It’s been a while, but what better why to return than with a mock draft. The future of the NFL crafted in front of our very eyes as we turn a look to the soon to be arriving events. These next three days shape franchises, not to mention the lives of the players selected, the coaching team and that of the fans. No draft quite has the impact, uncertainty or trepidation as that of the NFL. It is the pinnacle of drafts representing parity and equal opportunity where dedication, hard work and talent is rewarding. If a player falls on your lap, do you grab the opportunity or is it “Vontae Mack, no matter what”?
- This is a prediction, not what I would do.
- Trades are happening, there is never a round that goes with out trades and so a prediction should include them.
Welcome to the NFL draft (sort of).
1: Jaguars – Travon Walker (DE – Georgia)
I was behind Hutchinson all the way but with the Monday market change, people seem to know something. GM Trent Baalke believes his upside is above that of Hutchinson.
2: Lions – Aidan Hutchinson (DE – Michigan)
Powerful edge rusher who can clean up the run. The local boy will be swept up by the Lions to bite some kneecaps. He fits the team who need to rush the QB better after only recording 30 sacks last year (30th on the league).
3. Texans – Evan Neal (T – Alabama)
Maybe the surest player in the draft. Neal is a monster at 6ft 7 1/2in and 337lbs. There’s been a mention or two about medical concerns but they seem minor and GM Nick Caserio came from the Patriots, who usually like to play with long-reaching tackles.
4. Jets – Ahmed “Sauce” Gardner (CB – Cincinnati)
The Jets have seemed destined for Sauce ever since Rich Eisen heard his name. But it’s not just the Jets’ most well-connected fan that is on the Sauce train. Teams purposely didn’t throw his way at Cincinnati, now he’ll have the chance to be the next Darrell Revis – “Sauce Island” does have a ring to it.
5. Giants – Ikem Ekwonu (T – North Carolina State)
With Neal gone, the Giants shy away from the falling Thibodeaux to grab their tackle. The Giants need O-Line help, likely for the QB they draft to replace Daniel Jones next year (I am sadly not a believer in him) but maybe a solid line is what he needs to validate the NO.6 overall position. Ekwonu is a step in the right direction.
6. TRADE Jets – Drake London (WR – USC)
Rumours that the Panthers are looking to trade down in the draft and are so desperate to fill their 2nd and 3rd round whole they accept the 4-place trade down, receiving only the 69th pick from the Jets. The Jets want a dominant X receiver and trade ahead of the Falcons to make sure they get their man. Losing only the 69th pick isn’t a dent in a draft where they have good capital.
7. Giants – Kayvon Thibodeaux (DE – Oregon)
The Giants stop Thibodeaux’s fall and collect the self-proclaimed “best player in the draft”. Thibodeaux is a great rusher and any talks about him “not wanting it” are almost certainly overblown, he’s the designated player this year to receive pointless bad press. The Giants reap the reward of a player who has 3-4 and 4-3 versatility.
8. Falcons – Garrett Wilson (WR – Ohio State)
My favourite receiver, if you want separation, this is your guy. The Falcons will be in the market for a rookie QB next year and pairing him with a receiver who can routinely be open by 3-4yds make all the throws a lot easier. He’s over looked because he isn’t over 6ft or a 4.3 second 40yd dash but Wilson is one hell of a player who is reported as loving to trash talk on the field. Slam dunk for the Falcons here, who will be tempted by Dereck Stingley Jr.
9. Seahawks – Charles Cross (T – Mississippi State)
The Seahawks pick up Cross who is oft overlooked due to Neal and Ekwonu. Athletic, Cross will be a reliable protector for Drew Lock or whoever lines up at QB. This might finally be an O-Lineman the Seahawks can rely on – it’s been a while.
10. TRADE Panthers – Kenny Pickett (QB – Pittsburgh)
The Panthers move back four spots and pull the trigger on Pickett. Pickett has the connections to HC Matt Rhule who is in desperate need of a QB.
11. Commanders – Kyle Hamilton (S – Notre Dame)
The Commanders pick up Hamilton. I could see Hamilton falling further, especially is Garrett Wilson is still on the board at this point. However, Wilson is not and the Commanders take a safety with elite awareness and a great tackler, he just can’t be left in single coverage.
12. Vikings – Dereck Stingley Jr (CB – LSU)
The first DB from the “DB University”, Stingley Jr was at one point the top corner in the draft and for many still is. The Vikings will be overjoyed with this pick. Every good corner is even more valuable in a division with Aaron Rodgers in.
13. TRADE Chargers – Trevor Penning (T – Northern Iowa)
The Chargers send next year’s round 2 to the Texans to move up 4 spots. They are one piece away, a tackle opposite the impressive rookie Rashawn Slater. That piece could be Penning so they might as well get him. This could be a trade and a pick that keep the Superbowl in Los Angeles, just a different team.
14. Ravens – Jermaine Johnson (DE – Florida State)
The Ravens get a great pass rusher at 14. He will slot in opposite last year’s first rounder in Odafe Oweh. He has the athletic profile to be moulded into their hybrid defense. When the Ravens are in a 4-3 front, Johnson will thrive.
15. Eagles – Jameson Williams (WR – Alabama)
All reports are that Howie Roseman is targeting Williams and it would seem likely he falls to their first pick. The risk is the Saints or Packers trading up in front of them, likely with the Texans but if the Chargers get their first for their O-Lineman, the Eagles will be rushing up to the podium to make this pick. Once Williams returns from his ACL injury, he may be the best receiver drafted.
16. Saints – Chris Olave (WR – Ohio State)
The Saints are content with sitting behind the Eagles and picking up Olave (much to the annoyance of Packers fans everywhere). Another supreme route runner, Olave will fit nicely as the Z opposite Michael Thomas.
17. TRADE Texans – Trent McDuffie (CB – Washington)
The Texans acquire future capital for their rebuild next year and still pick up a versatile piece in McDuffie. Able to play any DB position, McDuffie is a piece that HC Lovie Smith will love moving around the defense. Not bad for pick 17.
18. Eagles – Jordan Davis (DT – Georgia)
The Eagles waited with bated breath as the Texans picked away from Davis. If the human force of nature Davis turns up, the Eagles have the steal of the draft. If he is still in the condition where he can barely make it through a game, this pick is wasted. But with the excellent conditioning staff in all NFL buildings, I believe the former is more likely.
19. Saints – Devin Lloyd (LB – Utah)
The top LB in the draft, Lloyd will be slowly introduced to the NFL under the leadership of Demario Davis before taking his position next year as the Saints are able to move on from the long-time starter. Lloyd has instincts, speed and tackle ability. It’s only position importance that seems him drop this far (at least he’s not a RB).
20. Steelers – Malik Willis (QB – Liberty)
This may be the most difficult pick to predict especially as Willis is on the board. The Steelers need a QB, but with Trubisky, the QB doesn’t have to start right away. Willis can not start right away but a year or two learning, and he might enter a talented and successful QB. The situation is too perfect to pass up and I think the Steelers will think the same.
21. TRADE Chiefs – Treylon Burks (WR – Arkansas)
The Chiefs trade the 29 pick and the 62 pick to the Patriots to jump ahead of the Packers. The Chiefs have shown they value upside and Burks is just that. Burks can enter the offense and potentially carry it. He is a do-it-all WR and Andy Reid will love drawing plays up for him.
22. Packers – Kenyon Green (G – Texas A&M)
A guard? Yes. Green? Yes. For the Packers? Yes. Kenyon Green, a guard, for the Packers? Yes alright, I mean it. The Packers get jumped by the Chiefs and so turn their immediate attention elsewhere. What’s the next best thing for Aaron Rodgers? O-Line. Green is athletic and attacks like and angry moose. Green will suit the zone run scheme and his finishing will be enjoyed by RB Aaron Jones. This is a good pick.
23. Cardinals – Tyler Linderbaum (C – Iowa)
The Cardinals get their heir to Rodney Hudson to protect, presumably, Kyler Murray. Another player who drops only due to positional importance. Not much else to be said, good player + good destination = good pick.
24. Cowboys – Zion Johnson (G – Cowboys)
The Cowboys are rebuilding their O-Line and Johnson is the best one on the board (many think best interior lineman overall). The Cowboys have been vocal in saying they are picking O-Line unless an unexpected fall by a player.
25. Bills – Kaiir Elam (CB – Florida)
Tre’Devious White and Kaiir Elam on the same defense, insane. Elam is long and physical. Clean up the penalties and he will be the second NO.1 corner on the Bills roster.
26. Titans – Tyler Smith (T/G – Tulsa)
The Titans don’t have very many needs and there is no way they try and replace Ryan Tannehill this far down in the draft. Therefore, with the top WRs off the board, they turn their attention to O-Line and get one of the best, if not the best, run blockers in the draft. Line Smith up and tell Derrick Henry to run behind him ends in nothing but yards made of the Titans.
27. Buccaneers – Devonte Wyatt (3 Tech/DT/DE – Georgia)
Bucs are in the position of selecting the best player available and Wyatt even fills a small need. He is extremely explosive. Depending on how they feel about David Ojabo’s injury, he could be another contender for this spot.
28. Packers – Christian Watson (WR – North Dakota State)
This makes it 6 WRs in the first round, the joint most in NFL draft history in the first round. The Packers still need a WR, if nothing else than to save them from the wrath of the Cheeseheads. Watson has incredible upside and if there is a QB that can tap into it, it’s Aaron Rodgers.
29. TRADE Patriots – Jalen Pitre (CB/S – Baylor)
Patriots trade down 8 spaces and gain the Chiefs 62nd pick. Versatility, Belichick loves it and that’s exactly what Pitre brings. He can play any safety spot and slot corner, even cover at outside corner if needed. Pitre, Dugger and Myles Bryant create a talented, young DB core for the Patriots.
30. Chiefs – George Karlaftis (Edge – Purdue)
POWER POWER POWER. That is Karlaftis. He adds an incredibly powerful edge presence to the Chiefs. They saw first hand what a pass rush can do to a team in last years AFC Championship loss, they now search for their own
31. TRADE Seahawks – Desmond Ridder (QB – Cincinnati)
Seahawks trade back into the first round, sacrificing their 40th pick and next year’s 3rd round pick. They get the 5th year option on Ridder who has scrambling ability – just like a guy everyone is used to seeing in Seahawks uniforms, Russell Wilson. Ridder needs better accuracy if he is going to make it in the NFL but he has potential. Seahawks take a punt.
32. Detroit Lions – Nakobe Dean (LB – Georgia)
The Lions, with Ridder gone, turn to Dean. A great LB who cements this defense along with their earlier pick of Hutchinson. Wouldn’t be surprised if they pick up one of the safeties in Dax Hill or Lewis Cine here either.