Lat­est NFL mock draft

What will Car­di­nals do with No. 1 pick?

USA TODAY US Edition - - SPORTS - Michael Mid­dle­hurst-Schwartz

It’s only fit­ting that we roll out our lat­est NFL mock draft on April Fools’ Day.

No, none of the picks are made as a prank (even if you dis­agree with the player slot­ted for your fa­vorite team). But with less than a month un­til the first round begins in Nashville, Ten­nessee, we acknowledg­e some of these pro­jec­tions could end up look­ing a lit­tle, well, fool­ish. Yet with most of the big­gest free agency moves set­tled, many of the big­gest team needs have come into fo­cus.

Here’s our lat­est run­down of how the first round of the draft might pan out: 1. Car­di­nals — Kyler Mur­ray, QB, Ok­la­homa: It has been al­most seven weeks since new coach Kliff Kings­bury said Josh Rosen is “our guy,” and the sentiment now seems dis­tant. And while it’s en­tirely pos­si­ble Ari­zona stands pat with last year’s first-round quar­ter­back and turns else­where with this pick, Mur­ray of­fers a rare pack­age of play­mak­ing abil­ity for the new regime to build around. The big­gest ques­tion in April: Will some team swing a deal for Rosen and re­move any pre-draft drama for the No. 1 spot? 2. 49ers — Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State: Af­ter trad­ing for pass rusher Dee Ford and sign­ing line­backer Kwon Alexan­der, John Lynch said the Nin­ers can fo­cus on draft­ing the best player avail­able at No. 2. Good news for San Fran­cisco: There’s likely a premier de­fen­sive tal­ent await­ing them no matter what Ari­zona does with the top over­all pick. A proven edge pres­ence, Bosa shapes up as a boon for a de­fense in desperate need of re­con­fig­u­ra­tion. 3. Jets — Josh Allen, DE-OLB, Ken­tucky: Short of putting the se­lec­tion up on Craigslist or Facebook Mar­ket­place, gen­eral man­ager Mike Maccagnan has sent out ev­ery sig­nal that he’s will­ing to ship this pick off and move down for the right price. Should the Jets re­main here, Allen’s ad­di­tion as a premier pass rusher would be a salve for the sting of los­ing out on An­thony Barr. 4. Raiders — Quin­nen Wil­liams, DT, Alabama: Oak­land has some promising se­cond-year play­ers on the in­te­rior in Mau­rice Hurst and P.J. Hall, but Wil­liams is the kind of tal­ent Jon Gru­den and Mike May­ock should lunge for should he be avail­able. The Out­land Tro­phy win­ner sizes up as a con­sis­tent dis­rup­tive pres­ence and a po­ten­tial cor­ner­stone for a de­fense in need of one. 5. Buc­ca­neers — Devin White, ILB, LSU: As it builds its de­fense from the ground up, Tampa Bay needs build­ing blocks wher­ever it can find them. An off-ball line­backer might seem like a lux­ury, but White has preter­nat­u­ral abil­ity for find­ing the ball. 6. Giants — Rashan Gary, DE, Michi­gan: Dave Get­tle­man doesn’t seem to be in a rush to move on from quar­ter­back Eli Man­ning, and the Giants again might spurn pop­u­lar opin­ion by us­ing their top pick at a dif­fer­ent po­si­tion. New York could look to get ahead of a run on de­fen­sive line­men by ze­ro­ing in on Gary, a lo­cal prod­uct with tan­ta­liz­ing phys­i­cal tools and versatilit­y (yet un­der­whelm­ing pro­duc­tion). 7. Jaguars — T.J. Hock­en­son, TE, Iowa: Af­ter go­ing all-in on Nick Foles with a four-year, $88 mil­lion con­tract, Jack­sonville has to el­e­vate the tal­ent around him. A trusted tar­get who’s also an out­stand­ing blocker, Hock­en­son could be­come the Jaguars’ ver­sion of Zach Ertz. 8. Li­ons — Mon­tez Sweat, DE, Mis­sis­sippi State: Even af­ter mak­ing Trey Flow­ers the fifth high­est-paid de­fender in the NFL, Detroit needs more from its pass rush. Although it’s unclear ex­actly what a heart con­di­tion re­vealed at the NFL scout­ing com­bine means for his draft stock, Sweat seems like a solid fit for Matt Pa­tri­cia’s de­fense given his abil­ity to dis­rupt quar­ter­backs while still hold­ing up against the run. 9. Bills — Chris­tian Wilkins, DT, Clem­son: It won’t be known for some time whether Buf­falo gave se­cond-year quar­ter­back Josh Allen suf­fi­cient sup­port in free agency, but gen­eral man­ager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDer­mott can turn their fo­cus back to the de­fense in the first round. Wilkins’ ex­per­tise at snaking into the back­field would make him an im­me­di­ate stand­out for a line that needs to pres­sure the quar­ter­back more con­sis­tently, and he’ll win over coaches and team­mates alike with his lead­er­ship skills. 10. Bron­cos — Noah Fant, TE, Iowa: Never rule out a quar­ter­back for John El­way, as Joe Flacco, 34, likely can only hold things down for so long. Given the ap­par­ent ret­i­cence to re­build, how­ever, the Bron­cos might look to Fant to re­ju­ve­nate their re­ceiv­ing corps with his pro­cliv­ity for cre­at­ing mis­matches.

11. Ben­gals — Devin Bush, ILB, Michi­gan: At 5-11 and 234 pounds, Bush might have been viewed as an out­lier or tweener just a few years ago. Now his skill set is in de­mand, and Cincin­nati is a sen­si­ble land­ing spot given that the team is sorely lack­ing ath­leti­cism at line­backer. 12. Pack­ers — Ed Oliver, DT, Hous­ton: Even for a team that su­per­charged its pass rush by adding Pre­ston Smith and Za’Dar­ius Smith in free agency, Oliver is too sub­lime a tal­ent to pass up at this junc­ture. Ques­tions of scheme fit not­with­stand­ing, de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Mike Pet­tine should be do­ing a Lam­beau Leap if he gets the op­por­tu­nity to de­ploy Oliver on a line with Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark. 13. Dol­phins — Jawaan Tay­lor, OT, Florida: Don’t say the word “tank” around new coach Brian Flores or gen­eral man­ager Chris Grier, who have both pushed back on the idea Mi­ami is pack­ing it in for 2019. Yet even though the Dol­phins have un­cer­tainty at quar­ter­back af­ter trad­ing Ryan Tan­nehill to the Ti­tans, they might be best off for­ti­fy­ing their line with the mauling Tay­lor and look­ing to next year’s draft for a sig­nal­caller. 14. Fal­cons — Jonah Wil­liams, OT, Alabama: At­lanta has taken an in­ter­est in reshuf­fling its line this off­sea­son, so bring­ing on the pol­ished Wil­liams would be a fit­ting next step. A stand­out at reach­ing de­fend­ers at the se­cond level, he’s well-suited for the Fal­cons’ zone-block­ing scheme. 15. Red­skins — Dwayne Hask­ins, QB, Ohio State: Case Keenum’s ar­rival guar­an­tees noth­ing for Wash­ing­ton in ei­ther the short or long term as Alex Smith’s re­cov­ery sta­tus re­mains unclear. If he slides into the Red­skins’ range, Hask­ins, a Mary­land na­tive, could flour­ish in Jay Gru­den’s of­fense by feast­ing on short throws and quick reads while he be­comes a more re­fined down­field passer. 16. Pan­thers — Brian Burns, DE, Florida State: As Carolina prepares to in­te­grate more 3-4 looks into its de­fense, the team needs to fol­low up on the Bruce Irvin sign­ing by mak­ing a more sub­stan­tial move for a pass rusher. In the pass-happy NFC South, Burns would pro­vide the Pan­thers with a pli­able and speedy threat off the edge. 17. Giants (from Browns) — Drew

Lock, QB, Mis­souri: Dave Get­tle­man has noted his ad­mi­ra­tion for the Chiefs’ smooth quar­ter­back tran­si­tion from Alex Smith to Pa­trick Ma­homes, and the first-round pick added in the Odell Beck­ham Jr. trade might yield the op­por­tu­nity to en­act a sim­i­lar plan. Lock likely would ben­e­fit from be­ing able to sit while he works with an NFL coach­ing staff to iron out is­sues with his ac­cu­racy and me­chan­ics.

18. Vik­ings — An­dre Dil­lard, OT, Wash­ing­ton State: Min­nesota was un­done by its short­com­ings on the in­te­rior line last sea­son, yet the best so­lu­tion for the prob­lem might be to find an­other of­fen­sive tackle. Dil­lard could team with Brian O’Neill at tackle while Riley Reiff moves in­side to sta­bi­lize the out­look at guard. 19. Ti­tans — D.K. Met­calf, WR, Mis­sis­sippi: While Mar­cus Mar­i­ota set a fran­chise record last year with a 68.9 per­cent com­ple­tion rate, Ten­nessee ranked 30th in the NFL with just 37 pass plays of 20 yards or more. With newly signed slot tar­get Adam Humphries serv­ing as a safety blan­ket, the Ti­tans can seek out their big-play threat in Met­calf, who could un­lock new pos­si­bil­i­ties for Mar­i­ota with his rare blend of size and speed. 20. Steel­ers — By­ron Murphy, CB,

Wash­ing­ton: As­sum­ing Devin White and Devin Bush are off the board for Pitts­burgh, the Steel­ers might not have a suit­able first-round op­tion to ad­dress their hole at in­side line­backer. Murphy could com­fort­ably man the slot in the early go­ing be­fore tak­ing over for Joe Haden later on. 21. Sea­hawks — Jef­fery Sim­mons, DT, Mis­sis­sippi State: Seat­tle still seems like a solid bet to move back given its league-low four picks. But if the Sea­hawks stay here, they could swing big for Sim­mons, a top-10 tal­ent who seem­ingly will need a red­shirt year af­ter tear­ing his an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment in Fe­bru­ary. 22. Ravens — Mar­quise Brown, WR, Ok­la­homa: As much as Bal­ti­more needs to re­vamp its pass rush af­ter Za’Dar­ius Smith and Ter­rell Suggs left in free agency, La­mar Jack­son will re­quire more than Wil­lie Snead to take a sig­nif­i­cant step in Year 2. Tak­ing Brown, a bona fide big-play threat on deep passes and screens alike, would be proof the Ravens are com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing their quar­ter­back with top-line tal­ent af­ter the ear­lier move to sign run­ning back Mark In­gram. 23. Tex­ans — Cody Ford, OT-G,

Ok­la­homa: Matt Kalil won’t suf­fice as the lone ad­di­tion for an of­fen­sive line that gave up a league-worst 62 sacks last year. Though his pass pro­tec­tion skills aren’t as pol­ished as many of his first-round peers, Ford should be an early stand­out in the run game, par­tic­u­larly if he’s moved in­side. 24. Raiders (from Bears) — Clelin Fer­rell, DE, Clem­son: Land­ing a savvy and pow­er­ful edge pres­ence this late would be cause for cel­e­bra­tion in Oak­land. Even though he might not make plays in the back­field with the same reg­u­lar­ity that he did at Clem­son, Fer­rell still has sev­eral tools he can use to over­whelm op­pos­ing of­fen­sive tack­les. 25. Ea­gles — Johnathan Abram, S, Mis­sis­sippi State: The trade for Jor­dan Howard both clar­i­fies the out­look at run­ning back and ad­dresses Philadelph­ia’s big­gest ques­tion mark. At his best work­ing down­hill against the run, Abram thrives when al­lowed to op­er­ate al­most like a line­backer, though he could be a liability in cov­er­age. 26. Colts — Dex­ter Lawrence, DT, Clem­son: Af­ter In­di­anapo­lis’ of­fen­sive line made sig­nif­i­cant strides last sea­son, Chris Bal­lard could look for a sim­i­lar trans­for­ma­tion from a de­fen­sive front that al­ready has added for­mer Chiefs pass rusher Justin Hous­ton. The 6-4, 342-pound Lawrence can do more than clog the mid­dle, and teams might be hard-pressed to an­swer for his power and ath­leti­cism. 27. Raiders (from Cow­boys) — Greedy Wil­liams, CB, LSU: While Derek Carr could cer­tainly use some sup­port up front or at tight end, Oak­land should not be dis­suaded from us­ing all three of its first-round picks on de­fense if the right play­ers are avail­able. Although he might be pushed around early by more phys­i­cal re­ceivers, es­pe­cially in the run game, Wil­liams’ prow­ess in press-man cov­er­age would give the Raiders a fit­ting run­ning mate for fel­low young cor­ner­back Gareon Con­ley. 28. Charg­ers — Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame: De­spite bring­ing back Brandon Me­bane, the Bolts are per­ilously thin on the in­te­rior de­fen­sive line. Tillery would be an im­pos­ing pres­ence on a front that al­ready boasts Joey Bosa and Melvin In­gram on the edge. 29. Chiefs — Justin Layne, CB, Michi­gan State: A por­ous pass de­fense is in need of more re­in­force­ments, and the as­cen­dant Layne can throw re­ceivers off their game and make plays when the ball is thrown in his vicin­ity. 30. Pack­ers (from Saints) — Tay­lor

Rapp, S, Wash­ing­ton: Af­ter adding Adrian Amos from the di­vi­sion ri­val Bears, Green Bay can com­plete its over­haul at safety by grab­bing Rapp, a ver­sa­tile piece who can han­dle a wide as­sort­ment of as­sign­ments. 31. Rams — Garrett Brad­bury, C, North Carolina State: There’s per­haps no bet­ter align­ment of a first-round prospect’s skill set and a team’s scheme than the pos­si­ble pair­ing of Brad­bury with the Rams. A zone-block­ing maven, Brad­bury would be a nat­u­ral suc­ces­sor to John Sul­li­van and help sta­bi­lize a line that will be in­te­grat­ing two new starters. 32. Pa­tri­ots — A.J. Brown, WR, Mis­sis­sippi: Bill Belichick has never drafted a wide re­ceiver in the first round dur­ing his Pa­tri­ots ten­ure, but it’s time for him to end the drought and add a big-bod­ied tar­get to an un­der­sized re­ceiv­ing corps. Brown’s rugged ap­proach should help him earn Tom Brady’s trust off the bat. A re­place­ment for Rob Gronkowski can wait un­til a later round.


Mis­souri quar­ter­back Drew Lock, a po­ten­tial first-round pick, likely would ben­e­fit from be­ing able to sit while he works with an NFL coach­ing staff to iron out is­sues with his ac­cu­racy and me­chan­ics.

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