Unpredictable is a good word to describe the 2019 draft.
That starts at the top, with the Arizona Cardinals still not saying who they plan to pick first overall on Thursday night, and continues through the ninth selection, which the Buffalo Bills currently hold.
Defensive end? Tight end? Defensive tackle? Offensive tackle? Wide receiver? General Manager Brandon Beane could go in a number of directions with his first-round pick, which is exactly what he wants.
“Yeah. I like that,” he said. “I don’t want to be sitting here with a major hole. If you have a major hole at a spot that’s just glaring, that ‘Joe Fan’ or ‘Joe Media Writer’ knows you need – that if you don’t get it in the first round, especially at a position that would be considered thin – I think it would be harder to play poker, so to speak, to what your plans are. I like it. I know there’s a lot of stuff out there. Everybody has a mock."
That’s true. And here is The Buffalo News’ final look at how the first round could play out Thursday night:
1. Arizona Cardinals. Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma. Will they or won’t they? That’s the question around the NFL surrounding the Cardinals and Murray. The thinking here is that the pairing of new coach Kliff Kingsbury with his hand-picked quarterback just makes too much sense. It’s obviously not ideal that Arizona spent the 10th overall pick on Josh Rosen just last year, but they should be able to get decent value back in a trade.
2. San Francisco 49ers. Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State. The 49ers brought Bosa out for an official pre-draft visit and met with him after Ohio State's pro day. Bosa to the 49ers is almost universal in mock drafts. Even though the 49ers have spent first-round picks in three of the previous four drafts on defensive linemen, it shouldn’t stop them from taking Bosa, who many believe is the best player in the class. It’s reminiscent of the Detroit Lions continually drafting first-round busts at wide receiver before adding Calvin Johnson.
3. New York Jets. Josh Allen, LB, Kentucky. There has been a lot of buzz lately about Ed Oliver being the pick here, but he doesn’t appear to be a great fit for defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ 3-4 scheme. Allen is an outside linebacker who specializes in rushing the passer, setting up a Josh Allen vs. Josh Allen scenario twice a year when the Jets meet the Bills.
4. Oakland Raiders. Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama. If Bosa isn’t the top-ranked player on most draft boards, Williams figures to occupy that spot for some teams. This isn’t a pick to replace Khalil Mack, but rather one to hopefully find the next Aaron Donald.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Devin White, LB, LSU. The Buccaneers lost Kwon Alexander in free agency, and White is an obvious replacement, if not an upgrade. Three-down linebackers are valuable for a defense, and White is the best in this year’s draft. This is another one of those makes-too-much-sense picks.
6. New York Giants. Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State. Here is where the draft gets interesting. Will the Giants pass on a quarterback here, thinking they can get one at 17? That’s risky given all the quarterback-needy teams between No. 10 and No. 15. It’s better to play it safe and get a quarterback now.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars. T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa. An offensive tackle is also in play here, but Hockenson would be considered a safe pick. He fills a need and the chances of him busting are thought to be low.
8. Atlanta Falcons (projected trade with Detroit). Ed Oliver, DT, Houston. Fearing the Bills will grab Oliver, the Falcons move up from No. 14 to give Grady Jarrett a running mate at defensive tackle or prepare for Jarrett’s eventual departure, since he’s scheduled to play 2019 on the franchise tag.
9. Buffalo Bills. Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama. We’ll list Williams as an offensive tackle here, even though some – like NFL Network lead draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah – think Williams’ best position in the NFL will be inside. If the Bills are taking him at No. 9, however, that would indicate a belief he can play tackle. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll will have a pretty good idea of that, having coached Williams during the 2017 season at Alabama. Williams comes across as a “process” guy through and through. His versatility would open a lot of possibilities along the offensive line. Perhaps he starts off at guard before eventually shifting to tackle. Or maybe he challenges Dion Dawkins for the starting job at left tackle right off the bat. The Bills have had plenty of chances to give Dawkins a vote of confidence, but have been lukewarm in doing so since the 2018 season ended. With Oliver and Hockenson – both of whom I expect to be in consideration by the Bills – off the board in this scenario, adding more protection for Allen makes sense.
10. Denver Broncos. Noah Fant, TE, Iowa. Every previous mock draft this season has had Missouri quarterback Drew Lock going here, but maybe John Elway is serious about riding Joe Flacco in 2019. He shouldn’t be, but maybe he is. At least Fant would give Flacco a mismatch target.
11. Cincinnati Bengals. Drew Lock, QB, Missouri. Lock doesn’t have to wait long after being passed over by the Broncos. The Andy Dalton Era in Cincinnati has neared its end, and new coach Zac Taylor should get his choice of quarterbacks to build around. Lock has a cannon, but might not be ready to play right away. That makes the Bengals an ideal landing spot if Dalton sticks around for one more year.
12. Carolina Panthers (projected trade with Green Bay). Andre Dillard, LT, Washington State. Stop me if you’ve heard this before – the Panthers need more protection for Cam Newton. There is thought to be a significant drop-off after the top three offensive tackles go, so the Panthers move up to make sure they don’t miss out.
13. Miami Dolphins. Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida. The thinking here is that the Dolphins will be the team that lands Rosen in a trade. If that’s the case, and a deal is struck before the draft, getting protection for him would become a bigger priority. Taylor could step in at right tackle opposite Laremy Tunsil, giving the Dolphins a good start in that regard.
14. Detroit Lions (projected trade with Atlanta). Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan. Gary is one of those players who could be drafted way earlier than most projections. It only takes one team to fall in love with his physical gifts, even if his production at Michigan didn’t always translate.
15. Washington Redskins. Daniel Jones, QB, Duke. So much for 2019 being a down year for quarterbacks. It’s not the four chosen in the top 10 like last year, but four going in the top 15 isn’t too shabby. Jones played in college under David Cutcliffe, whose work with the Manning brothers is well respected.
16. Green Bay Packers (projected trade with Carolina). Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson. New coach Matt LaFleur might want a pick on the offensive side of the ball, but Green Bay has another first-round pick coming. Getting Wilkins at this point would be good value, and plug a hole on defense.
17. New York Giants (from Cleveland). Brian Burns, Edge, Florida State. The Giants traded Olivier Vernon this offseason, so beefing up the pass rush figures to be an early priority. A wide receiver is an option here, but that need can be filled early in the second round.
18. Minnesota Vikings. Garrett Bradbury, C, North Carolina State. The Vikings might be interested in moving up for one of the top tackles, but instead get a center who might be drafted higher than many expect. The Vikings’ starting center last year, Pat Elflein, was the lowest-rated starter at his position, according to analytics website Pro Football Focus.
19. Tennessee Titans. Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson. Coach Mike Vrabel reportedly spent plenty of time scouting edge rushers at pro days leading up to the draft. In Ferrell, he’d be getting one who had 21 sacks over the past two seasons.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers. Devin Bush, LB, Michigan. Cliché alert! The Steelers would sprint Bush’s card to the podium if he is still on the clock.
21. Seattle Seahawks. Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State. Sweat’s heart condition has led to some buzz that he could fall out of the first round. This pick is obviously dependent on the Seahawks being OK with his medical report, but if they are, it’s a potential steal. It also becomes a bigger possibility following Tuesday's trade of Frank Clark to the Chiefs.
22. Baltimore Ravens. D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss. A wide receiver has to go at some point in the first round, right? Metcalf averaged 21.9 yards per catch last year. That would give quarterback Lamar Jackson a legit deep threat.
23. Houston Texans. Cody Ford, OT, Houston. This is a need-based pick, but the Texans have no choice. They have to do a better job up front for quarterback Deshaun Watson. Ford played left guard, right tackle and left tackle in 29 college games, so he can move around in search of his best position.
24. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago). Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama. Even if Marshawn Lynch comes back, it’s likely for just one more season. Jacobs could split time or show that he’s ready to be the top option right away.
25. Philadelphia Eagles. Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple. The Eagles don’t go far to find the best name in the 2019 draft, making Ya-Sin the first cornerback taken, setting off a run on the position in the process.
26. Indianapolis Colts. Byron Murphy, CB, Washington. His slow 40 time (4.55 seconds), might drop him some, but Murphy produced at a high level in just two seasons with the Huskies, breaking up 13 passes last year.
27. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas). Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia. Baker plays with an edge, which will go over well with Raiders coach Jon Gruden.
28. Los Angeles Chargers. Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson. If one of the quarterbacks falls, don’t rule them out here. It might be time for GM Tom Telesco to find Philip Rivers’ heir. That doesn’t happen here, though, so Telesco uses the pick on Lawrence, a hulking, 340-pounder. The Chargers could use help on both lines, although the run on offensive tackles leaves defensive tackle the better option.
29. Seattle Seahawks (from Kansas City). Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame. With the pick acquired in the trade for Clark, the Seahawks continue to rebuild their defensive line.
30. Green Bay Packers (from New Orleans). Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama. Thanks to last year’s trade with the Saints and the earlier projected move down with the Panthers, Green Bay has plenty of draft capital to maybe move up in the first round if they want a wide receiver like Metcalf. If they stay put, Smith would fill a need, even if it might be a little higher than some have him projected.
31. Los Angeles Rams. Erik McCoy, C/G, Texas A&M. The thinking here is the Rams would love to trade out of this spot, but with no obvious trade-up partner, they opt to find a replacement for Roger Safford on the interior offensive line.
32. New England Patriots. Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State. This would be a total Bill Belichick move. The Patriots have never been shy about taking players with off-the-field issues, and Simmons qualifies in that regard. He’s likely to miss the 2019 season with a torn ACL suffered during pre-draft training, but some analysts believe on talent alone, he’s one of the five best picks in the draft. New England can afford to wait for him.