You aren't going to create the Greatest Mock Draft of All Time by copying someone else's picks. And the key to creating the most accurate score of all time? Nailing the top 10, then finding "random" player and team fits from pick No. 16 on. This iteration is different than the last, namely because of the recent show interviewing beat writers who cover each of the teams selecting in the Top 10.
National insiders and analysts are great at diagraming the ranges of players. But much of that is attributed to what teams say about other teams. We want to go straight to the source… or at least as close as possible. The local level.
The Travon Walker rumblings are not going away, and because of that I totally buy Trent Baalke ranking him higher than the rest of the room. Is it that ridiculous to believe Baalke would allow Aidan Hutchinson’s history playing under Jim Harbaugh to impact his decision? It is more plausible than the Travon Walker/Aldon Smith comps I keep seeing. Both Walker and Hutchinson are incredible athletes.
If Walker is selected with the first pick, this is likely an easy selection for the Lions. If not, things get spicy with the inclusion of Kayvon Thibodeaux.
A few days from now this might be a far more common projection. Even the books are now catching up with Sauce at +400 for this pick, only behind Ickey and Evan Neal. It would not be shocking for Derek Stingley to be the choice if the Texans bypass OL, believing in Tunsil at LT and Tytus Howard at right tackle, where he is far more comfortable than at Guard.
Ickey or KT. Ickey or KT. I will continue to flip back and forth between those possibilities if this is how the board falls. Connor Hughes has mentioned that Joe Douglas view Ekwonu as a 10-year starter, and from ym seat the team simply cannot rely on Mekhi Becton and George Fant is on the final year of his deal. What has been consistent is that the Jets are unlikely to take a corner at No. 4 or No. 10 over a pass rusher or wide receiver.
Brain Daboll has joked with media members that they should try out for OL spots on the roster. John Mara has specifically pointed to that front five being an imperative change in order for the team’s success to take the next step. Joe Schoen and Daboll saw a tidal wave of blockers come through Buffalo that helped stabilize not only the quarterback, but the entire offense.
This is not to replace Andrew Thomas, this is a true right tackle play. If Ickey is selected earlier, Charles Cross makes a ton of sense.
I’m very tempted to consider a New Orleans Saints trade up here for a top tackle, whether it be Neal or Charles Cross. It’s the kind of move the Saints would make to extend their window and fill a glaring need.
I would be stunned if the Panthers select Kenny Pickett with the No. 6 pick. Follow the paper trail. They are the only team in the league that created enough cap space to take on Baker Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo. And the longer this drags along, both teams might be more tempted to eat some of those QB’s contracts. Trade out is the likely target with Scott Fitterer, who traded back four times in his first draft as GM, lacking a second- or third-round pick. A QB is possible in that case, but here at six locking down a true left tackle would surpass that option.
Wink Martindale’s defense is built on corners that can hold up and win in isolation, then generating pressure with athletes and big bodies up front. Just look at how the Ravens’ defense fell apart last season without Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey and others. James Bradberry’s future in New York is almost certainly up due to his contract and the Giants’ cap constraints. Stingley is the top corner on some boards.
The Falcons need everything. But what our guest Michael Rothstein, who covers the Falcons for ESPN, reminded us: Dean Pees loves versatile safeties. Washington at 11 is another possibility for Hamilton.
This is another spot for the Saints to potentially trade up. We have seen the Seahawks previously favor trade outs - the difference is those were later in round one and likely all first-round grades were off the board. The Seahawks now sit in the heart of round one with a top 10 grade sitting there. The team currently does not have a starting tackle, left or right, on the roster.
Jets beat writer Connor Hughes suggested that the team believes they are a piece away on offense. Hence the pursuit of Amari Cooper, Calvin Ridley and finally Tyreek Hill. The Hill offer was accepted for two second-round picks, Ridley likely would not have cost a first round pick and we know Amari went for much less. But now, a first round pick will be necessary in order to acquire a quality pass catcher. London offers a different skillset than Elijah Moore and Corey Davis.
The people making personnel decisions in Washington have displayed their process for years and years in the NFL: Ron Rivera and Marty Hurney. During their time together in Carolina, Rob Rivera only attended three non-NC Pro Days: 2011 Auburn (Cam Newton), 2011 LSU (Patrick Peterson) and 2017 Stanford (Christian McCaffrey).
Make that four, as Rivera and Hurney were all over the Ohio State WRs on March 23. The head coach only travels if he has real, real interest in the prospect - and both pass catchers would fit where the Commanders want to get to. Garrett Wilson will top multiple WR boards, but so will Jamo, Olave and London.
A WR run! Are you going to bet against it happening? After losing Tyler Conklin, it seems like the Vikings are trending towards being an 11-personnel focused team, which includes soon to be 32 year old Adam Thielen. The Rams searched for this type - Desean Jackson, Tutu Atwell, even Odell was supposed to bring downfield juice. Jameson Williams will also top some draft boards at the position.
Friend of the show ClevTA does an outstanding job filtering out prospects that the Browns will be interested in with a first round pick based on athleticism, production and age. Consider them thresholds. In this case, I am assuming Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will transfer those principles after working under Andrew Berry until proven otherwise. Expect Kwesi to focus first round picks on premium positions: QB, LT, WR, EDGE and CB.
Texans finished bottom five in sacks and lost Jacob Martin. If they pass on an edge rusher earlier, it must be addressed early in the draft.
I so, so wanted to put Jordan Davis here. Eric DeCosta potentially seeing Haloti Ngata in the Georgia player’s future. I’m a little wary of seeing top 10 projections for Jermaine Johnson (u9.5 can be widely found) due to his age: 23.2. Some teams will care, some will not - just look at their previous picks to see if it factors into process.
On the outside, a 6’6/341 lbs bulkier defensive tackle might not seem like a Howie Roseman type. On the other hand, Planet Theory. Howie will be very aware that the only way to acquire a player like this, the most athletic prospect in NFL history, is to draft him. Can he pass on that opportunity?
I keep mentioning a trade up for a tackle. A slight move up for a receiver, specifically Olave, also makes a ton of sense… and might be necessary!
I know the Chargers already have Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack. But with the top four receivers off the board, along with Jordan Davis, adding a third pass rusher is not out of the question. Teams on the cusp have started to do this: Bucs in last year’s draft, Browns attempted this with Takk McKinley, Rams with Floyd - Von - Terrell Lewis. It could help create single blocks for both Bosa and Mack from a variety of spots. Trevor Penning at right tackle was also an option.
No receiver, sorry. A fill-in for the retired Brandon Brooks, to keep a strength strong.
Trevor Penning was also a possibility here. Let’s say the Saints sign Jarvis Landry and Tyrann Mathieu and nab a tackle earlier… on some level all of the needs have been filled, right? That leaves the door open for a quarterback, and the Saints have certainly done their homework on this class.
If you forced me to guess which team will be the first to draft a quarterback, my answer is the Steelers. Mitchell Trubisky’s contract is backup caliber and they have not been great at hiding their interest in targets in recent years.
A rangy, versatile defensive back who comes from a blue blood program that Belichick loves to draft from? This connection makes too much sense.
I know we all want to force receiver, but there is a growing buzz that Hall will be selected by one of these teams at the end of round one. Pass rush juice is needed after the loss of Zadarius Smith even if the two don’t play the same position.
The Cardinals were mentioned as a team to potentially trade up for a playmaker last year. That never materialized. Now? They have an even larger need at the position. Burks might not be a proven product as an outside receiver, but he can be used all over the formation early as his game develops.
Another team with a clear wide receiver need, but keeping the offensive line as one of the team’s better units should remain a priority. Green has starts at RG, LG and LT under his belt… just from last season.
The Bills love tools. They love youth. They need an outside corner after losing Levi Wallace and Tre White dealing with an injury. Breece Hall is tempting, but adding another back after round one is also a possibility.
Penning says he loves playing football because it allows him to “legally assault the person across from me.” Trevor, meet Mike Vrabel.
I always fall in love with interior disruptors who might not have the best raw sack totals. That’s Travis Jones, who would be a force lining up next to Vita Vea and help the Bucs create more interior chaos.
It is difficult to find X WR frames in every draft class. While Pickens’ game might have tailed off after his first year, there’s no doubt that his potential could entice many across the league… enough to draw a first-round selection.
Charvarius Ward and Mike Hughes combined for 1,500 snaps last season. Neither are on the roster, and neither have been replaced.
This feels like the last year of Frank Clark in Kansas City, and the team still needs to replace the juice that Melvin Ingram brought in his shortened stint with the team.
Starting corners Chidobe Awuzie and Eli Apple have a combined 3 years remaining on their contracts. McDuffie is typically projected much earlier in round one - I simply struggle with the Top 20 mocks due to his less than 30-inch arms.
A sweet spot for safeties and linebackers… Aaron Glenn will have his pick of many great talents.