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32 Team Mock Draft
There's a reason I rarely put these together
☀️ Good morning,
You’ve probably noticed that I tend to avoid putting together mock drafts in a traditional sense. I usually use a simulator to project 31 teams’ draft picks and then only select for the Jets. I don’t pretend to be an expert for every team in the NFL, I don’t know their personnel off-hand and I don’t know all the scheme variations that different coaches run.
Also at the end of the day, this is a Jets site, dedicated to Jets news and not everyone is going to care about how I think the draft will play out for the other 31 teams, but let me indulge my draft interest on this Wednesday.
Fortunately, we’re at the time of year when there really isn’t a lot to talk about other than the draft.
Today I’m going to break with that tradition and put together a mock first round in its entirety. This will likely say more about how I view prospects than anything else, so don’t expect to see Trevor Penning in the first round.
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#1 Jacksonville Jaguars - Aidan Hutchinson - Edge - Michigan
I don’t believe Aidan Hutchinson is the best player in this draft, I would still take Kayvon Thibodeaux over everyone else. But, I do believe that the Jaguars think Aidan Hutchinson is the best player in the draft. The Jaguars need edge rushers and Hutchinson would be the perfect fit for them. They could opt to take Ikem Ekwonu with Cam Robinson on the tag, but Hutchinson and his character may be too much to turn down for a franchise who have been embroiled in controversy for the last year.
#2 Detroit Lions - Kayvon Thibodeaux - Edge - Oregon
I’m just not buying the character concerns with Kayvon and there’s a reason he’s been considered a future first overall pick since high school. Thibodeaux has that explosion and bend that teams covert in an edge rusher, and while the Lions aren’t desperate for pass-rushers like they are linebackers and a competent QB, the value here is just too good to turn down and the Lions have continued to show interest in Kayvon through the process.
#3 Houston Texans - Ikem Ekwonu - Offensive Tackle - NC State
It’s probably easier to look at the positions the Texans don’t need to improve in, because that roster is a bit of a nightmare at the moment. Davis Mills actually had a promising rookie campaign, so giving him some protection with a foundational piece makes a lot of sense. There are some out there who believe that Ekwonu is the best player in the draft, so the Texans could be looking at this as exceptional value.
#4 New York Jets - Jermaine Johnson - Edge - Florida State
At the start of this process, some thought the first round was too rich for JJ, then the top 20 was too rich, then the top 10, and now the top 5. The fact is the Jets need an edge rusher to pair with Carl Lawson and Jermaine Johnson has the ideal skillset to work in the Jets’ preferred wide-9 system. People point to his time at Georgia as a reason not to draft him, but people need to spend less time there and more time watching his Florida State tape. He was dominant. 46 pressures, 14 sacks, 17.5 tackles for a loss, and 2 forced fumbles. Lawson and Johnson on the edge with JFM and Quinnen inside, it’s a dream scenario in my opinion.
#5 New York Giants - Evan Neal - Offensive Tackle - Alabama
Where does Neal play at the next level? Some evaluators see him inside at guard whereas others see as a right tackle with a few seeing him as a left tackle. The good thing here is that he has versatility and there’s a good chance that he could play all of them and the Giants certainly need some offensive line help. I’m not sure if the team is ready to move on from Daniel Jones, so getting some protection in place for either Jones or his replacement is a good idea.
#6 Carolina Panthers -Kenny Pickett - Quarterback - Pittsburgh
The Sam Darnold trade was an absolute shambles for the Panthers, and deciding to pick up his option was a shambles upon a shambles. The Panthers need help on the offensive line and they could do with another playmaker on the outside, but they’re in the perfect spot to get their #1 ranked QB. Kenny Pickett just makes sense to me here, people talk about his hand size but that didn’t stop him slinging the ball on cold Saturday nights in Pittsburgh.
#7 New York Giants - Sauce Gardner - Cornerback - Cincinnati
This was a really tough selection, I considered a trade here, Tyler Linderbaum makes sense and so does Devin Lloyd. But taking a look at the Giants’ corners and positional value I think Gardner makes a lot of sense here. He’s the best corner in the draft by a country mile and this gives them a potential shutdown corner on one side of the field. His college stats are outstanding and his personality will mesh with the NY media.
#8 Atlanta Falcons - Drake London - Wide Receiver - USC
The Falcons need to take a little bit of pressure off Kyle Pitts and give a helping hand to both Arthur Smith and Marcus Mariota and I can see them falling for London. Drake is a big imposing physical wide receiver on the outside who’s the best-contested catch receiver in the draft. Some question his separation but he shows enough wiggle and he’s much better with the ball in his hands than some give him credit for. He’s not my #1 receiver, but I imagine he’s #1 on plenty of boards around the NFL.
#9 Seattle Seahawks - Charles Cross - Offensive Tackle - Mississippi State
I was seriously considering a quarterback here, but something tells me the Seahawks may ride with Drew Lock for a year before dipping into a more talented pool of QB’s in 2023. So with that in mind my attention immediately turned to the offensive line and improving across the board. Charles Cross may be the best pass-protector in the draft in terms of technique and Seattle get a franchise LT in place before having to decide on the QB. Makes a lot of sense to me.
#10 New Orleans Saints via (New York Jets) - Malik Willis, Quarterback - Liberty
The Saints made the trade with Philadelphia to put them in a position to move up for a quarterback, I’ll believe that until it doesn’t happen on draft night. The Jets move down and pick up an extra first and some. Considering they’ve moved up, I have them taking my #1 rated QB Malik Willis from Liberty. Willis is a fine athlete and has a good arm, he needs some work and New Orleans is the perfect landing spot for him to sit and learn behind Jameis Winston and with Andy Dalton as a mentor. I don’t think either of those guys should stop a franchise looking for their longtime answer at QB.
#11 Washington Comannders - Kyle Hamilton - Safety - Notre Dame
With Wentz on the books for 2022 and two QB’s already off the board, I don’t see Washington taking the 3rd QB this high. They could opt for a receiver to pair with McLaurin but I think they take Kyle Hamilton here and pair him with Kamren Curl to create one of the better safety tandems in football. Hamilton is a swiss army knife and plays multiple roles and lines up all over the field, he would fit Washington’s style of play.
#12 Minnesota Vikings - Derek Stingley Jr - Cornerback - LSU
You only need to take one quick look at the Viking’s depth chart at the corner position to see why this makes a lot of sense. I’m not a huge Derek Stingley Jr fan, but if any team should be willing to take a chance on the upside he showed during his freshman year in 2019, it’s the Vikings. Stingley is an athletically gifted corner who showed momentum-shifting playmaking ability…in 2019. He hasn’t done a lot since but this is a good value pick for Minnesota.
#13 Houston Texans - Garrett Wilson - Wide Receiver - Ohio State
You could go in multiple directions here as the Texans, but after getting some protection for Davis Mills, I’m giving him another versatile weapon on Garrett Wilson. The Ohio State man is clean in his routes, shows good acceleration and proved his long speed at the combine. Pair him with Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins and really see what you have in Mills. Worst case scenario, Mills isn’t the one and you have boosted your line and receiving core for the incoming QB.
#14 Baltimore Ravens - Travon Walker - Edge - Georgia
Travon Walker is one of the most athletically gifted players in this draft, he just hasn’t been able to take all those raw tools and put them together to create a complete player. His stats won’t get him drafted in the top 15, his sack numbers are middling and his pass-rush win rate is pretty poor…but the Ravens have a history of getting the best out of players on the defensive side of the ball. They lost out on Za’Darius Smith during free agency, so now they get their edge in Walker.
#15 Philadelphia Eagles - Devin Lloyd - Linebacker - Utah
The Eagles need to inject some youth onto the defensive side of the ball, and while I believe Nakobe Dean is LB1 in this draft class, I know a lot of people have Lloyd at the top of their list. The Eagles need some cornerback help and they could do with another wide receiver as well, but here they get to take the best linebacker on their board, and Lloyds’ size/speed combination would improve the middle of that Philadephia defense.
#16 New York Jets via (New Orleans Saints) - Chris Olave - Wide Receiver - Ohio State
The Jets need a wide receiver to pair with Elijah Moore and I’m still hoping they manage to get either AJ Brown or DK Metcalf. If they can’t snag one of those guys, I’d be perfectly happy with Chris Olave in this spot. He’s an outstanding prospect with production, speed, good hands, acceleration, and body control. I’m not sure why but I feel as though Olave is being slept on a little bit through this draft process, the Jets hosted him for an official visit on Monday.
#17 Las Angeles Chargers - Zion Johnson - Guard/Center - Boston College
Nobody had a better week at the Senior Bowl than Zion Johnson, he took reps at both guard and center and he was excellent at both. He also cemented himself as a sure first-rounder and the Chargers are the perfect fit. The system suits Zion and they desperately need help on the inside of the offensive line. After taking Slater last year they can really solidify the line for Justin Herbert by taking Zion.
#18 Philadelphia Eagles - Jameson Williams - Wide Receiver - Alabama
I don’t know if Jalen Hurts is the answer at QB for the Eagles, but give him the deep threat of Jameson Williams to pair with DeVonta Smith and you’re going to find out pretty quickly. Williams is currently rehabbing his ACL but he’s already running and it sounds as though he’ll be 100% by the time training camp comes around. I thought about edge here and a few other positions but the value with Williams was just too good to turn down.
#19 New York Jets via (New Orleans Saints) - Jordan Davis - DT - Georgia
I know some people won’t like this selection but Jordan Davis is a man mountain in the middle of the defense that will help the Jets defend the run and allow Quinnen more opportunities to pressure the QB. Davis can play both as a 3-tech and as a 1-tech and occupies multiple lineman, his functional athleticism is pretty incredible considering his size and the rotation policy that Saleh runs with will keep him fresh. Adding Jermaine Johnson, Chris Olave and Jordan Davis on day one is a home run if you ask me.
#20 Pittsburgh Steelers - Devonte Wyatt - Defensive Lineman - Georgia
Like Seattle, I can see the Steelers deciding to role with Mitchell Trubisky for a year before trying to hit on their QB in a deeper 2023 class. If they don’t go with a quarterback I could see them bulking up that defensive line, and Wyatt will do that. Wyatt is a fantastic athlete who’s quickness off the snap will cause problems for a lot of interior lineman, he can defend the run and put pressure on the QB and is worthy of being a top 20 selection.
#21 New England Patriots - Andrew Booth Jr - Cornerback - Clemson
JC Jackson has gone, so New England will need to fill that huge hole with a draft pick. Andrew Booth Jr may be the perfect answer for big Bill. Booth has the instincts, athleticism, size, and speed that most teams covet in a 21st-century cornerback and he’s always one of the most competitive players on the field. The Patriots could give Mac Jones a weapon here, but I just think they’ll try and tool up their defense in the first round.
#22 Green Bay Packers - Jahan Dotson - Wide Receiver - Penn State
If the Packers don’t select a receiver I’ll be pretty shocked about it. Losing Adams is a huge blow, but they still have Aaron Rodgers and as long as they’ve got Rodgers they’re in the hunt. Dotson could be the perfect replacement for Adams, you can line him up all over the formation and he’s one of the craftiest route-runners in the draft. He’s got good speed and hands and creates easy separation, I’d say this is a perfect match and good value at #22.
#23 Arizona Cardinals - Boye Mafe - Edge - Minnesota
The pick here came down to Mafe or Karlaftis and in the end I decided to go with the more explosive if more flawed Mafe. Boye had an outstanding week at the senior bowl and he is one of the more exciting players to watch, he doesn’t always play wtih the best technique or the best instincts, but his motor is always hot and he has a wicked first step. If the Cardinals handle him correctly allowing him to come along slowly in some areas while unleashing his pass-rush…it could be a match made in heaven.
#24 Dallas Cowboys - Kenton Green - Guard - Texas A&M
Jerry Jones doesn’t hide a lot and he’s made it pretty clear that the Cowboys plan to address the offensive line at pick #24. They lost Connor Williams this off-season and keeping Dak healthy to find all those weapons has to be a priority. Green has the perfect combination of foot quickness in the passing game and strength in the running game, he’s a Dallas-type player and if Jones hints they’re going offensive line, it would be a bit silly to go elsewhere here.
#25 Buffalo Bills - Trent McDuffie - Cornerback - Washington
I almost had McDuffie a lot higher in this draft but instead, I gave Baltimore Travon Walker, but McDuffie won’t drop outside the first round, and nor should he. Buffalo has a team ready to win right now, and signing Von Miller will go a long way to making sure they can do that, but they still need some help at cornerback. They have one of the best corners in White, but pairing the technically sound and instinctive McDuffie will him will give the Bills that 1-2 punch they can ride into the playoffs.
#26 Tennessee Titans - Nakobe Dean - Linebacker - Georgia
I’ve accepted that the Jets likely won’t be in the market for a starting linebacker in the first round, as painful as it was. Dean is one of my favourite prospects in the entire draft, the only negative is his size…and that’s not even a negative in my eyes as he slips through gaps to attack the QB. Dean is a leader on defense, instinctive and athletic, he’s a good tackler, a sideline-to-sideline player and a perfect pick for a Titans team who need some help at linebacker.
#27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Kaiir Elam - Cornerback - Florida
With Tom Brady having retired and unretired in a lovely PR move, the Buccaneers are almost certainly going to spend the #27 on defense. The only question I had was whether to go with a defensive tackle or a cornerback, Elam it is. He has all the traits you’d want in an outside corner and while he’s more suited to a zone-based scheme, he can play in any system. Elam has good eye discipline and won’t be caught peeking into the backfield, his family lineage shows in how technically sound he is.
#28 Green Bay Packers - Kyler Gordon - Cornerback - Washington
With their first pick, the Packers got Rodgers a new weapon in Dotson, now they sure up their cornerback position with one of the more underrated prospects in the draft. Gordon is an explosive athlete who plays with the speed and fluidity of a first-round pick, he has the instincts and tackling technique to be a reliable defender inside or out and I’d be comfortable playing him all over the defense. I could see the Packers potentially taking Trevor Penning here, but I don’t see him as a first-round talent so I’ve gone Gordon.
#29 Kansas City Chiefs - George Karlaftis - Edge - Purdue
I never intended for Karlaftis to fall this far, but the fits just never seemed right and he ends up in a great situation in Kansas City. Karlaftis doesn’t have the bend you’d want from a top-20 player in my opinion but he’s a strong pass-rusher with power laced throughout the body. His motor never runs cold and he is constantly around the football, his stats may not stand out but he was a leader for the boilermakers and the Chiefs would be getting a fine prospect.
#30 Kansas City Chiefs - Treylon Burks - Wide Receiver - Arkansas
The Chiefs may have shipped Mahomes favorite weapon to Miami, but they can make it up to him by giving him a player like Burks whose run after the catch ability will make him a firm favorite of any QB. Burks has had a horrid run-up to the draft with his testing, but his stats make him a worthy first-round pick. He’s not an easy guy to tackle and while his speed isn’t elite (certainly didn’t test elite) there is tape of him running away from countless defenders. Good value here at #30.
#31 Cincinnati Bengals - Tyler Linderbaum - Center - Bengals
The Bengals know that if they want any shot at returning to the Super Bowl, they’ll need to keep Joe Burrow healthy. Signing Cappa was a good start but here they get one of the cleanest prospects in the draft. Linderbaum is technically one of the most gifted safeties I’ve seen coming out of college and his talent deserves a much higher draft spot, but with the positional value, I could see him falling further than most people think. Bengals get a home run right here.
#32 Detroit Lions - Christian Watson - Wide Receiver - North Dakota State
Watson is one of the most talked-about receivers in the draft this year and for good reason. Athletically he’s one of the more gifted players and he’s continued to put up impressive displays through the pre-draft process. He’s got the speed, and his ball-tracking is huge positive that teams really value with an outside receiver. The Lions need to build their team up ready for the new QB, whoever that may be, taking Kayvon Thibodeaux and Christian Watson is a great start.
Opening day is just around the corner, so don’t forget to head over to Mets Fix for all your baseball news on the Metropolitans.
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