It might seem hard to believe but the NFL's regular season has reached its midway point.
There is plenty of football left to be played, of course. But, as fans of playoff contenders are eagerly planning their path to Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, followers of less fortunate teams are wondering which rookies drafted in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft might spark a turnaround.
Last year's draft featured a historic class of quarterbacks. That has left the cupboard a bit bare at this all-important position for 2019. Instead, expect teams to focus early and often on a remarkable group of defensive linemen.
1. New York Giants - Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Giants' fans will be clamoring for a young quarterback but rolling the dice on a raw prospect and bypassing this year's exceptional class of defensive linemen may not be in GM Dave Gettleman's DNA. Like his older brother, Joey, Nick left Ohio State as an accomplished and NFL-ready edge rusher, winning with a Pro Bowl caliber combination of initial quickness, hand technique and instincts.
2. Oakland Raiders - Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
After trading away Kahlil Mack, Jon Gruden and Co. will almost surely dedicate at least one of their three first round picks on impact defensive linemen. With all due respect to his true sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoga, "Big Q" has been the most dominant draft-eligible prospect in the country this season, ruining opponent' game plans with his upfield burst and power.
3. San Francisco 49ers - Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
The quickest way out of the NFC West cellar for the 49ers is the successful recovery for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo but reinforcing the defensive line with a penetrator like Ed Oliver would also work wonders. Like fellow NFC West disruptor Aaron Donald for the LA Rams, Oliver boasts unrivaled initial quickness among defensive linemen in this class, making him an ideal complement to current stars DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas.
4. Buffalo Bills - Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
Sensing a trend with the fourth consecutive defensive lineman off the board to start the draft? Ferrell isn't the quick twitch athlete some want on the edge but his length, strength and commitment could make him a perfect battery mate alongside former Clemson standout Shaq Lawson as the Bills wisely wait for better value on Day Two for skill-position help for Josh Allen.
5. Arizona Cardinals - Andraez "Greedy" Williams, CB, LSU
Should the Cardinals need to replace Patrick Peterson (or convince him to stay), pairing him with a fellow LSU ballhawk makes perfect sense.
6. Cleveland Browns - Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
Current starting left tackle Desmond Harrison is an intriguing project but if the Browns are serious about developing Baker Mayfield and competing in 2019, an upgrade at the most important position along its offensive line is critical. Williams does not possess elite length and agility but he's savvy, tough and as proven as it gets at the collegiate level.
7. New York Jets - Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
The PAC-12 has been kind to the Jets with franchise foundations in Leonard Williams and Sam Darnold hailing from Southern California. GM Mike Maccagnan might venture a bit north to repair a secondary rising with safety Jamal Adams but still in need of a lockdown corner.
8. Denver Broncos - Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
With a gutty (but limited) starting quarterback in Case Keenum already in place to allow a young quarterback to learn from the sidelines before getting thrown into the fire, Denver would be an ideal landing spot for Herbert, who insiders tell me is no sure thing to leave Oregon early for the NFL and whose soft-spoken personality could make him a poor fit in major media markets.
9. Indianapolis Colts - Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan
Largely due to the recovery by Andrew Luck and breakout campaigns by rookie Darius Leonard and veteran defensive lineman Marghus Hunt (a pending free agent), the Colts have shown signs of life over the first half of the season. Boosting the playmaking ability along the defensive lineman with Gary - a top five talent - could have the Colts racing again in 2019.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars - N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
Like Giants fans, Jaguars followers might wish for flyer on a young quarterback with this selection but that appears unlikely to happen with Blake Bortles under contract for the next 2.5 seasons. Rather than throw a first round pick at a player likely to watch from the sideline, don't be surprised if the Jaguars opt for a reliable pass-catcher to help Bortles, especially with Donte Moncrief - Jacksonville's best big receiver - playing on a one-year deal.
11. Detroit Lions - Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
After their first eight games of the 2018 season, the Lions rank 30th in the NFL in rush defense. Matt Patricia will push for upgrades up front next season in this holds the rest of the season, especially if a difference-maker like Wilkins is still on the board.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Deionte Thompson, FS, Alabama
The Bucs, meanwhile, are horrific against the pass, surrendering a staggering 22 touchdowns with just one interception over their first eight games of the 2018 season. Adding an instinctive ballhawk at free safety like Thompson would go a long way towards solidifying Tampa's secondary.
13. Tennessee Titans - Montez Sweat, DE/OLB, Mississippi State
With starting outside linebackers Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo among Tennessee's upcoming free agents, the Titans may have no choice but to add fresh blood (and a smaller contract) in 2019. The 6-5, 245 pound Sweat possesses an ideal combination of burst and bend off the edge.
14. Oakland Raiders (from Dallas Cowboys) - Devin White, ILB, LSU
The quickest way to reassure a nervous Raiders' fanbase would be a recommitment to excellence on the defensive side of the ball. White's instincts and speed to the flanks would give the Raiders the quarterback on defense to match up against the top backs in the AFC West.
15. Green Bay Packers - Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
General manager Brian Gutenkunst earned rave reviews last year for taking advantage of a strong class of pass defenders. Given Green Bay's struggles defensively in recent years, don't expect him to steer clear of this year's stellar defensive line class, including Brown, an imposing 6-4, 320 pounder.
16. Baltimore Ravens - Marquise "Hollywood" Brown, WR, Oklahoma
Every first round has a surprise and the Ravens could deliver it in 2019 in Hollywood fashion. While Baltimore has dedicated millions of free agent dollars and too many draft picks to count to wide receivers, few boast Brown's agility and speed - attributes which make up for his relatively slight frame.
17. Seattle Seahawks - Raekwon Davis, DE, Alabama
While Seattle has outperformed the expectations of many thus far this season, the Seahawks' defensive line is lacking in difference-makers - an issue potentially exacerbated with top rusher Frank Clark looking for a new deal. Davis lacks the quick-twitch to be a dominant pass rusher but his size and strength as a five technique defensive end would go a long way in reinforcing Seattle's once vaunted defensive line.
18. Philadelphia Eagles - Mack Wilson, ILB, Alabama
Along with edge rushers and wide receivers, the Eagles face big decisions at linebacker with no less than four at the position set to enter free agency, including standout middle linebacker Jordan Hicks. Rather than pay a premium price to retain him, GM Howie Roseman may opt for a cheaper contract with the versatile and hard-hitting Wilson.
19. Atlanta Falcons - Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
The Falcons boast plenty of speed along the defensive line with Grady Jarrett, Vic Beasley and the recently acquired Bruce Irvin but could use an infusion of size and strength. Simmons plays bigger and stronger than his listed 6-3, 305 pound frame, rag-dolling opponents, at times.
20. Miami Dolphins - A.J. Brown, WR, Mississippi
After shipping Jarvis Landry to the Browns, the Dolphins have not yet had a receiver step up to take his place a true go-to option. The imposing (6-2, 220 pound) Brown is a classic possession receiver who would complement speedsters like Kenny Still and Jakeem Grant.
21. Minnesota Vikings - Elgton Jenkins, OL, Mississippi State
Considered one of the NFC's Super Bowl favorites entering the season, the Vikings have been ravaged by injuries, including along the offensive line. A plug and play candidate at center and guard, Jenkins would provide the depth and versatility Minnesota has been lacking.
22. Washington Redskins - Taylor Rapp, S, Washington
The Redskins' leaky defense has improved from a year ago but shoddy tackling remains an issue. Rapp is among the most appropriately named prospects in this draft, doing an excellent job of wrapping his arms securely around ballcarriers for the secure stop.
23. Cincinnati Bengals - Zach Allen, DE, Boston College
Boasting similar size and strength as former Marvin Lewis mainstays Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson, the hyper-competitive Allen would seem like a perfect addition in Cincinnati.
24. Houston Texans - Jachai Polite, OLB, Florida
With former No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney a pending unrestricted free agent, the Texans have a big decision to make in the offseason. Should the club elect not to throw the bank at the talented but inconsistent edge rusher, finding a replacement will be a top priority. Polite lacks Clowney's length but his suddenness and flexibility off the edge are first round worthy.
25. Oakland Raiders (from Chicago Bears) - Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
Completing their SEC trifecta with a heady, playmaking cornerback in Georgia's Baker, the Raiders opt to get young on defense and allow Gruden the flexibility to build his offense with veterans.
26. Pittsburgh Steelers - Martez Ivey, OL, Florida
As long as the relatively slow-footed Ben Roethlisberger is taking the snaps, Pittsburgh must continue to fortify its offensive line. Ivey possesses experience at guard and tackle, offering his future NFL team a lot of versatility.
27. Los Angeles Chargers - Dexter Lawrence, NG, Clemson
Brandon Mebane has proven a rock in the middle for the past 12 seasons but the Chargers would be wise to find his replacement in a draft as deep among defensive linemen as this one. Like Mebane, Lawrence won't wow you with his statistics but just try to move him.
28. Carolina Panthers - Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State
With stalwart veteran Ryan Kalil also in the midst of his 12th NFL season (and a pending free agent, no less), the Panthers might be looking to add some youth up front. Risner is playing right tackle this season for Kansas State but his core strength and smarts projects best inside.
29. New England Patriots - Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame
Bill Belichick is too smart to allow a draft as loaded with star defensive linemen as this one slip by without replenishing his team's depth up front. While lacking in consistency, Tillery flashes the ability to dominate and would be a potential steal at this point in the draft.
30. Los Angeles Rams - Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
The Rams do not have many needs but their offense could be that much more dynamic with a legitimate seam threat like Fant forcing defenses to think twice before dropping safeties into the box to load up against Todd Gurley.
31. New Orleans Saints - Will Grier, QB, West Virginia
Call this one a hunch. Should the Saints enjoy the magical season that appears possible - with Super Bowl glory awaiting in the same season in which Drew Brees became the NFL's all-time leading passer, don't put it past GM Mickey Loomis and head coach Sean Payton to start looking towards the future, especially with incumbent backup Teddy Bridgewater a pending free agent. Grier isn't for everyone but he could be a star in this offense.
32. Kansas City Chiefs - Isaiah Buggs, DL, Alabama
Built similarly to current KC standout Allen Bailey (a pending free agent), Buggs has the strength and toughness to hold up against the run while proving this season that he's also a talented pass rusher, leading all Alabama players in sacks this season - including the other five Crimson Tide players in this first mock of the season.