Back in my first mock of the year, I pointed out that my mock philosophy is not to predict what will happen, but to produce a plausible coherent story of one scenario that might. And in this case, the scenario – spoiler alert – is “what if Dwayne Haskins slides?”
Because, between my last mock and this one, the big development in draft reporting was the idea that teams weren’t nearly as high on the Ohio State QB as the NFL media, and preferred the likes of Drew Lock and even Daniel Jones.
I consider this an egregious error of scouting, but I’m not the one who has to live with the consequences of it.
I’m not even convinced it’s the likeliest situation – it feels like reporting from one or more teams that want him and need him to fall to get him (Miami? Washington? New England?!?) – but it feels like it at least has the status of “potential scenario that deserves exploring.” My guess is that actual NFL teams have been doing this too, not because they necessarily expect it to happen, but so they’re ready for it.
Are you? Let’s move Taylor Swiftly on with the obvious opening.
1) Arizona Cardinals – Kyler Murray (QB, Oklahoma)
Let’s not pretend this isn’t happening. It still stretches credibility on some levels, and I’m not at all convinced it’ll work out for the Cards, but it’s happening. The only question now is whether Rosen is traded pre-draft, mid-draft, or not at all. For this scenario, I’ll say mid-draft. Stay tuned for how it happens.
2) San Francisco 49ers – Nick Bosa (EDGE, Ohio State)
Another pick that’s moving from pencil to pen. If I’m the Niners I probably try and trade out of this pick, but all those high picks used on the defensive front have basically given them DeForest Buckner plus mediocrity. Bosa is about as safe a bet as you’ll get to be better than mediocrity.
3) New York Jets – Josh Allen (EDGE, Kentucky)
In many respects, the draft starts here and the Jets are de facto on the clock just like the Chargers were at 3 in 2016 after the pre-draft Goff/Wentz trades. Again, I’d want to trade down from here, and with more conviction this time – remember, the Jets have no second-round pick thanks to the Darnold trade, the penalty for buttfumbling their 2017 tank – but after being scorned by Anthony Barr in such remarkable fashion last month, it’s not remotely hard to imagine them taking Allen, who has a not-dissimilar skill set.
TRADE: Oakland Raiders trade pick #4 to Detroit Lions for pick #8 and pick #43
4) Detroit Lions (from Oakland) – Quinnen Williams (DT, Alabama)
“Wait, what?” I hear you cry. Let’s look at both ends of this trade, given its obvious #HotTake value.
For the Raiers – yes, they have no D – it seems weird that they’re passing on one of the best defensive prospects to enter the draft in some considerable time given they do, indeed, have no D. But they already have a young building block at his position in Maurice Hurst, the really pressing need is on the edge, and it’s not like there won’t be options at 8 in this class. Perhaps even the one they’d have taken at 4 anyway, making pick #43 money for nothing in this scenario.
The Lions moving up here? Their depth chart at defensive tackle is Damon Harrison to eat double-teams and a bunch of guys. The Belichick disciples that form the coaching staff from Matt Patricia on down are big on valuing defensive linemen, and particularly versatile defensive linemen. Above all, this is a team that needs an obvious star, someone who can take over games by himself. That’s Quinnen Williams.
Would you rather have him than a combo platter of (say) Burns or Hockenson plus a second-round DB? Discuss.
5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Devin White (LB, LSU)
The Bucs’ back seven might be the worst in the NFL and White is the only player in this class at LB or DB who can be mocked this high without collapsing with laughter. No wonder it’s been mocked so often.
6) New York Giants – Brian Burns (EDGE, Florida State)
It would be extremely David Gettleman to turn down a QB here for a defensive lineman, but it’s not like the position is a non-need for the Giants. Is there a position besides running back that’s a non-need for the Giants?
7) Jacksonville Jaguars – T.J. Hockenson (TE, Iowa)
The priority for the Jags simply has to be giving Nick Foles help, because that’s the only way he’s ever been any good. In particular, he made the most of good tight end play in Philadelphia, and with this pick he gets that – especially in the blocking aspect of the game, a huge deal for a team that still wants to make Leonard Fournette happen.
8) Oakland Raiders (from Detroit) – Montez Sweat (EDGE, Mississippi State)
Jon Gruden gets his athletic monster plus bonus draft capital for the second year in a row, leaving him only to hope Sweat and his 4.41 40 delivers better on-field results than Kolton Miller last year. He certainly should.
TRADE: Buffalo Bills trade pick #9 to Washington for pick #15 and pick #46
9) Washington (from Buffalo) – Drew Lock (QB, Missouri)
If the Bills want to add extra draft picks – and their list of team needs is long enough that they should – this pick has the potential to become a secret auction in this scenario. Going once, going twice… SOLD to the impulsive owner with the one-legged quarterback! The fact it would probably be a bad decision is all the more reason to mock this team making it.
10) Denver Broncos – Devin Bush (LB, Michigan)
If John Elway only has eyes for Lock and doesn’t pull the trade-up trigger in time, a very viable option is Bush, who is separated from the other linebackers by arguably this draft’s most vertiginous tier break at any position. The Broncos could use help there, after all.
TRADE: Cincinnati Bengals trade pick #11, pick #183, and pick #210 to Atlanta Falcons for pick #14 and 2020 second-round pick
11) Atlanta Falcons (from Cincinnati) – Ed Oliver (DT, Houston)
Oliver to the Falcons is an obvious enough fit, so let’s focus on the details of the deal; the Bengals have multiple directions they can go with this pick (so they have the motive to trade down a little), seem to be set up for long-term thinking (so they have the motive to ask for 2020 compensation, especially if the plan is to package it for their QB of the future next year), and have five sixth-round picks (!) they can use as throw-ins in any deal.
12) Green Bay Packers – Jawaan Taylor (OT, Florida)
If the recently-aired dirty laundry around this Packers team suggests a power struggle that Aaron Rodgers won, then it seems certain that at least one and likely both of their first-round picks will be used on giving him help. In this case, a straight-up replacement for Bryan Bulaga when his contract runs out next year.
TRADE: Miami Dolphins trade pick #13 to Minnesota Vikings for pick #18 and 2020 second-round pick
13) Minnesota Vikings (from Miami) – Jonah Williams (OT/G, Alabama)
This pick and Seattle’s at 21 are the most blatantly obvious trade points of the draft. Both are looking for bonus picks – Seattle because they burned their second-day selections on trades for veterans, Miami because they want to load up on future draft capital. I engineered this exact trade for this exact player in the most recent Interactive Mock, and I still think it makes complete sense for both sides.
It’s also possible that this is where Haskins lands, with or without a trade – my guess would be with.
14) Cincinnati Bengals (from Atlanta) – Rashan Gary (DE, Michigan)
The upside is strong in this pick, given Gary’s elite athleticism. The tape isn’t as great, but that’s why he could possibly be available here in the first place, and in this scenario the Bengals’ draft approach is speculative and focused on the long haul.
15) Buffalo Bills (from Washington) – D.K. Metcalf (WR, Mississippi)
Maybe Metcalf is a one-trick pony. But that one trick scares defensive backs like climate change scares Greta Thunberg. For a team that’s just added extra draft capital and a QB whose run-and-gun ways fit Metcalf’s skill set anyway, this is a quality fit. The Bills would be a ton of fun to play with in Madden 20 if this happened.
16) Carolina Panthers – Greedy Williams (CB, LSU)
This is actually the lowest I’ve mocked Williams all draft season. Like Metcalf, you can question how rounded his game is, but he has the size-speed combo teams will always want to bet on. And you can never have enough pass defense in the NFC South.
17) New York Giants (from Cleveland) – Cody Ford (G/OT, Oklahoma)
Two linemen and no quarterbacks in the first round for the Giants. How very Gettleman!
18) Miami Dolphins (from Minnesota) – Andre Dillard (OT, Washington State)
With elite athletic testing and better tape than Kolton Miller last year, 18 might actually be a bit low for Dillard. The Dolphins would struggle to pass on him as a like-for-like replacement for Ja’Wuan James, as they need two quality tackles if they’re going to protect their QB of the 2020s. It’s worth noting that if the plan is to take Tua Tagovailoa next year, he’s left-handed, meaning his blind side is protected by the right tackle.
19) Tennessee Titans – Clelin Ferrell (EDGE, Clemson)
While Cameron Wake provides the Titans with much-needed edge help opposite Harold Landry, he’s 37 and can’t be counted on as a full-time player. Ferrell’s got the instant polish and edge-setting ability against the run to allow Wake to be saved for when his pass-rush savvy matters most.
20) Pittsburgh Steelers – Noah Fant (TE, Iowa)
The Steelers could go in a few directions here, but after years of seeing the Patriots in their nightmares, maybe they take Fant just to make sure Belichick can’t? They do have Vance McDonald, but I wouldn’t let that stop them; not like you have to use only one TE at once, and Fant could probably be split wide anyway given his catch-first skill set.
TRADE: Seattle Seahawks trade pick #21 to Los Angeles Chargers for pick #28 and pick #91
21) Los Angeles Chargers (from Seattle) – Christian Wilkins (DT, Clemson)
Wilkins can be a tricky player to place in mocks, but he’s certainly worthy of top-20 consideration, so having someone trade up to 21 for him makes a ton of sense. The Colts might be the most obvious contender, but the Chargers have few obvious holes and a GM who has regularly traded up and never traded down in six drafts, so they should be considered serious contenders for such a move.
TRADE: Baltimore Ravens trade pick #22 and pick #123 to Kansas City Chiefs for pick #29 and pick #61
22) Kansas City Chiefs (from Baltimore) – Garrett Bradbury (C, NC State)
Plug-and-play Mitch Morse replacement to keep this offense smoking hot, trading up ahead of the OL-needy Texans to get him. This is Patrick Mahomes’ team, and they should absolutely embrace that. With offense like this, who needs defense?
23) Houston Texans – Dalton Risner (OT, Kansas State)
While the Texans do have other needs, I really don’t think they can justify going in any other direction with their first-round pick. Positions like CB and RB can wait until the second round, where they have back-to-back picks.
24) Oakland Raiders (from Chicago) – Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (S/CB, Florida)
With one edge rusher added and no value available for another here, Gruden has multiple directions to go here. Defensive back is most definitely one of those directions, and CGJ is a moveable piece full of quality. Draft now, work out the fit later.
25) Philadelphia Eagles – Chris Lindstrom (G, Boston College)
The Eagles have good reason to look at young offensive linemen, given how close Jasons Kelce and Peters are to retirement (the former openly considered it this offseason, in fact). Lindstrom’s mobility gives him multi-position potential, but the Eagles need more help inside than out, as rugby convert Jordan Mailata could plausibly be the future at tackle and guard Brandon Brooks is rehabbing a torn Achilles.
26) Indianapolis Colts – Jerry Tillery (DT, Notre Dame)
While not the most consistent player in this class by a long way, Tillery’s upside at a high-value position makes him a great fit for a contending team that trusts their coaching and locker room culture. Who would have thought we’d be saying that about the Colts even six months ago?
TRADE: Oakland Raiders trade pick #27 to Cincinnati Bengals for pick #42 and pick #72
27) Cincinnati Bengals (from Dallas via Oakland) – Dwayne Haskins (QB, Ohio State)
And the thread snaps. The Bengals moved down earlier in this scenario to get some extra draft capital for perhaps taking a QB next year. Presumably they weren’t planning on Haskins being available this late.
Zac Taylor gets a new QB to mould behind Andy Dalton, everyone in the media praises the value, and if he turns out to be ready to go sooner than anticipated? Well, Dalton could suddenly become a hot trade commodity during the season, possibly getting overpaid if a contending team lose a QB to injury. That’s how the Bengals received first- and second-round picks for Carson Palmer in 2011 after he got beaten out by a rookie… a certain Andy Dalton.
TRADE: Seattle Seahawks trade pick #28 to Jacksonville Jaguars for pick #38 and pick #98
28) Jacksonville Jaguars (from LA Chargers via Seattle) – Josh Jacobs (RB, Alabama)
Remember how I said earlier that the Jaguars still wanted to make Leonard Fournette happen?
Stop trying to make Leonard Fournette happen. It’s not gonna happen. Not now:
Twitter: #Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette was arrested for speeding and knowingly driving with a suspended license, a… https://t.co/r9Cg46AUiX (@phillip_heilman)
Fournette already had the remaining guarantees on his rookie contract voided due to a one-game suspension for leaving the bench and fighting in a game last season. Now with this (and reportedly it’s not his only driving-related offense), it seems extremely easy to believe Fournette will be cut.
If that’s the case, do not be surprised to see the front office make a panic move for the best RB in this class.
29) Baltimore Ravens (from Kansas City) – Marquise Brown (WR, Oklahoma)
If teams trust the foot injury is healing sufficiently – and reportedly it is – “Hollywood” Brown will see his name in lights on the video screens in Nashville during the first night of the draft.
The Ravens are a great fit for him because they need some kind of deep threat to balance out that offense; even the mere threat of a deep shot will stop teams selling out to stop the run like it’s 1969.
30) Green Bay Packers (from New Orleans) – Kelvin Harmon (WR, NC State)
If some of Aaron Rodgers’ hyperfocus on Davante Adams was because he didn’t trust his secondary options, here’s a secondary option who keeps being praised for his reliable hands, reliable blocking, reliable everything in fact. Only his lack of elite athletic traits holds down his ceiling, but his floor may be the highest of this year’s receivers.
31) Los Angeles Rams – Chase Winovich (EDGE, Michigan)
You can never have enough pass rush depth when you’re in win-now mode. Winovich is a reliable rotational option, and that is definitely a value add for this Rams team, who only have Dante Fowler as a quality option on the edge.
TRADE: New England Patriots trade pick #32 to Arizona Cardinals for pick #65 and QB Josh Rosen
32) Arizona Cardinals (from New England) – Byron Murphy (CB, Washington)
Yes, this is terrible value for Rosen compared to what’s been anticipated, but as soon as Murray gets taken the leverage is gone. Bill Belichick wins, again. The Cardinals settle for a defensive back who might be considered value here.