Who me? I’m a nobody. Just a guy. I’m not Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, the GM of the Raiders, or any other schmo getting paid to write NFL draft fan fiction. Those guys may give you a long list of reasons as to why Team X is gonna select Player Y — “I watched the film” and “I talked to my sources” and “I know a guy who knows a guy who hacked Dwayne Haskins’ venmo account” — but you won’t find that from me.
I watched five college football games all season long and they all involved Washington State so that means I know even less about college football than if I had watched no games at all. But I know plenty about mock drafts.
I started writing mock drafts when I was a teenager and for me that’s usually the best place to keep mock drafts. Not only did I not know anything but I also had the super power of being a teenager which meant that I believed I knew everything. I believed I could pick 25 of 32 first round selections correctly and then made excuses (trades! draft day slides! weed gas masks!) when I only got five. The difference between 19-year-old me and somewhere-in-his-50s-I-assume-but-maybe-60s? Kiper: I can admit that my five correct guesses were as justifiably accurate as if I had gotten 25 right.
Whether you get one, five, ten, fifteen, twenty-five, or 100-percent of your mock draft correctly, you either got lucky or unlucky. Even as I write this and 99% of mock drafts have the Arizona Cardinals selecting Kyler Murray first overall, there is a much greater than 1% chance that that won’t be the first overall pick. Either because the Cards don’t pick Murray first or the Cards don’t pick first or in the case of the Houston Texans selecting Mario Williams and not Reggie Bush, most people weren’t even close.
When a player is selected first overall, then we’ll have 100% accuracy on who the pick was. As of today, there is not “X%” chance of anything happen unless you happen to have Arizona’s inside knowledge, then you can probably influence the numbers in your favor. Everyone else, including the San Francisco 49ers at pick two, are totally in the dark.
So good luck with that if you’re trying to reason your way to an accurate mock draft by watching tape and texting brother-in-laws. I have a much better strategy:
I know that it doesn’t matter. I can just use my best common sense as a fan of the NFL who has watched these organizations do weird and fine things on draft day for the last couple of decades and then pair that with what I’ve read about prospects who might go in the first round.
I wasn’t going to do a mock draft at all because I never do mock drafts but I think I avoided it partly because it’s a lot of work with zero ability to defend your choices with any more accuracy than 19-year-old me or older-than-me Kiper. It’s just impossible. Kiper’s entire living 365 days a year is to get the draft right and he’s still going to be wrong most of the time. He does the job that ESPN pays him to do and clearly ESPN does not pay him to accurately predict the draft because if they did, they’d be like the Cincinnati Bengals funding Marvin Lewis’s great great great great grandchildren’s education.
But who would they replace him with? Take your pick from anyone around the world because while it would be easy to be intentionally bad at a mock draft, there is no way to be intentionally good at it.
I can, however, try to use my common sense and see what happens. It won’t be accurate, but neither will the mock written by anyone else.
1. Arizona Cardinals - Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
The Cards were once spared the curse of Ryan Leaf because in 1998 they were building around Jake Plummer. So instead they traded down one spot and added a second, a future first, and two players. Leaf probably wouldn’t have worked out for them, but neither did Plummer. The only point that really matters is that Arizona needs to find a real franchise quarterback. Murray symbolizes that more than Josh Rosen does and if they can find a trading partner for Rosen in the first round, they have to consider it and I also think that Rosen is more appealing than every quarterback in this draft except for Murray.
And you know that’s important because I know almost nothing about the quarterbacks in this draft. But I do know that Rosen played on the worst team in the NFL and I don’t really entirely blame him for his awful rookie season.
I also believe that the Cardinals would happily let the rumor out there that they plan to select Murray just to lock in a better trade return for the number one pick. The teams with the best ammo and incentive are the Raiders and Giants. If the Cards pulled a Mario and drafted Nick Bosa, I’d expect the 49ers to pull a Luigi and scream “wahoo!” as they slide down the draft in a trade for someone who sees their chance to grab Murray.
2. San Francisco 49ers - Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Their team is bad. Support for the pair running the show is nothing more than excuses masquerading as praise. They need help everywhere and Bosa would be a first overall pick most years. It does sort of feel like Arizona drafting a quarterback when they have a quarterback; it’s not as though the 49ers’ biggest issue was their defensive line or having prospects to grow there.
Even though the Cards and Niners would be getting great prospects here, it’s potentially a relief in the NFC West if they didn’t address their biggest needs. At least, in the short term. In the long term, both of these players seem like they’ll be good.
3. New York Giants - Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State (TRADE)
The Jets don’t have a second round pick and I can’t see them being in a position at three where they can’t find an equally valuable prospect three spots later. They move down with the Giants and New York secures a quarterback ahead of the Raiders. The Giants give up pick 37 but they have an extra first rounder (17) that gives them some insurance as well as another opportunity to trade down.
4. Oakland Raiders - Josh Allen, DE/OLB, Kentucky
Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock are not in a rush for a quarterback, actually. They’ll stick with Derek Carr and try to build up the team before using their 2020 stock pile (two firsts, two seconds) to acquire a franchise signal caller. The worst pass rushing unit in the NFL adds a guy who I think I’ve read is the best pass rusher in the draft outside of Bosa.
This is just sensible, I think.
5. Denver Broncos - Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama (TRADE)
When they announce that John Elway has traded up from 10 to 5, you’ll hear instant speculation that it was for a quarterback. Drew Lock? Daniel Jones? A justifiable top-five selection of Gardner Minshew???
And like happens every year, the position guess will be way off.
Instead, Elway notices that Williams drops out of the top four and moves ahead of the Jets to secure him, giving up pick 47 and swapping fourth rounders, letting Denver move up about 20 spots on day three. Elway saw his team get better when he added a veteran QB in 2012 — and he’s already done that by acquiring Joe Flacco. Now he wants to do what happened in 2014-2015: improve the defense and the front seven.
Williams now playing on a defense with Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, and Derek Wolfe? Yeah, I could see them trading up for that. It’s got some good sense.
6. New York Jets - Ed Oliver, DT, Houston (TRADE)
I almost had the Jets trade down again but fun fact: we’re already getting into prospect names that I know barely anything about. Oliver, I know about. Most of these next guys? Hey, you’re guess is as good as mine! Literally.
PFT had the Jets taking Oliver at 3. Great, I have them getting him at six plus they get back into the top of the second round.
7. Washington - Daniel Jones, QB, Duke (TRADE)
I’ve seen plenty of “team is trying to move up” rumors that have meant nothing and plenty that turned out to be true. Rumors that Washington wants to move up make — sense — so why not go with it? I picked a quarterback based on how interesting his college is and a football player coming out of Duke is interesting. He also fits the part for Washington in that he’s a quarterback in this draft. Washington has picks 46, 76, and 96. The cost of moving up from 15 to 7? It’ll probably cost them a 2020 first round pick regardless.
The reason for Jacksonville moving down will come later.
8. Detroit Lions - Devin White, LB, LSU
Don’t think there’d be a ton of argument against this. The Lions defense continues to bore but with this they’d now have added White, Justin Coleman, and Trey Flowers.
9. Buffalo Bills - Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
Okay, sure, why not. Tell me why it wouldn’t make sense!
10. Miami Dolphins - Drew Lock, QB, Missouri (TRADE)
Knowing the Bengals could take a quarterback at 11, Miami moves up three spots (pick 78+2020 2nd?) and a fourth QB goes off the board in the top 10. This feels like quite a lot, especially given the perceived temp of the class, but does it also kind of feel like 2011 with Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, and Christian Ponder?
The talk centering around the value of a rookie QB is so loud right now that it would not at all be surprising to me to see teams move up and secure QBs. It’s what I predicted in 2017 — that three QBs would go in the first round and they’d all be traded up for — and I was able to do that because I’m so smart. Or because I got lucky.
11. Arizona Cardinals - Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama (TRADE)
I’ve advocated for the Cardinals holding onto Rosen because he’s got more value as a backup quarterback to them than he might have as a mid-second round pick in trade return. It just depends on what they’re getting offered, of course. But if they get the opportunity to get back into the first round near this point, I think they have to take it, because the Cards are still a horrible team with little to help Murray once they draft him. So if they get this chance, they have to take it.
The question is: would this pick be available if they didn’t sacrifice more than Rosen? I have Arizona potentially surrendering Rosen and pick 33 to move up to 11 and pick an offensive tackle who might actually help them protect Murray next season.
For the Bengals, the team moving out of pick 11 here, they get a new young quarterback for rookie head coach Zac Taylor to work around and one who is potentially better as a prospect than every QB in this class except for Murray. Arizona gets a tackle, Cincinnati get a quarterback and slides all the way back to 33. That might be optimistic for Cincy...or for the Cardinals... depending on what way you’re looking at it. My way: this is all just for fun so don’t overthink it.
12. Green Bay Packers - T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
The Packers have already invested so much in the defense — Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Adrian Amos, Jaire Alexander, Josh Jones, Kevin King have all been added since 2017 — that they might need to do more on offense than “Aaron Rodgers will take care of it.” Green Bay has clearly pointed some attention towards tight end (Jimmy Graham, Marcedes Lewis) but Hockenson could potentially be their star at the position for the next decade.
I don’t know, that’s something I hear mock drafters say all the time so it sounds just as good coming out of my fingers.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma (TRADE)
I felt comfortable moving Tampa Bay down from five to 13 because they had a lot of needs and defensive line wasn’t high among them, so I think they could move down and still get a player they could really use. In my fan fiction, they add a 2019 second and third plus a 2020 second.
The Bucs are bad all over, but especially on offense, and from what I’ve read Ford could slot into several roles along the line based on what’s needed.
14. Atlanta Falcons - Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
Sometimes you just go with your gut when your gut says “That name sounds like it would have that team name said after it.” And that’s what happened here.
15. Jacksonville Jaguars - Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple
This is pretty much just me making a pick that I want a lot of people to disagree with because every year there are multiple first round picks that if you mocked it you’d be mocked relentlessly. People don’t have Ya-Sin as the number one corner and not going in the top-15 and not going to a team that has Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye already ... and that’s exactly why I’m doing it.
It makes sense for the Jags to move down in this class because they don’t need the defensive linemen, they could use more picks like anyone else, and I don’t think they’ll wind up with a prospect that they didn’t need. Even if it’s the third-rated cornerback.
16. Carolina Panthers - Brian Burns, DE/OLB, FSU
Man, I don’t know his measurables or what the Panthers are looking for in an edge rusher but yes, this is 100% accurate right here.
Now that we’re at the midway point, time to review best players available based on different lists I’m looking at online:
Rashan Gary, Clelin Ferrell, Andre Dillard, Byron Murphy, Garrett Bradbury, Erik McCoy, Nasir Adderley, Jerry Tillery, Jeffrey Simmons, Devin Bush, Montez Sweat, Noah Fant, N’Keal Harry, Parris Campbell, Josh Jacobs, Greg Little, Kaleb McGary, Greedy Williams, A.J. Brown, Jaylon Ferguson, Dexter Lawrence, Marquise Brown, Johnathan Abram, Deandre Baker, Dalton Risner. And so on.
My favorite part of a mock draft is the 20s, because I’d estimate that accuracy is close to 5%, if not below. It’s so terrible that if we ever took the time to look back at mock picks in the 20s and 30s with any amount of responsibility for those choices, we’d maybe have a greater understanding of how useless mock drafts are when it comes to applying a factor of predictability.
Stop applying predictability to your mock drafts. Anyways, here’s me predicting the last 16 picks of the first round.
17. New York Giants - Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State (from Browns)
They got the quarterback they wanted but probably still plan to start Eli Manning this season so what are they doing to try and improve the 2019 team? The offensive line still needs help.
18. Oakland Raiders - Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan (TRADE)
Felt like it had been awhile since I made a trade. Once the Raiders see Gary fall outside of the top-10, they make a move with pick 24, moving up six picks. This will be a little tricky because they don’t have their third rounder, but they could potentially swap second rounders with the Vikings (Minny moves up from 50 to 35) and a little bit more.
19. Tennessee Titans - Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
Just felt like linebacker was the right call?
20. Pittsburgh Steelers - Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
One of the things that I like about this pick is that the Steelers and the Hawkeyes have similar team colors.
21. Indianapolis Colts - Byron Murphy, CB, Washington (TRADE)
I made this deal because it gave the Seahawks the best return. I am super biased and you should never forget that.
Sure, Murphy makes sense for the Colts. So do a lot of other players. Like, as soon as you’re making an argument for someone, you’ll find some reasons to justify it. Indianapolis could use a stud number one cornerback and I’m not sure that former Seattle corner Pierre Desir will fill that role. And even if he does, then what’s the harm in having two of those?
I wonder if the Seahawks will use their new pick at 29 as incentive to jump even further down the charts than they usually would, so I have them moving down from 21 to 34 (Indy via the Jets) and acquiring the Colts other second round pick at 59. They move down 13 picks and add in a late second round pick. Of course, Seattle could choose to trade down again at 34 to add in more day three picks and maybe even day two.
I think you could also argue that there’d be fear of a run of defensive backs in the late first round and get ‘em while the gettin’s good.
22. Baltimore Ravens - Jeffrey Simmons, DL, Mississippi State
I know the Ravens have a negative association with players who have a history of violence against women (or violence in general) but the Chiefs just acquired Frank Clark and paid him $105 million. I’m guessing a lot of mock drafters are talking about how the Ravens don’t have any good receivers but I assume that’s by design and they’d rather focus on having the NFL’s best defense.
23. Houston Texans - Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
The internet tells me he’s an offensive lineman.
24. Minnesota Vikings - Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson (TRADE)
The Vikings move down in the first but up in the second and they select an interior defensive lineman to play with/behind Linval Joseph and Shamar Stephen. I mean, sure, why not? This makes total sense to me if it happened this way.
25. LA Rams - Montez Sweat, DL, Mississippi State (TRADE)
I don’t feel like Sean McVay and Les Snead are going to be able to sit entirely quiet in the draft right after losing the Super Bowl. Snead loves making big moves and he might feel that pressure and desire to get right back, no matter what it takes. Sweat could be seen as a top-15 pick (from what I’ve skimmed, at least) if not for a heart condition and that leads to cliches like him potentially being the “steal” of the first round.
Or his condition doesn’t allow him to play for long. Or he just doesn’t work out for myriad other reasons. But I could see the Rams trading up for him because nobody can prove that I couldn’t see it. They don’t have a second round pick so they might have to give up picks 96 and 99 to do it.
26. Indianapolis Colts - N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
One of the facts I know about the NFL draft is that N’Keal Harry is a wide receiver. Makes sense for the Colts then! Here they get two out of five picks and they add a little something to the passing game on both sides of the ball. Sounds like another good deal for Chris Ballard.
27. Oakland Raiders - Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama (via Dallas)
You ever think that scouting has become so lazy that we just automatically decide months ahead of time that an Alabama running back will be among the best, if not the best back in the draft? Because it’s not like our evaluations of running backs is even close to accurate anyways. Just throwing some names in there, giving some reasons that mean nothing, and then watching them develop and grow however they develop and grow once you’ve taken the soup and added $6 million to it.
Mike Mayock has never seemed to have an issue taking a running back in the first round and in fact I’d say he was very for it. With their three first round picks, here’s what the Raiders come away with: Josh Allen, Rashan Gary, and Josh Jacobs. The worst defensive line in the NFL will have added two pretty good prospects in a matter of hours, then they add a running back too, for whatever that’s worth.
As far as things I think are possible, this falls into it!
28. LA Chargers - Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
Unless I’m mistaken, Marquise Brown is already a receiver for the Chargers? It sounds like the name of a Chargers wide receiver, at least.
29. Cincinnati Bengals - Clelin Ferrell, DL, Clemson (TRADE)
For all you Hawkheads out there I’m sorry, but I don’t have a pick for you today. Instead I’ve left Seattle with the first two picks on day two.
Remember, the Bengals moved down from 11 to 33 when they acquired Rosen from Arizona. Here they move from 33 to 29 in order to skip over the Packers, Eagles, and Patriots for the right to draft Ferrell, a player some had projected for the top-12. Wouldn’t it make all kinds of sense for New England to wind up with a player like that? Well, the Bengals make another move and slide up four spots to take him instead.
The payback to the Seahawks? Well, there are a few possibilities. The Seahawks could add pick 72 in the third round. Is that enough and should they be the ones who are keen on Ferrell instead of adding another day two pick? Could they also get a fourth or fifth round pick out of the Bengals? And could they consider/pitch a swapping of second round picks (moving up from 59 to 42) based on the previous deal with Indianapolis?
In this scenario, Seattle has gone from having picks 21 and 29 to having picks 33 and 34, as well as picks 59 and 72. These are just some ideas I’m throwing around and not going to happen but what if they did wouldn’t that be crazy and something I could claim I knew would happen?
How would you grade it if the Seahawks turned picks 21 and 29 to picks 33, 34, 59, and 72?
This poll is closed
30. Green Bay Packers - Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware
Nasir is distantly related to Herb Adderley, a Hall of Famer who played cornerback for the Packers and helped them win the first two Super Bowls. I mean, do you need to hear anything more solidly presented as evidence than that?
31. Philadelphia Eagles - Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State (TRADE)
The Eagles move down six picks and add two late round three choices, then still get the player they may have wanted at 25. Which in this case is a receiver that a lot of people kind of assume because Philly reportedly wants a receiver and Campbell is one of those. He also had a pre-draft visit with the Eagles but so what? Those aren’t going to help you predict a damn thing either.
This apparently will stoke the fire to trade Nelson Agholor, an overpaid receiver that you’ll ask if the Seahawks should acquire and no. No, they should not.
32. New England Patriots - Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame
They have so many picks that there’s pretty much no incentive to trade down. In fact, looking at some of the names who could supposedly “fall” (a fake term that doesn’t hold up against logic when you think about it) in this draft, the Patriots may be incentivized to move up if a too-good-to-be-true player falls out of the top-20. In fact, Seattle and New England could end up trading partners at 21 and 32.
The Patriots will take the best player available. And if you’ve been paying attention over the last 20 years, you’ll know that Bill Belichick and the most successful franchise in NFL history over a two-decade span, rarely get a great player with their first pick. That’s why Belichick — and Carroll/Schneider — value quantity over quality. Because you can’t predict these things. Whether you claim to know a lot or admit you know very little, it’s all just a guessing game.