The NFL Draft process is starting to heat up as we get closer to December. Jim Nagy and his staff at the Senior Bowl and the other draft-eligible bowl games are sending out their invites for prospects, and we are starting to get a good idea of what the draft order could look like. Following Week 11, the Texans and Dolphins won, which has caused some shake-up in the top ten.
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No 1. Detroit Lions – Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
The Detroit Lions haven’t won a game, but they have been competitive in about half of them. Six of Detroit’s nine losses have come by ten points or less. While there are a lot of directions the Lions could go here, they are in a rebuild and need to take the best player available or trade down. In this scenario, they take Thibodeaux, who is by far the best player in the class. Detroit ranks in the bottom-four for team sacks, so taking the best player available at a position of need is a go-to for the Lions with the first overall selection.
No 2. New York Jets – Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
The Jets could also go in a lot of directions. In a loaded class of cornerbacks and edge rushers, they opt to wait and take the best tackle in the class to pair with Mekhi Becton and Alijah Vera-Tucker. The trio would open more up in the offense for Zach Wilson, who New York needs to see if he’s their franchise quarterback and pave open running lanes for Michael Carter. With another first-round pick in the top ten, the Jets can get another blue-chip prospect with that selection as well.
No 3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
The Jacksonville Jaguars have sputtered offensively in recent weeks and have dealt with a plethora of drops. Marvin Jones was on a hot streak to begin the season but has since cooled down. Laviska Shenault has continued to not develop in the new offense under Urban Meyer. The top two receiving threats in the Jacksonville offense have been Jamal Agnew, a converted cornerback, and Dan Arnold, who the team traded for a few weeks ago.
The Jaguars could go offensive line here or take one of the pass-rushers or cornerbacks worthy of this selection. With Meyer’s Ohio State ties, they opt to take one of the receivers the Buckeyes have instead. Wilson was the lesser-known prospect of the two heading into this year. Now, he’s the one most on Twitter have pegged as the top receiver in the class. If Meyer is still the head coach following the season, he will pound the table for Wilson with their first-round selection.
No 4. Houston Texans – Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
The Texans, like the Lions, are enduring a rebuild. While a quarterback could be on the table here, there is none worthy of this selection, and the Texans need to take the best player available or trade down. With Hutchinson slipping to the fourth spot, Houston pounces at the opportunity to take him. Houston is in the bottom half of the league in sacks, so adding Hutchinson to the fold is a great addition for a team that needs to add any firepower.
No 5. New York Giants – David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan
Three of the top five picks are edge rushers, and back-to-back off the board are the two dynamic Michigan pass-rushers. New York took Azeez Ojulari in the second round last year, but adding Ojabo to the fold now gives the Giants two stud young pass rushers for the next decade or so. Ojabo is the lesser-known Michigan pass-rusher but has seen his draft stock skyrocket this season due to this season’s performance, where he has totaled 30 tackles, ten sacks, and five forced fumbles.
No 6. New York Jets – Andrew Booth Jr, CB, Clemson
After taking Neal with the second pick, the Jets turn to the defense and attack perhaps their biggest need on the roster. Booth is one of the best cornerbacks in the class, and there have been conversations where he is the number one cornerback in the draft, along with the likes of the other top players at the position this year. Booth will immediately slide in as New York’s top cornerback in Week 1.
No 7. New York Giants (via Chicago) – Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
With the Chicago Bears continuing to lose, the Giants have two selections in the top ten. While the likely new front office may look at some quarterback options, none are worthy of either of their selections in the first round, and New York gives Daniel Jones one last shot before potentially diving into the 2023 quarterback class. Linderbaum is the top center in the class and would immediately align in the starting lineup for the Giants.
No 8. Philadelphia Eagles (via Miami) – Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
While drafting a safety this high is almost unheard of, Hamilton is worth this selection. He is debatably the top player in the class, and the Eagles have pressing needs in their secondary. Rodney McLeod isn’t getting any younger and has an expiring contract after this year, and Anthony Harris only signed a one-year deal before this season. Hamilton will immediately align as a starter on the backend from the start of the 2022 season for a Philadelphia defense that desperately needs reinforcements.
No 9. Atlanta Falcons – Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia
The Falcons are in a difficult position. Atlanta could take a quarterback with this spot and move on from Matt Ryan in 2022, or they could take a good player here and select a quarterback on day two of the draft, or wait until 2023 to take their new franchise signal-caller. With the 2022 quarterback being lackluster, Atlanta opts to wait until later to select a quarterback. Instead, they finally give Grady Jarrett a running mate in the middle of the defensive line. Davis is one of the best players in the draft and will make his presence known right from the jump for the Falcons.
No 10. Washington Football Team – Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Unlike Atlanta, Washington is in a position to win now. Ryan Fitzpatrick, unfortunately, got injured almost immediately as the season started, and while Taylor Heinicke has shown flashes, he doesn’t have a high-ceiling that Corral has. The likely Heisman front-runner burst into the QB1 conversation earlier this season. With Washington desperately needing a quarterback to lead a team ready to compete, Ron Rivera and company waste no time and take the Ole Miss product.
No 11. Philadelphia Eagles – Derek Stingley Jr, CB, LSU
With their second first-round pick, Philadelphia continues to reshape their secondary. While Stingley’s stock has dipped a bit due to some injury history, he is still more than worthy of this selection. The cornerback from LSU was in the conversation for the best player in the draft class before injuring his left foot, which put him out for the remainder of the season. The Eagles have thrown flyers at Zech McPhearson and traded for Tay Gowan in recent months, but adding Stingley to pair with Darius Slay is a tremendous idea for Howie Roseman and company.
No 12. Carolina Panthers – Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
Is Cam Newton the Panthers starting quarterback going forward once again? That is yet to be seen. Unfortunately, the offensive line wasn’t able to keep Sam Darnold upright, which resulted in his injury that got Newton back to Carolina in the first place. Taylor Moton is the right tackle, but Brady Christensen hasn’t gotten enough opportunities to make the Panthers not take a new tackle. Penning was the first Senior Bowl announcement, and it was very well deserved and would align at left tackle swiftly for the Panthers.
No 13. Denver Broncos – George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
Like the last few teams before them, the Broncos have a looming question mark at the quarterback position. Instead of attacking that need here, they get the next best pass-rusher in the class, who could very well be the best in any other class. Karlaftis is the best player for Purdue and is being triple-teamed by opposing offensive lines regularly. With the trading of Von Miller, the Broncos have a massive hole at edge-rusher. Karlaftis would form an outstanding rotation with Bradley Chubb and Malik Reed.
No 14. Miami Dolphins (via San Francisco) – Drake London, WR, USC
The second wide receiver off the board is a bit of a surprise. Chris Grier and Brian Flores have been known to go the opposite direction of where the public expects them to go. They’ve done it before with Austin Jackson, Noah Igninoghene, Jaelen Phillips, and Jevon Holland in recent years. London has had an outstanding season. With the Dolphins having five wide receivers with expiring contracts after the season, finding a compliment to Jaylen Waddle would be an intriguing option for the Dolphins to consider.
No 15. Las Vegas Raiders – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
The Raiders have had a rollercoaster of a season. First, the Jon Gruden incident, followed by the Henry Ruggs and Damon Arnette debacles. Hunter Renfrow has proven to be a steal found by Mike Mayock in the draft, but the rest of the receiver room needs reinforcements, as Bryan Edwards isn’t a number one receiver. There is a massive debate over which Ohio State receiver is the better one, and it seems as though Wilson has gotten the upper hand on Olave to this point. With that said, Olave would slot in as the number one option on the outside for the Raiders and give them a dynamic trio of weapons for whoever is playing quarterback in Las Vegas next season.
No 16. Philadelphia Eagles (via Indianapolis) – Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
The Eagles continue to remodel their defense with their third first-round choice. Philadelphia has continuously avoided its linebacking core for years. After staring right at Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah last year and opting to go in a different direction, the Eagles finally address their linebacker woes. Lloyd is the best linebacker in this year’s class and has a chance to vastly improve his stock in Mobile, Alabama, at the Senior Bowl following the NFL season.
No 17. Cleveland Browns – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
There has been a lot of talks recently of Cleveland taking a quarterback with Baker Mayfield struggling. There are two issues with that. The first is that Mayfield has been playing with a torn labrum for the majority of the season. The second, well, the quarterback class is very lackluster. The Browns attack the receiver position instead. With Odell Beckham now gone and Rashard Higgins in a contract year, Cleveland will once again look to dive into the receiver pool early. Burks would give the Browns a new X-factor at the receiver position and team up with youngsters Donovan Peoples-Jones and Anthony Schwartz with Jarvis Landry at the backend of his career.
No 18. Pittsburgh Steelers – Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
Unlike Cleveland, the Steelers almost have to take a quarterback with Ben Roethlisberger on his last legs. Big Ben hasn’t looked the same this year, and the team as a whole has struggled as a result. A riser throughout the lacking quarterback class has been Pickett. In this scenario, he stays close to home and doesn’t have to move, as he stays in Pittsburgh. Pickett will have the chance to show out at the Senior Bowl and continue to raise his stock.
No 19. New Orleans Saints – Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
With other teams taking skill position players, the cornerbacks have fallen down the draft board, causing Elam to go 19th overall to the Saints. Elam has a case to be the top cornerback in the class and definitely could go higher than this. New Orleans is in a tricky situation salary cap-wise and desperately needs a cornerback to pair with Marshon Lattimore. Elam will align opposite of Lattimore to form a nice duo for the Saints.
No 20. Minnesota Vikings – Kingsley Enagbare, EDGE, South Carolina
The Vikings have taken multiple edge rushers in recent years who are similar body types to Enagbare, including D.J. Wonnum and Patrick Jones. At 6’4″, 265, the South Carolina product is exactly what Minnesota has been looking to pair with Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter for years. If both of the latter two can remain healthy, which hasn’t happened in a while, the Vikings will finally have a fearsome tandem for their top pass-rushers.
No 21. Buffalo Bills – Kenyon Green, IOL, Texas A&M
Sometimes a team takes advantage of a player dropping down the board that shouldn’t be. The Bills have seemingly done this for a few years now and do so once again here. While there isn’t a pressing need on their offensive line, the Bills could afford to get younger on the interior of their offensive line. Green is a potential top-ten talent in the class, and getting him at 21 is a steal for Buffalo.
No 22. Los Angeles Chargers – DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M
Like the Bills before them, the Chargers take advantage of a player falling down the draft board for the second year in a row. Last year, it was Rashawn Slater and Asante Samuel Jr, and now it is Leal. Los Angeles has struggled to defend the run all year long, and adding Leal will immediately help out the lackluster run defense unit.
No 23. Cincinnati Bengals – Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
The Bengals traded down in the second round last year with a plethora of tackles on the board to take Jackson Carman, who hasn’t performed up to par as a guard. Finally, Cincinnati takes their right tackle of the future in Cross, who’s a fast riser in a good group of offensive tackles this year.
No 24. Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles) – Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
The Lions need to add players to help them win immediately while also being part of the culture shift. Sauce will do exactly that. The Cincinnati cornerback hasn’t allowed a single touchdown during his collegiate career and is finally getting the recognition he deserves across the country. Thankfully for Detroit, Gardner slips to them here, and he will form a dynamic young duo with Jeff Okudah.
No 25. Kansas City Chiefs – Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State
The Kansas City defense is finally catching up to them. The defense has been one of the worst in recent memory, and while it has finally started to look better against the Packers and Cowboys in recent weeks, there are still plenty of holes across the unit. The biggest may be the safety position. Tyrann Mathieu isn’t a true safety and is more of a versatile chesspiece defensively, while Juan Thornhill occupies the typical safety spot. Unfortunately, Daniel Sorensen seems to be the weak point of the defense, as seen by the memes across the internet. Brisker recently accepted a Senior Bowl invite and would provide much-needed help on the backend for the Chiefs.
No 26. New England Patriots – Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
While Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers have provided plenty of sparks this year, neither is the caliber of player Dotson is. While he isn’t spectacular in any aspect, the Penn State receiver is a great all-around receiver that Bill Belichick will drool over if he is still on the board when the Patriots are on the clock.
No 27. Dallas Cowboys – Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC
The Dallas defense has seen a steady improvement under Dan Quinn. The pass-rush unit could still be addressed even with the emergency of Micah Parsons as an edge-rusher/linebacker hybrid. Teams can never have too many pass-rushers, and the Cowboys have found that out with the influx of injuries at the position in recent weeks.
No 28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Darian Kennard, IOL, Kentucky
Like the Bills a few picks earlier, the Buccaneers don’t have a glaring need across the offensive line but have impending free agents. Kinnard is a multi-year starter at Kentucky and can play multiple positions along the offensive line. With the Buccaneers on the verge of a Tom Brady retirement and attempting to reload their roster, setting up for the future with a top player like Kinnard is an excellent move.
No 29. – Baltimore Ravens – Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State
When Ronnie Stanley returns in 2022, the left tackle spot will be fine. The right tackle spot is a bit of a question mark. Petit-Frere has seen his draft rise throughout the season. Additionally, the Ravens aren’t one to let a pressing need go without attacking it early in the draft.
No 30. Green Bay Packers – Myjai Sanders, EDGE, Cincinnati
The Packers are in a predicament with their salary cap this offseason. While the receiver position has faced scrutiny, it seems like the pass-rushing unit is perhaps the biggest need heading into the 2022 season, with Za’Darius Smith‘s contract expiring and Preston Smith potentially being a cap casualty despite a rebound season. That leaves Rashan Gary and, well, not much. Sanders, like Gardner, has transformed the Cincinnati defense into one of the best units in the country, and Green Bay loves taking their versatile, big pass-rushers.
No 31. Tennessee Titans – Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
Even with the drafting of Caleb Farley, who hasn’t played a snap thus far into his career due to a torn ACL, the Titans desperately need help in the secondary, and McDuffie is potentially the final cornerback worth taking in the first round. A young trio of McDuffie, Farley, and Kristian Fulton is a dynamic secondary group in Tennessee.
No 32. Arizona Cardinals – Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
The Arizona Cardinals have seemingly put it all together finally and will most likely find themselves in the playoffs. Both Chandler Jones and J.J. Watt aren’t getting any younger, so adding reinforcements to the pass-rushing group is needed heading into the 2022 season. While there are more players on the Georgia defense that have been getting more publicity, Walker has shown his versatility on the edge and in coverage.
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