It’s officially NFL Draft time, as our favorite college football players make the leap to the professional level in hopes of success. In the final edition of my mock draft series, I’m going to give my basic idea of what I think every team will do when they are on the clock. In an effort to streamline the process, I’m testing out a new method by posting screenshots of my draft and adding context below for each team. Enjoy! (and please don’t hate me)
Carolina – It feels pretty clear cut at this point that Carolina will select Bryce Young here. The Panthers need a viable franchise quarterback and Young is the only member of the class with the ability to truly take over a game. Size is considered an issue, but we’ve seen plenty of traditionally undersized quarterbacks succeed over the past two decades now. In a weak NFC South, Carolina could be a sneaky playoff contender next season.
Houston – There is a lot of smoke right now about Houston taking a pass rusher, most notably Tyree Wilson. While I would still take C.J. Stroud with this pick because you simply cannot guarantee the ability to draft Caleb Williams or Drake Maye (or insert random riser) next season (or another quarterback at 12), I wouldn’t put it past DeMeco Ryans to take a top end defensive player to fix that side of the ball. That said, I can’t comprehend passing on the best talent in the draft in Will Anderson for another player of the same position.
Arizona – The Cardinals want to trade this pick so badly (because that roster stinks!) but it doesn’t appear anybody is biting, so they send in the pick and take Tyree Wilson. Wilson looks and plays exactly like a create-a-player from a video game and should help a Cardinals defensive front that has exactly zero players that strike fear into opposing quarterbacks. Like Houston above, the Cardinals new head coach is defensive minded and will be heavily focused on improving it quickly.
Indianapolis – I feel like I’m hearing Will Levis to Indianapolis a lot, and maybe that’s smokescreens, but I’m buying it because I think Levis just fits here. He has a strong arm and can make plays within the pocket, but I have concerns about what he’ll look like if he’s trust into a starting role immediately. His offensive line last season at Kentucky did him no favors on tape. Shane Steichen helped elevate Jalen Hurts (notably another “he’ll never succeed” quarterback) game, maybe he does the same with Levis.
Seattle – The Seahawks sit in the driver seat at this point with a lot of potential picks on the board. They could swing on a quarterback as they aren’t committed to Geno Smith long term, but I feel like it’s hard to make that move when Jalen Carter is sitting on the board here. The Seahawks interior defense was awful down the stretch last season, making this pick pretty easy in my book.
Detroit – Devon Witherspoon has been linked to Detroit for a month now, and after trading former top pick Jeff Okudah in recent weeks it clears the way for this pick to be run to the podium. Witherspoon plays with the kind of tenacity that Dan Campbell loves out of his players. A match made in football heaven.
Las Vegas – The Raiders signed Jimmy G this offseason but if that prevents them from taking a quarterback should one slip, then there is no fixing the franchise. Stroud could probably start from the jump in the NFL with some obvious hiccups, but drafting the quarterback of the future and not being forced to rush him is a bonus for a team like Vegas.
Atlanta – Atlanta could look a few different ways here, between Bijan Robinson or a pass rusher like Nolan Smith. That said, Christian Gonzalez is on the board and the Falcons revamped defense could use a CB2 opposite A.J. Terrell. They traded for Jeff Okudah recently, but he’s not under contract for long and shouldn’t be counted on to contribute immensely based off prior success.
Chicago – The Bears traded back and sit pretty with their option of whichever offensive tackle they prefer. My best guess is that Paris Johnson is the first off the board and it gives Justin Fields a fellow Buckeye to help protect him in the pocket.
Philadelphia – I want to give the Eagles Bijan Robinson so badly but I don’t think they’ll pull the trigger this high. Nolan Smith is a fast riser after posting an insane 40 time at the combine, and the former top overall recruit only looks to be getting better the more he’s played at Georgia. The Eagles loved Georgia defenders last offseason, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see them go back to the well again here.
Tennessee – The Titans could certainly look to take Anthony Richardson here with the Ryan Tannehill era coming to an end soon and Malik Willis being swapped out for Josh Dobbs in critical time last season. Instead, I think the Titans will look to sure up the offensive line after releasing long time left tackle Taylor Lewan. Mike Vrabel loves running the ball, and Peter Skoronski is the best run blocker in the class.
Houston – Because I work this pick by pick, I had no idea this would happen (I promise I am not a Houston fan). Richardson has a treasure chest of traits that could eventually mold a premier quarterback at the next level, and still being on the board at 12 is a coup after adding Will Anderson earlier.
Green Bay – The Packers traditionally don’t draft receivers in the first round, but with Aaron Rodgers officially gone and Jordan Love now in the driver seat, its important to surround him with weapons (they have…few). Jaxon Smith-Njigba is likely to be the first receiver off the board, and should give Love a solid young tandem with Christian Watson
New England – This is very un-Belicheck but also, he’s one of the few elite prospects in this class and still on the board. It seems the Patriots aren’t sold on Mac Jones, but giving him another weapon both in the run game and pass game could be a huge boost in a division that’s going to very tough this season.
New York – The Jets officially traded for Aaron Rodgers, leaving only one big hole on the roster: offensive line. Broderick Jones is still growing into the player he’ll eventually be, but the Bulldog blocker has maybe the highest ceiling of any lineman in the class.
Washington – The Commanders could look many different ways here. Cornerback is a pressing need for sure but they also need help on the offensive line for young quarterback Sam Howell. Darnell Wright is anywhere from OT1 to OT4 depending on who you ask, but he will surely go in round one after impressive reps against Alabama in the Volunteers huge win this past season.
Pittsburgh – The Steelers would love to take an offensive lineman here, it seems, but with all the premier names off the board they’ll settle for filling a need at cornerback.
Detroit – Myles Murphy doesn’t bring the athletic profile of the previous three pass rushers do, but he’s an experienced player off the edge and would be an ideal pair with last years first round pick Aidan Hutchinson.
Tampa Bay – The Buccaneers would love to see a quarterback fall to them considering Baker Mayfield is the current penciled in starter, but that is highly unlikely. Instead, Tampa Bay adds a lockdown Big Ten cornerback to help fill a need in the secondary.
Seattle – After securing Jalen Carter at pick 5, the Seahawks come back around and fortify the defensive line with Hawkeye defender Lukas Van Ness. A physical presence off the edge, this should help elevate what was a leaky faucet of a defense.
Los Angeles – It feels like Keenan Allen’s time with the Chargers is coming to end sooner rather than later, and with the inability of either he or Mike Williams to stay consistantly healthy it may be time to find the eventual replacement. Zay Flowers may end up being the best receiver in the class and was done so insanely dirty by the complete lack of competence in the Boston College offense.
Baltimore – The Ravens added OBJ earlier this month in an effort to make Lamar Jackson happy, and they shouldn’t end there. Jordan Addison isn’t big or super fast, but he’s elite at finding holes in the defense for the quarterback to get him the ball. Keep Lamar Happy should be the motto.
Minnesota – Forbes is a slight build cornerback but his ball production has been, well, record setting. He’s returned 6 interceptions for touchdowns while at Mississippi State and the Vikings need help desperately in the secondary.
Jacksonville – It appears the Jaguars will get a deal done with Evan Engram to keep him around longterm, but Michael Mayer is a more complete tight end with his blocking ability. Doug Pederson had success with a two tight end offense in Philadelphia and could bring that down to Jacksonville.
New York – Julius Brents has probably been the biggest riser during draft season, coming up big time in every step of the process and going from a 3rd-4th round pick to a likely 1st. The Giants overachieved when looking at the roster this past season, and will look to continue to bolster it with young talent.
Dallas – I wouldn’t put it past Jerry Jones to get flashy and grab a running back here, but I’m gonna be a bit more smart and have them take Calijah Kancey from Pitt. A smaller interior defender with a motor that won’t quit, there are some worries he won’t stick inside. Even if that’s the case, I think he’ll be a productive pass rusher.
Buffalo – The Bills need to find another stud receiving option opposite Stefon Diggs as they found out the hard way late last season. Gabe Davis and Dawson Knox are quality options, but Johnston would add a whole new dimension to this offense with his basketball wingspan on the outside.
Cincinnati – Jessie Bates and Von Bell left this offseason, and Dax Hill will step into at least one safety role. Brian Branch is the best safety in a weak class and should fill in right away on a revamped secondary.
New Orleans – Bresee has seen his stock slip a bit over the last twelve months, but I think he still has a high floor as an interior defender at the next level regardless of his ceiling. The Saints need to revamp several aspects of the defense under Dennis Allen, and this is a solid start.
Philadelphia – The Eagles come back around and this time use the selection on a *future* starter in Dawand Jones. The Lane Johnson tires won’t hold up forever and securing the future right tackle of the team awhile and letting him learn under the legends tutelage would alleviate a future need.
Kansas City – The defending Super Bowl Champions and hosts of the Draft are on the clock and take a tackle. Orlando Brown and Andrew Wylie both left this offseason via free agency and while they signed former first rounder Jawaan Taylor to man the left tackle spot, they could certainly use more help when it comes to keeping Mahomes out of pressure.