Mock Draft 1.0
No trades, no nonsense
With college football over and the Falcons’ season, among many other teams’ seasons being over, it’s full steam ahead on mock draft szn. For this one, I’m going to try to do a balance on what I personally would do if I was the GM of each of these teams and what I think I reasonable to expect they actually might do. Some teams have glaringly obvious needs to fill, while others can let the draft come to them and take the best player available. When the playoffs end and the order is set in stone I’ll throw out some hypothetical trades, but for now I’ll just stick with the order as it stands. Without further ado, the Jacksonville Jaguars are on the clock.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Evan Neal, OT Alabama
Protecting Trevor Lawrence has to be priority number 1 for this team, and with a stud left tackle on the board this is the most sensible pick to me.
2. Detroit Lions: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE Oregon
A lot of people have had Aidan Hutchinson leapfroging Thibodeaux, but I’m going to try not to overthink this and ride with what I believed all along, and that’s that Thibodeaux is an absolute game wrecker. He has injured part of this past season, but he singlehandedly changed games when he was on the field.
3. Houston Texans: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE Michigan
Texans fans can look at Hutchinson and see the potential for another JJ Watt. While I’m not ready to call him a franchise quarterback, Davis Mills played well enough to where the Texans don’t have to take a quarterback here and can instead get an absolute freak off the edge.
4. New York Jets: Kyle Hamilton, S Notre Dame
The fourth pick is high for a safety, but this is the same franchise that took Jamal Adams at 6 so it’s entirely believable, especially when Hamilton might be pound for pound the best player in the draft. His range and coverage ability is off the charts, he can be leading the Jets’ secondary for a decade.
5. New York Giants: George Karlaftis, EDGE Purdue
He doesn’t have the size of the first two pass rushers off the board, but he makes up for it by being the most technically sound player at the position in the draft. He attacks each play with a rare level of ferocity, and can bring energy to a team that desperately needs it.
6. Carolina Panthers: Kenny Pickett, QB Pittsburgh
The quarterback position has been an unmitigated disaster for the Panthers in the last few years, so they take a shot on the Heisman finalist who led Pitt to an ACC title. He’ll inevitably get docked for his hand size and the fact that it took a long time to become elite. Then again, those were the two concerns about Joe Burrow too, and we see how that’s playing out.
7. New York Giants: Kenyon Green, OT/OG Texas A&M
The Giants currently have one out of five starting offensive lineman that’s actually good, and Green will make that two. His versatility is the biggest appeal, he can play guard or line up at right tackle opposite Andrew Thomas and be protecting *enter Giants quarterback name* for 10-15 years.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Ikem Ekwonu, OT/OG NC State
Matt Ryan took more quarterback hits than any quarterback in the league this year, and will almost certainly be drafting a running back at some point in the draft, so a talented offensive lineman who can play guard or tackle is a sensible pick. They have multiple spots on the offensive line that need an upgrade, and Ekwonu can fill any of those holes.
9. Denver Broncos: Matt Corral, QB Ole Miss
Neither Drew Lock or Teddy Bridgewater are the answer, and Broncos have enough talent on the roster to where they can be a playoff team in 2022 if they hit on a quarterback. I worry Corral’s one-read offense ran at Ole Miss won’t translate, but he’s got the arm talent and mobility to figure it out with the right team around him
10. New York Jets: David Ojabo, EDGE Michigan
Both parts of the Michigan pass rush duo go top ten, Ojabo is a freak athlete who’s a little raw but shows flashes of not only his burst and strength but also brilliant pass rush maneuvers. If he adds more consistency in that department, the sky is the limit.
11. Washington Football Team: Charles Cross, OT Mississippi State
I don’t love any of the quarterback options here, so I have Washington passing on a quarterback and instead getting protection for whoever ends up under center. Cross is an elite prospect in pass protection and will be an immediate boost for a unit that had its struggles in 2021.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Derek Stingley Jr, CB LSU
Stingley was annointed as a future top 5 pick after his freshman season, but a less-impressive 2020 and injury plagued 2021 cause a drop that the Vikings gladly welcome. They took a corner in the first round in 2020 who unfortunately was cut from the team after a domestic violence case, so mending that hole in the roster will help the defense a lot going forward.
13. Cleveland Browns: Garrett Wilson, WR Ohio State
While a year ago pass catchers flew off the board early, this time around they stick around and the Browns jump all over the chance to replace Odell Beckham with Wilson. Wilson’s route running, hands, and athleticism are the complete package, and he can come into the league and have immediate impact.
14. Baltimore Ravens: DeMarvin Leal, DL Texas A&M
Leal is a very versatile defensive lineman who can get to the quarterback from any position as well as stop the run. His minor draft slide is mainly a product of team needs above, and the Ravens pounce all over him here. With Calais Campbell not getting any younger Leal gives this defensive line a much needed boost.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Ahmad Gardner, CB Cincinnati
The Eagles grab a true lockdown corner to pair with Darius Slay. Gardner’s college stats are eye-popping, starting for three years without giving up a touchdown, and being so good that his teammate won the Thorpe Award because teams wouldn’t even throw it Gardner’s direction. The clamps he put on Jameson Williams were all I needed to see to say his numbers are more than just playing AAC competition, Gardner is a true franchise corner.
16. Philadelphia Eagles: Travon Walker, EDGE Georgia
Walker’s tantalizing athletic talent has caused his stock to steadily rise, and the Eagles use the second of their back to back picks to boost their defensive line. He needs to add more consistency to his game to become a true star, but the potential is there and with all their draft capital the Eagles can afford to take a chance on him.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Jordan Davis, DL Georgia
Davis is an interesting prospect, pound for pound he might be the best player in the draft but teams will be reluctant to use a high draft pick on him due to his limited snap count game to game. In the end the Chargers look at how awful their run defense was and take the chance on him, he can fill in gaps and take double teams that help the entire defense get theirs.
18. New Orleans Saints: Jameson Williams, WR Alabama
With the Michael Thomas situation shrouded in mystery, receiver becomes the biggest need for the Saints. Coming off an ACL injury is the root of his stock drop, but as he’s expected to make a full recovery the Saints gladly take him and his ability to stretch the field with blistering speed.
19. Philadelphia Eagles: Devin Lloyd, LB Utah
The Eagles round out their loaded first round draft haul with the best player available and check the boxes at all three levels of defense. I see Lloyd as Micah Parsons-lite, he thrives in pass rush situations and his coverage has improved throughout his college tenure.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Tyler Linderbaum, C Iowa
A quarterback would be tempting, but I think snagging someone like Gardner Minshew or Teddy Bridgewater as a bridge to next year is a better option than a chance on any of the prospects available. So instead they give a massive boost for their offensive line that struggled to run block for Najee Harris. If the Steelers want their identity to be running the ball, then Linderbaum is the guy, an absolute mauler who can create interior gaps for Harris.
21. New England Patriots: Jaquan Brisker, S Penn State
An athletic freak who can play all over the field, Brisker will be a major boost to the Patriots’ secondary especially with Devin McCourty nearing the end of his career. The Pats’ secondary has a stud in JC Jackson and little else, so Brisker will play and play well from day 1.
22. Miami Dolphins: Nakobe Dean, LB Georgia
Perhaps the smartest player in the draft, Dean’s instincts and leadership will give a boost to the entire Dolphins’ defense from day 1. His athleticism doesn’t jump off the page as much as many of the other freaks on this incredible Georgia defense, but Dean was the most important player and will be a captain in the NFL in no time.
23. Las Vegas Raiders: Chris Olave, WR Ohio State
The unexpected cutting of Henry Ruggs following his arrest opens up a new position of need for the Raiders, so Olave falling here is a godsend for this team. I see him similarly to Devonta Smith in that neither jumps off the page in athleticism or build, but they have an uncanny ability to just get open and can catch everything. Olave’s addition combined with Hunter Renfrow’s emergence would give the Raiders a sneaky good pass catching corps with Darren Waller as one of the league’s top tight end.
24. Arizona Cardinals: Andrew Booth Jr, CB Clemson
There’s always a position that has an unexpected slip in the draft, and in this mock it ends up being corner because there’s a world while Booth is a top 10 pick. He struggles with tackles but his coverage skills are as good as anyone and is a true ball hawk.
25. Cincinnati Bengals: Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT Ohio State
The Bengals pick is easy, take the best offensive tackle available to protect your franchise quarterback that’s taken too many hits this year. The question is merely who it is, and I think Petit-Frere is the best option. He thrived in pass protection in 2021 and whether he lines up at left or right tackle he’ll be an immediate boost to the Bengals’ offensive line.
26. Buffalo Bills: Jahan Dotson, WR Penn State
The Bills have one consistently reliable receiver, and if they want to build around Josh Allen they need a better number 2 than Gabriel Davis. Dotson can be that guy, an athletic freak who makes contested catches better than anyone in the draft. Josh Allen throwing to he and Stefon Diggs can be a lethal passing attack for years to come.
27. Detroit Lions: Roger McCreary, CB Auburn
Jeff Okudah is tough to evaluate given his injury this year, if he comes back healthy and lives up to billing then he and McCreary can be a lockdown pair for years. If he doesn’t, McCreay will be a nice replacement. He’s a prospect I had hoped the Falcons could get Day 2, but his stock has correctly risen over the last month. He and Thibodeaux is an excellent haul for the Lions’ defense.
28. Dallas Cowboys: Daxton Hill, S Michigan
The Cowboys gave up no shortage of big plays this season, and a ranging safety who thrives in coverage is exactly what they need.
29. Kansas City Chiefs: Treylon Burks, WR Arkansas
The Chiefs have a major drop-off at pass catcher after Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, one of whom is north of 30 years old. Burks is a big bodied receiver who reminds me of AJ Brown in terms of style of play, and would make the Mahomes-Chiefs’ offense just that much more deadly.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Trent McDuffie, CB Washington
Corner was easily this team’s biggest weakness this year, and I love McDuffie as a prospect in man to man coverage. He’d fill in nicely to a defense that can get pressure on the quarterback and doesn’t need McDuffie to do too much.
31. Tennessee Titans: Drake London, WR USC
The Titans getting the one seed despite getting next to nothing out of Julio Jones is incredible, imagine what they could do with a young version of Jones rather than the old version that’s past his prime. London is a huge receiver who was putting up massive numbers on USC before injury. A pairing of he and AJ Brown with Derrick Henry carrying the rock would give the Titans offensive flexibility most teams can only dream of.
32. Green Bay Packers: Trevor Penning, OT Northern Iowa
Whether Rodgers returns or the Packers turn to Jordan Love, they need a boost to their pass protection. Taking an FCS prospect is always a risk, but Penning has the build and athleticism to be a quality NFL starter and that’s something the Packers need long-term.