By Scott Williams
April 23, 2019
STEVENS POINT – Call me stubborn, or just not very bright, but it’s time to take another crack at predicting the first round of the NFL Draft, or Christmas in April.
When NFL teams, and most importantly the Green Bay Packers, get all kinds of brand new presents to play with during the 2019 season.
Months have been spent holed in a draft bunker. Weary eyes have poured over game films. Times in to 40-yard dash have been checked and rechecked. Medical reports have been committed to memory.
The time has come to conduct my annual exercise in futility and stupidity. Welcome to Scott Williams’ mock draft circa 2019. Better known as a tragic comedy to some.
Thanks to some fancy maneuvering in last year’s draft, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst enjoys a pair of first round picks. With 10 choices in all, the second year GM is well positioned to further upgrade the roster after a rare deep plunge into free agency.
The moves in free agency to add pass rushers (Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith), a safety (Adrian Amos) and guard/tackle (Billy Turner, Jr.) gives Gutey all kinds of draft flexibility.
There are still plenty of needs. Tight end, safety, inside linebacker, offensive line immediately come to mind. Plus, you can never have enough pass rushers.
In a perfect world, the Packers would have their choice of linebackers Devin White and Devin Bush, defensive tackle Ed Oliver (Mike Daniels is a free agent in 2020) or tight end T.J. Hockenson.
That being said, chances are slim to none any of them will be available at pick No. 12. In that case, the choice is to beef up right guard with OL Jonah Williams of Alabama. Kansas State’s Dalton Risner is another possibility.
That will make first-year head coach Matt LaFleur, who prioritizes a strong running game, and someone named Aaron Rodgers extremely happy.
When Green Bay goes on the clock again at No. 30 thanks to a trade with New Orleans in last year’s draft, don’t be surprised if Gutey trades down for more picks.
If he stays put, Gutey can go in a variety of directions. He can fill a huge void at free safety. Virginia’s Juan Thornhill or Darnell Savage Jr. of Maryland fit the bill.
Better yet, Gutekunst addresses the tight end position and brings in athletic Noah Fant of Iowa who can open the middle of the field and join Jimmy Graham as a red zone threat.
That said, here is how the opening round will play out Thursday night verbatim. Book it.
Let the mocking and ridicule begin.
1. Arizona – Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma: Not sure how Kliff Kingsbury has an NFL head coaching gig, but his tenure will hinge on the Heisman Trophy winner.
2. San Francisco – Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State: Does John Lynch value inside or outside pressure more? The guess is he goes outside to pair with Dee Ford.
3. N.Y. Jets – Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama: New coach Adam Gase loves him some offense, but the J-E-T-S can’t pass on arguably the best player in the draft.
4. Oakland – Josh Allen, LB, Kentucky: Chuckie rights a wrong and gets a much cheaper version of what he hopes is his new Khalil Mack.
5. Tampa Bay – Devin White, LB, LSU: Kwon Alexander went to San Francisco in free agency. White immediately steps in to fill his cleats as a three-down inside linebacker.
6. N.Y. Giants – Ed Oliver, DT, Houston: Anything is possible with wacky GM Dave Gettleman who stocked up on defensive linemen while running things in Carolina.
7. Jacksonville – Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State: Dillard has been flying up draft boards. Tom Coughlin finds someone to protect his big investment in Nick Foles.
8. Detroit – Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State: Trey Flowers was signed in free agency to help the pass rush. He can’t pressure QBs by himself, however.
9. Buffalo – Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida: Rookie QB Josh Allen nearly got killed last season. If they want their franchise QB to make it to a third year, he needs protection.
10. Denver – T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa: John Elway will mess with the Packers again like Super Bowl XXXII and take one of their top targets.
11. Cincinnati – Devin Bush, LB, Michigan: A replacement for Vontaze Burfict is the choice, with quarterbacks Dwayne Haskins Jr. or Drew Lock in the mix.
12. Green Bay – Jonah Williams, OL, Alabama: When the Packers were making deep playoff runs, a strong O-Line was part of the formula. LaFleur desires that in Green Bay.
13. Miami – Drew Lock, QB, Missouri: The Dolphins can’t believe one of the top QB prospects lands in their laps. They run the card up in less than five seconds.
14. Atlanta – Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson: Nothing like pressure up the middle to mess with quarterbacks. Team the athletic Tigers standout with Pro Bowler Grady Jarrett.
15. Washington – Haskins Jr., QB, Ohio State: Alex Smith isn’t getting any younger. Plus, he’s coming off a nasty leg injury. Time get his heir apparent – stat.
16. Carolina – Chris Lindstrom, OL, Boston College: QB Cam Newton has been battered and bruised since his MVP season. Lindstrom should help him stay upright.
17. N.Y. Giants – Daniel Jones, QB, Duke: Even an amateur GM sees the need to find a replacement for Eli Manning. But does Gettleman understand the urgency?
18. Minnesota – Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma: When you’re paying Kirk Cousins $84M guaranteed, it probably a good idea to make sure he’s healthy enough to earn that money.
19. Tennessee – Byron Murphy, CB, Washington: With quarterbacks Andrew Luck, Deshaun Watson, and dare I say Nick Foles, in your division, you better find people who can cover.
20. Pittsburgh – Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma: Problem child Antonio Brown has been shipped to the Black Hole in Oakland. The Steelers find his clone.
21. Seattle – Brian Burns, DE, Florida State: Seahawks coach Pete Carroll loves speed on defense. Burns is a blur coming off the edge on pass rushing downs.
22. Baltimore – Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson: Terrell Suggs packed his bags for Arizona. Za’Darius Smith is wearing Green and Gold. The Ravens need to find a pass rusher.
23. Houston – Garrett Bradbury, OL, N.C. State: QB Deshaun Watson won’t say it publicly, but I will. The Texans have one of the worse offensive lines in the NFL.
24. Oakland – Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan: Perhaps no franchise is more infatuated by workout warriors than the Raiders. Gary is a athletic freak whose production was enigmatic.
25. Philadelphia – Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State: Carson Wentz is ready to take over the reins at quarterback. A 6-foot-6 matchup nightmare sounds like a nice weapon to help him out.
26. Indianapolis – Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama: QB Andrew Luck looked like his old self in 2018 after shoulder problems. A strong running game would make him feel even better.
27. Oakland – Jeffery Simmons, DT, Miss. State: Da Raiders jump on Simmons, who would have been a top 10 pick if not for an ACL injury during pre-draft workouts.
28. L.A. Chargers – Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame: There is a lot of chatter about interest in the agile lineman. Tillery will fit in nicely in the Chargers’ line rotation.
29. Kansas City – Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple: The Owls standout has such a cool name that needed him in the first round somewhere. LSU’s Greedy Williams is likely the actual pick.
30. Green Bay – Noah Fant, TE, Iowa: That’s right. Two first round pieces to help the Packers offense find its mojo again. Fant brings special skills to the tight end position.
31. L.A. Rams – Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State: What do you give the team that has everything? How about some help to make RB Todd Gurley and QB Jared Goff even better.
32. New England – Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson: Patriots owner Robert Kraft must have something on other NFL owners regarding massage parlors. The defending Super Bowl champs get a gift the Clemson star to still be available.