Once upon a time, we published multiple versions of a mock draft.
Postseason. Pre-Combine. Post-Combine. Pre-free agency. Post-free agency. Pre-Pro Day workouts. Post-Pro Day workouts. Pre-Easter. Post-Easter. Pre-Draft. Post-Draft (that one is usually features my highest accuracy rate).
We now do one, and only one. Sure, mock drafts rack up easy page views. But it’s all meaningless until the draft comes into focus. Even then, it’s still meaningless. But, you know, when in Rome.
This mock draft is the product of the efforts of multiple sources and contract who are in far better position than most to know what will happen. Even though no one really knows what will happen.
So take this for what it’s worth, call it the worst mock you’ve ever seen, point out that we’ve included no potential trades. Whatever. And then wait for Thursday night to see what happens in the actual draft, remembering only the rare occasions when we closed our eyes, threw a dart, and somehow hit the board.
1. Cardinals: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma.
The NFL wants to keep Arizona’s plans a secret until the TV audience gathers for the draft. If Murray finds out that he’s not the first pick, however, the secret will be out. And Murray will know, since his agent also represents Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury.
The Murray pick makes sense despite the presence of Josh Rosen. Given the rookie wage scale, it’s much better to take a chance on a potentially great quarterback who fails than to pass on a guy who could be the NFL’s next big thing. And Murray could be just that.
2. 49ers: Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State.
A pivot to Quinnen Williams wouldn’t be a surprise. A trade down also could happen, especially if Murray slips through the cracks. For now, though, the smart play is the brother of a guy who quickly became one of the best pass rushers in pro football three years ago.
3. Jets: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston.
They want to trade down, which helps explain why the Raiders are nervous about a potential trade partner guessing correctly as to Oakland’s plans. There’s no reason to doubt the reporting that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams wants Oliver, even if the next guy of the board could be the better performer.
4. Raiders: Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama.
With Patrick Mahomes in the division, a guy who can flush him out of the pocket prematurely will be critical to any effort to outscore Kansas City. (One defensive upgrade isn’t nearly enough for the Raiders to compete with the Chiefs, however.) The surprise move in this spot would be to take quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who’d be getting a lot more media hype but for the presence of Kyler Murray in the draft pool.
5. Buccaneers: Devin White, LB, LSU.
This is a no-brainer confluence of best available player and need, given that Kwon Alexander left via free agency. A trade down also is possible, if a team like Washington wants to cut the line before the Giants can take Dwayne Haskins (even though we don’t have the Giants taking Dwayne Haskins).
6. Giants: Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky.
With Olivier Vernon gone, the Giants need a pass rusher more than they need a quarterback. And need drives these decisions, even if guys like G.M. Dave Gettleman try to say it doesn’t.
7. Jaguars: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida.
Nick Foles thrived in Philly due in large part to an offensive line that bought him just enough time. Now that the Jaguars have bought Foles’ football rights, they need to ensure that he’ll be able to thrive.
8. Lions: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa.
Gronk is gone; long live Gronk. Hockenson could become sort-of the guy in Detroit that Rob Gronkowski was in New England — a year after the Lions tried to trade for Gronkowski.
9. Bills: Brian Burns, EDGE, FSU.
Here’s a move that could be followed by a trade of Jerry Hughes and his $6.35 million salary to a team that fails to get a pass rusher it covets in round one.
10. Broncos: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri.
The slow-moving Willie Wonka competition for control of the franchise could give John Elway plenty of cover as he tries to rebuild a team that has fallen apart in recent years. Joe Flacco may not like this one, but Elway may see one very important trait in Lock: A great quarterback who was bogged down by a bad college team.
11. Bengals: Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma.
This is higher than many would peg Ford. But the Bengals don’t like to play the trade-down game. They settle on a guy, and they take him. If Ford’s their guy, he goes here.
12. Packers: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama.
Given with Khalil Mack and other great defensive linemen in the division, Aaron Rodgers needs all the help he can get as he enters the twilight years of his NFL career.
13. Dolphins: Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson.
Although it’s not retired, Ferrell likely would need Jason Taylor’s blessing to wear preferred number 99. (Especially since Ferrell wears it not for Taylor but for Aldon Smith.) Ferrell could be as good as Smith, who at one point averaged nearly one sack per game, without the baggage. Or they could decide not to Tank for Tua and take Dwayne Haskins.
14. Falcons: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson.
If Wilkins is gone, they may opt for teammate Dexter Lawrence, as Peter King suggested in his mock draft.
15. Washington: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State.
The Alex Smith injury makes this a clear area of need. The question would become whether Haskins starts right away, or whether Case Keenum/Colt McCoy get the nod to start 2019. Either way, drafting Haskins would mean Smith likely won’t be back, ever.
16. Panthers: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State.
Cam Newton‘s career won’t last as long as it could or should without competent protection. Dillard is the kind of guy who could help Carolina achieve that goal.
17. Giants (from Browns): Daniel Jones, QB, Duke.
They’ll be taking a risk by not picking Jones at No. 6, inviting someone to trade up in front of No. 17 and nab Jones. If not, the Giants get a guy who reminds Gil Brandt of Peyton Manning to eventually replace Eli Manning.
18. Vikings: Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington.
He has said his life is “basically a country song,” which makes him a good fit for a franchise whose existence is also a tale of chronic despair and disappointment. The Vikings need bodies to protect Kirk Cousins, who lacks the mobility to escape a collapsed pocket.
19. Titans: Rashan Gary, EDGE, Michigan.
Shoulder concerns make him available at No. 19, and the Titans get a key piece to a defense that continues to be the quiet strength of the team.
20. Steelers: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa.
With JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington on the outside, a guy like Fant can draw attention to the middle of the field, opening things up for his teammates.
21. Seahawks: Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State.
Frank Clark is gone, and the Seahawks (if they don’t trade down) may be willing to roll the dice on a guy with a heart condition that will scare some teams away. They also could, in theory, trade down and still get Sweat.
22. Ravens: A.J. Brown, WR, Mississippi.
With free agents not flocking to an offense that won’t be mimicking the Run ‘N’ Shoot, the Ravens need to reel in a wideout in round one. Brown would be a surprise choice over teammate D.K. Metcalf, but injury issues and production concerns may cause Metcalf to slide. Brown, who lacks the superhero physique, has nevertheless more been durable and productive in the same offense.
23. Texans: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU.
Offensive line is a clear area of need, but it will be hard to pass up a speedy corner — especially for a team that plays in a division that has Andrew Luck and Nick Foles, and in a conference that has Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, Baker Mayfield, and Ben Roethlisberger.
24. Raiders (from Bears): Jaylon Ferguson, EDGE, Louisiana Tech.
The Khalil Mack trade has made pass rusher a clear area of need. Taking one at No. 24 and not No. 4 will reduce comparisons to the No. 5 overall pick from five years ago.
25. Eagles: Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State.
They know the value of a strong rotation along the defensive line. Simmons would have been near the top of the board but for a torn ACL suffered during predraft workouts. And the Eagles weren’t bashful about throwing a lifeline to cornerback Sidney Jones, who tore an Achilles at his Pro Day workout two years ago.
26. Colts: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson.
Best player available and also an area of need. No-brainer for G.M. Chris Ballard.
27. Raiders (from Cowboys): Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama.
With Marshawn Lynch not returning, the Raiders need a running back. Jacobs is the best of this year’s bunch.
28. Chargers: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan.
Sneaky great defense gets greater, if Bush somehow slips through the cracks and is available at this spot.
29. Seahawks (from Chiefs): Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma.
To justify the investment in Russell Wilson, he needs to throw the ball. So they need someone to catch the ball, especially with Doug Baldwin banged up.
30. Packers (from Saints): Byron Murphy, CB, Washington.
The defense gets a building block as the Packers try to build back toward contention.
31. Rams: Garrett Bradbury, C, N.C. State.
John Sullivan is gone, and the interior offensive line becomes a position of specific concern — especially as the 49ers’ defensive line slides toward “dominant.” Bradbury helps to shore things up in front of Jared Goff.
32. Patriots: Erik McCoy, OG, Texas A&M.
A trade out of round one to a team that wants a quarterback is possible, as is the Patriots taking a quarterback themselves. McCoy would help keep the front of the pocket clean, so that Tom Brady can continue to step and slide away from outside pressure without having to worry about needing a walker.