Early 2019 NFL Mock Draft: Defensive Linemen Fly Off The Board

The NFL season has hit its quarter point. Division races are starting to shape, and there are teams that are gravitating towards the top of the draft board. Yet, the season is still surprising to this point.

Right now, the Atlanta Falcons are drafting in the top 10. The Patriots currently sit at pick 16, and the Bengals and Ravens are in the last five picks at the end of the first round.

Sounds like a season that everyone predicted.

The other part of the equation is becoming clearer as well. After five weeks of college football, we are learning plenty about the incoming draft class. Everyone has found out by now that defensive line and wide receiver are both very deep in this class. Getting a strong pass rush is important, and teams are seeing that first hand with how the Bears are playing with Khalil Mack.

So, without further ado, here is my first mock draft for 2019, the first of many to come in the next six months.

1. Arizona Cardinals: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston

The Arizona Cardinals have needs on both the offensive and defensive line. However, the offensive line performed alright against the Seahawks on Sunday, giving Josh Rosen ample time on many longer forming plays. It’s the defensive line that could use the bigger boost to create pressure. They go with Ed Oliver from Houston, a player who has gotten comparisons to Aaron Donald. Oliver plays very quick for his 290 pound frame, and is a pass rusher from the interior as well as a strong presence to play gaps in the run game. He will thrive wherever he goes.

2. New York Jets: Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State

Like the Cardinals, the Jets sit atop the draft with their quarterback situation figured out. Sam Darnold looks like he is full of potential. The defense is playing better this season as well, especially in the secondary and at linebacker. The one thing they are missing is someone who can consistently get after the quarterback. This is where Nick Bosa comes in. Bosa is an excellent pass rusher with a good get off and the ability to win with many different moves. He uses his hands very well and doesn’t give up ground while he does, which is an elite trait for rushers. Bosa and Leonard Williams would be a nice duo on the line.

3. San Francisco 49ers: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

The 49ers would love it if Bosa would have fallen to them, but they don’t get lucky in this scenario. If going edge is out of the question, getting help on the perimeter for their secondary should also be up there on the priority list. While they did sign Richard Sherman in the offseason, he isn’t a long term solution. Second year corner Ahkello Witherspoon is getting good reps this season, but it’s likely he won’t be a number one corner. So, the Niners go with Greedy Williams. Williams is a physical corner with plenty of speed and the ability to mirror routes. He would come in and provide a spark to that defense.

4. Houston Texans: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama

If you’ve watched the Texans this year, you’ve seen a team that has been in games with their defense, but the offense hasn’t been anywhere near as explosive as they were with Deshaun Watson last season. This is due to the lack of talent along the offensive line, something the Texans haven’t put focus into the line in a while. If they end up picking this high, finding someone to protect Watson is of utmost importance. Adding Jonah Williams is a first step to a complete rebuild. Williams is a powerful presence at left tackle with strong hands and good footwork to handle opposing rushers. He can play from the get go.

5. Indianapolis Colts: Raekwon Davis, DL, Alabama

The Indianapolis Colts are still very much a work in progress, even with the return of Andrew Luck. After investing heavily in the offensive line in the 2018 draft, 2019 needs to be about getting studs for the defense. It starts for them on the defensive line, where there is no true difference maker. Either edge or the interior would work to build around, and the Colts ultimately go with Raekwon Davis. Davis is a taller defensive lineman with a lot of length. He does a great job getting low and winning with his lower body, but he can also use his hands well and move quick to get around blocks. The Colts have to start somewhere, and Davis would be a good one.

6. Detroit Lions: Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson

The Lions unquestionably need help along the edge, especially with the uncertainty surrounding Ziggy Ansah. If he walks after the season, the Lions pass rush is on life support. Adding someone with the talent of Clelin Ferrell would be a big help. Ferrell has good bend for his size and strong hands. He would provide immediate help, and the Lions would have the opportunity to double up later in the draft.

7. Buffalo Bills: Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan

The Bills just got their quarterback in 2018, and they could use some help to protect him, but it’s tough to say that another tackle is worth of a top 10 selection at this point. The defensive line is one of the better groups in Buffalo this season, but they could use an elite talent. Rashan Gary would probably play end for the Bills even with his current size, but he has enough twitch to become a dominant player. It hasn’t shown up much on the stat sheet for Gary this season, but he has the traits to eventually get the production where it needs to be.

8. New York Giants: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

Finally, a team with a need at quarterback. The Giants have drafted a quarterback in the last two drafts, but they didn’t give Davis Webb much of a chance and Kyle Lauletta isn’t the long term answer. It’s time to actually get a strong plan in place for when Eli Manning finally hangs it up. This quarterback class still has plenty of questions, but right now, Justin Herbert is the top guy. Herbert has the arm to make special throws, and he’s had a very good season so far. He still needs to work on handling pressure and will need to take snaps under center throughout the draft process, but he is the best the class has to offer right now.

9. Atlanta Falcons: Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State

Atlanta has struggled so far in the season, and they have had so many injuries on defense. The roster is still extremely good, and the Falcons can afford a luxury pick here. The offensive line is getting older, and having some depth is important for Matt Ryan. Dalton Risner started out as a center for Kansas State, and he’s playing right tackle this season. His versatility is something teams will like, and the Falcons would love to be able to play him at multiple spots along the line.

10. Oakland Raiders: Devin White, LB, LSU

The Raiders still need pass rush help (no matter what Gruden says), but Oakland hasn’t had a dominant linebacker for a very long time. It’s time for that to change. Devin White would bring some much needed athleticism to the linebacker position. He is excellent as a sideline-to-sideline player and will be an effective blitzer with his speed. With the depth the Raiders currently have, White could come in a be a starter, even with how raw he still is.

11. Minnesota Vikings: David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin 

This trend has been getting pretty old, but the Minnesota Vikings one roster hole right now is on the offensive line. The group just doesn’t have the technicians at tackle, and their interior line has suffered injury. If they want to sustain success, especially on offense, the Vikings need to find a better option at tackle. David Edwards continues a long line of Wisconsin offensive linemen with very good NFL potential. Edwards is a powerful right tackle with enough technique to move over to the left side. He would be a great addition for Minnesota’s line.

12. Cleveland Browns: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia

The Browns got one future stud at corner in the 2018 draft (Denzel Ward), but the secondary is far from a finished product. He isn’t getting a lot of buzz on draft boards, but Deandre Baker definitely has the league’s attention at cornerback. He is a tough, physical player at the line of scrimmage with very good coverage skills. He already has two picks in 2018, and hasn’t yet allowed a touchdown. He would look great on the opposite side of Ward in 2019.

13. Pittsburgh Steelers: Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama

It’s no secret that the Steelers are in need of defensive help after their performance through four games in 2018. Secondary and linebacker are two major points of concern, and the linebacker position has been hurting since the loss of Ryan Shazier. Mack Wilson could come in and be the linebacker the Steelers have been missing. Wilson has the speed and size to play in today’s NFL. He has great anticipation and is a physical downhill tackler.

14. Dallas Cowboys: Dre’Mont Jones, DL, Ohio State

The Dallas Cowboys are in an odd situation. It looks like this year won’t be a playoff year for them, but the roster really isn’t too bad. The defense is young, but is improving greatly, especially in the secondary. It’s a crazy thought, but quarterback might not be out of the question come next April if the organization feels like Dak Prescott isn’t the guy. The Cowboys ultimately settle on defensive line. Dre’Mont Jones would be a great addition along that line. David Irving is finally back, and Demarcus Lawrence has played great the last two seasons, but it never hurts to add more to the mix. Jones is an athletic lineman with plenty of quickness to get around blocks. He will be a great presence rushing the passer from the interior.

15. Seattle Seahawks: Brian Burns, EDGE, Florida State

The Seattle Seahawks are a shell of the defense they had back in 2013. With Earl Thomas going down last Sunday, their true difference makers left are Bobby Wagner and Frank Clark. Here, they add another difference maker who can help get their defense back to where it was. Brian Burns is an edge rusher with excellent bend around the edge. He also possesses good counter moves. Burns would fit right in opposite Clark.

16. New England Patriots: Will Grier, QB, West Virginia

It’s odd to see the Patriots picking this high, but through four weeks, this is where they stand. Their team just isn’t built like it was earlier in the decade. Instead of picking a defensive star, the Pats begin the plan of life after Tom Brady. Brady has likely two seasons or so left in the tank, and they need a back up plan after Jimmy Garoppolo was traded last season. Will Grier would be a perfect prospect to bring in to wait for a bit. He has the arm strength and touch down the field to succeed in the NFL. Working with Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels would ensure his development.

17. Denver Broncos: Brian Lewerke, QB, Michigan State

The Broncos brought in Case Keenum in the offseason after his very good 2017 in Minnesota. So far this season, he has been underwhelming, and Denver’s recent draft picks at quarterback haven’t been good. They need to go out and find a signal caller for the future in this draft. Here, they end up with Brian Lewereke from Michigan State. Lewerke has a strong pocket presence and throws with good timing and anticipation. Another strong season in 2018 will see him rise up draft boards.

18. Philadelphia Eagles: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Mississippi

The Eagles have started slow in 2018, and part of the blame has to come from their pass catcher depth. Alshon Jeffery finally got into action last week, and before that, the group was being carried by slot receiver Nelson Agholor. It’s important that they continue to supply Carson Wentz with weapons. Mississippi wideout D.K. Metcalf would be a great addition to the Eagles. He is a big receiver who can win above the rim, and he also has a great release off the line to separate from defenders. Having another big target in Philly would be a huge benefit.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama

The Bucs got off to a strong start in 2018 thanks to some Fitzmagic, but the past two weeks have humbled them a bit. This team may not find themselves in the postseason, which will put Dirk Koetter on the hot seat. It is entirely possible that they could pick a quarterback in April with the up and down career Jameis Winston has had, but here they elect to go with defense. Justin Evans is a nice player on the back end, but adding Deionte Thompson gives them help near the line of scrimmage as well. Thompson could play either safety spot, as he has the range and anticipation to play deep as well as the physicality to play near the LOS.

20. Los Angeles Chargers: Jeffery Simmons, DL, Mississippi State

The Chargers are still contending in the twilight of Philip Rivers’ career, and adding pieces around him should be the top priority. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are a great duo on the edge, but they could use some help on the interior. Los Angeles gets a break with Jeffery Simmons falling to them. Simmons has been an absolute force on the Mississippi State line this season, and he would make the Chargers defense even more dangerous.

21. Green Bay Packers: Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State

The Packers finally got help at corner in last year’s draft, leaving edge as their most important position to address for 2019. Both Nick Perry and Clay Matthews are underperforming right now, and adding someone to ignite the group is huge. Montez Sweat is a long edge rusher with good bend and hand usage. He would fit right in in Mike Pettine’s scheme.

22. Washington Redskins: N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State

The Washington Redskins have been a pleasant surprise through four weeks in 2018. Alex Smith and the offense have been doing well, and the defense is getting plenty of pressure on opponents. However, it wouldn’t hurt to give Smith another weapon on the outside. Adding an electric playmaker like N’Keal Harry would be a big benefit to the offense. Harry is a tall, lanky wide receiver who can win above the rim and also create big gains after the catch.

23. Miami Dolphins: Zach Allen, DL, Boston College

The Dolphins are another surprise through four games this season, and they can contend for a playoff spot in a weak AFC. When looking to 2019, getting help along the defensive line will be a big priority. They have already lost William Hayes to a torn ACL this season. Robert Quinn isn’t getting any younger. The Dolphins also haven’t gotten much out of Charles Harris so far. Adding someone like Zach Allen, who can play in multiple spots along the line, would be a nice get for Miami.

24. Tennessee Titans: Dexter Lawrence, DL, Clemson 

The Titans are quietly building a strong defense under head coach Mike Vrabel. They are already getting returns from second round pick Harold Landry, and Jurrell Casey continues to be a beast in the middle. Rashaan Evans will likely contribute as well at linebacker real soon. Here, the Titans add another interior presence with game wrecking potential. Dexter Lawrence moves well for 340 pounds, and he can take on plenty of double teams to free up guys on the outside. He will also be a big help against the run.

25. Carolina Panthers: Levonta Taylor, CB, Florida State

The Panthers got some relief at corner in the 2018 draft, selecting burner Donte Jackson. Now, they add someone with a much more technical skill. Levonta Taylor got plenty of hype entering the season for Florida State. With the Seminoles not getting much attention, Taylor is quietly putting together a strong year. He is great in man coverage and has great anticipation to jump in front of routes.

26. Oakland Raiders (from Bears): Taylor Rapp, S, Washington

The Raiders continue to add to their defense here, getting a versatile safety in Taylor Rapp. Rapp plays all over for the Washington Huskies, from a deep third to man coverage in the slot. He has the speed to hang with receivers, and is a great filler in the run game as a tackler. He is an aggressive playmaker as well, something Oakland seriously needs.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars: Kelvin Harmon, WR, North Carolina State

The Jags are committed to Blake Bortles, so they pass on a potential stud at quarterback. The offense has a decent group of receivers, but they are still in need of a number one guy. Kelvin Harmon has the potential to be that guy. At six foot three, he has the size and frame to be a big time red zone target. He can win above the rim with very strong hands. He isn’t a precise route runner, but he can come in and thrive in the red zone and be a bailout guy for a 50/50 ball.

28. Cincinnati Bengals: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

Probably the biggest surprise of the first round, the Bengals decide to get a plan in place to replace longtime quarterback Andy Dalton, despite a strong start to the 2018 season. The weapons are in place, and the Bengals can take their time developing Drew Lock, who has good potential. Lock has a very good arm and can make high difficulty throws, including the back shoulder throw. He needs to work on developing as a quarterback who can take snaps under center, but his ceiling is higher than Dalton’s at this point.

29. Green Bay Packers (from Saints): Marqise Brown, WR, Oklahoma

The Packers moved on from Jordy Nelson in the offseason, and their receiver group, while a reliable bunch, still needs to find a gamebreaker who can threaten defenses down the field. Here, they select Marqise Brown, who is dominating the Big 12 right now. He has the speed and explosiveness the Packers are looking for, and adding a consistent influx of playmakers to help Aaron Rodgers is important down the stretch of his career.

30. Baltimore Ravens: Anfernee Jennings, DE, Oregon

The Ravens drafted two tight ends in the 2018 draft in order to give quarterback Joe Flacco more weapons on offense. In the 2019 first round, they shift back to drafting defense. Even though Ozzie Newsome completed his last draft as the Ravens GM, that doesn’t mean the Alabama ties completely go away. Anfernee Jennings is a strong edge defender with strong hands and a great presence in the run game. He lacks some explosiveness around the edge, but he is a sound player who will give the Ravens some depth.

31. Los Angeles Rams: Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida

Remember. This. Name. Florida edge defender Jachai Polite is turning heads after his last couple performances, most recently against Mississippi State. Polite has serious explosiveness and bend around the edge, and teams are always looking for that dynamic presence. The Rams have great depth on the interior, but they are still looking for a difference maker on the edge. Polite can be that guy for them.

32. Kansas City Chiefs: Kendall Sheffield, CB, Ohio State 

The Chiefs are riding high thanks to the great play of Patrick Mahomes and the offense thus far. However, the Chiefs are finding themselves having to win in shootouts, pointing to a need on the defensive side of the ball. They traded away Marcus Peters in the offseason, but did Kendall Fuller in the Alex Smith trade. Kansas City still needs help at corner, and adding Kendall Sheffield would help. Sheffield is the latest talent to come out of Ohio State and his technique and speed are important traits to have as a corner.

Thoughts on your team’s selection? Who is the first round missing right now? Let me know on Twitter @JakeNFLDraft.