By Jared Stanger
I don’t do mock drafts. I just don’t. Years ago I was talking with a friend of mine and I was telling her how I don’t care much for small-talk…for BS’ing with people. She says to me, “that’s because you research your bullshit.” I mean, she nailed it. So, in order for me to do a mock draft that I would feel comfortable publishing and being accountable for, I would first want to do enough research on all 32 teams in order to trust that I’m not bullshitting or short-changing any fanbase. But that is an amount of work I just can’t do while maintaining my real-life day-job.
I also don’t really like giving a point by point listing of how I value players. I’d rather see how everyone else values them, and then steal who I think is undervalued. Nothing about a draft matters except who you pull the trigger on when you’re on the clock on draft day. It doesn’t matter if you got a player that “fell” on draft day, it doesn’t matter if you “reached” on your guy…all that matters is: one year, five years, a career later…did that player give you the best value for who was available when you picked.
This will be as close to a mock as I’ll ever come, but really it’s more of a “big board”, and it’s not even “mine”.
The other reason I wanted to write this is: we are well into December and something that I started noticing months ago about the 2019 draft class is still holding true: there is very little consensus about the first round.
Now, this can mean one of two polar-opposite things: 1) it’s not a great class and media is forcing players up into the first, or 2) it IS a great class and there are just too many legit possibilities that could end up in the first. I’m leaning towards the latter.
In order to survey the draft landscape, I looked at 10 different first round mock drafts. I used mostly bigger outlets, and I only used a mock if it had been published since December 1st. The mocks I ended up using: Sports Illustrated, Draftwire- Easterling, Walterfootball, Sporting News, ESPN- McShay, CBS- Trapasso, CBS- Wilson, Tankathon, PFF- Renner, Bleacher Report- Miller. I would have liked to use someone from NFL Network, but I don’t think any have been published in December.
I’ll start with the most general of numbers from the results, and work towards the specific 32 names that end up with the highest scores/best 1st round probability.
Across these 10 mock drafts; 65 unique players were named. That’s a lot. Literally two rounds of players that at least one of these writers put a 1st round grade on. Of the 65; 16 were only named on one ballot. So 49 unique players were named on multiple mocks. Still a lot.
Position breakdown of the 65 (I made some executive decisions on guys like Josh Allen who could fit multiple positions): Offense 28, Defense 37. So that fits with the overall feeling that this is a better defensive draft.
11 Defensive End
9 Defensive Tackle
7 Offensive Tackle
7 Wide Receiver
3 Offensive Guard
2 Tight End
2 Running Back
To me, the one surprise here is Cornerback coming in 2nd. I don’t think the narrative all year has been that this is a good Corner class (*caveat to the CB group: a lot of the guys named are underclassmen that haven’t declared). But the DL numbers fit exactly into the season-long narrative. Low Safety numbers do not surprise me. Low Linebacker number is partly due to me defaulting most of the LB/DE tweeners to the DE side. I believe there will be good LB value in later rounds as this class has better depth than ceiling.
The OT number is decent with the asterisk that many of them are college Right Tackles. Low TE and RB numbers are just good common sense for a first round.
Now, the position breakdown of the names that made the top 32 for this exercise:
8 Defensive End
6 Defensive Tackle
5 Offensive Tackle
4 Wide Receiver
This list puts an even finer point on the top end of this class. CB falls off telling us that most of the CB named are late in the round and with little-to-no agreement of which guys will crack the top 32. DL becomes the obvious strength of the class. RB and TE correctly fall completely out of the round (Noah Fant is the “first guy out” of any position on the outside of the 1st round).
It’s a pretty accurate snapshot of what I think this class feels like. Personally, I would steal a slot from WR to give to another position. Maybe LB, maybe IOL. And DT might be high by one; with teams looking to find a Jarran Reed dropping to the 2nd round.
There are 11 players that were named unanimously to all 10 mocks, plus 2-3 named on 9/10 ballots creates a very obvious first tier. I think the second tier is only 3-5 players long. There is a no-man’s land where it will be extremely hard to find correct value that sits between roughly #15-19 overall. And then the third tier is close to 40 players deep. That’s 40 players for 12 draft spots. If you can flip one pick between 16-25 into two picks between 20-60…I’d do it.
For each player in the top 32 players I will give their cumulative average score, ballot percentage, and pick range:
#1 – Nick Bosa, Ohio State DE
#2 – Quinnen Williams, Alabama DT
#3 – Josh Allen, Kentucky DE
#4 – Ed Oliver, Houston DT
#5 – Justin Herbert, Oregon QB
#6 – Greedy Williams, LSU CB
#7 – Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State QB
#8 – Jonah Williams, Alabama OT
#9 – Clelin Ferrell, Clemson DE
#10 – Devin White, LSU LB
#11 – Deandre Baker, Georgia CB
#12 – Rashan Gary, Michigan DE
#13 – Deionte Thompson, Alabama FS
#14 – Jachai Polite, Florida DE
#15 – Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State DT
#16 – Dalton Risner, Kansas State OT
#17 – Greg Little, Mississippi OT
#18 – Christian Wilkins, Clemson DT
#19 – AJ Brown, Mississippi WR
#20 – Brian Burns, Florida State DE
#21 – Dexter Lawrence, Clemson DT
#22 – N’Keal Harry, Arizona State WR
#23 – Byron Murphy, Washington CB
#24 – Montez Sweat, Mississippi State DE
#25 – Derrick Brown, Auburn DT
#26 – DK Metcalf, Mississipi WR
#27 – Will Grier, West Virginia QB
#28 – Cody Ford, Oklahoma OT
#29 – Drew Lock, Missouri QB
#30 – Jawaan Taylor, Florida OT
#31 – Kelvin Harmon, NC State WR
#32 – Zach Allen, Boston College DE
Something that I didn’t include for each player, but that could be an interesting sidenote with inferences of player buzz; was the average inclusion score. Which is to say, of the mock drafts that included the player; how high was his average placement? Could also be considered the “bang the table” score. For example: where Cody Ford was included; his average placement was #16.3. If a single team/GM gets a specific draft crush on a player; this could be closer to where they’re drafted.
A few more inclusion scores:
Dalton Risner 7.6
Will Grier 16.0
Trayvon Mullen 16.0
Cody Ford 16.3
Daniel Jones 18.5
Marquise Brown 21.7
Raekwon Davis 21.8
Mack Wilson 23.6
The Seahawks currently hold the #22 overall pick. Which, theoretically, would put them close to the range for a DE like Brian Burns or Montez Sweat. Certainly in line for one of a few RT options. Those would be the smart money positions to look at should Seattle not trade back.
If they prefer to trade back; some of the names that didn’t make this first round projection include a couple intriguing 3-Tech options in Dre’mont Jones and Jerry Tillery, small-school DE’s Oshane Ximines and Jaylon Ferguson, OG’s Michael Deiter and Terronne Prescod, and the second-highest rated Safety: Taylor Rapp. There were also a handful of CB names that scored very similarly (towards the 2nd round), but that don’t feel like a “need” right now for Seattle.