You've seen my first- and second-round mock drafts, and now I'm taking it to the first three rounds. It's time for my "Grade: A" three-round mock, in which I play the general manager for each team at each pick in the 2019 NFL draft.
Yes, that means I'm making picks at the first 102 slots. I'm not projecting picks based on what I'm hearing around the league. No, this is me making three full rounds of picks based on what's best for each team at that slot, so that each team gets an "A" grade. And it's not easy to get an "A." I'll be discussing some of my picks with Todd McShay -- you can see his three-round mock here -- on our SportsCenter special at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and the ESPN app on Wednesday.
The ground rules:
At each slot, I make a pick in the best interest of only the team with the pick. I try to address team needs, but value can supersede need.
No trades allowed -- sorry, McShay.
I'm not projecting picks. This is more of a look at where I see value up and down the board, based on my rankings.
I have explanations for every team's picks below, in order of when each first picks in the draft, starting with the Cardinals, who hold all of the ... cards in this draft.
There is also a pick-by-pick version at the bottom, which will help give you an idea of who was off the board when I made my picks. And click on the links below to go to each team:
Are the Cardinals really going to take a first-round quarterback two years in a row?I think it's going to happen. The reason I'd lean toward Murray if I were the GM of this team: The 2018 Heisman Trophy winner gives new coach Kliff Kingsbury a fresh start with his guy. Kingsbury knows Murray and knows the former OU star can run his offense. He'd have to tailor his Air Raid offense to fit Josh Rosen's strengths. I have Murray just behind Dwayne Haskins on my Big Board, but it's close.
One reason why it was extremely tough to evaluate Rosen's rookie year was the poor offensive line play, so let's get Murray some help in his former teammate Ford, who could play guard or tackle. Arizona has tried to upgrade its line this offseason, adding Marcus Gilbert and J.R. Sweezy, and Ford could play immediately. Ridley isn't as polished as his brother, Calvin, who went in Round 1 last year, but he has some upside, and the Cardinals need to think about life after Larry Fitzgerald.
Bosa is my top-ranked prospect, and he's almost certainly going to go in the top two picks. Will it be to the 49ers? That's not as clear. This is a prime spot for a team to trade up, and the 49ers can pick up extra assets by moving down. When Jimmy Garoppolo got injured last season, the bottom fell out for the Niners, but remember that they were a sneaky playoff pick before the season. This team has some talent, even if its defense underachieved. No. 2 is too high to take a defensive back in this class, and it's way too high to snag a wide receiver. If San Francisco keeps this pick, Bosa is the pass-rusher to target.
San Francisco can fill its need at receiver at the top of Round 2 -- and grab a Bay-area star -- as Arcega-Whiteside is a touchdown machine. He's moving up my board. Mullen has first-round talent, but he had an underwhelming 2018 for the national champs. If he can be more consistent, he can be an NFL starter.
This comes down to Allen or Quinnen Williams for the Jets, and both are going to be impact contributors as rookies. New York's biggest need is on the edge, however, so I lean toward Allen, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year who had 17 sacks last season.
The Jets are in a good spot here, and after trading up for Sam Darnold a year go, they don't have a second-round pick in this draft. They do have an extra third-rounder from the preseason trade of Teddy Bridgewater (remember when he was a Jet?). Deiter is my second-ranked center, but he has some versatility as he played guard, center and tackle over 54 college starts. Oruwariye is a big, 6-foot-2 corner who had seven interceptions over the past two seasons. You can't count on third-rounders as immediate starters, but Deiter and Oruwariye could compete for spots.