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Anything and everything can happen in the first round of the annual NFL draft, including players dropping down the board, players rising unexpectedly and perhaps at least a small handful of throw-the-remote-through-the-window decisions made by teams that end up affecting the picks behind them.
How might the first round of this year’s draft look? Here is a team-by-team breakdown based on need and best player available for each team.
- Arizona Cardinals: QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
The Cardinals have tried to create a diversion regarding their true intentions for the very first pick in the draft, but it’s hard imagining general manager Steve Keim denying new head coach Kliff Kingsbury a quarterback who has experience running his system. The selection of Murray makes too much sense because he will most likely be able to get the Cardinals offense off and running with minimal growing pains.
- San Francisco 49ers: Edge Nick Bosa, Ohio State
The 49ers reportedly didn’t want to part with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft when they had discussions with the Giants regarding receiver Odell Beckham Jr. And who could blame them? If the Cardinals grab Murray, that leaves the 49ers, who last year tied for 22nd in total sacks, with a clear path to Bosa, a premier edge rusher with the potential to dominate from Day 1.
- New York Jets: Edge Josh Allen, Kentucky
The Jets were left stranded at the altar when edge rusher Anthony Barr had a change of heart about joining them as a free agent. Allen is not only a very good consolation prize, but he’d also come a lot cheaper than a free agent while probably having way more upside.
- Oakland Raiders: Edge Rashan Gary, Michigan
Remember how last year Raiders coach Jon Gruden claimed that “great pass rushers are hard to find” after he traded away Khalil Mack? Gruden now has a chance to fix that issue on a defense that finished with a league-low, embarrassing 13 sacks in 2018 with New Jersey native Gary.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: LB Devin White, LSU
The Bucs lost Kwon Alexander in the off-season to the 49ers and didn’t really replace him in their defense. White could be a nice addition for new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who will be tasked with adding speed and impact to a Bucs defense that struggled last year.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MARCH 02: Alabama defensive lineman Quinnen Williams answers questions from the media during the NFL Scouting Combine on March 02, 2019 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
- New York Giants: DT Quinnen Williams, Alabama
Sorry Giants fans, but it’s not going to be a quarterback at six. The Giants defense is in shambles, with their biggest need being up front. If Williams, who can potentially help not only with perking up a run defense gone stale over the last two seasons but also push the pocket, is sitting there at No. 6, the Giants should express mail that card to Commissioner Roger Goodell.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: OT Jawaan Taylor, Florida
The Jaguars were so desperate for offensive tackle help last year that they brought in Giants castoff Ereck Flowers. Flowers has since taken his act to Washington, leaving the Jaguars to rebuild that offensive line. And what better way to start the rebuild than by adding the big-bodied Taylor to the mix?
- Detroit Lions: Edge Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
With the Lions apparently having moved on from Ziggy Ansah, Sweat, who has that similar length and ability could end up as an intriguing replacement, especially if he continues to add some bulk that will better help him with avoiding being caught in the wash.
- Buffalo Bills: OT Jonah Williams
The Bills spent some free agency resources on revamping their offensive line, but they could still use a franchise caliber left tackle to help shore up quarterback Josh Allen’s pass protection. Williams is widely regarded as the best tackle in this class, so it would not be a stunner at all if he is the first to go off the board.
- Denver Broncos: QB Drew Lock, Missouri
The Broncos traded for Joe Flacco in the offseason, but the 34-year-old, it appears, is a stop-gap solution—a veteran who can help bring along the franchise’s next quarterback. That quarterback could very well end up being Lock, a quarterback prospect the Broncos are said to be enchanted with.
- Cincinnati Bengals: LB Devin Bush, Michigan
The Bengals defense lacked playmaking prowess last year, something that new head coach Zac Taylor is no doubt looking to rectify. Bush might be undersized for the position, but he more than makes up for it with his speed and coverage skills.
- Green Bay Packers: TE Noah Fant, Iowa
The Packers already have 32-year-old Jimmy Graham and 34-year-old Marcedes Lewis listed on the depth chart at tight end, but both are not only getting up there in age, but their production has also barely made a blip in the Packers offense. Graham’s production has steadily been declining—he went from 65 receptions in 2016 with Seattle to 55 receptions last year, his first season with the Packers. Lewis, meanwhile, caught just three passes in 16 games with the Pack last season. Fant is regarded as the best tight end in this draft class and should still be on the board once it gets to picks 10-15.
- Miami Dolphins: QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
The Dolphins cut the cord on Ryan Tannehill and signed 36-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick to serve as the veteran mentor to whomever the next franchise quarterback is. If Haskins is still sitting on the board by now, Miami should absolutely snap him up to run offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea’s system under new head coach Brian Flores.
- Atlanta Falcons: Edge Brian Burns, Florida State
Grady Jarrett can’t generate the pass rush all by himself. While Atlanta also has edge rushers Takkarist McKinley and Vic Beasley, Jr, the latter’s production (5.0 sacks in each of his last two seasons) has been underwhelming to where an upgrade would almost certainly be welcomed.
- Washington Redskins: WR D.K. Metcalf, Mississippi
Although it’s tempting to go with QB Daniel Jones here, Washington’s bigger need is a receiver on an offense that finished 29th in the league in receiving last year. Washington hasn’t really had a receiver capable of taking the top off the defense since Pierre Garcon in his prime. Metcalf would give them a tall (6’3”) receiving target capable of becoming a legitimate No. 1 receiver if he can stay healthy.
- Carolina Panthers: Edge Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
With Julius Peppers having called it a career, the Panthers need pass rushing help off the edge. Ferrell finished his college campaign with 27.0 sacks, and 50.5 tackles for a loss, proving he can be a disruptive force that must be accounted for.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – FEBRUARY 27: Dalton Risner #OL49 of the Kansas State Wildcats is seen at the 2019 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
- New York Giants (via Cleveland Browns): OL Dalton Risner, Kansas State
Nope, sorry Giants fans. I’m still not going quarterback. The Giants need to complete their offensive line rebuild. Regardless if they sign former Viking Mike Remmers (who would likely be a stop-gap solution), the Giants still need depth at offensive tackle. What makes Risner so attractive here is his versatility; he can play center and right tackle and has played both positions well enough to where he could potentially step in on a moment’s notice if there is an injury at either spot.
- Minnesota Vikings: TE T.J. Hockenson, Iowa
Kyle Rudolph has been a steady performer in the Vikings offense, but he’ll turn 30 in November and is in the final year of his contract. Hockenson is a throwback style of tight end who can not only do damage as a route runner, but who can hold his own as a blocker, which would be a big help on that Minnesota offensive line.
- Tennessee Titans: DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson
Wilkins would make for a nice complementary piece alongside Jurrell Casey on the Titans’ interior defensive line. A smart player with a solid character Wilkins can not only be disruptive moving straight ahead, but he can also drop into coverage.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: WR Paris Campbell, Ohio State
The Steelers just rid themselves of Antonio Brown and will no doubt be looking for a younger, cheaper player to step in and at least contribute to the production Brown delivered. Of course, if they can get a player who doesn’t create the off-field drama, even better. Campbell, 6’0”, 205 pounds, could be a nice complementary piece to go along with JuJu Smith-Schuster and newly signed Donte Montcrief.
- Seattle Seahawks: DT Ed Oliver, Houston
Would Oliver slide all the way down to the 20s? That depends on which school of thought you prescribe to. In this case, Seattle has made do with smaller, more athletic defensive players, thanks to their defensive scheme, so Oliver could potentially step right in here and benefit from playing on a line that includes Jarran Reed.
- Baltimore Ravens: Edge Jaylon Ferguson, Louisiana Tech
The Ravens lost two pass rushers in ZaDarius Smith and Terrell Suggs. Ferguson, meanwhile, was a man among boys during his time at Louisiana Tech. He possesses ideal size and bulk to play as either an OLB or a DE and has also shown himself capable of holding up against the run.
- Houston Texans: OT Andre Dillard, Washington State
Last year Texans quarterbacks were sacked a league-high 62 times. If Houston is ever to optimize the talents of starting quarterback DeShaun Watson, they need to start building a human brick wall in front of him. Dillard, who has the feet to play left tackle at the next level, could be a good start in accomplishing that goal.
- Oakland Raiders (via Chicago): DT Jeffrey Simmons, Mississippi State
The Raiders defense needs lots of help up front and if Simmons is sitting here—a real possibility if teams have any concerns about his character—it wouldn’t’ be a stunning development if Oakland took a chance on this big-bodied baby bull whose skill set is a fit for most any type of defensive scheme.
- Philadelphia Eagles: RB Josh Jacobs, Alabama
The Eagles traded for Jordan Howard with the Bears, a move that should solve their running game problems for the time being. However, you still need a good No. 2 runner and with Howard set to hit free agency after the season, Jacobs could become the long-term solution for them at a position that is important to help lessen the potential beatings that quarterback Carson Wentz might otherwise have to face.
- Indianapolis Colts: DT Dexter Lawrence, Clemson
The Colts scored big in free agency by signing edge rusher Justin Houston after he was let go by the Chiefs. Lawrence, meanwhile, would provide a significant presence in the interior, a guy who could help with pushing the pocket and creating more opportunities for the edge rushers.
- Oakland Raiders (via Dallas): CB Byron Murphy, Washington
Much like the Giants, the Raiders defense needs a lot of work, including the back end. With corners not expected to start coming off the board until the bottom third of the draft, this might be a good chance for the Raiders to grab one of the top picks at an otherwise underwhelming position group, such as Murphy, a sophomore-eligible.
- Los Angeles Chargers: T Kaleb McGary, Washington
Quarterback Phillip Rivers will forever be linked in NFL history with Eli Manning thanks to the 2004 trade that saw the Giants trade Rivers, their first-round pick, to the Chargers for Manning, the Chargers’ first overall pick in that draft. How ironic, then, is it that both quarterbacks are in dire need of a solid right tackle on their respective offensive lines?
- Kansas City Chiefs: C Garrett Bradbury, North Carolina State
The Chiefs lost center Mitch Morse in free agency to Buffalo. Bradbury, who is considered the top-ranked center in this year’s class by NFL.com, could help ease the sting of losing the solid Morse.
- Green Bay Packers (via New Orleans): S Jonathan Abram, Mississippi State
The Packers scored big with their free-agent signing of free safety Adrian Amos. Abram, who has the size and skill set of a box safety/hybrid linebacker could make for a nice complementary piece in that defensive backfield, especially given his run-stopping abilities.
- Los Angeles Rams: C Erik McCoy, Texas A&M
The Rams decided to part with long-time center John Sullivan this off-season so it wouldn’t be surprising if they look to the draft to fill this all-important position on their offensive line.
- New England Patriots: TE Irv Smith, Alabama
The retirement of TE Rob Gronkowski takes away some significant firepower from the Patriots offense. Meanwhile this tight end class is too deep in players to ignore if one has a need, so although New England might be looking for an eventual successor to Tom Brady at this spot, they might have no choice but to kick that can down the road and give their future Hall of Fame quarterback another target in the passing game.