To say that literally everything has happened in the NFL over the course of the last few weeks would be quite the understatement. Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Deshaun Watson, and soon Baker Mayfield, will be in new spots this upcoming season. As will the duo of star receivers Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams. It goes without saying, but the new league year kicking in changes the complexion of this year’s draft significantly. In addition to teams getting final looks at players in this year’s cycle of Pro Days, draft season is on the home stretch.
Be sure to check out all of our NFL Team Mock Drafts.
1) Jacksonville Jaguars – Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Jaguars’ GM Trent Balake may end up passing on an offensive lineman at No. 1 after all. After claiming he wants to keep Cam Robinson in the fold long term, on top of getting Brandon Scherff, Evan Neal may be out of the cards. That said, the Jaguars’ focus should then turn to getting the best player available, and that is Hutchinson. The Heisman runner-up would be the pass-rushing jolt this team needs for the long run.
For more on Hutchinson, check out our scouting report on him.
2) Detroit Lions – Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
The Lions miss out on the hometown kid but still end up with an elite pass-rushing prospect all the same. Thibodeaux is a great all-around athlete with a rare blend of smoothness and power as a pass rusher. While he likely lacks the floor that Hutchinson has, his long-term upside may end up being better. Pairing him up with the returning Romeo Okwara has the potential to be extremely bad news for NFC North offensive linemen everywhere.
For more on Thibodeaux, check out our scouting report on him.
3) Houston Texans – Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Only three picks in for the first surprise selection to happen. Nick Caserio and the Texans have the good problem of being able to do just about anything at No. 3. While they could take a corner with their second first-round pick, here would be the better time to do it with the whole board available. Caserio has seen what elite corners can do for a team in his days with the New England Patriots and gets one here in Gardner. In his days with the Bearcats, he gave up a whopping zero touchdowns in his entire collegiate career. In addition to surrendering under 150 total yards in 2021 via PFF. Additionally, Gardner has more recent tape to go off of compared to Derek Stingley.
For more on Gardner, check out our scouting report on him.
4) New York Jets – Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
The prior pick especially stings for both New York teams, who could potentially go corner in this first round with two picks to work with. Joe Douglas however goes elsewhere at No. 4 and gets Walker. The Georgia pass rush has shot up draft boards in the last month due to his monster performance at the combine, and overall athleticism. Now you may be asking why not just go Stingley here, and that is a fair question. However, Carl Lawson, who the Jets gave a three-year deal last season, tore his Achilles last August. With the Jets being able to cut him next offseason, Walker would be a real long-term solution to a mediocre Jets pass rush.
For more on Walker check out our scouting report on him.
5) New York Giants – Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Playing the role of the 2021 Lions this year are the Giants, who sleepwalk into getting perhaps the best player in the draft. Neal’s hype feels as if its slowed down a bit, but make no mistake, he is the best lineman in this draft. Furthermore, he spent all of the 2020 season at right tackle, just where the Giants happen to have a hole currently. Putting him opposite of Andrew Thomas, who looked much better than in 2020, would set the Giants up beautifully for the next decade.
For more on Neal, check out our scouting report on him.
*** TRADE ALERT ***
Philadelphia Eagles receive pick 6. Carolina Panthers receive picks 15 and 51, and 2023 3rd
6) Philadelphia Eagles – Kyle Hamilton, SAF, Notre Dame
Seeing as the Eagles have three first-rounders, and the Panthers have 131 selections in between their first two, this works out for both sides nicely. Even more so considering the player, Philidelphia and Howie Roseman moved up to get. Safties like Hamilton do not come into the league that often. His freaky range and versatility saw him being used in the box, slot, and back deep in his college career. So much so, that he spent most of his 2021 season in the slot via PFF. His 40 yard dash times at the combine and his pro day were not that impressive, but that isn’t much of an issue these days. Hamilton by all accounts is the best safety prospect the league has seen in years.
For more on Hamilton, check out our scouting report on him.
*** TRADE ALERT ***
Kansas City Chiefs receive picks 7 and 81. New York Giants receive picks 29, 62, 94, and 2023 1st.
7) Kansas City Chiefs – Derek Stingley Jr, CB, LSU
The Giants are reportedly wanting to get an extra first for next year’s draft and get their wish. For the Chiefs, you may have heard their division is loaded with offensive talent. Although a steep price, they jump up 22 spots and hop some cornerback needy teams to get a big team need. Stingley’s best year was nearly three years ago, but that one season was out of this world. He missed most of 2021 with a Lisfranc injury but should be a full go as well with OTA’s on the horizon. A gamble for sure, but they made a similar jump up with Patrick Mahomes, and that has seemed to work out well. This would be massive as well with the Honey Badger out of the picture.
For more on Stingley, check out our scouting report on him.
8) Atlanta Falcons – Drake London, WR, USC
Atlanta hasn’t had the best offseason with Matty Ice off to Indianapolis and Russell Gage to Tampa. In addition to the whole Calvin Ridley situation as well. They did however bring in Marcus Mariota to serve as a bridge signal-caller, which likely rules out a quarterback with this pick, making a receiver the likely pick. Although Garrett Wilson could be considered the top option, the Falcons have not been reported to meet with him. London is one of a few that they have met with and makes sense at No. 8. Before an ankle injury knocked him out for the season, the 6-foot-5 monster was averaging 11 catches a game for 135 yards. He’d serve as an excellent complement to Kyle Pitts, as most of the top receivers would.
For more on London, check out our scouting report on him.
9) Seattle Seahawks (via Denver Broncos) – Ikem Ekwonu, OT/IOL, NC State
The Seahawks to this point in 2022 have followed the R.A.G.E system to perfection. Render roster uncompetitive. Anger fanbase for the short term, Gain draft capital, and then finally, Earn generational talent. That last part will have to wait until 2023 (looking at you Bryce Young, Will Anderson, and Darnell Washington). For now, the focus should be building up the offensive line, and they do just that with Ekwonu. Although he would almost certainly fit in a left tackle in Seattle, he does have the flexibility to kick in at guard if need be. All around, this is a great fit for the team and player.
For more on Ekwonu, check out our scouting report on him.
10) New York Jets (via Seattle) – Andrew Booth Jr, CB, Clemson
The fact that the Jets were in on Hill would lead you to believe that they want to still upgrade their receiver room. Odd given that they have spent a ton of resources building it up recently, but with a run on cornerbacks likely to begin in the teens, Douglass would be wise to get ahead of the pack. Booth is simply a good all-around corner who possesses elite athleticism and ball skills. Dropping him in as the final piece in the revamped Jets secondary would be a win for New York.
For more on Booth, check out our scouting report on him.
11) Washington Commanders – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Why have just two Ohio State wideouts when you can simply have three? The Commanders had a presence at the Ohio State pro day recently, which leads you to believe they like both of their receivers. Pairing Wilson up with Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel has the potential to be big time for Washington. His elite route running and speed should translate well as he makes the jump to the NFL.
For more on Wilson, check out our scouting report on him.
12) Minnesota Vikings – Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
The Vikings’ cornerback situation is one of the worst in the NFL, and almost have to go with one in round one. While they are late to the party, McDuffie is far from a bad option at No. 12. While undersized at a tick under 5-foot-11, it didn’t hinder him in the Pac 12. Not a physical corner, but McDuffie is an exceptional defender in man coverage, as well as in zone. As for where he would line up, very little of his time at Washington was spent in the slot, as he was used near exclusively on the outside.
For more on McDuffie, check out our scouting report on him.
13) Houston Texans (via Cleveland Browns) – George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
The statistics only tell so much about what Karlaftis brings to the table as a pass rusher. His only concern seems to be in the run game, and even then it comes nowhere close to being a red flag. He has the potential to be a legit game wrecker in Houston depending on how they pair him with talent on the defensive front. If the double teams he faced in college disappear, the Texans would have two legit Defensive Rookie of the Year contenders in the fold.
For more on Karlaftis, check out our scouting report on him.
14) Baltimore Ravens – Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
In this year’s edition of ‘How did the league let [insert player name here] fall to the Ravens’, they snag one of the freakiest defensive tackle prospects in decades. Standing at 6-foot-6 and over 340 pounds, Davis has no business being as athletic as he is. At the combine, he ran a 4.78 40 yard dash, just .01 seconds slower than his teammate Devonte Wyatt who is 40 pounds lighter. As for what Davis can bring on the field, he has the ability to be a game wrecker against the run. He also will certainly require double teams, which in turn will help out the rest of his linemates. In short, John Harbaugh and the Ravens will figure out what to do with him.
For more on Davis, check out our scouting report on him.
15) Carolina Panthers (via Philidelphia Eagles) – Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt
The Panthers, as you can imagine, have done their homework on this year’s crop of signal-callers. Sam Darnold after a good start, took a nosedive in terms of his production near the mid-point of the season. Additionally, Cam Newton didn’t look great either after a surprising reunion with his former team. At the Pitt pro day, the Panthers had a big presence there with Matt Rhule and Ben McAdoo. While owner David Tepper, a Pitt alum, has been said to be a fan of Pickett. While he may not start year one, Pickett has been labeled ‘the most pro-ready quarterback’ in this draft. His 2020 season doesn’t show that, however, he looked much better in 2021, throwing for 42 touchdowns and over 4300 yards.
For more on Pickett, check out our scouting report on him.
16) Philadelphia Eagles (via Indianapolis Colts) – Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
Philidelphia already secured this year’s best safety, now they arguably get this year’s best linebacker. Lloyd is a do it all field general who can be the lifeblood of any NFL defense. He just missed out on last year’s Butkus Award to Georgia Linebacker Nakobe Dean, but it wasn’t for the lack of effort or talent. Llyod showed a great feel for the game, with the athleticism and raw talent to be great against both the pass and run. Pass rushing may be a weak point, but even then he still racked up 7.5 sacks in 2021. This would be another slam dunk A+ pick for the Eagles in every way.
For more on Lloyd, check out our scouting report on him.
17) Los Angeles Chargers – Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
Brandon Staley and Tom Telesco effectively halted the Davis draft hype by bringing in Staley’s old friend Sebastian Joseph-Day. Meanwhile, Bryan Bulaga became a cap casualty recently, making right tackle a new need for the bolts. Insert Northern Iowa’s Penning, who did play left tackle in college, but can slot in on the opposite side here. Penning’s 6-foot-7 frame in addition to his long arms will serve him well at either spot really, which gives him a ton of upside. Going with tackles in the first round two years in a row is far from sexy, but it’s far from the worst move a team can make.
For more on Penning, check out our scouting report on him.
18) New Orleans Saints – Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
The Saints, in need of a new blindside blocker with the departure of Terron Armstead, have a top-tier one fall to them at 18 in Cross. Only a two-year starter at Mississippi State, the big man made a big jump from year one to year two. Cross was better across the board while playing two additional games and nearly 200 more snaps in 2021. His highlight game was against Alabama, where according to PFF, he gave up zero pressures on 66 total snaps in pass protection. At 18 this would be the steal of the first round so far for New Orleans.
For more on Cross, check out our scouting report on him.
19) Philadelphia Eagles (via Miami Dolphins) – Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State
Roseman and the Eagles opt to use all three of their firsts and hit the defensive trifecta with Johnson. After a great run at the Senior Bowl and Combine, he has shot up draft boards in a big way. In his lone year at Florida State after leaving Georgia, Johnson put up double-digit sacks and had career highs across the board. There would be a real chance of him being the best pass rusher on the Eagles roster during year one.
For more on Johnson, check out our scouting report on him.
20) Pittsburgh Steelers – Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Pickett could very well be the most pro-ready quarterback this year, but he doesn’t possess the high-end potential that Willis does. Additionally it just so happens that the Steelers seem to be fans of the Liberty signal-callers work. Pittsburgh Head Coach Mike Tomlin was even reported to have had dinner with Willis recently. As for what Willis can bring to the table, his arm strength and scrambling ability are elite. The comparisons to guys like Lamar Jackson and Mike Vick have some merit, but hard to go that far. Wouldn’t expect him to start in year one, at least right away, given the contract the Steelers gave Mitchell Trubisky. In any case, Willis should be their long-term solution at quarterback.
For more on Willis, check out our scouting report on him.
*** TRADE ALERT ***
Tampa Bay Buccaneers receive pick 21. New England Patriots receive picks 27 and 91.
21) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Zion Johnson, OL, Boston College
The Buccaneers championship window is done the second Tom Brady retires (for good this time), and they have a notable hole at left guard. Boston College may be one of the most underrated NFL factories in the country, and their newest league member is a transplant. Johnson, who spent time at Davidson before jumping over to Chesnut Hill, was a force on the BC offensive front. In 2021, he received First Team All-ACC, and All American honors starting at left guard. The Buccaneers have met with Johnson, more specifically head coach Bruce Arians. Would have to imagine there is mutual interest.
For more on Johnson, check out our scouting report on him.
22) Green Bay Packers (via Las Vegas Raiders) – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
The Packers start out their potential wide receiver double-dip in strong fashion. Olave was a menace as a Buckeye and Aaron Rodgers should be thrilled if the Packers acquire his services. He is an excellent route runner with the afterburners to separate down the field when needed. Olave may need to bulk up a tad to compete with some pro cornerbacks, but if he and Rodgers get into a rhythm, watch out.
For more on Olave, check out our scouting report on him.
23) Arizona Cardinals – Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
The Cardinals’ offensive line was a train wreck against the Los Angeles Rams in the postseason. However, the unit has to improve in general if they want to play games further into January than in years past. Linderbaum, a natural center, would be an upgrade over either guard spot the second he steps on the field. In fact, the Iowa product may be the best interior offensive line prospect since Quenton Nelson. Seeing as Rodney Hudson is set in at center, Linderbaum will have to switch positions, but the raw talent is undeniable. He only falls this far because of positional value.
For more on Linderbaum, check out our scouting report on him.
24) Dallas Cowboys – Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan
La’el Collins and Connor Williams are both off to greener pastures, so Jerry Jones needs to put a focus on the offensive front this draft. They have some options on the board, but they opt for the 6-foot-7 Raimann, a native Austrian who played in his native country before joining Central Michigan. For a player who picked up American Football at the age of 14, he was very impressive in 2021. That isn’t even factoring in that Raimann started out as a tight end before kicking into the offensive line. The Cowboys could slot the First-Team All-MAC player in a right guard with a minimal learning curve.
For more on Raimann, check out our scouting report on him.
25) Buffalo Bills – Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
The Bills have the ability to go in a few directions at 25. Their corner depth could use some beefing up, especially factoring in Tre’Davious White coming off of a torn ACL. Good news is there is a quality cornerback ripe for the taking in Elam. His long arms along with a 6-foot-2 frame made him a tough out for SEC wideouts in his days with Florida. Elam can be a tad grabby, but that can be worked out so that isn’t a worry, especially if he ends up in Buffalo where they can coach that out of him.
For more on Elam, check out our scouting report on him.
26) Tennessee Titans – Tyler Smith, OT/IOL, Tulsa
Rodger Saffold‘s departure leaves a big hole on the Titans’ offensive front, and the Titans would be wise to address that as early as possible. Smtih spent his college career at left tackle, but his run game skill makes him a perfect candidate to move inside to guard. He is not a finished product just yet, but the intangibles Smith brings to the table would be worth it. Seeing as the Titans currently have just one pick left in the top 100 (No. 90). They should be able to add to their receiver room later on if they feel as if they need to.
27) New England Patriots (via Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
The Patriots, who haven’t made any move for a receiver in the open market as of yet, get one that they’ve been linked to even after trading down. Williams possesses the elite speed to both move the sticks and to be a home run threat at 6-foot-2 and just over 190 lbs. After transferring from Ohio State to Alabama last year, Williams became the aforementioned Young’s top target, going for over 1500 yards and 15 scores. Although he tore his ACL during the National Title Game, he is reported to be ahead of schedule on his rehab which is great news for any potential suitor. Williams, whenever he gets going, could be the No. 1 wideout this Patriots team lacks. He alongside Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers would be fun to watch.
For more on Williams, check out our scouting report on him.
28) Green Bay Packers – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
The Packers indeed go for the double-dip at wideout with the dynamic Burks out of Arkansas. Hard to compare him directly to Deebo Samuel, but he fits into that mold. Meaning he can be used all over the place, including the offensive backfield, which Arkansas did a lot of. In total, Burks accounted for over 1200 scrimmage yards and 12 touchdowns (11 receiving) last year. If Matt LaFleur can use Burks to his full potential, he will be a nightmare for NFL defenses to deal with.
For more on Burks, check out our scouting report on him.
29) New York Giants (via San Fransisco 49ers) – David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan
Torn Achilles or not, Ojabo is too talented to fall out of the first round, and the Giants have the luxury of being patient with him. Hutchinson’s linemate on the Michigan defensive front was not too far behind him. On the year, Ojabo had 11 sacks and forced five fumbles in what was his lone year as a starter. That becomes more impressive given that the native Nigerian didn’t pick up Football until 2017 when he moved to New Jersey from Scottland. A risky pick for sure given the injury, but it has the potential to be an all-time draft steal if everything goes according to plan.
For more on Ojabo, check out our scouting report on him.
30) Kansas City Chiefs – Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia
Davis has gotten a lot of love, but do not sleep on Wyatt. As a matter of fact, he ended up having a better year from a production standpoint than Davis, tallying more sacks, tackles for loss, forced fumbles, and total tackles. He was a great yin to Davis’ yang, something that can easily continue in the NFL by replacing Davis with Chris Jones.
For more on Wyatt, check out our scouting report on him.
31) Cincinnati Bengals – Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
The Bengals spent a ton of money completely overhauling the offensive line with the additions of Collins, Ted Karras, and Alex Cappa. Although it would be unthinkable to say a month ago, Cincy has the ability to go elsewhere in round one this year. Although they brought back Eli Apple for another season, the cornerback situation could always be better. McCreary could be considered a slight reach at 31, but he will likely be unavailable by the next Bengals pick. Furthermore, they would have the ability to work him along in year one, before presumably taking over the second corner spot in year two. Thought about Butkus Award-winning linebacker Dean here, but his stock has oddly gone into free-fall as of late.
For more on McCreary, check out our scouting report on him.
*** TRADE ALERT ***
Chicago Bears receive picks 32 and 66. Detroit Lions receive picks 39, 71, 150, and 2023 4th
32) Chicago Bears – George Pickens, WR, Georgia
The Bears get into the first round to get their Allen Robinson replacement, complete with the shiny fifth-year option to boot. Pickens draft stock took a hit when he tore his ACL before the college season even began, however, he did come back late in 2021. His build essentially allows him to fill the void left by Robinson’s departure perfectly. Pickens contested catching ability may be top of the charts in this year’s class. More importantly, however, he has great hands and knows how to use his 6-foot-3 frame against coverage. Pickens would be the perfect boundary threat for Justin Fields as he enters year two.
For more on Pickens, check out our scouting report on him.
Gaffney’s 5 Best Available for Day 2
1. Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia (Scouting Report)
2. Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State (Scouting Report)
3. Daxton Hill, SAF, Michigan (Scouting Report)
4. Myjai Sanders, EDGE, Cincinnati (Scouting Report)
5. Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota (Scouting Report)
Follow Jack Gaffney on Twitter @JackGaffneyPTST
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