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Hutchinson is -280 to go first overall. 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.
Bets previously suggested: Aidan Hutchinson (-250 at 1st overall).
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. Thibodeaux has +400 odds of going 2nd overall and inside the top-5 (+100) after NFL’s Peter Schrager and The Athletic’s Chris Burke mocked it. If it’s not Thibs, then it’s probably Travon Walker (+250).
Bets previously suggested: Kayvon Thibodeaux (+500 at 2nd overall).
New pick: John McClain believes OC Pep Hamilton wants to build around Davis Mills this draft after arguably playing the second-best ball among the 2021 rookie QBs last season. They have LT Laremy Tunsil under contract for two more seasons, but Ekwonu has played left guard before (239 snaps in 2020) and could be an option at right tackle, too. Ekwonu has -280 odds of being a top-five pick and +180 of going exactly at 3rd overall. The latter makes Ekwonu the favorite to be selected here.
New pick: The Athletic’s Connor Hughes straight up tweeted that the Jets aren’t interested in a CB with the 4th or 10th overall selection. Why? It beats me, but Hughes is plugged in and leans EDGE/OL here. He selected Kayvon Thibodeaux in a recent mock draft with Walker and all three offensive tackles on the board, but Thibodeaux is gone in this simulation.
New pick: Neal is -250 to go inside the top-five picks and +250 to be the 5th overall pick in particular. The Giants need a right tackle or guard to properly evaluate Daniel Jones heading into his final year of his rookie contract, and Neal played 765 snaps at RT in 2020 and 723 snaps at LG in 2019. Coach Brian Daboll having the Alabama connection is the icing on the cake here.
Bets previously suggested: Evan Neal o3.5 (-175). Kenny Pickett (+7500) to go 5th overall.
New pick: This is bold (+1000 to go top-10), but Lloyd’s steam is building following The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman’s latest mock draft and appearance on his company’s NFL Draft podcast. Lloyd could be more liked by coaching staffs than mock drafters, who underestimate his pass-rushing ability as a blitzer and outside linebacker. The Panthers need a starter opposite Shaq Thompson, and Lloyd could be a target if the Panthers trade down, an option Dane Bruger reports is in the conversation, especially because they don’t have their 2nd- or 3rd-round picks this year. It’s worth noting that the Panthers are currently the only team with enough salary cap to trade for Jimmy G. They have $9M more cap space than any other team.
Bets previously suggested: Devin Lloyd (+2000) to go inside the top-10.
New pick: The Giants have CB1 James Bradberry on the trade block, and Gardner would be an ideal replacement in Wink Martindale’s man-heavy defensive scheme. After adding skill and DL talent in recent seasons, going OL + CB would be the balanced approach to the Giants’ rebuild. He has -500 odds of being a top-10 pick.
Bets previously suggested: Sauce Gardner u8.5 (-200).
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. Wilson has -115 odds of landing inside the top-10.
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 (-450 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.
New pick: I personally think the Jets have invested enough into the offense to evaluate Zach Wilson, but their actions suggest they are looking for more – New York was rumored with Tyreek Hill, Amari Cooper, DK Metcalf, A.J. Brown, and other stud receivers this offseason. London would complement the current Jets receiving corps best, as the physical X receiver capable of bunch-set blocking in their balanced offense. The Athletic’s Connor Hughes recently mocked this, sharing a similar evaluation. London has -110 odds of being a top-10 selection.
New pick: This would be an overspend in my eyes – stay patient with Dyami Brown! – but this team thinks they are ready to compete and Olave is pro ready after contributing for four years at the Ohio State University. Ron Rivera has only gone to a few pro days in his entire head coaching career, and his team has drafted the players of which he attended. This year, Rivera was chatting with Olave and Garrett Wilson. Olave would be Terry McLaurin’s vertical sidekick on the perimeter with Curtis Samuel in the slot if all are healthy.
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. Stingley’s over/under has dropped from 12.5 to 10.5 in recent days. His draft range following a rock solid pro day feels between 5th overall (Giants) to 13th overall (Texans) as a potentially lock-down CB1 in a man-heavy system.
Bets previously suggested: Derek Stingley u12.5 (-125).
New pick: Houston has been searching for edge rushing help since J.J. Watt’s departure, and Johnson has the elite traits of a potential EDGE1 despite being a very late breakout. Other teams would prioritize college production, but the Texans’ process is all over the place. Give me the over on 9.5 overall (+115) for Johnson with Hutchinson, Thibodeaux, and Walker all firmly projected to go ahead. He’s gone over that number in 6-of-9 mock drafts I trust.
This seems like the perfect culture fit, and 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 from 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.
New pick: 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). Ideally the Saints would find a vertical receiver like Chris Olave or Jameson Williams, but they got steamed here, leaving them with the riskier Treylon Burks. If he hits, Burks has the unique size/speed combination of a game-changing player. At worst, he’s a hard to tackle gadget receiver in a bunch of alignments. The New Orleans offense is creative enough to find use with him right away.
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.
New pick: It’s a premium position for the analytically-savvy Eagles front office, and McDuffie fills a big need at CB2. While small, McDuffie can adjust to the size of the NFL as Darius Slay’s CB2.
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 could require a trade up, as both Dane Brugler and Daniel Jeremiah wrote that New Orleans (18th 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 +140 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.
Bets previously suggested: Kenny Pickett (+175) to be the 1st QB.
New pick: I’m confused at what New England’s plan is on the offensive interior after trading Shaq Mason to the Bucs. It could be as simple as finding his younger replacement here, as Johnson is considered the top guard prospect in the class with high-end athleticism. Long-time Pats reporter Mike Giardi believes this pick will go to an OT or IOL, specifically mentioning Zion Johnson in his tweet.
New pick: At least one of Green Bay’s two 1st-round picks will be a WR, and unfortunately the consensus top-5 flew off the board quickly in this simulation. That’s not too bad because this class has some depth, starting with Jahan Dotson. He can play inside or outside and is considered one of the most reliable route runners in the class with a good feel for zone coverage, too. Dotson would be the fastest receiver in Green Bay immediately. Over 5.5 WRs (-160) is a reasonable bet with the Packers and Chiefs both needing receivers in the 20s. Most of the mocks I trust have this hitting, and Shrine Bowl director Eric Galko likes it, too.
New pick: Arizona has let their best edge rushers walk in recent offseasons and can’t rely on 33-year-old J.J. Watt. Ebiketie is the next twitched-up athlete out of Penn State. He’s undersized but falls in the mold of Cardinals 2017 1st-rounder Hasson Reddick. Both Ebiketie and Reddick had 9.5 sacks in their final collegiate season.
New pick: This would be one of the biggest storylines of the draft, as Hamilton was viewed as a potential top-five prospect just weeks ago. Hamilton’s 4.7 forty was disappointing, even if his tape is top tier. It’s hard to pull the trigger on a third tier position inside the top-15 without truly elite measurables. Over 8.5 (-150) is one of my favorite bets now. Josh Norris, Anthony Amico, and Daniel Jeremiah’s latest mocks have him falling to 11th overall or beyond.
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.
New pick: This is the Rodger Saffold replacement and a great culture fit as a brawler for coach Mike Vrabel. I also have Tennessee as a trade down candidate:
New pick: Vita Vea is a true nose tackle, so Wyatt would line up next door at three tech with William Gholston on a one-year, $4M contract and Ndomakhue Suh being a free agent. Wyatt has been included in all mock drafts I trust this month, often going in the early 20s. The Bucs would be stoked if this plays out.
New pick: I am very much tempted to slide in X receiver George Pickens here because he’s a perfect scheme fit, but Pickens has yet to be mocked or graded in Round 1 by the mock drafters I trust. Instead, Raimann is getting buzz inside the top-32. He’s a 25-year-old prospect but being an immigrant and being new to football are good enough reasons why he was a late breakout. In Green Bay, Raimann can start at RT with Elgton Jenkins moving back to LG, all while being insurance to David Bahktiari (ACL). Raimann is an elite athlete.
New pick: 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.
The fit doesn’t make too much sense with Justin Reid and Juan Thornhill under contract, but Hill could play in the nickel as a rookie. More importantly, Hill just needed to be inside my first-round mock and I was running out of spots. He’s 19th overall in Daniel Jeremiah’s rankings and 20th in Dane Brugler’s. I also wouldn’t rule out a trade up for one of the consensus top-five receivers because the Chiefs own the 29th, 30th, 50th, 62nd, 94th, and 103rd overall picks in this draft, plus six Day 3 selections.
Bets previously suggested: Safeties o1.5 (-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 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.
Positional props that would’ve cashed, 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 (-160), under 0.5 TEs (-600), over 7.5 OL (+110), under 4.5 CBs (-150), and over 0.5 Ss (-160).
Also considered: QB Desmond Ridder, QB Matt Corral, RB Breece Hall, RB Kenneth Walker, WR Christian Watson, WR Skyy Moore, WR George Pickens, OT Tyler Smith, DT Travis Jones, EDGE David Ojabo, EDGE Logan Hall, LB Quay Walker, CB Kyler Gordon, CB Kaiir Elam, and S Lewis Cine.