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

2019 NFL Draft Stories

Updated: April 13th 2019

Every season we witness many unknowns play out both leading up to and during the NFL draft.  I expect nothing different this year.  Which player surprisingly falls?  Which teams trade up to get their guy?  How early will quarterbacks go off the board?  Many of the questions should be answered in short order with the draft mere weeks away.  This article delves into a few of the bigger stories heading into the draft taking a look at some interesting player stories and a team which will have a big impact on the draft.

The Josh Rosen Saga

Do the Arizona Cardinals really change up at quarterback by drafting Kyler Murray one year after drafting Josh Rosen in the top-10?  Most current reports point to this being the case.  There is no shortage of teams potentially looking at making a quarterback move.  Oakland, Tampa Bay, the Giants, Denver, Cincinnati, Miami, Washington, and Tennessee are all teams with questionable quarterback situations going forward with either starting quarterbacks on expiring contracts or deals with little or no guaranteed left after 2019.  This gives teams plenty of freedom to move on from their current starter if desired.  Rosen might also garner interest from teams with older quarterbacks, such as New England and the Chargers, who would want the chance to groom a young quarterback at the right price.  Rosen would be owed only about $2 million per year (less than many backup quarterbacks) over the next three seasons for a new team, potentially making him a ridiculous bargain if he can become just a competent starter.

Could the Murray talk all be a smokescreen to drive up trade value in a move down the board for Arizona?  That would also make sense for an awful team in need of talent across the board after truly earning the number one pick in the draft.  The answers to these questions will drive the rest of the draft.

Oakland (Las Vegas) Raiders Draft Plan

To say Oakland was bad in 2018 does not really begin to describe the depths of Raider’s woes.  Oakland ranked 25th in Football Outsiders’ offensive DVOA and 30th on the defensive side.  Their highest ranked player at running back, wide receiver, tackle,  edge defender, defensive interior, linebacker, and cornerback graded no better than 42nd per Pro Football Focus’ ranks.  There is work to be done, clearly.  Fortunately, the Raiders jumped off to a big head start early in the off-season.  Oakland traded for all-pro wide receiver Antonio Brown.  They further boosted the receiver corps in free agency adding speedsters Tyrell Williams, and J.J. Nelson.  Tackle Trent Brown, safety LaMarcus Joyner, running back Isaiah Crowell, plus veteran linebackers Brandon Marshall and Vontaze Burfict complete the notable free agent signings.

So how do the Raiders use their four top-35 picks in the draft?  Let’s concentrate on their top pick at number four, a potentially key turning point in the draft.  There are rumors the Raiders could move up to the number one spot for Murray if he is truly available.  They easily have the ammunition with the aforementioned number of high picks to move up if that is the case.  It would be a bold move for new GM Mike Mayock but also limits available draft resources on a team with massive needs, particularly across the defense.  One scenario involves taking an edge rusher at four, one of the biggest needs for Oakland.  The potentially available edge talent, such as Josh Allen, fits this draft spot and might be the most likely scenario.

Another interesting case occurs if defensive tackle Quinnen Williams falls to the Raiders at number four.  He is the top overall player for some analysts and teams can never have enough disruptive interior players to rotate along the defensive front.  Oakland invested heavily (but cheaply) in defensive tackles recently, however, with last year’s rookies 2nd rounder P.J. Hall and 5th round steal Maurice Hurst plus signing Jonathan Hankins and Justin Ellis.  It would be a fun debate of best player available versus team needs/value in a draft loaded with high-end defensive line prospects.  Trading down from four also presents another option here, particularly if Kyler Murray or Williams falls and one which the Raiders might prefer given the defensive line depth available in this draft.  The lack of top quarterback talent this year might make trading down difficult though.

Overall, Oakland’s early picks should be dominated by shoring up the defense in a draft loaded on that side of the ball.  The available picks, large number of needs, and interesting spots in the draft make the Raiders one of the key teams in determining how the draft plays out.

Quarterback Needy Teams

Where quarterbacks fall always represents one of the bigger stories on draft day.  The need for competent passers traditionally pushes them up the draft board yearly.  The article notes previously the many teams who could draft a quarterback.  The question is how many teams actually invest early at the position.  Despite the large number of teams who possibly draft a quarterback high, there might not be many in true desperation over their quarterback situation.  Many of those teams have competent players, although maybe not long-term answers, which allows freedom in using high draft picks.

The NFL starting quarterback landscape is dominated by high picks with the majority being selected in the top half of the 1st round.  Will the Giants select a quarterback at six when they bypassed a signal-caller at pick two last year in a class considered far superior by the consensus when compared to this year’s group?  Do the quarterback-needy teams in the middle of the first deem any of the quarterbacks worthy of trading up for?  They would likely have to sacrifice next year’s 1st round pick to move up far enough to be sure of obtaining their desired player.  A team like Miami could stay committed to the rebuild and postpone taking a quarterback.  Are the quarterbacks who drop to the mid-first range really worthy of selecting in the middle of the first if none of the teams were confident enough in the quarterback to make a move up?  Might teams simply use veteran stopgaps this season waiting for next year’s 2020 class in hopes of better alternatives in the draft?  The questions abound for this quarterback class.  It would not be a surprise to see any of the top quarterbacks including Haskins, Lock, and/or Jones fall farther than many projections envision in this year’s draft.  Conversely, like in every draft, the need for quarterback could push these same players higher than expected.

How Far does Jeffery Simmons Fall?

A highly rated prospect injures himself prior to the NFL draft.  Unfortunately, we have seen similar situations before.  Many scouts ranked Simmons as a top-10 type draft talent prior to tearing his ACL after dominating the SEC for two consecutive seasons at defensive tackle.  He likely misses most, if not all of the 2019 season due to the injury and teams will not know when he will be fully recovered.  That means any team selecting Simmons probably misses out on at least a quarter of his rookie contract.

Simmons also has an ugly off-the-field incident prior to his freshman season at Mississippi State that teams will have to look into but he stayed clean throughout his time in college.  Linebacker Jaylon Smith of the Dallas Cowboys found himself in a similar situation on the injury front in 2016 where a late season injury causing a missed rookie season in the NFL.  He dropped to the 2nd round of the NFL draft.  A similar scenario is easily within the range of outcomes for Simmons in this draft.


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