#1 - Jacksonville Jaguars - EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
Mock Draft 1: EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
Mock Draft 2: OT Evan Neal, Alabama
Since the combine, Aidan Hutchinson has been the closest to a unanimous number one selection as any other player in the class. Further contrasting Hutchinson against his draftmates, there aren’t many questions regarding his ability, drive, or fit. Hutch can pull off any move, he is a relentless worker, and he can play seamlessly in any defensive alignment. He would instantly become the Jaguars’ best defensive player following this selection, and be the 4th Michigan player drafted first overall.
#2 - Detroit Lions - EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
Mock Draft 1: EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
Mock Draft 2: EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
The Lions are going to take a pass rusher if they stay at number two, it’s just a decision of who falls to them. At this point, it seems that Hutchinson going number one is as close to a lock as it gets. Throughout the early draft process, differing reports and mock drafts have come out that show a negative opinion of Thibodeaux. It seems that it may be, in part, a series of smokescreens by teams to get Thibodeaux to fall to them. The Lions aren’t fooled. Brad Holmes and six other Lions staffers attended Oregon’s Pro Day last week. He is the pick if they don’t trade back.
Mock Draft 1: OT Evan Neal, Alabama
Mock Draft 2: OT Ikem Ekwonu, NC State
Houston has so many holes, so it would behoove them to take the best player available. Evan Neal is one of the safest players in the draft. His large frame makes him a dominant run blocker. He proved enough in pass protection guarding the SEC’s best to show that he isn’t one-dimensional. Even if Laremy Tunsil isn’t traded, Neal can immediately start at right tackle, bumping Charlie Heck and Tytus Howard to guard. Texans fans hope he doesn’t turn into Greg Robinson.
#4 - New York Jets - OT Ikem Ekwonu, NC State
Mock Draft 1: LB/S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
Mock Draft 2: LB/S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
For the first time in the series, the Jets pass on Kyle Hamilton. Instead, they take the offensive tackle with arguably the highest potential tackle in the class. Ekwonu can start at left or right tackle, depending on what happens with Mekhi Becton. He is raw, but he has the athleticism to take a giant leap to stardom.
#5 - New York Giants - DL Travon Walker, Georgia
Mock Draft 1: EDGE George Karlaftis, Purdue
Mock Draft 2: EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
Travon Walker has become one of the more trendy picks during the draft process. Some even have Walker as EDGE 2. I have the Giants picking him with the first of their two first round picks. He offers great contrast to the other Bulldog in New York Azeez Ojulari. Ojulari is more of a pure pass rusher, while Walker can be deployed inside and out. The highly athletic Walker is the first player taken from the greatest college football defense of all time.
#6 - Carolina Panthers - QB Malik Willis, Liberty
Mock Draft 1: OT Ikem Okonwu, NC State
Mock Draft 2: QB Malik Willis, Liberty
The Panthers’ organization still appears desperate. Desperate enough that they still could trade up further to secure their guy. QB-needy teams in Seattle, Washington, and Atlanta are close by. If the Panthers don’t fare well in 2022, Matt Rhule and the rest of the front office could get cleaned out. A rookie QB could buy an extra year to get things sorted out. Willis has emerged from the process as the top QB in the class that teams are fawning over. The fact remains that he is an older college prospect that will still need development.
#7 - New York Giants (via CHI) - S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
Mock Draft 1: iOL Kenyon Green, Texas A&M
Mock Draft 2: OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State
Kyle Hamilton looks like a tremendous talent, but running a 4.70 second forty yard dash at your Pro Day won’t have teams falling all over you. If Hamilton can play faster than that on the field, he’ll do great. However, a slow, lumbering safety won’t be any good in the NFL, and may warrant a future move to linebacker with an exit ticket from the league along with it. Hamilton drops to the Giants second first round pick. Who knows if he starts to fall further.
#8 - Atlanta Falcons - EDGE Jermaine Johnson II, Florida State
Mock Draft 1: CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU
Mock Draft 2: CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU
Atlanta is in a similar position to Houston, and while Jermaine Johnson may not be the best player available, he is still a great player that offers upside at a premium position. Johnson can slot in a rebuilding Falcons squad as a steady edge rusher to usher in the post Matt Ryan era. Without any viable edge options on the roster, Jermain Johnson is the pick here.
#9 - Seattle Seahawks (via DEN) - OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa
Mock Draft 1 (DEN): OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State
Mock Draft 2 (DEN): EDGE David Ojabo, Michigan
Penning’s ridiculous size and power makes his selection over Mississippi State’s Charles Cross more understandable. Penning is a project from an FCS school, but Seattle’s moves this offseason should give him time to settle in during a rebuild. At 6’7”, Penning has the natural size to do anything he wants at left tackle, and he gives Seattle a player with great potential at the position for the first time in a long time. He’ll give Seattle a better chance running the ball and will be able to handle the blind side just as long as his development is handled properly.
#10 - New York Jets (via SEA) - CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati
Mock Draft 1: EDGE David Ojabo, Michigan
Mock Draft 2: EDGE Jermaine Johnson, Florida State
The Jets end up getting a great offensive tackle and the highest regarded cornerback in the class with their two first rounders. Not only do they get to protect Zach Wilson and create holes for Michael Carter, they get to improve one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL with a player who should immediately become a fan favorite in New York. I don’t think Jets fans will be anything but ecstatic with this pick.
#11 - Washington Commanders - WR Drake London, USC
Mock Draft 1: QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss
Mock Draft 2: QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss
Washington does not take a quarterback here following the acquisition of Carson Wentz. They still take an offensive weapon, though. Drake London is the first wide receiver off the board thanks to his tremendous size, length, and RAC ability. Some may argue that Garrett Wilson and Jameson Williams are better players, and while they may be right, the Commies already have a player too similar to them in Terry McLaurin. London’s addition should make the offense dynamic enough to sustain the fact Carson Wentz will be playing quarterback.
#12 - Minnesota Vikings - CB Derek Stingley Jr, LSU
Mock Draft 1: iDL Jordan Davis, Georgia
Mock Draft 2: iDL Jordan Davis, Georgia
As much as it pains me to say, there’s a chance that Jordan Davis ends up slipping out of the first round. Instead of him, Minnesota stops the slide of the tremendously talented Derek Stingley. The injury concerns and disappointing play are valid, but there is not a player at this position worth taking this high, and the Vikings need to take a corner here. They have taken first round corners in the past, but Mike Hughes ended up needing a change of scenery and Jeff Gladney was released after being arrested. Minnesota takes the first step towards getting back to being elite defensively.
#13 - Houston Texans (via CLE) - WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
Mock Draft 1 (CLE): WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas
Mock Draft 2 (CLE): WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas
Many people think that Garrett Wilson is the best receiver in the class. If so, the Texans get really lucky here. If Brandin Cooks gets traded, Wilson can fit in as the number one guy and offer young Davis Mills a reliable target. This pick also serves the Texans well to see if Davis Mills could be the starter moving forward. If not, the Texans can have a great wide receiver for whoever they draft at QB with the pile of picks they received for Deshaun Watson.
#14 - Baltimore Ravens - iOL Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa
Mock Draft 1: iDL DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M
Mock Draft 2: iOL Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa
Tyler Linderbaum is still the best fit for the Ravens here after losing Bradley Bozeman in free agency. He’ll get the run game back to form, and he’ll become the next great Ravens lineman. If he wasn’t a center he would be a top-five pick, but he slides all the way to 14, which is still higher than any other first round center drafted since Steve Everitt was selected at this spot by the Browns in 1993. The Ravens used to be those Browns, and Everitt finished out his rookie contract during the Ravens’ inaugural season. I don’t know what that all means, but it's fun.
#15 - Philadelphia Eagles (via MIA) - CB Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson
Mock Draft 1: CB Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson
Mock Draft 2: CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati
Cornerback has always been the selection here for the Eagles, but with Sauce gone, it’s back to Andrew Booth. I think he’s regarded as a safe and underwhelming prospect, but that’s not really a bad thing. The Clemson defense this past year was very underrated, and Booth was a part of it. He can learn from Darius Slay and kick off the renovation of Philly’s defense.
#16 - Philadelphia Eagles (via IND) - LB Devin Lloyd, Utah
Mock Draft 1: LB Devin Lloyd, Utah
Mock Draft 2: LB Devin Lloyd, Utah
There’s not much more I can say about this pick after two articles. He’s talented enough, and he fits. I’ll keep you posted if something changes.
#17 - Los Angeles Chargers - OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State
Mock Draft 1: OT Nicholas Petit-Frere, Ohio State
Mock Draft 2: OL Kenyon Green, Texas A&M
The fall finally stops! When I planned this out, I was very confused as to how a talent like Cross would fall this far, but it’s just that the teams after Seattle don’t really need to spend a first round pick on a tackle. Luckily for Justin Herbert and the Chargers, Cross has fallen to them, and he can pair with rookie All-Pro Rashawn Slater to keep Herbert upright for the next five years.
#18 - New Orleans Saints - WR Jameson Williams, Alabama
Mock Draft 1: WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
Mock Draft 2: WR Chris Olave, Ohio State
It’s the third different first round receiver New Orleans selects over the course of the series. Maybe it’ll be Drake London next time. Anyways, Williams’ recent workouts show that he could be ready close to, or during, the season after his ACL tear. In the short term, he can pair well with Michael Thomas to support Jameis Winston. In the long term, he can be the wideout of the future. New Orleans gets a possible steal at 18.
#19 - Philadelphia Eagles - EDGE George Karlaftis, Purdue
Mock Draft 1: S Jaquan Brisker, Penn State
Mock Draft 2: EDGE George Karlaftis, Purdue
Karlaftis is the pick at 19 for the Eagles once again. He is the best edge rusher on the board at this point, and he can further bolster a pass rush that just brought back Derek Barnett. It’s the Eagles’ third pick on defense in the first round, but don’t be surprised if they take an interior offensive lineman after the retirement of Brandon Brooks.
#20 - Pittsburgh Steelers - QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss
Mock Draft 1: QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
Mock Draft 2: OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa
I have Matt Corral as the quarterback the Steelers take because he fits the Steelers better than Kenny Pickett. Pittsburgh isn’t going to run a spread for Kenny because they have Najee Harris. Matt Corral can sit a year behind Mitch Trubisky and learn for a year. He’s a tremendous talent, and there’s no doubt Mike Tomlin is a good coach to have in his corner. If Trubisky plays too poorly, Corral is a very similar quarterback, and hopefully the Steelers would tailor the offense to both of their skill sets so a potential replacement would be seamless.
#21 - New England Patriots - CB Kaiir Elam, Florida
Mock Draft 1: S Daxton Hill, Michigan
Mock Draft 2: CB Roger McCreary, Auburn
I’ll talk about why I have Elam ahead of Trent McDuffie in a moment, but in short, Elam is a long corner that can play the boundary for New England. He fits into their defense, and can offer a replacement for the departing JC Jackson. New England is very selective about who plays this position for them, and I think Elam fits the mold.
#22 - Green Bay Packers (via LV) - iDL Devonte Wyatt, Georgia
Mock Draft 1 (LV): iOL Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa
Mock Draft 2 (LV)): WR Drake London, USC
The Packers take Wyatt here instead of a wide receiver because they can’t afford to pass up on a player of his caliber. The interior rush defense is an underrated need for Green Bay, and if there is anything that this Packers’ front office has proven, it’s that they’ll march to the beat of their own drum. Wyatt isn’t a pick like Eric Stokes or Jordan Love, but it might make Aaron Rodgers a bit upset after the trade of Davante Adams. That’s good for all of us.
#23 - Arizona Cardinals - CB Trent McDuffie, Washington
Mock Draft 1: CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati
Mock Draft 2: DL Travon Walker, Georgia
There’s an argument to be made that Trent McDuffie could be the second cornerback taken in this draft. I don’t think NFL teams are going to make this argument, though. Since 2010, there has not been an All-Pro cornerback with arms that measured less than 31 inches. There has not been a multiple All-Pro by that same measurement since 1999. McDuffie’s arms were measured at 29.75 inches. Unfortunately for him, that will drop him down teams’ draft boards with the near impossible likelihood of him becoming an elite player at his position.
#24 - Dallas Cowboys - WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas
Mock Draft 1: EDGE Travon Walker, Georgia
Mock Draft 2: S Daxton Hill, Michigan
Burks ran slow for a player at his position at the Combine, but he is still talented enough to be taken in the first round. The Cowboys select him here because they need a replacement for Amari Cooper. This will always be an offense-centric team; look at the salaries compared to the defense. They take Burks in an effort to keep the offense humming with Zeke Elliott aging.
#25 - Buffalo Bills - iOL Zion Johnson, Boston College
Mock Draft 2: CB Trent McDuffie, Washington
It’s a luxury spot pick for the Bills here, and they take arguably the best overall player left on the board. Johnson can start immediately at guard, and offer more protection for Josh Allen, and better blocking for Buffalo’s running backs. Don’t be surprised if you see a running back like Breece Hall get picked here either to give the Bills a second dimension on offense.
#26 - Tennessee Titans - iOL Kenyon Green, Texas A&M
Mock Draft 2: WR David Bell, Purdue
Kenyon Green is an extremely safe pick here who replaces Rodger Saffold and keeps Tennessee’s ground game top notch. He will be the youngest starter on the Titans’ O-line, so he will probably stay in Nashville until and after Ryan Tannehill gets run out of town. There’s nothing wrong with getting a solid, versatile guard in the late first round.
#27 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - iDL Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma
Mock Draft 2: CB Kaiir Elam, Florida
There aren’t a lot of players I would have the Bucs picking here, and since I can’t trade down, they will take a player who is talented, but could be considered a reach. Tampa has their nose tackle in Vita Vea, but their other interior rushers are the aging William Gholston and Ndamukong Suh. Perrion Winfrey can wait in the wings, being molded by the Bucs’ coaching staff, until he can use his explosiveness at any interior position he ends up settling in.
#28 - Green Bay Packers - WR Chris Olave, Ohio State
Mock Draft 2: OT Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan
Green Bay waits on a wide receiver and still lands a great player. It’s weird to see them pick a receiver in the first round, but the position is so thin that they can’t avoid it this year. Olave can serve as a pure route runner for Aaron Rodgers, and he also excels getting open for deep balls. The Packers will hope that Olave can offer a fraction of the production Davante Adams created, but with Aaron Rodgers at QB, it shouldn’t be too hard.
#29 - Kansas City Chiefs (via SF to MIA) - EDGE Boye Mafe, Minnesota
Mock Draft 2 (MIA): iOL Zion Johnson, Boston College
Boye Mafe is a developmental project that could potentially end up playing like a top five pick when he fully matures. The developmental plan for him fits well with Kansas City’s current blueprint, as they are set to possibly lose pass rushers Chris Jones and Frank Clark in the next few years, without a player on the roster to replace them. Mafe can play situationally in 2022, and emerge as a starter in 2023.
#30 - Kansas City Chiefs - S Daxton Hill, Michigan
Mock Draft 2: CB Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson
The Chiefs don’t take a wide receiver with their second first round pick because of how many other holes on the team there are. You expect Patrick Mahomes to be able to lift up lesser receivers to at least try and emulate what Tyreek Hill provided. The Chiefs can find a playable receiver later in the draft if they truly need one, and they need to help the back end. Daxton Hill can play nickel or safety for the Chiefs’ defense.
#31 - Cincinnati Bengals - LB Nakobe Dean, Georgia
Mock Draft 2: OT Daniel Faalele, Minnesota
With the additions the Bengals made in free agency, it’s hard to pinpoint a player that can be a plug and play starter. Nakobe Dean is one of the more talented defensive players in the class, and he can work into a linebacker group that is not necessarily the most talented. Dean can possibly play part-time this season to improve his game, and then become the Bengals’ linebacker of the future.
#32 - Detroit Lions (via LAR) - S Lewis Cine, Georgia
Mock Draft 2: LB Nakobe Dean, Georgia
Lewis Cine gives the Lions the second safety for which they have been looking for quite a while. He also offers a great complement to incumbent Tracy Walker’s coverage ability as a downhill safety thumping ball carriers. Will Harris won’t be a starter anymore and Lions fans rejoice. The defense has successfully received the injection of talent it needs, and Pick 34 can now be used on the other side of the ball.
Notable remaining players: QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh; iDL Jordan Davis, Georgia; EDGE David Ojabo, Michigan; WR Jahan Dotson, Penn State; OT Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan