Freedman: 2019 NFL Mock Draft, Round 1

Freedman: 2019 NFL Mock Draft, Round 1 article feature image
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John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kyler Murray

  • With the Super Bowl in the books, its time to look ahead to the 2019 NFL Draft.
  • Matthew Freedman breaks down his Round 1 mock draft and details when quarterbacks will start coming off the board.

The 2018 NFL season is officially over, so now it’s time to start looking at the incoming rookies and release the first Action Network mock draft.

With the scouting combine (Feb. 26), we’ll get a lot of information that could change our perception of many players, but as of now this mock draft represents how we imagine the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft could unfold.

This mock draft is primarily predictive but also a tad prescriptive. We’ve taken our best shot at anticipating which players teams will draft based on their various needs, but we also know that not all teams construct rosters in an optimal manner.

While the first round of the draft is likely to see several trades, we haven’t built any trades into this mock draft. Given that we’re still almost full three months away from the event, trades are just too uncertain and difficult to project accurately.

We’ll regularly update our first-round mock draft throughout the offseason as the combine and free agency give us a more defined sense of the rookie class and NFL team needs.

2019 NFL Mock Draft, Round 1

1. Arizona Cardinals

Nick Bosa (Ohio State), Edge

  • Class: Junior
  • Height: 6’4″ | Weight: 263 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22

Bosa is considered by many draftniks to be the No. 1 prospect in the class. The Cardinals have needs up and down the roster and are in no position to bypass the most talented player on the board. Ian Hartitz and I discussed Bosa and a few of the other top-five draft prospects on The Action Network NFL Podcast.

2. San Francisco 49ers

Josh Allen (Kentucky), Edge

  • Class: Senior
  • Height: 6’5″ | Weight: 260 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22

Another year, another guy named “Josh Allen”  selected near the top of the draft. Allen drastically improved his stock in 2018. It’s hard to find a mock draft in which the Bednarik Award winner is not a top-four selection.

3. New York Jets

Quinnen Williams (Alabama), Defensive Tackle

  • Class: Redshirt Sophomore
  • Height: 6’4″ | Weight: 295 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22

Williams might be the best pure player in the draft, and the Jets have needs on the defensive line. Williams led the nation in 2018 with his 96.0 overall Pro Football Focus grade, and he led all linemen in defensive stops and quarterback pressures.

4. Oakland Raiders

Greedy Williams (Louisiana State), Cornerback

  • Class: Redshirt Sophomore
  • Height: 6’3″ | Weight: 184 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22

The Raiders need help at the position, and Greedy has the name, swag and skillz to develop into a shutdown corner. Hailing from CBU, Williams is a typical LSU press-coverage player. Last year, he held quarterbacks to a 58.1 passer rating on targets in his coverage.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jonah Williams (Alabama), Offensive Tackle

  • Class: Junior
  • Height: 6’5″ | Weight: 301 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22

The Bucs are especially weak at offensive tackle, and Williams played as a three-year starter at the position, first on the right side as a freshman and then on the left in his two final seasons. Despite facing strong SEC edge rushers, he didn’t allow a sack last year.

6. New York Giants

Kyler Murray (Oklahoma), Quarterback

  • Class: Redshirt Junior
  • Height: 5’10″ | Weight: 195 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22

The Giants need a quarterback, and the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner led the nation last year with his 13.0 adjusted yards per pass attempt. With the sustained success of Drew Brees and Russell Wilson, an NFL team will be more willing to draft a small quarterback with a top-10 pick, and the recent success of Patrick Mahomes and Baker Mayfield has shown that a spread-system quarterback from the Big 12 and Oklahoma in particular can play in the NFL.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars

Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State), Quarterback

  • Class: Redshirt Sophomore
  • Height: 6’3″ | Weight: 220 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22

The Jaguars are ready to move on from Blake Bortles, and Haskins led the nation last year with 50 touchdowns. He has just 14 starts over the past three years, which gives him an unfortunate Mark Sanchez-Mitch Trubisky type of vibe, but in a year with little top-end talent at the position, Haskins is a locked-in first-rounder.

8. Detroit Lions

T.J. Hockenson (Iowa), Tight End

  • Class: Redshirt Sophomore
  • Height: 6’5″ | Weight: 250 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22

Winner of the 2018 Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end, Hockenson has Rob Gronkowski-esque potential as a mismatch weapon in the blocking and receiving game. Entering the NFL from the same institution that produced George Kittle, C.J. Fiedorowicz, Tony Moeaki, Scott Chandler and Dallas Clark, the young tight end will be a solid professional right away.

9. Buffalo Bills

Jeffery Simmons (Mississippi State), Defensive Tackle

  • Class: Junior
  • Height: 6’4″ | Weight: 300 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22

The former five-star recruit is a top-10 pick in almost every mock draft in the industry thanks to his stout play as a run defender and pass rusher. With the retirement of Kyle Williams, the rookie will easily slot into the interior of the Bills defensive front.

10. Denver Broncos

Cody Ford (Oklahoma), Offensive Tackle

  • Class: Redshirt Junior
  • Height: 6’4″ | Weight: 338 pounds

Opinions are split on Ford, who was outstanding at right tackle in 2018 but is regarded as an NFL guard by some draftniks. Regardless, the Broncos need help at right tackle and both guard spots. The Broncos probably want to draft a QB in the first round, but this spot is too early for the remaining signal callers, and they could look to address the position in the second round.

11. Cincinnati Bengals

Dalton Risner (Kansas State), Offensive Tackle

  • Class: Redshirt Senior
  • Height: 6’5″ | Weight: 308 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 24

The Bengals need help along the offensive line, and Risner is an NFL-ready lineman whose seemingly non-elite ceiling is likely outweighed by his high floor. A four-year starter with experience at center and right tackle, Risner might be dependable enough to play on the blind side: He allowed just one sack in his entire college career.

12. Green Bay Packers

Devin White (Louisiana State), Linebacker

  • Class: Junior
  • Height: 6’1″ | Weight: 240 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 21

White has gone in the top half of most first-round mocks I’ve seen, and that makes sense: He’s a young-and-athletic dynamo capable of rushing the passer, stopping the run and defending running backs and tight ends in pass coverage. Winner of the 2018 Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker, White has the potential to be a decade-long stalwart in the middle of a defense.

13. Miami Dolphins

Clelin Ferrell (Clemson), Edge

  • Class: Redshirt Junior
  • Height: 6’4″ | Weight: 265 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22

After Bosa and Allen, there’s a cohort of edge rushers who all have a shot to be the third player selected at the position, but Ferrell is the one I like the best. With 11.5 sacks last year, Ferrell won the 2018 Hendricks Award as the top defensive end in the nation. A three-year starter, he will immediately help the Dolphins replace free agents Cameron Wake and William Hayes.

14. Atlanta Falcons

Ed Oliver (Houston), Defensive Tackle

  • Class: Junior
  • Height: 6’3″ | Weight: 292 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22

Oliver’s draft stock has dropped a little over the past year, but he was still fantastic in his final season, finishing with an overall PFF grade of 92.7. The former 5-star recruit is a near lock not to fall past the Falcons, who need help along the defensive line and have historically sought high-upside players in the draft.

15. Washington Redskins

D.K. Metcalf (Mississippi), Wide Receiver

  • Class: Redshirt Sophomore
  • Height: 6’4″ | Weight: 230 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22

The draft community is divided on Metcalf: He has great physical ability and comes from a family of NFL veterans, but he struggled to stay healthy and never had a true breakout campaign. But the Redskins desperately need a playmaking receiver, and Metcalf was on pace for a 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown performance in 2018 before a neck injury cut his season short. He might have the most upside of any receiver in the class.

16. Carolina Panthers

Greg Little (Mississippi), Offensive Tackle

  • Class: Junior
  • Height: 6’6″ | Weight: 325 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22

The Panthers have failed to protect quarterback Cam Newton adequately ever since losing left tackle Michael Oher in 2016. Little is often mocked inside the top 20 and has All-Pro potential with his 5-star status as a recruit and strong (even if raw) play as a two-year left tackle against SEC opponents.

17. Cleveland Browns

Jawaan Taylor (Florida), Offensive Tackle

  • Class: Junior
  • Height: 6’5″ | Weight: 328 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22

A three-year SEC starter, Taylor will improve an offensive line weakest at the tackle positions. Although Taylor played mostly at right tackle, he has some blindside potential but should start immediately regardless of which position he plays.

18. Minnesota Vikings

Christian Wilkins (Clemson), Defensive Tackle

  • Class: Graduate Student
  • Height: 6’4″ | Weight: 315 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 24

Wilkins was incredibly disruptive in 2018, recording 46 quarterback pressures and 39 defensive stops (per PFF). Capable of rushing the passer on the interior and honoring his responsibilities in the run game, Wilkins will be a strong contributor in head coach Mike Zimmer’s defense, forming a devastating interior duo with nose tackle Linval Joseph.

19. Tennessee Titans

Jachai Polite (Florida), Edge

  • Class: Junior
  • Height: 6’2″ | Weight: 242 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 21

Polite burst onto the national scene with a breakout campaign in 2018, and he’ll help the Titans replace outside linebackers Brian Orakpo (retirement) and Derrick Morgan (free agency). With his youth, he has immense upside.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers

Devin Bush (Michigan), Linebacker

  • Class: Junior
  • Height: 5’11″ | Weight: 233 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 21

Although White has garnered attention as the top off-ball linebacker in the class, Bush might be just as good. He’s small, but he’s young, explosive and strong against the run, in coverage and as a blitzer. In Bush, the Steelers find their long-term replacement to inside linebacker Ryan Shazier (neck), whom they have missed dearly since his 2017 injury.

21. Seattle Seahawks

Rashan Gary (Michigan), Edge/Defensive Tackle

  • Class: Junior
  • Height: 6’5″ | Weight: 283 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22

Edge rushers Frank Clark and Dion Jordan are both free agents, so the Seahawks will need to address the position this offseason. The No. 1 player in the 2016 recruiting class, Gary is versatile enough to move around the defensive front and has elite athleticism for a lineman.

22. Baltimore Ravens

N’Keal Harry (Arizona State), Wide Receiver

  • Class: Junior
  • Height: 6’4″ | Weight: 213 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22

As of writing, Harry is my No. 1 rookie in dynasty leagues. He has good size, makes contested catches and accumulates yards after the catch: He’s basically a younger, better Michael Crabtree. He enters the league with two 1,000-yard receiving seasons and 26 career touchdowns as a receiver, rusher and punt returner.

23. Houston Texans

Byron Murphy (Washington), Cornerback

  • Class: Redshirt Sophomore
  • Height: 5’11″ | Weight: 182 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 21

The Texans need help at corner, and Murphy has the potential to be a shutdown cover man. He led the position last year with his 91.9 PFF grade and could see his draft stock rise if he tears up the combine. He’s not big, but he’s young, and last year he held quarterbacks to a 54.4 passer rating when targeting him.

24. Oakland Raiders

Kelvin Harmon (North Carolina State), Wide Receiver

  • Class: Junior
  • Height: 6’3″ | Weight: 214 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22

The Raiders need a wide receiver after trading Amari Cooper last year, and Harmon is a viable option. With back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, Harmon is sometimes compared to Julio Jones because of his size, athleticism and physicality. While Harmon is unlikely to develop into a Julio-esque force, he’s a playmaker.

25. Philadelphia Eagles

Deandre Baker (Georgia), Cornerback

  • Class: Senior
  • Height: 5’11″ | Weight: 185 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 23

Baker provides an immediate boost to a secondary that was riddled with injuries in 2018. Versatile enough to play in man and zone coverage, Baker allowed a passer rating of just 40.2 last year (per PFF).

26. Indianapolis Colts

A.J. Brown (Mississippi), Wide Receiver

  • Class: Junior
  • Height: 6’1″ | Weight: 230 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22

This season, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton will turn 30 years old: The Colts need to find a supplementary receiver for the short term and maybe even someone to replace him in the long term. Brown has the size and skills to line up out wide and in the slot, and he dominated the SEC in his two final seasons, averaging 111.8 yards receiving per game over that span.

27. Oakland Raiders

Brian Burns (Florida State), Edge

  • Class: Junior
  • Height: 6’5″ | Weight: 235 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 21

The Raiders could use a pass rusher after the 2018 Khalil Mack trade, and Burns fits the draft range. A 5-star recruit, Burns broke out as an 18-year-old freshman in 2016, leading all first-year players with his 9.5 sacks. Last year he progressed with 10 sacks and ranked third in the nation with 67 quarterback pressures (per PFF).

28. Los Angeles Chargers

Dexter Lawrence  (Clemson), Defensive Tackle

  • Class: Junior
  • Height: 6’4″ | Weight: 350 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22

The Chargers suffered last year without defensive tackle Corey Liuget (quad), and nose tackle Brandon Mebane is a free agent. A coveted 5-star recruit, Lawrence broke out immediately as a freshman with seven sacks and has the size to impose his will against the run. An interior presence on the Chargers defense will make edge rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram even more difficult for offensive lines to stop.

29. Kansas City Chiefs

Deionte Thompson  (Alabama), Safety

  • Class: Redshirt Junior
  • Height: 6’2″ | Weight: 196 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22

Safety Eric Berry (heel) hasn’t been healthy for almost two full seasons, and he’ll turn 31 at the end of the 2019 season. Thompson will be his short-term partner at the position and long-term replacement. Thompson was an all-around playmaker for the Tide secondary in 2018, playing as a free safety, strong safety and slot corner based on matchup and ranking fifth in the nation with his 89.3 PFF coverage grade.

30. Green Bay Packers

Noah Fant (Iowa), Tight End

  • Class: Junior
  • Height: 6’5″ | Weight: 241 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 22

The Packers need a long-term replacement to Jimmy Graham, who will turn 33 in November, and Fant is an NFL-ready receiving tight end similar to those on new Packers head coach Matt LaFleur’s previous teams (Owen Daniels, Jordan Reed, Austin Hooper, Gerald Everett and Delanie Walker). Despite sharing the field with Hockenson, the supremely athletic Fant led his team with 11 and seven touchdowns receiving over the past two seasons.

31. Los Angeles Rams

Montez Sweat (Mississippi State), Edge

  • Class: Redshirt Senior
  • Height: 6’6″ | Weight: 245 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 23

The Rams could lose edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr. in free agency, and even if he stays they could use more depth at the position. A top high-school tight end, Sweat transitioned to defense at Michigan State before transferring to Copiah-Lincoln Community College and eventually Mississippi State, where he put up 17.5 sacks in two seasons. A borderline first-rounder, Sweat fits the draft range.

32. New England Patriots

Irv Smith Jr. (Alabama), Tight End

  • Class: Junior
  • Height: 6’4″ | Weight: 241 pounds
  • 2019 Age: 21

The Patriots need a successor to Rob Gronkowski, and in a year not stocked with multiple first-round tight ends, Smith would be the top player at the position. Despite his smaller size, Smith is a strong run blocker, and last year he set the Alabama single-season touchdown record for the position with seven. The son of a former NFL tight end, Smith has elite upside at a position where first-year youth has been a strong indicator of long-term professional success.

Matthew Freedman is the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs. He has a dog and sometimes a British accent. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he’s known only as The Labyrinthian.