The Watch List: 2020 Rookie Mock Draft v1.0

Updated: May 21st 2019

Welcome to The Watch List, a resource to help RSO owners identify the players from the college game that deserve your attention.  To view my observations, follow me on Twitter @robertfcowper.  Check back throughout the Spring and Summer as The Watch List will preview the top prospects and let you know who is fantasy relevant and worth your valuable draft capital.

The 2020 NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday April 23rd. So, why am I bothering to create a mock draft so far in advance? I’ve found that creating mock drafts forces me to create both my positional rankings and my overall rankings. It would certainly be easier to ride the fence but I’d rather start thinking critically about these players now and edit as I go. The usual caveats apply here. This mock draft is a snapshot of my thinking at this moment. We have yet to see the best that many of these players are capable of producing so this list is very much a living document. A number of these underclassmen will decide to return to school and will create a gaping hole in my rankings. Some will be injured or lose their starting role for myriad reasons. Some will grow and mature physically, while others will do so mentally. There’s a lot we don’t know yet about this draft class but there is one thing I am sure of: I have never been so excited to study and write about a group of players!

1.01 | D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia

Swift appears to be the full package. He is a combination back who combines effortless cutting ability with a desire to fight through contact. He is a natural receiver who has great hands and adjusts well to the ball. He has long speed to outrun chasing defenders even if he does take an extra beat to get up to top speed. Jerry Jeudy will give Swift a run for his money so I doubt he’s an unanimous 1.01 but he has my vote right now.

1.02 | Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

Jeudy is an A+ route runner who also utilizes that change of direction to be a handful after the catch. He’s explosive and can create big plays seemingly out of nothing. He can stop on a dime which helps him feint defensive backs both on a route and with the ball in his hands. As of today, we haven’t seen a glaring weakness in his game. Jeudy could be a Top 10 NFL Draft target after two years without a can’t miss wide receiver prospect.

1.03 | JK Dobbins, RB, Ohio State

Dobbins has ascended to RB2 in my 2020 rankings. He’s an old school style player who will appeal to NFL scouts. He’s short and compact with a sturdy base. That base and his play strength help him excel in pass protection. He’s a decisive runner who plays with more power than speed. Although, that’s not to say he’s slow, he’s probably 4.45-4.50 quick. Dobbins is also a good pass catcher. I expect him to project as a three-down back at the next level.

1.04 | Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson

Etienne has the speed to outrun just about any defender to the boundary before he cuts up field and jets to pay dirt. He’s a fun guy to watch because he’s a seventy yarder just waiting to happen. He has not yet been a factor as a receiver (17 career receptions) but I don’t think he’s incapable, just under utilized. If he shows as a pass catcher this year he’ll solidify his spot in the top tier of backs.

1.05 | CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

Lamb’s upside is immense so I pushed him all the way up to 1.05. I originally had him in the 2.01 range but decided I’d rather bet on his potential, now that he’ll be the Sooners’ top target. He has elite body control, easily tight-roping or toe-tapping the sideline. He is a one-hander extraordinaire with hands that are strong yet soft. His long speed is bettered by his long stride. Even though he weighs in at just 189lb he blocks with a tenacity and effectiveness that surprised me. Lamb has an alpha male attitude on the field that I loved. He has the rare combination of opportunity and talent that will help him blossom in 2019.

1.06 | Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado

Shenault is a versatile playmaker who lines up all over the field. In fact, he often lines up in an h-back role and serves as an energetic blocker. He has a thick lower body that drives a powerful running style that can kick into an extra gear in the open field. He fights for extra yardage with above average play strength. Shenault catches the ball with his hands, utilizing great hand placement. Two injuries sidelined a promising 2018 campaign so I’m excited to see what we can do with a full season.

1.07 | Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin

Taylor leads my second tier of running backs right now. He’s an effective one-cut runner with power back wallop. He rarely goes down on first contact. I did observe that Taylor sometimes stutters too long at the line of scrimmage, so I’d like to see him more decisively select his lane. Like Etienne, he will need to get more involved as a receiver to avoid being type cast as a two-down back. As a Rutgers fan, Taylor is the one that got away. Instead, I have to watch him dominating Big Ten defenses in a different shade of red.

1.08 | Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Missouri

Okwuegbunam surprised me in that he plays as an in-line tight end more than I anticipated. He lacks suddenness and explosion in his blocks but at least he has that experience. Okwuegbunam has good body control and tracks the ball well over his shoulder. He’s a hands catcher who uses his fingertips to snag the ball which is a great trait to have so early in a career. Okwuegbunam will start the season as the prohibitive favorite to be the first TE off the board next April, as such he should be atop our fantasy boards too.

1.09 | Trey Sermon, RB, Oklahoma

Sermon is a running back well suited for the zone read offense. He slashes through holes, sells his fakes and gets upfield to block for the quarterback. I think Sermon’s “Football IQ” is very high too. He knows his pass blocking assignments, understands the game situation and runs a variety of routes from the backfield. He has a great stiff arm and doesn’t shy from contact. Sermon should get the lion’s share of the carries in the Sooner backfield this season and if he does he has first round rookie draft potential pending scheme fit.

1.10 | Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

Herbert was my QB1 last season before he decided to return for his senior year. He retains that mantle to start the 2020 NFL Draft campaign. Herbert has the size that NFL teams covet (6060/233). He has enough athleticism to pick up short yardage conversions and keep the defense honest but he’s certainly not a high volume runner. The biggest knock right now would be his accuracy (59.4% completion percentage last year was a career low). In 1QB RSO leagues, I believe it’s a good strategy to grab your preferred passer here because you get that fifth year option. If you’re playing Superflex/2QB, you’ll need to target him much earlier in the round.

2.01 | Collin Johnson, WR, Texas

Johnson is the biggest of the top receivers in the class at 6060/220. Whether he’s high-pointing the ball or making a full extension diving catch, he uses that long and lean frame to get to balls that others couldn’t. Johnson releases well with quick feet and is an adept hand fighter to get the corner’s hands off of him. He also has excellent situational awareness, I noted many times when he made a smart decision about how deep to run a route or when to protect the ball instead of fight for yardage. If he can add a few pounds without sacrificing his quickness, Johnson will be the best prototypical X receiver in this class.

2.02 | Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota

Johnson, one of the rare seniors in this mock draft, can win from both outside and slot alignments. He has explosive feet off the snap and out of his route breaks. He uncovers well which helps make him a target for the quarterback on most plays, even when the defender is closely trailing him. Johnson shines after the catch where he pairs elusiveness with elite breakaway speed. I may be lower on Johnson than other writers so I owe him a thorough study this offseason.

2.03 | Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU

Reagor is a literal track star: he excelled in the long jump and relay races in high school. He brought those talents with him to Fort Worth where he’s shown off his elite speed and athleticism for Horned Frog fans. What surprised me was how well he wins in the air despite being just 5110/195. He’s nearly impossible to cover, especially against Cover 2 when he can split the safeties on a deep post and leave his man in the dust. He also wins after the catch where his strength and contact balance help him rack up yards. Unfortunately there was no game film to watch so my exposure was limited to highlight reels. Reagor will be a first round consideration if his full game films live up to the expectations his highlights set.

2.04 | Cam Akers, RB, Florida State

Akers is a tough study because of how poor his offensive line play has been both years in Tallahassee. The film I watched of Akers showed that he has a balanced running style with 4.50 speed and more power than I expected. He’s adept at submarining for additional yardage by getting lower than the defender. The Akers I see in my mind’s eye, perhaps from expectations in his freshman season, has more wiggle than I saw. He runs a ton of routes out of the backfield but I didn’t get to see him pass protect much. I’m hopeful that the Seminoles are a better team in 2019 so we get to see how well Akers plays when his team is competing.

2.05 | Kennedy Brooks, RB, Oklahoma

Brooks plays larger than his 5110/205 frame, running with an upright and downhill style. He’s a patient runner who waits for his blocks and follows them through the hole. Brooks is not a flashy runner but he’ll get every yard that’s available by powering through defenders and falling forward. He keeps his feet well and can break low tackles. I didn’t get much exposure to his pass blocking and catching ability but what I did see appeared average, at worst. Brooks, a redshirt sophomore, will continue to split touches with Trey Sermon so who knows if he’ll come out early with a small sample size. If he does, keep an eye on him.

2.06 | Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

Harris is a big back at 6020/230 and it’s hard not to see Derrick Henry when watching him (the 2s on the jersey and hairs poking out of his helmet certainly help make the connection). He’s a former top recruit but has not had many carries yet in his career due to the depth at the position for the Tide. He shows excellent vision, seeing cut back lanes and hitting them strongly. His size and strength lend some power to his evasive moves. He’s largely a projection at this point but Harris should have plenty of opportunity to show us his skills in 2019 and is likely to creep up my draft board.

2.07 | Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State

Benjamin is fun to watch because of his elusiveness. He has a Swiss army knife’s worth of moves at his disposal: spins, jukes, cuts, hurdles. His feet are dynamic and never stop moving. Benjamin is susceptible to getting tripped up or being caught by his jersey so I would like to see him improve his strength and balance. It could be a one game coincidence but ball security could be a concern as well. Where Benjamin excels is as a pass catcher, he has good hands and knows how to get open. His receiving upside will help increase his value early in his NFL career.

2.08 | Bryan Edwards, WR, South Carolina

Edwards is a powerfully built outside receiver who started his Gamecock career strong in 2016. His numbers have failed to bloom like draft fans had hoped though. He’s still a solid prospect whose floor projects as a reliable possession receiver in the NFL. He has strong hands which he uses to consistently catch the ball away from his body. There was only one game film available, and that from 2017, so I still have a lot to learn about Edwards. I am comfortable putting him here though because I feel that he has a high floor as a prospect.

2.09 | Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

Tagovailoa is undeniably talented and his name has been on everybody’s lips for a year. So, why do I have him as my QB2 and so low in my overall rankings? I think we first need to see that Tua can make it through a full season unscathed. He loves to improvise and takes a lot of hits which lead to some wear and tear as the season progressed. As much as we remember his game-winning relief performance in the championship game as a freshman, let’s not forget that he himself was pulled in this year’s championship. He’s now the unquestioned starter and will contend for QB1 if he puts together a complete and successful season. Tua has first overall potential: he is athletic, throws a beautiful deep ball and has impeccable character.

3.10 | Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

Higgins uses his length to box-out defenders and win at the catch point. He’s a curl and comeback king, running smart routes and making sure-handed catches for first downs. He attacks the ball with his hands when he comes out of his breaks, not wasting precious moments for the ball to come to him. He has elite separation for somebody of his height (6040). Chances are that you saw a few of Higgins circus catch highlights last year because his concentration helps him snag batted or tipped balls with regularity. Higgins will be catching passes from one of the country’s most ballyhooed quarterbacks, sophomore Trevor Lawrence, so it’s inevitable that we see his highlights all season long.

Honorable Mentions

AJ Dillon, RB, Boston College

Dillon is a big and powerful back, likely the best thumper in the class. He’s rarely brought down on first contact and often dishes out more punishment than he receives. He doesn’t have top end speed (4.60?) but he doesn’t need it for his playing style. Dillon ran more routes than I anticipated based on his number of receptions so I think there is room for growth in that area. Similarly, he needs to improve as a pass blocker. He was hampered by an ankle injury for much of 2018 so I’m excited to see Dillon bounce back and show us he has every down potential.

Grant Calcaterra, TE, Oklahoma

Calcaterra is the lightest TE on my watch list at 221 so we’re likely looking more at a “big slot” than an in-line tight end for the purposes of his NFL Draft evaluation. Regardless, he’s a playmaker with soft hands and is a big play threat up the seam. Oklahoma does have a lot of mouths to feed and is losing another Heisman winning quarterback, so it’s possible we see Calc’s numbers dip this year. Even if that’s the case, I don’t think his draft stock should.

 

Notes: Heights listed are using a notation common among scouts where the first digit corresponds to the feet, the next two digits correspond to the inches and the fourth digit corresponds to the fraction, in eighths.  So, somebody measuring 5’11” and 3/8 would be 5113.  This is helpful when trying to sort players by height.  When studying a player I rely on game film “cuts” which are most frequently found on Youtube. If game film is not available I will search for highlight reels.  Keep in mind these highlight reels are the best plays of that player. When I have the option, I will choose to watch a game versus the better defense. Full disclosure, I am not watching film of every single game any player plays, instead I am looking for a representative sample.  There are a lot of analysts out there who have a deeper depth of knowledge about certain players but I pride myself in a wide breadth of knowledge about many players.  When researching my articles I use a number of valuable resources. I would recommend bookmarking the below sites:

  • Stats: espn.com, sports-reference.com, pro-football-reference.com, cfbstats.com, herosports.com, fcs.football, mcubed.net, expandtheboxscore.com, washingtonpost.com
  • Recruiting: 247Sports.com, espn.com, sbnation.com, rivals.com
  • Film: 2020 NFL Draft Database by Mark Jarvis, youtube.com
  • Draft info and mocks: draftcountdown.com, draftscout.com, mattwaldmanrsp.com, draftek.com, thedraftnetwork.com, nfl.com
  • NFL rosters, depth charts and contract info: ourlads.com, spotrac.com
  • Draft history: drafthistory.com
  • Combine info: pro-football-reference.com, espn.com, nflcombineresults.com, mockdraftable.com
  • Season preview magazines: Phil Steele, Lindy’s, Street and Smith’s, Athlon Sports
  • Podcasts: ESPN’s First Draft, The Audible by Football Guys (specifically episodes w/ Matt Waldman), UTH Dynasty, Draft Dudes, Saturday 2 Sunday, Locked on NFL Draft, Cover 3 College Football
  • Logos & Player Media Photos: collegepressbox.com
  • Odds & Gambling Stats: vegasinsider.com

Robert F. Cowper is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey.  He is a proud member of the Football Writers Association of America and the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.  Robert works as a certified park and recreation professional, specializing in youth sports, when he isn’t acting as commissioner for his many fantasy sports leagues.

More Analysis by Bob Cowper

2019 Post-Draft RSO Rookie Tiers

Updated: May 8th 2019

Rookie drafts for Reality Sports Online teams involve a number of considerations different than a typical dynasty league.  Selected rookies are typically given three or four year contracts at, hopefully, a below market contract.  RSO GMs then have the option of extending a player with franchise tags, extensions, or final year options (depending on the chosen settings in your league) which typically are near or above market value for a given player.  This makes the initial rookie contract years potentially extremely valuable and the real measure of worth for a rookie contract.  It is nice to be able to hit on your rookie and keep them on your team in later years, however, your team does not typically gain much by keeping those players at top-of-market costs.  This leads to a number of areas which should be emphasized more highly with regards to rookie values in RSO leagues.

  1. Early Production. The limited years of cheap rookie contracts puts a premium on early potential production.  Young players sitting on your bench waiting to develop do not just cost roster spots, they also take up salary cap dollars which could be spent on veteran players contributing to your team.  The emphasis on early production gives a boost to positions like running back which typically does not take as long to develop in the NFL.
  2. Situation.    “Talent over situation” is one of the long-time mantras in fantasy football for a couple of reasons.  Many believe firstly, we can not predict the situation of a player over the long-term.  This might be correct but does not apply to RSO leagues.  RSO rookie deals apply only over a short to medium-term window due to the contract lengths.  While there will always be some fluctuations, we can reasonably predict many surrounding factors which affect the performance of a player.  Secondly, others think talent trumps situation.  The data strongly suggests this is simply incorrect.  Wide receiver fantasy value is typically a function of quarterback play.  Running backs score more on high-efficiency passing attacks and usually run more efficiently with better offensive lines.  Situation must be a significant factor in determining rookie values.

With those conditions, we examine my top rookie tiers in 2019.

Tier 1

Josh Jacobs, RB1, Pick 24, Oakland

Jacobs is an outlier for first round running backs with a part-time college resume and subpar athletic testing.  He performed well at the run and receiving game in a limited role while at Alabama however.  First round rookie running backs typically receive big workloads and Jacobs projects as the top back in Oakland with Richard taking some passing down snaps.  That is enough to put him tier 1 of this draft class.  Jacobs is a player with far more uncertainty and a wider range of outcomes than is typical of this draft spot.

N’Keal Harry, WR1, Pick 32, New England

Harry produced from the minute he stepped on the field as a freshman in college and performed over expectation at the combine.  He should slot in immediately as a starter in New England on a team which lost Rob Gronkowski to retirement and Josh Gordon to yet another suspension.  Harry is the only rookie in this class without any real objective question marks with regard to talent or situation.  Draft him with confidence.

Tier 2

Miles Sanders, RB2,Pick 53, Philadelphia

Sanders was a quality producer when given the opportunity at Penn State and measured as a plus athlete at the NFL combine.  The main danger for Sanders is that the Eagles have utilized a committee-type approach to running back under head coach Doug Pederson no matter whom the running backs have been.   He should start as a main part of a committee with Howard this season and possesses the room for his role to grow next year in a good overall offense.

David Montgomery, RB3, Pick 73, Chicago

Montgomery should have the chance to take over the previous Howard role in Chicago in short order possibly putting him in the lower RB2 or flex discussion.  He does not have the athleticism desired from the position but does have many of the desired skills including contact balnce, power, and short-area movement.  His upside will always be capped with Tarik Cohen on the team taking a big chunk of the passing game work.

Tier 3

Mecole Hardman, WR2, Pick 56, Kansas City

The diminutive speedster has an extremely small college profile but is possibly the most explosive wideout in the draft.  This is a pure projection by Kansas City but Hardman apparently was coveted by many teams earlier than most thought.  Tyreek Hll is in the last year of his contract if not suspended or outright released before the 2019 season.  Hardman moves down if Hill unexpectedly remains with the Chiefs.

Parris Campbell, WR3, Pick 59, Indianapolis

Campbell gobbled up short yardage throws and turned them into big gains at Ohio State.  He is another projection with limited work on deeper and intermediate routes.  Indianapolis is ripe with opportunity and has been looking for a quality number two receiver for years in a high volume passing offense headed by Andrew Luck.

Deebo Samuel, WR4,Pick 36, San Francisco

San Francisco gets another wide receiver with experience at a variety of locations and the ability to win in a variety of ways.  Built more like a running back, Samuel offers explosive after the catch potential.  The depth chart is loaded with quality pass catching options at wide receiver, tight end, and running back which puts Samuel’s potential volume in question for the near future.

Tier 4

Diontae Johnson, WR5, Pick 66, Pittsburgh

This pick will surprise many but should not when consider his play at Toledo and Pittsburgh’s relatively high investment.  He is among the best receivers in this class getting separation both with his releases at the snap and out of breaks.  Johnson enters one of the top passing teams in the league on a wide open receiver depth chart after JuJu Smith-Shuster.

Andy Isabella, WR6, Pick 62, Arizona

Arizona will be one of the most fascinating teams to watch with how the college air-raid offense transitions to the NFL.  Isabella does not have the best hands in this class.  He is among the fastest wide receivers in this class, has experience playing both slot and boundary positions, and was one of PFF’s top-graded wide receivers in this class.  There is massive volume potential here.

Marquise Brown, WR7, Pick 25, Baltimore

Brown possesses game-breaking ability on every play in a tiny package.  Unfortunately, there is no worse landing spot than Baltimore for wide receivers.  Lamar Jackson averaged 159 yards per game as a starter, worse than any ESPN qualified passer and just 63% of the average passer.  John Brown, another very small speedster, saw his production absolutely tank in games Jackson started with zero games of at least 30 yards.  While there is hope for some progression from Jackson, the odds are firmly stacked against consistent fantasy production for Brown in the near future.

D.K. Metcalf, WR8, Pick 63, Seattle

If one could mold a receiver out of clay it would look a lot like Metcalf with incredible size seeming cut from stone.  Metcalf is among the fastest linear receivers in the draft despite his size but is also among the slowest into and out of breaks.  Will he become more than a deep vertical threat?  Seattle is also an under-the-radar below average landing spot.  Wilson ranked among the lowest in passing yardage per game, despite his superb efficiency, thanks to one of the heaviest run offenses in the league.  There simply might not be enough volume for any receiver in this offense to become a consistent fantasy option.

A.J. Brown, WR9, Pick 51, Tennessee

The true alpha from Mississippi, Brown is an extremely thick wide receiver who possesses a well rounded game before and after the catch that should transition well to the pros.  Unfortunately he landed in Tennessee, a grave yard for fantasy wide receivers.  He is stuck in a run-first offense with Mariota, Ryan Tannehill, and/or a rookie quarterback in 2020 at the helm for the near future.  Brown saw my biggest decline from pre-draft rankings.

JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR10, Pick 57, Philadelphia

There is a lot to like about the kid from Stanford.  He was an endzone producer throughout his career bodying up smaller cornerbacks and graded out as a top receiver in this class.  While not a plus athlete, he tested faster at his pro day than most people predicted.  JJ likely redshirts at least his first year for the Eagles unless injuries take hold which decreases his value somewhat.

Kyler Murray, QB1, Pick 1, Arizona

Murray had a phenomenal 2018 season at Oklahoma which bested Baker Mayfield’s best seasons.  His extreme quickness allows for extensive rushing, scrambling, and avoiding big hits.  His dual-threat traits give top-5 quarterback upside and make him a worthy pick in this range of a relatively weak draft class.  The primary questions some people will have is if his body can handle NFL-level hits and how the new offense in Arizona will translate to the NFL.

T.J. Hockenson, TE1, Pick 8, Detroit

Many consider Hockenson the best all-around tight end prospect in years.  He is one of the only tight ends in recent memory who appear immediately ready to block in the NFL.  He runs nice tight routes, finds holes in zones, has good hands, and is strong after the catch.  He is also a strong athlete for the position.  There really is nothing to dislike.  Hockenson should start immediately for the Lions.

Noah Fant, TE2, Pick 20, Denver

The “other” Iowa tight end, Fant still garnered first round status to the Broncos.  He possesses phenomenal athleticism with upper-level tight end metrics for all combine workouts and is a better blocker than many observe.  Fant is a fairly one-dimensional speed receiver at this point with questionable hands and has not shown much ability to break tackles.  Teaming up with Joe Flacco in Denver gives Fant the possibility of rare early production at the tight end spot.  Flacco consistently peppered tight ends in Baltimore no matter the talent-level.


Bio:  Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.

More Analysis by Bernard Faller

The Watch List: 2019 NFL Mock Draft, Picks 1-16

Updated: April 21st 2019

Welcome to The Watch List, a resource to help RSO owners identify the players from the college game that deserve your attention.  To view my observations, follow me on Twitter @robertfcowper.  Check back throughout the Spring and Summer as The Watch List will preview the top prospects and let you know who is fantasy relevant and worth your valuable draft capital.

For the first time in my mock draft career, I decided to do a mock NFL Draft using draft pick trades.  Let me tell you, it was incredibly fun!  In addition to doing a full two round mock, I included some “best of the rest” players that I expect to outperform their late round draft stock.   Over the next two weeks, you’ll see the full mock broken into four parts, released in reverse order.  At the end of this post I have included a number of important notes that you may want to read before diving in.  To view the other parts, click here.

1.16, Carolina Panthers | DK Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss

[ESPN 30 for 30 Music Plays] What if I told you that in 2019 the Carolina Panthers built the most athletic offense ever fielded in the NFL. They accomplished this feat by adding the incomparable DK Metcalf to the nucleus of QB Cam Newton, RB Christian McCaffery and WR DJ Moore. Unfortunately, they still finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs.

1.15, Pittsburgh Steelers | Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

Pick 15 would be the furthest CB1 has fallen since 2001. The Steelers need CB help and jump up to greedily grab Williams. They did sign Steven Nelson from KC but his roster bonus and escalating salary mean it’s unlikely he sticks around past 2019.

1.14, Atlanta Falcons | Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi St

Despite spending first rounders on Tak McKinley and Vic Beasley, the Falcons pass rush still stutters: they finished 27th in sacks in 2017. Beasley and DT Grady Jarrett are both free agents after 2019 so Atlanta should invest another pick on the defensive line now.

1.13, Cincinnati Bengals | Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida

New head coach Zac Taylor should resist the urge to make a splash pick. In my scenario, I have the Bengals trading back twice consecutively to pick up additional mid-round picks so they can build out their depth. Even after trading back, the Bengals still land the top tackle in the class.

1.12, Miami Dolphins | Daniel Jones, QB, Duke

The Bengals trade back again since they don’t plan on taking a quarterback yet and could use the extra picks. The Dolphins need to add a young quarterback after trading Ryan Tannehill and signing Ryan Fitzpatrick this offseason. Jones is an athletic QB who needs to work on his consistency and accuracy. Ironically, he compares well to Tannehill.

1.11, Green Bay Packers | Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

The Packers should add more playmakers to the offense to placate QB Aaron Rodgers and I have them moving up to grab one here. Fant lacks the size of the departed Jimmy Graham but he’s an athletic freak. You don’t draft a first round tight end to block, you draft him to create mismatches.

1.10, Denver Broncos | Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

John Elway loves to constantly tweak his QB depth chart. Out goes Case Keenum after one year, in comes Joe Flacco via trade. There’s no easy “out” in Flacco’s contract but there’s no way he’s the starter through 2021. If they take a QB now he can sit for a year without the urgency to start. I have not been a big fan of Lock but he has a great arm and a high ceiling.

1.09, Buffalo Bills | Ed Oliver, DT, Houston

Jerry Hughes, Shaw Lawson and Jordan Phillips are all free agents after the 2019 season. Ed Oliver’s size was a concern heading into the combine but he did end up weighing in at 287 and plays with the athleticism of an OLB. There were some rumors about standing Oliver up and having him start as an inside linebacker but that’d be a poor use of his explosiveness. He’ll earn snaps at both DT and DE depending on the game situation.

1.08, Detroit Lions | TJ Hockenson, TE, Iowa

The Lions signed Jesse James from the Steelers this offseason but I don’t think anybody believes he’s a long term answer. After Ebron exploded in Indy, Lions brass might feel the need to reinvest in the position to appease their fans. Hockenson is the most complete tight end in the class and upgrades the offense right away.

1.07, Jacksonville Jaguars | Brian Burns, DE, Florida State

The Jags have used five Top 100 picks on their front seven in the last four drafts. That investment, plus the addition of veteran Calais Campbell, was a big factor in their 2017 success. I think they’ll return to the DL at 1.07 even though there’s more pressing needs elsewhere.

1.06, New York Giants | Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio St

I really hope this is the pick the Giants make because I can’t quite possibly survive another season of NYC sports talk if they don’t. Haskins is a pure pocket passer who could learn a thing or two from Eli Manning. If the Giants get cute and wait on quarterback, expect them to add an edge rusher here.

1.05, Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Devin White, ILB, LSU

The Bucs lost MLB Kwon Alexander in free agency so this is a natural fit. White will be a talented off-ball linebacker but he’s my pick for a “Top 5 guy” who could fall. My original version of this mock had him falling out of the Top 10.

1.04, Oakland Raiders | Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama

The Raiders have three first rounders and as such, the luxury of going BPA. Quinnen Williams is the best player in the class, let alone left on the board, according to some draft analysts so getting him at 1.04 is great value. The Raiders did invest three picks on the DL last year but none of those players established themselves yet. Williams will leapfrog all of them on the depth chart immediately.

1.03, New York Jets | Josh Allen, DE, Kentucky

The Jets should actively shop the third overall pick. After trading up last year they have a dearth of picks and could use the extra draft capital to build around QB Sam Darnold. However, it’s a weak quarterback class so I doubt teams will be angling to move up. If the Jets have to pick here I think they should go for Josh Allen. Quinnen Williams is the best player available but Allen is also very good and fills an immediate need at edge rusher.

1.02, San Francisco 49ers | Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State

The 49ers will end up being the beneficiary of the Kyler Murray hype. Two months ago they wouldn’t have thought that landing Bosa would be an option but here we are. There’s been some recent negative news about Bosa and his political leanings but ignore that unless something truly damning comes out. On the field he’s a dominating pass rusher so don’t overthink it.

1.01, Arizona Cardinals | Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. I wouldn’t make the pick myself but it sounds like this is what GM Steve Keim and coach Kliff Kingsbury want to do. We all have questions about Kyler and how his body type will hold up in the NFL. There’s no questioning his arm or dynamism though so it will be fun to watch, that’s for sure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few housekeeping notes:

  • The full mock draft was written between April 4-10.  Any moves or news released after that point would not be taken into account.
  • To help me track my mock draft, I used a very useful tool I found on Reddit called RST’s 2019 Draft Tracker.
  • This spreadsheet lets you easily trade draft picks and uses a pick value chart so you can try and keep trades fair.  All of the trades except for Washington/Arizona were pick for pick and I required that the team moving up offer more value than the value chart suggested was fair.
  • Since the trades all included late picks not covered in this mock I didn’t bother noting each individual trade.  Instead, I described my general thinking for the trade.
  • For each pick, I tried to put myself in the shoes of the GM.  If given the chance, I would not necessarily make all of the same picks as I value some players and positions differently.
  • Keep in mind that my predicted draft order does not necessarily correspond to my personal positional rankings.
  • I could not have put together the roster and contract notes without the help of two invaluable sites: Our Lads and Spotrac.

Notes: In an effort to standardize the description of key positional traits, I frequently use the following adjectives: elite, good, above average, average, below average, poor.  Heights listed are using a notation common among scouts where the first digit corresponds to the feet, the next two digits correspond to the inches and the fourth digit corresponds to the fraction, in eighths.  So, somebody measuring 5’11” and 3/8 would be 5113.  This is helpful when trying to sort players by height.  When writing a full report for a player, I typically pick two games of film to watch.  When time permits, I may add a third game. If game film is not available I will search for highlight reels, but keep in mind these are the best plays that player had so they really need to jump off the screen. I do not necessarily want to watch games where they did very well or very poorly as that may not be a great illustration of their true ability. If possible, when comparing players at the same position I also like to watch film against common opponents. Full disclosure, I am not watching film of every single game any player plays, instead I am looking for a representative sample.  There are a lot of analysts out there who have a deeper depth of knowledge about certain players but I pride myself in a wide breadth of knowledge about many players.  When researching my articles I use a number of valuable resources, I would recommend bookmarking the below sites:

  • Stats: espn.com, sports-reference.com, pro-football-reference.com, cfbstats.com, herosports.com, fcs.football, foxsports.com, mcubed.net, expandtheboxscore.com, washingtonpost.com
  • Recruiting: 247Sports.com, espn.com, sbnation.com, rivals.com
  • Film: 2019 NFL Draft Database by Mark Jarvis, youtube.com (but be wary of highlight only reels)
  • Draft info and mocks: draftcountdown.com, draftscout.com, mattwaldmanrsp.com, draftek.com, thedraftnetwork.com, nfl.com
  • NFL rosters and contract info: ourlads.com, spotrac.com
  • Draft history: drafthistory.com
  • Combine info: pro-football-reference.com, espn.com, nflcombineresults.com, mockdraftable.com
  • Season preview magazines: Phil Steele, Lindy’s, Street and Smith’s, Athlon Sports
  • Podcasts: ESPN’s First Draft, Strong as Steele with Phil Steele, The Audible by Football Guys (specifically episodes w/ Matt Waldman), UTH Dynasty, Draft Dudes, 247Sports College Football, College Fantasy Football: On Campus, Underdog Pawdcast, Saturday 2 Sunday, Locked on NFL Draft, Cover 3 College Football
  • Logos & Player Media Photos: collegepressbox.com (the media home for FWAA members)
  • Odds & Gambling Stats: vegasinsider.com

Robert F. Cowper is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey.  He is a proud member of the Football Writers Association of America and the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.  Robert works as a recreation professional, specializing in youth sports, when he isn’t acting as commissioner for his many fantasy sports leagues.

More Analysis by Bob Cowper

The Watch List: 2019 NFL Mock Draft, Picks 17-32

Updated: April 21st 2019

Welcome to The Watch List, a resource to help RSO owners identify the players from the college game that deserve your attention.  To view my observations, follow me on Twitter @robertfcowper.  Check back throughout the Spring and Summer as The Watch List will preview the top prospects and let you know who is fantasy relevant and worth your valuable draft capital.

For the first time in my mock draft career, I decided to do a mock NFL Draft using draft pick trades.  Let me tell you, it was incredibly fun!  In addition to doing a full two round mock, I included some “best of the rest” players that I expect to outperform their late round draft stock.   Over the next two weeks, you’ll see the full mock broken into four parts, released in reverse order.  At the end of this post I have included a number of important notes that you may want to read before diving in.  To view the other parts, click here.

1.32, New England Patriots | Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

Lawrence doesn’t really fill a positional or schematic need for the Patriots but I think Bill Belichick would have a hard time passing on somebody with his combination of size and athleticism. One of the most beloved Patriots of the Belichick era was DT Vince Wilfork who anchored the team’s 3-4 for years. Since the team doesn’t have a defensive coordinator at the moment it’s possible they could draft a player like Lawrence and then mold a scheme, or at least sub-packages, around him.

1.31, Los Angeles Rams | Garrett Bradbury, C, North Carolina St

The Rams have a lot of money invested in their two starting tackles but not much on the interior. C John Sullivan left in free agency leaving 2018 fourth rounder Brian Allen the only center on the roster. It’s not an exciting pick but Bradbury would be an instant starter, so it’s a prudent selection given how strong the rest of the roster was in 2018.

1.30, Green Bay Packers | AJ Brown, WR, Ole Miss

The Packers tried to give QB Aaron Rodgers some new toys last year by drafting three mid- to late-round receivers, none of which emerged. Brown, a dominant slot receiver at Ole Miss, would be the second pass catcher drafted by the Packers in the first round and could instantly replace Randall Cobb’s production.

1.29, Kansas City Chiefs | Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware

The Eric Berry era has ended in KC after the team designated him as a June 1st cut. Per Spotrac, the move saves them nearly $10mil each of the next two years so the move was worth it even it was bittersweet. Adderley could also line up at corner in certain situations and offer much needed flexibility for the Chiefs who had a putrid pass defense in 2018.

1.28, Los Angeles Chargers | Andre Dillard, OT, Washington St

QB Phillip Rivers doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon so the Chargers should heavily invest in the offensive line to protect him. LT Russell Okung is 31 and nobody has the RT spot locked down. Dillard, who showed his supreme athleticism at the combine, is a little light to be a starting LT but could work on the right side or shift inside.

1.27, Oakland Raiders | Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State

Simmons had a rough winter. He ended the season as a potential Top 10 pick but had his combine invite rescinded due to a 2016 incident and then suffered a torn ACL. Simmons may not be a factor in 2019 so few teams would still consider pulling the trigger in the first round. The Raiders can because they have three first rounders. The four DTs already on the depth chart can all be cut with little or no cap penalty after the 2019 season so I think this could be a smart pick for the future. Imagine starting the 2020 season with a healthy Simmons alongside Quinnen Williams? (Note: grabbing Simmons in the first also means you get a fifth year option, even more valuable when he’s likely to miss all of his first season.)

1.26, Indianapolis Colts | Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State

Mocking a receiver to the Colts at 1.26 has been a popular choice and it makes sense now that Andrew Luck is back on track. It may be a reach based on my positional rankings, but I like the idea of Butler to the Colts. Butler has the measurables of an elite outside receiver but found great success as a big slot at Iowa State. Butler and TY Hilton can alternate who lines up in the slot, making it tough for defenses to account for their different skill sets. Or, they can set the newly signed Devin Funchess and TE Eric Ebron outside and put both Butler and Hilton inside. The more I think about it, the more I love the potential of Butler on the Colts.

1.25, Philadelphia Eagles | DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia

The Eagles have the fourth lowest cap total invested in corners and gave up the third most passing yards per game last year. So, it’s time they spend a little at the position. Earlier in the process it seemed that Baker might challenge for the CB1 spot but his stock has since fallen, in part due to mediocre combine measurables.

1.24, Oakland Raiders | Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama

The Raiders signed RB Isaiah Crowell to a one-year deal and just resigned pass catching back Jalen Richard. I’m not sure either move precludes the Raiders from taking a running back with one of their first three picks. My preferred RB is David Montgomery but it seems that the NFL leans towards Jacobs.

1.23, Houston Texans | Cody Ford, OG, Oklahoma

The Texans priority must be protecting franchise QB Deshaun Watson. I can see them going for a tackle or center here too, just so long as it keeps Watson upright. Ford has the size of a tackle so he may be able to move back outside once he gains some experience.

1.22, Minnesota Vikings | Devin Bush, ILB, Michigan

The Vikings have LBs Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks locked up for a few years each but I still had a hard time ignoring Bush at this spot. I can see his speed being valuable in nickel situations, freeing up Barr to rush the passer (a role that nearly led him to leave for the Jets in free agency). The Vikings should probably look at the OL too but otherwise they feel complete enough as a team to go BPA rather than reach for need.

1.21, Seattle Seahawks | Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

The name brand defensive line that the Seahawks had for so many seasons is gone. Frank Clark is the lone remainder but he may not be around long term if he doesn’t sign a long term deal (unlikely if the team resigns QB Russel Wilson). Wilkins would be a good interior presence to help pull attention away from Clark in 2019.

1.20, Washington Redskins | Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama

The Redskins managed to hold onto the 1.15 pick by dealing their 2nd and 5th for QB Josh Rosen. Rather than picking at 1.15, they traded back and are still able to get the second tackle off the board to help protect their newest investment.

1.19, Tennessee Titans | Byron Murphy, CB, Washington

The Titans aren’t drafting for need here and instead are trying to build their roster to suit their changing division. The passing outlook for all three AFC South opponents has improved since this time last year so the Titans should double down on a position of strength and add a corner with good ball skills in Byron Murphy. Murphy was PFF’s top rated corner in 2018.

1.18, Baltimore Ravens | Rashan Gary, DT, Michigan

As the Vikings GM, I didn’t see anything must-have at this spot so I traded back to the Ravens. Baltimore seems like a team that would love to take a chance on a physically gifted work in progress like Gary. He was the darling of draftniks for the last three seasons who thought his production would catch up with his raw ability. Unfortunately, Gary feels like a project at this point, albeit one with a very high ceiling.

1.17, New York Giants | Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

The Giants should leave the first round with future starters at both QB and DE. I would argue that Haskins + Ferrell is a best case solution, and a better duo than what the Giants would get if they waited on quarterback and went for the edge rusher first.

A few housekeeping notes:

  • The full mock draft was written between April 4-10.  Any moves or news released after that point would not be taken into account.
  • To help me track my mock draft, I used a very useful tool I found on Reddit called RST’s 2019 Draft Tracker.
  • This spreadsheet lets you easily trade draft picks and uses a pick value chart so you can try and keep trades fair.  All of the trades except for Washington/Arizona were pick for pick and I required that the team moving up offer more value than the value chart suggested was fair.
  • Since the trades all included late picks not covered in this mock I didn’t bother noting each individual trade.  Instead, I described my general thinking for the trade.
  • For each pick, I tried to put myself in the shoes of the GM.  If given the chance, I would not necessarily make all of the same picks as I value some players and positions differently.
  • Keep in mind that my predicted draft order does not necessarily correspond to my personal positional rankings.
  • I could not have put together the roster and contract notes without the help of two invaluable sites: Our Lads and Spotrac.

Notes: In an effort to standardize the description of key positional traits, I frequently use the following adjectives: elite, good, above average, average, below average, poor.  Heights listed are using a notation common among scouts where the first digit corresponds to the feet, the next two digits correspond to the inches and the fourth digit corresponds to the fraction, in eighths.  So, somebody measuring 5’11” and 3/8 would be 5113.  This is helpful when trying to sort players by height.  When writing a full report for a player, I typically pick two games of film to watch.  When time permits, I may add a third game. If game film is not available I will search for highlight reels, but keep in mind these are the best plays that player had so they really need to jump off the screen. I do not necessarily want to watch games where they did very well or very poorly as that may not be a great illustration of their true ability. If possible, when comparing players at the same position I also like to watch film against common opponents. Full disclosure, I am not watching film of every single game any player plays, instead I am looking for a representative sample.  There are a lot of analysts out there who have a deeper depth of knowledge about certain players but I pride myself in a wide breadth of knowledge about many players.  When researching my articles I use a number of valuable resources, I would recommend bookmarking the below sites:

  • Stats: espn.com, sports-reference.com, pro-football-reference.com, cfbstats.com, herosports.com, fcs.football, foxsports.com, mcubed.net, expandtheboxscore.com, washingtonpost.com
  • Recruiting: 247Sports.com, espn.com, sbnation.com, rivals.com
  • Film: 2019 NFL Draft Database by Mark Jarvis, youtube.com (but be wary of highlight only reels)
  • Draft info and mocks: draftcountdown.com, draftscout.com, mattwaldmanrsp.com, draftek.com, thedraftnetwork.com, nfl.com
  • NFL rosters and contract info: ourlads.com, spotrac.com
  • Draft history: drafthistory.com
  • Combine info: pro-football-reference.com, espn.com, nflcombineresults.com, mockdraftable.com
  • Season preview magazines: Phil Steele, Lindy’s, Street and Smith’s, Athlon Sports
  • Podcasts: ESPN’s First Draft, Strong as Steele with Phil Steele, The Audible by Football Guys (specifically episodes w/ Matt Waldman), UTH Dynasty, Draft Dudes, 247Sports College Football, College Fantasy Football: On Campus, Underdog Pawdcast, Saturday 2 Sunday, Locked on NFL Draft, Cover 3 College Football
  • Logos & Player Media Photos: collegepressbox.com (the media home for FWAA members)
  • Odds & Gambling Stats: vegasinsider.com

Robert F. Cowper is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey.  He is a proud member of the Football Writers Association of America and the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.  Robert works as a recreation professional, specializing in youth sports, when he isn’t acting as commissioner for his many fantasy sports leagues.

More Analysis by Bob Cowper

The Watch List: 2019 NFL Mock Draft, Picks 33-48

Updated: April 21st 2019

Welcome to The Watch List, a resource to help RSO owners identify the players from the college game that deserve your attention.  To view my observations, follow me on Twitter @robertfcowper.  Check back throughout the Spring and Summer as The Watch List will preview the top prospects and let you know who is fantasy relevant and worth your valuable draft capital.

For the first time in my mock draft career, I decided to do a mock NFL Draft using draft pick trades.  Let me tell you, it was incredibly fun!  In addition to doing a full two round mock, I included some “best of the rest” players that I expect to outperform their late round draft stock.   Over the next two weeks, you’ll see the full mock broken into four parts, released in reverse order.  At the end of this post I have included a number of important notes that you may want to read before diving in.  To view the other parts, click here.

2.16, Miami Dolphins | Erik McCoy, C, Texas A&M

I have the Dolphins drafting a quarterback in the first round, so I think it makes sense to add to the offensive line in the second. Center Daniel Kilgore is 31 and coming off a season-ending triceps injury. Per Spotrac, the Dolphins spend startlingly little on their o-line. Just 5.3% of their cap is currently devoted to the line, with the next lowest total being the Vikings with 11.79%.

2.15, Carolina Panthers | Jaylon Ferguson, DE, Louisiana Tech

Ferguson has been slapped with the “off field issue” label so his value has dipped a bit even though he’s the NCAA’s all-time leader in sacks. As a freshman he got into a fight and was convicted of simple battery; he also had a public intoxication citation. It may be unwise to compare transgressions from one player to the next, but these don’t seem like the type of incidents that will prevent Ferguson from being a second round draft pick. Three of the four projected DL starters for the Panthers this season are 30+ so they would be wise to inject some youth into the unit.

2.14, Arizona Cardinals | Irv Smith, TE, Alabama

In my mock’s narrative, the Redskins did well by acquiring QB Josh Rosen without giving up their first. This is the pick that the Cardinals received and I think they should use it to add a weapon for new QB Kyler Murray. Smith isn’t a traditional TE but I don’t envision the Cardinals running a traditional offense. I believe Smith will be best deployed in motion, from the slot or off the line of scrimmage where he can avoid the jam and use his speed to get past mismatched linebackers.

2.13, Atlanta Falcons | Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame

I have the Falcons going with defensive linemen with both picks in my mock. I think they should target an edge rusher with the first pick and wait on tackle. When I watched Tillery heading into 2018, I thought he could end up as a first rounder but I think the consensus now has him on Day Two. He can learn from DT Grady Jarrett and then take over the starting role next season if the team cannot sign Jarrett to a long term deal.

2.12, Detroit Lions | Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple

The Lions are pleased to net an extra mid-round pick by moving down a pick and still get their corner in Rock Ya-Sin. Ya-Sin’s stock has continued to grow over the last few months so I would not be surprised if he actually went 10-15 picks earlier than this.

2.11, Green Bay Packers | Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, Florida

After a run at safety to start the second round, I think the Packers would consider moving up a pick or two to grab Chauncey Gardner-Johnson who is the last safety in this tier. The Packers just signed FS Adrian Amos but I think Gardner-Johnson can compete with Josh Jones for the starting SS spot.

2.10, Cincinnati Bengals | Tyree Jackson, QB, Buffalo

The Bengals need a lot of help so it made sense for them to trade back in the first and pick up some extra picks along the way. The hate on QB Andy Dalton has gone too far, I believe. He can still be a serviceable starter in the league but that doesn’t mean the Bengals shouldn’t invest in the future. Jackson has tremendous physical tools but needs some work to become a polished passer. He can sit behind Dalton for 2019 and maybe into 2020 until he’s ready to take over. The Bengals have a limited window with WR AJ Green (age and injury history) and RB Joe Mixon (running back shelf life seems to keep getting shorter). However, they conversely brought in a young and unproven coach, so it feels like they are in a weird win-now but rebuild mode.

2.09, Denver Broncos | Mack Wilson, ILB, Alabama

I have the Broncos drafting a new offensive signal caller in the first round so I thought there would be some nice symmetry in doing the same for the defense in the second round. Wilson could lineup next to sophomore Josey Jewell in Denver’s 3-4 and make for a young and talented duo between edge rushers Bradley Chubb and Von Miller.

2.08, Buffalo Bills | Amani Oruwariye, CB, Penn State

The Bills signed two corners in free agency: Kevin Johnson and EJ Gaines. Both were signed to one-year deals so it’s clear to me that Buffalo plans to address the position high in the draft. Lance Zierlein’s scouting report of Oruwariye suggests he’s best in a zone-heavy coverage scheme which the Bills employ with Sean McDermott.

2.07, Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Juan Thornhill, S, Virginia

The Buccaneers could use some help at both CB and S so I think they could reach a bit for a player like Juan Thornhill, who played both positions at Virginia. Recent Twitter rumors have circulated saying that Thornhill interviewed poorly but I decided to keep the pick as-is. At this point in the process it’s possible that a team that really wants him is putting out negative stories to ensure they get their guy.

2.06, Jacksonville Jaguars | Chris Lindstrom, OG, Boston College

If the Jaguars don’t go for a tackle at 1.07, I think they should look to the offensive line here at 2.06. Much of the Jaguars’ offensive salary cap is tied up in G Andrew Norwell. Per Spotrac, the Jags have a “potential out” after the 2019 season to avoid paying him nearly $50mil over the three subsequent seasons. Lindstrom has experience at both RG and RT which would be a good fit because Norwell and LT Cam Robinson line up on the other side.

2.05, Oakland Raiders | Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma

Jon Gruden has showed us that he’s willing to buy and sell his draft capital so I have him making two consecutive trade-backs to gain even more pieces to play with. The cherry on the sundae would be having speedster Marquise Brown fall this far because of his recent foot injury. Al Davis famously loved drafting receivers with blazing speed. If Brown is still on the board, Mark Davis makes this pick in honor of his late father.

2.04, San Francisco 49ers | Taylor Rapp, S, Washington

Like the Giants and Colts, the 49ers need help at safety too. They may be disappointed not to get Thompson or Abram but Rapp will appeal to them for his durability. Rapp played all 13 games in each of his three seasons at Washington. Meanwhile neither 49ers starter, Jimmie Ward nor Jaquiski Tartt, played more than 9 games the last two seasons. San Francisco did resign Ward to a one-year deal but it’s inevitable that they add a safety.

2.03, Arizona Cardinals | Dalton Risner, OG, Kansas State

After drafting QB Kyler Murray, the Cardinals focus should be protecting him. Risner is an interesting prospect because he has experience at both tackle and center. Risner performed well at the combine in the shuttle, 3-cone and broad jump drills. Adding a versatile and athletic linemen to the depth chart would be a boon for Murray.

2.02, Indianapolis Colts | Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi St

The Colts are set at FS with Malik Hooker but adding a run supporting box safety would greatly improve the defense. Abram fits the bill if he lasts this long. The offense and front seven are looking solid so the Colts should concentrate on shoring up the middling secondary. If they do, the Colts could be a sneakily complete Super Bowl contender.

2.01, New York Giants | Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama

The Cardinals continue their wheeling and dealing by moving back two spots so the Giants can grab their replacement for Landon Collins. Thompson struggled down the stretch but is my pick for the best free safety on the board. The Giants did acquire Jabril Peppers in the OBJ trade but he’s on a team-friendly contract and the Giants can move on after 2019 without a cap hit. Peppers has been a bit of a disappointment so maybe a return to the rover position that made him so successful at Michigan would help – having Thompson in the fold would make that possible.

 

A few housekeeping notes:

  • The full mock draft was written between April 4-10.  Any moves or news released after that point would not be taken into account.
  • To help me track my mock draft, I used a very useful tool I found on Reddit called RST’s 2019 Draft Tracker.
  • This spreadsheet lets you easily trade draft picks and uses a pick value chart so you can try and keep trades fair.  All of the trades except for Washington/Arizona were pick for pick and I required that the team moving up offer more value than the value chart suggested was fair.
  • Since the trades all included late picks not covered in this mock I didn’t bother noting each individual trade.  Instead, I described my general thinking for the trade.
  • For each pick, I tried to put myself in the shoes of the GM.  If given the chance, I would not necessarily make all of the same picks as I value some players and positions differently.
  • Keep in mind that my predicted draft order does not necessarily correspond to my personal positional rankings.
  • I could not have put together the roster and contract notes without the help of two invaluable sites: Our Lads and Spotrac.

Notes: In an effort to standardize the description of key positional traits, I frequently use the following adjectives: elite, good, above average, average, below average, poor.  Heights listed are using a notation common among scouts where the first digit corresponds to the feet, the next two digits correspond to the inches and the fourth digit corresponds to the fraction, in eighths.  So, somebody measuring 5’11” and 3/8 would be 5113.  This is helpful when trying to sort players by height.  When writing a full report for a player, I typically pick two games of film to watch.  When time permits, I may add a third game. If game film is not available I will search for highlight reels, but keep in mind these are the best plays that player had so they really need to jump off the screen. I do not necessarily want to watch games where they did very well or very poorly as that may not be a great illustration of their true ability. If possible, when comparing players at the same position I also like to watch film against common opponents. Full disclosure, I am not watching film of every single game any player plays, instead I am looking for a representative sample.  There are a lot of analysts out there who have a deeper depth of knowledge about certain players but I pride myself in a wide breadth of knowledge about many players.  When researching my articles I use a number of valuable resources, I would recommend bookmarking the below sites:

  • Stats: espn.com, sports-reference.com, pro-football-reference.com, cfbstats.com, herosports.com, fcs.football, foxsports.com, mcubed.net, expandtheboxscore.com, washingtonpost.com
  • Recruiting: 247Sports.com, espn.com, sbnation.com, rivals.com
  • Film: 2019 NFL Draft Database by Mark Jarvis, youtube.com (but be wary of highlight only reels)
  • Draft info and mocks: draftcountdown.com, draftscout.com, mattwaldmanrsp.com, draftek.com, thedraftnetwork.com, nfl.com
  • NFL rosters and contract info: ourlads.com, spotrac.com
  • Draft history: drafthistory.com
  • Combine info: pro-football-reference.com, espn.com, nflcombineresults.com, mockdraftable.com
  • Season preview magazines: Phil Steele, Lindy’s, Street and Smith’s, Athlon Sports
  • Podcasts: ESPN’s First Draft, Strong as Steele with Phil Steele, The Audible by Football Guys (specifically episodes w/ Matt Waldman), UTH Dynasty, Draft Dudes, 247Sports College Football, College Fantasy Football: On Campus, Underdog Pawdcast, Saturday 2 Sunday, Locked on NFL Draft, Cover 3 College Football
  • Logos & Player Media Photos: collegepressbox.com (the media home for FWAA members)
  • Odds & Gambling Stats: vegasinsider.com

Robert F. Cowper is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey.  He is a proud member of the Football Writers Association of America and the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.  Robert works as a recreation professional, specializing in youth sports, when he isn’t acting as commissioner for his many fantasy sports leagues.

More Analysis by Bob Cowper

The Watch List: 2019 NFL Mock Draft, Picks 49-64+

Updated: April 19th 2019

Welcome to The Watch List, a resource to help RSO owners identify the players from the college game that deserve your attention.  To view my observations, follow me on Twitter @robertfcowper.  Check back throughout the Spring and Summer as The Watch List will preview the top prospects and let you know who is fantasy relevant and worth your valuable draft capital.

For the first time in my mock draft career, I decided to do a mock NFL Draft using draft pick trades.  Let me tell you, it was incredibly fun!  In addition to doing a full two round mock, I included some “best of the rest” players that I expect to outperform their late round draft stock.   Over the next two weeks, you’ll see the full mock broken into four parts, released in reverse order.  At the end of this post I have included a number of important notes that you may want to read before diving in.  To view the other parts of my mock draft click here as we get closer to the NFL Draft.

Best of the Rest

The following list of players are mid- to late-rounders who I researched in the last year and think could achieve a good return on investment for their NFL team. The reasons for their value vary, from size to injury to character, but I wager they’ll beat their draft spot.

  • Brett Rypien, QB, Boise State
  • Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State
  • Alexander Mattison, RB, Boise State
  • Mike Weber, RB, Ohio State
  • Tyre Brady, WR, Marshall
  • Preston Williams, WR, Colorado State
  • Emmanuel Butler, WR, Northern Arizona
  • Donald Parham, TE, Stetson
  • Kahale Warring, TE, San Diego State
  • Corbin Kaufusi, DE, BYU
  • Jachai Polite, DE, Florida
  • Blake Cashman, ILB, Minnesota
  • Cameron Smith, ILB, USC
  • Blessaun Austin, CB, Rutgers
  • Clifton Duck, CB, Western Michigan
  • Jaquan Johnson, S, Miami
  • Andrew Wingard, S, Wyoming

2.32, New England Patriots | Ryan Finley, QB, NC State

It’s inevitable that the Patriots take another Day Two passer to sit behind Tom Brady. They would look for a pocket passer and I think Finley would appeal to them for his size and potential to be molded into a future asset should Brady stick around. Finley isn’t my next highest ranked quarterback, that that would be Brett Rypien, but I think Finley is the one who would most appeal to the Patriots.

2.31, Kansas City Chiefs | Justin Layne, CB, Michigan St

The Chiefs have a big need at corner after having the second worst passing defense in 2018. Steven Nelson left in free agency and their two highest paid returners, Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland, are free agents next offseason. Layne has rare length for the position and would be a welcome addition for Chief fans.

2.30, New York Jets | JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford

After trading up to take DE Marcus Davenport last season, the Saints may be interested in trading back a few spots to pick up an extra pick or two. Even though they should be following the same tack, I couldn’t resist having the Jets jump up from 3.04 and grab Arcega-Whiteside. Arcega-Whiteside would be a nice complement to the newly signed slot Jamison Crowder and a healthy Quincy Enunwa. Robby Anderson is still on the roster but is only signed through this year.

2.29, Kansas City Chiefs | Darrell Henderson, RB, Memphis

Running back went from a strength to a weakness in a blink last season for the Chiefs. Kareem Hunt and Spencer Ware are gone and Carlos Hyde is in (but does anybody care?). In an effort to make the Chiefs depth chart even more confusing, I have them drafting Darrell Henderson to go with Damien Williams and Darel Williams. Henderson is undersized but had incredible per-touch production in college.

2.28, Los Angeles Chargers | Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington

The Chargers were a hard team for me to identify draft needs for. I had them address the offensive line in the first round, so do they take another bite at the apple? Maybe not but McGary went in the first round of two mocks I saw so getting him this late would be a steal. They could also look for a DT but I didn’t see the value in that position at this pick.

2.27, Indianapolis Colts | Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame

The Colts have an extra second from their deal with the Jets last year and I think they should use it to add depth at corner for the same reason I had the Titans take Byron Murphy: the AFC South passing offenses look to be stronger this season. Despite being a shade short, Love has great ball skills; he had the most passes defended over the last two seasons in the FBS (36).

2.26, Dallas Cowboys | Chase Winovich, DE, Michigan

The Cowboys were quiet during free agency. Their defensive line hasn’t been very quiet though. David Irving retired in stunning fashion while Randy Gregory is suspended yet again. They did manage to resign Demarcus Lawrence after tagging him but that doesn’t negate the need for an edge rusher opposite him. Winovich is a relentless pass rusher and will add 4.59 speed to an already fast defense.

2.25, Philadelphia Eagles | Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia

LT Jason Peters is 37 and his contract ends this season. He played a full slate in 2018 but that was only the fifth time in his fifteen year career that he played the full season. Cajuste is a bit light to be a starting LT but he was the strongest lineman at the combine by far (32 reps vs 28 for the next best).

2.24, New England Patriots | Kelvin Harmon, WR, North Carolina St

If any team would appreciate Harmon’s nuanced route running, it would be New England. He tested poorly at the combine but I don’t think that will cause him to fall too far.

2.23, Houston Texans | Damien Harris, RB, Alabama

In addition to protecting Watson, the Texans should also add a running back to help alleviate some playmaking pressure. Lamar Miller has largely been a disappointment in Houston and he’s gone after 2019. I predict that Miller won’t even make it through training camp on the roster because he has just $1mil in dead cap if the team were to release him today. Harris is well-rounded enough to be a competent starter for the rest of Watson’s rookie contract window.

2.22, Houston Texans | Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss

The Texans just signed LT Matt Kalil but, if anything, that just proves that they need to address the position early in the draft. They gave up a league-leading 62 sacks in 2018 so go ahead and pick your preferred offensive linemen here, depending on whether you went T or G in the first round.

2.21, Philadelphia Eagles | David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State

Montgomery is my pick for the best back in the draft so I think this is good value. The Eagles just traded for Jordan Howard but the team would lose nothing (aside from that conditional 2020 6th round pick) if they cut him at any point this offseason. It turned out to be a shrewd contingency plan in case they miss out on one of the backs at the top of the draft.

2.20, Pittsburgh Steelers | Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina

If you live under a rock you may have missed that the Steelers traded receiver extraordinaire Antonio Brown this offseason. Brown was great in space with the ball and was effective from the slot. Deebo could grow into that role and play off young incumbents Juju Smith-Schuster and James Washington.

2.19, Tennessee Titans | Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State

The Titans signed another possession receiver this offseason, Adam Humphries, to pair with former first rounder Corey Davis. Adding Campbell to the mix would give QB Marcus Mariota some much-needed speed to work with.

2.18, Minnesota Vikings | Zach Allen, DT, Boston College

I struggled with a draft strategy for the Vikings so I decided to have them add depth to the front seven with both first round picks. (They can address the OL with multiple mid-round picks.) Allen has earned a reputation as a high energy player and would rotate in at DE and at DT alongside Linval Joseph.

2.17, Cleveland Browns | Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson

This was my only pick for the Browns in this mock draft. After hitting on CB Denzel Ward last year, I think the Browns should go back to the well and see if they can land another instant starter. They made a number of flashy moves this offseason with OBJ, Olivier Vernon, Sheldon Richardson and Morgan Burnett so this would be a smart, yet unsexy pick.

A few housekeeping notes:

  • The full mock draft was written between April 4-10.  Any moves or news released after that point would not be taken into account.
  • To help me track my mock draft, I used a very useful tool I found on Reddit called RST’s 2019 Draft Tracker.
  • This spreadsheet lets you easily trade draft picks and uses a pick value chart so you can try and keep trades fair.  All of the trades except for Washington/Arizona were pick for pick and I required that the team moving up offer more value than the value chart suggested was fair.
  • Since the trades all included late picks not covered in this mock I didn’t bother noting each individual trade.  Instead, I described my general thinking for the trade.
  • For each pick, I tried to put myself in the shoes of the GM.  If given the chance, I would not necessarily make all of the same picks as I value some players and positions differently.
  • Keep in mind that my predicted draft order does not necessarily correspond to my personal positional rankings.
  • I could not have put together the roster and contract notes without the help of two invaluable sites: Our Lads and Spotrac.

 


Notes: In an effort to standardize the description of key positional traits, I frequently use the following adjectives: elite, good, above average, average, below average, poor.  Heights listed are using a notation common among scouts where the first digit corresponds to the feet, the next two digits correspond to the inches and the fourth digit corresponds to the fraction, in eighths.  So, somebody measuring 5’11” and 3/8 would be 5113.  This is helpful when trying to sort players by height.  When writing a full report for a player, I typically pick two games of film to watch.  When time permits, I may add a third game. If game film is not available I will search for highlight reels, but keep in mind these are the best plays that player had so they really need to jump off the screen. I do not necessarily want to watch games where they did very well or very poorly as that may not be a great illustration of their true ability. If possible, when comparing players at the same position I also like to watch film against common opponents. Full disclosure, I am not watching film of every single game any player plays, instead I am looking for a representative sample.  There are a lot of analysts out there who have a deeper depth of knowledge about certain players but I pride myself in a wide breadth of knowledge about many players.  When researching my articles I use a number of valuable resources, I would recommend bookmarking the below sites:

  • Stats: espn.com, sports-reference.com, pro-football-reference.com, cfbstats.com, herosports.com, fcs.football, foxsports.com, mcubed.net, expandtheboxscore.com, washingtonpost.com
  • Recruiting: 247Sports.com, espn.com, sbnation.com, rivals.com
  • Film: 2019 NFL Draft Database by Mark Jarvis, youtube.com (but be wary of highlight only reels)
  • Draft info and mocks: draftcountdown.com, draftscout.com, mattwaldmanrsp.com, draftek.com, thedraftnetwork.com, nfl.com
  • NFL rosters and contract info: ourlads.com, spotrac.com
  • Draft history: drafthistory.com
  • Combine info: pro-football-reference.com, espn.com, nflcombineresults.com, mockdraftable.com
  • Season preview magazines: Phil Steele, Lindy’s, Street and Smith’s, Athlon Sports
  • Podcasts: ESPN’s First Draft, Strong as Steele with Phil Steele, The Audible by Football Guys (specifically episodes w/ Matt Waldman), UTH Dynasty, Draft Dudes, 247Sports College Football, College Fantasy Football: On Campus, Underdog Pawdcast, Saturday 2 Sunday, Locked on NFL Draft, Cover 3 College Football
  • Logos & Player Media Photos: collegepressbox.com (the media home for FWAA members)
  • Odds & Gambling Stats: vegasinsider.com

Robert F. Cowper is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey.  He is a proud member of the Football Writers Association of America and the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.  Robert works as a recreation professional, specializing in youth sports, when he isn’t acting as commissioner for his many fantasy sports leagues.

More Analysis by Bob Cowper