This is not going to go the way you think….

Going into the NFL Combine in Indianapolis there have already been numerous Mock Drafts and there are more to come following the evaluations after this week. For the most part the Mock Drafts assume there will be little or no movement in 1st round positions and that is fair enough. However, I think that the 2019 NFL Draft is primed and ready to be one of the most electric 1st round draft nights of recent times. Let’s look into why and what could happen.

Increasingly 1st round drafts are an opportunity for teams to draft their next franchise leading quarterback. With the recent successes drafted in the first round – Mahomes, Darnold, Mayfield, Trubisky, Allen (yes I’d class all those as successes as they have all shown to a greater or lesser extent they can handle the pressure of leading an NFL offense), teams in need of a shiny new young QB are going to be looking to round 1 of this year’s draft. QBs move up the board like no other positions on the roster.
So, who needs a QB – the list is longer than you may think. I’d include: Arizona Cardinals (may want to move on from Rosen), NY Giants (find Eli’s heir apparent), Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins (will either of them get Foles), Denver Broncos (to sit behind Flacco, not for long), Washington Redskins (with Alex Smith out for the year). The list goes on and on – I could make an argument for about half the league showing an interest in a QB right down to the Patriots looking at life after Brady.

There are 4 QBs who by common consensus are likely to go in the first round: Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock and Daniel Jones (outside chance of Will Grier making it 5).

Let’s make some bold predictions about what will go down on 25th April in Nashville, Tennessee.

1. Arizona Cardinals are taking Kyler Murray
Josh Rosen made a nice start in his rookie year but new Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury and the Cardinals are going to go all out and draft Murray to ignite the Cards offense.
As a result Josh Rosen finds himself packing his bags and heading cross country, to where is the interesting question. It could be any one of several sides and there may be good value in picking him up.

2. The Raiders are the kingpin on the night
For years we have watched Mike Mayock giving his opinions, making his Mock Drafts, a true expert of the NFL draft. Now he is doing it for real and the Raiders go in with picks at 4, 24 and 27. I would bet now that they don’t pick at those numbers – they will be wheeling and dealing. Mayock and Gruden are smart enough to know they won’t be true Super Bowl contenders in 2019 so they are primed to do deals with teams who want to ‘win now’ in order to maximise their picks.

3. The Jets will trade down from No 3
Similar to the Raiders, the Jets are rebuilding the roster and scooping up a greater number of picks either for this year or 2020 will be more valuable to them than picking at number 3. Again there will be teams queuing up, particularly if the Cardinals did pass on Murray. Add in to that you have the Giants picking at 6 so any chance to move a QB needy team above their nearest and dearest (to snatch Murray or Haskins away from NYG) will be gleefully accepted.

4. Watch the Patriots
The New England Patriots have a whopping 12 draft picks including two 2nd round and three 3rd round. Don’t be surprised to see movement from the Patriots as they seek to refresh and renew parts of their roster – including future proofing for Brady and Gronk.

5. Giants don’t get a QB
The Giants roster is in a somewhat peculiar place – contenders in some positions (Barkley, OBJ, Engram, Shepard – playoff calibre targets on offense) and in desperate need in others – O-Line, Pass Rush, Secondary and of course planning for Eli’s departure. I don’t think they have sufficient capital to move up spots in the first round and they will pick at no.6 but someone is going to leapfrog them (most likely the Jags going to no.3 in place of the Jets). This could still go in their favour is they can bolster the O-line or pass rush with a top pick.

6. The 1st round will be fascinating all the way through
This won’t just be about the top 10 picks. As you get towards the back end of round 1 you find teams who could be classed as ‘win now’ teams: Colts, Eagles, Chargers, Rams, Chiefs. They could all look to make moves, even if only a few places in order to snag what they consider to be the final piece of the puzzle. I also expect the Cowboys to try and get themselves back in the action as they currently don’t have a pick in round 1.

Still a long way to go (too long in my opinion) and free agency will shape the first round further, particularly when the free agent QBs start to find homes. But whatever happens the 1-32 order in late April is going to be a moveable feast!

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