Instead of a traditional mock draft, this STATS simulation of the first round is what teams SHOULD do based on statistical analysis and team needs rather than a projection of what teams will do. That is why you will see STATS-specific metrics like expected yards per attempt, for example, rather than more traditional quarterback stats.
Keep in mind, these are based on STATS’ statistical work. Because we do not have all of the other information teams have, this mock does not always take into account other draft factors like medical records, off-the-field issues, etc. Without further ado…
1. Arizona Cardinals- (STATS Pre-Draft Power Ranking – 32)
Needs: QB, EDGE, WR, OT, OG
QB – Kyler Murray (Oklahoma)
The Cardinals are clearly not satisfied with last year’s tenth overall pick, Josh Rosen, as their franchise quarterback moving forward. Murray led college football in STATS’ Expected Yards Per Attempt, which means he would have been great in college even without his star supporting cast and should fit nicely in Kliff Kingsbury’s offensive scheme. Let’s just hope he doesn’t get flattened behind that offensive line.
2. San Francisco 49ers (24)
Needs: CB, S, WR, Edge
DE – Nick Bosa (Ohio State)
An edge rusher might not be the 49ers top need, but they could still use some more help at that position even with the addition of Dee Ford. Bosa is just too good of a prospect to pass up. He hardly played in 2018, but in 2017 he racked up 38 QB pressures on just 162 opportunities. A line featuring Bosa, Armstead, and Buckner is a positive start to fixing the Niners’ defense.
3. New York Jets (31)
Needs: Edge, CB, C, S, DT
DE – Josh Allen (Kentucky)
Outside of their own poor quarterback play, the biggest weakness for the Jets last season was getting to the opposing quarterback. Allen is a perfect fit, as he generated pressure at a huge rate this past season, where he beat an offensive player 43 times in just 148 opportunities.
4. Oakland Raiders (22)
Needs: OT, OG, DT, DE, LB, S
LB – Devin White (LSU)
The Raiders need to improve basically everything about their defense, so getting a sparkplug who can cover sideline to sideline is a good starting point.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (27)
Needs: S, CB, DT, EDGE, OG
DT – Quinnen Williams (Alabama)
The Bucs are projected to have the worst pass defense in the league according to STATS’ metrics, but the run defense is not much better, projecting at 28th. Quinnen Williams was not only STATS’ top rush defender in college football last year, but he was also third amongst defensive tackles in generating QB pressures. Plugging him next to Vita Vea gives the Bucs one of the best interior tandems in the NFL.
6. New York Giants (25)
Needs: OT, EDGE, DT, WR
OT – Jonah Williams (Alabama)
The Giants got the second-worst right tackle play of any team in the league last season and desperately need an upgrade at that position. As we said in the NFC biggest questions article, STATS does not see Eli Manning as nearly the hindrance that everyone else does. They need to surround him with better O-Line play, and Jonah Williams was the third best tackle in the Power 5 at preventing QB pressure, surrendering just eight pressures in 245 opportunities.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars (20)
Needs: WR, OT, RB
OT- Andre Dillard (Washington State)
The Jaguars may not have the most needs of any team, but they are massive ones that probably require multiple draft picks to fix. They currently project for the worst right tackle play in the league, so this is a no brainer. Take the highest tackle available. Dillard led the Power 5 in pressure prevention. He allowed 20 pressures, but did so in 476 opportunities.
8. Detroit Lions (21)
Needs: CB, EDGE, DT, TE, WR
DE – Montez Sweat (Mississippi State)
Even with the signing of Trey Flower, the Lions still project for a below-average pass rush. Because this draft is so deep at defensive end, the Lions can still get an elite pass rusher in Sweat with the eighth pick. Sweat was second to Josh Allen in the SEC in generating pressure, beating offensive players 31 times in just 130 opportunities. There have been some concerns about a heart condition, but assuming he is healthy, we project Sweat to be a massive difference maker.
9. Buffalo Bills (13)
Needs: DT, WR, OT
DT – Ed Oliver (Houston)
The Bills do not have any pressing needs, so they should take the best player available, which is Oliver. Despite being small in stature, Oliver played nose tackle for the Houston Cougars, and was eighth in generating pressure from the interior. He’s also a stand-out run defender, coming in seventh in college football is disruptions per snap (STATS’ version of a pressure on a run play).
10. Denver Broncos (10)
Needs: OG, OT, WR, TE
OT – Jawaan Taylor (Florida)
The Broncos need to upgrade offensive line, and this spot is too early for any of the guards. Taylor makes a ton of sense at this spot, and then look for them to take a guard later on in the draft.
11. Cincinnati Bengals (28)
Needs: OT, C, QB, DT
C – Garrett Bradbury (NC State)
Although Bradbury is both the top center according to STATS and most mock drafts, most draft projections do not have him going this high. The Bengals might look in another direction, but their interior line could use some shoring up.
12. Green Bay Packers (2)
Needs: S, LB, TE, CB
TE – T.J. Hockenson (Iowa)
The Jimmy Graham experiment has not worked out as well for the Packers as they had hoped, and they have a chance to draft one of the best tight end prospects in years. Hockenson can catch and block, so he can be on the field every play.
13. Miami Dolphins (29)
Needs: OT, OG, C, DT, De
DT – Rashan Gary (Michigan)
With the top offensive lineman off the board, STATS has the Dolphins turning to Gary to replace Cameron Wake’s pass rushing production now that Wake is a Tennessee Titan. Gary has tremendous athleticism, but the concern is how few sacks he got at Michigan. STATS data can dig a little deeper, and while his pressure totals are low, he simply didn’t get much opportunity. In just 91 opportunities he generated 17 pressures, and was fourth in run defense among players who played the majority of their snaps at a 5 tech or wider.
14. Atlanta Falcons (7)
Needs: CB, EDGE, DT
CB – Greedy Williams (LSU)
Williams is the second rated corner in this year’s class per STATS metrics, allowing 5.3 fewer yards per target than the average college cornerback. There are concerns about his tackling ability, but the Falcons need improved coverage on the outside more than anything else. Williams should be able to make an instant impact.
15. Washington Redskins (11)
Needs: WR, QB, LB
WR – Marquise Brown (Oklahoma)
Brown’s in-game speed is jaw-dropping. He is still recovering from a foot injury he suffered at the end of the season, but our models have him as the best receiver in this class. The Redskins need to give Case Keenum some outside help, and Brown is it.
16. Carolina Panthers (23)
Needs: WR, DE, OT, CB, EDGE
DE – Clelin Ferrell (Clemson)
Ferrell was extremely productive at Clemson and has the athleticism to do the same at the next level. He ranked eighth in the Power 5 in pressure productivity, and being available at No. 16 just shows how deep this draft is at defensive line.
17. New York Giants (25)
QB – Dwayne Haskins
Haskins is firmly the second-best quarterback in the class from STATS’ perspective. After playing just one season at Ohio State, Haskins has the chance to sit behind an aging Eli Manning and then take over the starting gig once he is ready.
18. Minnesota Vikings (15)
Needs: OT, OG, DT
G – Cody Ford (Oklahoma)
If the Vikings do not pick an offensive lineman, the fans should riot. Kirk Cousins was left out to dry last season. Ford played right tackle at Oklahoma, but is projected to shift inside to guard at the pro level. As a tackle he was fifth in the Power 5 at preventing pressures, surrendering just nine pressures in 248 opportunities.
19. Tennessee Titans (4)
Needs: OLB, RG, EDGE
OLB – Brian Burns (Florida State)
The Titans have a really solid roster, but they’re missing some pass rush. Burns isn’t dissimilar from Harold Landry, who they took in the 2018 draft, and pairing the two could turn around the Titans lackluster pass rush. He probably fits best in a 3-4 scheme, as he won’t defend the run like some of the other top edge players, but he’ll sure get after the quarterback.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers (14)
Needs: WR, S, CB
CB – Rock- Ya Sin (Temple)
Who? You may not heard of Rock- Ya Sin, but you should have. He played just one year at Temple after transferring from the Presbyterian (S.C.) College Blue Hose (yes, it is a real place) and is one of STATS’ favorite under-the-radar guys in this year’s draft. He led college football in expected yards per target among corners, surrendering six fewer yards per target than the average college cornerback.
21. Seattle Seahawks (17)
Needs: LG, EDGE, CB, S
CB – Byron Murphy (Washington)
The Seahawks’ pass coverage projects to be their worst unit after losing Earl Thomas and Justin Coleman this offseason. With two first round picks, they can fix that. Murphy is a little undersized, but Seattle is in the market for a slot corner, and we could see him used like the Broncos use Chris Harris. Outside in a base package and moving into the slot when they go to nickel.
22. Baltimore Ravens (30)
Needs: EDGE, WR, C
C – Eric McCoy (Texas A&M)
The Ravens line isn’t their weakest unit, and we could see them reach a little for a pass rusher, but given how much this team is expected to run, McCoy makes sense. McCoy excelled statistically as both a pass blocker and a run blocker in 2018, saving 10 pressures and 16 disruptions over how an average center would be expected to perform.
23. Houston Texans (26)
Needs: OT, OG
G – Chris Lindstrom (Boston College)
No mystery here. Deshaun Watson was running for his life last season, so they need to give him some protection. Lindstrom is simply the best offensive lineman on the board, and allowed only two pressures in 2018.
24. Oakland Raiders (22)
TE – Noah Fant (Iowa)
Fant took a back seat to Hockenson this season, but his elite pass-catching skills make him a first round pick too. He should thrive with Derrick Carr, the second-most accurate quarterback last year according to STATS’ expected completion percentage metric.
25. Philadelphia Eagles (1)
DT – Dexter Lawrence (Clemson)
The Eagles are solid pretty much everywhere. Of course, every team could use more defensive line depth, and that is what Lawrence should provide. At 6’4, 342 pounds, Lawrence should be a force in the middle next to perennial All-Pro Fletcher Cox.
26. Indianapolis Colts (16)
Needs: CB, DT, S
DT – Christian Wilkins (Clemson)
The Colts solved offensive line in the 2018 draft, so it is time to turn to defensive line. Wilkins is a little smaller and more agile than his Clemson teammate Lawrence, so he should provide more of an interior pass-rush.
27. Oakland Raiders (22)
OT – Greg Little (Ole Miss)
Despite signing Trent Brown to the biggest offensive lineman contract in NFL history, the Raiders still need more help at tackle. Kolton Miller, the Raiders first round pick last season, was atrocious at tackle and has major health concerns. Little should be able to replace him either because of health or performance issues.
28. Los Angeles Chargers (5)
Needs: RT, DL, WR
DT – Jeffrey Simmons (Mississippi State)
Simmons has a plethora of red flags. He was in legal trouble in high school and tore his ACL in February and will miss most of his rookie season. However, his talent on the field has been undeniable for the last two years. The Chargers need help on the interior, projecting as the 30th run defense right now, and adding Simmons to a line already featuring Bosa and Ingram would be frightening. He was behind only Quinnen Williams in STATS run defense metrics, and third place wasn’t really close.
29. Seattle Seahawks (17)
S – Nasir Adderley (Delaware)
After trading Frank Clark just before the draft, the Seahawks will now have another pick in the first round and another chance to upgrade a poor pass defense. Adderley is the top safety in the class and should replace Earl Thomas.
30. Green Bay Packers (2)
LB – Devin Bush (Michigan)
STATS is not nearly as high on Bush as most mock drafts. The Packers could use another off-the-ball linebacker though, and Bush fits that mold nicely.
31. Los Angeles Rams (8)
Needs: OG, OC, EDGE, DT
DT – Jerry Tillery (Notre Dame)
The Rams do not NEED a defensive tackle because Aaron Donald is so dominant, but after the departure of Ndamukong Suh, it would be nice to replace him with someone who can take advantage of the havoc created by Donald. Tillery was a force at Notre Dame in 2018, posting the fourth best pressure rate among interior defenders while placing in the top 20 in run defense.
32. New England Patriots (12)
Needs: WR, EDGE, DT
WR – Parris Campbell (Ohio State)
Campbell is absolutely electric with the ball in his hands. A former track star, he would provide an explosive element that the Patriots offense has been missing as of late. There are question marks about his route running, but leave it to the Patriots to use him properly.