How many QBs land in first round?

Mock draft puts Hask­ins and Lock among top 10 picks

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - NFL - Michael Mid­dle­hurst-Schwartz

The folly of at­tempt­ing to or­ches­trate an NFL mock draft nearly four months be­fore the event is self-ev­i­dent.

One needs to look no fur­ther than the un­cer­tain sta­tus of the draft or­der, the last 12 picks of which won’t be fully set un­til af­ter the play­offs, to high­light the need for any guess at the first round to be writ­ten in pen­cil rather than in ink. Add in the in­com­plete list of early dec­la­ra­tions and im­pend­ing changes stem­ming from free agency and it be­comes clear this is more of a thought ex­er­cise than an ac­cu­rate fore­cast.

Nev­er­the­less, a sketch of how the top picks might shake out can be fun even if not par­tic­u­larly pru­dent at this point. Just don’t point back to this in April (un­less any picks are right):

1. Car­di­nals — Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State: With the fran­chise pick­ing in the top spot for the first time since its move to Ari­zona in 1988, gen­eral man­ager Steve Keim could go in a num­ber of di­rec­tions. It’s hard to imag­ine him find­ing bet­ter value than Bosa. An ac­com­plished pass rusher who has de­liv­ered on com­par­isons to his older brother Joey, the for­mer top-five pick and cur­rent Charg­ers stand­out, Nick has demon­strated the ath­leti­cism and ver­sa­til­ity to be a de­fen­sive cor­ner­stone for years to come.

2. 49ers — Quin­nen Williams, DT, Alabama: While Bosa was side­lined for all but three games this sea­son be­cause of a core mus­cle in­jury, Williams emerged as the fore­most dis­rup­tive force in col­lege foot­ball. The Out­land Tro­phy win­ner stymied the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence with his power and ad­vanced ar­ray of moves. San Fran­cisco’s de­fense has more se­ri­ous needs than up­grad­ing its in­te­rior line, but plac­ing Williams next to DeFor­est Buck­ner would cre­ate one of the league’s most in­tim­i­dat­ing tandems.

3. Jets — Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama: New York has a press­ing need to ramp up its pass rush, but GM Mike Maccagnan’s pri­mary ob­jec­tive has to be equip­ping Sam Darnold with more sup­port. Bring­ing on a savvy and strong pro­tec­tor in Williams, who didn’t al­low a sack all sea­son, is a good start.

4. Raiders — Josh Allen, OLB-DE, Ken­tucky: If Jon Gru­den isn’t sick of jokes about the Khalil Mack trade, he’s surely tired of watch­ing a pass rush that barely recorded more sacks (a league­worst 13) than its dis­carded star did for Chicago (121⁄2). Af­ter show­ing sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment in a se­nior cam­paign that earned him South­east­ern Con­fer­ence de­fen­sive player of the year honors, Allen could be a build­ing block for an Oak­land de­fense nearly devoid of any.

5. Buc­ca­neers — Greedy Williams, CB, LSU: To para­phrase Gor­don Gekko, Greedy is good, es­pe­cially for Tampa Bay. The 6-2, 182-pound All-Amer­i­can will bring ad­vanced ball skills and clos­ing speed to his next stop. Op­pos­ing quar­ter­backs had an NFL-high 110.9 passer rat­ing when fac­ing the Buc­ca­neers, and a top-line cor­ner is needed to join last year’s sec­ond-round tan­dem of Carl­ton Davis and M.J. Ste­wart.

6. Gi­ants — Dwayne Hask­ins, QB, Ohio State: Re­gard­less of New York’s in­ten­tions for Eli Man­ning in 2019, a suc­ces­sion plan for the vet­eran quar­ter­back is long over­due. GM Dave Get­tle­man won’t have the same as­sort­ment of op­tions at the po­si­tion he did last year when he in­stead chose run­ning back Saquon Barkley at No. 2, but Big Blue still could be poised to land the top passer on the board. Hask­ins, who hasn’t an­nounced whether he’s declar­ing, can thrive throw­ing to ev­ery level of the field and could form an elec­tric con­nec­tion with Odell Beck­ham Jr.

7. Jaguars — Greg Lit­tle, OT, Mis­sis­sippi: Jack­sonville fi­nally reached its break­ing point with Blake Bor­tles. But af­ter owner Shad Khan said he was “far from con­tent with the sta­tus quo” upon the year’s end, Tom Cough­lin and the rest of the Jaguars’ lead­ers might pre­fer to find a vet­eran quar­ter­back rather than rolling with a rookie in need of de­vel­op­ment. Lit­tle didn’t al­ways play like a top prospect but has con­sid­er­able po­ten­tial for growth given his en­vi­able phys­i­cal tools.

8. Lions — Clelin Fer­rell, DE, Clem­son: As Ezekiel An­sah sput­tered to four sacks in an­other in­jury-short­ened sea­son, De­troit’s de­fi­ciency in its out­side pass rush be­came read­ily ap­par­ent. With the know-how to beat of­fen­sive tack­les on more than ath­leti­cism alone, Fer­rell looms as an en­tic­ing op­tion.

9. Bills — D.K. Met­calf, WR, Mis­sis­sippi: Now com­mit­ted to bring­ing along Josh Allen, Buf­falo has to sup­ply the tal­ented but raw gun­slinger with more fire­power at re­ceiver than Zay Jones and Robert Fos­ter. Met­calf would pair well with Allen and pro­vide a po­tent down­field threat while he learns to run a full gamut of NFL routes.

10. Bron­cos — Drew Lock, QB, Mis­souri: John El­way said last Fe­bru­ary that he wasn’t done “swing­ing and miss­ing” for a quar­ter­back, and it ap­pears the Bron­cos’ head hon­cho could find him­self in the bat­ter’s box again. Lock has tan­ta­liz­ing phys­i­cal tools, in­clud­ing the arm strength to con­nect on even the most dif­fi­cult of down­field throws. But his er­ratic ac­cu­racy and ten­dency to lock onto tar­gets and pre­de­ter­mine his throws make him a high­risk, high-re­ward project.

11. Ben­gals — Mack Wil­son, ILB, Alabama: Stum­bling to a fran­chise­worst mark for yards al­lowed, Cincin­nati’s be­lea­guered de­fense looks most des­per­ate at line­backer, where Von­taze Bur­fict has per­haps fi­nally worn out his wel­come. Wil­son has not de­clared for the draft and hinted in a tweet he could re­turn next sea­son, but his com­fort op­er­at­ing side­line to side­line would make him an ap­peal­ing op­tion for Cincin­nati should he de­cide to go.

12. Pack­ers — Jachai Po­lite, DEOLB, Florida: Change could be com­ing for Green Bay’s de­fense. Clay Matthews has ac­knowl­edged the team might not bring him back as he pre­pares to en­ter free agency, and Nick Perry could be let go in a cap-clear­ing move af­ter post­ing just 11⁄2 sacks in 2018. A late bloomer with im­pres­sive agility, Po­lite could help the pass rush start a new chap­ter.

13. Dol­phins — Ed Oliver, DT, Hous­ton: Seen by many in the off­sea­son as a con­tender for the No. 1 pick, Oliver has drawn com­par­isons to Aaron Don­ald, though any such par­al­lel is defini­tively un­fair. The three-time All-Amer­i­can will face sim­i­lar ques­tions about his size, but few can shoot into the backfield as quickly as he can.

14. Fal­cons — Rashan Gary, DE, Michi­gan: Af­ter watch­ing his de­fense get rav­aged by in­juries this sea­son, Dan Quinn would likely rel­ish bol­ster­ing his pass rush with a ver­sa­tile as­set such as Gary. He can be a threat both on the edge and the in­te­rior.

15. Red­skins — Devin White, ILB, LSU: Wash­ing­ton might need to in­vest in a quar­ter­back af­ter a bro­ken right leg left Alex Smith un­cer­tain for 2019. Reach­ing for a passer at this point, how­ever, would be ir­re­spon­si­ble. Lead­er­ship and sta­bil­ity are needed in this or­ga­ni­za­tion, and the speedy White could help bring both.

16. Pan­thers — Brian Burns, DE, Florida State: Julius Pep­pers turns 39 in Jan­uary and hasn’t in­di­cated whether he plans to re­turn. Car­olina needs to re­ju­ve­nate its edge rush re­gard­less of his de­ci­sion. Burns will have to fill out his 6-5, 235-pound frame.

17. Browns — Jef­fery Sim­mons, DT, Mis­sis­sippi State: While young tal­ent blos­soms through­out Cleve­land’s ros­ter, there’s lit­tle brew­ing at de­fen­sive tackle be­yond Larry Ogun­jobi. Sim­mons’ eval­u­a­tion will en­tail more than weigh­ing his im­mense phys­i­cal tools; he pleaded no con­test to sim­ple as­sault and was found guilty of ma­li­cious mischief af­ter he punched a woman while he was a high school se­nior.

18. Vik­ings — Cody Ford, OT, Ok­la­homa: Min­nesota’s of­fen­sive un­rav­el­ing be­gan with its front, which left Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook un­der fire through­out the sea­son. The 6-4, 338pound Ford, who could also fill a hole at guard, should be­come a quick fa­vorite of coach Mike Zim­mer for his maul­ing ap­proach and fin­ish­ing touch.

19. Ti­tans — Mar­quise Brown, WR, Ok­la­homa: Ten­nessee’s plod­ding of­fense gen­er­ated less than half as many pass plays of 20-plus yards (37) as the league-lead­ing Chiefs (76). Though listed at just 5-10 and 168 pounds, the dy­namic ju­nior col­lege trans­fer nick­named “Hol­ly­wood” could pro­vide a spark for Mar­cus Mar­i­ota on deep throws and quick hits alike.

20. Steel­ers — By­ron Mur­phy, CB, Wash­ing­ton: Cor­ner­back has long been a con­found­ing po­si­tion for Pitts­burgh, which needs a stable pres­ence op­po­site Joe Haden. Yet there might be a so­lu­tion await­ing in Mur­phy, who should emerge as an im­me­di­ate as­set thanks to out­stand­ing quick­ness and foot­work.

*21. Ea­gles — Deionte Thomp­son, S, Alabama: The de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons nar­rowly avoided fin­ish­ing the year with the league’s worst pass­ing de­fense, irank­ing 30th with 269.3 yards al­lowed per game. Philadel­phia has in­vested suf­fi­cient draft cap­i­tal at cor­ner­back in re­cent years, but it’s time to find a safety who can take over for Corey Gra­ham.

*22. Colts — Kelvin Har­mon, WR, North Car­olina State: A ca­reer year from tight end Eric Ebron and su­perla­tive pro­duc­tion from T.Y. Hilton helped ob­scure the fee­ble state of In­di­anapo­lis’ re­ceiv­ing corps. With Har­mon at his dis­posal, An­drew Luck would have a re­li­able and phys­i­cal tar­get.

*23. Sea­hawks — Chris­tian Wilkins, DT, Clem­son: While Seat­tle’s de­fense weath­ered an off­sea­son of up­heaval, there’s room for im­prove­ment in the mid­dle next to Jar­ran Reed.

*24. Raiders (via Cow­boys) — De­An­dre Baker, CB, Ge­or­gia: A 14thranked fin­ish in pass­ing yards al­lowed be­lied how bad Oak­land’s de­fense was against quar­ter­backs. The Raiders gave up a league-worst 36 touch­downs and 12.9 yards per com­ple­tion.

*25. Ravens — Mon­tez Sweat, DEOLB, Mis­sis­sippi State: New GM Eric DeCosta will have to strongly con­sider an edge de­fender with the first se­lec­tion of his ten­ure. Ter­rell Suggs is 36.

*26. Tex­ans — Dal­ton Ris­ner, OL, Kansas State: Af­ter De­shaun Wat­son was sacked a league-high 62 times, some­thing has to change up front. Ris­ner is a rugged and tech­ni­cally sound blocker who could fare well at mul­ti­ple po­si­tions, though his best fit might be at guard.

*27. Pa­tri­ots — Noah Fant, TE, Iowa: Good­bye Gronk? Whether the four-time all-pro is back af­ter a stark drop-off in pro­duc­tion, New Eng­land must think about giv­ing Tom Brady an­other big­bod­ied tar­get, es­pe­cially with Josh Gor­don in­def­i­nitely sus­pended. Bill Belichick would sa­vor the mis­matches he could cre­ate with Fant’s blend of size and speed.

*28. Raiders (via Bears) — Ri­ley Ri­d­ley, WR, Ge­or­gia: With Amari Cooper en­joy­ing his star turn in Dal­las, Derek Carr needs an­other threat out­side. Ri­d­ley isn’t as pol­ished as his older brother Calvin, a first-round pick of the Fal­cons last spring.

*29. Charg­ers — Dex­ter Lawrence, DT, Clem­son: De­spite the strides the Charg­ers have made against the run this sea­son, the de­fense would ben­e­fit from an up­grade in the mid­dle.

*30. Chiefs — Nasir Ad­der­ley, S, Delaware: Don’t be de­ceived by the level of com­pe­ti­tion — Ad­der­ley has a pro­fes­sional skill set. With ex­ten­sive range and rapid recog­ni­tion abil­ity, he fits as the cov­er­age pres­ence needed for a sec­ondary burned for more pass plays of 20-plus yards (65) than any other team.

*31. Rams — Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame: Los An­ge­les gave up a league­worst 5.1 yards per carry and could use help for a dis­ap­point­ing de­fense, es­pe­cially if Ndamukong Suh doesn’t re­turn.

*32. Pack­ers (via Saints) — T.J. Hock­en­son, TE, Iowa: As frus­tra­tion mounted for Aaron Rodgers, so too did the throw­aways and off-tar­get passes. Adding the Mackey Award win­ner would pro­vide the two-time MVP a trusted safety valve in a new scheme af­ter Jimmy Gra­ham’s sub­par sea­son.

*Or­der from 21-32 is based on cur­rent team records but will be de­ter­mined through­out the play­offs

ROBERT HANASHIRO/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Ohio State quar­ter­back Dwayne Hask­ins throws against Wash­ing­ton dur­ing the first quar­ter at the Rose Bowl.

MATTHEW EM­MONS/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Four months be­fore the draft, Ohio State de­fen­sive end Nick Bosa is pro­jected to be the No. 1 pick by the Car­di­nals.

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