With the trade deadline passing, we are past the point where teams either dump egregious salaries or load up on players to make a playoff push. Coach Jon Gruden has returned to the Oakland Raiders after nearly a decade, and started a major overhaul that’s resulted in three first round picks. Oakland competes with the Arizona Cardinals, New York Giants and cross-bay rival San Francisco 49ers for the top tanker title and coveted No. 1 pick in the 2019 Draft. Here is a possible look at how Round One may shake out according to team needs.
New York Giants
Justin Herbert (QB) – The Giants are very bad, that’s obvious. But they know their bad, and they are tanking to ensure they get the cornerstone pieces to rebuild. With the trade of former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison last week, the Giants could very well fill that gap with dynamic lineman Ed Oliver of Houston. But quarterback Eli Manning’s best days are far behind him, and he needs a successor. Backup rookie quarterback Kyle Lauletta has failed to challenge for Manning’s spot, and he was arrested Tuesday for a traffic violation.
Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert is the clear-cut leader of the quarterback class, even though he very well could go back to school. While Herbert flashes extreme potential, he could benefit from another year in school. Nevertheless, Herbert will eventually have to weigh the idea of being the No.1 pick, and it is worth surpassing the opportunity. Playing in the Meadowlands with promising running back SaQuon Barkley and Pro Bowl wideout Odell Beckham Jr. is a great tandem to build a dynasty with. Pro Comparison – Carson Wentz
San Francisco 49ers
Nick Bosa (DE) – The 49ers need a lot, but you cannot avoid best player available. Despite the numerous defensive linemen they have drafted in recent history, EDGE rusher is still a glaring need. Moreover, with the rival Raiders picking behind them, this will be a spiteful pick. Pro Comparison – Joey Bosa
Greedy Williams (CB) – Raiders fans will be upset with Bosa falling in the 9ers lap, especially after Gruden traded away All-Pro Khalil Mack before the season. However, with three first round picks, the Raiders will get there guy. Houston defensive tackle is the best player available, but Oakland will have four defensive tackles on the payroll this offseason, and a healthy Jelly Ellis returning to take a load off rookie Maurice Hurst. Oakland needs pass rushers, but they also need quality corners.
Even with one-year rental cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie retiring Tuesday, Oakland still has multiple corners hitting free agency. Former first-rounder Gareon Conley was not traded before the deadline despite speculation, but that does not mean he will not be dealt before the draft. If he isn’t pairing him with another stingy corner like LSU star Greedy Williams would be promising for the Raiders as they prepare to move to Las Vegas. Don’t worry Raiders fans, your edge rusher is coming in a few picks. Pro Comparison – Patrick Peterson
Jonah Williams (T) – The Cardinals already have their quarterback in place in rookie Josh Rosen. Future Hall of Fame wideout Larry Fitzgerald is getting up in age, and the guys behind him aren’t anything to marvel over. Arizona would go wideout here if there was a clear-cut number one receiver. But protecting Rosen is priority, and their line is one of the league’s worst. With new offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich looking to build with his young quarterback, protecting him with Alabama tackle Jonah Williams makes sense. There are several wideouts in the draft and free agency to pair with Rosen, but solidifying the line here makes sense. Pro Comparison – Connor Williams
Greg Little (T) – Having a sure star like Ed Oliver fall to you is enticing, but as with Arizona, they have rookie quarterback Josh Allen to protect. Buffalo is another team in need of a wideout that could afford to go best player available, but there is plenty of defensive line help in this draft. Ole Miss T Greg Little was named AP Preseason All-American, and he has produced. He possesses the intangibles to be a Pro Bowler down the road.
Ed Oliver (DT) – It seems unreal that Oliver would drop this far, but he finds a home in Cleveland. It would be a quarterback’s nightmare to have Oliver line up over center with defensive ends Myles Garrett and Genard Avery on either side. Whomever the Browns hire this offseason to coach will salivate at the possibilities this defensive line would create. Pro Comparison – John Randle
Rashan Gary (DE) – Indianapolis took a gamble on quarterback Andrew Luck returning to his previous form after dealing with several injuries and so far, so good. The offensive line has done a good job protecting Luck, and the backfield look solidified with running backs Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines. Even with several injuries to the defensive line, the Colts have done a great job pressuring the quarterback. However, when a gift like Michigan edge rusher Rashan Gary falls in your lap, you take it. Gary is a mammoth with violent hands and an arsenal of moves to get in the backfield. Pro Comparison – Cameron Jordan
New York Jets
Brian Burns (DE) – The Jets have plenty to choose from with the eighth pick, and they should address the EDGE. Florida State defensive end Brian Burns is a high-motor athletic specimen that jumps off the tape. Pro Comparison – Jason Taylor
Deionte Thompson (S) – The Jaguars blew their opportunity to trade for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, and starter Blake Bortles has continued to struggle. Nevertheless, the Jags shouldn’t reach here, and take the best player available. In this case, that’s Alabama Safety Deionte Thompson, who would already have chemistry with former Roll Tide teammate Ronnie Harrison, making for a hell of a tandem. Pro Comparison – Eddie Jackson
DeanDre Baker (CB) – John Elway knows he cannot afford to take a chance on another quarterback this early, no matter how enticing Duke’s Daniel Jones is. There is so many ways the Broncos can go, but having another potential shutdown corner in Georgia’s DeanDre Baker is too much to pass. Pro Comparison – Aqib Talib
Quinnen Williams (DT) – The Tennessee Titans have an opportunity to add another defensive tackle in Alabama’s Quinnen Williams. Freakish athleticism should help Oliver thrive at the Combine, allowing him to go higher than Williams, but the debate over who is better is close. Williams has become the hottest defensive name in college football over the past few weeks and for good reason. Allowing Williams to learn the ropes from Jurrell Casey and his extreme potential makes the pick sensible. Pro Comparison – Gerald McCoy
Josh Allen (DE/OLB) – Oakland needs a pass rusher bad, but let it be known that the expectation should not be that he’ll be as good as Khalil Mack. Nevertheless, a dual-threat falls right into their lap with Kentucky edge rusher and outside linebacker Josh Allen. The
Wildcat star has impressed on the national stage as Kentucky continues to shock the SEC. Allen can rush the passer with the best of them, possessing violent hands and good athleticism. He can drop back and cover tight ends or running backs as well. Pro Comparison – Leonard Floyd
Clelin Ferrell (DE) – Ziggy Ansah will enter the 2019 offseason as a free agent, and there are plenty of edge rushers to interest the Lions. At this point, Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell looks to be a solid choice. Ferrell is a fiery competitor, shining on a stacked Clemson defense with his knack for getting to the ball carrier. Pro Comparison – Aldon Smith
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Byron Murphy (CB) – Tampa Bay’s quarterback situation is in shambles, as former first round pick Jameis Winston continues to disappoint on and off the field. Backup Ryan Fitzpatrick is a gunslinger who isn’t afraid to take risks to put points on the board. He will continue to have to do that thanks to the Bucs horrid defense. With veteran corner Brent Grimes approaching the end of his career, securing a lockdown corner should be a priority. Washington corner Byron Murphy is as good as it gets, showing great physicality and instincts along with recovery speed. Pro Comparison – Sidney Jones
Montez Sweat (DE) – I’m not sure what happened to Vic Beasley, but the drop off has been real. Mississippi State defensive end Montez Sweat is as good as it gets, with his long, athletic body, great bend and burst. Pro Comparison – Chandler Jones
Daniel Jones (QB) – Duke quarterback Daniel Jones probably shouldn’t be taken this high, but after the Broncos, Bucs and Jags pass, the Dolphins slightly reach. Starter Ryan Tannehill is inconsistent and has battled injury, and securing a backup plan seems like a good idea. Pro Comparison – Kirk Cousins
Philadelphia Eagles –
Jeffrey Simmons (DT) – The defending champion Philadelphia Eagles are in need of a violent interior run stopper that Fletcher Cox can mold. The Eagles are especially thin on the defensive line thanks to injuries to Timmy Jernigan and Derek Barnett. Simmons has the potential to be far more than a depth acquisition. Pro Comparison – Kawann Short
N’Keal Harry (WR) – The 2019 receiving class is filled with talent but no clear-cut No.1. The Baltimore Ravens have struggled for years to find a consistent receiver, whether it’s on the outside or in the slot. With their future quarterback in place in Lamar Jackson, it’s time to address the position. 6’4 Arizona State receiver N’Keal Harry is a freakish athlete with speed to take the top off the defense and the size to be a serious redzone threat. He’s also a dynamic special team’s threat. Pro Comparison – Cordarrelle Patterson
Green Bay Packers
Devin White (LB) – Clay Matthews is getting up in age, and the Packers have a shot to replace him with a versatile linebacker like LSU’s Devin White. With the athleticism and instincts to play outside or drop his hand in the ground and rush the passer, Devin White would bolster the Packers’ front seven. Pro Comparison – Deion Jones
Devin Bush (LB) – You can make a case that the Raiders haven’t had a reliable inside linebacker to play multiple years since Bill Romanowski and Greg Beikert. If coach Jon Gruden is going to build a winner, he eventually has to address this position. Linebacker Marquel Lee is a decent run stopper, but Michigan’s Devin Bush provides great athleticism and speed with sharp instincts and a fiery motor. Pro Comparison – London Fletcher
Dalton Risner (T) – Quarterback Kirk Cousins has looked to be everything the Vikings hoped he would be through eight weeks. Injuries and inconsistency has been the tale
of the tape for the Vikings offensive line, and they are fortunate enough to have several options in the early rounds. But protecting Cousins on the outside is key, thus making Kansas State tackle Dalton Risner. But Risner can play several positions on the line, something the Vikings would certainly look to utilize.
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (WR) – The lower half of the first round starts to see receivers getting more love. Yes, the Seahawks have a few needs on defense, but giving Russell Wilson more weapons has to be priority. Stanford’s J.J. Arcega-Whiteside is probably the most polished receiver in this draft, with reliable hands and uses his large frame well in contested situations. Pro Comparison – Brandon Marshall
David Edwards (T) – Just before the trade deadline, the Houston Texans gave quarterback Deshaun Watson another weapon in receiver Demariyus Thomas courtesy of the Denver Broncos. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to address one of the league’s worst offensive lines. If the Texans want Watson to blossom, he needs to stay off the turf, thus prompting them to select Wisconsin tackle David Edwards.
Noah Fant (TE) – The Cincinnati Bengals have major issues on the offensive line, and eventually they’ll need to think of a backup plan for linebacker Vontaze Burfict. But they certainly have had the worst luck with tight ends. The talented-but-often-injured Tyler Eifert is on injury reserve, along with tight ends Mason Schreck and Cethan Carter. When you get the opportunity to select the most athletic tight end in the draft you have to take it. That is none other than Iowa physical specimen Noah Fant. Surely Fant will test off the charts at the combine with over 40” vertical and great hands to compliment. Pro Comparison – Jimmy Graham
Amani Oruwariye (CB) – The Steelers are in desperate need of finding a tall, reliable corner for the future. Penn State corner Amani Oruwariye continues to sneak up draft boards with his lean frame and exceptional press coverage and closing speed. He has a knack for finding the ball in the air and can be very physical. Pro Comparison – Kevin King
Zach Allen (DE) – The Washington Redskins have statistically been the NFL’s best defense halfway through the season. But Preston Smith is a free agent, and EDGE rusher Ryan Kerrigan started off the season slow. Boston College defensive end Zach Allen gives the Redskins a long-term plan. Allen has the size of a traditional defensive end. Plus, he can make things happen with his strength and array of moves. Pro Comparison – Derek Wolfe
Los Angeles Chargers
Dexter Lawrence (DT) – The Chargers have a stout defensive line already with the likes of Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. But solidifying the middle long-term comes to play when Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence falls in their lap. Lawrence is stout against the run, something the Chargers need going forward. Pro Comparison – Linval Joseph
Jachai Polite (DE) – The Carolina Panthers could’ve jumped in at the trade deadline in an attempt to get Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell. Yet, they fill a need in the draft. Florida defensive end Jachai Polite is explosive with good bend and relentless off the edge. Pro Comparison – Vic Beasley
New England Patriots
Raekwon Davis (DL) – The New England Patriots once again see themselves in position to make a steal. Alabama defensive lineman Raekwon Davis can play
multiple positions and has the skill set to be an offensive coordinator’s nightmare. Pro Comparison – Johnathan Allen
Green Bay Packers
A.J. Brown (WR) – It’s about time the Packers give quarterback Aaron Rodgers another weapon. Ole Miss wideout A.J. Brown is physical and knows how to use his body. He can give Rodgers another serious redzone threat. Pro Comparison – Anquan Boldin
Kansas City Chiefs
Taylor Rapp (S) – The Kansas City Chiefs have some thinking to do when it comes to evaluating how to find a successor for Eric Berry. Washington safety Taylor Rapp is a straight ballhawk who can come down into the box and make plays in run support. Pro Comparison – Harrison Smith
Los Angeles Rams
Derrick Brown (DT) – Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is a rental, as the Rams try to go for broke for a championship. Whether or not that works out, they need a long-term plan. Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown is a nasty interior lineman who can stop the run as well as find his way the quarterback. Pro Comparison – Nick Fairley