Week 4 is in the books, and we have edged closer to the most festive time of year, the NFL draft. The draft is particularly defensive-heavy, offering some much-needed help at cornerback, safety, and edge. On the offensive side of the ball, the interior offensive line and offensive tackle have depth with some stars. With that said, five trades take place before the draft in this mock draft.
- Texans trade Deshaun Watson to the Miami Dolphins for three firsts (2022 49ers first, 2023 first, and 2024 first), Washington’s 2022 second-round pick, and a 2023 third-round pick.
- Miami Dolphins trade Tua Tagovailoa to Washington Football for a 2022 second-round pick and 2023 fourth-round pick.
- Philadelphia Eagles trade Andre Dillard to the Chicago Bears for a 2023 second-round pick.
- Jacksonville Jaguars trade Cam Robinson to the Carolina Panthers for a 2023 second-round pick.
- Green Bay Packers trade Aaron Rodgers to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a 2022 first-round pick and a 2023 first-round pick.
You’ll note two offensive tackles being tagged and traded. The value of offensive linemen increases, making it harder to find good young ones on the free-agent market. Moreover, here are three other offseason moves which affect this mock draft.
- New York Giants fire Dave Gettleman, the new general manager picks up Daniel Jones‘ fifth-year option.
- Chris Godwin signs with the Indianapolis Colts.
- Davante Adams signs with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
With 77 million in cap space, addressing the offense in free agency would be ideal, then building in the draft on the defense, which lacks talent, would allow the team to be more competitive. With the DJ Chark injury, it shows how shallow the depth at receiver is, and signing Adams (who has made it clear money is a big factor on where he plays) would go a long way to helping Lawrence. Moreover, Jaguars trade Robinson and let Walker Little take over left tackle.
With all that said, the defense will be a priority in this draft, and one of the top edge rushers is Thibodeaux. Josh Allen needs another player to work with as he’s not as impactful when offenses are focused on him. For Thibodeaux, he was not as impactful against Stanford as you’d like to see, but he still showcased flashes of brilliance. The traits are significant, with a great bend, hand usage, and a speed-to-power move. All of these allow him to set up a pass-rushing plan for nice counter moves inside. Overall, he should be able to hit the ground running in the NFL.
2. Detroit Lions – Carson Strong, QB, Nevada
Simply put, if the Lions are drafting second overall, they will likely not stick with Goff long-term. The Lions should provide a nice supporting cast and allow Strong to sit for the year as they make strides with Jared Goff. For Strong, the velocity on the ball and accuracy on some throws will put him in consideration of top QB. He’s a larger quarterback (6’5″, 225lbs) who has the movement skills to make scrambling plays and keep plays alive.
Strong still has some questions to answer, especially regarding his ability to diagnosing plays and why he attempts very aggressive tight-window throws. In short, some of his throws shouldn’t be made, but they end up getting completed with the speed of college. There may be doubts about the progressions, but the arm talent and ability to hit any point of the field should not be a concern.
3. Atlanta Falcons – Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
In a division with Mike Evans, Michael Thomas, and D.J. Moore, having a blanket cornerback would go a long way to helping this defense. Stingley is the top overall player on the author’s big board, and for good reason. His match and mirror man coverage skills, along with athleticism, give him the potential to develop into an island corner. Simply put, defensive coordinators can trust him to follow the best cornerback on the field and cover without assistance – which is an incredibly tough feat in this new age of football. The authors pro comparison is a faster Jaire Alexander with this instincts and coverage ability.
4. New York Jets, Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Joe Douglas understands the importance of the cap and how tackles are being paid exorbitant amounts of money for below-average players. So the team elects to go with a player they know has elite traits and work towards building one of the top offensive lines in the NFL.
The Jets can only rely on George Fant so much. Neal’s athleticism and balance stand out. The body control is unique for the size, standing at 6’7”, 360 lbs. Pass blocking continues to improve in sets. Awareness with stunts and twists is there, which makes him a pro-ready starter.
5. Philadelphia Eagles (Via Miami Dolphins) – Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Willis is the top quarterback for the author, largely due to the fact NFL offenses will now tailor the play calling to the quarterback’s strengths. That aside here’s the fit, Jalen Hurts remains quarterback for as long as he can, as Willis adjusts to the NFL. If Hurts balls out, Howie fleeces another quarterback-needy team and gets a first-round pick. The team elects to run a similar system as they are using right now, where Hurts/Willis are on the move, utilize in boot-action, and use rollouts that can allow them to scramble, forcing defenses to account for a rushing quarterback.
In addition, the movement skills and general ability to make guys miss are special for Willis. Of the last three classes, he has the best running skills. He isn’t as fast as Lamar Jackson but will make more defenders miss. He’s also got a cannon and has improved on his accuracy this offseason, allowing him to threaten all levels of the field. He is the embodiment of where the modern NFL is going.
6. Houston Texans – DeMarvin Leal, IDL, Texas A&M
This pick will allow the Texans to start building the trenches in a division with Derrick Henry and Jonathan Taylor. There are not any other QBs worth a top selection, but there are several defenders like Leal. Leal has been excellent this year but hasn’t gotten the hype. Leal is still getting better and might get the 3-4 tweener analysis. Where ever he plays on the defensive line, he’ll be a force.
7. Philadelphia Eagles (via Indianapolis Colts) – Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Anthony Harris likely will go to another team and get more money in free agency. It’s okay, as Hamilton is the best safety prospect since Eric Berry. Simply put, he is a Derwin James-like player who can blanket any tight ends. Hamilton looks to be able to play single-high or split safety. He is a great fit in quarters and cover three, but the author would prefer to have him in single high with his range and aggressiveness. He is fast, rangy, and has excellent ball skills, except he’s 6’4″ and can fill the run. Overall, Hamilton will have a significant impact on this defense and be the leader of it for a long time.
8. Philadelphia Eagles – George Pickens, WR, Georgia
The Bengals and Cowboys are setting the template for dynamic offenses. They’ve built a receiving core that goes three deep. Pickens is the opposite of DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert and would make this unit an extremely hard group to stop. Pickens is injured with an ACL, but make no mistake, he’s the best wide receiver in this draft class.
Pairing Pickens with Willis will give the offense several weapons to rival any high-powered offense. His body control, spatial awareness, and ball skills are great and will be special in the NFL. Pickins someone who can correct some errant passes, which will assist Willis in errant throws. Pickins is also a sideline specialist and can make unbelievable catches even when the ball isn’t in the right spot. He could very well be an elite receiver for years to come.
9. New York Giants – George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
The Giants get a premium defensive player, which could help their defense ascend. Pairing Karlaftis with Azeez Ojulari in this 5-1-5 defense could help to get to the passer. The stats might not look like a top ten player this year, but it is largely because he’s getting double and triple-teamed every game. The crazy thing is Karlaftis is still getting pressure and having an impact game in and game out. In terms of total confidence from the author that a prospect translates to the NFL, Karlatifis is one of those guys who should be an impact maker right away.
10. Minnesota Vikings – Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
It has been disappointing that Garrett Bradbury still hasn’t developed into who fans thought he could be. There’s still hope for him at guard while drafting a player like Linderbaum, who will be able to elevate the play of both guards. There is a play this past weekend that shows Linderbaum quickly getting outside and sealing the edge on an outside run. To the casual fan, this may seem like a good block. With context, however, it’s an extraordinary play, and only three linemen in the NFL can currently make it. Linderbaum’s movement skills are absurd and make him play style to Jason Kelce. Movement skills mixed with a good understanding of leverage and strength make Linderbaum the best center prospect in recent memory.
11. Green Bay Packers (via Pittsburgh Steelers) – Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
There are three positions the Packers don’t draft in the first round – wide receiver, offensive line, and linebacker. The team does love edge rushers who have a bevy of pass-rushing moves and upside. This also allows the Packers to keep Za’Darius Smith for one more year, while Preston Smith can be cut. Hutchinson was the second-highest player listed on Bruce Feldman’s freaks list and has already shown high level /attractive traits. He’s been highly productive and could be an early impact player in his first year in his career.
12. New England Patriots – Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
Stephon Gilmore is getting up there in age but should be back for 2022, where Elam can be the third cornerback. This fit is scary, as Elam has so elite potential with a head coach like Bill Belichick. Elam is extremely long and has exceptional body control where he can make plays on the ball at the catch point and blanket receivers. His elite trait is the fluidity in his movement/hip flip for being his length. At 6’2″, it’s not normal to move as Elam does, and this will be the reason Elam may get into the top ten, as any coach will see his elite upside.
13. Houston Texans (via Dolphins from 49ers) – Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma
Watson gets shipped off for three firsts, and so, let’s move on to the rebuild for Texans. This pick may be criticized. In short, the gripe he is not ready. Simply that Rattler shouldn’t play a snap in 2022 and should sit on the bench and develop for a year. Frankly, his poor judgment and inability to make essential and basic throws from the pocket is a massive red flag. However, the arm talent is outstanding, and the ability to make throws on the run is why he’s likely going to be a first-round pick. In essence, think of Zach Wilson – with similar flaws/strengths, but now a tad bit more arrogant with how much he thinks he can make every throw.
There is a lot of talent in Rattler, and hitting on quarterbacks is extremely difficult. If the Texans can hold onto Tyrod Taylor and allow Rattler to develop for a year, this would create an ideal situation for the young player. If the Texans can hit on these two picks, they will have gone a long way in the first real year of their rebuild.
14. New York Jets (via Seattle Seahawks) – Andrew Booth, CB, Clemson
The Jets get to start remaking their secondary with a player who can become the team’s best corner in his rookie year. Booth should be a top-seven pick, but some teams will prefer the body type of Stingley and Elam over him. Athletically, Booth is special and has high-level flash plays when he sees things in front of him. A Robert Seleh led defense will not only be able to use him effectively but perhaps unlock his star potential.
15. New Orlean Saints – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
The Saints are one of the teams that can unlock Burk’s full potential. There are some limitations on routes, as he’s not superfluid and will likely have poor testing numbers on anything change of pace/agility-related. His value comes from being a fully-fledged sledgehammer with the ball in his hands, along with his receiving ability. His ability to beat press along with tracking and catching through contact, all while playing on the outside, will be a nice compliment to Michael Thomas. His best usage may be similar to A.J. Brown, where screens and short-yardage passes can end in scoring plays.
16. New York Giants (Chicago Bears) – Kenyon Green, IOL/OT, Texas A&M
The Giants continue to have below-average to average play from the right side of their offensive line. Green can play either guard or right tackle his first year if the team wants to upgrade Will Hernandez or Matt Peart/Nate Solder. Either way, Green allows the team to play the five best offensive linemen and can make it so that the next quarterback of the Giants has more support than Jones did. Moreover, Green is a mauler in the run game who has lots of power in his hands. He’s effective in short areas and has improved in his pass sets every game this year.
17. Kansas City Chiefs – Myjai Sanders, EDGE, Cincinnati
Kansas City needs every bit of help they can get on the defensive line. Frank Clark‘s contract continues to be detrimental to the team. Sanders has a nice fit here and can win with quickness, speed, burst, and hand usage. Sanders would have been a borderline first-round pick last year had he declared for the 2021 NFL Draft. Overall, with his play, he may not be finishing and producing sacks, but he’s still getting pressure, notching 17 pressures in four games.
18. Cleveland Browns – Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
Lloyd is a play-making linebacker who brings exceptional athleticism. The Browns added Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah last year, so this role isn’t necessarily a need. Adding a player of Lloyd’s caliber will be beneficial to an already scary defense to create turnovers. Lloyd has a significant amount of potential, and while he’s a redshirt senior, he’s still getting better at the position.
19. Tennessee Titans – Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
Titans have some of the worst depth in the NFL, as evident by their bevy of injuries and 2-2 record. They need to draft positions that have a cascading effect upon other positions. That is where a defensive tackle can come into play. Davis will eat double and triple teams and allow the rest of this defense to function at a higher level. He’ll also allow Jeffery Simmons to feast on 1-on-1s.
20. Washington Football Team – Darian Kinnard, IOL/OT, Kentucky
This isn’t the best pick. However, it is the most financially viable pick Washington can make for its future. In this mock and simulation, Washington gets Tagovailoa for a second-round pick, with a similar trade value to Sam Darnold. Tagovailoa needs a solid offensive line to be functional, and Washington has pieces that could be viable but may also end up being costly.
Kinnard is aggressive in short spaces and someone who can win most one-on-one assignments. Kinnard has versatility, making him a nice piece who can start immediately as a rookie at guard and then move to left tackle in year two.
21. Buffalo Bills – Derion Kendrick, CB, Georgia
The second cornerback position for the Bills remains a question as Levi Wallace is an okay stand-in for the team. Kendricks has lots of talent and could be another impact starter from this star corner group. Kendricks is a nice zone fit for this team, where he can make plays at the catch point and beat receivers. Overall, he has the potential to be a top corner for any team, and pairing him with Tre’Davious White makes this a deadly duo.
22. Carolina Panthers – Ikem Ekwonu, IOL, NC State
The Panthers add Ekwonu and Cam Robinson in this scenario which are massive upgrades to the offensive line. Brady Christensen is slated to be the starter for the 2023 season. It is safer to bet on Robinson for one more year while Christensen develops. Ekwonu is the lead blocker on lots of runs at NC State, and you see the quickness and speed he has while being a large human being. He has elite run blocking traits with power, hand placement, and quickness. Ekwonu fires off the ball and finishes in the run and solid against the pass.
23. Green Bay Packers – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Yes, the author previously stated Packers don’t take wide receivers in the first round, but they are at a tipping point. In this mock and offseason simulation, Adams hits free agency and goes to another team. Jordan Love will not be successful without a new cast of weapons, and Olave has the tools and nuance in his routes to be the top weapon for this new offense.
Olave’s pro comparison is Calvin Ridley, where he can feast on man and zone coverages through nuances in his routes (looking to put cornerbacks in blind spots then breaking off routes), and intelligence/understanding of coverages. Olave will hit the ground running, as his skills are NFL caliber, which makes him a potential fit and replacement for Adams.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota
Faalele is a wall, which has positive and negative connotations so let’s start with the positives. His size is hard not to consider, at 6’9” 390 lbs. He has obvious strength and movement skills to be a top tackle in this draft. The negatives, he’s missing the killer instinct and some technical nuance such as control when he is locked into blocking. In a word, he is just a wall where it is extremely difficult to get around him, but Faalele never buries defenders as he should.
With all that said, he’s an extremely enticing player with tremendous upside, but the finishing moves are not there. He’s a perfect fit as Riley Reiff gets to start for one more year and then can allow Faalele to take over once he gets NFL coaching.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Tampa Bay has some needs, but cornerback could be improved to make this unit a shutdown group with depth. A long cornerback who is aggressive at the catch point is a nice fit for the Buccaneers defense, who’s been plagued by injuries. Gardner isn’t the most fluid, but when he can get eyes on the football and recognize things in front of him, he’ll make a play. In addition, he’s aggressive in coverage and will make catching the ball for receivers extremely difficult, even on simple routes.
26. Detroit Lions (Via Los Angeles Rams) – David Bell, WR, Purdue
The Lions need a 1B to go along with Hockenson – who is their unquestionable best receiver. A receiver here will also be able to grow and develop chemistry with Strong, their first-round pick. Bell isn’t talked about much as a first-rounder, but he has similar traits to Rashod Bateman. He is great at everything – but arguably not elite at any single thing. He’s not particularly fast, but explosive and quick.
However, his mind about playing the receiver position and his unquestioned desire to make plays are there. This mentality, along with his best trait – catching through contact – makes him a reliable chain mover on third downs and when you need to secure a catch. Bell makes this Purdue offense better, and even while receiving more attention, he’s still contributing and making plays.
27. Denver Broncos – Adam Andersen, EDGE, Georgia
Von Miller should be back one more year, which will help Andersen adapt to the NFL. Currently, Andersen is only a pass-rushing specialist, where he can feast on tackles with speed, quickness, and hands power. The insane thing is Anderson wins with power at 230 lbs, and he has the frame to get bigger and stronger. He has upside but does not have lots of experience and has not been tested in the run game.
28. Baltimore Ravens – Zach Harrison, EDGE, Ohio State
Harrison pairing with Odafe Oweh could be an elite duo for years to come. The scheme fit isn’t great for Harrison, as he would be better in a traditional 4-3 end role, but he should be able to get pressure from the outside. Harrison flashed power and craftiness in his hands to beat tackles and guards. In addition, he has significant control in the run game, where he effectively engages offensive tackles. He’s a well-balanced player and someone who could craft an early role with the Ravens.
29. Dallas Cowboys – Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State
Cowboys still need secondary help despite a Trevon Diggs breakout. In man coverage, Keanu Neal and Micah Parsons continue to struggle to cover tight ends and running backs. Brisker is an exceptional player who excels in man coverage on the field. His ability to match and mirror at his size (6’1″ 200 lbs) is smooth and should allow him to cover tight ends in the NFL. He may not be a true single high safety or ball-hawking turnover machine, but he is going to be highly effective in the box and as a coverage player.
30. Los Angeles Chargers – Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC
Right tackle is a huge need here, but Joey Bosa is the only one who consistently produces and causes pressure without a blitz or stunt. In addition, the tackle class is deep, and Brian Bulaga can likely stay on for another year at right tackle once he gets healthy. Jackson represents significant value as someone with high potential. Crazy enough, Jackson has 16 total pressure on 89 passing rushing snaps – an insane amount of pressure.
31. Las Vegas Raiders – Trent McDuffie, SCB/CB, Washington
The Raiders’ best secondary play has come from 32-year-old Casey Hayward, who still needs help in the slot and outside. Enter McDuffie, who is an explosive player capable of have a Budda Baker-like impact on games. In coverage, he’s agile enough to stick with explosive players while being physical and can make tough tackles in the run. He has the mentality to play outside cornerback, but questions about length may limit him to slot corner.
32. Arizona Cardinals – Drake London, WR, USC
The Cardinals have some contracts ending soon, including Christian Kirk. London is a 6’6″ contested-catch type receiver, unlike anything the Cardinals currently have. Rondale Moore steps up as the WR2 for the team while London develops, but overall this team then has three different types of receivers that are difficult to stop. London isn’t a separator, but his contested catch ability and body control will give cornerbacks problems in the NFL. He has exceptional red zone upside with his length and catching ability.
Follow Brady Podloski on Twitter @BpodNFL
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