With less than two weeks to go until the first round of the NFL draft kicks off on April 25, we’re now officially into the homestretch. The combine and free agency are in the books, the college pro-day circuit is over, and prospects are busy making last-minute visits to potential future teams. Taking all the information we can glean from the pre-draft phase thus far, let’s take another look at how the first round could play out. Here’s The Ringer’s NFL Mock Draft 5.0:
1. Arizona Cardinals: QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
This has been the pick in each of my last three mocks, and I don’t see any reason to change direction. Sure, it’s rare for a team to draft quarterbacks in back-to-back first rounds, but as Ringer colleague Kevin Clark so eloquently put it last week, Arizona’s strategy here should ultimately be: “If you don’t have a good quarterback situation, keep picking one until you do.” The questions around Murray’s lack of size are valid, but the former Sooner is the most talented passer in this draft and could become a franchise-changing cornerstone. If they do select Murray, the Cardinals have a couple of options in how to handle last year’s first-rounder, Josh Rosen: They could immediately trade him, or wait and try to rebuild some of his value during this season. But either way, Murray is too good to pass up at this spot.
2. San Francisco 49ers: DL Quinnen Williams, Alabama
Joey Bosa has been my pick at this spot over the past couple months, but there’s a very real chance that Williams is the highest-graded player on the Niners’ board. Plus, when San Francisco patched their need at edge rusher by trading for and extending Dee Ford last month, it gave the team the freedom to go with the Best Player Available model instead of drafting for need. Williams is a dominant interior rusher, capable of collapsing the pocket or getting to the quarterback with a combination of speed, power, and technique. Pairing him with DeForest Bucker would likely create one of the best interior defensive lines in the NFL.
3. New York Jets: EDGE Nick Bosa, Ohio State
Bosa falling to no. 3 is a dream scenario for the edge-rush-needy Jets. Like his brother Joey, Bosa has early-career All Pro potential; he’s big, strong, explosive, and plays with his hair on fire. Mike Maccagnan should run to the podium for this pick.
4. Oakland Raiders: EDGE Josh Allen, Kentucky
The Raiders can take a step toward filling Khalil Mack’s shoes by grabbing Allen with the fourth pick. The former Kentucky standout has an extremely versatile skill set, with first-step explosiveness and bend as a pass rusher, and awareness and range when he drops back into coverage. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther would have no problem deploying Allen in multiple roles in Oakland’s defense.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DL Ed Oliver, Houston
The Bucs have their pick of pass rushers like Montez Sweat, Brian Burns, and Clelin Ferrell at this spot, and they could also look to bolster their linebacker corps with Devin White. But Oliver’s rare skill set should trump their other needs. Gerald McCoy’s future with the team is up in the air, and dropping Oliver next to last year’s first-rounder Vita Vea in Todd Bowles’s new hybrid defense would not only create problems for opponents’ interior offensive linemen, but also make things easier for Jason Pierre-Paul and recent free-agent edge-rushing addition Shaquil Barrett.
6. New York Giants: OT Jonah Williams, Alabama
The Giants have done plenty to remake their offensive line over the past two seasons, adding left tackle Nate Solder and guard Will Hernandez last spring, and guard Kevin Zeitler in March. But there’s still a hole at right tackle―and Williams could be the answer. The former Crimson Tide standout is a technician in both the run and pass games and could start from day one. With this pick, the Giants would add a stalwart on the line.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: EDGE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
The foundation of the Jaguars defense over the past few seasons has been its deep and talented defensive line. But with the recent departures of Malik Jackson and Dante Fowler Jr., that unit needs reinforcements. Sweat is a rare athletic talent who brings length (35 ¾-inch arms) that rivals Calais Campbell and first-step explosiveness that resembles Yannick Ngakoue. He’d be a nice addition to Jacksonville’s pass-rush rotation in 2019 and a longer-term replacement for the 32-year-old Campbell.
8. Detroit Lions: CB Byron Murphy, Washington
The Lions have been looking for a counterpart to shutdown corner Darius Slay for the past few years, and they’d get a good one here in Murphy. The former Husky has lightning-quick feet, top-tier instincts, and excellent ball skills. Along with newcomers Justin Coleman and Rashaan Melvin, Murphy would cap the Lions’ offseason secondary makeover.
9. Buffalo Bills: EDGE Brian Burns, Florida State
The Bills need to add depth and talent to their undermanned pass-rush group, and they’d do just that with the selection of Burns at no. 9. The former Seminole is an explosive rusher with a quick first step and the flexibility to turn the corner. He’ll have to prove that he can keep his combine weight (249 pounds) on throughout the season (he was listed at 235 last year at Florida State), but because of his athletic traits, length, and flexibility, Burns may have more upside than any of the other edge rushers in this class.
10. Denver Broncos: QB Drew Lock, Missouri
Denver general manager John Elway has an interesting choice to make here, with both Dwayne Haskins and Lock still on the board. But he rolls with the Mizzou star because of his fit in what should be a bootleg and play-action-heavy scheme. Lock has a big arm, can throw on the move, protects the football, and has plenty of mobility to play point guard in new coordinator Rich Scangarello’s offense. He’ll have a chance to acclimate to the speed of the pro game as Joe Flacco’s understudy in year one.
11. Cincinnati Bengals: QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
The Bengals could go in any number of directions at this spot, but in this scenario, they’re happy to stop Haskins’s fall. The former Buckeye signal-caller has a strong arm and throws with accuracy, but he’s still raw, with just one season of starting experience under his belt. In Cincinnati, he’ll have a chance to develop behind incumbent starter Andy Dalton, whose contract goes through 2020 and contains zero remaining dead money.
12. Green Bay Packers: OT Jawaan Taylor, Florida
With starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga now on the wrong side of 30 and entering the final year of his contract, the Packers should insure that spot by adding the former Gators stalwart with the 12th pick. Taylor could compete for snaps at the right guard spot with newly signed free agent Billy Turner and projects as a long-time replacement on the right side of the line.
13. Miami Dolphins: OT Andre Dillard, Washington State
The Dolphins are in a full rebuild and start that process in the trenches, grabbing the former Washington State tackle with their first-round pick. Dillard has top-tier athleticism, light feet, and the potential to play on either side of the line. That pick would give Miami head coach Brian Flores options: He could start Dillard out opposite Laremy Tunsil at right tackle or drop the rookie in on the left, bumping the up-and-down Tunsil back inside to guard.
14. Atlanta Falcons: EDGE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
The Falcons recently signed former Patriots defensive end Adrian Clayborn to a one-year deal, but that won’t stop them from bolstering their edge-rush group even more by selecting Ferrell. The former Clemson star is long, athletic, and technically sound as a rusher and looks ready to contribute in the team’s defensive-line rotation right out of the gate. Ferrell is a high-floor, do-it-all end that could help this defense break out in 2019.
15. Washington Redskins: LB Devin Bush, Michigan
Washington’s got myriad needs on both sides of the ball, but they’d fill one important gap by adding a big-impact playmaker like Bush. The former Wolverine defender is a rangy, fiery ball hawk who can contribute in multiple roles from day one. He flies to the ball against the run, is an excellent blitzer, and has sideline-to-sideline speed in coverage.
16. Carolina Panthers: OT Cody Ford, Oklahoma
Carolina re-signed Daryl Williams to a one-year deal after he missed 15 games in 2018, but the team could add insurance on the offensive line by picking former Sooners tackle Cody Ford here. Ford has massive size, light feet, and a salty demeanor; he’s a reliable pass protector and road-grader in the run game who fits with the Panthers’ balanced offensive philosophy.
17. New York Giants (From Browns): LB Devin White, LSU
After nabbing a top-tier tackle with their first pick of the round, the Giants turn to the other side of the ball, adding a ferocious playmaker to the middle of their defense. White is physical, fast, and aggressive—and capable of upping the intensity of the players around him. In a division that features a bevy of dangerous pass catchers and elusive running backs like Ezekiel Elliott, Adrian Peterson, Derrius Guice, Jordan Howard, and Tarik Cohen, New York needs a versatile and explosive linebacker like White manning the middle.
18. Minnesota Vikings: DL Christian Wilkins, Clemson
The Vikings signed Shamar Stephen last month in a Band-Aid move to help the team replace recently departed defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. Grabbing Wilkins at this spot would give the team a young, dynamic, and versatile long-term replacement in the middle. Wilkins is a high-impact, high-effort pass rusher and run defender who fits right into Minnesota’s front.
19. Tennessee Titans: EDGE Rashan Gary, Michigan
Thirty-seven-year-old free-agent signing Cameron Wake gives the Titans a short-term boost at the edge-rusher spot, but Tennessee needs to keep investing in the future. Gary is a versatile and supremely athletic pass-rush prospect who’s still just scratching the surface of his potential. He lacks nuanced technique, but has excellent first-step explosion and plenty of power. He can line up in multiple spots on the Tennessee front, and former do-it-all defender Mike Vrabel seems capable of getting the most out of the talented former Wolverine.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: TE T.J. Hockenson, Iowa
The Steelers have glaring needs on the defensive side of the ball, but after trading away Antonio Brown, it makes sense to give aging quarterback Ben Roethlisberger another big-play weapon. I’ve seen some compare Hockenson to former Steeler Heath Miller: He’s a fierce, reliable blocker in both the run and pass games and is athletic and smooth in his pass routes. Hockenson’s a three-down impact player who, along with Vance McDonald, would give Pittsburgh the ability to get creative with two-tight-end sets.
21. Seattle Seahawks: DL Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State
The Seahawks will likely look to trade back from this spot come April 25, but if they can’t find a suitable partner, grabbing Simmons here would be a good consolation prize. The disruptive former Mississippi State defensive lineman will miss most or all of the 2019 season after he suffered an ACL tear in training, but when healthy, he has Pro Bowl potential as a penetrating three-technique pass rusher. He’s even athletic enough to play the strong-side end position in Seattle’s scheme.
22. Baltimore Ravens: WR A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
The Ravens’ current receiver depth chart—headlined by names like Willie Snead, Jordan Lasley, Chris Moore, and Quincy Adeboyejo—is, let’s say, a cause for concern, particularly considering the team is trying to develop second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson into a more consistent passer. Baltimore general manager Eric DeCosta badly needs to add talent to that group, and luckily he has all the options available to him at this spot. DeCosta could go with a high-upside pick in D.K. Metcalf or Hakeem Butler, or choose speed over size with Marquise Brown, but in this scenario, he puts his chips down on a big, versatile pass catcher in A.J. Brown. Brown has the potential to become a young quarterback’s best friend: He’s a dangerous weapon out of the slot, is capable of picking up big yardage after the catch, and showed flashes as an effective downfield receiver.
23. Houston Texans: CB Andraez “Greedy” Williams, LSU
The Texans need to upgrade their offensive line group, but with Williams on the board here at no. 23, they opt to go with a cornerback instead. The former LSU star is long, physical, and aggressive in coverage and brings top-tier speed and athleticism on the outside.
24. Oakland Raiders (From Bears): TE Noah Fant, Iowa
The Raiders added some dangerous weapons to their receiver corps this offseason in trading for Antonio Brown and signing Tyrell Williams, but after losing Jared Cook, the tight end group suddenly looks lackluster. Fant is stylistically very similar to Cook: He’s an explosive and dynamic pass catcher with downfield speed to threaten the seam and the route-running chops to be featured on isolation routes. As a bonus, he’s also solid as a blocker, both in-line and on the move.
25. Philadelphia Eagles: S Darnell Savage Jr., Maryland
The Eagles have a balanced roster with few major holes. But with Rodney McLeod set to enter his contract year, Philly must start planning for the future at safety. The team has its pick of all the top playmakers at that position here, giving the Eagles options like Alabama’s Deionte Thompson, Delaware’s Nasir Adderley, Mississippi State’s Johnathan Abram, or Florida’s Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, just to name a few. Ultimately, though, they go with Savage—an elite athlete with excellent instincts, the range to play deep, and the physicality to make an impact in the box.
26. Indianapolis Colts: WR D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss
The Colts took a low-risk flier on former Panther Devin Funchess, one that shouldn’t preclude them from adding talent at receiver in the draft. In this scenario, Metcalf’s fall out of the teens and into the late 20’s works to Indy’s advantage. The team gets a big, physical pass catcher with elite downfield speed and an extraordinary catch radius. Lined up opposite T.Y. Hilton, Andrew Luck could have a pair of top-tier, field-stretching targets to throw to.
27. Oakland Raiders (From Cowboys): CB Deandre Baker, Georgia
Oakland’s defense gets another infusion of talent with the selection of Baker here. The former Georgia star is a sticky, physical coverage corner with a nose for the ball and a fiery playing demeanor. He’d look great in black and silver.
28. Los Angeles Chargers: S Johnathan Abram, Mississippi State
The Chargers grabbed a game-changing talent in Derwin James in the first round last year and could add another top-tier player at the position this spring. Abram is a tenacious hitter with excellent instincts, good range, and, like James, he has contagious intensity. He’d be the perfect complement to the uber-versatile James, capable of playing up in the box, in two-deep looks, or over the slot in Los Angeles’s three-plus safety looks.
29. Kansas City Chiefs: OC Garrett Bradbury, NC State
After losing Mitch Morse to the Bills in free agency, the Chiefs could look to bolster their interior offensive line for 2019 and beyond. They do that here by grabbing Bradbury, an athletic, flexible, and strong center with quick feet, an understanding of angles in the run game, and experience at guard.
30. Green Bay Packers (From Saints): DL Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame
The Packers shored up their edge rush with free-agency acquisitions like Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith, and add even more firepower to their defensive line by grabbing Tillery with a pick they got from the Saints. The former Notre Dame star has length, power, quickness, and a repertoire of moves that help him collapse the pocket and slice through the offensive line. Tillery would be a nice fit lined up next to Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark, and would help transform the Packers’ defensive front into a fearsome group.
31. Los Angeles Rams: OC Erik McCoy, Texas A&M
After deciding not to exercise John Sullivan’s 2019 option, the Rams have a big question mark at the center spot. The draft offers a handful of game-ready, day-one starting options at the position, and with Bradbury already off the board, the Rams roll with McCoy, a reliable former Aggie with good athleticism and a strong anchor. McCoy has the mobility to block in Los Angeles’s wide zone run game and the power to hold up against interior rushers in the run game.
32. New England Patriots: WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma
We’ll end the first round in a similar way to how we started it: by picking an undersized but super-talented prospect out of Oklahoma. After weighing in at just 166 pounds at the combine, there are plenty of questions about Brown’s pronounced lack of size. But what the former Sooner lacks in mass he makes up for in speed and route-running chops. Brown is lightning quick down the sideline and can play all over the formation, threatening a defense deep or taking a screen pass and picking up chunk yards. He’s the perfect fit for a team lacking a true field-stretching threat.