Final NFL Draft Guide

Final+NFL+Draft+Guide

Samuel Fung, Staff Writer

It is finally upon us, the NFL Draft. I have covered the draft extensively this year—mainly because my Seahawks capitulated to a 7-10 record last year. However, they got a really good haul for a quarterback who probably would not have renewed his expensive contract, and they have a first-round pick. Here is a mock draft and rankings page for any fans.

 

Mock Draft

After all the chaos of the offseason, here is the final mock (no trades, they will over-complicate things).

1. The Jaguars select Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
This is a draft where anyone could go number one overall. I have Hutchinson, the safest pick in the draft, a refined pass rusher who will make Jacksonville an immediate threat to mess up the AFC South.

2. The Lions select Travon Walker, DE, Georgia
The Lions do not have the best defensive line, so getting someone like Walker, who displays a rare combination of supreme versatility and freak athleticism, will give Dan Campbell a lot to work with. 

3. The Texans select Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
With Marcus Cannon gone, the Texans need someone to protect Davis Mills. Ikem Ekwonu can play tackle or guard—both needs on the roster— and will upgrade the run blocking as well as the pass blocking with his elite strength and power.

4. The Jets select Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon

The Jets have a gap in the defensive line with Folorunso Fatukasi leaving, so drafting Thibodeaux and moving John Franklin-Myers inside gives the Jets an elite defensive line in an instant. 

5. The Giants select Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
The Giants’ last piece of their best offensive line in a few years, Evan Neal will excel at either tackle spot. Drafting Neal gives the Giants the opportunity to test Andrew Thomas and shift him and Neal depending on what is best for them. 

6. The Panthers select Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

The Panthers have tons of potential on their roster, at everywhere but quarterback. Kenny Pickett, a Shore Conference alum, is the most NFL-ready quarterback in the class, and the Panthers have the best chance to succeed right away in a competitive NFC South.

7. The Giants select Jermaine Johnson, DE, Florida State
This may be a stacked edge class, but the Giants will find it hard to pass on Jermaine Johnson. He has proven to be an impactful player when given the opportunity, and the Senior Bowl display he put on only supports this case.

8. The Falcons select Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
The Falcons will have no Russell Gage or Calvin Ridley next season, so they are desperate for weapons. Garrett Wilson is a huge threat with the ball in his hands, and should be a beast in the slot for Atlanta and Arthur Smith.

9. The Seahawks select Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
The Seahawks have a deep corner room, but not one that’s great. Ahmad Gardner, nicknamed “Sauce” should bring about the much-needed change. He never gave up a touchdown in college, but had touchdowns of his own. That says a lot.

10. The Jets select Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Kyle Hamilton could be the Jamal Adams replacement the Jets have been looking for. His ability to read the eyes of the quarterback and make plays is enticing, and great value at the fringes of the top ten.

11. The Commanders select Charles Cross, OT, Ohio State
Seems pretty nice for Washington when you think about it. Play Cross on the left, Charles Leno on the right, then Sam Cosmi to right guard to replace Brandon Scherff. Cross is the best pure pass protector in the class, which will be good for Carson Wentz.

12. The Vikings select Derek Stingley, CB, LSU
The Vikings are uncertain about their long-term future at cornerback. Derek Stingley, one of the best defensive backs in the FBS before the pandemic, should help alleviate such concerns. He is a proven ballhawk who could learn from Patrick Peterson.

13. The Texans select Drake London, WR, USC
The Texans need a big man to jump up and get the football. Enter Drake London, a massive 6’5” receiver who moves very well for his size, creating a mismatch that Davis Mills should be able to take advantage of.

14. The Ravens select Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

The Ravens need depth with the loss of Tavon Young and Marcus Peters potentially going in the near future. McDuffie can play in the slot, the boundary, or safety, and could potentially go ahead of injury-prone Derek Stingley.

15. The Eagles select Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
The Eagles likely will need to rely on a short-passing game with Jalen Hurts’ arm not being that strong. Chris Olave is a masterful route-runner who, like his counterpart Garrett Wilson, is a threat with the ball in his hands.

16. The Saints select Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

The Saints would not have traded a future first to Philly if they were not taking a quarterback. Malik Willis is raw but flashy with very high potential (best in the class). His arm talent combines well with his elite scrambling ability, and learning from Jameis Winston will only help him grow.

17. The Chargers select Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
The biggest void the Chargers created this offseason was at right tackle with the release of Bryan Bulaga. Trevor Penning will suffice as a powerful mauler of a right tackle who could eventually move to the left.

18. The Eagles select Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
The Eagles should stack up at linebacker with Devin Lloyd. He suffices as an outside linebacker in a 4-3, which the Eagles run. He and Kyzir White could be a stellar duo in pass coverage, whilst Haason Reddick rushes the passer.

19. The Saints select Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
If there is to be a competition between Willis and Winston, a new receiver has to come in. Enter Williams, Jameson Williams. If not for an injury, he could easily have gone in the top ten, as he is the best deep threat in the class. His efforts helped Alabama to an SEC title and a trip to the national title game.

20. The Steelers select Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
Having a versatile weapon will be beneficial to the Steelers, who do not have JuJu anymore. Treylon Burks will be tough to stop, with his ability to win contested catches and break tackles making him a welcome commodity to this new look Steelers offense.

21. The Patriots select Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M
Now that Shaq Mason and Ted Karras are gone, the Patriots need a new guard. Kenyon Green is the best guard in the class, and could potentially move out to tackle if need be. However, he is best as an interior lineman on either side.

22. The Packers select David Ojabo, LB, Michigan
Preston Smith will be in his 30s and expendable by 2023. In that time, David Ojabo should be able to develop into a superstar. He is raw at the moment, but it will be convenient to learn from a proven star and then supplant him.

23. The Cardinals select Andrew Booth, CB, Clemson
The Cardinals need depth at corner, as well as a proven ball hawk. Andrew Booth has shown elite ball skills in his time as a Clemson Tiger, and is only going to get better as he grows as an Arizona Cardinal.

24. The Cowboys select Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
In all the chaos, Tyler Linderbaum slipped into the hands of Dallas, who need the best offensive lineman available to appease the concerns of the aging line. Linderbaum has the chance to be a Jason Kelce-quality center.

25. The Bills select Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

The BIlls need to remain stacked at receiver, with a number two receiver now a need. Dotson is small but plays bigger than his 5’11” frame. He is a crafty route runner and a fun weapon for any quarterback, especially Josh Allen.

26. The Titans select Zion Johnson, G, Boston College
The Titans lost Rodger Saffold in free agency, and Ben Jones is aging. Zion Johnson can supplant Saffold and potentially Jones with his versatility—he can play both guard and center. Derrick Henry should be pretty good going forward.

27. The Buccaneers select Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
The Bucs have a monster in Vita Vea. How about another one? Jordan Davis has seen concerns rise over his lack of passing downs played, but on the field, he is a menace at 340 pounds and could become a good pass rusher in Tampa’s defense.

28. The Packers select Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
The Packers desperately need a receiver, so they need to take a shot on someone with a high upside. Christian Watson has an enticing physical profile and is the type of big-play threat the Packers need to have any chance of success.

29. The Chiefs select George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue
The Chiefs did not renew Melvin Ingram, which means they likely will draft a pass rusher. George Karlaftis could easily fall, as he is not the most versatile pass rusher, but he has the ideal frame to fit into the Chiefs’ defense.

30. The Chiefs select Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
The Chiefs are pretty short on linebackers, so adding more dynamo and youth is also ideal. Nakobe Dean played very well as an outside linebacker at Georgia, and his addition makes the Chiefs’ front seven a bit more stacked. 

31. The Bengals select Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
Eli Apple is not a viable starter, period. The boundary corner position is thus a weakness. Kaiir Elam has some injury concerns, but may be one of the best boundary corners in the class when healthy, and it gets rid of the only true downside on the Bengals’ roster.

32. The Lions select Dax Hill, S, Michigan
Dax Hill is a versatile player who can play safety and nickel cornerback. Hill can excel opposite Tracy Walker as the starting free safety. He may be undersized, but he possesses good straight-line speed.

 

Potential Trades

The mock draft above was dominated by receivers (7), edge rushers (6), and cornerbacks (5). It also has no trades, which easily could happen. Here are just a few potential trade scenarios:

  • Panthers trade down: The Panthers dumped their second-round pick for Sam Darnold and their third-round pick for CJ Henderson. They have no Day 2 selections, so they may try to pick one up by trading down. Maybe the Jets or Eagles try trading up to 6 to take Kyle Hamilton. Either way, the Panthers will need these extra picks to strengthen their team with potential Day 1 starters.
  • Patriots trade picks: In the scenario above, the Patriots would be upset to see all the top five receivers go off the board. They will either try a trade-up with New Orleans or trade down to get Jahan Dotson or Christian Watson later. It is especially possible if Kenyon Green gets taken in the top 20.
  • Teams trading out: Many teams trade out of the first round when things do not go as planned. The Patriots are known to do that, but the Bills and Bengals could easily trade out as well.
  • Seahawks trade down: This happens all the time. John Schneider loves obtaining picks, and it works on occasion (for example, Seattle traded down several times from pick 21 to 47 and used one of the acquired picks to trade up for DK Metcalf). Seattle has drafted pretty well in recent years, so seeing what they do will be interesting.

 

Positional Rankings

Here are my top ten for each position, which will include everyone who went in the first round of this mock draft:

Quarterbacks

  1. Malik Willis, Liberty
  2. Kenny Pickett, Pitt
  3. Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
  4. Matt Corral, Ole Miss
  5. Sam Howell, North Carolina
  6. Carson Strong, Nevada
  7. Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky
  8. Jack Coan, Notre Dame
  9. Kaleb Eleby, Western Michigan
  10. Dustin Crum, Kent State

As stated earlier, Pickett has the highest floor (he is the most NFL-ready), but Malik Willis has the highest ceiling, which is why he is my number one quarterback. Ridder and Corral have concerns over accuracy and decision making, Howell has mediocre athleticism compared to the guys ahead of him, and Carson Strong is more of the same. But, all of the top six quarterbacks have starter potential. Heck, even Bailey Zappe could be a steal. The rest of the guys are best as premium backups in the league.
Honorable mentions: Cole Kelley, Skylar Thompson

Running backs

  1. Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M
  2. Ken Walker III, Michigan State
  3. Breece Hall, Iowa State
  4. Kyren Williams, Notre Dame
  5. Brian Robinson, Alabama
  6. James Cook, Georgia
  7. Dameon Pierce, Florida
  8. Pierre Strong, South Dakota State
  9. Hassan Haskins, Michigan
  10. Tyler Allgeier, BYU

Spiller has the chance to be a featured three-down back. He is the sort of powerful runner you see in Nick Chubb and Derrick Henry. Walker has that potential also. Breece Hall was very productive at Iowa State but is not overly dynamic or creative. Kyren Williams is not powerful but a good receiving back, similar to Cook and Pierce. Robinson is mainly a short-yardage back but will be good in pass protection, as will Haskins. Strong and Allgeier have blistering speed and will be good pace changers.
Honorable mentions: Tyler Badie, Zamir White, Jerome Ford

Wide Receivers

  1. Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
  2. Drake London, USC
  3. Treylon Burks, Arkansas
  4. Jameson Williams, Alabama
  5. Chris Olave, Ohio State
  6. Jahan Dotson, Penn State
  7. Christian Watson, North Dakota State
  8. George Pickens, Georgia
  9. John Metchie, Alabama
  10. Justyn Ross, Clemson

The first seven went off the board for good reasons (scouts may be lower on Burks and higher on Olave because of speed). Beyond that, I have Pickens, Metchie, and Ross rounding out my top ten. If not for injury histories, these receivers would all be surefire first-round picks. Pickens has had the least concerning medical history (Metchie tore an ACL in the 2021 SEC title game and Ross missed all of 2020 because of spinal surgery).
Honorable Mentions: Alec Pierce, Khalil Shakir, David Bell, Calvin Austin, Wan’Dale Robinson, Jalen Tolbert

Tight Ends

  1. Trey McBride, Colorado State
  2. Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina
  3. Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M
  4. Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State
  5. Cade Otton, Washington
  6. Chigoziem Okonkwo, Maryland
  7. Greg Dulcich, UCLA
  8. Jake Ferguson, Wisconsin
  9. Jelani Woods, Virginia
  10. Cole Turner, Nevada

There is no Kyle Pitts/generational prospect in this tight end class, but there are good players. They practically are all good receiving tight ends, though injury concerns and production are concerns with one or the other. None of these players are expected to go in Round 1, but Trey McBride could be the guy who causes a little chaos.
Honorable mentions: Charlie Kolar, Gerrit Prince

Offensive Tackles

  1. Ikem Ekwonu, NC State
  2. Evan Neal, Alabama
  3. Charles Cross, Mississippi State
  4. Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa
  5. Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan
  6. Nicholas Petit-Frere, Ohio State
  7. Dan Faalele, Minnesota
  8. Max Mitchell, Louisiana Lafayette
  9. Rasheed Walker, Penn State
  10. Abraham Lucas, Washington State

Along with Ekwonu. Neal, Cross, and Penning, Bernhard Raimann has Round 1 potential. Raimann has only played tackle for a few years, but is already well refined, and will be an instant starter at right tackle Expect the same out of Petit-Frere, Faalele, Walker, and Mitchell. Petit-Frere should be a plug-and-play left tackle, however. As for Lucas, he is a big guy but does not play that way, so he will need to tweak that part of his game to become a guaranteed starter.
Honorable mentions: Andrew Steuber, Dare Rosenthal

Interior Offensive Linemen (G/C)

  1. Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M
  2. Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
  3. Zion Johnson, G, Boston College
  4. Darian Kinnard, G, Kentucky
  5. Tyler Smith, G, Tulsa
  6. Ed Ingram, G, LSU
  7. Jamaree Salyer, G, Georgia
  8. Sean Rhyan, G, UCLA
  9. Dylan Parham, C, Memphis
  10. Alec Lindstrom, C, Boston College

Green and Linderbaum have fallen, as has Darian Kinnard, who played tackle at Kentucky but projects best as a guard. Tyler Smith, like Johnson, has seen a rise in stock, with the potential to go in Round 1 because of his nasty style. Ingram and Salyer will be solid starters as guards in year one, and Sean Rhyan should do so in two years. Parham and Lindstrom, the latter of whom has a brother in the league, will be good centers right away.
Honorable Mentions: Lecitus Smith, Chris Paul, Cam Jurgens, Thayer Munford

Edge Rushers

  1. Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
  2. Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
  3. Jermaine Johnson, Florida
  4. David Ojabo, Michigan
  5. George Karlaftis, Purdue
  6. Boye Mafe, Minnesota
  7. Drake Jackson, USC
  8. Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State
  9. Nik Bonitto, Oklahoma
  10. Cam Thomas, San Diego State

This edge class is stacked to the point where I listed Travon Walker and Logan Hall as defensive tackles. Whilst the first five are sure-fire first-round talents, Boye Mafe has the potential, but is raw. Drake Jackson and Nik Bonitto are best as 3-4 outside linebackers because of their size, and Ebiketie and Thomas are scheme versatile but need work in the run game.
Honorable mentions: Amare Barno, Sam Williams, Tyreke Smith, Josh Paschal, DeAngelo Malone, Esezi Otomewo

Interior Defensive Linemen

  1. Travon Walker, Georgia
  2. Jordan Davis, Georgia
  3. DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M
  4. Logan Hall, Houston
  5. Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma
  6. Travis Jones, UConn
  7. Phidarian Mathis, DT, Alabama
  8. Zachary Carter, Florida
  9. Matthew Butler, Tennessee
  10. Haskell Garrett, Ohio State

Travon Walker would be by number 3 edge player but is the best defensive tackle ahead of teammate Jordan Davis. DeMarvin Leal and Logan Hall could easily sneak into Round 1 because of talent, as could Perrion Winfrey. Travis Jones is the second-best nose tackle in the class. Phidarian Mathis and Zach Carter will be good pass-rushing specialists. Matt Butler and Haskell Garrett will be solid rotational linemen.
Honorable mention: Neil Farrell, Thomas Booker, John Ridgeway

Linebackers

  1. Devin Lloyd, Utah
  2. Nakobe Dean, Georgia
  3. Christian Harris, Alabama
  4. Quay Walker, Georgia
  5. Darrian Beavers, Cincinnati
  6. Chad Muma, Wyoming
  7. Troy Andersen, Montana
  8. Leo Chenal, Wisconsin
  9. Channing Tindall, Georgia
  10. Damone Clark, LSU

Behind Lloyd and Dean is Harris, a really good coverage linebacker who captained the Bama defense. Quay Walker and Channing Tindall played well alongside Dean, but their lack of starting experience hurts their stock a little. Beavers and Muma will be productive tacklers. Andersen and Chenal are very athletic. And Clark, who will likely miss his rookie year recovering from spinal surgery, could be a steal.
Honorable mentions: Brian Asamoah, Jojo Domann, Brandon Smith

Cornerbacks

  1. Ahmad Garnder, Cincinnati
  2. Derek Stingley, LSU
  3. Trent McDuffie, Washington
  4. Andrew Booth, Clemson
  5. Kaiir Elam, Florida
  6. Kyler Gordon, Washington
  7. Roger McCreary, Auburn
  8. Tariq Woolen, UTSA
  9. Derion Kendrick, Georgia
  10. Coby Bryant, Cincinnati

Kyler Gordon could easily sneak into Round 1 because of his athletic talent, as could Roger McCreary. Tariq Woolen had a historic combine, but is a raw player, having played the position for two years. Derion Kendrick is a good ballhawk who lacks speed, and Coby Bryant lacks the tackling ability of the guys ahead of him.

Honorable mentions: Alontae Taylor, Marcus Jones, Martin Emerson, Mykael Wright, Mario Goodrich

Safeties

  1. Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
  2. Dax Hill, Michigan
  3. Lewis Cine, Georgia
  4. Jaquan Brisker, Penn State
  5. Jalen Pitre, Baylor
  6. Kerby Joseph, Illinois
  7. Nick Cross, Maryland
  8. Verone McKinley, Oregon
  9. Bryan Cook, Cincinnati 
  10. Smoke Monday, Auburn

Alongside Hamilton and Hill, Lewis Cine has been given some first-round consideration for a style that resembles Kam Chancellor. Jaquan Brisker is one of the better athletes, as is Jalen Pitre. Kerby Joseph flashed mightily on his limited tape. The rest are going to be solid developmental safeties at the next level.

Honorable mentions: Sterling Weatherford, Bubba Bolden, JT Woods,Tycen Anderson