We finally made it to the draft.
#1 Jacksonville Jaguars – Edge Travon Walker, Georgia
As of this writing Walker is -450 at FanDuel to go first. It has been a long, crazy road but it seems like Baalke is going to get his way. There’s not much else for me to add here that you haven’t heard a thousand times so I want to take this opportunity to say the Walker slander has gone too far. Do I think he should go 1? No. Do I even think he’s a top 10 prospect? Also no. But he is always pitted against Hutchinson as a gamble where as Hutchinson is safe/bust proof.
Walker has a high floor. His run defense is going to translate. I have a hard time envisioning how someone with his length and athleticism won’t be successful at the thing he’s already really good at. The issue is drafting a run stuffer #1 with the hopes he becomes the pass rusher Hutchinson already is. Walker is not bust proof (no one is except Calvin Johnson and Andrew Luck (and probably Trevor Lawrence)) but there’s just a very realistic possibility his career goes the way of healthy Jadeveon Clowney; an elite run stuffer that never fulfilled his pass rush potential but is still a good player.
#2 Detroit Lions – Edge Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
There seems to be a bit of a swell growing that even with Walker going one, the Lions could still go with Thibodeaux. In fact, The Athletic Detroit beat writers did exactly that in their final mock (they admitted it’s ridiculously close). Obviously I don’t agree, but I think it’s clear Brad Holmes really likes Thibodeaux. When the time comes to turn in the card I think the Lions will take the Dan Campbell culture fit, but the Thibodeaux interest is real, so I’m leaving what I wrote last time connecting all the dots between Campbell’s comments and beat writer notes in case you want a refresher:
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
This pick is currently +1000 on FanDuel so it’s not looking good for me. Everyone thinks if the Texans go tackle it will be Ekwonu, and if they don’t go tackle it will be Stingley. I don’t care. Everyone is purporting to have a beat on what Houston is thinking while simultaneously admitting the Houston organization has been extremely tight lipped and nothing is getting out of the building.
I still think they’re going to use this pick to invest in pairing someone with Tunsil to create bookend tackles for Davis Mills/whoever they (potentially) end up drafting in 2023. The Texans stated they’re going to use the picks from the Watson trade to build around Mills (I know this is their own pick, relax). Between Neal and Ekwonu I 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.
Also, Lovie Smith recently dropped a “the more you can do, the more valuable you are” comment and Neal has a full season of experience at RT, LG, and LT.
#4 New York Jets – OT Ikem Ekwonu, North Carolina St.
There too much of a local drum beat connecting Ickey to New York to ignore. I think their interest in Jermaine Johnson is real but I have a hard time believing they’re going to pull the trigger at 4. Everyone’s job in that building depends on Zach Wilson panning out and the Jets are going to take an opportunity to improve their offensive line. Look for a Becton trade Friday afternoon.
I think it’s a prudent move if the Jets take a tackle at 4, but man you’re talking about a plausible scenario where you’re benching the 4th pick his entire rookie season. I can’t think of this happening outside QB.
If they go OT I think Douglas shops Becton for a Day 2 pick Fri.
— Jonathan Rosenberg (@frosted_takes) April 26, 2022
#5 New York Giants – OT Charles Cross, Mississippi St.
I actually think the Giants have Cross as OT1. Last time I eluded to this possibility by writing “..if Daboll has long-term visions of recreating the Buffalo offense in New York, Charles Cross is the [best] 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.”
Why would the Giants have Air Raid concerns if they’re just going to run the Air Raid? Oh, also the entire world is linking Cross to the Giants.
Panthers Receive: #13, #37
Texans Receive: #6
#6 Houston Texans (F/CAR) – CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU
I really dislike myself for projecting this trade. I cost myself a correct pick last year when I had the Patriots trading up to 7 with the Lions to get Fields. If I had just left the Lions where they were I would have mocked them Sewell. However, if the three tackles go right in front of Carolina then they’re up shit’s creek without a paddle and might sell this pick off for 20 cents on the dollar.
Yesterday, Nick Casserio had this to say:
What are chances Houston uses both the 3rd & 13th picks? GM Nick Caserio tells me there’s a 99% chance at 3 & a “maybe 50-60% chance” at 13. Has talked to 6-8 teams as part of due diligence. Open to going up as well as down depending on players still available from their board.
— Jim Trotter (@JimTrotter_NFL) April 27, 2022
A rebuilding team like the Texans is normally not one to consolidate picks and move up the board, but Houston has two third rounders and two fourth rounders. I believe the Texans interest in Stingley is real and with him falling to 6 they can’t resist but to go back up and get him. They basically walk away with both guys they were considering at 3. How often can a team say that?
Also, for all the 2013 comparisons this class is getting (some valid, some not), I believe someone is going to pull a Dolphins. Someone in no-man’s land in the teens is going to throw their hands up and go “screw it, everyone stinks, let’s just go get our guy.” (The Dolphins moved from 12 to 3 to get Dion Jordan (lol)).
Oh, also, Lovie Smith flat out said the team needs better corner play.
#7 New York Giants – CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati
Wink Martindale’s defense is predicated on elite coverage and them scheming up pressure. I genuinely believe walking away from the first round of the draft with Cross and Gardner is the Giants dream scenario, sans a trade down from 7 where they get a 2023 first.
#8 Atlanta Falcons – Edge Jermaine Johnson III, Florida State
I really, really wanted to put Kyle Hamilton here as I believe the Falcons showed us last year they draft the best player on their board, positional value be damned, when they took Kyle Pitts. Hamilton also fits Dean Pees’ defense perfectly as he likes a lot of versatility out of his safeties.
However, everyone and their mom is reporting how Jermaine Johnson is the hottest name in the draft. Most believe if the Falcons don’t go receiver, and do go edge here, it’ll be Thibodeaux, but why not Johnson? Johnson has the athleticism to stand up or put his hand in the dirt, and Pees is such a boomer I could see him throwing a rage fit against Thibodeaux’s personality (Pees hates analytics because “the computer doesn’t know if it’s raining”).
#9 Seattle Seahawks (F/DEN) – Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
I also just kind of want Thibodeaux to end up in Seattle because I think it will be the best culture fit for him. Pete Carroll, for all his faults, embraces players for who they are. Thibodeaux can be himself and won’t be under any extra pressure or scrutiny to pretend to be someone he’s not. It also seems to be universally accepted if Thibodeaux falls this far the Seahawks will draft him.
#10 New York Jets (F/SEA) – WR Jameson Williams, Alabama
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.
Two extra notes: Joe Douglas recently said “you don’t want to duplicate what you already have” in reference to skill sets in the receiver room (so, Jameson) and I also think Williams is a likely pick by the 9ers should the Deebo trade happen (what is the point to drafting Trey Lance’s cannon if you don’t have someone to bomb it to, plus Williams has great YAC ability).
#11 Washington Commanders – WR Drake London, USC
I’ve heard the Commanders are very interested in the Ohio State receivers here, while others are saying London. We have a long history of the Rivera-Hurney draft strategy (though, hey, Mayhew is the GM) and they would load up on big bodied receivers during the early days of the Cam Newton era. London also compliments the smaller, quicker McLaurin and Samuel. Lastly, Drake London has some similarities to Alshon Jeffery, so there’s your Wentz connection.
#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.
Receiver is getting a lot of traction here in the days leading up to the draft, as well the Vikings being the team that catches Hamilton. I wouldn’t be shocked by either, but the receiver position is deep where as corner falls off and I think Kwesi opts for a premium position.
#13 Carolina Panthers (F/HOU/CLE) – OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa
I feel like everyone is just forgetting about this and we absolutely should never let this go:
Matt Rhule wanted the Panthers to rush 30-33 times a game. They had only 16 rushes in their last game before the bye. Now former OC Joe Brady just never found the right balance.
— David Newton (@DNewtonespn) December 5, 2021
ANYWAY, the Panthers need a tackle, this we know. It’s not that hard to connect the dots here as Penning is the consensus 4th tackle and Carolina is desperate. While Penning has work to do as a pass blocker he’s an absolute mauler in the run game. Also with no day two picks the Panthers take a trade with the Texans to add a second rounder. Very complex stuff guys.
#14 Baltimore Ravens – DT Jordan Davis, Georgia
This has become chalk to the extent that I’m going to be surprised if it doesn’t happen. However, what sold me is that Daniel Jeremiah has this pick and he’s gotten the Ravens pick right three years running. It makes sense considering his connections to the franchise that he’d have a beat on their draft.
#15 Philadelphia Eagles (F/MIA) – WR Garrett Wilson, 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 Garrett 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) – WR Chris Olave, Ohio State
Olave to New Orleans almost seems like destiny at this point (assuming he doesn’t go 11, 12, 13 or 15).
#17 Los Angeles Chargers – LB Devin Lloyd, Utah
The board breaks terribly for the Chargers so a trade down is possible, especially considering they don’t have a second rounder, but I’m just not sure who would come up. Perhaps someone that wants to catch the falling Hamilton, or a slight trade with the Steelers so they can lock up their quarterback, which I predicted last time.
Anyway, it’s obviously not their biggest need but the Chargers could use an upgrade at linebacker. They may also view Lloyd as the best player on the board, and with their 2020 trade up for Murray they obviously aren’t worried about the positional value aspect.
#18 Philadelphia Eagles (F/NO) – S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
What a tremendous first round for Howie. He lands my WR1 then has Hamilton fall right into his lap.
#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 WR three picks earlier and draft a desperately needed corner here.
Also, this is another one I had from last time, and now Elam is getting a lot of buzz:
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) April 27, 2022
Maybe if the board breaks the way I have it for the Chargers they’ll just pull the trigger on Elam at 17.
#20 Pittsburgh Steelers – QB Malik Willis, Liberty
In each previous mock draft I’ve had the Steelers moving up for Willis, but this time they hold strong and he just falls into their lap. Even the mini trade with the Chargers seems more unlikely than them doing it. Sure, it would make sense to move up on the cheap to lock him up, but what QB needy team is flying up from the second round to #17?
Patriots Receive: #29, #62
Chiefs Receive: #21
#21 Kansas City Chiefs (F/NE) – 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 draft 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..
Some other things. The Chiefs have 12 picks and there’s no way they’re fitting 12 rookies on this roster, so expect them to be active over the course of the weekend. Like I said, I could see them being content to sit there at 29 and 30. They need to have cost controlled talent with the Mahomes extension kicking in. There’s a good chance their movement is trading up from 50 and 62 to just get their guys.
Also, Brett Veach said he has “16-18” first round grades in this draft (which, how is it a range and not a specific number?) so if one falls enough he may get aggressive. Does he have Gordon as a first rounder? Who knows, but the Chiefs need outside corners, and I’ve always thought the second tier of corners would get pushed up the board because of how bad the cliff is at the position.
#22 Green Bay Packers – Edge George Karlaftis, Purdue
With the team moving on from Za’Darius Smith the Packers grab a replacement for their third rusher.
I don’t think the Packers are going to force a receiver. Burks hits the size components the team looks for, but Rodgers puts great emphasis on the technical and mental aspects of the receiver position. Above all else, he wants to be on the same page as his guys. I think Burks is too raw in these regards. The Packers have also found WR gold in the second round repeatedly over the years.
#23 Arizona Cardinals – OG Zion Johnson, Boston College
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 – OG Kenyon Green, Texas A&M
Dallas apparently is “desperate” to move up and I’m assuming it’s because they want a receiver (probably Williams). Also, we’ve seen the Arkansas connection in action before (Felix Jones) so Jerry Jones demanding Burks here would not surprise me.
However, Jones has shown restraint over the years and has made just prudent selections. The strength of this team used to be the offensive line and now they’re looking at necessary upgrades on the right side. The team paid Michael Gallup so I don’t think they’re going to force the issue on a receiver here.
#25 Buffalo Bills – CB Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson
There is so much connecting the Bills to Breece Hall it’s beginning to feel like Pittsburgh and Najee Harris last year. I’d feel a lot better about this if Elam or even Gordon got to Buffalo (since I could see Booth’s injury being an issue) but Schrager (who does have this as Hall) said “I’m told Buffalo is going either running back or defensive back with this pick.” This Buffalo regime has made smart choices since taking over and I’m holding out hope they won’t fall for the trap of taking a running back as a luxury pick.
Alaina Getzenberg, the ESPN Bills reporter, also has this as Hall and notes that Brandon Beane has historically not invested top picks in corners (except White) and doesn’t prioritize their second corner. Well, sure, but the Bills also got a taste of life without White last year when he got injured and I’m guessing that’s not something they want to relive. Getzenberg did specifically point to Booth when talking about potential corner fits as well. With the arms race in the AFC, you need as many coverage players as possible.
Titans Receive: #43, #74
Falcons Receive: #26
#26 Atlanta Falcons (F/TEN) – WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas
I think the Titans are a good bet to move down as they’re without a second rounder this year due to the Julio trade. This could be a spot that Seattle or someone jumps up for their quarterback.
However, after passing on a receiver at 8, the Falcons go get Treylon Burks who reminds Arthur Smith of A.J. Brown. Plus, trading a second rounder back to the Titans completes the circle of life.
#27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – S Lewis Cine, Georgia
The Buccaneers lost Jordan Whitehead, and while they brought in Logan Ryan, Cine has a lot of the traits Todd Bowles looks for and allows Ryan to play a more versatile role as a 3rd safety/slot corner.
#28 Green Bay Packers – OT Tyler Smith, Tulsa
I believe Tyler Smith is going to go in the first round. Offensive tackles with his physical tools don’t make it out of the opening frame. I mean for god’s sake Austin Jackson went 18th overall and Tytus Howard went 23rd.
The Packers have question marks on the interior of their offensive line and drafting Smith would give them flexibility. If they think he is too raw to play tackle immediately he can move inside to guard. If they want him to be a tackle from day one, they can move Elgton Jenkins back inside.
#29 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. I almost changed this to Ebeketie because his arms are longer, but apparently the Chiefs’ love for Mafe is an open secret.
#31 Cincinnati Bengals – LB Nakobe Dean, Georgia
This is a perfect blend of need, value, and talent.
#32 Detroit Lions – WR George Pickens, Georgia
I remember hearing that if the Lions can get an X receiver at 32 or 34 they’re going to. There’s not many true X’s in this draft, which is why Pickens has picked up so much late steam. However, there’s apparently serious character concerns that could cause him to drop. Will Dan Campbell go for it? Who knows. But if Campbell wants people who bite kneecaps then maybe he will like Pickens who got into an on-field fight (it’s a joke people).
#33 Jacksonville Jaguars – LB Quay Walker, Georgia
#34 Detroit Lions – S/CB Daxton Hill, Michigan
#35 New York Jets – Edge Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State
#36 New York Giants – LB Troy Anderson, Montana State
#37 Carolina Panthers (F/HOU) – QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
#38 New York Jets – S Jaquan Brisker, Penn State
Bears Receive: #50, #103, #244
Chiefs Receive: #39
#39 Kansas City Chiefs (F/CHI) – S Jalen Pitre, Baylor
#40 Seattle Seahawks (F/DEN) – QB Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
Almost all reports are linking Ridder to Seattle, but there was one late report saying they like Howell. Howell throws a beautiful moon ball just like Wilson so it would make sense.
#41 Seattle Seahawks – OT Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan
#42 Indianapolis Colts (F/WAS) – WR Skyy Moore, Western Michigan
#43 Tennessee Titans (F/ATL) – CB Tariq Woolen, UTSA
#44 Cleveland Browns – C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa
#45 Baltimore Ravens – CB Roger McCreary, Auburn
#46 Minnesota Vikings – Edge Drake Jackson, USC
#47 Washington Commanders (F/IND) – LB Chad Muma, Wyoming
#48 Chicago Bears (F/LAC) – WR Jahan Dotson, Penn State
#49 New Orleans Saints – RB Breece Hall, Iowa State
#50 Chicago Bears (F/KC/MIA) – OL Luke Goedeke, Central Michigan
#51 Philadelphia Eagles – CB Cam Taylor-Britt, Nebraska
#52 Pittsburgh Steelers – DT Travis Jones, UConn
#53 Green Bay Packers(F/LV) – WR Alec Pierce, Cincinnati
#54 New England Patriots – LB Leo Chenal, Wisconsin