1. Jacksonville Jaguars- Ikem Ekwonu, NC State OT
There’s a lot of steam picking up on Ekwonu going first overall. While he isn’t the best prospect nor the person I would pick here, it makes sense why the Jaguars would target Ekwonu. He’s a pro-ready and relatively high-ceiling left tackle that would be terrific for Trevor Lawrence’s development. For a team that’s as bad as the Jaguars, you need to strengthen your players at key positions, like left tackle, and I feel like a veteran head coach like Doug Peterson knows that.
2. Detroit Lions- Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan EDGE
If there’s anything we know about head coach Dan Campbell it’s that he wants physical and hard-nosed players. Luckily for him, he just has to look in his backyard for Hutchinson, who instantly becomes the face of their franchise. Hutchinson is an all-around defensive end who should have an immediate impact. Of any player in this class, I believe Hutchinson is most pro-ready rookie. It’s a long rebuild for the Lions but maybe Hutchinson helps speed it up.
3. Houston Texans- Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon EDGE
Every year it seems a prospect or two get over-evaluated and people try to nitpick their weaknesses while ignoring their strengths. It seems that this year it’s Thibodeaux, whom I still see as the best prospect in the draft. The blend of athleticism and size he has is elite and he reminds me a bit of Myles Garrett. The Texans should be patient on a quarterback as Davis Mills showed some potential as a rookie. They should focus on stockpiling talent at this point in their rebuild.
4. New York Jets- Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame S
After going offense early in the draft last year, the Jets will focus on the defense this year. Their secondary was very weak last year and arguably their best player, Marcus Maye, figures to leave in free agency. Hamilton is a stud on the back end and can line up in several different ways. His versatility and playmaking skills are desperately needed in New York.
5. New York Giants- Evan Neal, Alabama OT
The good news for the Giants is that Andrew Thomas showed massive improvement in his second year. The bad new for them is that the rest of their line isn’t very good. They seem committed to Daniel Jones once again, but I’d expect a veteran to push him as the backup. Regardless, they’ll need to keep them upright so need to focus on the offensive line once again. Neal can play either tackle spot and while he’s almost too big, his raw power is undeniable.
6. Carolina Panthers- Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh QB
The Panthers are in a tough spot right now. They’ve been very aggressive in the trade market but most of those trades have failed. Also, Sam Darnold didn’t impress last year and Cam Newton was even worse. We have to expect them to try to make a move for a veteran quarterback, but it’s also likely they draft one. Pickett is a pro-ready yet safe prospect. He could have a similar impact to Mac Jones as a rookie due to his style of play and maturity as a thrower.
7. New York Giants (via Chicago Bears)- George Karlaftis, Purdue EDGE
Great teams invest in the trenches. After going with Neal with their first pick, the Giants go to the defensive side and pick up a beast of an edge rusher in Karlaftis. While he hasn’t put up much stats-wise the last two years, Karlaftis is a menace for any offensive lineman. He’s a freak athlete with a high motor and would form a nice partnership with Azeez Ojulari as edge rushers.
8. Atlanta Falcons- Derek Stingley Jr., LSU CB
AJ Terrell has really blossomed into a stud for the Falcons, but essentially the rest of their defense is pretty poor. While they could look into a replacement for Matt Ryan, it makes sense to draft the best player available. Like Thibodeaux, Stingley is being over-evaluated to the point where you’re getting a top-three prospect at this point in the draft.
9. Denver Broncos- David Ojabo, Michigan EDGE
The Broncos made the tough, but logical in terms of long-term planning, move to trade Von Miller during the season. They do have Bradley Chubb, a former top-five pick, but he hasn’t been the same since tearing his ACL in 2019. Ojabo is very raw and hasn’t been playing football that long, but he has all of the physical tools of an elite pass rusher. In order to defeat Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes, you need to find ways to generate pressure against them. Of course, the Broncos need a quarterback and I’d imagine this pick will be shopped to suitors.
10. New York Jets (via Seattle Seahawks)- Jermaine Johnson, Florida State EDGE
The biggest riser in this mock is Johnson, who absolutely dominated at the Senior Bowl practices. That week wasn’t just a one-time thing though, as Johnson tallied 12 sacks this year for the Seminoles. Robert Saleh knows that his defenses in San Francisco were built off of a strong pass rusher, which the Jets didn’t have last year. As they rebuild this team, they’ll need to find players who can get to the quarterback.
11. Washington Commanders- Malik Willis, Libert QB
First time typing out Washington Commanders and yes it does feel weird, but this pick makes sense. While I’m not a fan of Willis being picked this high, you can’t deny he has unteachable traits as a quarterback. Also, Ron Rivera coached Cam Newton in Carolina and while Willis and Newton are very different runners, they are unique athletes. The Commanders could go with a one-year bridge quarterback before giving Willis the keys to the offense in 2023.
12. Minnesota Vikings- Jordan Davis, Georgia DL
From an offensive perspective, the Vikings are in good shape. They could use another lineman, but they have high-level skill players and are locked in with Kirk Cousins at least for another year. However, their defense needs a lot of work. They have massive holes on the defensive line and secondary and could use a big body like Davis. Davis doesn’t provide much as a pass rusher, but he’s going to dominate the line of scrimmage and require at least two men to block him on every play. His impact won’t be felt on the stat sheet but will be felt in team defensive success.
13. Cleveland Browns- Drake London, USC WR
The OBJ experience was a swing and a miss so it’s back to the drawing board for the Browns to find a WR1 for Baker Mayfield. London is coming off of a leg fracture, but he’s the receiver in this class in my opinion. He has a lot of Mike Evans in his game in that he’s never going to gain a lot of separation, but wins every 50/50 ball and is tough at the point of attack. His basketball background makes him a jump ball threat in the end zone and should provide a new element to the Browns offense.
14. Baltimore Ravens- Kenyon Green, Texas A&M OL
As long as the Ravens don’t see the crazy injury bug that they had in 2021, they’ll likely be back in the playoffs next season and can contend for a Super Bowl. They do need to strengthen their offensive line, which struggled last year, and Green would be a perfect fit at either guard or tackle. Green is probably a better fit at guard, but after back-to-back season-ending injuries for left tackle Ronnie Stanley, he could kick out to tackle in a heartbeat and be a starter as a rookie.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (via Miami Dolphins)- Sauce Gardner, Cincinnati CB
This year the Eagles will own the first round of the draft. Of course, I say that and they could trade a few of these picks for a proven starter, but at this point with three picks in five selections, they can really build something special in Philly. Darius Slay is a good corner but is 31 and the time could use a starter opposite of him. Gardner has the size and swagger to become an All-Pro. He’s a steal at this spot.
16. Philadelphia Eagles (via Indianapolis Colts)- Devin Lloyd, Utah LB
We continue to rebuild the Eagles’ defense here by giving them the linebacker they’ve needed for years. Lloyd can do a little bit of everything and is a perfect defender for today’s NFL. While not as athletic, he has a little bit of Micah Parsons in his game. He’s a strong pass rusher who can also drop back in coverage and go one-on-one against a tight end.
17. Los Angeles Chargers- DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M DL
Jerry Tillery hasn’t lived up to his draft slot and the Chargers really need another pass rusher, preferably one from the interior. Joey Bosa is a star, but he can’t do it all by himself. Leal seems to be losing some steam as a prospect, but I still think he’s the most versatile defensive lineman in this class. He can play in any defense and is equally strong against the pass as he is against the run. In Los Angeles’s 3-4 defense, expect Leal to play as a 3-4 lineman and then rush from both the interior and the edge on third down.
18. New Orleans Saints- Jameson Williams, Alabama WR
With Sean Payton no longer the head coach, it’s too early to know the direction the Saints are going for with this pick. Though after another season with Michael Thomas getting injured, it’s obvious to see that they need help at the wide receiver position. Williams did tear his ACL in the championship game, but figures to be healthy early next season and ready to make an impact right away. His run after the catch ability will make things much easier for whoever the Saints quarterback is.
19. Philadelphia Eagles- Jahan Dotson, Penn State WR
Drafting back-to-back-to-back first-round receivers is insane and is the Detroit Lions level of crazy, but hear me out. Jalen Reagor is a bust and they can’t go back and draft Justin Jefferson. Outside of Devonta Smith, the Eagles wide receiver room is terrible. They will be active I assume in free agency and trades, particularly a move for Calvin Ridley, but not going to count on that at this point. Dotson is a physical receiver for his size and can break a big play at any moment. Also, he’s a very good blocker for a receiver, a quality the Eagles will want if they continue with Hurts as their quarterback.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers- Charles Cross, Mississippi State OT
There’s no way that the Steelers will be content with Mason Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins as their starting quarterback next year. I also don’t think they’ll want a rookie as Tomlin is always in win-now mode. They didn’t do much to improve the offensive line last year and as result, they didn’t look good this year. Cross is raw and is much better as a pass blocker than a run blocker at this point, but is a good enough athlete to start immediately. He needs to bulk up and build some mass in his lower body, but his ceiling is as high as any lineman in this class.
21. New England Patriots- Andrew Booth, Clemson CB
The Patriots always seem to get a player that falls to them and fits perfectly in their system. If Booth does get this far down the board then the Patriots should sprint to the podium. While not the most experienced player, Booth is a superb athlete who can play at a high level in both man and zone. He might have some growing pains as he continues to learn the position, but the talent is undeniable. With JC Jackson a free agent and Jalen Mills being an average starter, the Patriots secondary could use this injection of youth and potential.
22. Las Vegas Raiders- Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa C
Linderbaum, who’ll sooner rather than later become the best center in football, is a top ten player in the class but plays a position that isn’t considered a premium. He’s very athletic for an offensive lineman and anchored a good Iowa rushing attack. The Raiders gutted their line a year ago and were pretty pedestrian in 2021. Linderbaum not only solidifies this group but also will create holes for Josh Jacobs to run behind.
23. Arizona Cardinals- Roger McCreary, Auburn CB
I was surprised when the Cardinals essentially didn’t find a replacement for long-time cornerback Patrick Peterson last offseason, but for the most part, it didn’t hurt them. Their defense was much improved and finished in the top ten in pass defense. This doesn’t mean they can continue to ignore the position though and McCreary is the low floor immediate starter they need. In a division where you’ll be playing against Cooper Kupp, Deebo Samuel, and DK Metcalf then you better make sure you have guys that can cover every type of receiver.
24. Dallas Cowboys- Daxton Hill, Michigan S
Dan Quinn and Micah Parsons did wonders for this defense which saw them improve leaps and bounds from 2020. They could target the offensive line here, but I think finally drafting a safety for the future is what they need to really complete their unit. Hill’s speed and aggressive style of play make him another weapon to put close to the line of scrimmage but his range as a single high safety is really what the Cowboys need.
25. Buffalo Bills- Kaiir Elam, Florida CB
After watching the Bills-Chiefs playoff game, everyone saw that the Bills could use another guy or two in the secondary. They did have one of the best defenses in the league in the regular season, but at the end of the day, that unit cost them their season. Elam still needs some development and is seeing his stock fall quite a bit, but is still going to be a good player. His physical traits and ball skills are great foundational building blocks.
26. Tennessee Titans- Trey McBride, Colorado State TE
While the Titans had a great season, Ryan Tannehill had his worst year as a Titan, mostly because of injuries to Derrick Henry and Julio Jones. In the past, he loved to throw to tight ends, namely Jonnu Smith who left in free agency to the New England Patriots. McBride is a better receiving than a blocker, but can still be physical enough to help clear lanes for Henry. As a pass-catcher, he will thrive working short and intermediate routes, which should be open with secondaries focusing on AJ Brown.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Trent McDuffie, Washington CB
The Buccaneers got desperate at the cornerback position after seeing the position get decimated by injuries. With Tom Brady no longer in the picture, it’s tough to say if Tampa will target a quarterback here but I think that they’re still in win-now mode and will look for a veteran. McDuffie is ready to start as a rookie despite being a last first-round pick. He and Carlton Davis, should he resign, will form a nice starting tandem for the future.
28. Green Bay Packers- Treylon Burks, Arkansas WR
I am going to keep mocking a receiver to the Packers until it actually happens. Who knows if Davante Adams, or Aaron Rodgers for that matter, will return next year and the rest of the receivers group leaves a lot to be desired. Burks is a freak of nature athlete whose blend of size and speed makes him a mismatch nightmare for any team. He will be beneficial for when Jordan Love does eventually take over the starting role.
29. Miami Dolphins (via San Francisco 49ers)- Nakobe Dean, Alabama LB
It’s been an interesting offseason to say the least for Miami and I would expect more fireworks from them in the months to come. I think new head coach Mike McDaniel knows the importance of having a strong defense after being in San Francisco the past few years. The Dolphins do have an overall strong unit, but still need that playmaker on the second level. Dean is undersized but his clutch play and leadership skills will help this team compete with the Bills and Patriots for years to come.
30. Kansas City Chiefs- Chris Olave, Ohio State WR
It would be almost unfair to put Olave on a team with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, but I would expect the Chiefs to look to add another offensive weapon this offseason. Kansas City has done a good job of continuing to strengthen their offense to make life as easy as possible for Mahomes. Olave fits their type of receiver in that he’s fast but also is a very technical route runner.
31. Cincinnati Bengals- Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa OT
Joe Burrow has had games where he just got his ass kicked due to the Bengals mediocre offensive line play. Despite being not very good, somehow this group has played better than they did in 2020. Still, you have to start putting as many resources into helping your star gunslinger as you can. Penning had a good senior bowl week and would be able to start at either tackle spot.
32. Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles Rams)- Garrett Wilson, Ohio State WR
Jared Goff might not be a very good quarterback but when his top receiver is Amon-Ra St. Brown, you can’t expect a whole lot from him. At times Wilson was overshadowed by Olave and rising sophomore Jackson Smith-Njigba, but his speed and run after catch ability is what the NFL loves. Particularly if you’re going to keep Goff as the starter, you’ll need to find guys who can make plays with the ball in their hands.