What if Justin Herbert returns to Oregon in 2019? CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported earlier this month that it’s a real possibility, and CBSSports.com’s Chris Trapasso wrote on Monday that staying in school might be in Herbert’s best interest. For the purposes of our weekly mock drafts here, let’s assume that Herbert does not, in fact, declare for the draft. What would be the trickle-down effect for those NFL teams in desperate search for a quarterback?
We’ve written before about what the Giants could do at the top of the draft; in short, set their targets on Nick Bosa and use free agency or a trade to land a veteran who would be a short-term solution — and an upgrade over Eli Manning. And that may be the best strategy even if Herbert does declare.
Either way, other quarterback-needy teams will spend the coming months ranking the other first-round talents. And by next spring names like Duke’s Daniel Jones and NC State’s Ryan Finley should be familiar ones. In our latest mock draft, we have the Jaguars selecting Jones, who appears to be the anti-Blake Bortles: accurate, on time, and constantly makes good decisions.
Finley, meanwhile, shares many of those same traits but his arm strength will be the biggest question about his viability at the next level. But he reminds us of a more polished Kirk Cousins at this stage in his development. Cousins was originally a fourth-round pick but he’s grown into a top-10 quarterback. And in the right system, Finley could flourish too. Given Redskins coach Jay Gruden’s success with Andy Dalton and Cousins, does Washington make sense for Finley?
Alright, let’s get to it.
If you’re wondering, the picks below are ordered based on winning percentage, playoff seedings and strength of schedule (via Tankathon.com).
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1. New York Giants
Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State. The Giants have needs just about everywhere and Bosa is the best player in this draft. If Herbert decides to return to school, or New York addresses the position in free agency, Bosa is as close as can’t-miss as there is. If you’re interested, we’ve previously written about which veteran quarterback the Giants could target to succeed Eli Manning.
2. San Francisco 49ers
Kelvin Harmon, WR, NC State. Sure, this is probably too high for a wide receiver not named D.K. Metcalf (and even then, No. 2 might be a stretch) but here’s the thing: 1) Our other choice was cornerback Greedy Williams, who’s had an impressive season at LSU. And 2) We saw Harmon in person last Saturday night against Syracuse and he was a one-man wrecking crew. Syracuse had no answers and when it was over Harmon had 11 receptions for 247 yards (that’s 22.5 yards per catch!) and two touchdowns. There’s little he can’t do.
3. Oakland Raiders
Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky. If you’re drafting a pass rusher this high, ideally you’d like him to be, for example, Khalil Mack. Given that the Raiders traded Mack before the season, Allen might not be a bad consolation prize. He’s had a fantastic season to date, and seems to get better in every aspect from one week to the next. He had two sacks and two forced fumbles against Missouri last week, bringing his season totals to 10 and five, respectively.
4. Arizona Cardinals
Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama. Same as last week for the same reason. The Cardinals’ offensive line has struggled to protect rookie quarterback Josh Rosen and has been even worse at creating running lanes for David Johnson. Hopefully the offense improves under offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich; either way Jonah Williams is the best of the bunch and would be a Day 1 starter.
5. Buffalo Bills
Ed Oliver, DT, Houston. The Bills desperately need help on their historically bad offense but they’ll certainly settle for Ed Oliver, who could very well be the second-best player in the draft. With 35-year-old Kyle Williams in the final year of his contract, Oliver makes sense here.
6. Cleveland Browns
Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama. Briean Boddy-Calhoun ranks 55th among all safeties, according to Pro Football Focus, and Thompson is the best safety in college football who has a chance to be one of the NFL’s best young safeties in the next few years.
7. Indianapolis Colts
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford. The Colts’ defense is much improved from a season ago and the offensive line has done a good job of protecting Andrew Luck, who looks like his old self with each passing week. Adding a big downfield threat to line up opposite T.Y. Hilton would only expedite the process.
8. New York Jets
Brian Burns, DE, Florida State. The Jets could use a pure pass rusher and Burns has been exactly that this season at Florida State. He has nine sacks already this season to go along with 11.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars
Daniel Jones, QB, Duke. The Jaguars need a quarterback. The only question is which one will they settle on. Even if Herbert returns to school, he may be off the board by the time Jacksonville goes on the clock. And for as much as Drew Lock looks like an NFL quarterback, he continues to struggle with consistency. Jones, meanwhile, makes all the throws, has the needed zip, and most importantly, makes good decisions with the ball.
10. Denver Broncos
Greedy Williams, CB, LSU. Chris Harris is still one of the league’s best cornerbacks but Bradley Roby is in the final year of his rookie deal and the Broncos welcome Williams, widely considered to be the first cornerback to be drafted in 2019.
11. Tennessee Titans
Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson. We’ve described Lawrence as a 340-pound wrecking ball who is strong as an ox and quick as a cat. The Titans drafted edge rusher Harold Landry last offseason and Lawrence would join a defensive line that includes Jurrell Casey and DaQuan Jones.
12. Oakland Raiders (via Cowboys)
Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia. The Raiders need to upgrade the secondary and Baker has shut down some of the SEC’s best receivers this season.
13. Detroit Lions
Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson. Devon Kennard and Romeo Okwara have five sacks each this season but Ziggy Ansah will be a free agent after the season. Ferrell may not be as explosive off the ball as Burns or Jachai Polite, but he still take over games with his motor. Ferrell has seven sacks this season to go along with 12 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and a touchdown.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Byron Murphy, CB, Washington. The Bucs drafted Carlton Davis in the second round last spring but 35-year-old Brent Grimes is on a one-year deal and he ranks 91st among all cornerbacks this season, according to PFF. Murphy is a physical lockdown corner who will immediately help the NFL’s 32nd-ranked pass defense.
15. Atlanta Falcons
Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida. Former first-rounder Vic Beasley has just one sack in seven games this season. Polite has been unblockable at times this season and he would give a boost to the Falcons’ pass rush, which currently ranks 26th in the league.
16. Miami Dolphins
Drew Lock, QB, Missouri. Teams will fall in love with Lock because he checks all the boxes in what you look for in a franchise quarterback. And if he can play with more consistency, he could be a steal in the middle of the first round. Either way, Ryan Tannehill isn’t the long-term answer in Miami.
17. Philadelphia Eagles
Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia. After dominating for much of last season, the Eagles’ offensive line could use an upgrade. The unit ranks 15th in run blocking and 24th in pass protection. Jason Peters is 36 years old and his contract is set to expire after the 2019 season.
18. Baltimore Ravens
Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama. Same as last week. C.J. Mosley could hit free agency after the season and Wilson would seamlessly transition into the role.
19. Green Bay Packers
Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina. Samuel is a physical receiver who can make contested grabs in the middle of the field or acrobatic catches down the sidelines. More good news for the Packers in light of how Sunday’s game against the Rams ended: Samuel can also return kicks.
20. Minnesota Vikings
Dalton Risner, OT, Kansas State. As long as Kirk Cousins is harried in the pocket on a regular basis the Vikings will struggle to win on a weekly basis.
21. Oakland Raiders (via Bears)
A.J. Brown, WR Ole Miss. Same as a week ago. Al Davis would love this pick. Brown’s a burner though he plays mostly out of the slot, which may be a better fit for Gruden’s version of the West Coast offense. Added bonus: Derek Carr looked good in Sunday’s loss to the Colts, finishing 21 of 28 for 244 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
22. Seattle Seahawks
Noah Fant, TE, Iowa. Will Dissly is on injured reserve and Nick Vannett is third on the team with 13 receptions. Fant would bring the type of athleticism to the position we saw with Jimmy Graham. Russell Wilson gets a middle-of-the-field playmaker thanks to the Seahawks’ offensive line playing well in recent weeks.
23. Houston Texans
David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin. Deshaun Watson has taken a beating for much of the first half of the season. To protect the franchise’s biggest investment, Edwards, who has been very good this season at Wisconsin and s exactly what Houston’s offensive line needs more of.
24. Cincinnati Bengals
Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama. Geno Atkins is still one of the league’s best interior linemen but imagine him in a rotation that includes Williams. That’s one way to fix a defense really struggling to stop opponents for much of the first two months of the season.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers
Devin White, LB, LSU. The Steelers need to address the cornerback position too but White is a sideline-to-sideline, hard-hitting linebacker who has the athleticism to smother tight ends and safeties in coverage.
26. Washington Redskins
Ryan Finley, QB, N.C. State. The irony is that Finley reminds us of a more polished Kirk Cousins at this stage of his college career. He threw for 473 yards and three touchdowns in a loss to Syracuse on Saturday and the Orange were incapable of slowing him down until forcing an interception on the final series. In the right system, Finley could flourish and given Jay Gruden’s success with Andy Dalton and Cousins, he could be a good fit in Washington.
27. Los Angeles Chargers
Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State. Simmons is one of the nation’s best interior defenders but teams could be concerned about an off-field incident from his high school days that could affect his draft stock.
28. Carolina Panthers
Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State. Mario Addison leads the team with 4.5 sacks. Tied for second on the list (with three other players)? Thirty-eight-year-old Julius Peppers. Sweat has nine sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss in seven games this season.
29. New England Patriots
Jerry Tillery, DL, Notre Dame. Tillery has been damn-near unblockable at times this season so imagine him lining up next to Trey Flowers, who ranks fifth among all edge rushers this season, according to PFF.
30. Green Bay Packers (via Saints)
Chris Lindstrom, G, Boston College. The Packers rank 21st in running the ball between the guards, according to FO, and the O-line is 23rd in pass protection. Keeping Aaron Rodgers upright is priority No. 1.
31. Kansas City Chiefs
Kris Boyd, CB, Texas. Boyd is a smart, physical cornerback and the Chiefs have one of the league’s worst defenses.
32. Los Angeles Rams
Te’von Coney, LB, Notre Dame. Same as a week ago. If there’s a weakness on this Rams team it’s at linebacker. The defense has been average this season, and the run game ranks 24th. Coney has had a stellar senior season at Notre Dame and he would immediately upgrade the middle of this D.
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