It’s that time of the year again, folks. The time where we think we all know what we are talking about with the cream of the crop headed to the next level. We get to debate and mock what we think will happen for a very long two and a half months without any real football being played.

This is my first mock draft of the year. I will be writing one up for after the combine, and also the week of the draft. Let me know where I’m right and where I’m wrong in each of them and keep an eye out for other Belly Up Sports content regarding the draft.

  1. Arizona Cardinals: EDGE Nick Bosa – Ohio State

Bosa is potentially the most talented player in the draft and it just so happens that one of Arizona’s biggest needs is an edge rusher who can put pressure on their quarterback-heavy division. Bosa is incredible in terms of technique and is extremely quick and great with his hands. This is a no-brainer for the Cardinals.

2. San Francisco 49ers: DE Rashan Gary – Michigan

At 6’5, 280, Rashan Gary is incredibly agile and would be an instant upgrade to an up and coming 49er defensive front. Though he was the number one player in the 2016 recruiting class, his career did not live up to expectations due to Michigan’s reluctance to use him correctly. Gary still has potential to be a game-changing type of player, one San Fran’s defense desperately needs.

3. New York Jets: EDGE Josh Allen – Kentucky

Allen’s gamble to return to Lexington for his senior season paid off (literally) after having a monster season for the Wildcats, recording 14 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss. The Jets need to find a way to pressure opposing quarterbacks due to their top two rushers only combining for 14 total sacks in 2018.

4. Oakland Raiders: EDGE Montez Sweat – Mississippi State

Jon Gruden and the Raiders will have to find a way to replenish the defensive production they lost after sending Khalil Mack to Chicago a week before the 2018 season began. Montez Sweat will be a solid start in doing so. Sweat recorded double-digit sacks over the last two seasons, which is a remarkable accomplishment in the SEC West. He has also helped his draft stock rise, after an impressive Senior Bowl week.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DT Quinnen Williams – Alabama

The Bucs will be receiving a steal with Williams falling to five. Tampa Bay’s defense is already impressive, but adding one of 2018’s most dominant players in college football to it will help the Bucs compete with the NFC South’s high-powered offenses.

6. New York Giants: QB Dwayne Haskins – Ohio State

The Giants are kidding themselves if they really believe Eli Manning is still a legitimate quarterback in the NFL. While the offensive struggles are not his fault alone, he does not add any kind of spark or ability to extend plays. Haskins would provide a much needed bridge to a new era for the Giants’ offense.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: OL Jonah Williams – Alabama

Yes, they are in dire need of a quarterback here. The Jags may even be the most QB-desperate team in the league. The Jags had Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler disguised as NFL quarterbacks in 2018 and have to move on. However, with Haskins going to NYG at six, it may behoove Jacksonville to grab an offensive starter here instead. The case could be made for Drew Lock here, but Jonah Williams could be an immediate starter. Look for Jacksonville to either go after Nick Foles or Joe Flacco in the offseason or draft a guy like Will Grier in the late 1st or early 2nd round.

8. Detroit Lions: CB Greedy Williams – LSU

Despite only being a redshirt sophomore, Greedy Williams is the best CB in this draft class. His impact may not be immediate, but Williams could be a top 5 corner in three or four years and that is worth the grab here at eight.

9. Buffalo Bills: OT Jawaan Taylor – Florida

Josh Allen had to run for his life all year long and even missed a few games because of it. Jawaan Taylor is a very quick lineman who can hang with a quarterback that likes to move around and extend plays, like Allen. Taylor is also very strong, which makes him a very versatile and valuable offensive lineman.

10. Denver Broncos: QB Drew Lock- Missouri

Finally, John Elway drafts a legitimate QB1 for the Broncos. Drew Lock can make all of the throws and is incredibly bright, mentally. To me, Lock is the most NFL-ready quarterback in this draft and he could start for Denver within the first month of the 2019 season.  

11. Cincinnati Bengals: LB Devin White – LSU

Cincinnati would be getting an absolute steal here with Devin White at 11 overall. White possess elite speed, explosiveness, and is consistently the first one to meet the ball carrier. Aside from balance issues with tackling, Devin White is the prototypical inside linebacker, something the Bengals desperately need.

12. Green Bay Packers: DE Jachai Polite – Florida

The Packers addressed their atrocious secondary in last year’s draft with two corners in the first two rounds. While I expect them to continue improving the secondary through the draft, Green Bay will first find their replacement for Clay Matthews with Florida DE Jachai Polite. Polite has an incredibly high motor and drive that is present during every play he’s on the field. He also is incredibly fast and has a knack for getting to the quarterback as he had 11 sacks for the Gators in 2018. Despite being slimmer than most NFL defensive ends, Polite can still hold his own in run support and will be a force in the NFC North for years to come.

13. Miami Dolphins: QB Daniel Jones – Duke

The Dolphins are likely to move on from Ryan Tannehill after moving on from Adam Gase. Daniel Jones is an outstanding football mind, an attribute guys like Brady, Brees, and Manning hold. Also similar to Manning, Jones was coached in college by David Cutcliffe, who is regarded as one of the best quarterback coaches to do it. Daniel Jones has an impressive ability to put nice touch on his passes, but lacks great arm strength. Then again, 41-year old Tom Brady doesn’t have the strongest arm either, and he just played his 9th Super Bowl.

14. Atlanta Falcons: DT Ed Oliver – Houston

Ed Oliver to Atlanta is a match made in heaven. Oliver has Top 5 talent with his size and injury history being the only concerns. However, Oliver makes up for his lack of size with an ability to out leverage and overpower most guys he faces. Atlanta’s number one issue is the defensive line and Oliver would make an immediate impact on day one.

15. Washington Redskins: QB Will Grier – West Virginia

Ah, the first real shock of the draft. Every year, teams will overdraft quarterbacks, especially in weak QB drafts like this one. After the gruesome injury this year to Alex Smith, Washington will be in the market for a quarterback. They learned their lesson on taking run-first QBs with RGIII back in 2012, which will be why they pass on Kyler Murray. Will Grier is, in my opinion, the most   underrated quarterback in this class and will prove to be a steal here. Grier can make all of the throws and is a “gamer”. He makes things happen when it counts and will prove to be a great pick for the ‘Skins.

16. Carolina Panthers: WR D.K. Metcalf – Ole Miss

Cam Newton finally gets the big, strong, and fast receiver that it seems he’s never had. Metcalf is arguably the best WR in this draft class, boasting incredible power and ability to release from coverage. Metcalf will be the NFL’s next top tier receiver.

17. Cleveland Browns: DT Christian Wilkins – Clemson

It’s hard to see a talent like Wilkins falling this far, but due to this class being incredibly deep, teams will scurry to find talent in other positions first. Wilkins finished his college career at Clemson with 40.5 sacks, having two seasons with double-digit totals. He is technically advanced and will become a key component to a d-line that already has one of the best pass rushers in the game in Myles Garrett.

18. Minnesota Vikings: OL Cody Ford – Oklahoma

The Vikings need to be able to protect their (overpaid and overrated) quarterback they signed last offseason. Cody Ford is one of the top offensive linemen in the country and will add a nice blend of strength and athleticism to the Viking offensive line.

19. Tennessee Titans: WR N’Keal Harry – Arizona State

The Titans need a big time weapon on the outside for Marcus Mariota. Harry is the prototypical NFL outside possession wide receiver, something the Titans have been lacking significantly for years. Tennessee has been lethargic on offense and the seat is getting warm for Mariota. An extra weapon, like Harry, would be ideal for him and the Titans.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: LB Devin Bush – Michigan

The Steelers’ defense has been a shell of what it traditionally has been, especially in the front seven. Devin Bush reflects that old “Steel Curtain” attitude as he is not afraid to put a hat on anyone. Bush is an extremely physical player with an ability to back off into coverage as well, if needed. 

21. Seattle Seahawks: CB Byron Murphy – Washington  

The “Legion of Boom” is a thing of the past now in Seattle, but Byron Murphy can be the first step to creating the second version. Murphy is a steal here at 21, but due to the overwhelming talent at other positions, Seattle will get tremendous value. Murphy is polished and ready to start on day one, with potential to be a top five corner in a couple years.

22. Baltimore Ravens: WR A.J. Brown – Ole Miss

The Lamar Jackson experiment is in full force in Baltimore and that means they will need to add quite a few more weapons for him to work with. A.J. Brown can be a very solid first step in doing so. Brown resembles Pittsburgh’s JuJu Smith-Schuster a lot as a big slot type of receiver. Brown is an exceptional route runner but lacks any tremendous speed. Jackson isn’t the best pure QB by any means and so short, but solid routes can be very beneficial to the passing game for the Ravens.

23. Houston Texans: OT Greg Little – Ole Miss

Houston’s biggest downfall all year has come at the offensive line. An offense loaded with offensive talent hasn’t been able to reach its full potential, and that’s because of the offensive line issues. Greg Little would be an immediate upgrade.

24. Oakland Raiders (from CHI): CB Deandre Baker – Georgia

The Raiders go defense again with their second of three 1st round picks. Deandre Baker is an extremely talented DB that has exceptional man coverage skills. Baker’s biggest concern is his lack of long speed, which can be made up for by his ability to jam receivers off the line and then hang with them through great man coverage.

25. Philadelphia Eagles: EDGE Clelin Ferrell – Clemson

The Eagles have a very solid defense already, however, the potential retirement of Chris Long could make Clelin Ferrell the pick here. It’s a shock that he falls this far in this draft, however, this is a defensive line-heavy draft. Ferrell is very technically sound, and possess incredible hand usage. He blends that technique with exceptional power.

26. Indianapolis Colts: DT Jeffery Simmons – Mississippi State

Again, this draft class is loaded at defensive line. Most years, Simmons is a top 10 pick. Regardless, the Colts will be getting tremendous value here. Simmons is explosive off the line and can cause major disruption against any defensive line.

27. Oakland Raiders: WR Marquise “Hollywood” Brown – Oklahoma

The Raiders go defense in their first two picks, but still need to address their lackluster options on offense. Marquise Brown is electrifying and explosive and always has a chance to break a game wide open, which is what Oakland needs. There are some concerns due to his lack of size, but we have seen other smaller players make significant impacts for their teams in recent years.

28. Los Angeles Chargers: DT Dre’Mont Jones – Ohio State

The Chargers get a special athletic talent at DT with Jones in the late 1st round. While he is undersized and struggles against the run, he holds incredible movement which could benefit in pass rush. While he’s listed currently as a DT, don’t be surprised if he’s moved to the EDGE position.

29. Kansas City Chiefs: FS Deionte Thompson – Alabama

If Kansas City’s defense was just a tier better, they would likely have been in Atlanta this past weekend for the rematch with the Rams. Instead their home, watching with the rest of us. Deionte Thompson is the first step towards the Chiefs take in correcting that. Thompson is very physical and does not shy away from any sort of contact. Add in his great size and athleticism and he can be an immediate impacting player in 2019.

30. Green Bay Packers: TE Noah Fant – Iowa

Jimmy Graham’s impact has been steadily declining the last few years and Aaron Rodgers is in desperate need of help around him. Noah Fant is a similar type of player to Jimmy Graham and can help make 12’s life easier.

31. Los Angeles Rams: LB Mack Wilson – Alabama

LA’s defense is loaded with talent, however, the linebackers lack significant depth and can certainly use any kind of upgrade. Mack Wilson is incredible against the run and athletic enough to make an impact against the pass. Wilson was often the best player on the field in Alabama’s 2018 campaign, which is saying a lot in the SEC.

32. New England Patriots: EDGE Zach Allen – Boston College

Zach Allen is your typical New England Patriots type of player. Overlooked, not the most athletic, but incredibly coachable and gives 110% effort on every play. Allen also possess adequate size at 6’5, 285 pounds. Allen could be an impactful player to the Patriot defense for years to come.

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