Posted Sunday, March 10, 2019.
I've done this the past eight years, and I thought it would be fun to do it again. It's exactly what it sounds like - if free agency occurred in a draft format, who would be the top picks? I've excluded all the free agents who are either restricted or franchised.
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Real 2019 NFL Mock Draft
Arizona Cardinals: Trey Flowers, DE, Patriots. Age: 26.
The Cardinals are likely to spend the first-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft on Kyler Murray. If Arizona didn't like Murray and couldn't move the pick, Nick Bosa was the favorite to be chosen first overall, as the Cardinals need an edge rusher across from Chandler Jones. Trey Flowers, the best defensive player on the market, would be a great fit in Arizona.
San Francisco 49ers: Landon Collins, S, Giants. Age: 25.
The 49ers have an atrocious pass defense last year. They need both a pass rush and better play in the secondary. They would benefit greatly from signing Landon Collins or another top safety this offseason.
New York Jets: Le'Veon Bell, RB, Steelers. Age: 27.
The Jets are the first team in this very fake free agency mock draft that needs a running back, so Le'Veon Bell is a logical choice. It's worth noting that the Jets are considered one of the favorites to sign Bell in real life, though I'm not sure it would be a great move. Bell is a diva who reportedly got out of shape while sitting out 2018, and he would likely cost New York too much money.
Oakland Raiders: Jordan Hicks, ILB, Eagles. Age: 27.
The Raiders are desperate for help at every level of their defense, and that certainly includes the linebacking corps. Jordan Hicks would be a great addition to Oakland's defense. He's been the heart and soul of Philadelphia's stop unit, so his great leadership and talent would go a long way in fixing one of the many problems the Raiders have.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Adrian Amos, S, Bears. Age: 26.
The Buccaneers have to be kicking themselves for passing on Derwin James in the 2018 NFL Draft. Fortunately for them, there are plenty of talented safeties on the market, including Adrian Amos, who would make for a great signing for Tampa.
New York Giants: Earl Thomas, S, Seahawks. Age: 30.
The Giants are losing Landon Collins this offseason, so they'll have two holes to fill at safety. I don't see them signing Earl Thomas in real life, as Thomas seemingly wants to go to Dallas, but the Giants could prevent that from happening in this free agency mock draft.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Nick Foles, QB, Eagles. Age: 30.
This has to be the most obvious pick in this free agency mock draft, right? It's been reported by Les Bowen of Philly.com that the Jaguars will sign Nick Foles as soon as the new league year begins. Thus, they would obviously select Foles in this free agency mock draft, if given the opportunity.
I should note that I had the Raiders and Giants passing on Foles because I believe they want to obtain their next quarterbacks via the 2019 NFL Draft. Both teams already have veteran signal-callers, so I can see why they wouldn't be seriously interested in Foles.
Detroit Lions: Ronald Darby, CB, Eagles. Age: 25.
The Lions have needed a potent starting cornerback across from Darius Slay for quite some time. Matt Patricia is very familiar with Ronald Darby from their days together in the AFC East, so I imagine that he would be interested in obtaining the young cornerback.
Buffalo Bills: Trent Brown, OT, Patriots. Age: 26.
The Bills are desperate for offensive line help, so how perfect would it be for them if they were able to poach a talented player from the Patriots? Trent Brown was an excellent blind-side protector for New England last year, so he would go a long way in helping Josh Allen develop.
Denver Broncos: Daryl Williams, OT, Panthers. Age: 27.
The Broncos traded for Joe Flacco, but the former Raven quarterback is not going to do well in his new home if John Elway doesn't improve the team's offensive line. There's a huge hole at right tackle, which Daryl Williams would fill extremely well.
Cincinnati Bengals: K.J. Wright, OLB, Seahawks. Age: 30.
The Bengals have some major problems at linebacker, especially in the wake of the news that Vontaze Burfict may have to retire soon because of concussion concerns. Owner Mike Brown is often cheap, so I don't see him spending on K.J. Wright, so I'm sure he'd be very much in favor of this sort of free agency draft format where he could obtain a dynamic player like this.
Green Bay Packers: Za'Darius Smith, DE/OLB, Ravens. Age: 26.
The Packers are desperate for edge-rushing help, and there have been reports indicating that they're trying to trade for Dee Ford. This free agency mock draft doesn't feature Ford because he was franchised, but Za'Darius Smith would be a great consolation prize. Smith is a young edge rusher who recoreded 8.5 sacks in 2018 despite not being a full-time player.
Miami Dolphins: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Vikings. Age: 28.
The Dolphins are familiar with how talented Sheldon Richardson is, given that they had to play against him twice per year when he was on the Jets. I'm sure Miami would love to nab him, as Richardson would provide a huge boost for a defensive line that sorely missed Ndamukong Suh last year.
Atlanta Falcons: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Lions. Age: 30.
I have the Falcons using three picks in the first five rounds on defensive linemen in my 2019 NFL Mock Draft for a reason. Their defensive front is incredibly weak and is in desperate need of multiple upgrades. Finding a talented edge rusher like Ezekiel Ansah would be enormous for a team that has to battle Drew Brees and Cam Newton twice per year.
Washington Redskins: Matt Paradis, C, Broncos. Age: 29.
The Redskins have great talent on the offensive line, but not at center. That has been a position of weakness for quite some time, so finding an upgrade there would provide a huge boost for a front that will need to protect Case Keenum next year.
Carolina Panthers: Ja'Wuan James, OT, Dolphins. Age: 27.
I had the Panthers losing right tackle Daryl Williams earlier in this free agency mock, and it doesn't appear as though they'll be able to re-sign him in real life. Ja'Wuan James would be a great substitute, however. It'll be important for Carolina to solidify its offensive line, given Newton's chronic shoulder problems.
Go to 2019 NFL Free Agent Draft: Picks 17-32
Sorry for cutting this into two halves; I've received complaints about load times and putting the mock draft on two pages saves bandwith.
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