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With a lack of “elite” talent, but plenty of depth, I’m ready for basically a free for all. With that said I will attempt to cobble together a mock draft. Now, I don’t have connections to NFL front offices, so these are just my best guesses based on buzz, scheme and team fits and a small dose of what I’d do.

Oh boy. So I’ve done mock drafts every year starting in 2011. Don’t worry I’ve taken the liberty of burying that one, I was 17, it’s embarrassing. And, while I feel like I’ve gotten better at mock drafts over the years I’ve held off on this one because I have no earthly idea what’s going to happen this draft. With a lack of “elite” talent, but plenty of depth, I’m ready for basically a free for all. With that said I will attempt to cobble together a mock draft. Now, I don’t have connections to NFL front offices, so these are just my best guesses based on buzz, scheme and team fits and a small dose of what I’d do.

Also I’m not doing trades, this is hard enough without trying to predict those and reports are there’s not going to be a lot of movement in the first half of the first round anyways.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Trayvon Walker – DE – GeorgiaI first need to start by stating how much I disagree with this decision, should the Jaguars actually do this. I believe Aiden Hutchinson is the best prospect in this draft and I think Walker is a long shot. He’s in that same tier to me as Rashan Gary, an athletic project who will take a few years to come on, if he ever does. But there’s three important things to remember here. 1. There’s a ton of smoke here that Jags General Manager, Trent Baalke loves Walker 2. Baalke loves athletic projects and long-armed edge players and 3. Baalke really, REALLY hates John Harbaugh and I could honestly see things getting so petty between them that he wouldn’t draft his player.

Detroit Lions – Aiden Hutchinson – DE – MichiganIf the Jaguars take Hutchison, I don’t think the Lions lock in at defensive end. However, in this case, the Lions sprint to the podium to bring in their pick. Dan Campbell has made it clear he wants to build his team from the inside out. They got two great, arguably elite offensive tackles, so they don’t need that, and on defense they got a lot of really nice pass rushers but no star. Hutch is already a Michigan hero and keeping him home would excite the fans while giving them a nice piece to build around.

Houston Texans – Ikem Ekwonu – OT – NC StateThere are three tackles that most everyone loves in this draft and everyone has a different favorite. Personally, I like Evan Neal since I think he’s the most balanced OT, but he has some size concerns (he’s too big) that have some people putting him as guard. There’s a lot of smoke that the Texans love Ekwonu, with his draft prop being set at 3.5, and with a ton of teams in between their two picks needing a tackle, now is the time to grab a one.

New York Jets – Kayvon Thibodeaux – DE – OregonNow, personally I’d take a swing here at trying to find the next great Jets corner and go Sauce Gardner, but that’s not how Selah rolls. Despite the defensive line not being a huge need for the Jets, Selah builds his defenses from front to back and I think if there was a DE here they really liked, they’d grab him. Who do they like? I don’t know. But I like Thibodeaux. He’s a terrific athlete with an incredible first step and he knows how to win on the outside. He’s a little undersized and people question his love for football. But I’m not in those interviews, I only know what I see on tape, and what I see is worth a pick this high.

New York Giants – Evan Neal – OT – AlabamaThis is kind of the year that Daniel Jones needs to prove he’s worth keeping around and so the Giants need to surround him with talent. The receiving corps already has a ton of money poured into it so they won’t go that direction. Andrew Thomas took a promising step forward last season so if the Giants take Neal they’ll probably flip him to the right side. I’ve seen Charles Cross here, but I feel like he’s a left tackle only and someone needs to play right tackle for this team. Plus, if the Giants decide for whatever reason they love Matt Gono at right tackle then Neal has the size to kick inside and play guard. No matter what, there’s a spot for him on the Giants O-Line next year.

Carolina Panthers – Kenny Pickkett – QB – PittsburghI know I’m creating this mock draft but I hate this pick so much already, but I do think it’s going to happen. For starters, David Tepper, the owner, got his undergrad at the University of Pittsburgh, so that connection is there. Also, I think Pickett has what the Panthers are looking for, big, strong, mobile enough, and can make deep throws. I love one NFL comp I saw for him, Sam Darnold. So, I can see the Panthers convincing themselves that Pickett will be what they were hoping Darnold would be when they traded for him. The Panthers don’t have another pick until the fourth round and I doubt anyone will trade up with them so they’re gonna have to stay put, hold their nose and take it.

New York Giants – Sauce Gardner – CB – CincinnatiThere’s a lot of smoke that the Giants want to trade James Bradburry and if there’s THAT much smoke it’s usually because the teams themselves are trying to push the narrative. The Giants look like they want to make a move at corner and Sauce fits their new defensive coordinator’s scheme.

Atlanta Falcons – Charles Cross – OT – Mississippi StateThe Falcons could go a number of different directions here, but they’re confident they can find players they like in other positions later on, while only one elite OT remains. Cross comes in as a polished pass blocker and fills a need for the Falcons who’s offense looks unbearably anemic on paper.

Seattle Seahawks – Malik Willis – QB – LibertyI know the Seahawks say they love Drew Lock, but, come on now, he hasn’t been good in the NFL and the Broncos offensive pieces were way better. Willis is extremely raw, but he has a lot of elite traits that people like. I’ve heard from a ton of people that Willis is the only first-round quarterback in this draft. Will the Seahawks suffer through a season of Lock or will they throw Willis to the wolves? I don’t know. But I do know that if the Seahawks want to take a quarterback, and assuming they don’t love Kenny Pickett, they’ll have their pick of the litter here.

New York Jets – Derek Stingley – CB – LSUIt’s tempting to go receiver here, but I think the Jets can find another way to bring in receiver talent. Whether that’s trading for Debo Samuel or taking someone like Treylon Burks or George Pickens in the top of the second. Stingley had one of the greatest cornerback seasons of all time as a freshman at LSU. Injuries derailed him a bit the rest of his college career, but he’s still an effortless athlete with elite play on his resume and the Jets desperately need secondary help. Assuming he stays healthy, he’s an absolute steal at No. 10.

Washington Commanders – Jameson Williams – WR – AlabamaThe Commanders could go a number of different ways, but with Terry McLaurin’s contract upcoming and the price of WRs going up, it makes sense to reload at WR. Plus, outside of McLaurin the receiving corps is pretty barren and/or injury riddled. But with McLaurin, Williams, Curtis Samuel and Antonio Gibson, the Commanders offense would have a ton of speed.

Minnesota Vikings – Jermaine Johnson – DE – Florida StateI’m not very high on Johnson, but the NFL is, so I think he comes off the board here. The Vikings have struggled to find another competent edge to complement Danielle Hunter, and now even he wants out, so the Vikings really need to find help along the defensive line.

Houston Texans – Kyle Hamilton – S – Notre DameHamilton is seen as an elite talent, but safety isn’t a position of high need for most teams. The Texans aren’t bound by such restrictions since they could improve literally everywhere. The Texans have the luxury, in a sense, of just taking the best player on the board and right now, that’s Hamilton.

Baltimore Ravens – Jordan Davis – DT – GeorgiaDavis just feels like a Raven. The Ravens are one of the few teams that know how to use a big thumper at NT. Micheal Pierce is at the tail end of his career and he can show Davis the ropes as a big guy in the league while they slowly work him into the defense.

Philadelphia Eagles – Drake London – WR – USCThe Eagles don’t have a great recent track record at drafting receivers, but they need to keep swinging the bat because the Eagles receiving corps still desperately needs help. Smith, last year’s first rounder, appears to be a hit. London is the opposite type of receiver as Smith, being long and big, something that would only benefit Jalen Hurts, who doesn’t have the best ball placement. More margin for error with a guy like London, and two completely different types of receivers for opposing defenses to try to cover.

New Orleans Saints – Garrett Wilson – WR – Ohio StateThe Saints have two glaring needs, receiver and tackle, and that’s why they gave themselves two first round picks. Despite being the third receiver off the board, Wilson is WR1 on many people’s list. He’s a smooth route runner with speed and quicks. He’s a little undersized, but he’s so good at everything else it might not matter.

Los Angeles Chargers – Trevor Penning – OT – Northern IowaThere’s something that the Los Angeles Chargers simply can’t allow to happen next season and that’s to roll into the season with Storm Norton starting at right tackle. Penning is raw, but he’s strong, athletic, and nasty. He’s more of a run blocker right now, but assuming he develops, the Chargers will have two elite bookends to protect Justin Herbert.

Philadelphia Eagles – Devin Lloyd – LB – UtahThe Eagles have had an abysmal linebacker room for a while now. T.J Edwards is pretty good and Reddick looks to slot in as Sam linebacker and will likely be used as mostly a blitzer. Lloyd can step in as the Will linebacker and play from Day 1. He has great coverage ability and with the addition of him and Reddick this linebacker room suddenly looks so much better overnight.

New Orleans Saints – Bernhard Raimann – OT – Central MichiganLike I said earlier, the Saints have two needs, and here they address the other need. Raimann was a foreign exchange student who used to play tight end until a few years ago. He still needs to be coached up, but he’s extremely athletic for the position and all accounts say he’s extremely coachable.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Tyler Linderbaum – C – IowaThe Steelers need a tackle more than a center, but with all the top tackles gone, they spring for Linderbaum. The Steelers just drafted Kendrick Greene at this position in the third last season but he didn’t look great as a rookie. With this move, they can kick Greene out to guard, which he’s played before in college, and upgrade a position the Steelers are historically elite at.

New England Patriots – Trent McDuffie – CB – WashingtonWith J.C Jackson walking, the starting CB1 for the Patriots looks like Jalen Mills. Yikes. McDuffie doesn’t have the prototypical size of a Sauce Gardner or a Derek Stingley, but he’s freakingly athletic in his own right and a lot of people love his game.

Green Bay Packers – Chris Olave – WR – Ohio StateThe Packers will probably take the best receiver available. To me, that’s Chris Olave. Olave might not have the build or skillset of an X receiver, but he’ll step into this offense and immediately be their best receiver. He’s a prototypical Z receiver, with an uncanny ability to get open and incredible straight line speed.

Arizona Cardinals – Zion Johnson – OG – Boston CollegeIt’s obvious Kyler Murray hates getting hit and the Cardinals interior line needs some help. Johnson is the best guard in the draft and he’s a guy who’s ready to step in Day 1 and start in the NFL.

Dallas Cowboys – Kenyon Green – OG – Texas A&MThe Cowboys curse their unlucky stars, as the player they coveted goes a pick before, but they don’t have many regrets as Green is still here for the taking. Green played all over the offensive line in college but he did his best work at guard. He’s not as athletic as you’d like, but he’s an excellent blocker and will be useful Day 1, plus there’s nothing wrong with drafting a home-state kid.

Buffalo Bills – Kenneth Walker – RB – Michigan StateThe Bills are a team that doesn’t have a lot of holes, but one problem they have had is they’ve struggled to run the ball well. The Bills feel comfortable enough with their depth to take, who I think is, the best running back in this draft. Walker is an incredible runner who’s a broken tackle machine and he should be able to make an immediate impact for the Bills.

Tennessee Titans – Skyy Moore – WR – Western MichiganWhen AJ Brown and Julio Jones couldn’t stay healthy last season the Titans felt it bad. Tennessee brought in Robert Woods to bolster the receiving corps, but he also struggles with injury and now Brown sounds like he wants out. Moore can immediately step in and play the slot with Woods and Brown on the outside. But I believe he could move to the outside and excel if there’s an injury, similarly to the way Elijah Moore did last season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Daxton Hill – CB/S – MichiganThe offense is missing a guard, but with Green and Johnson off the table there’s no need to reach for one here. On defense the secondary could use some patch work and the name that the Bucs appear to be connected to the most is Dax Hill. Hill can play safety or slot corner and he’s lightning fast with great coverage skills.

Green Bay Packers – George Karlaftis – DE – PurdueThe Packers need help along the defensive line and Karlaftis is the best defensive lineman available. He wins as a power rusher with inside-out versatility and he would find his way onto the field in no time.

Kansas City Chiefs – Devante Wyatt – DT – GeorgiaThe Chiefs also need defensive line help, especially on the interior. When Chris Jones was moved out to defensive end, the Chiefs interior defensive line struggled mightily. When with Jones there, the Chiefs run a 4-3 so there’s room for Wyatt to play alongside him. Wyatt is another elite pass rusher from the middle and between him and Jones, teams with bad guards won’t sleep well the night before playing them.

Kansas City Chiefs – Kyler Gordon – CB – WashingtonThe Chiefs also desperately need help at corner. I don’t think Gordon is the best available, but the NFL loves him. He’s also been invited to attend the draft in person, which tells me the NFL must know something I don’t. He’s crazy athletic and even as a project should find his way onto the field for the Chiefs in some capacity early on.

Cincinnati Bengals – Tyler Smith – OT – TulsaTyler Smith is a nasty blocker and a road-grating bully in the run game. The Bengals don’t need a tackle after signing La’el Collins, so they would move him into guard where they still desperately need help. Smith has been described as the Group of 5 version of Ikem Ekonwu, but he’s not quite as athletic or consistent. He’s also a player they could move out to tackle if they decide to move on from Collins or Williams when their contracts are up, later down the line.

Detroit Lions – Sam Howell – QB – North CarolinaThis is a primer spot for the Lions to take a flier on a quarterback who they can give the 5th-year extension to if he pans out. Everyone has a different quarterback going here, but to me the best left is Howell. Howell has a really nice deep ball and runs hard like a fullback. He puts a nice touch on the ball and he moves well in the pocket. He got a lot worse when all his best players left him after last season, but I don’t ding him too much for that. The offense he ran in college doesn’t translate well to the NFL, so sitting behind Goff for some time would really help.

Adam Cichoski

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Wednesday, April 27, 2022

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