Image Credit: USA TODAY Sports
Welcome to Zach’s Draft Corner, where it’s always amateur hour.
The time has come for your friendly, neighborhood draft analyst to put out his predictive mock draft for the season. Like I said last week, the craziest mock draft will not be as crazy as the real thing, so here are a few ground rules that I’m going to use when filling this out.
1) No trades. I will put in blurbs if I feel that the team is in a position to trade up or down, but there is too much that goes in to projecting trades. Boards have to align perfectly, compensation must be agreed upon, and you have to know a team’s plans for the long- and short-term. I’m not going to act like I have any of this inside information, so projecting trades would be a fool’s errand.
2) This is a mock of what I think will happen on draft day, based on the rumors and knowledge I have collected from people who actually have connections and report on said connections reliably. This is not necessarily what I would do with each pick.
3) I will hedge more than Homer Simpson backing into a bush. There are 14,000,605 alternate futures for the possible scenarios next Thursday, and only one of them will be what actually happens. I want this mock draft to give you valuable information that won’t be completely pointless if the Cardinals surprise everyone with the first overall pick. I will go on the record with what I think will happen, but I’m also going to give you alternatives for what else could happen with each pick.
Are you ready? Let’s do this.
1. Arizona Cardinals - Kyler Murray, QB, University of Oklahoma
Nick Bosa is certainly an option here, and there could be something to the Cardinals wanting to trade back with another team who wants Kyler Murray at this spot. What is not being talked about is that Steve Keim drafted Rosen to play under Steve Wilks. However, the mentality there was that the team was a quarterback away, and the rest of the team was talented enough to compete immediately. Wilks was fired when Keim realized the team was further away than thought, and the Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury to completely rebuild the team. Rosen is not Kingsbury’s guy, and Rosen may not be Keim’s guy for the new mentality forced upon the team. Kyler Murray may not succeed in many systems in the NFL, but Kingsbury’s system is one of them. If the team is going to rebuild, they should rebuild with a quarterback tailored for the system they want in place. I believe that the Cardinals will draft Murray and flip Rosen for additional picks.
2. San Francisco 49ers - Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State University
With Kyler Murray going first overall, I believe the 49ers stay put and take Nick Bosa, completing the flip of one of their worst position groups to one of their best. Bosa is an all-around stud on the edge. However, if the Cardinals agree and take Bosa first, I believe that they will look to trade down with a team that may want Kyler Murray (such as the Raiders or the Giants). While a second edge defender is needed, picking up a second first-round pick could enable the 49ers to truly go best player available, which might just happen to be Quinnen Williams or Ed Oliver. I think the 49ers will walk away from the first day of the draft with either Nick Bosa or a combination of Quinnen Williams/Ed Oliver and Clelin Ferrell/Chase Winovich.
3. New York Jets - Josh Allen, OLB, University of Kentucky
This is the first prime spot for teams wanting to trade up. As outlined below, there are a variety of teams between 10 and 15 who could conceivably try to jump the Giants for the quarterback of their choice. If the Jets stay put, I think Josh Allen is the target, especially with the loss of almost-Jet Anthony Barr. The Jets could also look to rebuild the offensive line with a Jonah Williams or a Jawaan Taylor.
4. Oakland Raiders – Quinnen Williams, DT, University of Alabama
The Raiders have a relatively strong interior defensive line, but Quinnen Williams cannot slide much further than this. While Gruden and Mayock could look to take their guy at quarterback and move on from Carr, I think the only quarterback that piques their interest is Kyler Murray. In this scenario, the Raiders stay put and take the best player left on the board. However, don’t be shocked if the Raiders bypass Williams and fill a position of need with Devin White.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Devin White, LB, Louisiana State University
Without trades, I think picks 4 and 5 will be, in some order, Quinnen Williams and Devin White. The Raiders will get the first shot, and the Buccaneers will take whoever the Raiders leave. Regardless, Quinnen Sparrow and White-beard will both be pirates hunting for booty in either Oakland or Tampa Bay. With trades, Tampa Bay may be the last line of defense for a team hoping to trade up and snag Dwayne Haskins, because…
6. New York Giants - Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State University
Nobody knows what Dave Gettleman is doing in New York. Heck, I’m not sure Dave Gettleman knows what Dave Gettleman is doing in New York. He’s been acting like the homeless guy preaching about the rapture on a Manhattan street corner, which has made it hard to get a read on him. To me, this means he wants a quarterback, and Dwayne Haskins seems to be the best fit. If he was doing this to get an edge defender or an offensive lineman, it would be wholly unnecessary. For the sake of Giants fans, I hope that’s what is going on here.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – T.J. Hockenson, TE, University of Iowa
The first semi-surprise of the draft, I think Jacksonville is fully committed to Nick Foles and will do whatever they can to help him succeed. By adding Hockenson, Tom Coughlin will add an all-around threat who can help in every facet of offense. Hockenson provides a big safety net underneath, a big target up the seam, and a stalwart run blocker to help Nick Foles.
8. Detroit Lions - Rashan Gary, DL, University of Michigan
Rashan Gary is certainly going to go higher than everyone expects. He is exactly what egotistical coaches and GM’s love: a guy who elite physical traits that, if he reaches his ceiling, will be one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL. There is not a single coach out there who does not think they could get everything possible out of a player like this. I’m not sure Bob Quinn will be able to tell Matt Patricia “no” here.
9. Buffalo Bills - Ed Oliver, DT, University of Houston
Everyone is about to start jumping through tables here. Fans, coaches, scouts, even Terrence and Kim Pegula. Ed Oliver is the third best player on my board, and I think, unless the 49ers trade back, he will fall here to Buffalo. Buffalo replaces Hall of Famer Kyle Williams with a new defensive tackle built perfectly for the modern passing game. Even better, coats are encouraged in Buffalo.
10. Denver Broncos - Drew Lock, QB, University of Missouri
People have been walking away from this connection recently, which is exactly why I think the Broncos really are all in on Drew Lock, and may even trade up to get him. For me, Lock’s comp is Joe Flacco, so why wouldn’t the Broncos want him to learn behind Flacco himself for a season or two? Elway gets his big armed quarterback and prays that he works out better than Paxton Lynch.
11. Cincinnati Bengals - Devin Bush, LB, University of Michigan
I believe that Cincinnati would love to add Dwayne Haskins. They finally have a new coaching staff that owes Andy Dalton nothing. However, Haskins is long gone in this situation, so Cincinnati may be a candidate to trade up with the Jets or the Buccaneers. In this scenario, Cincinnati drafts the replacement for Vontaze Burfict who won’t get kicked out of every other game for being a jerk.
12. Green Bay Packers - Noah Fant, TE, University of Iowa
Green Bay has tried to find a decent tight end ever since Mark Chmura left Wisconsin. They grabbed a washed up Jimmy Graham, but he predictably did not help too much. Here, Green Bay drafts the next Tony Gonzalez by picking up Noah Fant.
13. Miami Dolphins - Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State University
The Dolphins are in a weird situation. They have no quarterback, but there are no quarterbacks worth taking at 13. I believe Miami punts on the quarterback position until at least 2020, maybe even 2021, and builds up the rest of the team until that time. He is not the next best edge defender on my board, but I think the NFL loves Montez Sweat a lot more than I do.
14. Atlanta Falcons - Jonah Williams, OT, University of Alabama
It’s crazy to me that Jonah Williams is falling this far, but Atlanta is excited to be the beneficiary. Atlanta needs help desperately along both lines, and taking the safest offensive line prospect in the entire draft is an easy call for Dan Quinn and the Falcons’ front office.
15. Washington Redskins - DK Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
Another guy who could be a top-10 pick but just so happens to fall on draft day. Washington is another team who could try to trade up for Dwayne Haskins, but can’t do that in this scenario. They take an approach similar to Miami, where they build up the rest of their roster for when a new quarterback arrives. Taking the top receiver on the board to go through his growing pains early could be in the cards for Washington. Washington may also spring for Daniel Jones, the quarterback from Duke, if they think he is their guy.
16. Carolina Panthers - Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State University
Dillard is another prospect who I think the NFL will love a lot more than I do, surprising everyone by going before Jawaan Taylor. Dillard’s athleticism, mobility, and pass blocking proficiency will make him very enticing to a team, like Carolina, who needs a lot of help along the offensive line.
17. New York Giants - Brian Burns, DE, Florida State University
The Giants may have just won the draft here. They don’t have to trade up, and still get their quarterback of the future, and my second-rated edge rusher falls into their laps at 17. The NFL may still be worried about Burns’s size and his ability to do anything with power, causing a drop much further than a lot of fans think. I’m not sure he can fall much further than this, but don’t be shocked if Burns is on the board much longer than you think he will be come Thursday.
18. Minnesota Vikings - Cody Ford, OL, University of Oklahoma
The Vikings desperately need offensive line help. Cody Ford is the best lineman on the board and has the mentality Mike Zimmer wants in his linemen. This one is too easy, given how the board is falling.
19. Tennessee Titans - Marquise Brown, WR, University of Oklahoma
I have Hollywood as my 10th overall receiver. So why do I have him as the second receiver off the board and the 19th overall selection? I think that Tennessee desperately wants to add a dynamic threat to their offense that forces teams to defend further than 20 yards downfield. Brown gives the Titans a threat unlike anything else on their offense and will do wonders to open things up underneath for Dion Lewis, Corey Davis, Derrick Henry, and Jonnu Smith. Brown fits very well here, despite my thought that this would be a huge overdraft. Mike Vrabel could also want a player to help shore up the defensive line, such as Christian Wilkins or Clelin Ferrell.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers - Greedy Williams, CB, Louisiana State University
Pittsburgh’s secondary is, to be concise, trash. The Steelers will look to someone, either at safety or corner. Here, they take the best playmaker of the secondary class in Greedy Williams, but they could also easily go with a safety at this spot.
21. Seattle Seahawks - Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson University
Seattle performed well above where their talent level suggests they should have performed, meaning they can really go best player available here. Seattle may very well trade back since they only have four picks in the entire draft, but here they pick up a leader for their defensive line. Wilkins will be the perfect “coach on the field” for Pete Carroll.
22. Baltimore Ravens - N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State University
Another gut feeling of mine. The Ravens really need a wide receiver who can be a consistent threat. Lamar Jackson struggled on intermediate routes, and may be best suited for a horizontal, quick passing game. Harry ran almost exclusively screens, slants, hitch routes, and go routes, which is absolutely perfect for Jackson’s skill set. Harry may not be the most talented receiver on the board, and he may not be the most dynamic receiver on the board, but he is the perfect fit for what Baltimore will want to do on offense.
23. Houston Texans - Jawaan Taylor, OT, University of Florida
Jawaan Taylor is the second-to-last guy that I have falling way further than he should. Houston is the benefactor here. I’ve consistently stated that Houston needs as many offensive linemen as possible in this draft, with needs at every spot, and my second-rated offensive tackle is still on the board. This one is a no-brainer for the Texans if the board falls this way.
24. Oakland Raiders - Josh Jacobs, RB, University of Alabama
Jon Gruden is an old-school football coach, and Mike Mayock is an old-school football mind. It would not surprise me at all to see them buck the trend of waiting for running backs and reaching for their guy at the end of the first round. Oakland could also build up their secondary here, and may also look for one of the remaining edge defenders.
25. Philadelphia Eagles - Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson University
It seems all Philadelphia does is sit back and take a prospect who falls way further than he should on draft day. This year, Clelin Ferrell falls into their laps, and Philadelphia adds a great run defender who can also consistently provide pressure in the passing game. I think Philadelphia looks to go with the best player available here, and in this mock draft, that guy just happens to be Ferrell.
26. Indianapolis Colts - Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State University
This fit is just too perfect. The Colts are a team built to win now, but with enough young talent at key positions that they have a very bright future. The Colts can wait on Simmons to heal up. Simmons may even be ready to go for a playoff run, giving the Colts an incredibly strong shot in the arm for a push to the Super Bowl. Simmons is a top-10 talent, and the rich get richer.
27. Oakland Raiders - Byron Murphy, CB, University of Washington
Only one player in the secondary has been taken so far, giving Oakland their pick of the rest of the litter. Fitting with the old-school mentality of their decision makers, the Raiders take a slightly undersized, slightly unathletic cornerback who is not afraid to punish opponents with a big hit and who is always around the ball. The Raiders are slowly but surely beginning to mirror their head coach.
28. Los Angeles Chargers – DeAndre Baker, CB, University of Georgia
The Chargers have talent across the board and can pick the best player available here. I think they look to the secondary with their pick, particularly a cornerback. DeAndre Baker is the pick here. I also would not be surprised to see the Cardinals making a selection here, with the Chargers sending this pick to Arizona to bring Josh Rosen, and the future replacement for Phillip Rivers, home to Los Angeles.
29. Kansas City Chiefs – Garrett Bradbury, IOL, North Carolina State University
The Chiefs could use a safety, an edge defender, or an interior lineman. I am giving them my top interior lineman in Garrett Bradbury, with his movement skills making him preferred over Chris Lindstrom, who is better suited for more of a power scheme.
30. Green Bay Packers - Chris Lindstrom, IOL, Boston College
Speaking of Lindstrom, Green Bay could use an improvement along the interior of their offensive line, and Lindstrom is a perfect fit here. Green Bay has shown they are more than willing to move around the draft, so a trade could be in the works here, but Lindstrom is the pick if they stay put.
31. Los Angeles Rams – Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
If any team can reach a little on a long, potentially athletic tackle with some severe technical deficiencies, it is the Rams. With Andrew Whitworth on the outside, the Rams don’t need a tackle to play right away. McVay takes a risk here on a player who could be dominant if he develops. The Rams could also be candidates to trade back and pick up some more picks to add to their lacking stash.
32. New England Patriots - Jerry Tillery, DT, University of Notre Dame
This is the epitome of a Patriots pick. Tillery is full of power and causes disruption with that power. That is the exact type of defensive lineman that the Patriots covet. Add to that the fact that Tillery went through the combine with a torn labrum, and Belichick can’t help but drool over this guy. With no tight ends worthy of a first round pick being on the board, the Patriots instead go after a defensive lineman who immediately becomes a key part of their rotation.
Remaining 49er Picks
36. Deebo Samuel, WR, University of South Carolina
Samuel is everything Kyle Shanahan wants in a receiver. He is great after the catch, his route running and speed allows him to get separation in his routes, he catches almost everything thrown his way. He’s the total package, and I don’t see how the 49ers could pass on him if he is on the board.
67. Dru Samia, IOL, University of Oklahoma
The 49ers need help at the guard position, without a long-term solution really present on the roster. Dru Samia is a perfect fit in a zone scheme, combining strength and athleticism in a way that would greatly benefit the offensive line. Samia can play on either side, and would improve a porous interior offensive line.
104. Mike Jackson, CB, University of Miami
This pick is based on the idea that Tarvarius Moore will be moved back to free safety, leaving the 49ers short one cornerback on the outside. Jackson has athleticism combined with the best press technique of any cornerback in this draft. He didn’t create too many turnovers, making many question his ball skills, but he was rarely tested due to his ability to cover top receivers on the outside.
176. Jalen Hurd, WR, Baylor University
The Hurd momentum is gathering, but I think he could potentially be had in the sixth round due to his inexperience at the position. However, much like Samuel, Hurd is everything Shanahan wants in a receiver. He is supremely athletic, catches the ball well, can run after the catch, and can separate with his speed and surprising nuance in route running. Hurd’s best fit may be as a big slot receiver, but there is a place for that in today’s NFL. Hurd is my draft crush, and will be until he gets taken elsewhere.
212. Tommy Sweeney, TE, Boston College
Sweeney is the ideal second tight end for the 49ers. He won’t require a high pick, he is one of the best blockers not named T.J. Hockenson, and he is a reliable receiver who understands where to find the holes in zone coverage. Will he break tackles and run 50 yards downfield for a big play? No, but the 49ers now have Kittle, Pettis, and Samuel for that. Sweeney will be on the roster for a decade and will provide instant value.
You can follow Zach on Twitter here!
Stay tuned to 49ersHub for more great 49ers and Draft analysis!