We are full speed ahead here with our NFL coverage at the Multiverse HQ. Today, we bring you our first mock draft, and this comes on the heels of a flurry of moves by teams during this free agency period. We’ll have winners and losers up on the site soon, but let’s pivot to the NFL Draft and see what we think teams will do now that they’ve made all their big acquisitions.
1. Jaguars select EDGE Aidan Hutchinson: once they franchise-tagged LT Cam Robinson and signed former Commanders OG Brandon Scherff, this firmly took them out of the Ikem Ekwonu/Evan Neal conversation. With Pro Bowl OLB Josh Allen being the only pass rushing threat on this team, the Jags get him some help in the form of the former Wolverine. Hutchinson had 14 sacks last year and should be a workhorse at the next level.
2. Detroit Lions select QB Malik Willis: with two first round picks, the Lions select the most talented QB in this class with one of them. Willis is dynamic off platform and has shown the ability to make all the throws. Where he needs help the most (accuracy), he can work on while sitting behind Jared Goff.
3. Houston Texans select S Kyle Hamilton: a new contract for LT Laremy Tunsil has me thinking the Texans don’t opt for OL in this scenario, and instead give Marvin Lewis a moveable chess piece on the backend of his Texans defense. Hamilton isn’t Ed Reed or Troy Polamalu, but he’s a good player with the kind of versatility you need from your safeties in this NFL.
4. New York Jets select EDGE Kayvon Thibadeaux: the Jets will be tempted to go OL here if they don’t sign Cowboys OL La’el Collins, and Ikem Ekwonu is the 2nd best player in this class, in my opinion. However, Robert Saleh saw what the Niners got from a top-rated pass rusher added through the draft and I think that’s the pick they make here. Thibadeaux has been scrutinized to no end, but he’s got a Osi Umenyiora floor and a Javon Kearse ceiling, and improves this Jets pass rush.
5. New York Giants select OT Charles Cross: the Giants get a best-case scenario in this setting where they get to pick which OL they want to pair with Andrew Thomas to bookend their unit. I think new Head Coach Brian Daboll prioritizes a nimble OL as oppose to a mauler, and this gives the slight edge to Charles Cross. Ekwonu and Evan Neal are both better, but Cross isn’t that far behind, and he helps the Giants keep Daniel Jones/Tyrod Taylor when he takes over upright.
6. Carolina Panthers take OL Ikem Ekwonu: Sam Darnold and Matt Rhule will probably both be off this team next year, but Rhule leaves the Panthers with one parting gift in the form of the best OL in this class. Ekwonu could’ve gone at any slot ahead of this one, but falls here to Carolina where he will block for Darnold for a year before the Panthers GM cleans house and gets their QB of the future in here.
7. New York Giants select EDGE Travon Walker: a player I’m not admittedly high on, as his pass rush repertoire is virtually non-existent at this point, but the NFL seems determined to make this happen. Walker had an insane combine and, coupled with no red flags, this means a team in the top 10 will most likely roll the dice. The only team that has that type of a leash to where they can sit and develop a guy is the Giants, so Walker goes here.
8. Atlanta Falcons select WR Drake London: as of this writing, Matt Ryan is still their QB, and they need another pass catcher in the building given that Calvin Ridley is gone for a year and they lost Russell Cage to the Bucs. They could opt for the more-polished Garrett Wilson, but I think the Falcons prioritize the ability to win contested catches, and that’s London’s game. With this pick, Arthur Smith tries to replicate the bully pass catcher mantra he had with the Titans.
9. Seattle Seahawks select CB Sauce Gardner: the first pick of the post-Russell Wilson era has Pete Carroll trying to shore up what was once a strength for this team. With Gardner, you get a confident player who has the results to back it up. He gave up no touchdowns in college, albeit against some weak competition.
10. New York Jets select WR Garrett Wilson: if the Falcons had taken Wilson, the Jets would’ve taken London, in my opinion, but I don’t think the Falcons do that so the Jets get a top 3 WR in this class at 10. They have Elijah Moore and Corey Davis, and I’d trade for Robert Woods if I’m them because I don’t think you can have enough pass catchers, but giving Wilson to Zach Wilson after all the work up front means you’ve given him a chance now. Wilson is a polished route runner with the hands of a catcher, and he elevates the Jets pass catching group.
11. Washington Commanders select LB Devin Lloyd: Ron Rivera wants his Luke Kuechly, and he gets that in the Utah standout. Lloyd is a modern LBer who can play sideline to sideline and cover, and is better than last year’s first rounder Jamin Davis. This pick allows Rivers to slide Davis to OLB, where the Commanders are currently playing Cold Holcomb. Lloyd and Davis give Rivera his Kuechly/Thomas Davis LB duo in the nation’s capital.
12. Minnesota Vikings select CB Kair Elam: the film was always pretty good, but the great 40 time solidified him as a top 16 pick, in my opinion. There will be talk of the Vikings taking Derek Stingley, but I do not think the Vikings make him the first pick of a new regime given the Lisfranc injury he suffered. I think they opt for a lower ceiling corner with less injury concerns, and Elam slots in opposite Patrick Peterson from day one.
13. Houston Texans select OT Evan Neal: Charlie Heck is currently starting at RT and, while I liked him coming out of UNC, that doesn’t mean the Texans should not try and uograde. They moved former first round pick Tytus Howard to LG, and now they add a monster in Evan Neal who can either play RT or slide into RG to replace Justin McCray. The Texans seem committed to giving Davis Mills a chance, and improving the OL with Neal gives him that chance.
14. Baltimore Ravens select C Tyler Linderbaum: the best Center to enter the draft in a long time lands in the perfect spot. The Ravens have added Morgan Moses to start at RT, get Ronnie Stanley back at LT, and have a returning Kevin Zeitler who was very good for them last year. They are most likely losing Bradley Bozeman, so Linderbaum slots right into the starting C spot. He is perfect for the Ravens and their running game, and will become best friends with former MVP Lamar Jackson.
15. Philadelphia Eagles select EDGE Jermaine Johnson: Jermaine Johnson is a better player and prospect than Travon Walker, but that doesn’t seem to be a universally-held belief in the NFL as we rarely see Johnson mocked ahead of Walker post-combine. Here, the Eagles are the beneficiary, as they add the more polished edge. Johnson will replace former first round pick Derek Barnett, and give the Eagles some much needed pass rush juice. A sound prospect who will produce at the next level, Johnson helps the Eagles here.
16. Philadelphia Eagles select CB Derek Stingley, Jr: with their 2nd first round pick, the Eagles add the cornerback who owns the best tape of the last 5 years in Derek Stingley, Jr. The reason they can take this chance is because they have Darius Slay and Steven Nelson as their starters, which means Stingley can be brought along slowly if there are concerns about his injury. Javon Hargrave, Stingley, and Johnson become the cornerstones of this next era of Eagles defenses.
17. Los Angeles Chargers select WR Treylon Burks: every move this team has made this off-season has been about winning now. There will be temptation to roll the dice on Jameson Williams, but I think Brandon Staley gives his QB a third big body pass catcher to overwhelm AFC West defenses with. Burks hasn’t had the best offseason, but the film is nasty, and he is a guy that will repeatedly feast on nickel cornerbacks at the next level. He can win outside, can beat press, and can win jump balls, and this gives the Chargers arguably the second best trio in football at WR.
18. New Orleans Saints select QB Kenny Pickett: Dennis Allen wants to upgrade at QB, and the bar is low to do that after Taysom Hill. They could bring back Jameis Winston, who looked good early in Sean Payton’s offense, but I think they opt for the most accurate QB in the class in Kenny Pickett. He doesn’t have the arm strength you’d like to see from a signal caller, but with playmakers in place and former Saints QB Drew Brees not having the same arm he used to and the offense still being successful? That may not matter, so Pickett goes here.
19. Philadelphia Eagles select LB Nakobe Dean: three first round picks, and they all go to defense? Yeah, I think that’s what the Eagles do because the offensive side of the ball in this class is substantially deeper, and I think they opt to add a WR in R2. The Eagles signed an edge in free agency in Haason Reddick, and now they get the leader in the middle of this defense with Nakobe Dean. Dean had an excellent season in Athens, and slots right into this young but talented Eagles defense. He is Nick Sirianni’s Darius Leonard.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers select QB Desmond Ridder: the Steelers wish Malik Willis dropped this far, since they signed the bridge in Mitch Trubisky, but they still follow that plan here and add Desmond Ridder. Ridder is a project: he’s everything folks said Zach Wilson was last year, but Mike Tomlin and his staff have the leash to where they can sit him and develop him behind a guy who has won games in this league.
21. New England Patriots select OG Zion Johnson: they just gifted Shaq Mason to the Bucs for a 5th round pick, and now need a replacement. They don’t look too far, as they go right to my alma mater and add a monster in Zion Johnson. There is no way Bill Belicheck goes into the season with James Ferentz up front protecting Mac Jones. They need to upgrade at WR, but Bill is old school: he opts for OL reinforcement here.
22. Green Bay Packers select WR Chris Olave: with Devante Adams in the desert, the Packers need a new number one WR. Enter the former Ohio State Buckeye and best WR in this class. Olave gets to play with the league MVP not too far from where he shined in college, and goes to arguably the best situation for any of the young pass catchers drafted here. He’s a deep threat with great hands and is an excellent route runner: he reminds me of Roddy White.
23. Arizona Cardinals select EDGE George Karlaftis: they lost Chandler Jones, and probably should trade Kyler Murray, so they replace the former here while hoping they don’t have to replace the latter. George Karlaftis was talked up as a potential top 10 pick early in this process, but this feels where he should go. He’s got some refining to do, but he’s a maximum effort guy now going to play with the NFL’s ultimate effort guy in JJ Watt.
24. Dallas Cowboys select OT Trevor Penning: they foolishly cut Lael Collins, and look to the draft for his replacement. Penning didn’t have the best Senior Bowl, but the Cowboys overlook that because they like the traits he has. With this offense in a bit of a flux (trading Amari Cooper, cutting Collins), their saving grace is that they have drafted well. Now, if they could find a taker for Ezekiel Elliott or a coach that’ll actually use him, they’d be cooking.
25. Buffalo Bills select DL Jordan Davis: a freakish combine from a guy that rotated snaps is going to be a good test to see what these GMs value more. I think film is still what matters to Brian Beane, which is why he loves that Davis falls to him here. With this pick, the Bills four man front is Ed Oliver, Gregory Rousseau, newly-signed Von Miller, and Davis, and that is music to Beane’s ears knowing that he’s going to have to build the DL that can get to these QBs. For Davis, it’s the best situation for him given how loaded the Bills defense is at every level.
26. Tennessee Titans select WR Jameson Williams: the Julio Jones experiment very clearly didn’t work, and it cost the Titans two picks. One could argue they can’t afford to take a chance at the position, but this is a team that sticks to its board and the former Alabama WR at this spot is too good value to pass up. They will be tempted to take a QB, but I think it’s more likely they reset next year at the position. Williams, if healthy, gives AJ Brown a running mate that will beat one on ones all day. Last year, the Titans took Caleb Fairley regardless of injuries, and I think they do the same here.
27. Tampa Bay Bucs select QB Sam Howell: Tom Brady’s short-lived retirement makes me think that he’s closer to being done, and I think Jason Licht is a very good GM who will plan for that. Taking a QB here gives you the fifth year option in case Brady does play until he’s 50. Howell is an accurate passer with limited arm strength, so Brady should see the young him in Howell, and will mentor him all while trying to win another SB ring.
28. Green Bay Packers select OG Kenyon Green: after adding Chris Olave with their first 1st rounder, they opt to add to the OL with their second. Kenyon Green played literally everywhere, and his draft stock ironically took a hit for it. He can replace Bryan O’Neill at RT, or slot right in to RG over Royce Newman. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon immediately will like him because of the holes he opens up for them, and who knows: maybe he will block for Jordan Love one day.
29. Miami Dolphins select OT Bernhard Raimann: this Dolphins OL isn’t very good, and they need some talent up front. Raimann is still pretty raw, but if he develops you now have a potential bookend tackle. The problem is the Dolphins took Austin Jackson in round one with the same thinking, but Chris Grier doesn’t seem to know what he’s doing, so he repeats the same mistake again.
30. Kansas City Chiefs select CB Trent McDuffie: the short arms cause this standout corner to fall, but the Chiefs are the beneficiaries. They lost their top corner, and now replace him with someone who fits seamlessly into their defense. McDuffie is a pest, and shows good patience when mirroring WR routes. He doesn’t bite often, and he has a knack for breaking on routes that will help him at the next level. Chiefs get a steal.
31. Cincinnati Bengals select EDGE David Ojabo: the Achilles injury is brutal news for the Wolverine prospect, but the Bengals picking this late means they can essentially draft and stash him. Ojabo provides significant juice for a defense that really only got pass rushing production from Trey Hendrickson last year. Ojabo could be better than Aidan Hutchinson in three years.
32. Detroit Lions select CB/S Daxton Hill: the Lions could’ve taken Kyle Hamilton at 2 and then taken whatever QB was left at 32. However, in this scenario they do the smart thing by taking the higher ceiling QB and the better safety later in the draft. Daxton Hill has the versatility to play corner or safety, is a sure tackler, and is a playmaker on the back-end. The Lions brought back Tracy Walker, but I do not think they are done adding talent to a secondary that was ranked 24th in yards allowed. Hill improves this secondary from when he steps on the field.