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NFL Mock Draft 4.0: Free-agent frenzy leads to big changes


With the main wave of NFL free agency in the books, theScore's Dane Belbeck, Daniel Wilkins, and Mike Alessandrini project the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

1. Arizona Cardinals - Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

Just over a month from draft night, Murray remains the most intriguing and talked-about prospect in this year's class. Arizona selected Josh Rosen in the first round last year but new head coach Kliff Kingsbury is reportedly smitten with the former Sooners quarterback. The No. 1 overall pick will once again be up for grabs but expect the Cardinals to take Murray if they stay put. - Alessandrini

2. San Francisco 49ers - Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State

San Francisco has to be thrilled with Murray's emergence as the popular projected first overall pick; sitting tight at No. 2 and still grabbing the best player in the draft is a home run. After the 49ers landed Dee Ford in a trade with the Chiefs, Bosa's arrival gives them an elite edge tandem to combine with an already dominant interior. - Wilkins

3. New York Jets - Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama

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The Jets need a rusher off the edge, but Williams is too good a talent to pass up at No. 3. Many pundits have the Alabama star as the top overall prospect in the entire draft, and new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will leap at the chance to add a player with this much versatility. - Belbeck

4. Oakland Raiders - Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan

The Raiders have a few options at No. 4, including a trade into the top three, but we expect a defense-heavy first round for Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock. Although fellow pass-rusher Josh Allen seems like a logical fit here, the team has expressed more interest in Gary, meeting with him twice already. The defensive lineman's tape is inconsistent, but Oakland has likely fallen in love with his elite athleticism and tantalizing upside. - Alessandrini

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky

Tampa Bay has needs to address all over the defensive side of the ball, and capitalizing on the high-end talent in this year's pass-rusher class would make for a great start. Allen's combination of rushing ability and coverage skills makes him an ideal fit as a stand-up edge defender in Todd Bowles' system. - Wilkins

6. New York Giants - Montez Sweat, OLB, Mississippi State

Decisions to keep Eli Manning and ship Odell Beckham Jr. to Cleveland might cause many to wonder about the direction the Giants' front office is taking. Dwayne Haskins looked to be the pick for New York throughout the draft season, but ESPN's Diana Russini reported last week that the club isn't interested in the former Ohio State pivot. That paves the way for Sweat, the combine superstar out of Mississippi State, to join the G-Men as Olivier Vernon's replacement. - Belbeck

7. Jacksonville Jaguars - Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida

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A quarterback selection here is less likely now that Nick Foles is in town, so Jacksonville can continue to strengthen its offense to match a talented defense. The Jaguars will look to get back to their physical brand of football, pounding the ball with Leonard Fournette and allowing Foles to make quick decisions from the pocket. An excellent pass-protector and mauling run-blocker, Taylor fits this style extremely well. - Alessandrini

8. Detroit Lions - Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

Detroit made a big-money splash by signing Trey Flowers in free agency, but that alone won't fix the pass rush. Why not double down on marquee additions on the edge? Ferrell should be a force both getting after the quarterback and defending the run. - Wilkins

9. Buffalo Bills - Ed Oliver, DT, Houston

With Kyle Williams retiring, the Bills opt to grab some interior defensive line help. One of the most explosive players in college football, Oliver could be a steal for Buffalo at No. 9; most draft boards had the Houston product as a potential No. 1 pick entering last season. Oliver battled injuries in his final collegiate campaign but could be a star in Sean McDermott's defense with his big-play potential. - Belbeck

10. Denver Broncos - Devin White, LB, LSU

For better or worse, the Broncos appear set at quarterback after acquiring Joe Flacco. Denver could still draft a pivot in April, but a Day 2 selection seems more likely at this point. Fear not, Broncos fans - White is likely the top player available in this scenario and fills a need on Vic Fangio's defense. With playmakers on the edge and in the secondary, the former LSU linebacker rounds out a solid core. - Alessandrini

11. Cincinnati Bengals - Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State

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It's tough to imagine the Bengals making a big move up for a quarterback, but the value may be too good to ignore if one of the draft's top two signal-callers falls right into their laps. An advanced pocket passer, Haskins could provide a significant, and perhaps even immediate, upgrade on Andy Dalton. Cincinnati can move on from the 31-year-old Dalton at any point over the next two years without taking on any dead money against the cap. - Wilkins

12. Green Bay Packers - D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss

In a move that will certainly excite both Aaron Rodgers and the Packers fan base, Green Bay grabs the electric Metcalf out of Ole Miss. After setting the football world abuzz with his incredible combine numbers, the hulking wideout will pair with Davante Adams to give Rodgers an excellent receiving tandem in his first season with new head coach Matt LaFleur. - Belbeck

13. Miami Dolphins - Brian Burns, DE, Florida State

In the midst of a full-on rebuild, Miami will look to take the best prospect available at No. 13 regardless of position. Luckily, Burns also fills a primary need in new head coach Brian Flores' stop unit. Much like he did with the Patriots, Flores will employ a hybrid 4-3/3-4 defense, and Burns fits both schemes well. The Dolphins desperately need pass-rush help with Cameron Wake in Tennessee and Robert Quinn on the trade block. - Alessandrini

14. Atlanta Falcons - Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

The Falcons already have one of the league's premier interior linemen in Grady Jarrett, but they could certainly use an upgrade next to him. Wilkins and Jarrett would make for an impressive, interchangeable tandem capable of making plays in the passing game and against the run. - Wilkins

15. Washington Redskins - Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

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With Alex Smith's status unclear going forward, Washington added Case Keenum from Denver in the offseason. That may work as a short-term fix, but Daniel Snyder won't be able to pass on Lock's long-term potential at No. 15. The Missouri star's stats were certainly impressive at the collegiate level, though they didn't always translate to wins for the Tigers. - Belbeck

16. Carolina Panthers - Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State

Dillard could easily find himself selected in the top 15, so the Panthers would be thrilled with the value of this pick. Carolina recently re-signed Daryl Williams and released Matt Kalil, so the Washington State product profiles as an ideal replacement on the left side. Taylor Moton filled in admirably in 2018 but he's a better fit at right tackle. Protecting Cam Newton must be a top priority moving forward. - Alessandrini

17. New York Giants (from CLE) - Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State

The Giants will say they intend to compete despite the Odell Beckham Jr. trade, but it's pretty clear the rebuild is in full effect. Dave Gettleman will likely build from the inside out, just as he did in Carolina, and he can afford to wait on a talent like Simmons with the long-term future in mind. The Mississippi State standout could have been a top-10 pick before tearing his ACL in a pre-draft workout. - Wilkins

18. Minnesota Vikings - Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama

The high-priced addition of Kirk Cousins prior to last season didn't pan out as the Vikings hoped, and some of the blame can be put on his protection. Minnesota address that need by adding the Alabama standout who can play both tackle and guard. With many pundits figuring Williams to be gone by No. 18, Minnesota will leap at the chance to bring him to the NFC North. - Belbeck

19. Tennessee Titans - T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa

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Though Delanie Walker is 34 and coming off a major ankle injury, Tennessee doesn't have a glaring need at tight end. But Hockenson is just too good to pass up. The former Hawkeye is an elite run-blocker for a prospect, something head coach Mike Vrabel will appreciate. Hockenson can also help in the passing game, creating favorable matchups for a team that lacks an elite receiving threat. - Alessandrini

20. Pittsburgh Steelers - Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

Receiver will be a popular pick for the Steelers after they sent Antonio Brown to Oakland, and perhaps they do address that position at some point early on. But tight end is a more pressing need, and Fant is the best pass-catcher on the board anyway. An ideal tight end for today's game, the athletic Iowa product brings a new element to Pittsburgh's offense in this time of transition. - Wilkins

21. Seattle Seahawks - Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

Defensive tackle may not be Seattle's biggest area of need, but Pete Carroll will jump at the chance to add a player with Lawrence's versatility. At 6-foot-4, 342 lbs, the former Clemson star somehow ran a 5.05 40-yard dash at the combine and possesses some of the draft's best hands along the defensive line. - Belbeck

22. Baltimore Ravens - Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma

Simply naming three receivers currently on Baltimore's roster is a daunting task. John Harbaugh will implement a run-first offense in 2019 led by Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, and quarterback Lamar Jackson, but a deep-threat wideout must be added as well. "Hollywood" is the perfect prospect to take the top off opposing defenses. Playmakers galore. - Alessandrini

23. Houston Texans - Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma

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This one's pretty simple. Houston desperately needs offensive line help, so taking the top available tackle feels like a no-brainer. Ford, a likely Day 1 starter at right tackle, would be a major upgrade for a group that needs to better protect franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson. - Wilkins

24. Oakland Raiders (from CHI) - Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

With the Raiders' second first-round pick, Jon Gruden will target the talented cornerback out of LSU. Williams allowed a paltry 43 passer rating when targeted throughout his collegiate career, according to Pro Football Focus. He also possesses ideal size for a shutdown corner in today's NFL. Pairing him with Gareon Conley should give Oakland the secondary it needs to face quarterbacks such as Patrick Mahomes and Philip Rivers on a yearly basis. - Belbeck

25. Philadelphia Eagles - Devin Bush, LB, Michigan

Cornerbacks and running backs often join Philadelphia in the first rounds of mock drafts, but linebacker is a major area of need as well. After losing Jordan Hicks, the Eagles have little to offer besides Nigel Bradham. Bush provides an instant upgrade as a sideline-to-sideline linebacker with elite athleticism. Howie Roseman continues his mastery by simultaneously filling a need and selecting the best player available. - Alessandrini

26. Indianapolis Colts - Jachai Polite, DE, Florida

Polite didn't do himself any favors at the combine, as some seemingly poor interviews appear to have impacted his draft stock. Still in need of pass-rush help after declining to use their cap space in free agency, the Colts should be thrilled to see him available at No 26. Everything Polite showed at Florida screams first-round talent. - Wilkins

27. Oakland Raiders (from DAL) - N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State

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After bolstering the defense with Oakland's first two picks in the opening round, Jon Gruden adds an explosive offensive weapon with Harry. At 6-foot-3, 216 pounds, the Arizona State star will give the Raiders a big target to pair with the electric Antonio Brown. Adding those receiving options in the offseason eliminates any excuse for Derek Carr not to produce at the highest level next season. - Belbeck

28. Los Angeles Chargers - Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame

Don't be surprised if Tillery makes his way into the back end of the first round. The Notre Dame product offers an intriguing combination of size, athleticism, and pass-rush prowess. Though the Chargers retained Brandon Mebane during free agency, they still have a need for a one-gap defensive tackle who can disrupt opponents at the line of scrimmage. - Alessandrini

29. Kansas City Chiefs - Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia

Unbelievable as the offense may be, the Chiefs won't go anywhere until they can get some stops on defense. Adding a cornerback like Baker to play alongside free-agent safety addition Tyrann Mathieu would go a long way toward making that happen. - Wilkins

30. Green Bay Packers (from NO) - Garrett Bradbury, OL, NC State

The Packers desperately need help for the interior of the offensive line and opt for best available talent here with Bradbury. Honored as the nation's top center last year, he has experience playing guard as well. That versatility will make him a Day 1 starter for the Packers and should immediately help keep Rodgers clean. - Belbeck

31. Los Angeles Rams - Erik McCoy, C, Texas A&M

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If the Rams hope to remain contenders in the competitive NFC, their success along the offensive line must continue. The team declined John Sullivan's 2019 option and McCoy profiles as an ideal replacement in the middle of Sean McVay's blocking unit. The center's stock has risen in recent weeks after a strong Senior Bowl and combine. - Alessandrini

32. New England Patriots - L.J. Collier, DE, TCU

New England's defensive front took a major hit when Trey Flowers landed a megadeal from the Lions in free agency. Michael Bennett was a nice trade addition, but that shouldn't be all the Patriots do to address the pass rush. Much like Bennett, Collier brings the kind of power and position versatility Bill Belichick covets in his defensive linemen. - Wilkins

NFL Mock Draft 4.0: Free-agent frenzy leads to big changes
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