I've changed my mock draft a million times this week after bombshell report after bombshell report dropped. I think there's a group of 10 players that have very realistic odds of going inside the top-10 overall at this point -- 4 EDGE, 3 OT, 2 CB, and 1 WR. Maybe Jordan Davis, Kyle Hamilton, or another receiver sneaks in, but this draft is about the trenches.
Here is the latest news on each pick with a simple mock draft attached.
Other names to watch: EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, OT Ikem Ekwonu
#SizeMatters truther Trent Baalke likes Walker. Doug Pederson likes OT Ikem Ekonwu. Some of the defensive coaches and most importantly owner Shad Khan likes Aidan Hutchinson. So who has the final say? Has Khan seen the media crush Baalke enough to grab the wheel? I’m unsure. ESPN’s Adam Schefter believes it’s more likely to be Walker or an OT and most of the other national media members agree. I lean Walker because of that, but I don’t think this is 100% yet after learning my lesson with Mac Jones > Trey Lance last year. I’m somewhere around 60% Walker, 30% Hutchinson, 8% Ekwonu, and 2% other.
Other names to watch: EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, CB Sauce Gardner, EDGE Travon Walker
This still could be Kayvon Thibodeaux (+275 to go 2nd) if Travon Walker doesn’t go 1st overall -- he's listed 2nd by The Athletic's Lions beat and sharp money came on this earlier -- but it’s presumed that the local kid (-200) who fits Detroit’s culture and team needs would be the easy selection if available. This is what ESPN’s Adam Schefter, ESPN’s Todd McShay, and SI’s Albert Breer believe. It also just makes sense as the consensus top prospect.
Other names to watch: EDGE Travon Walker, OT Ikem Ekwonu, CB Sauce Gardner, OT Evan Neal. Basically all of them.
Lovie Smith mentioned that his defense simply needs better players at corner. With a massive dropoff from the top-two consensus corners and CB3, the Texans probably have to draft whichever one they like most at 3rd overall. After a solid Pro Day, Stingley is flying up boards – SI’s Albert Breer knows the Texans like him, Pro Football Network thinks he’s in play, and Lance Zierlein and Dane Brugler linked this on their pod. Plus, NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah doesn't think Stingley gets out of the top 10. As for 3rd overall, the Texans were 29th in man-coverage snaps last year, so there’s an argument that Stingley’s traits fit this defense more than Sauce Gardner’s press-man skills. Lovie Smith likes ball production at corner. Stingley had that in a massive way as a true freshman in the SEC in 2019.
Other names to watch: OT Ikem Ekwonu, CB Sauce Gardner, EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, OT Evan Neal
The Athletic’s Connor Hughes has been adamant that the Jets want an edge rusher, citing coach Robert Salah’s need for edge depth going back to his days with the 49ers. We initially had reports that Kayvon Thibodeaux was their guy, but things changed on Monday. ESPN’s Jordan Raanan (who covers the Giants) tweeted that Johnson “seems to be a Top 10 lock. Maybe even sneaks into Top 5?” Then Hughes, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, The Athletic’s Dane Brugler, and Benjamin Allbright shortly after said Thibodeaux is falling, leaving Johnson as someone of interest. This was backed up by ESPN’s Rich Cimini’s narrowed down big board of Ikem Ekwonu, Sauce Gardner, and Johnson. Then Hughes mocked Johnson here on Tuesday. ETR’s Anthony Amico notes that 16-of-17 picks made by GM Joe Douglas have been captains. Johnson was a college captain.
Other names to watch: CB Sauce Gardner, OT Ikem Ekwonu, CB Derek Stingley
ESPN's Giants reporter Jordan Raanan believes Neal (+300) is the favorite for this pick because he's a better scheme fit than Ikem Ekwonu (+300) and Charles Cross (+250). NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo agrees. Neal, who played 765 snaps at RT in 2020 and 723 snaps at LG in 2019, can line up opposite LT Andrew Thomas as a rookie. To put the cherry on top, coach Brian Daboll has the connection to Alabama. USA Today’s Giants reporter Art Stapleton also believes Neal is ranked higher than Cross still, even though Cross is well liked, too. SNY’s Ralph Vachaino agrees.
Other names to watch: OT Evan Neal, OT Charles Cross, trade down if both are gone
Carolina seems like an obvious trade down team if the consensus top-two OTs -- Evan Neal (+400) and Ikem Ekwonu (+750) -- are off the board. In this iteration, the Panthers get lucky and find a high-end player for a glaring need. SI’s Albert Breer notes that Ekwonu “came in and knocked out his Panthers visit”. The next step would be finding some Sam Darnold competition. Maybe Baker Mayfield gets cheap enough to add post-draft. Ditto for Jimmy Garoppolo. ESPN’s Todd McShay wrote, “Quarterback is a long shot here.”
Other names to watch: CB Derek Stingley, OT Evan Neal, OT Charles Cross
With James Bradberry too expensive to keep, the Giants have a massive need at corner in their new man-heavy scheme. The Athletic hears that DC Wink Martindale “really wants Gardner”, who fits this system even more than Stingley because he has 90th percentile length and athleticism. It’s been reported that the Giants dream is a right tackle and Sauce. They happen to get lucky here.
Other names to watch: EDGE Jermaine Johnson, WR Drake London, WR Garrett Wilson, CB Derek Stingley
This blurb from SI’s Albert Breer sums this pick up: “A lot of people have the Falcons pegged to take a receiver here, with USC’s Drake London and Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson names to watch. It’s to the point where Atlanta is seen as the team to get in front of if you want your pick of the receiver group. London is very much seen as Arthur Smith’s type of wideout—big and tough and a strong blocker. But if the right edge rusher falls to No. 8, I wouldn’t rule out Smith and Terry Fontenot going in that direction either, with four other top-100 picks to address the receiver need.” That right edge rusher falling seems like Thibodeaux, who could be the best player in the whole draft on the field. Thibodeaux dropping to 8th overall (+1200) or 9th overall (+3500) seems like the sweet spot, and I’m on both of those odds. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo tweeted, “Some teams in the early teens hoping it’s that far. Not sure they’ll be that fortunate.” Thibodeaux would solve the Falcons biggest need of finding a pass rusher.
Other names to watch: CB Derek Stingley, OT Charles Cross, EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE Jermaine Johnson
The Seahawks are going to catch a falling player, and they have the team needs available to be very happy with their selection -- CB if Stingley falls, EDGE if Thibodeaux falls, or OT if Cross falls. There's a narrative that the Seahawks wouldn't like a left tackle from an air raid offense, but Cross can maul still and wasn't recruited to be in that college offense anyways. The Seahawks need here is massive. If they nail this, they can begin looking to find their long-term QB1 later.
Other names to watch: EDGE Jermaine Johnson, WR Garrett Wilson, EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, OT Charles Cross, WR Jameson Williams
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said that he’d “be surprised if the Jets don’t walk away from their top two picks without a wide receiver.” London (+300) would complement the current Jets receiving corps best and could take over for Corey Davis ($10.5M in cap savings if cut after this season), 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 is my WR1 in this class.