15 top-level 2019 free agents who may fit position of need and scheme to draw interest from GM Bob Quinn, coach Matt Patricia and the Detroit Lions.
Marlowe Alter, Detroit Free Press
Free Press writer Dave Birkett offers his predictions for the 2019 NFL draft with his first mock draft of the year:
1. Arizona Cardinals
DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State: If new coach Kliff Kingsbury truly believes Kyler Murray is the answer, the Cardinals have to consider him at No. 1 even though they took Josh Rosen last year.
2. San Francisco 49ers
DT Quinnen Williams, Alabama: The 49ers have a bigger need for an edge rusher, but Williams and Bosa are the top two talents in this draft.
3-New York Jets
OLB Josh Allen, Kentucky: I wanted to give young quarterback Sam Darnold some help, but no one fits the bill at No. 3.
QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma: Jon Gruden was drooling over Murray at the Senior Bowl, and that was before Murray committed full-time to the NFL.
5-Tampa Bay Buccaneers
OL Jonah Williams, Alabama: The Bucs could be in a sweet trade-down spot considering they pick in front of two quarterback-needy teams. Here, though, they take the best offensive lineman available.
6-New York Giants
QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State: The Giants passed on Darnold last year. They can’t wait another season to nab their quarterback of the future.
DE Rashan Gary, Michigan: With both quarterbacks off the board, the Jaguars take another first-round defensive lineman — this time one who’ll stick at end.
LB Devin White, LSU: The Lions have filled a position of need in the first round in all three of their drafts under GM Bob Quinn, so this is a bit out of character, and maybe it changes the next time I do a mock. But White is one of the top five players in the draft, at a position Matt Patricia reveres. He’s absolutely worthy of the No. 8 pick.
OT Jawaan Taylor, Florida: I was tempted to slot Oklahoma receiver Marquise Brown here to Buffalo, but for now Lisfranc surgery pushes him out of the top 10.
CB Greedy Williams, LSU:Denver’s once mighty secondary has slipped in recent years and Williams is the No. 1 cover man in the draft.
DT Ed Oliver, Houston: This is a bit of a blind projection as the Bengals don’t currently have a defensive coordinator, but the defense is old and Oliver is too good to slip any further.
12-Green Bay Packers
WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma: Did you see who Aaron Rodgers was throwing to last year? The explosive Brown seems like a good chess piece for new coach Matt LaFleur.
CB Byron Murphy, Washington: If the Dolphins aren’t keen on paying Xavien Howard, or even if they are, they need a corner like a Murphy for new coach Brian Flores’ defense.
DT Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State: Simmons may slide further down draft boards after tearing his ACL, but from a talent standpoint he’d be a steal at No. 14.
OLB Brian Burns, Florida State: I don’t imagine Preston Smith returns, and Burns could help Washington’s pass rush.
TE T.J. Hockenson, Iowa: Greg Olsen can’t stay healthy, and Hockenson is the most well-rounded of the tight ends in this year’s draft.
OT Andre Dillard, Washington State: The Browns finished last year with Greg Robinson playing left tackle.
OL Cody Ford, Oklahoma: It’s a run on linemen! Ford can play right tackle or guard and the Vikings weren’t very good up front in 2018.
TE Irv Smith, Alabama: Delanie Walker turns 35 in August and Smith would bring a different dimension to an offense that doesn’t have many big-play threats.
CB DeAndre Baker, Georgia: The Steelers benched 2016 first-round pick Artie Burns last year, and Baker would be an immediate upgrade.
DE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State: Sweat has some off-field concerns from his time at Michigan State to answer for, but nothing the Seahawks won’t be willing to overlook.
WR D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss: The Ravens haven’t been great at drafting receivers, but they need to roll the dice on one again for Lamar Jackson’s sake.
OT Greg Little, Ole Miss: It’s a run on Ole’ Miss products! And the Texans had the worst offensive line in the league last year.
DE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson: Ferrell doesn’t have the upside of some of the draft’s top pass rushers, but he could wind up much higher than this as he did nothing but produce at Clemson.
RB Josh Jacobs, Alabama: The Eagles finished 28th in rushing last season and Jacobs is probably the best back in this draft.
DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson: Wilkins gets off-the-charts marks for his character and is versatile enough to wear a number of hats for the Colts’ front.
LB Devin Bush, Michigan: He’s not the biggest linebacker, but Bush was the best player on Michigan’s defense last year.
28-Los Angeles Chargers
DT Dexter Lawrence, Clemson: Clemson had the best defensive line in college football last season, so no surprise three Tigers go in Round 1.
29-Kansas City Chiefs
OLB Jachai Polite, Florida: The Chiefs will franchise Dee Ford, but if Polite’s available they could take him and groom him as Ford’s replacement.
30-Green Bay Packers
DL Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio State: It’s a deep year for defensive linemen, but with two first-round picks the Packers snag one here rather than wait till Day 2.
31-Los Angeles Rams
S Deionte Thompson, Alabama: Thompson didn’t play great down the stretch, which will hurt his draft stock, but I still believe he’ll have a long and productive NFL career.
32-New England Patriots
CB Joejuan Williams, Vanderbilt: Almost everyone projects the Patriots to take a quarterback here, but I’m not sure Daniel Jones or Drew Lock are worth a first-round pick.