A Way-Too-Early Mock Draft: Pre-Combine

The NFL combine is approaching and as professional football hopefuls showcase their skills, it is time for a mock draft.

ARIZONA: DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State.
When you have the first pick in the NFL Draft, that means your season fell apart. With that being said, with the first overall pick comes the expectation that the Cardinals will draft a quarterback, defensive end, or left tackle. The Cardinals drafted their hopeful franchise quarterback Josh Rosen last year, so the next best thing is a defensive end who happens to be the best player in the draft, and is a special pass rusher with every move in the book.

SAN FRANCISCO: DE Brian Burns, Florida State.
The 49ers had a strong end to the 2017 season after they traded for Jimmy Garoppolo, so coming into the 2018 season there were high hopes that the team found their future star quarterback. These hopes diminished when Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a season-ending knee injury.  The 49ers take the second best pass rusher in the draft to team up with their already highly-drafted defensive line.

NEW YORK (AFC): DT Quinnen Williams, Alabama.
It’s the Jets. They love drafting defensive linemen high in the draft, and it seems like they will settle on Williams, who is a massive man with an impressive array of pass rush moves from the interior.

OAKLAND: DE Josh Allen, Kentucky.
Jon Gruden came in like a wrecking ball and traded arguably the league’s best pass rusher in Khalil Mack. Now, they will try to replace him with Allen, who, on his own account, was a highly productive player in college and can indeed get the job done and rush the passer.

TAMPA BAY: DT Ed Oliver, Houston.
With reports stating the team may be moving on from Gerald McCoy, the Buccaneers may be able to land a player like Oliver to fill in that role. Oliver is an undersized defensive tackle who can move the pocket of the opposing quarterback.

NEW YORK (NFC): LB Devin White, LSU.
Most people would think the Giants would go for a quarterback, but if they are going to roll out with Eli Manning again, the team thinks they can win with him and doesn’t need to take a quarterback in the early rounds. Instead, the team will draft a stud linebacker who can help the team this year. White is a rangy defender who can play sideline to sideline and cover.

JACKSONVILLE: QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State.
The Jaguars are excited that the Giants pass on a quarterback and they can get a player who is an upgrade over Blake Bortles. How much of an upgrade? Only time will tell. But Haskins is definitely the best quarterback in this draft class.

DETROIT: WR DK Metcalf, Ole Miss.
The Lions traded away their only consistent threat in the receiving game last year when they sent Golden Tate to the Eagles. Metcalf is going to be a high riser in the draft process once people see his skills and attributes. He is still raw a player with a huge upside, and Matthew Stafford needs weapons.

BUFFALO: TE TJ Hockenson, Iowa.
Hockenson is a rare prospect as he is coming out of school early but has the body and frame of a football player. He is an exceptional pass catcher with underrated blocking skills. This pick fits two needs for the Bills: someone to block and protect, and someone to catch passes from Josh Allen.

DENVER: QB Drew Lock, Missouri.
Ever since John Elway took over the Broncos, he has been in search of his franchise quarterback. He has tried to do this through the draft and free agency, but neither worked out, with the exception of Peyton Manning, of course. Reports everywhere state that Elway loves the tools Lock possesses, and could even trade up just to get his man.

CINCINNATI: OT Jonah Williams, Alabama.
With a new head coach in Zac Taylor, there may be a new philosophy. Where the Bengals had a history of drafting defense in the past could now be replaced with them trying to build on the offensive side of the ball. The first step should be to try to protect Andy Dalton, and Williams is a perfect fit.

GREEN BAY: DT Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State.
The Packers tried last year to find their anchor on the defensive line in Muhammad Wilkerson, but he got injured. Simmon is a cheap way to build up their line of scrimmage, as he plays like a man on a mission and refuses to be moved off of his spot. 

MIAMI: DE Jachai Polite, Florida.
With new head coach Brian Flores coming from New England, where defensive linemen are drafted high, Flores brings that same mindset to Miami. Polite stays in Florida as he goes pro.

ATLANTA: OT Cody Ford, Oklahoma.
The Falcons paid Matt Ryan like he is their franchise quarterback, so now they have to build up a wall to protect him. Ford is a right tackle and can move into the guard position if needed. This versatility will help Ford transition into the NFL.

WASHINGTON: QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma.
With the uncertainty surrounding Alex Smith and the chance that he may never play again, the Redskins look to get their next guy at the quarterback position. Murray is a mystery coming off of just one season as a starter, but the Heisman winner had an outstanding year and looks to build off of that at the next level. 

CAROLINA: DE Clenin Ferrell, Clemson.
Following the retirement of Julius Peppers, the Panthers are looking to replace his production. Their defensive line is getting older and it started to show this past season. Ferrell may provide the juice needed to get the kick-start that Carolina needs.

CLEVELAND: CB Greedy Williams, LSU.
The Browns get a steal with the best cornerback in the draft. Williams can play opposite last year’s first-round pick, Denzel Ward, giving the Browns two star cornerbacks.

MINNESOTA: G Chris Lindstrom, Boston College.
Paying Kirk Cousins franchise quarterback-level money was not a good move, but the Vikings need to move on from that and protect him. Lindstrom is a talented guard and also can improve the run game for the Vikings.

TENNESSEE: CB Byron Murphy, Washington.
What do you give the fanbase that doesn’t think they need help at cornerback? Perhaps, a gentle reminder that they play in the AFC South, and they do need another cornerback. Or perhaps, all they need is one Byron Murphy to get the job done.

PITTSBURGH: TE Noah Fant, Iowa.
Attention, Steelers fans. Do you remember Heath Miller? Fant is going to be Miller 2.0; they have the same make-up and skill set. The Steelers have needs on the defensive side of the ball, too, but Fant is Pittsburgh-bound.

SEATTLE: S Deionte Thompson, Alabama.
The Seahawks have been trying to replace the Legion of Boom for the past two offseasons. Thompson is a safety whose skills have been compared to those of some of the league’s best athletes. He is not afraid to get to the box and make a tackle, and he has the ability to cover anybody out of the backfield.

BALTIMORE: RB Joshua Jacobs, Alabama.
The Ravens backfield has been musical chairs for the past three seasons. With this pick, the team gets the highest-rated running back in the draft. Jacobs is a good runner with great hands who can block. He will fit real nice next to Lamar Jackson, who was Baltimore’s first-round pick last year.

HOUSTON: OT Jawaan Taylor, Florida.
Deshaun Watson was hit way too much for a team that likes to throw the ball around the field. Taylor is physical at the point of attack and a great pass blocker.

OAKLAND, via Chicago: S Nasir Adderley, Delaware.
Anybody who watched the Senior Bowl knows that Raiders head coach Jon Gruden loves Adderley. He is a physical safety who has the range to play the middle of the field in zone coverage. The connection between Adderley and Gruden has more chemistry than true love and just makes sense following the reports from the Senior Bowl.

PHILADELPHIA: C Garrett Bradbury, NC State.
With uncertainty surrounding current center Jason Kelce, the Eagles can get a player who can step in if needed at center, and, if not, can play guard and transition to center in a year or two. Bradbury has a good center of gravity and anchor when in his pass set.

OAKLAND, via Dallas: DT Rashan Gary, Michigan.
Gary is a player that many people think the Raiders would have considered as early as fourth overall in the draft. Gary will help build on the defensive line along with Josh Allen. The questions with Gary, and the reason why he falls in the draft, relate to the simple fact that his motor doesn’t operate at 100 percent all the time; he needs to take plays off on several occasions.

LOS ANGELES (AFC): LB Mack Wilson, Alabama.
What hurt the Chargers in the playoffs was their depth at linebacker; for a while, they were down to their third inside linebacker. Wilson can add to the impressive defense that includes former first-round picks Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, and Derwin James.

KANSAS CITY: OT Dalton Risner, Kansas State.
This is a safe pick for the Chiefs, as they get a player who can play any position on the offensive line. Risner has shown he can play nasty in the trenches and his history of playing center and offensive tackle certainly don’t hurt his draft stock.

GREEN BAY, via New Orleans: DE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State.
As the Packers continue to build up their defensive line, they select Sweat, who has shown in bursts that he can be a dominant pass rusher but needs to show this consistently.

LOS ANGELES (NFC): OT Yodny Cajuste, West Virginia.
With the possibility of Andrew Whitworth retiring, the Rams look to strengthen and replenish their offensive line. When head coach Sean McVay first joined the Rams, they spent money knowing that, to keep his offense going, he needs a solid offensive line.

NEW ENGLAND: DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson.
Bill Belichick loves physical football players who are true team leaders, and that is exactly what Wilkins is. The Patriots have a track record of drafting linemen in the first round, and this year will be no exception. Wilkins is a team leader who can play on special teams when asked.

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