It's my first mock draft of this offseason as teams put the finishing touches on their board and mock what they expect will happen around the league. Funny thing is, no one seems to really know.
Ever since the 2020 NFL Draft done during the pandemic, it seems that there's less information on what teams will do compared to the Before Times. That year seems to have been a turning point -- like so much else in life -- in the way teams handle the draft.
One of the staples of my mocks has been Day One trades. But I'm not anticipating seeing as much next week. First of all, so many teams have already done their draft-position jockeying already via trades in March and earlier this month. Secondly, we didn't see many draft-day trades last year. There were just three (Cowboys and Eagles, Giants and Bears, Jets and Vikings) on the first day of the draft last year, and I trimmed it to two this year.
All that said, let's get to the mock!
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Round 1 - Pick 1
Aidan Hutchinson EDGE
Michigan • Soph • 6'7" / 268 lbs
The Jaguars took care of their tackle position last draft (Walker Little) and should sign Cam Robinson to whatever Trent Baalke believes is a reasonable extension. The Jags need an EDGE and won't overthink this one.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Round 1 - Pick 3
Ikem Ekwonu OL
NC State • Soph • 6'4" / 320 lbs
Nick Caserio has this Texans team in position to take the best player available at every turn. His group didn't select Tytus Howard three years ago, and Laremy Tunsil will very likely be on another team in 2023.
Round 1 - Pick 5
Mock Trade from Carolina Panthers
Round 1 - Pick 6
Malik Willis QB
Liberty • Soph • 6'1" / 219 lbs
I pitched this trade to a GM last week and he said it was the only scenario available where Willis actually goes top 10. Seattle needs a quarterback. Carolina wants to trade back. Seahawks have a second-rounder to give. Panthers GM Scott Fitterer came from Seattle.
Round 1 - Pick 8
Mock Trade from Seattle Seahawks
Round 1 - Pick 9
From Seattle Seahawks
Round 1 - Pick 10
Ohio State • Soph • 6'0" / 192 lbs
GM Joe Douglas understands that speed kills. Plenty will mock Drake London here and I understand why, but Wilson's route-running ability, plus his 4.38 40, will go further for Zach Wilson's needs.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Round 1 - Pick 12
Jordan Davis DL
Georgia • Soph • 6'6" / 336 lbs
Conventional wisdom indicates the Vikings would take the best available corner here. But in the switch to Ed Donatell's 3-4, and with new GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah's approach, I could see them taking care of the middle of their DL.
From Cleveland Browns
Round 1 - Pick 13
From Miami Dolphins
Round 1 - Pick 15
Chris Olave WR
Ohio State • Soph • 6'0" / 187 lbs
The Eagles can't help themselves at wide receiver. They're going to keep adding to the position in the draft to make sure they can 1) get the most out of Jalen Hurts or 2) make Philly the most attractive landing spot for the eventual QB of the future.
From Philadelphia Eagles
Round 1 - Pick 16
Northern Iowa • Soph • 6'7" / 325 lbs
The only way the Saints were keeping Terron Armstead was if they signed Deshaun Watson. They need a left tackle, and Penning is big, untested and a bit raw. But there's a lot of upside here.
Round 1 - Pick 17
Zion Johnson OL
Boston College • Soph • 6'3" / 316 lbs
I'm not wild about taking a guard in the teens, but it's an obvious need for the Chargers on the right side of their offensive line. By virtue of a great March, L.A. has left itself with one glaring need on the offensive line, which is slightly in front of the defensive tackle need.
From New Orleans Saints
Round 1 - Pick 18
Washington • Soph • 5'11" / 193 lbs
Here you go, Eagles fans. The first first-round corner in the Howie Roseman Era. Go crazy. I'm not concerned about his lack of ball production because teams eventually stopped testing him.
From Philadelphia Eagles
Round 1 - Pick 19
Alabama • Soph • 6'1" / 180 lbs
It's hard to take a wide receiver coming off an ACL when your team has had to deal with Michael Thomas's injuries the last two years. But Williams is the freakiest of all the wideouts in the draft.
Round 1 - Pick 20
Pittsburgh • Soph • 6'3" / 220 lbs
Sometimes the draft board just falls this way. Mike Tomlin has made no secret about the Steelers taking a quarterback in the draft. There's no quarterback they know better than the former Pitt Panther.
Round 1 - Pick 24
From Miami Dolphins
Round 1 - Pick 29
North Dakota State • Soph • 6'4" / 208 lbs
The Chiefs opt for Watson here thanks to his incredible athleticism. We all know they're targeting a wideout, and Watson's kick-return ability will also help them fill the hole left by the Tyreek Hill trade.
Mock Trade from Kansas City Chiefs
Round 1 - Pick 30
Jahan Dotson WR
Penn State • Soph • 5'11" / 182 lbs
New Bears GM Ryan Poles comes from Kansas City and couldn't wait until No. 39 to get Justin Fields some help. The Chiefs slide back to No. 39 for their edge rusher and take Chicago's higher third-round pick and some mid-round swaps.
Round 1 - Pick 31
Iowa • Soph • 6'2" / 305 lbs
The Bengals will be tempted to go corner here and finally get competition for Eli Apple. Instead, Duke Tobin can slide Ted Karras to a familiar left guard position and ultimately overhaul 80% of his starting OL.
From Los Angeles Rams
Round 1 - Pick 32
The final pick of the first round is always up for grabs. Can't rule out a QB here for Detroit, but I'll take care of a big-time need and give the Lions a safety to put back there with Tracy Walker.