There are two things that probably came to your mind after reading the title of this article. First: “Dude really? The class of 2018 hasn’t even played in an actual NFL game yet and you’re already thinking of 2019?”. Or you were probably really excited to get a way-too-early preview at the 2019 NFL Draft Class.
For this writer, I hope it was the latter.
The NFL Draft process never stops. As soon as the 2018 NFL Draft concluded, the page immediately turned to 2019.
If you’re looking for wide receivers or defensive lineman, then the 2019 NFL Draft is loaded. From now until April, you’ll constantly hear names like Ed Oliver, Joey Bosa, and Dexter Lawrence all of whom could be selected with the number one pick in 2019.
Other positions that really intrigue me are the running back and wide receiver classes. Based on what I saw in 2017, many names such as Myles Gaskin, A.J. Brown, Anthony Johnson, and Bryce Love are all intriguing prospects that have NFL-level potential.
Based on what I’ve seen so far, it seems as if Clemson will dominate the conversation early. To many, Dabo Swinney has what seems to be the most dominant defensive line in all of college football. Aside from Dexter Lawrence, names such as Austin Bryant, Clelin Ferrell, and Christian Wilkins will be guys who’ll receive first-round hype.
Enough of the chit-chat, below is my way-too-early 2019 NFL Mock Draft
A few things note: I have not watched tape on any of the players below yet. Selections are based on team needs. The random draft order was brought to you courtesy of Random.org. Also, all stats used were courtesy of sports-reference.com
- Baltimore Ravens: DT Ed Oliver, Houston
Baltimore drafted its quarterback of the future in Lamar Jackson in 2018. Now, the attention should turn to rebuilding a depleted defense that once featured Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, along with Terrell Suggs. Oliver is considered to be one of the best players in all of college football. Drafting Oliver gives the Ravens a solid presence to fortify the middle of their defensive line for the next decade.
2. Miami Dolphins: QB Justin Herbert, Oregon
Miami was linked to quarterbacks all throughout the 2018 draft and considering the fact that the Dolphins appear to be blowing things up, if Ryan Tannehill is unable to stay healthy, then Herbert makes all the sense in the world.
3. Arizona Cardinals: DT Dexter Lawrence, Clemson
The Cardinals primarily focused on offense in the 2018 draft as five of their six draft picks were offensive players. In 2019, Arizona must focus on rebuilding an aging defense. It all starts in the trenches. To many, Lawrence is set to have a dominant Junior season which will no doubt solidify him as one of the top prospects in the class of 2019.
4. New York Giants: DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State
The Giants passed on Bradley Chubb and traded Jason Pierre-Paul this past offseason. With the skill positions (wide receiver and running back) on offense likely set for the next decade with Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley, finding a pass rusher should be the next thing atop Dave Gettleman’s to-do list. The younger Bosa is considered by some to have even more potential than his older Joey.
5. New York Jets: WR A.J. Brown, Mississippi
Plain and simple, the Jets go with a wide receiver in order to add help for Sam Darnold. As a sophomore, Brown hauled in seventy-five receptions for 1252 yards and eleven touchdowns.
6. Cincinnati Bengals: CB Greedy Williams, LSU
As a freshman in 2017, Williams had six interceptions and after moving on from Adam Jones, the Bengals need to find a long-term solution at defensive back. If there’s one thing that will catch the eyes of scouts when evaluating Williams, it’s his size (6-2, 183 lbs).
7. Cleveland Browns: LB Devin White, LSU
As the Browns continue to add pieces to their defense, finding a solid linebacker should be next on their list. After notching 13.5 tackles for loss in 2017, White proved as to why he’s got everything it takes to be one of the best linebackers in college for the upcoming season.
8. San Francisco 49ers: DE Austin Bryant, Clemson
San Francisco seems like it’s just one or two pieces away on defense from becoming a team that can compete again. In what is a strong defensive line class, Bryant’s name may not jump out to some, but his breakout Junior campaign should. He totaled 8.5 sacks, to go along with two forced fumbles, and 15.5 tackles for loss.
9. Indianapolis Colts: OT Jonah Williams, Alabama
For the second consecutive draft, the Colts go with some offensive line help to protect Andrew Luck. Finding a defensive end could be a bigger need for this team, but they need to protect Luck more than anything else. The Colts roster has too many holes and they need to begin to accumulate talent through the draft to get back into the playoffs.
10. Oakland Raiders: OLB Porter Gustin, USC
An edge rusher makes sense considering the Raiders still haven’t figured out the whole Khalil Mack situation. With a strong 2018 season, Gustin could possibly vault himself into first-round conversation. However, his somewhat inconsistent production is something to look out for.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB Clifton Duck Jr., Appalachian State
Brent Grimes will be a free agent and will also be thirty-five in 2019 meaning it’s time to start looking ahead and finding a younger player to start opposite Vernon Hargreaves III. Even though Tampa Bay addressed the cornerback position in the later rounds of the 2018 draft, it still remains the biggest question mark on their team. Simply put, adding another player to the position makes sense, even though it may be only for depth purposes.
12. Washington Redskins: WR Anthony Johnson, Buffalo
Aside from Jamison Crowder and Derrius Guice, no other players on the Redskins offense have the potential to be game changers. A big bodied receiver like Anthony would be a big help to a Redskins offense that will likely have a new identity with Alex Smith leading the way in 2018.
13. Detroit Lions: RB Bryce Love, Stanford
The Lions overhauled the running back position in 2018 by signing LeGarrette Blount and drafting Kerryon Johnson. However, considering Blount is only on a one-year deal, the team will likely need to draft a running back if they choose not to renew his contract in 2019. Love could be the team’s long-awaited answer to the Lions consistent problems in the run game.
14. Seattle Seahawks: OT Mitch Hyatt Clemson
Unless the Seahawks plan on having Russell Wilson scramble on every play for the duration of his career, they need to invest in some offensive linemen. Seattle ignored the offensive line early in the 2018 Draft, so it needs to be atop John Schneider’s list in 2019.
15. Houston Texans: CB DeAndre Baker, Georgia
Houston finds someone to replace A.J Bouye. With the front seven pretty much set, adding a cornerback like Baker could help transform this unit into one of the best in the NFL.
16. Chicago Bears: DE Christian Wilkins, Clemson
The Bears neglected the edge rusher position early in the 2018 draft and it still remains the biggest need on their roster. Wilkins would fit in a number of positions along the Bears defensive line.
17. Denver Broncos: LB Devin Bush, Michigan
Finding a quality inside linebacker is a need for this Broncos defense as they haven’t had one since Danny Trevathan left for the Bears back in 2016.
18. Los Angeles Chargers: QB Clayton Thorson, Northwestern
The Chargers finally draft a successor to Philip Rivers. While they had a chance to draft Lamar Jackson in 2018, they passed on him in favor of Derwin James. This is finally the year where the Chargers begin preparing for the future.
19. Green Bay Packers: OLB Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
Finding a quality edge rusher is the biggest need for the Packers. Many thought Green Bay would select Marcus Davenport or Harold Landry in the 2018 draft, but instead Green Bay took Jaire Alexander in the first round. As Clay Matthews continues to age (he was also injured for parts of the 2017 season), Green Bay needs to start thinking about the future. To me, I’d say Sweat is a sleeper candidate for this draft.
20. Dallas Cowboys: DT Rashan Gary, Michigan
With Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott leading the way in 2018, offense won’t be a problem for this team. Aside from Sean Lee, Demarcus Lawrence, and Chidobe Awuzie, Dallas needs to find more permanent building blocks for the future on defense. With a strong 2018 season, Gary can skyrocket to the top of draft boards. With eleven tackles for loss in 2017, it seemed as if his rise was just beginning.
21. Kansas City Chiefs: DE Zach Allen, Boston College
To some, Allen is considered to be a raw prospect, but if he can step up his game in 2018, you’ll hear his name be projected a lot in the back half of the first-round. With the offense pretty much set for the near future, Kansas City needs to turn to rebuilding an aging defense.
22. Atlanta Falcons: DE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
For Dan Quinn, things always seem to start in the trenches. Had Ferrell declared last year, he would have been a mid-to-late first round pick or even an early second-round pick. Since he decided to go back to school, don’t be surprised if he has a strong season and is viewed as one of the top defensive ends in the class of 2019.
23. Carolina Panthers: S Jaquan Johnson, Miami
Carolina grabs a fast, physical safety who knows how to set the tone for a secondary. Johnson also has the potential to become a locker room leader.
24. Buffalo Bills: WR Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
While the Bills have guys like Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones on the roster, adding another potential starter like Samuel to the mix is what this team should focus on considering Josh Allen will need some weapons to succeed. Although potentially adding an offensive lineman could be an option here, a wide receiver like Samuel is the smarter choice.
25. Philadelphia Eagles: RB Damien Harris, Alabama
Jay Ajayi is set to be a free agent in 2019 and considering his rise from fifth-round draft pick to Pro Bowl player, he’s likely set to cash in. Keep in mind that this is a team that will also have to hand over a large contract to Carson Wentz in 2020. If the Eagles are unable to come to terms with Ajayi, then it might be time to start thinking of drafting a running back. A Harris-Clement combo would prove deadly in the future.
26. Green Bay Packers (From New Orleans Saints): RB Myles Gaskin, Washington
In 2017, the Packers essentially had four different starting running backs. If they want to find stability at the position, they should look to add a quality starter in round one. Ty Montgomery doesn’t seem like he’s the answer, while Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones seem more like situational players than actual three-down starters. After rushing for twenty-one touchdowns in 2017, Gaskin should draw some first-round attention as the college season goes on.
27. Tennessee Titans: C Jake Hansen, Oregon
While the interior of the offensive line isn’t the biggest need for the Titans, current starting center Ben Jones will be a free agent after the 2019 season, meaning the Titans will eventually have to begin looking for his replacement soon. As of right now, Hansen has the height (6-foot-five) to play center, but he lacks the weight (302 lbs). Should he add some weight to his frame and have a strong season, he could be a regular starter down the road.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars: LB Caleb Kelly, Oklahoma
The Jaguars have very few needs, even after the retirement of linebacker Paul Posluszny. While wide receiver could be an option here, Jacksonville has clearly shown it is more interested in investing in the front seven. Add Kelly to your defense and it likely just got scarier.
29. Pittsburgh Steelers: LB Cam Smith, USC
The Steelers missed out on all the first-round linebackers in the 2018 draft, meaning they’ll likely need to address the position and find a true linebacker considering Ryan Shazier’s future is still unknown. Smith had 112 tackles in 2017 as a Junior in fourteen games.
30. Los Angeles Rams: OT Dalton Risner, Kansas State
Andrew Whitworth will be a free agent in 2020, so the Rams will have to start thinking about his potential replacement.
31. New England Patriots: QB Ryan Finley, North Carolina State
There’s no denying that Tom Brady will have to retire someday and here, the Patriots pick up his successor.
32. Minnesota Vikings: DE Anthony Nelson, Iowa
There’s no doubt that Danielle Hunter will get paid after this season. Should he vault, Nelson would make a fine replacement as a rotational defensive lineman. While some would argue that Cornerback is a bigger need here considering Terence Newman will be forty years old this season, Minnesota drafted Mike Hughes in 2018 to ensure continuity.
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