
Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State. I love a lot about Sweat as he has good hands and an explosive first step. He's a bit stiff in the hips, however, so I'm not sure he'll develop into an elite pass-rusher, but he can be a reliable one who plays well enough against the run to earn a spot as a starter.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia. If Baker were a little faster I think he'd be a top-10 pick. He may only be 5-foot-11, but he's long, and I love his makeup. He's physical and not afraid to stick his face in places not all corners are willing to tread. Not a shutdown corner, but someone who could become a solid NFL starter.
21. Seattle Seahawks
Jeffery Simmons, DL, Mississippi State. Simmons won't be at the combine due to his history. Before attending Mississippi State, video emerged of Simmons punching a woman. While that should never be excused, Simmons has not been in any trouble since getting to Starkville, and he's been a terrific player on the field. Some teams will be scared off him due to his past, but the Seahawks have taken chances on players like this before.
22. Baltimore Ravens
Kelvin Harmon, WR, NC State. Please get Lamar Jackson a weapon. The Ravens can't run the 2018 NFL version of the single wing forever if they want Jackson to last, and having a weapon like Harmon would go a long way to helping his development as a passer. Harmon is a big target that can fight for balls -- something that could help given Jackson's accuracy issues -- and he's quick enough to get deep too.
23. Houston Texans
Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State. Risner has been a tackle at Kansas State the last three seasons, but I think he'll be better suited at guard in the NFL. Wherever he ends up, he should be an improvement over what the Texans had on a dreadful offensive line last season. Don't let Deshaun Watson die back there. He's too fun when he's upright.
24. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago)
Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida. Polite is not the complete player Khalil Mack was, but very few players are. What he will be, however, is somebody who can immediately help a defense that finished dead last in sack rate last year. The Raiders defense picked up a sack on 2.64 percent of opponent's dropbacks last season. The next lowest rate belonged to the Giants -- at 5.08 percent. Polite won't solve it alone, but he's a significant step forward.
25. Philadelphia Eagles
Byron Murphy, CB, Washington. Washington has done an excellent job of producing NFL defensive backs in recent years, and Murphy is just the latest byproduct of the program. Won't do much to help against the run, and I worry about how his light frame could hold up at the next level, but there's no questioning his cover ability.
26. Indianapolis Colts
Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma. Ideally I'm sure the Colts would like to find a bigger target to pair with TY Hilton in the receiving corps, but they need to find another receiver for Andrew Luck, and the combination of Brown and Hilton with their speed, as well as the emergence of Eric Ebron last season, could give defensive coordinators a lot to think about. I'm not sure you could play your safeties deep enough.
27. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas)
N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State. The Raiders have drafted a new left tackle, and somebody to help replace Khalil Mack. Now they move to get a replacement for Amari Cooper. Harry isn't nearly as polished as Cooper was coming out of college, but he has things you can't teach: size and remarkable hands.
28. Los Angeles Chargers
Devin Bush, LB, Michigan. I'm not entirely sure where the Chargers go here. I'm guessing they'll look to address the offensive line, defensive line or the LB spot with this pick depending on what's available, and amongst those three positions, I think Bush is the best player still on the board. He's a bit small and has trouble shedding blockers, but his quickness and effort level, and a knack for knowing how to shoot a gap, could make him a very effective defender at the next level.
29. Kansas City Chiefs
Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama. The Chiefs need help on defense and I think Wilson is somebody who could provide it. He's a talented player who you know received excellent coaching while at Alabama. Still, as good as he is, like Devin Bush he has difficulty shedding blocks at times. Could also use some more refining as a tackler.
30. Green Bay Packers (from New Orleans)
Jaylon Ferguson, EDGE, Louisiana Tech. Ferguson left Louisiana Tech with more sacks than any other player in college football history. At least since they began tracking sacks, anyway. Sure, the competition he usually saw at Louisiana Tech won't equal what he sees in the NFL, but to me he projects as an edge defender with a high floor, if not the highest of ceilings.
31. Los Angeles Rams
Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State. I don't know if I'd want Dillard as my starter from Day 1, but I think he has a chance to be a solid NFL tackle if he works on how he uses his hands and gets stronger at the point of attack.
32. New England Patriots
T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa. We don't know what the future holds for Rob Gronkowski at the moment, but the Patriots should think about finding a replacement no matter what Gronk decides to do. And Hockenson is a great candidate to be that guy. Like Gronk, he's an excellent blocker when asked to be, and he's just as good at getting out as a receiver. Maybe he doesn't have elite speed, but he sure isn't slow, and he has good hands and size. Noah Fant received more attention as an Iowa tight end with NFL ability. I'm not sure he should have.
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