It’s NFL draft week, and quarterback buzz actually appears to be dissipating, with the stock of Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa the most notable example.
Less than a month ago, many expected both the Miami Dolphins (at No. 5) and Los Angeles Chargers (No. 6) to have interest in trading up for Tagovailoa, with the Detroit Lions (No. 3) the likely beneficiary.
Despite Tagovailoa healing fast enough from hip surgery to have a virtual pro day, the landscape has changed. Lions don’t appear to have a serious market for their pick. Oregon’s Justin Herbert has become a popular choice to go ahead of Tagovailoa. And the possibility of the Dolphins and/or Chargers passing on both players appears very real.
Adding to the intrigue is that while offensive tackle and wide receiver are stacked with early talent, each team’s preferences could vary wildly. There will likely be some jockeying for position.
1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
A trade appears unlikely, as the Bengals are locked in on Burrow and have been for some time.
2. Washington Redskins: Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
Like Cincinnati, Washington appears to be set on Young, who FLM ranks as the best player in the draft.
3. Detroit Lions: Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
The Lions surely would prefer a slight trade down — with a chance of getting Okudah anyway — but the market might not be there. It’s possible Detroit could take a lesser deal (perhaps a second-rounder from Miami to go to 5).
4. New York Giants: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons deserves consideration, but odds are Dave Gettleman will look to help his last two top picks (Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones). Wills or Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs make the most sense here, with the ability to start at right tackle immediately and eventually replace Nate Solder on the left side.
5. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Oregon
Would Miami pass on a QB here and wait until No. 18 (or trade up from 18?) to target one? Perhaps. They don’t appear to be in love with any QB besides Burrow. But they aren’t planning another tanking season — just look at what they did in free agency — so they must get a QB somewhere. Despite the buzz on Herbert, Tagovailoa’s talent is too much.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
The Chargers are one of the league’s hardest teams to read, and it’s very possible they pass on a QB entirely. Georgia’s Andrew Thomas or Louisville’s Mekhi Becton would make a ton of sense here — and grab Jalen Hurts or another QB later — but would Herbert be too enticing?
7. Carolina Panthers: Isaiah Simmons, LB/S, Clemson
Would the Panthers consider a quarterback? Maybe. But Tagovailoa and Herbert are not available, and Simmons — a top-five talent — is. Simmons also fits Matt Rhule’s desire for speed, and fills a huge need after the retirement of Luke Kuechly.
8. Arizona Cardinals: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
The Cardinals could go in a number of directions, like an offensive tackle (Thomas or Wirfs) or even Kyler Murray’s former Oklahoma wideout, Ceedee Lamb. But Arizona is in dire need of interior D-line help, and Brown is as stout as they come in the middle.
*9. Atlanta Falcons (from Jacksonville): CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
The Falcons have only six picks (only one after Round 4), so it might make more sense to trade down. But Thomas Dimitroff is one of the league’s most aggressive GMs, and he desperately needs defensive help, so he gives up a second-rounder to jump seven spots. LSU DE K’Lavon Chaisson or South Carolina DT Javon Kinlaw could also be targets.
*10. Denver Broncos (from Cleveland): Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
It’s possible the Broncos could get Jeudy by staying put (especially if reports about a minor knee concern are true), but each of the four teams at Nos. 11-14 could take a receiver. Trading up in a wideout-rich draft seems foolish, but Jeudy is the best route-running prospect in a decade. Denver would give up third- and fourth-round picks.
11. New York Jets: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
Thomas has garnered top-10 buzz, as have Wills and Becton, but the Jets get their choice of the three here. They opt for a traditional left tackle in Thomas, who is a bit more polished than Becton at this point.
12. Las Vegas Raiders: Ceedee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
One of the surest things outside the top 10 is that the Raiders will take a wideout in Round 1. The question is who they like best. Would Jon Gruden prefer speedy Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs or the physical, shifty Lamb?
13. San Francisco 49ers (from Indianapolis): Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
The 49ers will likely explore trade-downs with both of their picks, but Wirfs would be tough to pass up. Joe Staley is nearing retirement, and the Niners would prefer to keep Mike McGlinchey at right tackle. Wirfs has the mobility to play left tackle in Kyle Shanahan’s scheme, and could play right guard for now.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
Becton is a physical freak with serious top-10 buzz, so this would qualify as a bit of a slide. The Bucs would be thrilled, as they would get an immediate starter at right tackle, their only glaring hole on the O-line.
*15. Philadelphia Eagles (from Denver via Cleveland): Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama
The Browns appear to have a specific target in mind down the board (more on that in a moment). GM Andrew Berry knows Howie Roseman well from his time with the Eagles, helping facilitate a deal for Philadelphia to nab some greatly needed speed on offense.
*16. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Atlanta): Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
The Jaguars lost both Calais Campbell and Marcell Dareus earlier this offseason, and Kinlaw would be a great value here, assuming his medical checks out. He plays an awful lot like Chiefs DT Chris Jones, as a powerful, athletic disruptor.
17. Dallas Cowboys: K’Lavon Chaisson, DE, LSU
I didn’t think Chaisson would make it this far, but if he’s available, expect the Cowboys to pounce. If not, Alabama cornerback Trevon Diggs would make sense.
18. Miami Dolphins (from Pittsburgh): Austin Jackson, OT, USC
The Dolphins must come out of Round 1 with a QB and a left tackle. Jackson’s tape has blemishes, but some 2019 struggles could be attributed to lingering effects from a blood-marrow donation he gave his sister last summer.
19. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago): A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson
Buzz has been building on Terrell, who had a few bad plays in the national championship game that obscured an otherwise quality performance. Mike Mayock loves to shop at Clemson, and the Raiders badly need a corner.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars (from L.A. Rams): Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
Diggs remains raw, having switched to cornerback from receiver just a few years ago. But he’s an outstanding fit in the Jaguars’ zone-heavy system.
*21. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia): Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State
The Cleveland-to-Cleveland buzz started quietly a few weeks ago and hasn’t let up. They could also target him in a trade-up from the second round, but he appears to be their preference at left tackle.
22. Minnesota Vikings (from Buffalo): Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
The Vikings have a gaping hole at receiver after the trade of Stefon Diggs. Mims would complement Adam Thielen perfectly as a big guy who can run and make contested catches.
23. New England Patriots: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
Would the Patriots draft another first-round receiver? Maybe not, but they sure love slot receivers, and Jefferson is great value here. He can also play a bit on the perimeter.
24. New Orleans Saints: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
The Saints just missed out on Patrick Mahomes in 2017. They like Taysom Hill and might very well invest this pick to maximize Drew Brees’ championship window... but they have few glaring needs, and Sean Payton could be tempted (perhaps even via trade-up).
25. Minnesota Vikings: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
By the end of Round 1, the Vikings should address two of the following: receiver, pass-rusher and cornerback. Gladney is a tad on the short side, but he has terrific speed and is highly competitive.
26. Miami Dolphins (from Houston): Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
McKinney took on a role for the Crimson Tide very similar to that of former Dolphins safety Minkah Fitzpatrick when he was at Alabama. McKinney is not as talented as Fitzpatrick, but his versatility would be a perfect fit in Brian Flores’ scheme.
27. Seattle Seahawks: Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State
The Seahawks will probably trade down, but if not, Gross-Matos would offer a good balance of value and filling a need.
28. Baltimore Ravens: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Murray could certainly go earlier, but it was hard to find an obvious fit. The Ravens have drafted several Sooners with good results, and Murray has the work ethic and character they covet.
29. Tennessee Titans: Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia
Wilson is very young (21) and quite raw, but he appears headed for Round 1. He would fill an obvious need at right tackle after the departure of Jack Conklin, though Tennessee still has Dennis Kelly to help ease the transition.
30. Green Bay Packers: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
The Packers are not locked into a receiver with this pick (as their fans might hope), but Reagor brings explosiveness that would be tough to pass up. Physically, he’s like a blend of Tyreek Hill and Deebo Samuel, and he can align all over the formation.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU
A trade-down seems exceedingly likely, perhaps with Tampa Bay, who could target QB Jacob Eason or a pass-catching running back in Clyde Edwards-Helaire. But if the 49ers stay here, Blacklock would add a twitchy disruptor to help replace DeForest Buckner.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
The Chiefs also need a cornerback, but they’ve been picked on by pass-catching running backs of late. A speedy, instinctive linebacker, Queen would be a terrific value here.
—By David DeChant (@DavidDeChant), Field Level Media