Growing up as a College Football fan AND NFL fan, the NFL Draft brings both together every year as College fans watch their favorite players dreams be turned into reality, and every NFL fan is following along with their teams selections to see if the front office filled the weaknesses you saw as the year progressed. Today, I will give you my first Mock Draft. This is just off of watching both sports closely this year and well before doing a deep deep dive on each prospect. I plan on giving you 4 more for a grand total of 5 leading up to the prestigious April Event. Follow along on the journey, see who is rising and who is falling, and let’s get ready for the best 3 day stretch the year has to offer!!
- Jacksonville Jaguars: EDGE, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
Just like last year, don’t believe the hype. The #1 prospect for the whole process will be going 1st. Following a draft where they added Trevor Lawerence, a QB is not a need. For the Jaguars you can take the best player available and that simply is Thibodeaux. Coming off a career best 49 Tackles in just 10 games, he plays the run just as well as the pass, where he added 19 career sacks for the Ducks. He was the top prospect in his recruiting class and has been mocked at the top for years, now that dream is reality.
- Detroit Lions: EDGE, Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
Getting Hutchinson at 2 is not a consolation for the Lions as the Michigan born kid stays in state once again. Following the Stafford trade to the Rams for Jared Goff and draft capital for 1st year Head Coach Dan Campbell, but Goff clearly isn’t the answer at QB. Spending the 2nd pick on a QB in this draft just doesn’t make sense. Spending it on a kid with 14 sacks and 16.5 TFLs in his 4th college season, now that does make sense. Hutchinson’s high motor is perfect for the Motor-City.
- Houston Texans: OT, Evan Neal, Alabama
At 6-foot-7 and 350 pounds, the MASSIVE Neal moves people off the ball with ease with long arms and quick feet. Starting at a different position every year in his 3 years, he showcased his versatility and smarts to NFL scouts every week at Alabama. Now he should take that skill to the Texans playing opposite of Laremy Tunsil at LT. That duo should give possible franchise QB Davis Mills plenty of time to make decisions in the pocket next year.
- New York Jets: OT, Ikem Ekwonu, NC State
Just like the team above, their possible franchise QB needs time in the pocket to make accurate throws down the field. A year after drafting Zach Wilson 2nd overall, the Jets once again land in the top 5. But with Wilson at the helm, this draft slot doesn’t look to be in the Jets future plans. This could be the last chance to get a Tackle with as much potential as Ekwonu. The consensus All-American ,who gave up only 2 sacks in 820 snaps last season for the Wolfpack, should slide right in with former 1st round picks LG Alijah Vera-Tucker and fellow Tackle Mekhi Becton.
- New York Giants: OT, Charles Cross, Mississippi State
After cleaning house, the Giants have to fix this unit that has been absolutely miserable the last few years, inserting Cross would definitely be a start. In Mississippi State’s Air Raid offense last season, Cross starting at LT gave up only 5 QB pressures and 1 sack in 682 pass block attempts. Raw and unproven as a run blocker, this isn’t the best fit for the Giants and talented RB Saquon Barkley in the backfield, but with Neal and Ekwonu gone there isn’t much of a choice, whatever QB is back there needs protection.
- Carolina Panthers: EDGE, George Karlaftis, Purdue
The Quarterback position is definitely in play here for the Panthers and Matt Rhule. Whether that’s selecting one here or the pick being involved in a trade package, I’m just not quite sure that’s the move for this franchise, to have a 4th different QB in 4 years to open the season. So assuming they keep the pick, the best player available is Karlaftis, the raw talent out of Greece. With 14 sacks in 26 career games, he uses his athleticism and hands to create space to get to the opposing QB. With Tom Brady in your division till what seems like the end of time, you can never have enough pass rushers.
- New York Giants: S, Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
Speaking on the issues just 2 picks above, it wouldn’t shock me to see double offensive lineman selected. But with Jabrill Peppers entering free agency, this could be a big position of need. One of the best safety prospects to enter the draft in recent memory, Hamilton can transform any defense with his speed and ability to dissect plays. Standing 6’4 and weighing 220 while running a 4.3, his body metrics will be off the charts and any analytical GM will fall in love. With Xavier Mckinney in the fold, they have a very talented young player to build around, but with Logan Ryan turning 30, it wouldn’t hurt to add another young playmaker in the backend.
- Atlanta Falcons: CB, Derek Stingley, LSU
Letting a talent fall this fall might come back to bite teams in the butt, but the Atlanta Falcons take advantage and form one of the best CB duos in the NFL with pro bowl snub AJ Terrell. Standing 6’1 while running a 4.3 and possessing a 42 inch vertical, Stingley has lockdown ability written all over him. Freshman year on the National Championship team, he burst onto the scene being a consensus All-American with 6 INTs. But since then, he has only had COVID shortened 7 game season and then only a 3 game season following foot surgery this past October. All signs point to him recovering fine, and pairing him next to Terrell, who is only entering his 3rd year, would give teams fits.
- Denver Broncos: EDGE, David Ojabo, Michigan
Here is a team that is really really really close to being a Super Bowl contender, and one of the main things holding them back is a QB. I think they will try to address that through Free Agency or a possible trade. True contending teams nowadays have multiple guys rushing the passer, and the Broncos gave one up when they traded Von Miller to the Rams for a 2nd and a 3rd. Great picks for sure, but you won’t find an Elite talent like Ojabo in the 2nd. Playing opposite Aidan Hutchinson, he slid under the radar racking up 11 Sacks, 12 TFLs, and 5 FF. The Nigerian born, Scotland raised prospect had great production on top of being so green, if this kid can continue to improve at the level he has we are looking at a future star.
- New York Jets: CB, Andrew Booth, Clemson
With Stingley being scooped up by the Falcons, the Jets step up to the podium and select the 6’0 Corner out of Clemson. Not the biggest, but surely not the smallest in the class, Booth has excellent length on top of good ball skills to go up and make plays against opposing WRs. On film he flashes long speed to stay stride for stride along with the quickness to get downhill and mix it up in the run that desperately helped this past Clemson team. Fresh off 37 TKLs, 5 Passes Defended, and 1 INT, Booth will bring the Jets what they desperately have missed since Revis Island walked out the door.
- Washington Football Team: QB, Matt Corral, Ole Miss
The Washington Football Team had big expectations entering this season in a down NFC East and a top notch defense. While 2 teams in that division made the playoffs, you did not, and partly because you bandaged your QB position with the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick. Injuring his hip in the 1st game of the season and missing the rest of the season, Taylor Heinceke did his job in relief, but in the end, he can’t lead a franchise. Selecting Corral would be the fix to all their problems, and finally give Terry Mclaurin a reliable arm to get him the ball. Cutting down on the interceptions in his Senior year, Corral flashed his arm and his athletic ability on his way to 3343 passing yards, 20 TDs, 614 rushing yards, and 11 TDs. The kid is tough, he’s gritty, and in the end the top arm in this class with a very high ceiling.
- Minnesota Vikings: DT, DeMarvin Leal, Texas A+M
A new coach and a new GM are on the way for the Vikings, so there might be a big philosophy change in the building up North. In the end, the Defensive Line needs rebuilt and with Star pass rusher Danielle Hunter possibly on his way out, there wouldn’t be a better building block then Leal at this point. Starting all 3 years, he has the experience on top of rare athleticism for being 6’5, 290 lbs. Anchoring the Aggies D for 58 TKLs and 8.5 SCKs, he is excellent against the run and the pass with a very high motor. Don’t overthink this pick if you go defense.
- Cleveland Browns: WR, Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
If you watched the Browns this year, the passing game was clearly lacking. For whatever reason you want to state, it needs to be fixed. The 1st way to do that is getting an alpha receiver back in the building, especially after you sent out Odell Beckham Jr. Keeping the top receiver prospect in state in Wilson would be the smart thing to do, and it would definitely please the fans. 2200 receiving yards and 24 career TDs in 3 years with the Buckeyes, he has shown all the traits of an alpha receiver, whether it’s his smooth release, effortless stride in and out of breaks, or natural ability to high point balls like Randy Moss, he’s the right pick here.
- Baltimore Ravens: C, Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa
Here is a team that doesn’t have a lot of needs, they are simply in this position because of injury and injury alone. So without any major needs where do you go? I think they lost some of the physicality last year up front, and that should be expected without Ronnie Stanley. Alejandro Villanueva definitely was an issue at LT, but with all the tackles gone here, they take the best offensive lineman in College football in Linderbaum. Winner of the Outland trophy, the 6 ‘3 Center maules guys off the ball and finishes every play with them most likely on the ground. Taking a Center this early a reach? Sure. But without a doubt he can play either guard position if needed. He just feels like a Raven to me.
- Philadelphia Eagles: LB, Nakobe Dean, Georgia
- Philadelphia Eagles: DT, Jordan Davis, Georgia
Both of these are by the Eagles, and as much as they would like to improve their offense and get someone opposite of Devonta Smith, that can wait. The defense needs to improve, specifically against the run as they gave up 106 yards to the Bucs and Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Gio Benard in the Wildcard. Yikes! Insert the National Championship duo out of Georgia, Dean and Davis. Dean provides sideline to sideline speed that every NFL defense requires and the type of speed Alex Singleton just doesn’t possess, as well as a great understanding for the game to dissect the plays. Back to back 70 TKLs seasons on top of 6 SCKS this year, he can provide the type of talent the division rival Cowboys just hit on in Micah Parsons. As for Davis, Fletcher Cox is now 31 with a huge salary for an aging player. Putting Davis and his 32 TKLs next to Javon Hargrave in the middle of that Eagles defense would completely clog the middle for any team looking to run. This unit needs to improve, what better way than to spend two quality picks on smart veteran players from the SEC.
- Los Angeles Chargers: LB, Devin Lloyd, Utah
Brandon Staleys 1st season at the helm for the Chargers had plenty of highs and plenty of lows. A lot of the lows could have been eliminated had the team consistently been able to stop the run and it needs to be the top thing looked at this offseason. Ranking 30th in opposing teams YPG and rushing TDs, this is a team that would love them one of the UGA prospects, but with both gone, the Bolts get the AP Defensive POY out of Utah in Lloyd. Shockingly returning to school for one more year, he racked up 110 TKLs, including 22 for loss, 7 SCKs, and 4 INTs leading the Utes to the Rose Bowl and a top 10 ranking. The two-time Butkus award finalist would fit great next to former 1st round pick Kenneth Murray giving them two young speedy sideline to sideline LBs.
- New Orleans Saints: WR, Jameson Williams, Alabama
Desperately needing a WR to stretch the field for QB Jamesis Winston, the Saints fill that need and scoop up one of the top wideouts in the class at 18 in Williams. Seeing past Alabama speedsters in Ruggs and Waddle being selected in the 1st has to be promising for him, and he honestly can be the best one yet. Tearing his ACL in the National Championship game, this is a player who will have his stock knocked just a little, but for a player coming off a season in which he had 79 catches for 1572 yards and 15 TDs, he shouldn’t fall further than this team. Hauling in only 15 catches in his 2 seasons at Ohio State before transfering, Williams still has a ton of room to grow, which has to excite fellow WR Michael Thomas who needs a Robin opposite of him.
- Philadelphia Eagles: CB, Kaiir Elam, Florida
After using their first 2 selections on defensive players, the Eagles should continue the trend with this pick. Ranking 12th in TD passes given up, this is a squad who needs someone opposite of Pro-Bowler Darius Slay, and Elam could fit the mold. A very intriguing prospect out of Florida, the 6 ‘2 Elam is a very sound corner who jumps off the screen with his athleticism in coverage. Not possessing burners on the outside, his long strides can keep him side by side with a receiver before using his length to make a play on the ball, as his 5 College INTs and 20 passes defended show. Very high ceiling for this kid as he does possess all the traits of a shutdown corner.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: QB, North Carolina, North Carolina
Out is the 18 year veteran Ben Roethlisberger, in is… Mason Rudolph?? Yeah that doesn’t sound right to me either, idc what the Steelers are saying right now, this is a roster that is a lineman or 2 away from being a true contender with a good core of weapons, Rudolph cant lead this squad. Passing on hometown college hero Kenny Pickett isn’t the popular choice, but this squad has sent a scout to watch Sam Howell almost regularly in his final year of college. Tossing for 10,000 career passing yards and 90 TDs well only throwing 23 INTs in his 3 years at UNC, Howell possesses a beautiful deep ball with adequate arm strength to deliver throws to all parts of the field. Underrated as an athlete, Howell also added 1000 career yards on the ground, including 828 and 11 TDs in his final year. Every QB has their flaws in this draft, but Howells arm would look great getting the ball to Dionte Johnson, Chase Claypool, Pat Friermuth, and even Najee Harris. His athleticism can help him maneuver the pocket until they get the line figured out as well. Just makes too much sense.
- New England Patriots: WR, Treylon Burks, Arkansas
Getting a franchise QB and not having to sacrifice future draft capital was the ultimate win for the Patriots in last year’s draft in Mac Jones, now you reward him with a do it all weapon. One of my favorite prospects in this class, Treylon Burks has the same size (6’3, 225 LBS) as fellow former 1st round pick N’Keal Harry (6’4, 225 LBS), except possess the talent that Harry lacks. Coming off a 1100 yard, 11 TD season, Burks is ready to translate his skills to the next level, and hopefully getting a reliable QB will help that. In an offense where QB KJ Jefferson was mainly used as a runner, Burks lined up all over the field in formations trying to get the ball and make plays. That versatility will bring a new element to the Pats offense, kind of like Deebo Samuel brings to the 49ers. Surely not the pure downhill runner that Samuel is lined up in the backfield, but when involved on sweeps and options, he has a very similar skill set that will have scouts drooling when he runs a 4.3 at that size.
- Las Vegas Raiders: WR, Chris Olave, Ohio State
After whiffing on the last HC, GM, and plenty of draft picks, the Raiders are possibly turning over a new leaf in Las Vegas. But to do that they need to get QB Derek Carr a receiver who can create space as well as a player who can take attention off Superstar TE Darren Waller. Chris Olave would be a great fit in Vegas, as the mature wideout leaves Ohio State as the schools all time TD leader with 35. Adding 2700 yards on 175 catches for his career, he is very polished as a route runner and just overall as a player as he really doesn’t have any weakness in his game. Him and Renfrow would give any defense issues with their releases off the line, put that with Wallers ability and Josh Jacobs out of the backfield and you have solid weaponry provided for Carr.
- Arizona Cardinals: CB, Sauce (Ahmad) Gardner, Cincinnati
The Cardinals season ended in utter disappointment, there is no other way to describe it. For all the offensive struggles, getting DeAndre Hopkins back from injury should be a cure to most of those woes, but something they tried to address last offseason once again needs addressed- a number 2 corner opposite Byron Murphy. The Birds signed former Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler to a deal before the season and before you know it, he decides to retire, leaving a huge hole. Rookie 4th round pick Marco Wilson was forced to step up and played a lot there, but overall had a lot of bad moments. Drafting Sauce would give this defense the splash it desperately needs outside and would help keep opposing receivers out of the end zone, ranking 8th in that category with giving up 30 Tuds. Bringing in a man with Gardners lock down ability, who never allowed a single TD in his 3 year college career, is a start to fixing that as the 6’1 corner also tallys 3 INTs in every one of his seasons. Budda Baker, Jalen Thompson, Byron Murphy, and Sauce Gardner in the secondary? Come on Mr Keim, please.
- Dallas Cowboys: CB, Roger McCreary, Auburn
See the first sentence above for the description of the Cowboys season. Just like the Cardinals, this is a team that had big aspirations due to their offensive firepower. Multiple games during the season though, defenses carried both teams causing turnovers and getting that offense the ball back. It is well known what Trevon Diggs brings to the table. With the most INTs in the league since 1981 with 11, he is surely a ballhawk, yet he has issues in coverage and on double moves, giving up the most yards in the league with over 1,100 yards. But on the other side was Anthony Brown, who wasn’t far behind in 3rd, and Jerry Jones can’t be happy about that. The 4 year veteran in McCreary has pretty good ball skills himself having 6 INTs with the Tigers, but he also has a fluid backpedal to go with his great press ability, as he was arguably the best press corner in the country. 40 TKLs in back to back seasons shows he is willing to come down and play the run when needed. McCreary does lack top size and speed standing only 6 foot and running a 4.44, but this a good prospect that would be a key contributor to this defense as well as not biting on all those double moves.
- Cincinnati Bengals: OG, Kenyon Green, Texas A+M
Passing on a lineman for a receiver last draft was a bold move by the Bengals, but winning the AFC North and Jamar Chase being Joe Burrows partner in crime shows it must have been the right move, even though they were still 30th in Sacks given up. That HAS to be fixed this draft, and a player like Green would bring juice to an Offense that loves to run the ball to close out games. Playing 80+ snaps at LT, RT, LG, and RG, he can bring a lot to the Bengals line that can surely use it. Young names like Jackson Carmen, Johan Williams, and Trey Hill are in the room already, but adding Green would give them a building block for the future inside.
- Miami Dolphins: EDGE, Jermaine Johnson, Florida State
The Dolphins decided to move on from Head Coach Brian Flores this offseason, and for as much heat as the move has received, GM Chris Grier stayed so I’m not sure drafting strategies will change. A year after spending a 1st round pick on Jaelen Phillips, they head back to the ACC and select another EDGE in Jermaine Johnson. The conferences Defensive POY with 70 TKL, 17.5 TFL, and 11.5 SCKs, Johnson is a blur off the end with savvy pass rush moves and a high motor to defend the run. His long arms allow him to get separation from opposing tackles and get to the QB, which Miami needs to replace with Emanuel Ogbah hitting Free Agency. Coming off the 5th most sacks in the league, this team can be set with two young studs for the future.
- Buffalo Bills: RB, Isaiah Spiller, Texas A+M
The team that was rumored to be interested in both Najee Harris and Travis Eitenne in the 2021 draft finally gets a suitable backfield mate for QB Josh Allen. Ending up with DE Gregory Rousseau in that draft instead of a back made the Bills come into the season relying on Devin Singletary and Zach Moss, both former 3rd round picks. Singletary has shined as of late, but his contract is up after 2022 and paying RBs has not been the move for most NFL teams recently. Drafting Spiller would give them a dual threat with good vision and patience to see holes and get down hill. A 3-down back at the next level, he doesn’t have great long speed, but he does have amazing burst in short areas and can cover ground real quick. My RB1 for this class, Spiller, will make some team very happy in April as well as the next 5 years with his rookie salary.
- Detroit Lions: QB, Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
Yes I know this is very low for Pickett, but without trades in this mock and teams having larger needs say like the Saints needing a WR, Pickett falls to the backend of the first and right into the Lion’s lap. Already stated, Jared Goff just isn’t the franchise QB for them, so to be able to get a possible long term signal caller here should be exciting for a team that hasn’t had a lot to be excited about. Already a young offensive core of DeAndre Swift, TJ Hockenson, and now rookie Amon Ra St-Brown, Pickett would have plenty to work with in Detroit on offense. After 2 years with 13 TD passes, he exploded for 42 TDs and only 7 INTs on 4300 yards to lead the Panthers to the ACC title, but I’m worried we are already seeing most of his ceiling as he will be 24 before the start of his rookie year. The 6 ‘3 QB has a desirable arm and size especially rolling out of the pocket and on play-action, which would fit in the Lion’s run first attack. Using the pick they got in return for Stafford to select his replacement? Even better.
- Kansas City Chiefs: S, Jaquan Brisker, Penn State
Giving up the 6th most passing yards in the league and 9th most yards per attempt, the Chiefs need a difference maker in the backend. With Tyrann Mathieu playing more around the line of scrimmage, Daniel Sorrenson isn’t really the answer deep and not scaring any defense. Putting the JUCO transfer Brisker into this scheme would definitely be interesting, as he is a very complete player who will bring a lot to a defense. At 6’1, he can cover a lot of space extremely quick to make a tackle (63 last year) or even pick a pass off as he had 5 in his Penn State career. Not the sexy pick that they are used to making in the 30s, but a smart pick on a superb athlete that will help them immediately and in the long run.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR, Jahan Dotson, Penn State
As many of you know, the Buccaneers receiving corp right now looks a bit rough for GOAT Tom Brady. After Chris Godwin tore his ACL in their week 15 matchup, and Antonio Brown walked off in Week 17, Mike Evans is a bit lonely without his buddies. With Godwin possibly not being ready for next year on top of hitting Free Agency, they replace him with a fellow Nittany Lion in Jahan Dotson. A 4 year guy in College Station like Godwin, he totaled 2700 yard and 26 TDs well making many numerous highlight plays. An all-around talented receiver, he has speed and run after the catch ability that Brady will love, and provide a reliable target as he hauled in 91 catches last year. To be able to keep core guys on your winning squad you need cheap salaries to outweigh the large ones, Dotson here would do that and provide young healthy legs to this offense.
- Tennessee Titans: LB, Christian Harris, Alabama
After getting former Texans LB Zach Cunningham off waivers this year, the LB core is still a major weakness for Head Coach Mike Vrabels’ squad. Bringing in a experienced smart LB like Harris seems like the right move for this squad, and a move Vrabs would sign off on. On a tough Alabama D, he managed to rack up 80 TKLs, 11.5 TFLs, and 5 sacks providing plenty of toughness since he entered the Tide starting lineup 3 years ago. 3 straight 60 TKL seasons in the SEC isn’t easy, but he is the type of athlete that can cover anyone on the field. Should be a smooth transition for the talented backer.
- Green Bay Packers: WR, Drake London, USC
Most people won’t know about London, and that’s fine, because you definitely will soon. Towering at 6’5, he tallied 1084 yards and 7 TDs in only 8 games for the Trojans before fracturing his right ankle. As you can guess he is a jump ball receiver who has tremendous ball skills to bring any pass down. So why here you may ask? Well keep Aaron Rodgers happy if he is still in the building, select a prospect who has no reason being here but possibly will because of injury, and also Allen Lazard will be hitting Free Agency and could possibly be looking for a larger role. London will be a lovely fit in Green and Yellow next to Adams.
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