Easily the most interesting thing Brandon Beane said last week at the Senior Bowl was this: “This year we’re in the top 10 and we don’t need to be.”
That certainly sounds like the Buffalo Bills’ general manager is sending out a signal to other NFL teams that he’s open to shopping the ninth overall pick in a move down. Doing so would give the Bills more opportunities to fill the needs on their roster while at the same time building depth.
“It’s funny how it all works out,” Beane said. “It’s nice to be able focus a little more of our energy on all the positions.”
Beane’s willingness to move down significantly shapes The Buffalo News’ first mock draft of 2019. Here’s a look at how the first round might unfold April 25.
1. Arizona Cardinals. Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State. Next to quarterback, the most important position for an NFL team might be pass rusher – those players who can make life miserable for the opposing signal caller. That describes Bosa, who has occupied the top spot in plenty of mock drafts for months.
2. San Francisco 49ers. Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky. The SEC Defensive Player of the Year broke out with a 17-sack senior season. The 49ers have invested heavily on the defensive line in recent years, but still don’t have a game-changing pass rusher. Allen could be just that.
3. New York Jets. Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama. Similar to how the Jets stayed put and drafted Leonard Williams when he slid to them, the same thing happens in this scenario with Quinnen Williams. New defensive coordinator Gregg Williams would love to form a Williams Wall in the middle.
4. Oakland Raiders. Clelin Farrell, EDGE, Clemson. Have I mentioned how important it is to have pass rushers in today’s NFL? Farrell will be looked at as the Raiders’ Khalil Mack replacement, so he’ll have plenty of pressure on him right at the start of his NFL career.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan. Gary has the physical tools to put on a show at the NFL scouting combine, which could move him up into the top five of the draft. The Buccaneers could move on from Gerald McCoy this offseason, which means this pick would fill a need.
6. New York Giants. Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State. Nearly a year later, it’s still unbelievable the Giants passed on Sam Darnold, despite how great running back Saquon Barkley was as a rookie. General Manager Dave Gettleman gets a chance to fix that mistake by taking a quarterback this year.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars. Jonah Williams, OL, Alabama. We’ll list Williams as an offensive lineman because he’s got the ability to play either tackle or guard. The Jaguars have a roster built to win now, so even though they need a quarterback, they’re more likely to find that in free agency – Ryan Tannehill, anyone?
8. Detroit Lions. Devin White, LB, LSU. White compares to Roquan Smith, who went eighth overall last year and had an excellent rookie season for the Chicago Bears.
9. Denver Broncos (projected trade with Buffalo Bills). Drew Lock, QB, Missouri. The Bills and Broncos almost swung a trade last year so that Buffalo could move up to select Josh Allen. That fell apart when Bradley Chubb was still on the board. The two teams get a deal done this year, with the Broncos giving up a third-round pick to move up and secure Lock.
10. Washington Redskins (projected trade with Buffalo Bills). Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma. Another move down! It makes sense for the Bills, though, given the reasoning mentioned above. Not needing a quarterback is a good spot to be in for Buffalo. Needing a quarterback is exactly why Washington makes the move here, to get ahead of similarly needy teams like Cincinnati and Miami.
11. Cincinnati Bengals. Ed Oliver, DT, Houston. Oliver was once in the running to be the No. 1 overall pick, but has slid down recently because of concerns about his size (6-foot-2, 290 pounds). Still, he would provide plenty of help for the league’s worst defense in 2018.
12. Green Bay Packers. Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State. Character concerns – Simmons pleaded no contest in 2016 to punching a woman – drop him out of the top 10.
13. Miami Dolphins. Greedy Williams, CB, LSU. Do the Dolphins reach for a quarterback like Duke’s Daniel Jones here? It’s a possibility, but with the expectation that Brian Flores will become their coach after the Super Bowl, we’ll give them help on the defensive side of the ball. Williams, who grew up in Shreveport, La., and is close with Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White, would give Miami a pair of stud corners, joining Xavien Howard.
14. Atlanta Falcons. Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson. This pick is based on the possibility of Atlanta losing Grady Jarrett in free agency. Wilkins would be an adequate replacement.
15. Buffalo Bills (projected trade with Washington Redskins). Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma. The long wait for Bills fans ends with Beane getting some protection for Allen. Ford has the flexibility to play tackle or guard, which is good news for the Bills, who have needs at both of them. Ford has just one season as a full-time starter, so experience is a bit of a concern, but he’s loaded with potential. The cost for the Redskins to move up based on the trade value chart is 250 points, which is equivalent to a high third-round pick.
16. Carolina Panthers. Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida. The Panthers finished 27th in sacks in 2018, so they need to add some pressure off the edge. Enter Polite, who had 11 sacks and six forced fumbles for the Gators.
17. Cleveland Browns. D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss. Pairing Metcalf with receiver Jarvis Landry and tight end David Njoku would give quarterback Baker Mayfield plenty of weapons to choose from. Metcalf’s medical evaluation at the NFL scouting combine will be key after he suffered a neck injury in 2018.
18. Minnesota Vikings. Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss. A former five-star recruit, Little didn’t always live up to expectations in college, but he’s got the physical traits NFL teams look for.
19. Tennessee Titans. Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State. Sweat had a good Senior Bowl week and would fill the hole in the Titans’ lineup created when Brian Orakpo retired.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers. Devin Bush, LB, Michigan. The Steelers haven’t really been able to replace Ryan Shazier. Bush might be able to do that. How he measures at the combine will be important. He’s listed at 5-foot-11 and 230 pounds, and there are rumors he’s even smaller than that.
21. Seattle Seahawks. Brian Burns, LB, Florida State. Burns had 10 sacks for the Seminoles in 2018. He might be able to play defensive end in the NFL, which is a potential big need for the Seahawks if they lose Frank Clark in free agency.
22. Baltimore Ravens. A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss. It’s a tradition unlike any other – projecting a wide receiver to the Ravens in the first round. It makes sense here, though, given that quarterback Lamar Jackson needs more weapons.
23. Houston Texans. Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia. The Texans need to retool their secondary, and Baker would be a good start. Offensive line help could also be in play here.
24. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago). Kelvin Harmon, WR, N.C. State. First the Raiders replaced Khalil Mack, now they try to replace Amari Cooper with the first-round pick they got from the Bears for Mack.
25. Philadelphia Eagles. Oshane Ximines, DE, Old Dominion. This would be a cool story, with Ximines becoming the first Old Dominion player to ever be drafted. He had 12 sacks in 2018, and the Eagles potentially have a need at pass rusher depending on what happens in free agency.
26. Indianapolis Colts. Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma. The NFL is all about offense, so it makes sense to keep adding weapons for quarterback Andrew Luck. Brown is a burner who would take some of the pressure off T.Y. Hilton on the other side.
27. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas). Noah Fant, TE, Iowa. This pick hinges on the Raiders’ ability to re-sign tight end Jared Cook. If they can’t, Fant would fill a big need.
28. Los Angeles Chargers. Dexter Lawrence, NT, Clemson. The massive 350-pounder would shore up the Chargers’ run defense, which was exposed in their playoff loss to New England.
29. Kansas City Chiefs. Byron Murphy, CB, Washington. You don’t need a dominant defense to win in today’s NFL, but you at least need a competent one. The Chiefs didn’t have that last year, so it makes sense to address that here.
30. Miami Dolphins (projected trade with Green Bay, pick via New Orleans). Daniel Jones, QB, Duke. The Dolphins make a move to get ahead of the possibly-in-the-quarterback-market Patriots to select Jones, who won the Senior Bowl MVP on Saturday.
31*. Los Angeles Rams. Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State. The expectation is Ndamukong Suh will move on in free agency, and the Rams get a replacement here.
32*. New England Patriots. Raekwon Davis, DL, Alabama. Who are we kidding? The Patriots will likely trade out of this spot. For now, though, we’ll give them some help along the defensive line.
*-Draft position is dependent on the outcome of the Super Bowl.