There are still nearly three months until the NFL Draft, which means draft boards are only in their early stages and there is much scouting left to be done. Only a blurry picture has emerged of what the Top 10 looks like. It will come into focus after the scouting combine in late February and the Pro Days throughout March.
With both the Giants and Jets picking in the Top 10, though – again – it’s never too early to take a peek at what the Top 10 might look like…
1. Arizona Cardinals – DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State
Yes, there is a video from October that shows new Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury saying of QB Kyler Murray “I’d take him with the first pick of the draft if I could.” Of course, back then he wasn’t an NFL coach and didn’t have the first pick of the draft. Now? The Cardinals already drafted their franchise QB last year (Josh Rosen) and they’re not giving up on him this quickly. Bosa is the best player in the draft, according to most scouts, and him playing opposite DE Chandler Jones will immediately turn the Cards’ defense into a force.
2. San Francisco 49ers – DE/LB Josh Allen, Kentucky
He burst onto the scene with 17 sacks this season and 21 ½ tackles for a loss. At 6-4, 258 he’s a little undersized for a traditional defensive end, but an ideal size for an edge-rusher in today’s NFL. Some think he’s the best pure pass rusher in the draft. The 49ers’ defense is already loaded with former first-round picks up front, so Allen’s supposed deficiencies in run defense shouldn’t hurt too much.
3. JETS – DT Quinnen Williams, Alabama
There is no question the 6-4, 295-pound Williams is the most disruptive interior defender in the draft. He’s explosive, strong, and had eight sacks and 19 ½ tackles for loss last season. Yes, the Jets need an outside pass rusher, too. But if Leonard Williams moves inside in Gregg Williams‘ 4-3 scheme, the twin Williams’ could be a huge force in the middle. And an interior pass-rush matters. Just look at what Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh have done for the Rams.
4. Oakland Raiders – DE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
Perhaps you heard that the Raiders traded Khalil Mack and later seemed to regret it. There’s no doubt they’ll try to rectify that by taking a pass rusher in the draft. Ferrell is one of the best, with 21 sacks and 38 tackles for loss over the last two seasons. Yes, Jon Gruden is a wild card and there are rumors he wants a quarterback — maybe even Murray. But this is a bigger need. And remember, Gruden won a Super Bowl in Tampa with a top defense and Brad Johnson at quarterback.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – LB Devin White, LSU
Some scouts consider him to be the most athletic player in the draft — a dynamic linebacker with sideline-to-sideline speed, good strength and a brain to match. If he was considered more of a pass rusher he might be even higher on this list. The Bucs have play-makers and a quarterback. What they don’t have is defensive studs for new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. White is a good one to build around.
6. GIANTS – QB Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
Considering the early run on defensive players and the fact that some more good ones are still available, the Giants might have to move up if they do zero in on Haskins. The Jaguars are right behind them, the Broncos are at 10, and several other teams are looking at quarterbacks in this quarterback-thin draft. At this spot, GM Dave Gettleman might drool over Alabama OL Jonah Williams if he gets this far. But come on, how much longer are they going to wait to draft Eli Manning‘s heir?
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – QB Drew Lock, Missouri
They are moving on from Blake Bortles and it’s possible they’ll turn to a stop-gap quarterback like Nick Foles, if they can acquire him from the Eagles. They’ll still need a quarterback of the future, though. At the moment, Lock appears to be the consensus No. 2 behind Haskins, though that could change (a lot) in the next few months. The Jags, of course, are a risk to trade up if they want a certain quarterback badly enough. And yes, Tom Coughlin would love it if he jumped ahead of the Giants and stole the QB they wanted, too.
8. Detroit Lions – OL Jonah Williams, Alabama
The Lions have taken an offensive lineman in the first round in three of the last four years, and yes they might do it again if the best OL in this draft slips this far. He would be an immediate replacement for guard T.J. Lang, who is 31 and could be a salary cap casualty since the Lions would clear about $8 million in cap space by releasing him.
9. Buffalo Bills – DT Ed Oliver, Houston
The Bills’ offseason plan seems to be to fortify their offensive and defensive lines, and they sure have a huge hole in the middle of the D-line with the retirement of Kyle Williams. At 6-1, 275, he’s not the ideal size for a defensive tackle, but he’s a force as an interior pass rusher.
10. Denver Broncos – QB Daniel Jones, Duke
The worst-kept secret in the early draft proceedings is that Broncos GM John Elway is in love with Drew Lock. Assuming that’s true, the Broncos could be a candidate to trade up. But with the bloom off Case Keenum‘s rose in Denver, it appears the Broncos will be first-round quarterback shopping again. This seems high for Jones, but quarterbacks often go a lot higher than projected.