Time for a brand new mock draft! The NFL combine is officially in the books following a busy week in Indianapolis. There were a number of players who boosted their draft stocks with their work on the field. Several of them will show up in the first round of this mock. Reminder, the first round is only 31 picks this year because the Dolphins were penalized their first-round selection for tampering.
Before we get into the picks, I wanted to take a look at the quarterback that could be on the move in the NFL this offseason. For the purposes of this mock, I executed a blockbuster trade that sends Aaron Rodgers to Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Derek Carr is reportedly signing with the Saints and I’m predicting Jimmy Garoppolo heads to New York. Lamar Jackson on the other hand stays put in Baltimore, as does Daniel Jones in New York.
There were a few other trades that I decided made sense for this mock, including a massive move up by the Colts to No. 1. The following trades were made in this mock:
Las Vegas trades 1.7, 2.39, 2024 1st to Green Bay for Aaron Rodgers, 4.117, 2024 3rd
Indianapolis trades 1.4, 2.36, 7.224, 2024 1st to Chicago for 1.1, 4.103
Seattle trades 1.20, 2.38, 5.124 to Pittsburgh for 1.17, 2.50
New York Giants trade 1.26, 3.89, 5.160 to Tampa Bay for 1.19, 6.194
With all of that in mind, let’s dive into my latest mock!
1. Indianapolis Colts via Chicago Bears – Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
He weighs enough and he is tall enough. Young did enough to quiet some critics, but there will still be those who question his ability to last in the NFL given his smaller frame. Put on the tape though and you will see a player who stood tough against the pass rushers of the SEC and delivered clutch performances. Indianapolis has had a revolving door at quarterback since Andrew Luck retired. Young gives them a potential franchise quarterback for the first time since they last made a selection at the top of the draft.
2. Houston Texans – C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
While Young stole headlines with his measurables and Anthony Richardson turned heads with his workout, C.J. Stroud is still the only quarterback I would consider taking at No. 1. He is technically sound and checks all the physical boxes. While he does not have the strongest arm in the class, it looks effortless when he releases the ball. He showcased his mobility against Georgia. It will be up to DeMeco Ryans and this coaching staff to get that version of Stroud as often as possible. He will contend with Davis Mills for the starting job from Day 1, eventually taking over as the long-term starter.
3. Arizona Cardinals – Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama
I think I likely would have picked Anderson over Carter prior to Carter’s legal troubles. The off-the-field issues could cement Anderson as the top non-QB selected. He is one of the most productive pass rushers we have ever seen. He constantly wreaks havoc as a pass rusher and plays the run well. Anderson has all the physical tools to be a Hall-of-Fame pass rusher.
4. Chicago Bears via Indianapolis Colts – Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
The reason the Bears will favor sticking in the top four is because it all but guarantees they end up with either Anderson or Carter. Despite Carter being charged with reckless driving and racing in connection with a crash that killed his teammate Devon Willock and Georgia recruiting staffer Chandler LeCroy. Carter returned to Georgia, was booked and released, and then returned to the combine to interview with teams. Off-the-field issues aside, he is my highest-rated player. His blend of size and athleticism makes him a nightmare for opposing offenses. The Bears are in desperate need of an upgrade on the defensive line. He will signal the start of a major rebuild on that side of the ball.
5. Seattle Seahawks via Denver Broncos – Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
I actually have a higher grade on Will Levis than I do on Richardson, but I think this is such a good fit for the former Florida quarterback. He wowed at the combine, setting records in the vertical and broad jumps while posting a 4.40 40-time at 244 pounds. His mobility is elite, but he is raw and unrefined as a passer. He has major accuracy issues and was off the mark consistently. I believe Pete Carroll could get the best out of Richardson and the Seahawks would not need to start him assuming they bring back Geno Smith. His upside is incredible and I think this would be the perfect situation for him to be successful long term.
6. Detroit Lions via Los Angeles Rams – Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
The Lions defense was much better down the stretch, but still needs an infusion of talent on the back end. Witherspoon is a dynamic playmaker at corner. He is strong in run support and looked very comfortable in coverage for Illinois this past season. He checked all the boxes from a size perspective measuring in at 5’11” with 31-inch arms. Detroit is in desperate need of a true No. 1 corner. Witherspoon should be that sooner rather than later in his NFL career.
7. Green Bay Packers via Las Vegas Raiders – Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
It’s all about Jordan Love in this scenario for the Packers. Green Bay needs to bolster its offensive line after injuries have turned this unit into an annual issue. I love what Johnson brings to the table. He is an athletic blocker who can thrive in both the run and pass game. He has great size and length, measuring in at 6’6″ with 36-inch arms. Johnson could start at right tackle before ultimately taking over from David Bakhtiari down the line.
8. Atlanta Falcons – Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
Wilson is drawing a lot of buzz around the league. Daniel Jeremiah had him going ahead of Will Anderson Jr. in his most recent mock draft. I really like what Wilson brings to the table, but not enough to put him above Anderson. The former Texas Tech edge rusher is an elite run defender with great length and untapped potential as a pass rusher. Atlanta has been searching for improved play on the outside of their defensive front for years.
9. Carolina Panthers – Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
I won’t rule out the possibility of the Panthers landing a veteran quarterback, but in this scenario, the Panthers are without a clear long-term answer at the position. Levis is a tough evaluation. He has great physical tools and put together a really strong 2021 campaign. However, dealing with injuries, a new offensive scheme and a worse supporting cast, he had a troubling 2022 season. I think Levis has the potential to be a solid NFL quarterback, but there is a lot of risk given his struggles with accuracy and propensity for turning the ball over.
10. Philadelphia Eagles via New Orleans Saints – Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
Fresh off a Super Bowl appearance, the Eagles need to quickly retool their defense. With a number of veterans heading to free agency, including James Bradberry, Philly will need to turn to the draft to find replacements. Porter is not the most polished cornerback prospect, but he brings rare length to the position. Average arm length for corner prospects is around 31.5 inches. Porter’s arms measured at 34 inches at the combine. Couple that with good athleticism and strong hands in coverage and you have a player who could turn into a shutdown corner.
11. Tennessee Titans – Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern
Tennessee has some questions to answer regarding the futures of Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry, but the offensive line remains the biggest concern for this team. Taylor Lewan is already out the door. More players could follow. Adding Skoronski would give them a player capable of starting at either tackle or guard at the next level. Skoronski has the athleticism and size to play tackle, the position he played in college, but his below average length (32.25-inch arms) will raise questions for some about his ability to excel on the outside. His technique is good enough that he should be able to compensate, but those questions will continue to pop up.
12. Houston Texans via Cleveland – Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
I’m not saying it will yield the same results, but we have seen some success for teams pairing college quarterbacks and wide receivers together in the NFL. Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase are the prime example, but Tua Tagovailoa and Jaylen Waddle as well as Jalen Hurts and DeVonta Smith all point to this being a reasonable strategy. After an injury-plagued season, Smith-Njigba answered a lot of questions by posting the best times of any player at the combine in the 20-yard shuttle and 3-cone drill. His film indicates he will be able to separate well at the next level and should be a reliable playmaker for the Texans to rebuild this offense around.
13. New York Jets – Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
Jimmy Garoppolo is only going to be successful in New York if the Jets can protect him. There is still a chance Mekhi Becton could be one of the team’s long-term starters at tackle, but after three injury-plagued seasons, Joe Douglas cannot rely on that. Jones is fresh off a dominant season at Georgia. He has good size and length. His athleticism is impressive as well, underscored by him posting the best 40-time of any offensive lineman at the combine. He would be a plug-and-play option for the Jets at left tackle.
14. New England Patriots – Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
While receiver is certainly an option, the Patriots seem more likely to focus on the defensive side of the ball. Jonathan Jones, Joejuan Williams and Myles Bryant are all slated to be free agents this offseason. Cornerback is going to be a need for Bill Belichick. After a rocky start to the season, Gonzalez played well down the stretch for the Ducks. He had a really strong combine showing, checking every box from a measurement perspective and posting great numbers in the 40 and vertical jump. He has the physical tools to be a good player in the league for a long time.
15. Green Bay Packers – Jordan Addison, WR, USC
Aaron Rodgers might throw something at his TV if this pick were to roll in. Green Bay did not select a pass-catcher in the first round for Rodgers’ entire tenure with the team. If the Packers are serious about putting Jordan Love in a position to succeed, they will need to give him playmakers. Addison is a bit undersized, but he has been one of the most productive receivers in the country over the past two seasons. He would be a really great complement to the receiver the Packers already have on the roster.
16. Washington Commanders – Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
I will be honest, I don’t really know what the path forward for the Commanders is right now. They picked up some huge wins over the Eagles and Cowboys this season, but have question marks all over the offense. Unfortunately, there is not much value at quarterback or offensive tackle at this spot. However, Banks has been flying up draft boards. He played well in his redshirt junior season after dealing with injury in 2021. He dominated the combine and could very easily find himself in the top 20 come draft day.
17. Seattle Seahawks via Pittsburgh Steelers – Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
Seattle has a ton of draft capital, so John Schneider moves up a few spots to grab an athletic edge rusher in Murphy. The former Clemson defender is more projection than he is production at this stage. However, he displayed a unique blend of size and speed. He was more of a disruptor than his stats would indicate. For the Seahawks, they address a big need along their front seven as they look to build upon a surprise wild card run.
18. Detroit Lions – Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
I don’t know if there was a player who had a bigger impact on their draft stock than Smith. The former Georgia star suffered a season-ending pectoral injury at the end of October. In a deep edge rusher class, it seemed like Smith had gotten lost in the shuffle. He let everyone know that he is back to full strength at the combine, posting absolutely ridiculous numbers. He ran a 4.37-second 40 and jumped 41.5 inches in the vertical, both the best for his position. Detroit would just get deeper at edge rusher, adding Smith to a room that already includes Aidan Hutchinson and James Houston.
19. New York Giants via Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
The trades keep on coming. The Giants move up to get ahead of a few teams that could be interested in taking a receiver to grab the top one still on the board. Flowers eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving and scored 12 touchdowns despite playing for an abysmal Boston College offense. He put together a solid display at the combine as well to bolster his draft stock. He is a bit undersized, but Daniel Jones could use a go-to target on third down and in key situations. I think Flowers would be exactly that for him.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers via Seattle Seahawks – Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
The Steelers slide down a few spots and still add some help along the offensive line. Wright had a breakout season at Tennessee after he switched from left tackle to right tackle. He had a great week at the Senior Bowl and did what was asked of him at the combine. Pittsburgh needs to protect Kenny Pickett and maximize the investment they made in Najee Harris. Adding a road grading right tackle feels like a good place to start.
21. Los Angeles Chargers – Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Los Angeles needs to do whatever it can to put Justin Herbert in a position to succeed. It has two great receivers in Mike Williams and Keenan Allen, but adding a player like Mayer at tight end could add a whole new element to this offense. Mayer is a well-rounded prospect who produced well at Notre Dame and had a decent showing at the combine. He would be a plus in the run game as well, which is an area the Chargers struggled in throughout the 2022 season.
22. Baltimore Ravens – Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
Give Lamar Jackson some receivers! In truth, the Ravens have actually tried to surround their franchise quarterback with more talent. Since 2019, Baltimore has drafted six receivers, including two in the first round. Unfortunately, they just haven’t hit on most of them. Johnston would hopefully make up for some past mistakes. He has rare long speed for a player his size and dominates in jump ball situations. He lacks elite quickness, but he would be a big target capable of stretching the defense. Johnston, Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay should give the Ravens a solid receiving corps.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Will McDonald IV, EDGE, Iowa State
I might be low on McDonald compared to the consensus at this point after he showed out at both the Senior Bowl and the combine. He racked up 34 sacks in his five seasons with the Cyclones, including double-digit sack seasons in 2020 and 2021. He has long arms and tested well in the vertical and broad jumps. In fact, his 11-foot broad jump was tied for the best of any player at the position. For Minnesota, McDonald would be a welcome addition to one of the worst units in the league. The Vikings are facing serious turnover on that side of the ball. McDonald, Andrew Booth Jr. and Lewis Cine would give Brian Flores a decent starting point as he aims to reshape this defense.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars – Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State
Jacksonville is shaping up to be one of the most interesting teams to watch in 2023. Trevor Lawrence took a huge jump in his development as the front office put more talent around him and found him a real head coach in Doug Pederson. There are still some gaps to fill in though. Corner is probably the most glaring. It feels like a good landing spot for Brents, who has turned a lot of heads over the past six weeks. He had a strong week in Mobile and even better one in Indianapolis. Brents has great size, 6’3″, and length, 34-inch arms, to pair with incredible physical gifts. He posted a solid time in the 40 and then proceeded to crush the rest of the combine. He had the best broad jump and second-best three-cone time of any player at the combine. Couple that with a stellar 41.5-inch vertical and you have a massive riser up draft boards everywhere.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers via New York Giants – Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson
Tampa Bay’s path forward is a bit unclear. As of now, only Kyle Trask is under contract at quarterback and the Buccaneers are nowhere near a position where they could land one of the top passers in this class. Perhaps they could target Hendon Hooker on Day 2. With QB not an option at this point, the Bucs could aim to bolster their defensive line. Akiem Hicks and Rakeem Nunez-Roches are both set to be free agents. Bresee could be an easy replacement. He looked sharp at the combine and moved really well for a player his size. His injury history and general lack of production at Clemson will push him down the board a bit, but he is a really talented player with loads of upside.
26. Dallas Cowboys – Josh Downs, WR, UNC
Dallas could go a number of directions here, but receiver feels like the biggest need for the Cowboys. CeeDee Lamb had another good year, but there is a reason Jerry Jones was asked about Odell Beckham Jr. for most of the regular season. Dak Prescott needs more receiving options. Enter Downs, who is a silky smooth operator with great hands. He is on the smaller side, but he has the potential to be a dynamic playmaker for Dallas. He was Drake Maye’s go-to target with the ability to line up outside or in the slot.
27. Buffalo Bills – O’Cyrus Torrence, IOL, Florida
While I did consider going with a running back here, I think the Bills should opt to bolster the interior of their offensive line and trust that James Cook will be better in Year 2. Roger Saffold is slated to be a free agent and Torrence could be a much cheaper option at left guard. He isn’t the greatest athlete of all time, but he has good power and massive hands that allow him to control opposing players. With tons of experience playing at Louisiana and later Florida, I see him as a pro-ready option that could help the Bills finally get over the hump in the postseason.
28. Cincinnati Bengals – Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
The Bengals have a fairly well-rounded roster without a ton of clear needs. Offensive line is arguably a bigger need, but Hayden Hurst is a free agent, so I think tight end moves to the forefront. Washington is not the most polished receiver in this tight end group, but he is a rare prospect with his size and speed. Running a 4.64-second 40 at 264 pounds is remarkable. At 6’7″ with long arms and massive hands, Washington will also be an asset in both run and pass protection.
29. New Orleans Saints via San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos – Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
With Derek Carr under contract in this scenario, New Orleans shifts its focus to defense. Van Ness is an ascending talent coming out of Iowa. He did not start for the Hawkeyes, but his athleticism and intangibles have teams believing in his upside. He is long and quick off the edge. His college production was solid as well with 13 sacks and 19 tackles for loss over the past two seasons. With Marcus Davenport headed for free agency, Van Ness could be in line for meaningful snaps as a rookie.
30. Philadelphia Eagles – Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Finally, the first running back comes off the board. Robinson is a top-10 talent, but the lack of positional value and a strong free agent class means teams are more willing to wait at the position. It is also an incredible deep draft class at the position. Despite all of that, Robinson is worth the first-round pick. His contact balance is elite. He has a great ability to make players miss and get back up to full speed in a hurry. For an Eagles team that loves to run the football, this is a dream fit. He would take over the backfield role from Miles Sanders, who is a free agent.
31. Kansas City Chiefs – Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State
There are large human beings and then there is Dawand Jones. The former Ohio State tackle is a behemoth, standing 6’8″ and weighing 374 pounds. He also has 36-inch arms and a nearly 88-inch wingspan! In short, Jones is huge and moves well for a player that size. He has work to do with his footwork and is definitely in need of some refining from a technique standpoint, but his sheer size makes up for a lot of that immediately. For a Chiefs team that is heading into free agency with both of its starting tackles out of a contract, Jones could be a potential long-term answer on the right side.
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