The 2019 NFL Draft already was going to have one of the weakest quarterback classes in recent memory and it got even weaker Wednesday when Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert announced he would be returning to school for his senior season.
Herbert was seen as the top quarterback prospect in this year’s class and his decision to return to Eugene, Ore., undoubtedly will shake up a number of team’s plans when it comes to the draft.
With Herbert set to wear green, yellow and whatever else Nike churns out for one more season, let’s take a look at NESN.com’s first 2019 NFL mock draft (draft order based on current standings, not projected or predicted playoff results).
1. Arizona Cardinals — Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
The Cardinals need help just about everywhere on the field, so they’ll grab the top player on the board. Despite suffering a season-ending core muscle injury, Bosa still should be the top pick in the draft. He’s big, physical and has the potential to be a game-changing pass rusher opposite Chandler Jones.
2. San Francisco 49ers — Josh Allen, LB, Kentucky
Losing Jimmy Garoppolo turns out to be a blessing for the Niners, as San Francisco fills their need for a pass rusher by nabbing an athletic edge rusher who finished the season in the top 10 in sacks, tackles for loss and forced fumbles.
3. New York Jets — Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan
You’re going to see a lot of defensive linemen come off the board early in the first round. Gary has elite explosiveness and the versatility to line up both inside and outside of the tackle. The 6-foot-5, 282-pound should fill a big need for the Jets.
4. Oakland Raiders — Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
The Raiders will have three Day 1 selections and they use their first on a guy who dominated all season long for the Crimson Tide. The redshirt sophomore was a beast in the middle of Alabama’s defense and will give Oakland a much-needed building block in the middle.
5. Detroit Lions — Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
Williams is exactly the kind of player head coach Matt Patricia needs. The 6-foot-3 cornerback has the size, speed and ball skills to shut down his half of the field. Williams is an elite corner who showcased his skills in the nation’s best conference and now will help shore up of the NFL’s worst secondaries.
6. New York Giants — Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
With Herbert back in Eugene, Dave Gettleman opts to ride out one more year with Eli Manning at quarterback and chooses to bolster his team in the trenches instead.
7. Buffalo Bills — Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
If both Williams are off the board, the Bills elect to take one of the best players left. Oliver is an elite run-stopper who can provide an impact right away on the defensive line for Buffalo.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
Tampa could elect to go quarterback here and end the Jameis Winston era, but Dwayne Haskins might not be worth a top-10 pick so the Bucs take a legit edge rusher to help their atrocious defense. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound rusher has great instincts around the line and can fit into a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme with ease.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars — Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
Jacksonville is all set with Blake Bortles and opts to take a gamble on Haskins who had a phenomenal season as a Heisman finalist. He has solid accuracy and arm strength and benefits from being the best of a weak class.
10. Carolina Panthers — Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
With the Panthers potentially losing half their offensive line to free agency and/or retirement, they pick up a versatile lineman who can help keep Cam Newton upright. Little has the size, speed and power to play either right or left tackle for Carolina.
11. Atlanta Falcons — Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
Atlanta’s run defense was more like a runway in 2018, and they’ll help shore that up by drafting a 6-foot-4, 351-pound hole plugger. Lawrence probably will face some “character” questions after testing positive for Ostarine, but the Falcons would love to have him.
12. Denver Broncos — N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
After losing Emmanuel Sanders to a torn Achilles and trading Demaryius Thomas, the Broncos get the top wide receiver in the draft in the 6-foot-4, 213-pound Harry. His size, hands and ability to haul in contested catches make him an ideal pick for John Elway and Co.
13. Cincinnati Bengals — Devin White, LB, LSU
White was the best linebacker in the country this year and he’ll give the Bengals a boost of youth and athleticism they sorely need at the linebacker level.
14. Green Bay Packers — Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
The Packers would love to get Aaron Rodgers a weapon here, but with Harry off the board, they elect to address their secondary. Thompson is a ballhawk whose instincts and range can immediately improve the back end of Green Bay’s defense.
15. Miami Dolphins — Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
Adam Gase will look hard at Drew Lock or Will Grier here, but he instead elects to take the 6-foot-5, 328-pound lineman who has the athleticism to cut off edge rushers and keep Ryan Tannehill or whoever is under center on his feet.
16. Washington Redskins — Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
With Alex Smith’s football career in doubt, the Redskins take the second-best QB prospect in the draft. Lock has loads of physical tools and questionable decision-making skills, making him a lot like Jay Cutler. But when you need a QB, you need a QB.
17. Cleveland Browns — Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma
Cleveland could go wide receiver here, but keeping Baker Mayfield alive is a better use of the Browns’ first-round pick than gambling on a receiver. Ford can play either right tackle or guard and should be able to play immediately for the surging Browns.
18. Philadelphia Eagles — Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
Baker falls into the lap of the defending Super Bowl champions at No. 18. The Georgia corner is a physical tackler who will be able to fill a clear need for the Eagles on Day 1.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers — Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama
The Steelers have a talented but flawed roster, and one area of need they have is filling the hole left by Ryan Shazier in the middle of the defense. Mack is a complete playmaker who can run with tight ends and take away crossing routes in the middle of the field.
20. Tennessee Titans — Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
Eventually, the Titans have to get Marcus Mariota some weapons. Brown is a burner who can stretch the field from the slot. He’d fit in nicely next to Corey Davis.
21. Minnesota Vikings — Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia
The Vikings are set at quarterback and the skill positions for the foreseeable future, so it’s time to address the line. Cajuste has the ability to shut down pass rushers and be a franchise left tackle.
22. Indianapolis Colts — Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
General manager Chris Ballard has focused on improving the defense and he lands one of the best prospects in the entire draft. Simmons will face questions about a video that showed him striking a woman while he was a recruit at Mississippi State. The school claimed he was breaking up a fight and Simmons pleaded no contest to simple assault.
23. Oakland Raiders (via Dallas Cowboys) — Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State
Two Bulldogs come off the board with back-to-back picks. If Jon Gruden can pair Sweat with Quinnen Williams it might make Raider fans forget that Khalil Mack used to be wearing Silver and Black.
24. Baltimore Ravens — Jachai Polite, OLB, Florida
With Terrell Suggs’ future uncertain, Baltimore restocks at edge rusher by picking up Polite. The 6-foot-2 pass rusher is quick off the ball and has the slipperiness to get around and under offensive linemen.
25. Seattle Seahawks — Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
Another Clemson defender comes off the board, as John Schneider and Pete Carroll look to rebuild their defense on the fly with a high-motor defensive tackle who can make an impact right away.
26. Houston Texans — Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson
It’s not yet known if Mullen will declare for the draft, but if he elects to come out then he should be a first-round pick. The 6-foot-1 corner has great length and quickness, which makes him an ideal fit to help Houston’s secondary.
27. New England Patriots — Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
With no heir apparent to Tom Brady on the board, Bill Belichick replaces an aging Rob Gronkowski with Fant, a three-down tight end who will be a legit weapon for Brady or whoever is under center in Foxboro.
28. Oakland Raiders (via Chicago Bears) — Devin Bush, OLB, Michigan
The Raiders exit the first round with three playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. Bush has good instincts as a pass rusher and would be a good fit alongside Sweat and Williams on Oakland’s new-look defense.
29. Los Angeles Chargers — Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
One of the best prospects in the draft lands in LA, as the Chargers get a disruptive pass rusher with good size and explosiveness.
30. Kansas City Chiefs — Brian Burns, DE, Florida State
The Chiefs’ pass rush is solid when Justin Houston is healthy, but they get some help with a versatile edge defender who also can drop into coverage.
31. Los Angeles Rams — Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State
With Lamarcus Joyner potentially leaving in free agency, the Rams replace him with another hard-hitting safety.
32. Green Bay Packers (via New Orleans Saints) — Kelvin Harmon, WR, North Carolina State
Rodgers gets his weapon in Harmon, a 6-foot-3 receiver with great route-running skills and the speed to run away from corners.
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