1. Oakland Raiders: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
The top prospect in this year’s quarterback class, Herbert could still decide to return for another season with the Ducks, and he would certainly benefit from another year of college experience. But his high-end NFL tools are already present, as he ranks third in the country with 25 big-time throws, and he combines his arm talent with the type of athleticism that would allow him to run many of the option looks in today’s NFL. The bigger question is whether Raiders Coach Jon Gruden is willing to move on from Derek Carr, who has earned the third-worst passer rating against pressure this season among all QBs.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Brother-to-brother comparisons don’t always work in player analysis, but Bosa is a very similar player to his brother Joey, a highly effective edge rusher for the Los Angeles Chargers (although he has missed the season so far with injuries). Nick Bosa is exceptional with his hands as both a run defender and as a pass rusher. He led all defensive linemen in pass-rush win rate both this year (31.4 percent) and last year (26.9 percent). The 49ers have invested a lot of high draft picks in their defensive line recently, but with Solomon Thomas underperforming, it’s still an issue.
3. New York Giants: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
The 2019 quarterback class isn’t close to the one from 2018 that yielded four top-10 picks and five first-rounders overall. If Herbert is off the board by the time they draft, the Giants might be faced with reaching for a quarterback or taking a high-level prospect at another positions. With Eli Apple out of the fold and Janoris Jenkins a likely offseason cap casualty, cornerback may be the biggest need on the Giants' roster. Williams has only allowed 40.7 percent of his targets to be completed so far this season, and in his LSU career, he’s allowed a passer rating of only 38.3 on his 122 targets. That’s a lower rating than simply spiking the ball into the dirt every play.
4. Arizona Cardinals: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
Williams is a true junior and has another season of college eligibility, but if he were to declare for the draft he would be an intriguing prospect. He has been starting at Alabama since he was a true freshman and now played 2,440 snaps in his career, and he’s taken his game to another level this season. He has allowed all of one quarterback hit and five hurries in 10 games, and while it’s uncertain if he’ll end up at guard or tackle in the pros, adding talent like his up front would be huge for Arizona. The Cardinals rank dead last in PFF’s offensive line rankings.
5. New York Jets: DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia
The Jets have the makings of an elite secondary with safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, but so far cornerback Trumaine Johnson hasn’t lived up to his contract and Morris Claiborne is an impending free agent. Baker is the highest-ranked cornerback in the nation with a 90.7 overall grade. He has forced incompletions on 39 percent of his targets, the highest rate in the country.
6. Buffalo Bills: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
Williams is the biggest draft riser of the 2018 season and it’s not even close. He played all of 151 snaps a season ago, but in 386 snaps this year, he’s been the best defensive lineman in college football. His 21 combined sacks and hits are five more than the next-best interior defensive lineman, while he also leads his position group nationally in run-stop percentage. The Bills may have big needs on offense as well, but the elite defensive talent at the top of this draft is too tough to pass up.
7. Detroit Lions: Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
Thompson has the potential to be the type of player who is very hard to find in today’s NFL: a playmaking single-high safety. Many teams that run single-high coverages treat the center field safety as a placeholder who basically cleans up messes for other defensive backs. When you have one who can shut down the seams and break up passes on the sideline (think Earl Thomas), it’s a game-changer for the defense. Thompson has forced seven incompletions from a primarily deep role and made two spectacular interceptions this season. He’d be the perfect addition to a limited Lions secondary.
8. Denver Broncos: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
Oliver is one of the biggest names in this year’s draft class, but hasn’t quite played at the dominant level some expected of him, in part because he’s playing out of position at nose tackle. He will be a three-technique, playmaking defensive tackle in the NFL, where his rare blend of athleticism and power will be on full display. Denver’s defensive line has been a shell of its 2015 self ever since they lost Malik Jackson and the interior pass-rush he provided. Oliver could get it back to that level again.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
More than anything at the wide receiver position, Jacksonville needs someone who can separate from coverage, and that’s Brown. As a true sophomore last year, he was third in the nation with 23 broken tackles after the catch. This season, he’s added 13 more and is on pace to surpass his 1,253 yards from a season ago. At 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, Brown’s physicality would be a welcome addition to the Jags' offense.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Josh Allen, DE/OLB, Kentucky
Allen’s role in Kentucky’s defense calls for him to drop into coverage almost as much as he rushes the passer, but he has proven this season just how effective he is at doing the latter. No one in the country has a higher pass-rushing grade than Allen’s 93.4, with 45 quarterback pressures after reportedly adding 30 pounds over the course of the offseason. The additions of Vinny Curry and Jason Pierre-Paul have done little to turn around the Bucs' defensive line this offseason, and both could be gone after the season.