There comes a time in every NFL offseason where an extraordinary phenomenon called the draft takes place. People all over the globe debate back and forth who will picked, when, by whom, and why. This inevitably leads to the creation of a mock draft, a simulation of this phenomenon by means of intuition, analysis, and of course the gut decision. Today, Blake Bartels and I will share our picks along with an analysis for each.
Note: odds were picked by Liam Moore, evens by Blake Bartels
1. Jaguars – Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
This was not too hard a pick. There has been a lot of buzz about Travon Walker or Evan Neal or even Ikem Okwonu taking this spot, but I just don’t find that to be very realistic. Hutchinson fits in nicely for a Jaguars team that needs help on the defensive end. I can’t see anyone else going here.
2. Lions – Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
This would be a historic pick, as a Safety has never gone as high as the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft. The last time a Safety was drafted in the top 5 was in 2004 when Sean Taylor was drafted. If the Lions don’t trade this pick (they should), this is probably the best player for them to take. They don’t need another tackle, so Ekwonu and Neal are a no. Detroit could have taken Thibs, but after many scouts have him potentially dropping out of the top 5, I feel they should pass on him as well. The only player I have consistently ranked in the top 3 that the Lions could reasonably take is the 6’4″ Safety out of Notre Dame. The Lions pair him up with CB Amani Oruwariye and the secondary is on its way to being one of the most underrated in the NFL.
3. Texans – Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon
The Texans are in a bit of a pickle. They have flaws in literally every part of their roster and could pick almost anyone here. I went ahead and picked the best defensive player left on the board in Kayvon Thibodeaux. Really, this is just a question of which to build first: the defense or the offense? I, personally, will have to go with defense.
4. Jets – Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
New York has a steady O-Line and it’s too early to take a WR. In a division with Josh Allen throwing to Stefon Diggs, Mac Jones throwing to Davante Parker, and Tua underthrowing, but still throwing, to Tyreek Hill, you need plenty of talented DB’s. Shore up that abysmal secondary with Stingley Jr. and you give that defense somewhat of a fighting chance.
5. Giants – Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
The fact that Evan Neal has dropped this much is reason enough to pick him here. Neal was a key cog in the Alabama offense that fueled the team to a national championship appearance. He is most definitely the top OT in this draft and the Giants will be pleased to have gotten him here.
6. Panthers – Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina State
Carolina will probably reach for a QB here, as Matt Rhule attempts to save his job, but to pass on Ekwonu here may be too much. Ekwonu would be a solid addition to an otherwise average offensive line. If you want to have success in the future, it starts with fixing that O-Line.
7. Giants – Travon Walker, DE, Georgia
The Giants pick again at 7th, and since they’ve already filled their need on the O-line with Evan Neal at 5, they can work on the defensive end. Walker has already received plenty of hype for his performance in college and at the combine; it has gone so far that many believe he is in contention for the top pick in the draft. While that is extremely unlikely, it is fair to say that he could be picked top 5. Here, he falls to the Giants, who arguably get the best haul in the whole draft with both Neal and Walker falling to them.
8. Falcons – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Atlanta desperately needs weapons on offense. The Matt Ryan trade puts them in full rebuild mode. Olave is my No. 1 WR and if you pair him with Kyle Pitts and Cordarelle Patterson, that offense looks a lot better. Olave’s ability to stretch the secondary with his track star speed would make him especially dangerous for NFL defenses. Now all you need is a QB, but you won’t get that this year.
9. Seahawks – Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
Seattle is firmly in a retooling period with Russell Wilson out of the picture. What better way to start that than with the addition of a solid OT to protect the new QB? Charles Cross is another one of these very good offensive tackles at the top of the player pool. While this might not be the flashiest pick, it is by far the safest, as the line often goes overlooked when quarterbacks remain on the board. Malik Willis, wait your turn.
10. Jets – Drake London, WR, USC
If you want Zach Wilson to be successful, you have to give him capable wide receivers. Enter Drake London, whose red zone capabilities alone should be enough for the Jets to take him. Adding to that, London also provides Wilson with a deep threat for him to target. Give your new QB a new toy and watch them go off.
11. Commanders – Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
Devin Lloyd is my favorite linebacker in the draft. One can make an argument that Nakobe Dean is going to be the better player, but I stand firm with this one. Lloyd has very quick reflexes and can do seemingly whatever he needs to in order to get a stop. This is a nice pickup for the Commanders.
12. Vikings – Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Once again, the Vikings take a corner. I’ve stated previously that I don’t have Gardner as high on my boards as others, but the Vikings desperately need help in the secondary. I believe Gardner needs a good scheme fit and coaching staff around him to succeed in the NFL and the Vikings are on the cusp of having both of those. Ed Donatell has had success with Broncos, 49ers and Bears, and maybe the Vikings are the perfect fit.
13. Texans – George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue
The Texans already added Kayvon Thibodeaux early on in this draft. It’s a crazy idea, but what if they add another EDGE in George Karlaftis? Think about the implications of this pairing. If these two both meet their ceilings, this will make for an insane pass-rush. Of course, Karlaftis is still a very raw prospect but that shouldn’t be a problem as far as the Texans are concerned.
14. Ravens – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
I almost had the Ravens taking McDuffie here, but the secondary should make its resurgence with the return of Peters and Humphries. Instead, I had them draft another weapon for Lamar Jackson. Rashod Bateman was taken last year, but injuries forced him to only start four games. Wilson is regarded as a top receiver in the draft by many scouts. His ability to always be open will work well with Jackson’s ability to scramble from the pocket.
15. Eagles – Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
McDuffie is one of the best cornerbacks in the draft. The Eagles could use a good cornerback. That’s my reasoning for this one. As tempting as it was to pick Jordan Davis, I don’t think Philadelphia passes on this opportunity.
16. Saints – Jordan Davis, DT, Jordan Davis
The biggest man in the draft has fallen far enough. Imagine the defense with Davis, Cameron Jordan, and Marcus Davenport on the front line and CJGJ and Lattimore in the secondary. No more running against this team. The Saints likely traded up for a QB, or more likely, trade their two first rounders to move up higher for someone bigger. However, trades are hard to predict and even harder to mock. So, assuming they keep these picks, they land the best DT in the draft.
17. Chargers – Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
With Jordan Davis off the board (dang it), the Chargers go with an injury-prone but possibly top WR in Jameson Williams. Look, if Jameson Williams never got hurt, he would be the top receiver draft pick. No question. His quickness and route running are elite as far as I’m concerned, and I would not be disappointed in LAC for picking him over Treylon Burks or Skyy Moore. This is a steal for the Chargers in my opinion.
18. Eagles – Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
The best way to find out if Jalen Hurts is the right guy is to protect him. Trevor Penning has a ferocity all linemen need, but not all linemen have. The Eagles future rests on the success of Hurts and if he’s constantly picking himself up off the ground, well, the Eagles will be picking top 5 sooner rather than later. But with Penning, the only people who’ll be picking themselves off the ground are the defenders he puts there.
19. Saints – Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
There we have it: the first QB off the board. It might be a bit of a surprise for some readers that the first one went 19th. Lots of mocks have QBs going in the top 10 or even top 5. I think we just have to accept that this quarterback draft class is not a particularly good one, let alone one worthy of a top 10 selection. Maybe the Lions go for it and pick Malik Willis at #2, or maybe the Panthers move on from Darnold and select Kenny Pickett at #6. But these also might not happen and probably aren’t incredibly likely to happen. Instead, the Saints get good value on this pick with the top quarterback in the draft in Malik Willis. He plays backup to Jameis Winston for at least half the year, assuming they eventually decide to make him the starter.
20. Steelers – Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
The Steelers signed Trubisky. Now, while that may not garner a ton of cheers or confidence, at worst, he can be a stopgap QB. The biggest need for them comes in the secondary. They could use a playmaker at corner and Booth can easily fill that need. An instant starter, he adds an athleticism and ball hawking skills necessary to combat the plethora of AFC QBs.
21. New England – Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia
Devonte Wyatt is one of the many Georgia Bulldogs with rising draft stocks. I don’t think he’s a top 20 pick, but I do think that New England doesn’t pass up on the opportunity to draft someone with his upside. The defense is always great in New England, but this could be the addition of youth that they need.
22. Green Bay – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
Green Bay needs a receiver. Burks is my next highest rated WR. Bada-bing bada-boom.
23. Arizona – Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
Linderbaum probably won’t fall this far, but if he does this is a great pick for Arizona. Rodney Hudson is getting up there in age and Linderbaum could take his place when the time comes for them to move on. For the present, Linderbaum could easily slot in as a guard and still help out that line. I’m a big fan of this pick.
24. Dallas – Jermaine Johnson II, DE, Florida State
Parsons is said to be moving back to his original role as an off the ball linebacker this season. That leaves the edge opposite Demarcus Lawrence open. Introduce Johnson, an instant plug-and-play starter. He may not burst onto the scene like Parsons did, but not many people can. If he’s even half the player Parsons was, it’s a steal.
25. Buffalo – Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
Yes, I know this might be a bit of a “what?” pick, but I am very sold on Christian Watson as a first-round talent. His combine performance was tops among wide receivers and he just seems to have a knack for catching the football in the right spots. That speed, though. That speed is what is going to set him apart. With Treylon Burks off the board, Buffalo replaces Cole Beasley with a speedster; someone who can run deep and catch long balls from Josh Allen. This could be a lethal combination.
26. Tennessee – Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
For the third draft in a row, I have the Titans taking a QB. My No. 1 QB is Kenny Pickett and he fell to 26. As stated in my past mocks, there is no one the Titans can take that could impact their future better than Kenny Pickett. Odds are he won’t fall this far, some desperate team will take a hopeful chance on him, but this is the best move for the Tennessee Titans.
27. Tampa Bay – Zion Johnson, G, Boston College
This one was a no-brainer, honestly. Tampa needs a good OL in this draft, and they get one in Zion Johnson. Johnson might not play amazing in his rookie year, likely being the source of constant criticism if he lets Tom Brady get sacked once, but he will hold his own. I like this one a lot.
28. Green Bay – Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
I was tempted to go WR again, but there’s not a receiver left that isn’t a massive reach. Honestly, it might be the move Green Bay makes just to appease Rodgers. Instead, I have them taking a LB to fill the role they desperately need on the defensive side of the ball. Dean has the capability to grow into the leader of that defense.
29. Kansas City – Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
Kansas City has two big needs in this draft: WR and CB. They cover the latter with the selection of Kaiir Elam. Elam is one of the best cornerbacks in the draft in my opinion and someone who can make an immediate impact on the Chiefs. If Elam reaches his ceiling, then the Chiefs get a steal with this one.
30. Kansas City – Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
I was going to have the Chiefs take a safety like Brisker or Cine, but the need to replace Tyreek Hill is too big a hole to fill. Dotson fills that hole. He has great body control and has the ability to make catches under pressure. Perfect for the Chiefs.
31. Cincinnati – Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M
Cincinnati really just has one need: the O-Line. While they have made strides to improve it in Free Agency, they could still use some help. Drafting Kenyon Green is the best choice. He’s a very quick guard at his size and he can easily fill in any spot on the line they need him too. Green is arguably better than Zion Johnson. This is a very nice pickup for the Bengals.
32. Detroit – David Ojabo, DE, Michigan
Ojabo was a top ten pick before tearing his Achilles. It’s likely that he will fall out of the first round, but the Lions should take the risk, as they won’t be ready to compete for a few years anyway. That will give the Lions two top five talents on defense in one draft without having to trade up. If all goes well with Ojabo’s recovery, he and Hamilton could finally lead that team towards success.