As we rapidly approach December and the festive season, a lot of the talk in the NFL continues to surround the playoff picture as fans and the media make predictions as to who could go all the way to the Superbowl.
Things are very different at the other end of the spectrum though, where many franchises will already be looking ahead to the 2019 season after a woeful campaign leaves them set to see the season ended prematurely.
It is extremely tight at the bottom this season as the San Fransisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals and Oakland Raiders all hold a 2-8 record – leaving them amongst the contenders to earn the first pick of the 2019 draft.
There is clearly a lot for all three teams to improve upon but who needs a first round pick the most? We have taken a look.
San Francisco 49ers
Last holding first pick in 2005, drafting current Redskins quarterback Alex Smith from Utah, the 49ers are extremely unlikely to make a move in this area as they have two decent options in Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard – the former of which is yet to be sacked in his professional career.
While the offensive line has improved for the 49ers, it is still an area that needs some work. Mike Person is set to become a free agent at the end of the season and it is anyone’s guess what happens with Josh Garnett. As a result, the guard position is likely to be an area of interest for San Francisco in the draft.
Utilising first pick to land a guard, however, is highly unlikely and the 49ers may well trade the number one pick ahead of the 2019 draft to a side who wants a quarterback, perhaps the New York Giants.
Ranked dead last in the Offensive Line rankings by the latest data, the Arizona Cardinals’ lack of depth and quality in this area has been exposed throughout the season and making a move in the 2019 NFL Draft to solve this issue seems likely.
The hottest lineman at the moment looks to be Alabama’s Jonah Williams, despite the fact that he has another year of college eligibility ahead of him. The 6ft 5in monster would certainly add the presence that the Cardinals need on their offensive line.
As things stand, I’d rank the Cardinals as the least likely to trade away the first pick of the 2019 NFL Draft if they get it. With a difficult schedule for the remaining weeks, and having lost to the Raiders on Sunday, they also rank as my favourites to finish at the bottom of the league.
The Raiders are already one of the most interesting teams to look at in the 2019 NFL Draft as they already hold three first-round draft picks. The priority for Oakland will certainly be in the defence, where they need a tonne of help, but a franchise quarterback could be an option.
Derek Carr’s future in Oakland is uncertain and Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert is already tipped to be the best quarterback in the draft if he decides to leave before his senior season with the Ducks – though it is unclear if that will occur.
Whether Oakland need the first pick or not largely depends on what they have planned for the quarterback position. If Carr does stay, a trade away could be possible but they could still utilise the pick to land the defensive star they desperately need.