Image Credit: Maize & Blue Nation
The NFL Draft gets underway at 1am tomorrow morning as the top stars from college find out where they are going, and teams find out if they’re getting their stars of the future. Every year a lot of pundits post their mock drafts, how they think the draft will pan out. This year, I’ve decided to join the mock draft craze for no reason other than to prove how wrong I can be. 32 General Managers, hundreds of scouts, and thousands more staff and advisors go into the draft and I’m going to attempt to think what they’re all thinking and draft in the same way they do. This won’t work and that’s the best part of this.
1: Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow (QB) LSU
There is absolutely no doubt about this pick, Burrow may have wavered about whether he wanted to go there, but the Ohio native will soon be playing for Ohio’s team (fight me Browns fans).
2: Washington – Chase Young (DE) Ohio State
Again, another (seeming) no brainer. Young has been heralded as the best defensive player in the draft and Ron Rivera would want to kick start the defence in his first year in Washington (Technically Landover, Maryland).
3: Los Angeles Chargers – Tua Tagovailoa (QB) Alabama
(Traded from the Detroit Lions)
The Lions can be confident in getting their preferred pick later in the draft, whereas the Chargers won’t be as sure. The Lions have a great chance to trade down and get some picks back. The Chargers will want a big flashy quarterback who can work behind Tyrod Taylor for the time being. The worries of the Dolphins trading up for Tua will make the Chargers act and ensure they get the big name quarterback for the big name market.
4: New York Giants – Tristan Wirfs (OT) Iowa
Again, this could be another trade down, I’m not sure who else would need to trade up to pick four. OT is loaded in this draft class and three standouts for early round picks. I’m going for Tristan Wirfs to
the Giants though, Daniel Jones needs to be protected and they’ll prioritise this over defence.
5: Miami Dolphins – Justin Herbert (QB) Oregon
I didn’t mention that the Dolphins were pushing for pick three, because their pick was always going to drop to pick five. I think the Dolphins will prefer Herbert. Yes, he has a lower ceiling but a much
higher floor. I also assume he’ll fit into Brian Flores’ offence better than Tua.
6: Detroit Lions – Jeffrey Okudah (CB) Ohio State
(Traded from the Los Angeles Chargers)
Unless something goes wrong (from Detroit’s perspective), Okudah will be there at pick six. The Lions need a cornerback to replace Darius Slay and Okudah is the best prospect for them in the draft.
7: Carolina Panthers – Isaiah Simmons (LB/S) Clemson
This will be an interesting pick. Many suggest Derrick Brown going here, but I’m going to go for Simmons on the grounds that he’s the best player to replace outgoing Luke Kuechly and his versatility and speed will fit perfectly onto what Carolina want on defence. Either Brown on Simmons will do though.
8: Arizona Cardinals – Derrick Brown (DT) Auburn
If the Cardinals can’t get Simmons, they’ll take Brown. A lot of Cardinals fans will want to draft CeeDee Lamb, but that move doesn’t work for them. They need help on defence and especially at the position of defensive tackle.
9: Jacksonville Jaguars – CJ Henderson (CB) Florida
Jacksonville could go any way with their pick, but they need a cornerback to replace Jalen Ramsay and Henderson has all the stats and love from the scouts.
10: Cleveland Browns – Jedrick Wills (OT) Alabama
Despite the Browns signing Jack Conklin, they’re still going to need more help at OT and Wills is one of the best in this year’s draft. Again, a possible trade down for the Browns here as there are other great OTs in this class.
11: New York Jets – CeeDee Lamb (WR) Oklahoma
The Jets will be looking at both wide-receivers and offensive-tackles. They really struggled to get their offense going last year, they can get the best wide receiver in the draft, and I think they will.
12: Las Vegas Raiders – Jerry Jeudy (WR) Alabama
The Raiders will be disappointed if they don’t get Lamb and may trade up, but Jeudy is exactly what Vegas need, a precise route runner who’ll be able to come in from day one. It’s not much of a gamble, and that’s exactly what Vegas needs (I’m so sorry, the puns will stop I promise).
13: San Francisco 49ers – Henry Ruggs III (WR) Alabama
It did look like San Fran could have done with better offence in the last half of the Super Bowl. Either Kinlaw at DT or Ruggs would be great for the 49ers, but I’ve gone with Ruggs because literally everyone else has.
14: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Andrew Thomas (OT) Georgia
I’ve done a lot of second guessing over the last few picks, there is no need here. Tampa (or Tompa) have just invested in getting Tom Brady to the bay (or Tampa Brady). They need to protect him, and Thomas will do just that.
15: Denver Broncos – Mekhi Becton (OT) Louisville
Him or Kinlaw, they need help at OT and DT. Becton dropping this far down would make him prospect the Broncos wouldn’t want to miss. Plus, the good OTs in this draft are starting to run out in this mock.
16: Atlanta Falcons – A.J. Espenesa (DE) Iowa
This is the least sure I am about a pick. The Falcons need a defensive end, and Espenesa has a lot of upside. He is a project though and the question about this pick is if Dan Quinn has enough time for
17: Dallas Cowboys – Javon Kinlaw (DT) South Carolina
I think the Cowboys would be pleasantly surprised if Kinlaw falls to 17. Kinlaw is not the biggest need for the Cowboys, but Jerry wants the best and if this draft is correct (I’m 100% sure it isn’t), then Kinlaw will be the best on the board and the Cowboys should look at taking him.
18: Miami Dolphins – Austin Jackson (OT) USC
Back to Miami with their second pick, acquired from the Steelers (I’m more than happy they have it, considering our return). They’ve just got their QB for the future and now they need to protect him. Jackson is the best OT left on the board.
19: Las Vegas Raiders – Patrick Queen (LB) LSU
The first of a great series called ‘Will They Draft a QB in the First Round?’ I’m going for no with the Raiders. Queen is a great athlete and the Raiders have always historically loved the best athletes.
20: Jacksonville Jaguars – K’Lavon Chaisson (Edge) LSU
Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson could be part of a great defence in the future, add them to CJ Henderson and you’ve got a young and promising defence that could be the best in the long term. They could go QB here, but Chaisson fills a much bigger need. Calais Campbell is gone, and Yannick Ngakoue is on the verge of banging the door down to go anywhere else. It also gives Minshew another year (or Newton a new team).
21: Philadelphia Eagles – Kenneth Murray (OLB) Oklahoma
The Eagles may need a wide receiver more, but they need an OLB too. There are too many good wide receivers to skip on and Murray is a brilliant prospect who’ll be able to make plays by himself and make the defence much better.
22: Minnesota Vikings – Justin Jefferson (WR) LSU
One team who will not be skipping on a receiver will be the Vikings, who have just lost Stephon Diggs and need another weapon for Kirk Cousins. Jefferson is exactly what they need.
23: New England Patriots – Denzel Mims (WR) Baylor
If you believe Tom to still be at his best, then you also think that the wide receiver core at the Patriots is what ended their hopes last season. The Patriots definitely do need another receiver and the lack of good TE options make this the better pick.
24: New Orleans Saints – Jordan Love (QB) Utah State
Drew Brees is not going to be in the NFL forever, and I'm not sure the Saints genuinly believe Taysom Hill is the answer. A Love-Hill tandem going forward though would be a very fascinating prospect.
25: Minnesota Vikings – Trevon Diggs (CB) Alabama
Out with one Diggs, in with another. The former wide receiver will be able to come in and challenge for a place almost immediately.
26: Miami Dolphins – Xavier McKinney (S) Alabama
Three of the better ranked players in the draft in one night would not be bad work for the Dolphins, McKinney is expected to go higher, so don’t be surprised if the Dolphins must go with someone else for this pick. McKinney has a high football IQ and with the way Miami have been on defence, will probably slot in right away.
27: Seattle Seahawks – Yetur Gross-Matos (Edge) Penn State
Not only may the Seahawks lose Jadavon Clowney, but the athletic Gross-Matos may not make it out of the teens, and if he does fall to the Seahawks, he fills a big need.
28: Baltimore Ravens – Zach Baun (OLB) Wisconsin
Baun is versatile and incredibly explosive, he’ll fit the Ravens defence like a glove.
29: Tennessee Titans – Isaiah Wilson (OT) Georgia
Some might be surprised if Wilson goes in the first, but he would be a direct replacement for Jack Conklin at right tackle and has been building up a lot of excitement in the last few weeks.
30: Green Bay Packers – Brandon Aiyuk (WR) Arizona State
A lot has been made about the Packers needing more receiving talent. Aiyuk would be great for Rodgers, but don’t be surprised if they trade up for Love or go for Jalen Hurts.
31: San Francisco 49ers – Jeff Gladney (CB) TCU
A speedy cornerback who would fit right in with the 49ers defence, attitude, and way they play.
32: Kansas City Chiefs – D’Andre Swift (RB) Georgia
The Chiefs should act swiftly (get it, I’m so sorry) to get a new running back. Their best running back last year (Damien Williams) got just 498 yards on the ground. He would be a great complement to Mahomes and would take some of the work off him. If they wait for a running back until later in the draft, then Ross Blacklock would also be a good pick.