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Final 2019 NFL mock draft: Detroit Lions go unpopular, but practical

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Probably not a popular pick, but one you should probably prepare for.

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

With the NFL Draft finally upon us, it’s time for our annual first-round mock in which we attempt to select every pick for every team in the first round. Last year, we had the Detroit Lions taking Leighton Vander Esch, but instead he went a pick earlier and the Lions went with Frank Ragnow instead, breaking our two-year streak. Let’s see if we can get back on track this year.

1. Arizona Cardinals - Kyler Murray - QB

This pick comes as no surprise to anyone. There had been early speculation whether or not the Cardinals would hang onto Josh Rosen, whom I believe is a perfectly fine QB in his own right, but with new head coach Kliff Kingsbury in town, he has the opportunity to pick his guy. Murray just makes too much sense for Kliff’s offense, and with Murray, the Cardinals aren’t forced to invest heavily into their O-line right away, due to Murray’s mobility.

2. San Francisco 49ers - Nick Bosa - EDGE

This was a tougher decision than I would have expected to make this early in a mock draft, but I believe the 49ers will likely be choosing between Quinnen Williams and Nick Bosa here. Bosa fits a bigger need, but Q to me is the most talented player in this draft class. You can’t go wrong with either player though, and the 49ers add a key piece to their D-line here by adding maybe the most technically sound D-lineman in the draft.

3. New York Jets - Quinnen Williams - IDL

There have been multiple rumors swirling around the Jets claiming they have serious interest in Ed Oliver. That may be true, but I have a hard time believing that they’d pass up on a talent like Q in favor of Oliver. As I mentioned before, Williams is my top prospect in the draft, and getting him at third overall should be a no-brainer for New York.

4. Oakland Raiders - Devin White - LB

History probably tells us that Mayock would like a pass rusher here, but I think the front office duo of Gruden and Mayock might give us something crazy and weird. Mayock did have Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds as high as fourth and 11th on his big board last year, so I could definitely see him going with White this early.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Josh Allen - EDGE

The Bucs are in need of a pass rusher and they get arguably the top one available. Allen provides versatility to play multiple roles and even if White is available here, I’d much prefer Allen over White if I’m Tampa.

6. New York Giants - Ed Oliver - IDL

If the Giants were smart, they’d be taking a QB here, unless they don’t have a single QB on their board left that they believe is capable of being the leader of their franchise. I don’t think the Giants front office has any idea what they’re doing anymore, so not taking a QB with their first pick is probably what they’ll do. Oliver is one of the top players available that fills one of New York’s other top needs and the Giants will probably wait another year with Eli under center.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars - Jawaan Taylor - OT

With Nick Foles now on the roster, I think the Jaguars are going to go with their top-rated offensive lineman at No. 7 overall. If this situation plays out, then they’ll get to choose their guy with every OL still available. This pick could be Taylor, Andre Dillard, Jonah Williams or maybe even a surprise pick like Cody Ford. Taylor is a bit of a project but is tenacious and athletically gifted.

8. Detroit Lions - Jonah Williams - OG/OT

The Lions are left with some pretty decent options to choose from. Brian Burns is a personal favorite of mine and maybe the best pure pass rusher in the draft. T.J. Hockenson, Devin Bush and Montez Sweat are all players that I believe are fantastic fits for the Lions and also have a chance to go in this spot. Ideally, the Lions could trade down with some of the top options gone and a couple of top QBs still on the board.

My gut is telling me the Lions are not content with their current tackle situation and with Taylor Decker’s fifth-year option coming up soon and the option to opt out of Rick Wagner’s deal after just one more year, offensive tackle could easily be in play for them at eight overall. Though Jonah Williams isn’t my favorite option, I believe the Lions will fall in love with his production, preparation and intelligence. Some Lions fans will be thrilled, others very upset, but either way, I think we as Lions fans have to prepare for anything on Thursday night and they could do much worse than Williams in this spot.

9. Buffalo Bills - Andre Dillard - OT

Three straight offensive linemen selected would be a pretty wild circumstance, but this is why trading back can be a scary idea if you’re assuming you’ll have your choice of one of the top offensive linemen available. There are a lot of OL-needy teams in this range, so it would not surprise me if there is a huge run on O-lineman. Dillard comes from Washington State and is very raw as a run blocker, but was phenomenal and virtually unbeatable in pass protection last year.

10. Denver Broncos - Drew Lock - QB

The Broncos will probably go with either a tight end or QB here, and Lock seems like Elway’s type. I know Elway has talked up Joe Flacco, but come on now. Let’s not kid ourselves here. Denver can’t afford to waste away their talented players for yet another few years due to stubbornness and poor draft strategy.

11. Cincinnati Bengals - Dwayne Haskins - QB

With a whole new regime, my bet is on Zac Taylor waltzing into town and getting his guy under center. Haskins has a great shot to go much earlier in the draft and if the Bengals see him falling into their lap without having to trade up, then this should be a relatively easy pick for them.

12. Green Bay Packers - T.J. Hockenson - TE

With the top offensive linemen gone, I think the Packers will turn their attention to upgrading the tight end position and Hockenson makes a lot of sense here. Jimmy Graham isn’t getting any younger and many have Hock as the top TE in the draft. Hock is an elite athlete and very versatile at the tight end position. The Packers nail one of their top needs and get pretty good value here.

13. Miami Dolphins - Devin Bush - LB

The Dolphins have so many needs and it’s hard to see them going anywhere other than BPA here. They also have a new coach in Flores, and as a former defensive coordinator/linebacker coach, Flores and Devin Bush could be a perfect marriage in Miami.

14. Atlanta Falcons - Brian Burns - EDGE

Though Christian Wilkins has been the popular choice here, Burns also fills a major need on the edge and is the better overall prospect if you ask me. With Burns packing on the pounds and still testing elite, he can earn his way into a starting spot and challenge Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley as their top pass rusher.

15. Washington Redskins - DK Metcalf - WR

The fall stops for Metcalf, who many believe is the top receiver in the draft. Washington is lacking a true No. 1 receiver and Metcalf fits the bill. The poor agility numbers should not concern you, and if he can stay healthy, he can be a dominant receiver in the NFL.

16. Carolina Panthers - Montez Sweat - EDGE

If Sweat falls this far, then this is likely his floor as the Panthers are in desperate need of some help rushing the passer. Sweat surprised everyone at the combine and will likely be selected in the top half of the first round.

17. New York Giants - Greedy Williams - CB

If the Giants do not select a quarterback at sixth overall, then I doubt they’re taking one here. If Daniel Jones/Dwayne Haskins/Drew Lock is your guy, then you’re likely taking him with your top first-round pick. It doesn’t make sense to wait and hope that your guy is still there at the most important position in the sport. It’s hard to gauge the NFL’s interest in Greedy Williams, but the Giants are in need of a corner and Williams gives them some added length and athleticism at the position.

18. Minnesota Vikings - Cody Ford - OG

I’m not entirely sure why Ford is talked up this much or projected to go this high, but the NFL seems to love him, so this pick makes sense. Ford isn’t quick enough with his feet to play at tackle, if you ask me, and he could still see some struggles against quicker interior linemen, but he anchors well and you’re not going to beat him without a great first step and some counter moves.

19. Tennessee Titans - Jeffery Simmons - IDL

The Titans could use some pass rush help from the interior and Simmons brings a lot to the table in that regard. Simmons has violent hands and is a monster at the point of attack. It was either him, Christian Wilkins or Dexter Lawrence, and I think you can make a case for all three.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers - Byron Murphy - CB

It wouldn’t be a draft if the Steelers didn’t take a cornerback high. Drafting Murphy would veer away from Pittsburgh’s tendency of drafting long, athletic corners, but maybe this is exactly what they need for this to finally pan out for them.

21. Seattle Seahawks - Clelin Ferrell - EDGE

The Seahawks could also go the route of a long cornerback—their bread and butter—but Ferrell makes a lot of sense here as well, especially after dealing away Frank Clark to the Chiefs.

22. Baltimore Ravens - Marquise Brown - WR

I’m sure the Ravens would love an edge rusher here, but the value for one in this spot is long gone now unless they decide to go with Rashan Gary. Hollywood Brown’s lisfranc injury is a scary one, but all signs point to it being not as serious as originally thought. and the rumor is that he’s going to be medically cleared by training camp. Brown is one of the most dynamic and smartest receivers in the draft, and if he can stay healthy and pack on some weight, he can be a star.

23. Houston Texans - Deandre Baker - CB

Baker tossed some speed concerns aside with a solid 40-yard dash and etched himself in as one of the top corners in the class. The Texans could use some extra depth and competition at the corner spot and Baker will likely be high on many team’s boards.

24. Oakland Raiders - Rashan Gary - EDGE

Gary has had some recent health concerns surface, but I doubt he falls too far in the draft. With this pick, the Raiders are able to address two of their top needs and will have plenty of space in the war room to invite them in.

25. Philadelphia Eagles - Dexter Lawrence - IDL

My guess is Hollywood is the pick here if he’s available, and I could see Nelson Agholor dealt on draft day. Otherwise, the Eagles could add some youth on the D-line and give Schwartz some extra DT depth to work with. Lawrence would be great value here and bolsters their run defense.

26. Indianapolis Colts - Christian Wilkins - IDL

Wilkins falling this far is a steal for the Colts who address arguably their top need and continue to improve their already impressive roster. Wilkins is raw as a pass rusher, but consistently wins the leverage battle and has plenty of tools to work with.

27. Oakland Raiders - Noah Fant - TE

Another great value pick for the Raiders as Fant falls lower than expected. Fant is my top TE in the draft and would be a great passing game option for the Raiders who are still looking for some offensive weapons.

28. Los Angeles Chargers - Amani Oruwariye - CB

The Rock Ya-Sin hype is real, and I’m not exactly sure where the first-round buzz started, but it sounds more and more likely that he’ll go in the first round. Still, I think Oruwariye is a top CB prospect with great length and elite athleticism for the position, so this should be his range.

29. Seattle Seahawks - Hakeem Butler - WR

Butler has extraordinary potential and is dominant at the catch point. Though he is raw, he is a top receiver prospect and gives Russell Wilson some extra help in the passing game.

30. Green Bay Packers - Garrett Bradbury - IOL

Aaron Rodgers was a sitting duck last year, and the Packers have the opportunity to take one of the top interior linemen in the draft. It will be hard for them to pass up on a guy like Bradbury, who can play all along the interior and many believe he is the top center in the class.

31. Los Angeles Rams - Greg Little - OT

The Rams need to do a better job of protecting Jared Goff, and Little is a popular pick in this spot. Little is raw, but there aren’t many great options at OT once you get past the first three or four guys.

32. New England Patriots - Johnathan Abram - S

It’s always smart to slot the best player available for the Patriots because life isn’t fair. Abram is somehow both a maniac and completely under control on the field and loves to deliver big hits. He’s also very versatile and is no slouch in coverage.