On the Clock: NFL Mock Draft 1.0, Picks 11-20

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11.Cincinnati Bengals (6-10) - Devin White, MLB, LSU

Team Needs: MLB, RT, TE, QB

 Three years removed from making six playoff berths in seven years, Cincinnati is looking for a fresh start in the post-Marvin Lewis era. As a former quarterback and quarterback coach, newly introduced Head Coach Zac Taylor has a quarterback decision on his hands.

Unless a team in need like Washington or Miami attempts to trade for the 31-year-old Andy Dalton, or the team outright cuts him, Dalton will be wearing black and orange until he hits free agency in 2021.

Cincinnati needs more than a solution at quarterback to claw their way out of perpetual mediocrity. Whoever lines up under center in 2019 is going to need an improved offensive line, and the defense could use a new leader of their own. Middle Linebacker Vontaze Burfict has been a perennial headache for the franchise and his play no longer justifies his antics. Preston Brown was brought in last offseason to be their long-term answer but finished his season on the Injured Reserve.

The Bengals fill their most pressing need with White, who in his Sophomore and Junior year had a combined 250+ tackles, 26 TFLs and 7.5 sacks.


12.Green Bay Packers (6-9-1) - Jachai Polite, OLB/DE, Florida

Team Needs: OLB, RG, SS

 For as great as Aaron Rodgers is, he can only carry 52 guys so far. The Packers’ draft-day struggles have led them astray from their traditional “build from within” policy. Though Green Bay is expected to compete for a playoff spot year in and year out, their depth chart has deteriorated since their 2011 Super Bowl.

If Rodgers is going to find success in the last leg of his career, the Packer’s need to invest in the right side of their offensive line in the early goings of the 2019 draft. The greatest needs, though, may come on the other side of the ball. The defensive line struggles against the run, Clay Matthews is no longer an elite edge defender, and the pairing of 22-year-old cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson have yet to produce alongside 35-year-old safety Tramon Williams.

 The Packers’ have two tries to right the ship in the first round. With their first, they should select the Florida product fresh off an 11.0 sack, 19.5 TFL year. Polite, with a similar body type as Matthews, may be his successor.


13.Miami Dolphins (7-9) - A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss

Team Needs: CB, WR, QB?

With Ryan Tannehill on the field, the Dolphins have consistently hovered around .500, which is decent for an AFC East team not in New England. Unfortunately for Miami, Tannehill has ended each of the last two seasons on the sideline. Even when healthy, the 30-year-old has yet to establish himself as an above-average quarterback. If it hasn’t happened by now, it isn’t going to. This may be Tannehill’s last chance to prove that he is a starting quarterback in the NFL. In this mock draft, the quarterbacks worthy of a top-15 selection are no longer available and the Dolphins are forced to turn their attention elsewhere (until 2020).

With this pick, Miami gives their offense the most talented wide receiver in the 2019 class and a great complement to Devante Parker. Between their new wide receiver duo and backfield pairing of veteran Frank Gore and future starter Kenyan Drake, the Dolphins have as much offensive talent as they have had in recent memory.


14.Atlanta Falcons (7-9) - Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

Team Needs: DT, CB, TE

 The only upside to the Falcon’s wasted year was that it netted them a top-15 pick. Atlanta’s team has grossly under performed since the 28-3 Super Bowl collapse and may face multiple key departures in free agency in the coming months. Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett is reportedly looking for Aaron Donald-level money (6 years, $135 million) and running back Tevin Coleman is likely to leave for a starting role elsewhere.

Had Jeffery Simmons, the 21-year-old Mississippi State defensive tackle, not torn his ACL in pre-combine workouts he would have been the pick here. The Falcons stick with a defensive tackle and select Clemson’s Dexter Lawrence. The Junior standout was an integral cog in the best defensive line in the NCAA; if Jarrett suits up in black and red next year, Lawrence may find himself again on the best defensive line in his league.


15.Washington (7-9) - DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia

Team Needs: QB, FS, CB

The early news coming out of Alex Smith’s camp is not good. A brutal compound lower leg fracture in November may hold Smith out for the better part of 2019 (if he is able to come back at all), and leaves Washington without a starting-caliber quarterback. Luckily for GM Doug Williams, quarterbacks are in a buyer’s market this offseason. The Broncos showed their hand early into the new year, trading for Joe Flacco and making Case Keenum expendable and available for a late-round pick. With the top three quarterback prospects spoken for, Washington spins the free agency wheel. Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jacoby Brissett are all in play here. For the record, Nick Foles would be a good fit. However, Washington wouldn’t be able to swing his $20 million tag in addition to Smith’s salary, and the Eagles would rather trade Foles out of the NFC North.

Instead of reaching to satisfy a need, Washington takes the best man-to-man corner in the draft out of Georgia. Josh Norman is 31 years old and is creeping past his prime. This pick fills a future need.


16.Carolina Panthers (7-9) - Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State

Team Needs: DE, OL, FS

 In 2018, the Panthers were a middling team in a stacked NFC South. A stout offensive line and defensive poise have all but evaporated since the team’s run to Super Bowl 50. Quarterback Cam Newton may appreciate more help along the offensive line, but instead Carolina will opt to fortify the defensive side of the ball.

The Panthers take advantage of a strong defensive line class and fill their need with the best player available. Montez Sweat slides into the end position vacated by the now-retired Julius Peppers across from 31-year-old Mario Addison. The 6’6 Sweat was responsible for 30 TFLs and 22.5 sacks in his previous two seasons and is a handful on the edge.


17.Cleveland Browns (7-8-1) - Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss

Team Needs: OT, WR, MLB

Well, well, well… Look who’s picking outside the top ten. Cleveland has not had their first pick land outside the top ten since 2015 (15th) and have had multiple top-32 draft picks in five consecutive seasons. The beer fridges opened, and so did the flood gates. Since the 2018 #1 overall pick’s debut, the Baker Mayfield-led Browns finished 7-7, closing out the season 5-2, and resembling an actual NFL franchise for the first time in years.

As good as year 1 of the John Dorsey rebuild was, there is still much left to do to turn this team into a playoff contender. Just because Baker Mayfield has escapabillity doesn’t mean the offensive line should test him. Selecting a franchise left tackle while kicking Greg Robinson out to right tackle would solidify a formidable offensive line anchored by veterans LG Joel Bitonio and RG Kevin Zeitler.


18.Minnesota Vikings (8-7-1) - Cody Ford, OG/OT, Oklahoma

Team Needs: OG, DT, OLB

With both Sheldon Richardson and Anthony Barr looking for new contracts, free agency will loom large in the front office’s draft strategy. However, one thing is for certain: if the next $56 million of Kirk Cousins’ three-year contract is going to go smoother than the first $28 million, he’s going to need major help along the front line.

Though Oklahoma's offensive line won the Joe Moore Award (given to the best offensive line in college football) with Ford at tackle, his 6’4 340 lb. frame translates better to guard in the NFL. The Vikings could use his versatility on the line. Ford could be a plug-and-play starter at guard from day one.


19.Tennessee Titans (9-7) - T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa

Team Needs: OLB, TE

2018 marks three straight 9-7 campaigns and the Titans appear to be treading water in the AFC South. Tennessee boasts the 3rd best scoring defense (18.9 ppg allowed) in the league. While they will have to replace veteran OLB Brian Orakpo this season, they look like strong contenders to finish in the top-5 again next year. Offense (19.4 ppg) is a different story. After posting a 45-19 TD-INT ratio in his rookie and sophomore seasons, franchise quarterback Marcus Mariota has followed with just 24 touchdowns and 23 interceptions over the last two injury-riddled years.

Mariota’s numbers may be due in part to a lack of weapons. Corey Davis, Tajae Sharpe, and Taywan Taylor have all underwhelmed, Delanie Walker is oft-injured, and aside from a 61-yard touchdown catch, Jonnu Smith was a non-factor. Enter T.J. Hockenson. The 21-year-old out of Iowa is exactly what Tennessee covets; a capable blocker and solid route runner. A new security blanket for Mariota could be the driving force behind a resurgent offense in 2019.


20.Pittsburgh Steelers (9-6-1) - Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma

Team Needs: MLB, WR?, CB

In the span of just two years, the Steelers may see three of their franchise cornerstones leave town. Linebacker Ryan Shazier’s spine injury looks to be career-ending, Pittsburgh franchise-tagged Le’Veon Bell out the door, and Antonio Brown is looking to talk his way out of that same door. James Connor has filled Bell’s role admirably but the hole at linebacker has been problematic. Assuming Antonio Brown is traded, the Steelers will need a young route runner opposite Juju Smith-Schuster.

In this mock draft, the Steelers grant their 2nd all-time wide receiver a trade and immediately draft his younger cousin. This won’t happen… Right? Marquise Brown’s height, weight, and playing style would seem eerily familiar in Heinz Field. Like his cousin, Brown is able to turn any amount of separation into a 30 yard catch-and-run.

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