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Mock Draft Time!

“When are you going to post your draft column?”

“Are you still going to do your draft preview?”

“You know the draft is in a week right?”

All questions I’ve received over the course of the past couple of weeks. Well take a deep breath, and get ready for the draft because everything you need to know is right here!

Now before we get to our Mock Draft, let’s take a look at the current landscape. This year more than ever there are QB needy teams, probably at least 8-9 in general – Bears, Commanders, Patriots, Vikings, Giants, Raiders, Broncos, Seahawks will all be in the mix, with a host of other teams who have veteran QB’s that may be looking for help down the road – Saints, Bucs, Rams come to mind. There are 4 definite 1st round QB’s that will be off the board – Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye and JJ McCarthy. Complicating the picture even further, the Bears, Commanders and Patriots own picks 1-3 – you can probably pencil in some combination of Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye with those picks, meaning that if one of the other teams wants a JJ McCarthy, they’re going to have to trade up to get him. I also think that a Michael Penix (stop laughing!) and Bo Nix may be in play as well.

In addition to QB, keep an eye on WR. It is statistically the biggest gamble in the first round (only about 30-40% of receivers hit), but that won’t stop teams from rolling the dice, especially with the big 3 of Marvin Harrison, Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze. I think all 3 of those players will go in the first 10 picks. I think you’re going to see a very offense-heavy first round this year, probably looking at 2 offensive players for every 1 defensive player.

I base my mock draft on 2 things – First, for the purpose of this mock, I don’t incorporate any trades. There absolutely will be trades on draft night but they are impossible to predict so we’ll just keep this nice and clean. Second, I base my picks on the following – need, organizational philosophy, and head coach – meaning what are the short/long term needs for the team, does organization typically value certain positions over others, and is the head coach an offensive or defensive minded head coach and what kind of scheme do they like to run?

Last couple notes – 3 teams have 2 first rounders – the Bears (two in the top 10), the Vikings, and the Cardinals. That also means 3 teams are without a first round pick – Carolina (would have been #1!), Cleveland, and Houston.

Alright, with all of that laid out, let’s get the mock started!

1. Chicago Bears – Caleb Williams – QB – USC – This is a lock. I have some concerns about Williams’ leadership ability but absolutely none about his talent. The Bears are fully committed to pressing the reset button after Justin Fields and Williams gives them a franchise QB building block to build around. How he will fit in the Chicago market will be a story to keep an eye on.

2. Washington Commanders – Jayden Daniels – QB – LSU – My favorite QB of the bunch. He has height, athleticism and is still filling into his frame. He threw for 40 TDs and only 4 INTs last year. The Commanders are under new ownership and are looking to build a new stadium and Daniels will give them the best QB talent wise that they’ve had since RGIII.

3. New England Patriots – Drake Maye – QB – UNC – Maye needs a little more development than the others on this list, but in his defense he also probably played with the weakest supporting cast of this QB class. Some have the Patriots trading out of this spot, but top 3 picks don’t come along often, and especially when you don’t have a young QB on the roster. You can let Maye sit a year, develop, and then really start building around him next year.

4. Arizona Cardinals – Malik Nabers – WR – LSU – Surprise! The consensus in the league is that Marvin Harrison will be the pick here but I think Nabers is more talented, and more explosive. Nabers has the potential to bring out the absolute best in Kyler Murray who is reaching it’s now or never territory in Arizona.

5. Los Angeles Chargers – Joe Alt – OT – Notre Dame – Surprise Part Deux! Let’s get this out of the way first – there is a very clear need for WR here and with Justin Herbert nearing his prime one would think the Chargers would go in that direction. A couple of odd things are happening here though. Rumors and Vegas odds have got continuously more loud with rumors that Harbaugh would want JJ McCarthy if not for Herbert’s contract. That’s not happening. But I do think Harbaugh is a guy with a Big10 mentality who is going to want to build this team from the inside out and not the other way around. If a QB drops, look for teams to potentially move up here.

6. New York Giants – Marvin Harrison – WR – Ohio State – I think the Giants go best player on the board here. The Giants would love to trade up but truthfully, it will take way too much draft capital to move up to one of the top 3 spots and the Giants have more holes than almost any team in the league. I recall hearing from multiple Giants fans that I was in the wrong for wanting to lose the Tommy DeVito (Thanks a lot Vinnie Boombatz) games but truthfully, those games while meaningless to the season, mean a lot when you drop down in draft order. Harrison is a number one receiver though and will be the Giants best receiver since OBJ which was 10 years ago at this point. If a team wants to trade up for JJ McCarthy, this can be another spot to look at.

7. Tennesse Titans – Olumuyiwa Fashanu – OT - Penn State – If the Titans believes in Will Levis, they need to start protecting him and Fashanu is a prototypical left tackle, They may be tempted to reach for a WR, but protecting the quarterback should always come first.

8. Atlanta Falcons – Dallas Turner – Edge – Alabama – This would be my bet to see the first defensive player off the board. Jared Verse will be in play here as well possibly. The Falcons offense is set with some great pieces on offense, if they can build with a guy like Turner on defense, you may be looking at the dark horse to win the NFC South.

9. Chicago Bears – Rome Odunze – WR – Washington – If this scenario plays out the Bears should sprint, forget run to the podium. I personally like Odunze better than Harrison. He’s got incredible hands and is a dawg when it comes to fighting for the ball. The Bears could look to trade down here but I just don’t think Odunze is worth passing up.

10. New York Jets – Brock Bowers – TE – Georgia – I’m not buying that the Jets are looking offensive line here. They know they have a year, two tops with Aaron Rodgers and adding Bowers gives them an elite player at the TE position with great hands and speed. His comp is George Kittle and it’s very well deserved.

11. Minnesota Vikings – JJ McCarthy – QB – Michigan – I know that a lot of mocks have the Vikings trading up for McCarthy but I can absolutely envision a scenario where the Vikings don’t have to trade up to get the guy they want. Once you get past the Giants pick, I can definitely see a slide unless there is a franchise that fell in love with McCarthy during the draft process like I indicated above.

12. Denver Broncos – Terrion Arnold – CB – Alabama – The Broncos are a little bit of a mess right now and could go in a bunch of different directions here, but they can use some help fortifying the corner position across from Patrick Surtain II, who is in the final year of his deal. Arnold has Pro Bowl potential.

13. Oakla…whoops – Las Vegas Raiders – Quinyon Mitchell – CB – Toledo – There have been rumors that the Raiders will go for Michael Penix Jr. here but Aidan O’Connell has a fan with Antonio Pierce and Garden Minshew is a nice stop gap option as well. I think they stay on the defensive side of the ball and grab the next best corner in the draft in Mitchell who is a tough competitor on the edges.

14. New Orleans Saints – Taliese Fuaga – OT – Oregon – I’m not sure if it will be Fuaga, Fashanu, or Fautanu (checks spelling 3x) but one thing I would almost guarantee is that the Saints go offensive line here. It’s a need that needs to be filled immediately and they need someone who can start on day one.

15. Indianapolis Colts – Jackson Powers-Johnson – IOL – Oregon – This may seem like a reach but Powers-Johnson can play 3 positions on the offensive line which is impressive considering he played defensive tackle at one point! One of my favorite players in the draft, I think he’d be great in Indianapolis. If one of the corners fall, this is another likely destination.

16. Seattle Seahawks – Byron Murphy – DT – Texas – The Seahawks may also be looking at Penix here with Geno Smith entering his age 34 season but they have some massive needs on the defensive line and I think they look to jump on Murphy here and fill out the rest of their needs on Day 2.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars – Troy Fautanu – OT – Washington – The Jaguars have needs on the offensive line and would be smart to try and protect Trevor Lawrence at all costs. Both of their current tackles are free agents at the end of the season and the Jaguars can’t afford to wait to see what happens in free agency.

18. Cincinnati Bengals – JC Latham – OT – Alabama – The Bengals fall almost into the exact same category of the previous mentioned Jaguars. I think they would prefer one of the other tackles who have gone previously, but Latham brings a lot of size to the RT position, even if he may be better moving to the inside eventually.

19. Los Angeles Rams – Jared Verse – Edge – Florida State – Angry, violent, tough, stout – all words used to describe Verse’s playing style. One of my favorite players in the draft. If there weren’t so many teams with offensive needs, I think Verse would be a top 10 talent. The Rams get a guy who can help to offset the loss of Aaron Donald.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers – Graham Barton – IOL – Duke – Not only fits a need, but Barton is another one of those versatile offensive linemen who should be a great center but can even kick to tackle if needed. With Russell Wilson and Justin Fields on the roster, the offensive line is going to be a priority.

21. Miami Dolphins – Laiatu Latu – Edge – UCLA – Put Latu across from Bradley Chubb and all of a sudden the Dolphins may have one of the best pass rushing combos in the league. Some call him the most skilled pass rusher in the class. He has room for improvement which is actually a check in his favor considering his production.

22. Philadelphia Eagles – Cooper DeJean – CB – Iowa – I’m not sure if DeJean will play corner at the next level but his versatility will make him an immediate fan favorite in Philly. He can play corner or safety and while the Eagles don’t have many holes on their roster, their secondary definitely could use some improvement.

23. Minnesota Vikings – Brian Thomas – WR – LSU – I know what you’re thinking – seems redundant with Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison on their team. That said, I think there may be some concerns internally that after this season Justin Jefferson is going to want out. If that is the case, the Vikings are going to want to be prepared and Thomas is a big play receiver who can really open up the field.

24. Dallas Cowboys – Amarius Mims – OT – Georgia – I’m not sure any franchise has had more of a WTF offseason than the Dallas Cowboys. Is Jerry Jones going to do ANYTHING? This team has lost a ton of talent so they may look to roll the dice with Mims who has battled some injury history but has incredible size and skill when healthy.

25. Green Bay Packers – Jer’Zhan Newton – DT – Illinois – The Packers are on the come up and have some great pieces on offense although they could use a defensive tackle and I think they take Newton who will help clog the middle and be a force on the defensive side of the ball.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Chop Robinson – Edge – Penn State – The Bucs surprised last year and with Todd Bowles still the head coach, I think they look at someone who can get to the quarterback. Robinson is a great athlete and very disruptive. He’ll need some help next to him, but the potential is there.

27. Arizona Cardinals – Kool-Aid McKinstry – CB – Alabama – First of all, we have our winner for best name of the draft..maybe ever. After taking a receiver with the #4 pick, the Cardinals go for the best corner on the board.

28. Buffalo Bills – Adonai Mitchell – WR – Texas – I was tempted to go with Xavier Worthy here, but I think in a climate like Buffalo and with a QB like Josh Allen, the Bills are going to look for someone with a little more size. Mitchell has all the tools and I think he’s the best of the second tier players at the positions.

29. Detroit Lions – Xavier Worthy – WR – Texas – I think the Lions would love to fill a need at CB, but I don’t know if any of the players available are worth reaching for. Worthy across from Amon St. Brown however would give defenses nightmares tryint to scheme against his speed. If Worthy lands in the right home, I think he’s going to make an immediate impact, he’s small but explosive.

30. Baltimore Ravens – Darius Robinson – Edge – Missouri – Super solid against the run, and some nice versatility here. If one of the offensive tackles slip, this is another potential landing space, but they’ll want someone who is pro ready from day 1 as Super Bowl windows don’t stay open forever.

31. San Francisco 49ers – Tyler Guyton – OT – Oklahoma – Guyton is a work in progress, but the 49ers are a team that can develop players like no others. Guyton has elite athleticism and size, and despite his inexperience, his tape shows a lot of promise. If developed correctly he can be a cornerstone on the offensive line.

32. Kansas City Chiefs – Ladd McConkey – WR – Georgia – McConkey will make the Chiefs forget about Kadarius Toney immediately and if Rashee Rice is ultimately suspended, they’re going to need some depth at the position.

Can’t wait for Thursday night – Enjoy the draft!

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