The signs are starting to point toward the Cardinals taking Murray and trading Josh Rosen. They should have a trade market for Rosen with teams like the Bengals, Dolphins, Redskins and Patriots. Murray is a better fit for Cliff Kingsbury's offense, and their personal history going back to recruiting Murray out of high school could lead to added comfort, resulting in Murray being the pick for the Cardinals.
Murray became the hot quarterback prospect during the NFL Scouting Combine and is now the favorite to be the first player drafted. In his one season as a starting quarterback for Oklahoma, Murray completed 69 percent of his passes for 4,361 yards with 42 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He was an accurate passer and has a quality arm to go along with special athleticism. In 2015 for Texas A&M, Murray completed 60 percent of his passes for 686 yards with five touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Murray's game is similar to Russell Wilson's, and teams are willing to look past Murray's height issues with the success that Wilson and Baker Mayfield have had. Team sources all said that Murray will have to play out of the shotgun. And at 5-foot-10, 207 pounds, he is too short to be under center and do quick passing off of three-step drops. Thus, the offense is going to have to be built around Murray, and he is not a quarterback who can be plugged into any NFL offense. That also presents some problems for his pro team in finding a backup quarterback who can execute the same plays. Therefore, it is going to take a team that is willing to commit to Murray and go all-in on building the offense around him.
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2.San Francisco 49ers:Nick Bosa, DE/3-4OLB, Ohio State
My good friend Cecil Lammey of 104.3 The Fan in Denver has heard that the 49ers are high on Nick Bosa. I've heard that the 49ers like Bosa, but are very high on Quinnen Williams, and have Josh Allen in the running for their pick. Sources high up with the team were gushing to me about Williams at the combine, and their scouts have been singing Williams' praises to others. However, edge rush is a bigger need for the team and Bosa is a safe pick. John Lynch has been wanting more edge rush for years, so I think he will lean that direction when push comes to shove.
In the pass rush, Bosa (6-3, 266) is a beast. He has an excellent get-off and fires off the snap. Bosa is fast off the edge with the ability to quickly get leverage by using his speed to get an angle to the quarterback. Aside from his speed and athleticism, Bosa has excellent hands with functional strength to fight off blocks, has a burst to close, and puts quarterbacks down hard. He has developed technique and obviously has been working at his craft for years with his older brother.
Bosa dominated early in 2018 before going down with a core-muscle injury. In mid-October, he announced his decision to leave Ohio State and prepare for the 2019 NFL Draft. Bosa totaled 14 tackles with six for a loss, four sacks and one forced fumble in roughly two games worth of playing time spread out over three contests in 2018. Bosa dominated Oregon State in the season opener, needing to only play one half to notch two sacks, two fumble recoveries, one touchdown and four tackles.
Bosa totaled 34 tackles, 8.5 sacks, two passes batted and one forced fumble in 2017. He was the Buckeyes' best defensive end that season, even though he rotated with Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis. The 6-foot-3, 266-pounder played well for Ohio State in 2016, too, recording 29 tackles with seven tackles for a loss and five sacks.
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The Jets are trade-down candidates, but if they are forced to stick and pick, I think they will take either Nick Bosa or Josh Allen. If New York is stuck here, Allen would make sense to give the team a sorely needed pass-rusher coming off the edge.
For the NFL, Allen is fast and dynamic edge defender with natural feel to go along with a dynamite first-step. He closes in an instant, using his good athleticism to bend around the edge or dodge blockers. Allen has developed more functional strength to take on and shed blocks. As a senior, Allen also showed an improved ability to drop into pass coverage, making some huge pass breakups to lead Kentucky to a win over Florida early in the season. Allen is a quality run defender as well. He would be a great fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker. In a 4-3, he could rush off the edge and play outside linebacker.
In 2018, Allen totaled 88 tackles with 21.5 tackles for a loss, 17 sacks, five forced fumbles and four passes batted. Prior to dominating Vanderbilt and South Carolina, the senior was phenomenal in leading Kentucky to upsets over Florida and Mississippi State.
The 6-foot-4, 262-pound Allen was one of the top edge defenders in college football during the 2017 season. The junior totaled seven sacks along with 65 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and three passes batted on the year. Allen produced well as a sophomore in 2016 with 62 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, seven sacks and four forced fumbles. One national scout compared Allen to Leonard Floyd coming out of Georgia with Allen's ability to rush off the edge. Another director of college scouting said that as an inside linebacker, Allen has similarities to current Texans linebacker Zach Cunningham in terms of his height, speed, length, and athleticism in the middle.
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The Raiders take the best defensive player available and grab Williams. Oakland would prefer to take an edge rusher considering P.J. Hall and Maurice Hurst played pretty well as rookies, but Williams is a dynamic defender who is too good to pass up. Many around the league believe that Williams is the best player in the 2019 NFL Draft, so this is a steal for Oakland with the fourth pick. If Williams is off the board, I think the Raiders would take either Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver or Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell.
Williams (6-3, 303) is very fast at the point of attack with the ability to fire a gap and cause havoc in the backfield. He would be a good fit as a three-technique in a 4-3 defense or as a five-technique in a 3-4. In 2018, Williams totaled 71 tackles with 19.5 tackles for a loss, eight sacks and one pass batted. He also caused more disruption than the numbers indicate. Williams' game against LSU was one of the most impressive performances I've ever seen from a college defense tackle, and he reminded me of Warren Sapp in that game, among others.
When Jason Licht became the Buccaneers' general manager, Tampa Bay was the worst team in the NFC South. Five years later, the Bucs are still the worst team in the South because Licht has made many regrettable moves like taking Vita Vea instead of Derwin James, or Vernon Hargreaves instead of Laremy Tunsil or Leonard Floyd.
The consensus pick for the Buccaneers is LSU linebacker Devin White. I can definitely see that being the choice for Tampa Bay because Licht often gets caught up in personalities and White is a locker room leader while Ed Oliver has some diva to him. The Bucs signed Deone Bucannon as a dime linebacker and have a good coverage linebacker in Lavonte David. Thus, taking White would lead to a platoon situation between those three players, and while that is not good value for a top-five pick, White is a safe choice and Licht can't afford to blow a premium pick.
White is a big inside linebacker who possesses excellent instincts. The 6-foot, 237-pounder has good athleticism with the ability to cover in the passing game while also being a terrific run defender. White notched 123 tackles with 12 for a loss, six passes broken up, three sacks and three forced fumbles in 2018. In 2017, he totaled 133 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, three passes broken up and one interception. That season was a breakout campaign for the sophomore, and if he could have entered the 2018 NFL Draft, he would have graded out similarly to Virginia Tech's Tremaine Edmunds or Georgia's Roquan Smith. White is a pure football player and could be one of the safer picks in the 2019 NFL Draft.
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In January and February, I had the Giants taking Daniel Jones with the sixth pick, and I'm back to that now. The Giants can't count on the quarterback they want making it to their pick at No. 17. I think Jones is their guy. If Jones is gone, I think the Giants would look to draft Josh Allen here and get Dwayne Haskins with their second selection on the opening night of the 2019 NFL Draft. The history of David Cutcliffe and the Mannings makes Jones a great fit to be the understudy to Eli Manning. By taking Jones, the Giants come away with their franchise quarterback to build around.
Jones completed 61 percent of his passes in 2018 for 2,674 yards with 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also missed two games with a collarbone injury. The 6-foot-5, 221-pounder has good size, pocket presence and a quality arm, plus is an intelligent signal-caller. Jones received excellent preparation for the NFL from head coach David Cutcliffe. As a 3-year starter, Jones enters the NFL having played in 36 games.
In 2017, Jones completed 56 percent of his passes for 2,439 yards with 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. As a freshman, he made 63 percent of his passes for 2,836 yards with 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
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The Jaguars could go offensive line or defensive line with this pick. However, they have a lot of resources sunk into their defensive line already in the form of contracts and draft picks. Jacksonville has to improve the blocking for Nick Foles and Leonard Fournette. Williams could play right tackle or go to the left side with Cam Robinson moving to the right tackle.
Williams (6-4, 302) was a freshman starter at right tackle for Alabama in 2016 and did a nice job of opening holes in the ground game. He took over as the starting left tackle with Cam Robinson moving on to the NFL, and Williams played well on the blind side in 2017. He is an intelligent blocker who has the versatility to be effective in the run game and in pass protection. He also has size, flexibility and mobility. Williams draws rave reviews from teams for his character and football intelligence. In pass protection, he can struggle with speed and length off the edge, thus his best fit might come at guard or right tackle in the NFL.
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I'm very torn on Detroit's first-round pick between Jonah Williams, T.J. Hockenson and Brian Burns. The Lions could use another edge rusher, but they just spent big on Trey Flowers and Burns is limited to being a situational pass-rusher because he is weak in run defense and lacks strength. That is not a great fit for Matt Patricia's defense, which demands versatility and toughness. Hockenson would be a nice addition, and the Lions need more players who create mismatches in the passing game, but they signed Jesse James to a significant contract and this draft has some depth at tight end that they could draw on Friday night. Jonah Williams would be a day-one starter for Detroit at right guard, and as a three-down starter, he could provide a bigger impact than Burns and provide more impact on a down-by-down basis than a tight end. However, he's off the board and so is star linebacker Devin White. Detroit could take Devin Bush as he would be a great complement to Jarrad Davis and the Lions linebackers were a big weakness last year. Bush and Davis would form a fast and physical tandem.
The 5-foot-11, 234-pound Bush is a short linebacker by NFL standards, but he is an ultra-fast sideline-to-sideline defender with the potential to be a special player in coverage. In 2018, Bush recorded 78 tackles with nine tackles for a loss, five sacks and six passes batted. As a sophomore, he totaled 101 tackles with 9.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks, eight passes batted and one interception. He would fit well as a Will - weak side - linebacker, which would let him use his speed and athleticism to seek and destroy in the ground game and cover in the passing game.
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If Oliver doesn't get to this pick, I think Buffalo would probably go with the offensive line or maybe Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson. The Bills also could use a difference-maker at the point of attack and a long-term building block for their defensive line. Oliver would be a good scheme fit for Sean McDermott, and Buffalo has done ira homework on his personality. During the season some of the Bills' top evaluators, like director of player personnel Dan Morgan, went to Houston to scout Oliver and general manager Brandon Beane went to the Houston pro day. The Bills also hosted Oliver on one of their 30 pre-draft visits.
Oliver is extremely fast, and a very twitchy athlete with a good motor and the ability to get after the quarterback. However for the NFL, the 6-foot-1, 287-pounder is vastly undersized and really is the size of a defensive tackle designated pass-rusher - DPR. He could be limited to being a three-technique in a 4-3 defense due to not having the length or weight for a 3-4 defensive line position. Thus, some sources thought Oliver should end up being a mid-first-round pick rather than a high first-rounder.
Oliver totaled 54 tackles with 14.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks, one forced fumble and two passes batted in 2018. In 2017, he recorded 73 tackles with 16.5 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks, three passes batted and two forced fumbles. Oliver dominated at the point of attack in 2016, starting from his debut game against Oklahoma. All season, the freshman overwhelmed offensive linemen with his quickness, athletic ability, and physicality. He totaled 66 tackles with 22.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks, three forced fumbles and nine passes batted on the year.
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My good friend Cecil Lammey of 104.3 The Fan in Denver has heard that John Elway is not sold on Drew Lock. Cecil believes that Devin White and Ed Oliver are more likely to be the Broncos' pick with T.J. Hockenson as plan C. Hockenson could go to Detroit or Buffalo, but if he gets to the Broncos, he would make sense as a receiving mismatch weapon who also would help open holes for Phillip Lindsey.
Hockenson (6-4, 251) was a surprise early-entry into the 2019 NFL Draft, but it wasn't a bad decision as he should be the first tight end selected. While splitting targets with Noah Fant in 2018, Hockenson totaled 49 receptions for 760 yards with six touchdowns. He has good size and showed some impressive receiving skills in 2018 with the skill set to be a mismatch problem in the NFL. To go along with being a dangerous receiving threat, Hockenson is a very good blocker who should quickly develop into a three-down starter in the NFL.
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The Bengals need help at offensive tackle, and Dillard could be Zak Taylor's long-term left tackle.
Dillard (6-4, 315) is a player who created some positive buzz in the scouting community during the 2017 season. He then turned in a 2018 season that was consistent with his 2017. Sources say Dillard has some quickness and athletic ability to go with NFL size. He is fast to get out of his stance, plus has the ability to hit blocks on the second level. His quick feet and agility have impressed team sources for an NFL-sized blocker.
Some team sources liked Dillard more than Washington's Trey Adams and Texas' Connor Williams when they scouted them during the 2017 season. Dillard would be a high first-round pick if he had strength, but he has a serious lack of it and no anchor. However, he is an excellent pass protector who is a nimble dancing bear on the edge. The majority of team sources I've asked have said they thought Dillard should go on the second day of the 2019 NFL Draft, but he probably would go in Round 1 because tackles are hard to find and this draft does not have 32 true first-round picks.
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Injuries have started piling up on Aaron Rodgers, and for the Packers to have any hope of getting another championship during Rodgers' Hall of Fame career, they must improve his blocking. Here's a versatile blocker who could help the Packers at guard or right tackle. They signed Billy Turner, but left guard Lane Taylor is only making backup money and right tackle Bryan Bulaga is in the last year of his contract. Taylor could start out at guard and then move over to replace Bulaga in a year.
Taylor (6-5, 312) played right tackle for the Gators the past two years and impressed team evaluators. Sources love his size, movement skills, and strength. As Taylor gained experienced, he became more consistent. In the NFL, he could play left tackle or remain at right tackle. Multiple team sources have told me they think Taylor is the best offensive line prospect for the 2019 NFL Draft.
Taylor has a lot of unique qualities as a pass blocker. For being such a large offensive lineman, he is a really good athlete who has speed and shows the ability to bend at the knee. Taylor has quick feet that he uses to mirror speed rushers. His strength and length allow him to sustain blocks well to keep edge defenders from turning the corner. With his weight and strength, Taylor is able to anchor and hold up against bull rushes.
In the ground game, Taylor has the potential to be a road-grader. He is strong with a thick frame. There were times when you would see Taylor knock defenders off the ball and open up gaps for his back. He can generate movement in the ground game to supply some excellent lanes for his backs.
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Miami could use an interior disruptor and pass-rusher. Wilkins is versatile and a great fit for Brian Flores.
In 2018, Wilkins totaled 50 tackles with 14 for a loss, 5.5 sacks and a forced fumble. He totaled 60 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks in 2017. Wilkins is disruptive at the point of attack, showing the speed to create havoc behind the line of scrimmage. He is a great athlete for his size and has the versatility to play a variety of techniques. His speed and athleticism make him a fit for three-technique in a 4-3. He could also fit as a 3-4 defensive end and even play some nose tackle. The 6-foot-3, 315-pounder possesses a nice skill set with upside.
Wilkins played well for Clemson in 2016 as part of a tough defensive line that controlled the point of attack. The sophomore had 48 tackles with 13 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks and 10 passes batted on the year. Because of injuries, Wilkins played a lot of defensive end. He showed nice athleticism and versatility, but is at his best on the inside, using his mismatch speed against guards. Wilkins made 33 tackles and two sacks as a freshman in 2015.
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14.Atlanta Falcons:Montez Sweat, DE/3-4OLB/OLB, Mississippi State
I've had the Falcons taking Clelin Ferrell for ages, but I think Montez Sweat is a better scheme fit and the Falcons could use the local boy to bring some speed rush to their defense. Vic Beasley has been a disappointment over the past two seasons and is in the last year of his contract. Here's a long-term end to go with Takk McKinley.
Sweat has a fast first-step with functional strength and some natural feel as a pass-rusher. He has just two years of playing time, so he has upside to develop. That could be seen at the Senior Bowl, where he dominated against good competition. Sweat is a long, fast edge rusher who would be a great fit as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense or could play end in a 4-3. To cap off his great offseason, Sweat had a record-setting 40 time at the NFL Scouting Combine. However, his heart condition could cause him to slide in the draft, as multiple teams told WalterFootball.com they flunked Sweat medically because of the condition. Some teams that did not flunk Sweat told me that they ruled him out because of character issues.
In 2018, Sweat totaled 53 tackles, 14 for a loss, 11.5 sacks and one forced fumble. The 6-foot-6, 252-pounder turned in an excellent 2017 season and was dynamic defender for the Bulldogs. He totaled 48 tackles with 15.5 tackles for a loss and 10.5 sacks for the year.
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I've heard some rumblings from team people that suggest the Redskins could be trading for Josh Rosen, but until that deal happens, I will continue to project the Redskins grabbing their quarterback of the future. Haskins has some buzz around him for the Redskins and could be their guy. If Washington does trade for Rosen, I think the organization would target a pass-rusher here like Montez Sweat, Brian Burns or Clelin Ferrell.
Haskins (6-3, 231) has flashed the ability to be an NFL quarterback, but he struggles with consistency. In 2018, he completed 70 percent of his passes for 4,831 yards with 50 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Haskins struggled as a pocket passer against Penn State, but dominated Michigan's tough defense.
Haskins has a strong arm with the potential to be a pocket passer who hurts defenses. He has a lot of talent, but there were stretches during 2018 when everything was just a little bit off with him. His decision-making was not consistent, and he made some bad plays in terms of ball security. Haskins' field vision needs to improve, and he has to get faster at working through his progressions. His footwork also needs improvement, and his ball placement can be off at times. At other times during 2018, however, he flashed the ability to make special throws with his arm strength and placement. Haskins should have returned to Ohio State for 2019 to improve his overall play before going to the NFL, but he decided to declare for the 2019 NFL Draft. Haskins was only a first-year starter in 2018 and has upside to grow.
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16.Carolina Panthers:Brian Burns, DE/3-4OLB/OLB, Florida State
Carolina needs a long-term pass-rusher as both Mario Addison and Bruce Irvin are entering free agency after this coming season. Burns could form a rotation with them to start out his career and then replace one as the every-down starter in his second year, assuming he is able to develop his strength and run defense well enough to be a three-down starter. If Burns doesn't get to this pick, I think the Panthers top candidates would be Jonah Williams, Andre Dillard, Cody Ford and Christian Wilkins.
Burns recorded 52 tackles with 15.5 tackles with a loss, 10 sacks, three forced fumbles and three passes batted in 2018. In 2017, he totaled 48 tackles with 13.5 for a loss, 4.5 sacks and four passes batted, but also put more pressure on the quarterback than the numbers indicate. The 6-foot-4, 249-pounder notched 9.5 sacks in his debut season for Florida State and finished 2016 in impressive fashion.
Burns is a bit of a polarizing prospect. I know a handful of teams that have graded him for the second day of the 2019 NFL Draft, and some have him in the third round. They feel that Burns has a serious lack of strength and is a liability against the run. Other teams think he could go high in the first round after being workout warrior this spring. However, his lack of strength and run defense will make him a situational player for awhile and possibly his entire career. Scouts have said that Burns has a ton of athletic ability and upside while being a fast speed rusher. Some sources think Burns should have gone back to school to grow stronger before going to the NFL, but his speed, long frame, and good football character have him as a lock for the top 20.
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