With the 2019 Scouting Combine in the rearview mirror, the NFL is one step closer to the main event of the offseason: the NFL Draft. As general managers and coaches evaluate the incoming talent, so does On The Clock.
Post-Combine, Mock Draft 2.0 features dramatic player movement on the draft board, team needs and now trades. A number of athletes boosted their stock at the Combine; others didn’t fare as well. Which athletes and teams are on the move?
Note: “Proj. TRADE” denotes trades that have been projected. These have not occurred… Yet.
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17.New York Giants -N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
Team Needs: OL, QB, WR 1.0 Pick: New Trade
Wow. Trading Odell Beckham Jr. may be the Giants way of admitting to the NFL, and themselves, that it’s time for a rebuild. Among the positions on the Giants wishlist is a replacement for Beckham Jr.
Despite measuring in an inch shorter than expected at the Scouting Combine, Harry is still a presence on the outside. A back-shoulder catch expert, NFL scouts primary concern was the Arizona State product’s footspeed and ability to find separation. Harry eased some of those concerns with a 4.53 40-yard dash.
18.Minnesota Vikings (8-7-1) - Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
Team Needs: OL, DT, OLB 1.0 Pick: Cody Ford, OL
Kirk Cousins first season in Minnesota mirrored his last in Washington. Both seasons saw the 30-year-old passer sacked 40+ times and fumble the ball away at least four times. For Cousins to ever live up to the Vikings’ $28 million/year expectations, they are going to have to give their signal caller some help. Running low on cap space before tempting Anthony Barr back from the Jets, the Vikings won’t find their help in free agency.
Minnesota turns their hopes to April’s draft and select the top remaining offensive lineman available, Jawaan Taylor. Taylor falls into the late teens due to his restriction to the right tackle position in his college career. The Vikings snag a capable run- and pass-blocker ready to become a day-one starter.
19.Tennessee Titans (9-7) - Brian Burns, DE, Florida State
Team Needs: OLB, TE 1.0 Pick: T.J. Hockenson, TE
Marcus Mariota’s 55 career starts make him the longest tenured Titans quarterback since Steve McNair (131 with the Titans; 38 as the Oilers).The former Heisman-winner enters his fifth year having regressed in both of his previous seasons. While Mariota’s time in Nashville may be limited, Tennessee brought in Adam Humphries to give the face of the franchise the tools he needs to succeed.
The defense is a different story. Though Kenny Vaccaro was brought in to replace safety Johnathan Cyprien, outside linebacker Derrick Morgan and defensive tackle Bennie Logan have not been resigned. Brian Orakpo’s retirement opens up a large hole in the Titan’s pass rush. Tennessee addresses this need with Brian Burns.
20.Pittsburgh Steelers (9-6-1) - Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
Team Needs: MLB, WR, CB 1.0 Pick Marquise Brown, WR
What a difference a few years makes in the NFL. Ben Roethlisberger is the last “Killer B” standing. Antonio Brown talked his way to Oakland this week and Le’Veon Bell is currently choosing his new team.
However, in this mock, Pittsburgh addresses a more long-standing need. Linebacker Ryan Shazier is still under contract, but he may never play again. Though undersized, Devin Bush’s 4.43 40-yard dash speed and 40.5-inch vertical make him the sideline-to-sideline enforcer the Steeler defense has been missing.
21.Seattle Seahawks (10-6) - T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
Team Needs: OG, FS, DE 1.0 Pick: Jonah Williams, OT
Offensive line has been a weak point for the Seahawks since 2015. Though betting the 2019 season solely on Russell Wilson’s escapability may not be the wise route to go down, Seattle has been content to do just that in the first round of the draft for the better half of the 2010s. This is the year for the Seahawks to break the cycle - sort of.
An average blocker, Hockenson’s lengthy frame will allow him to tack on mass and improve at the next level. The Iowa product’s allure comes from his production in the passing game. Though splitting reps with potential first-rounder Noah Fant, Hockenson won both the Mackey Award and the honor of being the top Big Ten’s top tight end in 2018. In 13 games, Hockenson finished with 49 receptions, 760 yards and six touchdowns.
22.Baltimore Ravens (10-6) - A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
Team Needs: WR, DE, FS 1.0 Pick: N’Keal Harry, WR
With Lamar Jackson as the established quarterback of the future, Baltimore has begun to tailor the offense to his needs. The Ravens are reportedly one of the last two teams standing in the battle for Le’Veon Bell’s services. If Bell finds his way to Baltimore, the Ravens will turn their attention to filling their #1 wide receiver role after cutting Michael Crabtree.
Brown, D.K. Metcalf’s college teammate, was the more refined and productive receiver in their time in Oxford. The draft’s premier route runner, Brown is a rock solid target who will start from day one in the Lamar Jackson-led offense.
23.Houston Texans (11-5) - Chris Lindstrom, OG, Boston College
Team Needs: OL, OT, WR 1.0 Pick: Dalton Risner, OL
Deshaun Watson’s knee injury in 2017, and sack total in 2018, should serve as a wake-up call for Houston. During a campaign which saw the Texans allow a league-high 62 sacks, Houston relied on an offensive line comprised of three former undrafted free agents. Watson would appreciate an infusion of young talent between him and the defense.
A capable run- and pass-blocker, Chris Lindstrom would be a day-one plug-and-play starter in Houston. The four-year starter has the size and experience to match up against the Jaguars front seven twice each year.
24.Oakland Raiders (4-12) – from Chicago - Parris Campbell, WR Ohio State
Team Needs: DE, WR, OL, MLB, OLB 1.0 Pick: Devin Bush, MLB
Before the draft, Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock pulled off arguably the biggest move of the offseason in trading for Antonio Brown. Due to a trade projected in this mock draft, the duo also secured their pass rusher of the future in Nick Bosa. With their two most pressing needs satisfied, the Raiders will take the best player available.
Or will they? Oakland has long had an affinity for speedster wide receivers, but, the Raiders have not selected a wide receiver before the seventh round since taking Amari Cooper 4th overall in 2015. The Raiders get back to their roots by picking a 1,000-yard wide receiver with 4.31 40-yard dash speed to stretch the field opposite Antonio Brown.
25.Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) - Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
Team Needs: RB, OT, DE 1.0 Pick: Josh Jacobs, RB
Jay Ajayi was supposed to be the answer at running back for Philadelphia. Though he is still only 25 years old, an ACL injury forced Ajayi to the injured reserve in his contract year and it is likely that he has played his last game for the Eagles. Ajayi was joined on the injured reserve by Corey Clement and in free agency by Darren Sproles.
With the 25th pick, the Eagles remold their running back by committee. Jacobs, the best running back in the draft, averaged over 5.0 yards-per-carry and 11 touchdowns in 2018. With only 250 carries in his college career, Philadelphia is happy to add a talented runner with hardly any wear on his body.
26.Indianapolis Colts (10-6) - Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
Team Needs: WR, DT, CB 1.0 Pick: Christian Wilkins, DT
With a resurgent 2018 behind Andrew Luck, fans and analysts alike have clamored for Indianapolis to add playmakers in free agency to take them to the next level. So far, this has come in the form of Devin Funchess. With another top-35 pick and a deep incoming wide receiver class, the Colts can focus on Chris Ballard’s “build up the lines” approach.
If the Colts are committed to building up the defensive line, Dexter Lawrence is an ideal fit. With just one year and limited talent, Defensive Coordinator Matt Eberflus turned 2017’s 26th ranked team in rushing yards allowed into the eighth best in 2018 and sixth best in yards per carry (3.9). Adding a 6-foot 4-inch, 340-pound elite run stuffer and bull rusher to the mix may help the Colts defense make the next jump forward.
27.(Proj. TRADE) San Francisco 49ers, from OAK via DAL - Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware
Team Needs: OLB, DE, WR 1.0 Pick: Kelvin Harmon, WR
San Francisco’s inclusion in the top-10 passing yards-per-game defense in 2018 is misleading. While the 49ers allowed under 4,000 passing yards over 16 games, they also allowed the second-most touchdowns (35) allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Being knocked out of games early contributed to their opponents low pass numbers and their 4-12 record. The 2019 version should resemble their 22nd ranked 2017 edition, meaning help in the secondary is a must.
After starting his first two years as a cornerback, Adderley blossomed as a safety. In 19 games, Adderley tallied 126 tackles, 17 passes defended, and 8 interceptions. General Manager John Lynch gets a defensive chess piece as a result of trading down earlier in the first round.
28.Los Angeles Chargers(12-4) - Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State
Team Needs: DT, OL, OLB 1.0 Pick: Dre’Mont Jones, DT
Is this the year that the Chargers invest in Philip Rivers’ successor?
At 37 years old and with Daniel Jones (Duke) still on the board, it’s a fair question and a tempting proposition. Giving Jones a year to learn the system behind Rivers may ease the Chargers’ transition in the post-Rivers era. Coming off a 12-4 season, all signs point to Los Angeles surrounding their 15-year veteran with talent to make one last push for a Super Bowl appearance.
With Darius Philon testing the free agency market, defensive tackle may be a necessity. Luckily for the Chargers, in this mock draft, a four-year starter and All-American is still available in the bottom of the first round.
29.Kansas City Chiefs (12-4) - Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
Team Needs: CB, S, DE 1.0 Pick: Byron Murphy, CB
Year 1 of the Pat Mahomes era kicked off better than anyone outside the Kansas City locker room could have hoped for. With the NFL MVP and a receiver on the verge of the richest wide receiver deal in league history, the offense is set for years to come. The defense, on the other hand, is another story.
Allowing the 2nd-most yards-per-game in 2018 (405.5) and bottom ten in points (24.0), the Chief defense is playing catch-up. Though there are concerns with Williams’ tendency to allow himself to be baited by opposing quarterbacks, he plays like the most athletic cornerback in the draft. A playmaker in the secondary would go a long way for the AFC runner-ups.
30.Green Bay Packers, from NO - Irv Smith Jr., TE. Alabama
Team Needs: OLB, RG, SS 1.0 Pick: Deionte Thompson, S
With Green Bay shoring up their defensive line with Ed Oliver early in the first round, the Packers can turn their attention to the offense with the second pick. Outside Davante Adams, Aaron Rodgers has had a revolving cast of targets over the past couple campaigns. The Packers look to change that this year.
In Irv Smith Jr., the Pack select a big-bodied pass catcher unafraid to battle in the trenches. The Alabama product totalled 44 receptions, 710 yards, and seven touchdowns in his second college season.
- Los Angeles Rams (13-3) - Mack Wilson, MLB, Alabama
Team Needs: MLB, OLB, OG 1.0 Pick: Mack Wilson, MLB
One of the most complete teams in football, Los Angeles doesn’t have glaring holes throughout its roster. Their weakness has come in the linebacking corps and was exploited by the Patriots in the Super Bowl. A linebacker able to step up into the box to defend the run as well as chase tight ends and slot receivers would go a long way in bringing the Rams back to the Super Bowl in 2020.
Accounting for six interceptions and seven defended passes over his past two seasons, Wilson’s ball skills may be the best of any linebacker in the draft. This is a skill coveted by the Rams, who are familiar with shootouts and passing contests.
- New England Patriots (11-5) - Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
Team Needs: TE, DT, WR 1.0 Pick: Irv Smith Jr., TE
As far as Super Bowl champions go, the Patriots have plenty of holes to try to plug up in the offseason. While many will clamor for New England to draft Brady’s successor in Daniel Jones, Tom Brady has continued to play at a high level and the Patriots organization will attempt to maximize their number of shots at ring number seven.
Iowa becomes the first school in NFL history to have two tight ends drafted in the first round of a single draft. Often overshadowed by teammate T.J. Hockenson in college, the freakishly-athletic Fant is scooped up with the last pick in the first round to become the long-term replacement for Rob Gronkowski.