Part 4 of my NFL Mock Draft- you can read part 3 here!
16. Carolina Panthers: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
Cam Newton has been as injured as any quarterback in the league over the past few years. From numerous hits in the pocket to his car crash two years ago that he was lucky to escape from alive, Newton’s health, especially his throwing shoulder, is a major issue for the Panthers right now. So much so to the point that they are considering sitting Newton for surgery for the entire 2019 season if it means that he will make a full recovery.
With this in mind, it makes sense to draft a position on the offensive line to reduce the number of hits on Cam and protect him as he enters the later stages of his career. Jawaan Taylor, out of Florida, can do a great job of that- at 6’5 and 312 pounds, he is a massive player and showed the ability last year to play both left and right tackle.
17. New York Giants (From Cleveland): Brian Burns, DL, Florida State
After having traded their star receiver, Odell Beckham, to the Browns to get back into the first round for another pick, the Giants have two main ways they could go here. Either replace the defensive end they also traded, Olivier Vernon, with an edge rusher, or draft an offensive lineman to protect Eli Manning for however much longer he starts in New York and then also to protect the QB of the future. I have the Giants taking the better prospect, and this is Brian Burns, an athletic freak pass rusher who was in the double digits in sacks last season for Florida State.
18. Minnesota Vikings: Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson
Christian Wilkins was one of the most productive players on the defensive line over the past few years in college football. From an interior defensive line position, he racked up 51 tackles (14 for loss) and 5.5 sacks, which is very impressive considering where he would line up every play. He is a little old, and not the most athletic, which will knock him farther down the draft board than his production might indicate, but the Vikings will be happy to grab him this late in the first round.
19. Tennessee Titans: Clelin Ferrell, DL, Clemson
Clemson’s defensive line gets their second player in a row picked here, as Ferrell, who worked well off the edge with Wilkins the last couple years, goes to the Titans- He is an athletic and long defender and has great size for the position at 6’5 and 260. He amassed 21 sacks over his last two seasons at Clemson, and his size and pass rush ability should make him a high pick this year.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona St.
With the Steelers’ tumultuous offseason, including drama with QB Ben Roethlisberger and the departure of their two best players on offense, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, the draft will be a good way for them to reset their franchise and move forward again. One of the biggest question marks for the team right now is how sophomore receiver Juju Smith-Schuster will adjust to having more defensive attention since Brown left. N’Keal Harry out of ASU is the perfect player to draft to ease some of those concerns and make sure Big Ben’s last years are surrounded by talent like normal.
Check back later this week for part 5 of this mock, where we will look at picks 21-25!