On the flip side of the Mock Draft that I dropped yesterday, in this version I am going to take stabs at how the events of Thursday/Friday nights could actually unfold – 2nd round picks included this time too!
I want to make clear that I am not shooting for a perfect score here. Will I gloat if I snipe a late pick or two? Inevitably. But there are a billion mock drafts across the Internet where you can find 64 picks of chalk if you so desire. Here, my goal is to outline conceivable outcomes across the board, but with some picks and trades mixed in that deviate from expectations.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
I am well aware that Travon Walker has moved into the driver’s seat as the favorite to first walk onto the podium. With the betting markets now reflecting that shift, we are well beyond the point of Walker to Jacksonville as a smokescreen. Still, I keep Hutchinson here for a few reasons. One, he’s the consensus better prospect. Two, as a Dave Gettleman survivor, I am sympathetic towards the victims in waiting of a senile GM who escapes retirement to torpedo a franchise into a 20-year deep hole, so I am hopeful for Jags fans that Doug Pederson and the coaching staff’s calmer and saner heads prevail over Trent Baalke. Three, I just think the first round will be more fun if Hutch goes 1 and Detroit becomes a total mystery at 2. And in that scenario…
- New York Jets – Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
TRADE: DET trades 1/2 to NYJ for 1/4, 2/38
…the Lions don’t even pick at 2! I think they will try to get the hell outta this spot if Hutchinson is off the board – assuming they don’t culturally vibe with Kayvon Thibodeaux. According to draft value charts, the Lions would actually be selling Pick 2 at a discount here, but without blue-chip QBs in this draft it should be deemed as acceptable value.
For the Jets, they use the extra 2nd rounder acquired from the Sam Darnold trade to guarantee that they leave Vegas with Ekwonu – who I have a hunch is the top player on their draft board. I know many Jets fans don’t identify OT as a team need compared to WR/EDGE/CB, but I’m with Joe Douglas and the front office on this one. Take a deep breath and put aside Mekhi Becton’s 13 rookie starts to acknowledge that this is a kid who can barely stay on the field, reportedly was tipping the scales closer to 400lbs than 350lbs, the coaching staff has basically openly revolted against, and now is a no-show at voluntary minicamp. Even if you’re a Jets fan who does envision Becton as part of the future, you think that George Fant on a 1yr/$11mil deal is a good reason to pass on an blue-chip prospect at arguably the second most important position in football? Ickey would be a dream fit in the LaFleur style offense.
- Houston Texans – Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
I see this spot as Travon Walker’s floor. You hesitate to compare any prospects to Hall of Famers, let alone a prospect with a good amount of baked-in projection like Walker, but it’s not crazy for the Texans to look at Walker’s traits and compare him to another freaky and versatile Georgia Bulldog alum in Richard Seymour, who was drafted sixth overall en route to becoming a key figure in the Patriots dynasty.
- Detroit Lions – Drake London, WR, USC
If there is a kneecap-biter of a player at WR, it’s London. Beyond appealing to Dan Campbell, you have the SoCal connection with GM Brad Holmes, and just listen to this recent quote from Receivers Coach Antwaan Randel El: “I’m trying to draft two and bring in one. We throwing to him, we don’t care who is covering what, we know he can go up and get that. My guys know we haven’t had that guy yet.”
- New York Giants – Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Joe Schoen’s tenure a couple of months into the Giants GM job has been defined by pay cuts and back-roster moves. He hasn’t made his first landmark move yet, and I do think that’s a notably important thing to get right. By drafting Neal to jump right in at right tackle, this pick would send a message of stability to the fanbase while providing a good combination of safeness and upside on the field.
- San Francisco 49ers – Kyle Hamilton, SAF, Notre Dame
TRADE: CAR trades 1/6, Sam Darnold to SF for 2/61, 3/105, 2023 R2, Jimmy Garoppolo, Deebo Samuel
OH YES. I wrote in yesterday’s mock draft that Carolina should be trying like hell to get out of this pick, and I do expect them to pull it off by the time they are on the clock. Now, do they foresee themselves dropping all the way to 61 for their first pick, especially with Scott Fitterer and Matt Rhule on hot seats? No, but I do think it’s likely that they view Jimmy G as their best available QB option for 2022 contention, and one of their biggest roster holes is slot receiver: hello, Mr. Samuel. Deebo is from the Carolinas…the Panthers have the most cap space in the league…see where I’m going here? I have read the reports that Jimmy G isn’t expected to get traded before the draft and that John Lynch doesn’t want to trade Deebo, so I don’t expect this to actually go down – but these stars do align!
For the 49ers, the logic is easy. They are good enough to win a Super Bowl now, and Kyle Hamilton would make their defense that much better. You don’t have to squint too hard to see shades of Ronnie Lott’s game in Hamilton, and the guy who submits the draft card for San Fran is…John Lynch. For the trade framework, I used the Julio Jones 2011 NFL Draft trade:
Pick 27 = Deebo
Pick 59 = Pick 61
Pick 124 = Pick 105
Future R1 = Jimmy G + Future R2
Future R4 = Taking on Darnold’s $18mil
- Pittsburgh Steelers – Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
TRADE: NYG trades 1/7 to PIT for 1/20, 3/84, 2023 R1
Rooney Mara tells her uncles to get on the line and work out a deal. Even if that’s not exactly how it goes down, the Giants have leaked it far and wide that they would like to trade back for a future pick(s), and I’m honestly pretty confident that Pittsburgh is going to make a big move for a QB on Thursday night. The outbound GM who decides to stick around for one last year might be the scariest thing in sports, especially when Kevin Colbert watched Ozzie Newsome depart Baltimore with Lamar Jackson as his final first round pick and will look to pull off the same type of legacy move with Willis.
- Minnesota Vikings – Derek Stingley Jr, CB, LSU
TRADE: ATL trades 1/8, 4/114 to MIN for 1/12, 2/46
Apologies for any confusion with the trade-a-palooza here, but the Falcons like the Panthers are in a pretty gross place organizationally and will likely field calls for this pick to get more help elsewhere. I also have a tough time envisioning the Vikings not leaving this draft with Stingley, and they have a gauntlet of CB-needy teams slated before them in SEA/NYJ/WAS. Beyond having an obvious positional need and just wanting to keep Justin Jefferson happy, Minnesota brought back Patrick Peterson in a pretty clear mentorship role and hired LSU’s DC as their DBs Coach. Bettors: it’s absolutely possible that Sauce goes Top 7, but I would endorse sprinkling some action on Stingley as First CB Drafted for this scenario.
- Seattle Seahawks – Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Have a best coach in mind for an uber-talented LA kid with a bold personality? I buy that a lot of decision makers around the league believe the Thibodeaux crap but he’s not making it beyond Pete Carroll.
- New York Jets – Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
The Sauce Slide™ ends at 10. I’m sure the Jets war room ran many internal mock drafts where they were satisfied with the final outcome of sticking at 4 and taking Sauce there.
- Washington Commanders – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Washington isn’t keeping their cards too close to the chest in that they want a WR and preferably one of the Ohio State boys. I’d imagine they lean Wilson at this much of a premium.
- Atlanta Falcons – Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Until I see otherwise, I don’t trust the Falcons front office to look past the shiniest toy on the board after the Kyle Pitts pick. This would actually be a pretty solid outcome for Atlanta though, picking up an extra 2nd rounder to still land Williams, who’s a decent bet to end up as the best long-term outcome in this WR class.
- New Orleans Saints – Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
TRADE: HOU trades 1/13 to NO for 1/16, 3/98
You’re telling me that Mickey Loomis is going to sit on his hands until Pick 16 as Charles Cross tumbles down the board? This is the same guy who traded a future 1st rounder to move up for Marcus Davenport.
- Baltimore Ravens – Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida State
Baltimore loves length and burst at EDGE, and while I have reservations about Johnson’s college production – just like I did with Odafe Oweh last year – there is no doubt that Johnson has those traits. Even if Johnson doesn’t pan out as a pass rusher, he would make the Ravens even that much harder to run on.
- Philadelphia Eagles – Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
Howie Roseman has a few disciples running teams around the NFL, one of whom is Andrew Berry in Cleveland. Berry has formed the league’s best CB duo moving forward in Denzel Ward and Greg Newsome; here are their Combine measurables:
Ward: 5’11, 183 lbs, 31.25” arm length
Newsome: 6’0, 192 lbs, 31” arm length
Not exactly hulks out there. Nobody questions that McDuffie can play, and I don’t think Philly will overthink his size either. (Avonte Maddox has Bottom 10 wingspan for CBs in Combine history.)
- Houston Texans – Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
I wrote earlier that Houston can convince themselves that they are nabbing a Richard Seymour clone in Travon Walker. Well, now they do the same for Vince Wilfork with Jordan Davis. Re-pairing the Georgia big boys is sound strategy early into a complete roster overhaul.
- Los Angeles Chargers – Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State
Not gonna lie…I have NO idea what direction the Chargers go with this pick. Their roster is one of the league’s more complete and their official prospect visits have largely been with Day 2-3 guys. I can’t sell myself on them taking a WR3 or reaching for a RT at this pick either. And I’m not sure who would trade up for who at this spot. So – and I swear if you read my previous Mock Draft that had Walker going highly too that the Walker Family is not paying me – I have them going with the Michigan State RB. Fellow progressive teams like the Browns and Packers have invested in two-man backfields, and the Chargers have swung-and-missed on late round picks recently to share the workload with Austin Ekeler. The Athletic’s Consensus Big Board has Breece Hall ranked 36th and Walker ranked 40th, and I think Walker as the superior runner makes better sense for LA with Ekeler already locking up third downs. Tom Telesco took Melvin Gordon 15th overall so this isn’t out of character for him.
- Philadelphia Eagles – George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
There is a negative percent chance that the Eagles leave this draft without at least 1/2 first rounders used in the trenches. Karlaftis fits the Eagles benchmarks for defensive linemen to a T with his size, power and hand strength. Bringing back Derek Barnett on a 2yr/$7mil for the primary purpose of negating void years wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of his services, so Karlaftis would join the Eagles in a top reserve role with the hope that he’d naturally replace Brandon Graham down the line.
- New Orleans Saints – Lewis Cine, SAF, Georgia
I reject the narrative that the Saints flipped picks with the Eagles for an additional first rounder this year so they can lump them together to make a mega-trade up; I just think they believe that they are two impact players away from contention. Considering they went 9-8 last year with 10 games started by Taysom Hill, Trevor Siemian, and Ian Book, maybe it’s not the worst thought. Unless you think they hosted Tyrann Mathieu on a free agent visit as a courtesy and are comfortable with Daniel Sorenson as a starting safety, I’m going to guess that’s the position after OT they have in mind. The Saints gave a big contract to Marcus Maye, who is best aligned as a deep safety, so Cine would have the freedom to do what he does best closer to the line of scrimmage.
- New York Giants – Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
This is another safe pick for the Giants, who currently have Blake Martinez fresh off an ACL tear at one ILB spot and Tae Crowder at the other. While I do not expect much early movement on the linebacker class with the amount of decent prospects at the position, the league collectively sounds much higher on Lloyd than the rest of the group.
- New England Patriots – Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington
The Patriots need a cornerback and Gordon has the best remaining combination of size and athleticism. Sometimes it’s as simple as that.
- Green Bay Packers – Tyler Smith, OT/OG, Tulsa
The Packers love themselves a good reach for extremely young and extremely athletic prospects, and more often than not it works out for them so they probably aren’t going to buck that trend now. Smith just turned 21 this month but has the power of a fully developed NFL veteran. Between him, Elgton Jenkins, and Jon Runyan, Green Bay can deploy those three versatile players at LG/RG/RT in any order and it will probably work out.
- Arizona Cardinals – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Kyler Murray publicly cries for better protection via cryptic Instagram posts and typo-filled press releases from his agent and in return he gets…a 187lb wide receiver. As annoying as Kyler is and as bad as Steve Keim is at his job, this would actually be a pretty great pick. The Cardinals have managed to assemble the slowest offense humanly possible, so Olave would tilt the field for them. His floor is basically the peak production of Christian Kirk.
- Dallas Cowboys – Kenyon Green, OG, Texas A&M
Even with Zion Johnson still on the board, I have a feeling that the league values Kenyon Green much higher than the media. I would believe that Dallas is particularly higher on his youth and power with the way they team-build and run their offense. The whole in-state thing doesn’t hurt either.
- Buffalo Bills – Zion Johnson, OG, Boston College
What a win this would be for Buffalo. The Bills have low-key had pretty bad offensive lines over the past couple of seasons, and they lost some guys this offseason too. Zion could show up and immediately become their best offensive lineman. He’s a Top 10 player on my Board.
- Tennessee Titans – Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
If you have read all of my NFL Draft content up until this point, well, first, thank you. You also might have noticed that I haven’t once written Penning’s name, and that is because I do not think he is a good football player. Having the lack of composure and technique that he did at 22 years old at the FCS level was enough for him not to crack my Top 60, but I do think he still gets picked in the first round with his size and speed. Mike Vrabel would likely welcome his nastiness.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia
Wyatt feels like one of the top candidates to surprisingly drop out of the first round altogether, but Tampa wouldn’t be scared off by his age (24) and he could become an instant full-time starter on their defensive line at 3-tech lined up next to Vita Vea.
- Green Bay Packers – Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
Watson leaves the frigid temperatures of North Dakota and his green and yellow uniform behind for…ah, crap. I do think the Packers not only take a WR in the first round for the first time in 20 years, but I think they’ll take a second one by the end of the next round too. If they plausibly pair a lottery ticket with more of a sure-handed guy, you might as well start with Watson coming off arguably the greatest Combine ever by a WR. Some work is needed with him, but he’s explosive enough to probably step right into Marquez Valdes-Scantling’s role without much more coaching.
- Kansas City Chiefs – Daxton Hill, CB/SAF, Michigan
Hill will likely go in the first round with his weird combination of quickness and wingspan, and the Chiefs would throw him right into the Honey Badger joker role. While I might not be the biggest endorser of Hill, Steve Spagnuolo would have some ideas for what to do with him.
- Kansas City Chiefs – Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota
There are a few places the Chiefs could go with their second of back-to-back picks, but I have them taking Mafe. Although he’s already 23, Mafe is still coming into his own as a pass rusher. That level of intrigue mixed with the fact that Mafe could contribute SOMETHING in 2022 to the Chiefs barren EDGE group gives him the advantage over a couple of other guys.
- Seattle Seahawks – Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
TRADE: CIN trades 1/31 to SEA for 2/40, 2023 R2 (Denver)
Seattle moves back into the first round and turns the two 2nd rounders acquired in the Russell Wilson trade into the QB that could become Wilson’s long-term replacement. Ridder is a mature and composed QB, basically the Dr. Jekyll to Drew Lock’s Mr. Hyde. I do not think it’s a smokescreen that Ridder was the only QB invited to Seattle for an official pre-draft visit. All indicators are that the Seahawks are looking to offensively revert back to their more run-heavy days, and Ridder has the 4.52 speed and game management experience to helm that offense.
- Detroit Lions – Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
I have slowly bought into the idea that Detroit will take a QB at this spot. (It would make things a whole lot easier for them to also have the extra second round pick that they gained earlier in this mock draft.) Howell would not put any extraordinary pressure on Jared Goff – though it’s not like he doesn’t deserve it – and could ride the bench for weeks while working on his mechanics with NFL coaches. It’s a similar circumstance to what I wrote while mocking Howell to Washington in my previous version: either Goff reverts to form and he’s still under contract, Howell looks better than expected and seizes the job, or neither impress and Detroit still has two first rounders next year to pick a better QB prospect. For the short term, it’s also worth noting that Detroit’s current backup QB is Tim Boyle.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – Tyler Linderbaum, OC, Iowa
- Detroit Lions – Quay Walker, LB, Georgia
- New York Jets – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
- New York Giants – Travis Jones, DT, UConn
- Houston Texans – Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
- Detroit Lions (TRADE w/ NYJ) – Jaquan Brisker, SAF, Penn State
- Chicago Bears – Logan Hall, DT, Houston
- Cincinnati Bengals (TRADE w/ SEA) – Andrew Booth, CB, Clemson
- Seattle Seahawks – Rasheed Walker, OT, Penn State
- Indianapolis Colts – Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan
- Atlanta Falcons – Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
- Cleveland Browns – Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State
- Baltimore Ravens – Jalen Pitre, CB/SAF, Baylor
- Atlanta Falcons (TRADE w/ MIN) – Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
- Washington Commanders – Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
- Chicago Bears – Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
- New Orleans Saints – Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming
- Kansas City Chiefs – Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
- Philadelphia Eagles – Perrion Winfrey, DT, Oklahoma
- Pittsburgh Steelers – Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan
- Green Bay Packers – Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC
- New England Patriots – John Metchie, WR, Alabama
- Arizona Cardinals – Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State
- Dallas Cowboys – DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M
- Buffalo Bills – Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M
- Atlanta Falcons – David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan
- Green Bay Packers – David Bell, WR, Purdue
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
- Carolina Panthers (TRADE w/ SF) – Troy Andersen, LB, Montana State
- Kansas City Chiefs – George Pickens, WR, Georgia
- Cincinnati Bengals – Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota
- Denver Broncos – Nik Bonitto, EDGE, Oklahoma
If you made it this far, I sincerely appreciate it. Follow along on draft night and beyond on Twitter @Real_Peej