The 2019 N.F.L. draft is underway in Nashville, with 254 picks spread out over three days. Day 1 will feature the first round (32 picks), and will undoubtedly change the fortunes of several franchises.
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4. Oakland Raiders: Clelin Ferrell, DE
6-foot-4, 264 pounds
In an age of specialization, Ferrell is about as versatile as they come at defensive end. He can be effective against the run while also finding his way to the quarterback with relative ease, and there’s no reason to believe he couldn’t start right away. His ceiling is somewhat limited based on a lack of inside moves and conditioning issues that have seen him wear down as games go along, but his floor is very high.
3. New York Jets: Quinnen Williams, DT
6-foot-3, 303 pounds
It seems like a day will come when every team has a dominant interior lineman out of Alabama. Williams may be the latest in a long line of players who fit that general description, but that shouldn’t take away from how effective he could be from day one provided a team plays to his strengths. Williams is a natural athlete who has repeatedly shown good instincts on the field, but the only real concern with him is that he may struggle to maintain the mass necessary to deal with double-teams. He will have to prove that he can either add weight or successfully use his speed and technique to make up for what amounts to a disadvantage.
How he fits: The Jets’ top need was an edge rusher, but they decided to go with an interior lineman instead. They ended up with a player who was at the top of some lists in terms of potential in this draft. Passing up on Josh Allen seems fairly surprising, as does the decision to not trade down in hopes of filling the team’s bare cupboards more quickly. The Jets must believe that Williams can put on the bulk necessary to dominate from the tackle position.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa, DE
6-foot-4, 266 pounds
A remarkably strong player from head to toe, Bosa can generate interior power like a tackle while still possessing the skill and speed levels of an end. He comes from a football family, with his father, John, having played for Miami and his brother Joey currently starring for the Los Angeles Chargers. Nick, who had 17.5 sacks in limited action over three years, might have to compete with Joey to be the most accomplished Bosa, but to many talent evaluators he was head and shoulders above any other player in this draft class, even after he missed most of the 2018 season as a result of core muscle surgery. There was a mild hubbub about comments he made on Twitter, but the only thing that kept him from being the No. 1 pick was the perfect fit of Murray and Kingsbury.
How he fits: The 49ers already had a star defensive tackle in DeForest Buckner, and they added Dee Ford to bolster their line, but they needed at least one more edge rusher and Bosa is by far the best one available in this draft. There may be some blowback in the Bay Area based on Bosa’s social media posts in the past — especially the post that called Colin Kaepernick a “clown” — but from a purely football standpoint he couldn’t be a better fit. San Francisco will now have to figure out how to add a No. 1 wide receiver.
1. Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray, QB
5-foot-10, 206 pounds
Murray had the unenviable task of following in Baker Mayfield’s shoes at Oklahoma. Not only did he live up to Mayfield by keeping the Heisman Trophy at the school for a second straight season, but in many ways he surpassed the top pick in last year’s draft. Murray’s numbers were staggering: 42 touchdown passes (with just seven interceptions), 4,361 passing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. His athleticism is so outrageous that he was the ninth overall pick in last year’s M.L.B. draft, with talent evaluators saying he had the potential to have a Rickey Henderson-like impact on that game. The biggest question mark about Murray, by far, is how a player of his height and weight can succeed in the modern passing game, but there is also at least some cause for concern that he only has one season under his belt as a full-time starter.
How he fits: The Cardinals undoubtedly are not in love with using the top pick on a quarterback a year after using the 10th overall pick on Josh Rosen, but the pairing of Murray with Coach Kliff Kingsbury is too perfect to pass up. Kingsbury will presumably install an Air Raid-style offense, and short of Mayfield or Patrick Mahomes, there are few quarterbacks in the world more suited to it than Murray. Arizona will have to sort out what to do with Josh Rosen, but the second-year quarterback out of U.C.L.A. should have some trade value for a team hoping he can build on his modest rookie season.
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