I must destroy mock draft king Josh Norris this year. No excuses.
Hutchinson is -250 to go first overall, which is probably too low. The Jaguars have OTs Cam Robinson, Jawaan Taylor, and Walker Little under contract, and the other potential first-overall picks in this class are offensive tackles. Sports Illustrated’s John Shipley is confident it’ll be the Michigan man at No. 1.
There’s a lot of talk about Thibodeaux because the draft season is a galaxy-braining wet dream, but the edge rusher has been mocked inside the top-five for years and has done nothing on the field to change that stance. Even Josina Anderson said months ago that “the [Lions] current mindset is to select Thibodeaux. No mock needed.” Like the Jaguars, Detroit has OTs Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell under contract. I like Thibodeaux’s +500 odds of going 2nd overall, especially after The Athletic’s Chris Burke mocked it. If it’s not Thibs, then it’s probably Travon Walker (+225).
Walker’s elite athleticism has him in the No. 2 overall conversation with -450 odds of going inside the top-five picks. The Texans have a massive EDGE need, far greater than at OT with Laremy Tunsil under contract for at least two more seasons. That’s why I lean Walker (+500 at 3rd overall) over OTs Ikem Ekwonu (+200) and Evan Neal (+300). The Athletic’s Aaron Reiss mocked this as well.
New York might have the worst CB depth chart in the league, and Gardner is -400 to be the first CB selected with Daniel Jeremiah ranking him as high as 3rd overall in this class. Gardner (+450 for 4th overall) fills a bigger need than EDGEs Kayvon Thibodeaux (+250), Jermaine Johnson (+450), and Travon Walker (+475), two of whom can be off the board already. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler wrote, “GM Joe Douglas will look at CB Sauce Gardner here.”
Ekwonu (-280) has the best odds of being a top-five pick of the best available players, slightly ahead of OT Evan Neal (-275). The fit is all-too obvious with the Giants ranking 30th in PFF pass-blocking grade last year. If the new regime is serious about evaluating Daniel Jones, then they have to address the line with multiple picks. Daniel Jeremiah mocked this pick, too.
This can go in three directions: best player available, trade down to recoup their lost 2nd and 3rd round picks, or reach on a rookie QB. Both Dane Brugler and Daniel Jeremiah mocked OTs here, which is Carolina’s biggest non-QB need. I’m rolling with them for now, but I can see Carolina trading down, either for picks for Jimmy/Baker or if they think they can take their favorite rookie QB at a later draft pick. The connection to Kenny Pickett (Tepper went to Pitt and Rhule recruited him in college) is very tempting to mock, but Neal (-165 o3.5) is a near-lock to go somewhere around here and the QBs could all slide with more QBs than openings in the NFL’s 2022 version of musical chairs.
The hype is building for the Pac-12 sleeper. Bruce Feldman mocked him to the Giants at 5th overall, noting the massive need at linebacker for New York. And both Daniel Jeremiah and Dane Brugler personally rank Lloyd inside the top-12. He currently has +2000 odds of going inside the top-10, odds I expect to get closer to +1200 by draft night. If it’s not Lloyd here, then CB Derek Stingley makes sense with OT addressed two picks earlier.
Wilson (+125 to be 1st WR drafted) is the one-for-one Calvin Ridley replacement. In fact, some compare Wilson to Ridley as a slender outside player with three-level abilities. As for QB, I think the Falcons’ initial plan of restructuring Matt Ryan is a sign that they didn’t like this class. Marcus Mariota ($6.7M in cash spent) is the one-year stop gap before they look at the 2023 class. Daniel Jeremiah agreed in his latest mock.
Seattle has the cheapest starting QB (Drew Lock $1.4M cash spent) in the NFL, so they’ll be addressing the position in one way or another. With two 2nd-round picks (40th and 41st overall), the Seahawks are candidates to find love later, like with Matt Corral who they met with at the NFL Combine. Pete Carroll goes back decades with the Kiffin family, who coached Corral at Ole Miss. Or maybe they want to revitalize Baker Mayfield’s career with a Day 3 pick. Either way, Cross (-500 to go top-10) would upgrade an always underwhelming Seattle offensive line. Daniel Jeremiah had this pick as well with LT Duane Brown being a free agent.
After going CB with the 4th overall pick, New York continues pleasing head coach Robert Saleh with an elite athlete at edge. Johnson (+100 o9.5) fills a bigger void than a pass-catcher or offensive lineman. Corey Davis ($27M guaranteed), Elijah Moore (2021 2nd round), Braxton Berrios ($7M guaranteed), C.J. Uzomah ($15M guaranteed), Tyler Conklin ($10M guaranteed), Michael Carter (2021 4th round), Mekhi Becton (2021 1st round), Alijah Vera-Tucker (2021 1st round), and George Fant ($13M guaranteed) is enough to evaluate Zach Wilson’s game.
They just released Landon Collins, and Hamilton’s skill set would allow the defense to play more two-high defense, something the NFL as a whole is trending towards. Hamilton (-135 o8.5) slid in projections following a slow forty, but Daniel Jeremiah has the slide stopping here.
Reunites with LSU legend Patrick Peterson and fills a massive need for new-GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, who is an analytical mind likely in favor of filling positions of high value like CB. Stingley has had top-five buzz since his freshman season, so this could easily be a buy low pick.
London (-110 o10.5) is the anti-Brandin Cooks, as a jump ball and dirty-work receiver. I’m unsure London goes top-10 after not being able to test on his broken ankle, but he fits the Texans’ hardcore wannabe-New England culture and allows the front office to evaluate Davis Mills in year two. Houston grabbing an EDGE and WR in this mock draft seems like a small win in a big rebuild war.
The perfect culture fit, Karlaftis’ power complements 2021 first-round EDGE Odafe Oweh’s speed. Stopping Deshaun Watson and Joe Burrow in the division will be a priority for the next half decade plus. For the millionth time, Daniel Jeremiah shares this vision.
Trading away a 2022 first-rounder for a 2023 first-rounder is further confirmation that this team is still in rebuild mode, meaning they can be patient with Williams while he rehabs a torn ACL. Williams and DeVonta Smith (while small) would be an electric combination for Jalen Hurts in 2022 and whoever they truly build around in 2023.
The Saints trade of No. 18 and a 2023 1st-rounder for No. 16 and No. 19 overall is another sign that this team thinks they are in win now mode. To me that means get some weapons around Jameis Winston (and Andy Dalton). The Saints specifically need a field-stretcher for 2022, and Olave is the best remaining deep-threat option with Jameson Williams off the board.
Signing Brandon Staley favorite DT Sebastian Joseph-Day (6’4/305) to a $16.5M guaranteed contract doesn’t necessarily mean the Chargers can’t go beast mode up front with this selection. Davis, Joseph-Day, Khalil Mack, and Joey Bosa would allow the Chargers to lead the NFL in two-high coverages, something Staley wants to do. Davis’ (-140 o13.5) biggest worry is snap count, but the Chargers have the depth (DT Austin Johnson) to make Davis an elite 30-snap player.
This front office has built through the trenches for the last decade, but some of those players have aged and Johnson is considered one of the safer picks in the draft. He’d compete with Isaac Seumalo in 2022 before the veteran leaves for free agency, plus Johnson adds depth if C Jason Kelce (34 years old) picks up an injury as C/OG Landon Dickerson can kick inside. Having a quality OL and now two first-round receivers is a good way to groom a young QB.
A developmental left tackle with elite athleticism, Penning is an immediate Terron Armstead replacement on a team that doesn’t have the cap space to properly address the position with a veteran. Penning is currently a better run-blocker than pass-protector, which isn’t as big of a deal as it is in other offenses. This has been a quick-hitting, balanced unit recently. Penning is 19th in Grinding The Mock’s expected draft position.
If Pickett happens, it’ll require a trade up, as both Dane Brugler and Daniel Jeremiah wrote that New Orleans (16th and 19th overall) is Pickett’s floor. I’m not projecting trades in this exercise (20th and 52nd overall gets them up to 12th overall as an example), but the fit makes a ton of sense beyond the geographical connection – Pickett is a distributor with the weapons already in place. Long-time GM Kevin Colbert is retiring after the draft and finding a QB could be his parting gift like it was for Ravens’ ex-GM Ozzie Newsome (Lamar Jackson). More importantly, if the Steelers weren’t serious about this incoming QB class, then they wouldn’t have Mike Tomlin on the pro day circuit or they would’ve given Mitchell Trubisky more than $6.3M in cash. Pickett is +175 to be the 1st QB despite being mocked ahead of Malik Willis in both Dane Brugler and Daniel Jeremiah’s latest mock drafts. He’s also ranked higher by Jeremiah.
New England continues letting big-money CBs walk, but they need early-round replacements to run their man-heavy system. McDuffie is a decent value here, even if he’s small. Daniel Jeremiah, Dane Brugler, and Bruce Feldman all have Duffie mocked and ranked inside the top-15. He’s 20th in Grinding The Mock’s expected draft position, too.
At least one of Green Bay’s two 1st-round picks will be a WR, and Burks gives them some of the screen ability that Davante Adams had in this system. Burks’ ceiling comes as an X-receiver, but this system can create targets for him while he transitions more to the outside.
Arizona has let their best edge rushers walk in recent offseasons and can’t rely on 33-year-old J.J. Watt. Mafe is a developmental edge rusher with high-end athleticism and potential. Both Dane Brugler and Daniel Jeremiah believe Mafe could climb inside the top-25, DJ going as far as mocking him 19th overall and ranking him 26th overall most recently.
This isn’t an obvious need, but selecting Dean keeps Micah Parsons at his most-valuable position – edge rusher. Dean is 29th in Grinding The Mocks’ expected draft position and 13th in Daniel Jeremiah’s rankings. Cowboys insider Jeff Cavanaugh believes Dean would be an excellent pick.
CB depth has been a minor issue for Buffalo and became more important following CB1 Tre’Davious White’s torn ACL last season. Booth is 28th in Grinding The Mocks’ expected draft position (including top-30 in Jeremiah’s and Brugler’s big boards), despite having a quiet pre-draft process due to quad/hernia surgery.
This would be the cherry on top of an already strong defensive line. Wyatt would line up next to Jeffrey Simmons, creating one of the most athletic inside duos. Wyatt is 25th in Grinding The Mocks’ expected draft position and went higher than that in both Dane Brugler and Daniel Jeremiah’s recent mock draft. For those counting at home, this is Georgia’s 4th front-seven player in this mock draft.
This would be Ali Marpet’s one-for-one replacement. Protecting boomer QB Tom Brady is an obvious priority, and Green is arguably the No. 1 interior offensive lineman in the class. He’s 27th in Grinding The Mocks’ expected draft position.
“Connecticut DT Travis Jones” is the most madden-generated player name ever, but he’s quietly on the Round 1 radar. Both Dane Brugler and Daniel Jeremiah hid him in their most recent Day 1 mocks, despite ranking 41st overall in Grinding The Mocks’ expected draft position. Brugler actually linked Jones to Green Bay, too. Locked On Packers’ Peter Bukowski said, “This makes a lot of sense”. Good enough for me.
If Travis Kelce is viewed as the X receiver in the offense, this fit makes more sense. Dotson isn’t a No. 1 receiver, but he should be an efficient secondary target with inside/outside versatility. Daniel Jeremiah and Dane Brugler are higher on Dotson than the Grinding The Mocks’ consensus (38th overall). This would cash o5.5 WRs (-150). … On a different note, Yahoo Sports Charles Robinson believes that there is some smoke with DK Metcalf going to the Chiefs or Packers. Aside from the obvious skill talent difference, Metcalf is a better scheme fit (X) than Dotson (Z/slot) with JuJu Smith-Schuster (slot), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Z), and Mecole Hardman (Z/slot) signed.
33rd in Grinding The Mocks’ expected draft position, Hill checks in at 19th overall in Daniel Jeremiah’s rankings and Dane Brugler is a “huge fan”. The versatile safety would take over the Honey Badger role as a nickel option with two-deep safety ability if something happened to Justin Reid or Juan Thornhill. This would cash o1.5 safeties (-160).
A starting lineup of LT Jonah Williams, LG Ted Karras, C Linderbaum, RG Alex Cappa, and RT La’El Collins is a big upgrade. Linderbaum is 23rd in Grinding The Mocks’ expected draft position.
Daniel Jeremiah left Willis off his latest first-round mock draft, and Dane Brugler had him falling to 18th overall. It’s possible that the rawness of Willis’ game isn’t well-liked by the NFL with so many teams feeling comfortable with their current starter. The Lions could justify the gamble late in Round 1 (especially because they hold the 32nd and 34th overall picks), which is partially why Detroit is +350 to be the team to draft Willis. They can get out of Jared Goff’s contract next offseason after letting Willis hold the veteran’s clipboard in 2022. If they have to trade up to facilitate this, flipping 32nd and 34th overall can get them to the 12th overall pick or so.
Also considered: QB Matt Corral (26th in Grinding The Mocks' expected draft position), CB Kaiir Elam (30th), S Lewis Cine (31st), EDGE David Ojabo (32nd), OT Bernhard Raimann (34th), OT Tyler Smith (35th), QB Desmond Ridder (37th), WR George Pickens (40th), RB Breece Hall (42nd), EDGE Arnold Ebiketie (43rd), CB Kyler Gordon (44th), WR Christian Watson (45th), and RB Kenneth Walker (54th).
Positional props that would’ve cashed in this specific mock, but that doesn't necessarily mean I love each one of these odds: under 2.5 QBs (+155), under 0.5 RBs (-190), over 5.5 WRs (-150), under 0.5 TEs (-600), under 7.5 OL (+110), under 4.5 CBs (-150), over 1.5 S (-160).