Free agency has given NFL teams the chance to address their primary needs, and several did exactly that. The Green Bay Packers grabbed two edge rushers. The Buffalo Bills loaded up on offensive players around second-year quarterback Josh Allen. The San Francisco 49ers strengthened their front seven on defense.
As a result, there are several changes in our latest mock draft, which projects all 32 first-round picks based on team needs and prospect preferences. Let’s take a look at how this year’s opening round could unfold:
1. Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
While the Cardinals still may be debating whether to take Murray or Nick Bosa, the persistent trade rumors involving last year’s first-round quarterback, Josh Rosen, indicate that Murray will be the choice. He gives Kliff Kingsbury the mobile quarterback who fits perfectly into his Air Raid offense.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
The Cardinals couldn’t have helped their NFC West division rival much more than they have in this scenario, by selecting Murray and leaving Bosa on the board. The 49ers needed an upgrade to their pass rush, and they would now have two good ones on the edge with Bosa and Dee Ford. That, plus the addition of Kwon Alexander at middle linebacker, makes this a formidable front seven.
3. New York Jets: Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky
Because they are staying in a 3-4 defense, the Jets can justify taking Allen over Quinnen Williams, who would be a perfect fit in a 4-3 alongside Leonard Williams. But Allen would give them a much-needed outside pass rusher.
4. Oakland Raiders: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
For the Raiders, it doesn’t matter whether they add an impactful pass rusher on the edge or the interior — they just need to get better in the front seven. Williams is a great anchor to build around.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Devin White, LB, LSU
Coming out of the NFL’s annual owner’s meetings, it was clear that White is one of the hottest players in the draft. He appears to be a lock to land with the Bengals if he drops as far as No. 11. The Lions would be hard-pressed to pass on him with the eighth pick. But in this scenario, White would be an ideal leader in new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’s 3-4 defense.
6. New York Giants: Montez Sweat, DE/OLB, Mississippi State
After picking up the 17th overall pick from Cleveland in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade, General Manager David Gettleman can consider drafting a quarterback with either of his two first-rounders — or try to swing a trade for Arizona’s Josh Rosen. Dwayne Haskins is a possibility here, but it appears as though the Giants have cooled on him. Instead, they could draft Sweat to fill their edge rusher need after trading Olivier Vernon.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
Tom Coughlin will be tempted to look at Haskins, but you’d think Nick Foles wouldn’t have signed a four-year deal with the Jaguars if he was told the Jaguars would consider drafting a quarterback. Drafting Taylor at tackle will give the Jaguars five talented starters along the line who are 27 years old or younger.
8. Detroit Lions: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
Before free agency, the Lions would be a natural to draft an edge rusher or a cornerback, but then they spent $18 million a year on Trey Flowers and signed a pair of corners in Justin Coleman and Rashaan Melvin. Slotting Oliver in as a three-technique defensive tackle next to nose tackle Damon Harrison would create an enticing defensive line for Coach Matt Patricia.
9. Buffalo Bills: Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan
I’ve been thinking for some time that the Bills would take offensive tackle Jonah Williams and play him at left tackle, but they signed five offensive linemen in free agency. Gary is the best player available here at a position of need.
10. Denver Broncos: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
The Broncos have to consider a quarterback at this spot, and if they took one, I believe it would be Drew Lock, not Haskins. But tight end is also a big need, and Hockenson is very good as a blocker and a pass catcher.
11. Cincinnati Bengals: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
Over the past few days, many people around the NFL have begun to think that the Bengals could draft a quarterback to succeed Andy Dalton, who is in the last two years of his contract. But if they choose to pass on one, Dillard is an exceptional athlete who could take over at left tackle.
12. Green Bay Packers: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
By signing Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, the Packers no longer have a need at edge rusher. Adrian Amos filled a need at safety. Those moves give the Packers the flexibility to take the best player available, which is Williams in this scenario. They could develop him as a guard until he is ready to take over as a starting tackle.
13. Miami Dolphins: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
While the Dolphins might prefer to take an edge rusher or an interior lineman such as Oliver here, and then look to draft a quarterback in 2020, they will have to make a judgment on Haskins and Lock if either or both drops to No. 13. In this scenario, we have them taking a chance on Haskins as their quarterback of the future.
14. Atlanta Falcons: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
Owner Arthur Blank said he is going to make defensive tackle Grady Jarrett a Falcon for life. Why not put an equally agile defensive tackle in Wilkins next to him and solidify Atlanta’s defensive line?
15. Washington Redskins: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
The Redskins said at the owners’ meetings that they don’t feel pressured to draft a quarterback, now that they have Case Keenum to compete for the starting job with Colt McCoy. But if the draft falls this way, how can they pass on the gift of a potential franchise quarterback?
16. Carolina Panthers: Clelin Ferrell, DE/OLB, Clemson
The Panthers have been looking for pass-rush help for the past couple of years. While inside linebacker Devin Bush would be tempting as they switch to a 3-4 defense, Ferrell fills a big need.
17. New York Giants: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
The fit is perfect. Jones was coached by David Cutcliffe, who is tight with the Manning family. Jones can learn under Eli Manning, and the two should have a level of comfort with each other that makes for a good quarterback room.
18. Minnesota Vikings: Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma
The Vikings’ mission in the draft is simple: Draft the best offensive lineman available. Ford can help them as a guard or a tackle.
19. Tennessee Titans: Mack Wilson, ILB, Alabama
The signing of Cameron Wake doesn’t keep the Titans from drafting an edge rusher, just like the signing of Rodger Saffold doesn’t prevent them from adding an interior offensive lineman. But in this scenario they could get Wilson, who would work well in Mike Vrabel’s 3-4 scheme alongside former Alabama teammate and 2018 first-rounder Rashaan Evans.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Devin Bush, ILB, Michigan
The Steelers need a playmaker at inside linebacker, and they would turn their draft card in very quickly if Bush or LSU’s White fell to them at this spot.
21. Seattle Seahawks: Brian Burns, DE/OLB, Florida State
The Seahawks have just four draft choices, and they are expected to try to trade down to collect more. But if Burns fell to this spot, he’d be a great fit for a defense that needs a better pass rush this season.
22. Baltimore Ravens: Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State
The Ravens are down two wide receivers — Michael Crabtree and John Brown — from a season ago and need to build a receiving corps around a Lamar Jackson-led run-heavy offense. The trick is finding receivers who are willing blockers in addition to being pass-catching threats. Campbell is dynamic with the ball in his hands.
23. Houston Texans: Greg Little, OT, Mississippi
There is a good chance the Texans will draft two offensive linemen. They signed Matt Kalil to challenge for a starting job at tackle but more needs to be added.
24. Oakland Raiders: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
After Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock were active in free agency and the trade market to improve their offense — including dealing for Antonio Brown — the draft offers the chance to fix their defense. Baker can come in and compete for a starting job at cornerback immediately.
25. Philadelphia Eagles: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
The Jordan Howard trade took the Eagles out of the draft running back market, at least in the first round. With Ronald Darby coming off a torn ACL and Sidney Jones fighting injuries his first two years, Murphy is too good of a cornerback to ignore if he gets to this spot.
26. Indianapolis Colts: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
General Manager Chris Ballard fixed the offensive line in last year’s draft, in addition to starting to rebuild the defense. That process can continue this year, and Lawrence would give the defensive line a dominant interior force.
27. Oakland Raiders: George Fant, TE, Iowa
The Raiders will be tempted to draft Alabama running back Josh Jacobs here, but Fant probably makes more sense after the loss of Pro Bowl tight end Jared Cook.
28. Los Angeles Chargers: Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame
The Chargers will consider an offensive lineman, safety and maybe a tight end here, but Tillery can ease the loss of Corey Liuget on the defensive line.
29. Kansas City Chiefs: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
If the right edge rusher is available, the Chiefs could be tempted, even after trading for Emmanuel Ogbah and signing Alex Okafor to help replace Justin Houston and Ford. But the Chiefs also have to get better in a secondary that lost cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Steve Nelson over the course of the last year, and Williams is a talented player.
30. Green Bay Packers: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
The Packers will be looking at a wide receiver or a safety at this spot. Brown is a talented receiver who can grow as a target for Aaron Rodgers, provided his injured foot checks out.
31. Los Angeles Rams: Jachai Polite, DE/OLB, Florida
Polite has had some bad workouts and interviews and has seen his stock drop. The Rams retained Dante Fowler Jr., but only on a one-year deal, and added veteran Clay Matthews at edge rusher, but Polite could contribute as a rookie while developing as a longer-term option at the position.
32. New England Patriots: Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State
The Patriots need to replace Rob Gronkowski at tight end, but they might have to trade up to get either of the top prospects in this draft: Hockenson and Fant. Instead, they could help fill their need at wide receiver by adding Butler, who has good speed and excellent size at 6-foot-5 — which could help replace some of Gronk’s ability in the red zone.
More NFL coverage: