We are nearing the NFL draft season and the first-round prospects are becoming more apparent. This upcoming draft class is one of the best cornerback drafts in recent memory. In addition, the interior offensive line, offensive tackle, and edge rusher classes are shaping up well. However, the class lacks top-end talent with quarterbacks, with only one in the first round in this draft. The draft order is based on Tankathon’s current draft order. With all that said, let’s dive in.
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No 1. Detroit Lions – Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Thibodeaux is an elite edge rusher talent who could be ranked similarly to Joey Bosa and Nick Bosa. Ranking the three as prospects, Nick would be the top prospect, then Thibodeaux, then Joey. For Thibodeaux, his calling card is his upside in his pass-rushing moves. From speed to power, to his bend which then allows him to counter inside, he will show flashes of what he can do on day one. For the Lions, having Trey Flowers, Romeo Okwara, Julian Okwara, and maybe Charles Harris (if he re-signs), along with Thibodeaux will give them among the best edge rusher depth in the league.
No 2. Houston Texans – Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
Texans elect to go with the best player available here (ahead of one said safety). Stingley has the potential to change this secondary and allow the Texans to build from the back to the front. Stingley has shades of Jaire Alexander in his game, where he’s able to stick to receivers like glue. His instincts and play recognition give him island corner potential where he has the potential to blanket NFL receivers.
No 3. Philadelphia Eagles (via Miami Dolphins) – Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Eagles need to get better in the secondary and can elect to take the best safety prospect since Eric Berry. Hamilton has the speed to play as a single high safety, but the tackling prowess and instincts to be effective in the box. In short, he’s extremely versatile and can play multiple roles on the defense. Hamilton can blanket and remove tight ends in one on one coverage. He’s a difference-maker on a team and could make this defense return to its former elite form.
No 4. New York Jets – Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Right tackle is the spot to address, and if Neal hits, it gives the Jets a legitimate argument about being a top-five offensive line in the NFL. Mekhi Becton, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Connor McGovern, and now Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, along with a legitimate freak of nature in Neal at right tackle. Neal has franchise tackle potential with his length and power. At 6’7 and 360 lbs, he has freakish movement skills and will be effective in screens and wide zone runs. Overall, he is the best offensive prospect in this class and has a real shot to be a long-term option at tackle.
No 5. Jacksonville Jaguars – Kenyon Green, IOL/OT, Texas A&M
This pick isn’t sexy by any means, but Green has the versatility to play four out of five positions on the offensive line. Jaguars could address the edge as well, but they need to build around Trevor Lawrence, which should outweigh defense this offseason. Green allows the team to start Walker Little in place of a free agent Cam Robinson, and to move on from guard Andrew Norwell where Green would likely play his first year. Green can also be a replacement and competition for Jawaan Taylor if he doesn’t reach his full potential. Green’s power in the run game and balance in his pass-sets makes him an extremely well-rounded player who has pro-bowl upside.
No 6. Washington Football Team – Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Corral’s current play isn’t worth a first-round pick. He is in a simplified offense which allows for easy completions which make the stat lines look better. The most significant factor which will likely decide Corral’s career is his reading of the play post-snap and ability to progress through reads.
That aside, the arm talent is extremely impressive and he can make throws in tight windows. For the author, Corral’s pro comparison and play style are eerily similar to Carson Wentz. Corral isn’t afraid to take a hit to gain additional yardage when scrambling and he has great arm talent where he can make plays on all levels of the field. However, there will be some plays where fans are left scratching their heads.
No 7. Philadelphia Eagles – Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
The Eagles need to get better on defense and can give Jalen Hurts one more year to show if he’s the franchise guy. They opt to go edge rusher which allows them to move on from Derek Barnett. Hutchinson would pair well with Josh Sweat as he’s got a bevy of moves to choose from. This defensive line with Hutchinson not only gets great depth but has different rushing styles which can win in a variety of ways. Hutchinson has great hand usage along with freakish athleticism and bend.
No 8. New York Giants – Tyler Linderbaum, IOL, Iowa
Will Hernandez, Billy Price, and Nate Solder are all free agents this off-season so a replacement in the interior makes sense. Linderbaum is the safest player in this draft in regards to having an extremely high floor. He’s a center, and for a center to go top ten, shows the talent. His background in wrestling gives him a leverage advantage. That aside, his speed will likely give him the Jason Kelce comparison, but his strength is insane. In the run game, he allows offenses the ability to use unusual pulls and counters. In the passing game, he has the potential to be a reliable one-on-one blocker.
No 9. Miami Dolphins (via San Francisco Niners) – Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
This offensive line is extremely bad in Miami, but luckily there is a chance to change that with the first two rounds. Cross is the tackle all the analysts have had questions about strength and if he could hold up against NFL-caliber players. In short, he showed power and the ability to play on an island with no support. Cross has played well consistently against good competition and is quickly earning hype. He should slot into the left tackle spot which will let Austin Jackson at left guard.
No 10. New York Jets (via Seattle Seahawks) – Andrew Booth, CB, Clemson
Bryce Hall has been really good for the Jets, but in the Robert Saleh system having two good corners who can fill in the run is important. Booth is an athletic freak with some of the best play recognition of any cornerback in the last three drafts. His coverage ability is special where his body control and tracking make him a threat to contest every throw his way.
No 11. New York Giants (via Chicago Bears) – George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
Giants need more help from their edge rushers. Someone who can rush inside and outside in their typically five defensive linemen and two linebacker sets in the box. Karlaftis is an absolute monster, who has significant strength which allows him to set the edge for the run, while also having great hand usage. Both traits make him a threat to rush the passer, so much so teams in college have had to double and triple-team him. The Giants could have a formidable duo with him along with Azeez Ojulari.
No 12. Minnesota Vikings – Ikem Ekwonu, IOL, N.C. State
Ekwonu is a monster in all facets of the word. He has the potential to be an elite run blocker very quickly in the NFL. Overall, the Vikings need more help on the interior with Oli Udoh being a liability in the passing game. Ekwonu would be an immediate upgrade over Udoh at right guard for the Vikings if he ends up landing there.
No 13. Carolina Panthers – Darian Kinnard, IOL, Kentucky
Kinnard may not be worth this high of a pick, however, he could slot in at guard or tackle. Brady Christensen was the team’s third-round pick in 2021, and it would be difficult to see the team already trying to replace him. Taylor Moton is still an elite right tackle, but the team needs a contingency plan if Christensen doesn’t work out at left tackle. Panthers also need help at guard and Kinnard has the versatility to start anywhere. Kinnard is powerful in short spaces and has excellent balance in his pass sets.
No 14. Philadelphia Eagles (via Indianapolis Colts) – Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
Three defensive picks will completely overhaul the Eagles’ defense. Elam has elite potential largely due to his length and movement skills. His ability to flip his hips while being so long is special and allows him to make plays on the ball. For 2022, he could be the second corner behind Darius Slay, then take over as the top cornerback in 2023.
No 15. Denver Broncos – Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC
Long story short, Bradley Chubb shouldn’t be re-signed after the 2022 season as he hasn’t been able to stay healthy year to year. The team needs to regain its form at the edge position and Jackson will get one year of rotational starts where he can learn from Chubb. Jackson’s bend for being so big is special, pairing that with his quickness and hand usage makes him an intriguing prospect.
No 16. Cincinnati Bengals – Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State
Riley Reiff has played admirably but enough for another contract? In addition, Reiff will be 35 next year and the team has to wonder if there will be some decline in his play if they do re-sign him. The team could also move Jackson Carman out to right tackle if they want to replace Reiff, but he played well at guard.
Overall, this pick is more about the long-term upside of Petit-Frere than his short-term utilization. Petit-Frere has some technical pass blocking aspects to work on that can be fixed with NFL coaching, but he has the talent to be a starter from day one. This allows the team to get a better tackle duo and a long-term option to keep Joe Burrow upright.
No 17. Cleveland Browns – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
Burks has the potential to be a special player in the NFL, with his size and run after the catch-ability. His ball skills are unreal, with exceptional body control and catching ability to be a reliable chain-mover. Overall, Burks could be another dynamic player for this team. He can even be a running back out of the backfield to pair with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, as he’s had some carries out of the backfield for Arkansas.
No 18. Kansas City Chiefs – Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
Davis is 22 (not 26!), and boy is he a monster in the interior. The Chiefs’ run defense is currently allowing the fifth-most rushing yards against. Davis goes a long way to fixing this poor run defense by taking on and beating double teams and allowing other defenders a chance for one on ones. He’s got the power to use an effective bull-rush, and the quickness to put offensive linemen in poor positions to block him.
No 19. Atlanta Falcons – Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Isaiah Oliver got hurt in Week 4, but was playing maybe the best football of his career and showed some flashes. Thus, the Falcons are in a tough situation here, as they could stick with Oliver and give him a new contact, but this is one of the best cornerback drafts in recent memory. By drafting Gardner, they get cheaper and get a player with upside. He is an extremely long and physical cornerback. Gardner has the potential to lock up good receivers and would be a great duo with AJ Terrell.
No 20. New England Patriots – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Mac Jones needs another weapon that can create separation and generate run after catch yardage. The team needs an alpha receiver who can be trusted in difficult situations. Wilson can be a guy who can take a short throw the distance or when Jones needs an easy completion. In short, Wilson has exceptional control over his speed and body when running routes. He’s able to create space through suddenness and leverage is special in this regard and shows time after time.
No 21. New Orleans Saints – Demarvin Leal, DT/EDGE, Texas A&M
The fit is interesting here for Leal and the Saints. Leal projects more as an inside defensive lineman with his 290 lb frame. However, his movement skills are freakish and could allow him to rush from the outside. The Saints are a team that would effectively utilize Leal, as he could play outside on run downs and move inside to rush the passer on passing downs. All that said, he has immense upside and could become a top defensive lineman if he plays in the proper scheme.
No 22. Pittsburgh Steelers – Derion Kendrick, CB, Georgia
The Steelers need another cornerback and someone who can eventually replace Joe Haden. Kendrick has a knack for contesting the ball when it is in the air, despite even being in a bad position. Kendrick’s best play comes in zone coverage, where he’s able to get eyes on the ball and react quickly. However, he continues to get better in man coverage each month.
No 23. Las Vegas Raiders – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
The Raiders need another receiver for Derek Carr. Olave is a threat in the intermediate and deep areas with his speed and route-running ability. Olave is an excellent route runner who has nuance and deception in all of his routes. He’s got great speed to threaten defenders deep, but can also use his suddenness to generate separation in intermediate areas.
No 24. Dallas Cowboys – Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
The Cowboys need safety help, someone who can fill in the box, but also can cover one on one. Hill has shown to be an effective coverage player in man and zone coverage. His man coverage ability is impressive as he shows great movement skills. His ability to play in the slot or free safety will go a long way to helping this defense out. Overall, Hill has played well this year and should be a first-rounder with his play.
No 25. Buffalo Bills – Jarrett Patterson, IOL, Notre Dame
Buffalo needs help on the interior offensive line. Patterson plays center for Notre Dame right now, but he should be able to slot in at guard, given his movement skills. He’s a solid run blocker capable of using his good movement and quickness to make blocks. In the passing game, he has the awareness to take on stunts and blitzes. He needs to add weight and some strength, but after he does he’ll be a force in the trenches.
No 26. Los Angeles Chargers – Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame
Foskey has NFL size to be a day one starter, but his upside comes from being so long. His length gives him an unfair leverage advantage and then his movement skills for being 6’5 and 260 lbs are insane. There is a lot of potential, due to him still refining his pass-rushing tools. With eight sacks already this year, Foskey is only scratching the surface.
No 27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Drake London, WR, USC
Chris Godwin is set to be a free agent this offseason, and the team can get cheaper at the position with London. London is somewhat repetitive of Mike Evans – both being monsters who can make a majority of contested catches. London is 6’6 but has legitimate alpha ball skills and short-area quickness that helps him run routes. Moreover, London is a threat in the slot, which is where the author’s comparison of Marques Colston comes from. London has very similar traits to Colston, but London is better at making defenders miss with the ball in his hands.
No 28. Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles Rams) – David Bell, WR, Purdue
The Lions need a receiver who can be the 1B receiver to T.J. Hockenson’s 1A. Bell is a smooth receiver capable of being a top target for any team. He’s 6’2 and 205 lbs but his body control and exceptional route running make him a reliable go-to target. His strength and ability to catch through contact are going to make him a stud in the NFL.
No 29. Baltimore Ravens – Sean Rhyan, OT/IOL, UCLA
Ravens draft Rhyan and let him develop behind Alejandro Villanueva in 2022. Villanueva is on a two-year contract where Rhyan could be the starting right tackle in 2023. Rhyan can play guard if the team needs, but he projects better at tackle with his ability to pass block. Overall, he’s a Ravens’ type of run blocker, as he has violent hands which show up in the run game and time again.
No 30. Green Bay Packers – John Metchie, WR, Alabama
Davante Adams is set to depart this offseason leaving a significant void of targets. Not only does the reliability of Adams leaving hurt, but losing his ability to separate does as well. Enter Metchie, a Canadian-born receiver who thrives by winning with his route running. His ability to use leverage and trickery in his routes will help him to translate to the NFL. As well, he’s a reliable pass-catcher who can be a go-to reliable chain mover during third downs.
No 31. Tennessee Titans – Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
Titans have a need for better linebacker play as David Long Jr. and Rashaan Evans can be improved upon. Lloyd could take this front seven to the next level as he has significant potential. His stats illustrate the kind of football player he is, 45 solo tackles, three interceptions, one forced fumble, and six sacks, show he is everywhere on the field. Lloyd is scratching the surface of his potential and playing with a defensive line that gives him opportunities to run and chance/ make plays will let him be an impact player.
No 32. Arizona Cardinals – David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan
Chandler Jones may be a free agent this offseason, as well, the team also needs another edge rusher in general. Ojabo is winning this year with speed, quickness, and power. The scary thing is the explosiveness offers him an avenue to win with his burst, but also around the corner. On top of that, he has a speed to power move which keeps offensive tackles constantly guessing. Overall Ojabo is going to continue to rise as he flashes more.
Follow Brady Podloski on Twitter @BpodNFL
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