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#1 Jacksonville Jaguars – Edge Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
Ok, I surrender. I held onto the idea that the Jaguars will draft their favorite offensive tackle here for as long as I could. I still believe it to be a possibility, but between beat writers and betting odds this appears to be heading toward an edge rusher, and specifically Hutchinson. Of course, as soon as I get on board with the conventional pick (Hutchinson) Peter Schrager starts pounding the Travon Walker drum very loudly.
"Everyone's inking Aidan Hutchinson to the @Jaguars. Around the NFL, there's talk about GM Trent Baalke, and his draft history with SF. Year after year, the 49ers took players with incredible physical traits over the top collegiate performers. That's Travon Walker." — @PSchrags pic.twitter.com/WbxFkH6W9B
— Good Morning Football (@gmfb) April 11, 2022
#2 Detroit Lions – Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
The draft appears to be headed toward back to back edge rushers with the first two picks. If the Jaguars do take Hutchinson one, the question here is do the Lions opt for Walker or Thibodeaux. If you piece together a few things that have come out of the Lions’ braintrust or beat writers lately, I think Detroit ultimately opts for Thibodeaux.
Dan Campbell did openly praise Thibodeaux, calling him an “explosive athlete” and “a playmaker.” But more importantly, Campbell had this to say:
“Long story short, let me say this: I don’t care about the off-field,” Campbell said. “Does he love football? That’s all I care about. Ultimately, I think that’s all we care about. If this guy loves football, we can handle anything else. I’m not concerned with the things off the field if you know a guy loves football.”
Whether Thibodeaux wants to become an icon, promote a brand, fight global warming, or open a pet shelter, Campbell doesn’t seem to care as long as he loves football. Do the Lions believe Thibodeaux loves football? I have no idea, and perhaps neither do they at the time of this writing. They’re having Kayvon come in for a visit on April 12th, which I’m assuming will be a large aid in making that determination.
The Athletic beat writers that cover Detroit also mocked Thibodeaux 2nd under the assumption Hutchinson was gone. Their biggest reasoning is Campbell and Brad Holmes are going to want the guy with the 13, 14 sack potential that can get them off the field on third-and-long. They go on to note that the Lions sent seven people to Oregon’s pro day, visited Oregon during the season, and spent time with Thibodeaux at the combine.
The one other thing I don’t believe I’ve seen mentioned, though I don’t know how much this would get factored in, is Detroit can just go ask Penei Sewell about all this passion/love of the game bullshit.
#3 Houston Texans – OT Evan Neal, Alabama
The Texans stated they’re going to use the picks from the Watson trade to build around Mills, and while this is their own pick I don’t think we need to take the statement so literally. The obvious first move in using their drat capital to surround Mills with talent is spending #3 on whoever they view as the best OT available.
If given the choice between Neal and Ekwonu I, for the time being, believe Houston will opt for Neal. He has a full season of experience at RT, meaning he can play opposite Tunsil. He is the most well-round tackle in the class, meaning his current abilities in both the run game and pass game are the best pro-ready combo, and is a “safer” bet than any other tackle. The Texans can’t afford to get this wrong, and they view Neal as set it and forget it for the next 10-plus years.
#4 New York Jets – CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati
Back to where we started. After inventing the idea of the Jets taking Gardner at 4, I moved off it in my last mock when Thibodeaux fell to New York. He’s off the board this time around, but I think the Jets would opt for Gardner over Thibodeaux anyway. Joe Douglas does love investing in the trenches, and Nick Bosa did take Saleh’s defense to a new level. But with Franklin-Meyers being given a massive extension and Carl Lawson returning from injury, the Jets may be looking for more of a rotational piece to add to their pass rush.
I don’t know why this is, but for some reason no one is making the Richard Sherman-Seattle defense comparison to the Jets drafting Gardner. Gardner has ridiculous length for a corner, is an outspoken vocal leader, and completely shut down one side of the field last year at Cincinnati. In fact, opposing coaches didn’t even bother throwing to that side of the field much in 2021. Saleh was in Seattle from 2011-2013 when the Legion of Boom was created and has been running that defense everywhere he has subsequently been.
#5 New York Giants – Edge Travon Walker, Georgia
I do think one way or another the Giants will play the board here. They can draft Walker knowing one of Ekwonu or Cross will get to them at seven, or perhaps both if the Panthers opt for a quarterback.
Walker seems like a perfect fit for Wink Martindale. After 10 years in Baltimore, four of which were spent as defensive coordinator, Martindale will surely love Walker’s size and ability to hold up in a 3-man front and ability to move around in a 4-man front. Martindale might not necessarily care about Walker’s personal sack production as Martindale will scheme up blitzes to bring pressure. Adding Walker helps free up his former Bulldog team Ojulari to come screaming off the edge untouched.
#6 Carolina Panthers – QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
I cannot believe we’re headed in this direction, but here we are. I have to imagine in an ideal world the Panthers can trade down and add more picks (they don’t select again until Round 4) and still get Pickett. The problem is finding anyone that will want to come up. I think there is a very good chance at limited movement in the first round this year as teams won’t see the value in going to to get players in this class.
Carolina is clearly desperate for a quarterback. I thought they were going to go the veteran route, and maybe they will (they seriously can’t send the 9ers a conditional pick in 2023 for Jimmy? Why does this regime care about 2023, you’re probably getting fired in like 7 months, just burn it to the ground on your way out), but the easiest path is just taking one here. Fitterer admitted to considering one with this pick (shocker), and said even if the best overall player is another position than quarterback (he specifically said offensive tackle by the way), “at some point you need to take a shot [on a quarterback], especially in the top 10.”
Add in Pickett committed to Temple while Rhule was there, Tepper went to the University of Pittsburgh, and that Tepper grew up in Pittsburgh, and you get Kenny Pickett going 6th overall.
#7 New York Giants – OT Ikem Ekwonu, North Carolina St.
I’m not entirely sure how much you need me to explain this so I’m going to take this opportunity to say I would not be surprised if the Giants opted to draft Charles Cross over Ekwonu. Brian Daboll has stated one of the biggest lessons he has learned from earlier in his career is to not force players into a system, but to build the system based on the players you have. Point being, he may view this roster as better off being powered by Saquon Barkley, which would lead the Giants to Ekwonu given his brilliance in the run game.
However, if Daboll has long-term visions of recreating the Buffalo offense in New York, Charles Cross is the better pass protector at present, with plenty of upside to develop into an outstanding all-around tackle. If Daboll wants to pass as heavily as he did with the Bills, Cross makes more sense.
#8 Atlanta Falcons – S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
Atlanta needs help everywhere. They have their pick of the litter here at receiver, but with two second rounders they could look to address receiver on Day 2 (I know, I know, you could say the same thing about safety).
Last year, they opted for Kyle Pitts, positional value be damned, because they had him as the best player available (presumably). Well here we are again. The Falcons draft the best player available on their board.
#9 Seattle Seahawks (F/DEN) – OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa
*Does Jazz Hands* Surprise! Each year we ask ourselves “do the Seahawks ever have a normal draft?” The answer is long ago they did, but no, not lately. But during a decade-plus of the Carroll/Schneider regime, patterns have developed. They love trading down, they love athletic measurables, and they unapologetically draft who they want when they want. I have a theory the disregard for the “conventional wisdom” of when a player “should” go started with them selecting Bobby Wagner two rounds early in 2012 and absolutely nailing it, but I digress.
Who do you think Seattle is going to prefer between Penning and Charles Cross? The 6’7″ 325lb mauler in the run game that just physically manhandles people, or the dude from the Air Raid offense that has like two run blocking snaps during his entire college career? As for Penning’s athletic measurables:
Trevor Penning is a OT prospect in the 2022 draft class. He scored a 9.96 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 6 out of 1175 OT from 1987 to 2022. https://t.co/0NX5hMXzRC #RAS pic.twitter.com/JmPfAhOrqf
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 18, 2022
#10 New York Jets (F/SEA) – WR Jameson Williams, Alabama
This one hurts, because after inventing London to the Jets at 10 in my first mock, and keeping it for 2.0, I’m moving off it here for the time being. In my final mock if reliable intel is pointing to London I’ll change it back because I’d be beyond depressed if I had London to the Jets first but then backed off it for draft day.
But enough self-serving. The reason for the switch here is simple (sort of). I initially said London best complimented Corey Davis and Elijah Moore, but I’ve changed my mind. The ceiling on London is basically if Corey Davis was a Top 10 receiver, so he’s not so much complimenting what the Jets have. Plus London profiles a lot like Michael Thomas where he is a huge slot receiver and takes the majority of his snaps inside, but New York already has Moore as well as Braxton Berrios.
You know what they don’t have? World class, defense bending speed. Line Williams up outside and let him either draw two defenders or blow past straight man coverage. Pairing Williams with Wilson’s arm is the closest thing to pairing Wilson with Tyreek that the Jets can accomplish at this point. I’d also argue, as strange as it’s going to sound, that the Jets are well positioned to eat however much of the season Williams will miss while rehabbing. They have the aforementioned Davis, Moore, and Berrios, as well as C.J. Uzomah. Wilson does have weapons at his disposal until Williams is ready to roll.
#11 Washington Commanders – CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU
Washington deserves credit for their defensive improvement later in the year after starting off so horrendously, but more reinforcements are sorely needed. Stingley has #1 overall talent and falls out of the top 10 due to injuries and inconsistent play the past two years. The Commanders first draft pick sees them shoot for the moon.
#12 Minnesota Vikings – CB Trent McDuffie, Washington
Despite spending multiple first rounders at the position over the past ten years, the Vikings essentially need to start over at corner. McDuffie doesn’t have the typical length you want at the position, but he’s the last of the top tier corners in this class and has excellent acceleration, agility, and tackling abilities.
#13 Houston Texans (F/CLE) – WR Drake London
Last time I had the Texans taking Linderbaum here but it doesn’t seem like the NFL is willing to take him in the top half of the first round. Sticking with them theme of investing both first round picks into surrounding Mills(/Bryce Young/C.J. Stroud) with as much talent as possible, Houston takes the big receiver in London who does compliment Brandin Cooks quite well.
Ravens Receive: #22, #53
Packers Receive: #14
#14 Green Bay Packers (F/BAL) – WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
The Packers may very well be content to sit where they are and see what comes to them. This trade is working under the premise that they have Wilson as a top-10 player in the draft and he gets to within striking distance and therefore the front office gets aggressive.
#15 Philadelphia Eagles (F/MIA) – WR Chris Olave, Ohio State
Two victory laps here: 1. I absolutely nailed Howie cashing in one of his three firsts for a 2023 first in case he needs ammo to go get a quarterback next year should Jalen Hurts not progress. 2. I deemed pick 15 the least likely Howie would trade (unless he knew for absolute certain his trade partner was taking a quarterback) because he wants lock up a receiver here.
WELL, WELL, WELL.
Anyway, yea, given how the board shakes out Olave is the best receiver available and Philadelphia pulls the trigger in front of the receiver needy Saints and Chargers.
#16 New Orleans Saints (F/PHI/IND) – OT Charles Cross, Mississippi St.
I mean, this is self apparent, right? Like Armstead left and Cross falling this far is ridiculous?
Chargers Receive: #20, #84
Steelers Receive: #17
#17 Pittsburgh Steelers (F/LAC) – QB Malik Willis, Liberty
In each mock I’ve moved the Steelers trade up for a quarterback lower and lower. Here, Pittsburgh gets in front of Howie who is always liable to trade his pick, as well as the Saints who, though they did just pass on Willis, may be unwilling to pass twice (remember, the Ravens took Hayden Hurst in the first round before trading back in to select Lamar).
#18 Philadelphia Eagles (F/NO) – Edge Jermaine Johnson III, Florida State
The Eagles add to their rotation of pass rushers but also select Brandon Graham’s eventual replacement.
#19 New Orleans Saints (F/PHI/MIA) – CB Kaiir Elam, Florida
The timing of this Eagles-Saints trade makes no sense. Typically when this happens pre-draft it’s the first move to set up another move to go get a quarterback, but I really think the Saints just want two first round talents to chase a pretty open NFC in 2022. They hit a major need at OT three picks earlier and draft a desperately needed corner here.
#20 Los Angeles Chargers (F/PIT) – DT Jordan Davis, Georgia
I do think the signings of Austin Johnson and Sebastian Joseph-Day open up the Chargers to select someone besides Jordan Davis, but with the top tier receivers and offensive tackles off the board they may as well just take Davis. They also moved down and added a day two pick to replenish after trading for Mack.
Patriots Receive: #29, #62
Chiefs Receive: #21
#21 Kansas City Chiefs – CB Kyler Gordon, Washington
Like the Packers, the Chiefs may very well be content to sit back and see who falls to them. However, corner thins out really quickly in this draft so that is the one position they may get aggressive about. And no, I don’t think Kansas City is absolutely certain to take a receiver in the first round. I’m not going to sit here and pretend JuJu, MVS, and Mecole Hardman are some dream trio, but I think them, along with Kelce, are good enough to not act in desperation.
The corner situation, on the other hand..
#22 Baltimore (F/GB/LV) – LB Devin Lloyd, Utah
This is just such a Ravens move. Trade down and still have Lloyd fall to you. Apparently insiders are gushing about Lloyd, as Bruce Feldman had him going 5th overall in his intel mock.
#23 Arizona Cardinals – C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa
This entire franchise is a mess. They took Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins in back-to-back drafts without any real plan as to how they were going to utilize their uniqueness. They lost to the Lions. And oh yea, they’re publicly feuding with their 24 year-old quarterback after extending their in-over-his-head head coach.
I have no idea who they’re going to take, but I do know their offensive line desperately needs some upgrades.
#24 Dallas Cowboys – DT Devonte Wyatt, Georgia
Wyatt would go a lot higher than this. He lit up the combine as well but was overshadowed by the all-universe performance from his teammate Davis. This is a combination of good value hitting a decent need and making sense to add some interior pressure to Dan Quinn’s defense.
#25 Buffalo Bills – CB Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson
The Bills are so loaded (except for the offensive line) this could easily be the best player available. If there is one need other than the offensive line it sort of is corner. Getting White back is huge up they’re thin behind him and no team has enough corners, especially if you want to win today’s AFC.
#26 Tennessee Titans – OG Kenyon Green, Texas A&M
You can reasonably argue the Titans need to upgrade either guard spot and right tackle. Kenyon Green has experience at every offensive line position except center. Assuming Tennessee wants to see how Radunz does in year two at right tackle, Green would stay on the interior, but could take over outside if necessary.
#27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Edge George Karlaftis, Purdue
The rich get richer. Karlaftis falls to Tampa here and the Buccaneers seize the opportunity to add another talented pass rusher.
Packers Receive: #43, #82
Chiefs Receive: #28
#28 Atlanta Falcons (F/GB) – WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas
If this happens where the Packers trade up to get Wilson but then Burks falls to them at 28 anyway, I wonder if they’d be pissed or still fine with it since the trade up assumes they have Wilson as a top ten player.
Anyway, Green Bay decides to move down to regain a day two pick after their earlier trade. After passing on a receiver at 8, Atlanta jumps back up to get Burks. The Arkansas product is commonly compared to A.J. Brown, and Arthur Smith was Brown’s offensive coordinator for Brown’s first two seasons.
#29 New England Patriots (F/KC/SF) – DL Logan Hall, Houston
Logan Hall’s positional versatility just screams Patriot. He can play end in a 3-man front, set a strong on the end in a 4-man front, or shrink inside on passing downs and rush next to Barmore. Belichick is going to see a ball of clay he can mold with Hall’s size and athleticism.
#30 Kansas City Chiefs – Edge Boye Mafe, Minnesota
Again, I don’t think the Chiefs are going to force a receiver. Mafe’s size and get-off might remind Spagnuolo of his NASCAR days in New York.
#31 Cincinnati Bengals – LB Nakobe Dean, Georgia
This is a perfect blend of need, value, and talent.
#32 Detroit Lions – S Lewis Cine, Georgia
Cine has blazing speed to cover a lot of ground on the back end, and it’s possible he goes much higher than this as I’ve seen in a few places the league doesn’t believe there’s that big a gap between Hamilton and Cine.
#33 Jacksonville Jaguars – OG Zion Johnson, Boston College
#34 Detroit Lions – CB/S Daxton Hill, Michigan
#35 New York Jets – OT Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan
#36 New York Giants – CB Roger McCreary, Auburn
#37 Houston Texans – S Jalen Pitre, Baylor
#38 New York Jets – Edge Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State
#39 Chicago Bears – WR Jahan Dotson, Penn State
#40 Seattle Seahawks (F/DEN) – QB Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
#41 Seattle Seahawks – Edge Drake Jackson, USC
#42 Indianapolis Colts (F/WAS) – S Jaquan Brisker, Penn State
#43 Green Bay Packers (F/ATL) – CB Tariq Woolen, UTSA
#44 Cleveland Browns – WR Skyy Moore, Western Michigan
#45 Baltimore Ravens – OT Tyler Smith, Tulsa
#46 Minnesota Vikings – LB Christian Harris, Alabama
#47 Washington Commanders (F/IND) – LB Chad Muma, Wyoming
#48 Chicago Bears (F/LAC) – WR Christian Watson, North Dakota State
#49 New Orleans Saints – WR George Pickens, Georgia
#50 Kansas City (F/MIA) – DT Travis Jones, UConn
#51 Philadelphia Eagles – CB Cam Taylor-Britt, Nebraska
#52 Pittsburgh Steelers – DL DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M
#53 Baltimore Ravens (F/GB/LV) – WR John Metchie III, Alabama
#54 New England Patriots – WR Alec Pierce, Cincinnati